Heck, it's Friday, any of you feel like skiving off work? Then here's a long read for you, from the usual suspect, for your several cups of coffee.
If your work is too fascinating or pressing, photos are included, as well as subtitles for easy browsing.
This morning I returned to my horizontal office (AKA bed) to write this, after doing early morning chores, with a nice bowl of chocolate and strawberry porridge for breakfast. That, by the way, for those of you starting autumn, is a really lovely, nutritious and easy breakfast: CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY PORRIDGE
Put plain porridge oats and milk in a breakfast bowl and microwave until cooked. Add a generous handful of quartered or sliced strawberries, stir through, and return to the microwave for a minute or two, until the strawberries are cooked to your liking. Add as much pure cocoa as you want, and a spoonful of honey. Stir and enjoy. For extra luxury, add a little cream.
My bowl of breakfast wasn't enough this morning, so I ate all the leftover cauliflower in cheese sauce from last night as well. We had a big day yesterday, and today will be reasonably big too once I get up. I've got a tray of spring onions to plant, some watering to do, some mowing and weed control, an article forming in my head on further donkey adventures for Grass Roots
, some editing for my writer friend / adopted sister's supercalifragilistic book-in-the-making (hello you clever boots!
), more donkey hooves to trim, the annual business tax return to start, some cleanup to do, physio exercises, and if I'm lucky a little ride and, if there's energy left in the tank, a cross-country fitness walk when Brett gets home this afternoon.
Then it's date night - we're finally going to finish the Bloodflowers
concert - actually going to re-watch that section from the beginning, as it's been a while since the night Brett got too comatose for us to finish watching and had to be wheelbarrowed off to bed!
Ever notice how much closer and more treasured your relationship with your bed becomes after age 40? Last night we managed an episode of Miss Sherlock
(Japanese, subtitled, superb fun, and I loooooove the good manners and friendly formality of Japanese culture) before we crawled into bed at 8.30pm for some reading. Soon though, we had to turn off the lights, and we tangled up to sleep. Now that's such a luxury: Sleep is already wonderful enough, but how much better is it when you can huddle up with your favourite human being, all warm and snuggly like a litter of kittens?
The dog doesn't appreciate the poetry - she's sighing loudly beside the bed because I'm being so monumentally boring, from her perspective. Get up, monkey!
And I will, once I've committed the rest of yesterday to virtual paper. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO RIDING PANTS?
After yesterday's adventurous morning ride, chores and lunch, we went to town for the afternoon. First stop: Albany Horse World for copra, crushed oats, pony maintenance cubes and new riding pants
! It's been nearly a decade since I bought new ones, but I had to sadly retire my favourite pair two rides ago...blue-and-black subtle check pattern, 95% cotton, 5% elastane so ultra comfortable against the skin, legs actually long enough to cover ankles, which is a real issue for me... but alas, they were sagging around their now-sad, elasticised waist and had three holes that were unpatchable due to the age of the fabric. When I discovered a new hole at the crotch, I decided they really had to retire... as did my underwear actually, since it had a small matching hole, and this was a little bit embarrassing except I was the only person to see it... I went, Whaaaaaaat?????? I should not be seeing this!
as I sat on the bench taking off my boots. Riding does put stress on fabric in unusual places...
Anyway, I can't believe what has happened to riding pants in the decade since I last bought some. Nearly all of them are either sticky-bums or studded with bling - and some of them are both
. Who wants to shred their saddle or nether region with bling? And I don't like sticky bum pants because I hate seams like that. Give me seam-free and just the knee section with extra fabric and oomph.
I found a pair of elasticised-waist, long-enough-legs in cream on the specials rack for $20, one size too big, but that was only around the waist and I can put a dart in that easily enough for the price (or eat lots of ice-cream this summer!
). The material wasn't my favourite - too much synthetic fibre - but for good measure, I got a replacement pair in my favourite fabric as well. The only problem is the colours - instead of plain colours, or nice subtle patterns, the fabric I wanted only came in two-tone this year - curse the fashions!
The choice was: Blue and tangerine, black and purple, blue and red. I had to toss up between the latter two - I mean, who wears tangerine, although it is a plus for road safety. Brett said, "Get the one with red in!" and that's how I went, wishing that the combination had been black and red, instead of blue and red, but you can't always get what you want etc.
Once these are washed, I can try them out. Meanwhile, I've got a comfortable but falling apart charcoal pair which used to be black once and whose legs are too short; and a cream pair I used in my last competition many moons ago, and for beach riding at the time too. THE THOUSAND STEPS AT SAND PATCH
Next stop: Sand Patch, for the Wind Farm walk and the 1000 Steps. On the short drive out to the coast, Brett and I wound up the dog: Walkies, Jess! Walkies with splish!
(this is dog-speak for a swimming opportunity) Waaaaalkies, yay!
Said dog had her ears up perkily, a laugh on her face and was waving her tail in the rear-vision mirror while watching the road from her safe perch in the compartment behind the rear seats.
8.5 weeks post multiple metatarsal fractures, I still use crutches on fast-paced fitness walks, in the manner of a cross-country skier, and just take a little weight off my healing foot in the final stage of the rolling phase. The amount of weight taken off is reducing at every walk, but I'm not ditching the crutches for this kind of walking until I can speed-walk limp free. I can now walk downhill and do stairs without limping on such walks, and can walk fairly normally at slower speeds.
We've been doing 5km cross-country walks at home from 6 weeks in; and we're now transitioning back to our favourite coastal trails - mountains on the menu again a little later, but meanwhile we are aiming at the 16km undulating Kalgan River walk in the next two weeks - probably still crutch-assisted (like the walking pole thing a lot of hikers do). Then perhaps Mount Martin Botanical walk, a similar distance, rougher footing and steeper inclines. Then, if I get my wish, the Little Grove to Sand Patch section on the Bibbulmun trail and back via back roads and the Harbour, which is a loop in excess of 20km, and Brett always complains about his feet after that one! (I think new boots would fix it!)
Anyway, to start on more serious hill training, we paid a visit to the famous 1000 Steps at Sand Patch. After doing the Wind Farm loop - tame footing, concrete walking paths and boardwalks - we visited these old friends. They look like this, and this is already from some of the way down (and these aren't our photos, they are "official" photos):
Brett was lovely and carried my crutches - the place was swarming with tourists, so we couldn't leave them at the top - and I've got no use for crutches on a staircase. The down part was easy; the back up again gives you a nice workout. Interval training for us at this stage: We stopped after every three to four flights to get our breaths back... but when we do climb, we climb fast...
This is a lovely "official" snap or Sand Patch at sunset, from the beach at the bottom: AND FINALLY, A RANT ABOUT SUPERMARKETS!
We had to do some grocery shopping before heading home, and went to Woolworths at Dog Rock, which used to be fine for getting dry shelf staples like porridge oats, wholemeal pasta, Laucke's Golden Wholemeal bread pre-mix (which I mix with my stoneground wholemeal flours from Eden Valley farm), dried legumes (although I also buy these, and Eden Valley flour, and cinnamon, in bulk from a bulk food outlet), dairy foods, some top-up meat between Reeves on Campbell's superior, locally produced, locally owned offerings, and F&V we don't grow yet or don't have fresh from the garden at the time - Woolworths offer Abnormal Apples, Perplexed Pears, Curious Capsicums etc etc in bulk nets and we completely support buying non-"standard" shape/colour/size F&V, because that's how they grow
, they're not made in a factory y'know, fellow Australian shoppers!!!
A couple of months ago, the evil overseers of Woolworths re-organised the store, mixing up all the items out of normal, rational order so that you had to spend a lot of time looking for them instead of related items being in the same aisle. They do this on purpose to make you look at more stuff you don't need, hoping to increase impulse buying of such high-profit, low-nutrient value rubbish. Statistically it works for them. People like us though run around with lists and professional tunnel-vision for the exclusion of items not on the list, cursing about the illogical order of things, waste of time and amount of non-foods on offer, and reinforcing other similar people with lists by dint of smiles, various battle cries, loud complaints about the illogical order and the evil intent of the supermarket overlords, and demonstrations of spiritual kinship.
The other evil things they have done is to cut out a lot of locally produced lines, and to stop offering the larger size packets of staple foods. So we can't buy West Australian butter at Woolworths anymore, but hey, Irish butter anyone? So we buy the West Australian, farmers' cooperative butter at alternative outlets, ditto the rosehip tea, the larger-size cream from WA companies, the Golden Wholemeal premix, and a whole growing list of other items being steadily deleted in favour of higher-profit options.
We've really been gagging at the meat section at Woolworths lately, and buying less and less there. Less bulk products, less WA products, small local producers' lines taken off the shelf. Yesterday, we found they had deleted a line of vacuum-packed bulk beef offered by a small local company, and we had a very productive fit about it. We looked at each other and said, "That's it, from now on we're boycotting the meat department at Woolworths completely, let's check out our other stuff and go to Reeves for a bulk pack of meat!"
So that's what we did. Instead of spending $60 with them to last us a fortnight, we spent $120 on a 9kg quality bulk pack at Reeves that will last us over a month, containing T-bone steaks, rump steaks, mince, beef sausages, lamb chops, a rolled beef roast and a leg of lamb, all locally produced, top quality and handled by an independent local business. We've always been happy with the meat we've bought from Reeves, but this kind of bulk buying actually makes that affordable for us, averaging at $13.33/kg. Even the shin beef at Woolworths is now $16/kg, sausages and mince $10/kg, T-bone is $30+, and it's all fattier and less tasty than from Reeves, and always has water coming out of it when you try to pan-fry. Icky.
Should have done this a long time ago, but we don't normally buy that much meat so we didn't really think about it until the supermarket forced the issue for us. Anyway, from now on this is how we're buying our meat, and eventually we will do a home kill and eat our own beef (main issue is that two people take a heck of a long time to get through 200kg of meat, but there's ways around that...).
Ditto chicken, by the way - we're completely done with industrial chicken, and next time we're in town on a Saturday, we'll buy from the heirloom meat chicken guy at farmers' market as we try to do - change of tactic though: We'll take an esky, buy a dozen frozen decent chickens, and stow them into our chest freezer at home. Several birds with one stone: No multinationals involved, good farm animal welfare, local eating, far better quality, and when you buy bulk it's affordable.
And by the way, those T-bones were super delicious last night, with sides of brown rice with mushroom sauce, peas, and cauliflower in cheese sauce. For dessert we heated up some of our home-grown, home-bottled Japanese Satsuma Plums - wonderful flavour, no added sugar or anything else - simply halved, steamed plums made at home and giving us bottled summer all winter long...
Have a super Friday, everyone!