Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2016 here I come!

With only a mere fortnight or less until the New Year, it's time to sum up the past and look forward to the future. Well that's the way I run anyway…

Aside from one tiny adaptor screw and a new set of skis, I've done all my shopping for gadgets and doodads needed to get me through my next 12 months of adventures. Which are going to be many and varied.

I've 5 weeks until I jet off to Japan for a whole month of skiing. 20 days on Hokkaido, 10 days in Honshu. I've a new ski jacket and pants which I bought in NZ in September and I'll just be taking my powder skis along, so I may manage to get away with just the one bag like last trip. There's no mad train travel involved, so minimal luggage isn't an absolute necessity. Just gotta stay within the baggage limits….

Lambie won't be joining me next year, as I have a new travel mascot. You shall be introduced soon enough...

I've a windsurfing friend house sitting whilst I'm away. He'll have chooks to look after this time as well as the garden. I don't think it's going to be a struggle..

I return late February, in time to drop the passport in to the Indonesian embassy for a 2 month visa, then I'll be jetting off again mid March to go backpacking in Nusa Tenggara. That's the string of islands east of Bali right through to Timor. Aside from a smattering of tourists who take a week or so travelling in Flores from one end of the island to the other, and a few luxury dive resorts, the vast majority of tourism in this area is based around Labuan Bajo and the Komodo region, and Lombok and the Gilis, close to Bali. Since I'm planning on spending an entire 3 months in the region ( I'll be extending my visa in country) I expect I'll be relying on my Indonesian language skills to get by. Even in Java I met few foreigners, so I'm not at all concerned that I'm likely to be the only foreigner most places I go.

As usual, I've been carefully considering what to pack for the trip. I'll be doing lots of walking again, but camping is unlikely, so I've less stuff to put in the bag. Which means just bringing the 33L backpack and well and truly making the 7 kilo baggage limit for carryon. I've also got a lighter camera and have a very nifty lightweight tripod setup which I'll share once that pesky little adaptor screw turns up in the mail.

I return to Australia mid June, and will have 2 weeks to do some cooking and dehydrating and organising meal plans, before I fly out to New Zealand at the end of June. I'll be based in Wanaka again for the full ski season, whilst I train to be a ski instructor. For this, I need new skis.

Currently I am skiing on fairly wide twin tip rockered skis. These make skiing most conditions rather easy, but getting a good edge on piste requires a lot more work, particularly on the ankles, because they just aren't made to do carving on groomed runs. But when you are planning to be a ski instructor, you spend most of your time on piste, and you have to be a competent carver. So proper performance skis for groomers are needed. If I have time I'll go shopping for them in Tokyo, otherwise I'll need to purchase them in NZ. The positive though, is I left my other skis in NZ at Sonja's place, so I won't be needing to carry 2 sets of skis from Australia. I'm not going to bring my powder skis as I probably won't go heliskiing or touring. Just getting the qualifications will be my focus.

Once I'm through that, which should be late September, I'll be flying back to Perth, packaging up food parcels, and then embarking on my end to end Bibbulman Track trek. I've been fine tuning gear for that trip too, purchasing even lighter gear to get my base weight down to around 5kgs. Of course I'll share all that sooner to the time I set out.

That will bring me to December. No concrete plans but I think I'll just set up the camper up at Coronation Beach and go windsurfing!!

I've acquired some great house sitters, through word of mouth, who are very happy to do a long sit as they have local jobs and no plans to go elsewhere. They are both very much into gardening, so they'll also be doing a few garden chores for me whilst I'm away, like cutting down dead trees and branches, and planting fruit trees. I'm not yet ready to relinquish my house and garden to the randomness of tenants, and my ongoing costs on the house are not high anyway. It's nice to have that luxury.

I'm still planning on converting the garage into a self contained granny flat, but that's likely to take a little longer to come to fruition. Particularly since my builder has headed back up to Gnaraloo for Xmas with his partner!

So that's my year planned: windsurfing, skiing, backpacking, skiing, bushwalking, windsurfing. It's gonna be a lot of time outdoors!! Man I'm gonna be so fit!!

Right now I'm trialling recipes that I can make on the trail or on rest days in trail towns along the Bibbulman route. I have been bombarding my Facebook feed with numerous baking, cooking and other food preparation attempts, though I won't be taking papaya ice-cream on the trail, more's the pity. But it is an excellent way to preserve it when you have too many ripening papayas at once. And the dragon fruit have started flowering!!

Not long till Japan, better do a bit more work on those core muscles……..arrrghh!

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope your 2016 is going to be as fun as mine looks to be.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

6 months in

Recently I've been asked how I'm enjoying my retirement. Have I got enough things to do? Am I bored yet? Am I missing work?
The answers are: It's awesome; you bet; not likely; you gotta be kidding!!

It's just shy of 6 months since I hung up the shingle yet it literally feels like it's been years. That's because I have very deliberately created a change in perspective and state of mind.

For many years I have been a proponent of mindfulness, a state where one tries to be in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Having now made the transition from "planning for retirement" to "actual retirement" there's a lot less of that worry going on. And lucky for me I made the right choice. It's not to say I don't concern myself with my financial future, but I believe I have it covered. Oh this is such a relief!

What I think is the absolutely crucial part of a healthy retirement is letting go. The past is the past. I was a doctor. I'm not one now, I don't ever plan to be one again, and please stop fucking asking! That's my past. Today is my present and future. I won't be defined by what I was, but what I am now. Which is currently: homebody, organic gardener, windsurfer, photographer, skier, world traveller, blogger. That will do for now surely??

An added benefit for me is I no longer need to recover from the stress of work. And I don't mean the stress of making decisions about people's health every 20 minutes, you work out how to deal with that early in your career or you burn out fast buddy! I'm talking about the stress of interacting with others when you're an introvert. Not just introverted, I'm almost a hermit, which is to say I love spending time by myself, doing my own thing, and not having to interact with others. It's not that I don't enjoy the company of others, and I'm hardly shy or unfriendly, but too much interaction and I become emotionally drained. 3 days a week of work left me mentally exhausted and it would take me at least a day to recover. That's no longer a problem...

I'm calmer, less worried, certainly less anxious. I'm particularly enjoying the ability to just be. To work through the chores without any pressure. Tomorrow is just another day.

Of course there's lots of mundane things to do, like shred all those papers I've been hoarding for years. Payslips, bank statements, so much shit sitting around in filing cabinets and folio boxes. It all needs to be sorted and scanned and/or shredded. But even the mundane has a pleasure. I'm listening to all those podcasts I've subscribed to but never got around to listening to, I'm even buying and listening to music again. And there's a great joy in simplifying one's life, even if to the high pitched whine of a shredding machine!!

I am relishing this slow, deliberate, yet mindful, pace.

I'm pottering in the garden. I'm baking, and making soft cheeses. I'm going windsurfing whenever I choose to. I'm working up to having another go attempting forward loops...

I'm planning my next 12 months of travel. I've organised house sitters for the year already, yay!

I'm getting home repairs and minor renovations done. I've painted walls I've been meaning to get around to doing for the last 15 years!

I'm derusting the car, which is 20 years old this year and still going strong. The other week I updated the storage for the windsurfing gear to make it so much easier to access than before.

I'm systematically decluttering all my possessions and getting ready for a massive garage sale in the New Year.

My retirement is awesome!!  Just in case you were asking....

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December in Drummonds - garden notes

I've been home for almost 2 months now, and have been settling in to the gentle flow of a life without a timetable. I'm enjoying the freedom to potter, to not need to overschedule myself, to do a hundred small things in my own sweet time.

Just after getting home I bought 4 new chooks. Unfortunately my 4 from last year got picked off one by one by a predator which got underneath the fence and spirited them away. So far, the new flock have only been allowed up in the top, fully fox proofed, pen and will stay in there until I have done further repairs on the run down the side of the house. There's plenty of shade, and room for sandbaths, so they shall be fine. They are in great shape and have begun to produce eggs more consistently.

Whilst I was away my wonderful house sitters, Jill and Perry, nurtured my garden with great care. They planted many new veges, kept it weed free and even kept the compost making up. Yay, lots of yummy new soil to add to the patch.

When I arrived home the garden looked great. Lots of greenery, tomato plants covered in fruit, marigolds and pansies interplanted with the veg, pumpkin vines spreading all over the place, and many new seedlings showing lots of vigour. And pawpaw ripening and ready to eat. Yum!

Since then, summer has arrived, with blistering hot temperatures which wreak havoc on the patch. All the squash and most of the pumpkins succumbed to powdery mildew, the cucumber seedlings haven't fared much better either. The new snow peas just shrivelled up and died, as did the coriander, both plants I wouldn't have put in at this time of year but when you don't know the climate you can't garden from experience.

The broccoli, however, has been a revelation. Rather than rip it out I've kept it in the patch. It has served two purposes, one as a decoy plant for those pesky white cabbage moths, whose green caterpillars are very hungry indeed! Secondly, it keeps producing small flower heads which I pick regularly and contribute to a meal every few days. This is one of the joys of home gardening, where you can just harvest what you need, as you go. I don't need a whole head of broccoli for a meal, but five or six broccolini stalks is perfect.

I'm about to start harvesting some baby corn which Jill and Perry planted. I'm just waiting for it to ripen. It's under shade cloth, so that may be delaying it a little.

Talking of which, the shade sails are up, including my new, bright red, sail for the house. I'm not sure if red is OK as I know green shade cloth blocks out the light spectrum that the plants need to photosynthesise. The plants all get some direct sunlight at some time during the day, so hopefully that will be enough for their needs. Unfortunately it can sometimes be too much.....

Another sign of summer is dragonfruit. The vines have all grown heaps over winter, and this week they began putting out flower spikes. It's about 7 weeks till I head off to Japan, so hopefully I'll be savouring some before I go.

I'm really happy with my mango tree. It looks like this tree just might be the one that survives. It has lots of new growth and the trunk is beginning to thicken. Looking good for fruit in maybe another 3 or 4 years……

I harvested onions this year. I'm not always that successful with onions, or leeks, though chives grow easily here. I've just planted a variety of Mediterranian onion which can grow during the warmer months, so we'll see how that goes. I also harvested the kumara vine. I ended up with about 5 tubers in total, some small and some huge. Roasted kumara chips are to die for! I've replanted 4 cuttings, and given the rest of the vine away via the local Facebook gardening page. Gotta love social networking..

Remember the eggplants I planted? Well my plant grown from seed has survived and is fruiting, whilst Freddie's seems to have died, and Jill and Perry planted even more seedlings around the garden.

The asparagus continues to push up spears. Some are a fairly solid thickness too, others still matchstick thin. Gardening is a waiting game…

I've been doing a lot more than gardening since my return. I've been decluttering, painting, renovating, windsurfing, and planning more adventures.

More on that next. But I thought I'd finish with a few flowers.