Let me introduce myself

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have a garden, can’t even imagine life without one, even if it’s only a few pots in a window. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my much-adored Grandmother whose love of tender exotics had created a lush oasis under a massive Jacaranda tree in her garden. It was a riot of colour and perfume from fuschia, hydrangeas, frangipanis, bromeliads, orchids, angels’ trumpets, alyssum, ginger, roses, wisteria and a dozen sorts of lilies. She could usually be found pottering around her paradise, pruning this, watering that, feeding the other. I could barely walk when Gran found she had a toddling shadow mimicking her and asking endless questions. When I wasn’t squealing in delight chasing butterflies, I would be wide eyed and grinning like a drunk as I sniffed, tasted, and ran curious fingers over everything. The seed of a life-long obsession had been planted.

The seed took root in my parents’ small hobby-farm near Adelaide, South Australia. We grew our own fruit and vegetables, as well as the few “pretties” that could survive our brutal summers with the little water we could spare. I was about four when I began “helping” my parents in their garden, and promptly had a little patch set aside for me to serve out my apprenticeship without imperilling the family’s harvest. There has been a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and many incarnations of Hana’s Garden since then. The wonder and intricacy of the natural world still has me in thrall, I am still unravelling its mysteries and I still giggle like a small child when I succumb to the temptation to pop fuschia buds 🙂

The threads of my adult life are complicated to the point of Gordian Knot. On any given day, a snapshot of our family will morph as fluid living arrangements change, four legged family are born and pass, and our large “adopted” family-by-choice add their own splashes of colour. Until very recently, any family portrait would have included a large, middle aged Malamute and his calico sidekick the Feline Assassin. My blended family of five adult, semi-adult and wanna-be adult daughters (known collectively as the Junior Sorority), my Beloved (an über-geek computer expert) with our Feline Overlord are spectacular talented individuals, about whom will happily blather on all night. You might want to run now, the Maternal Gloat is cued and the brag book is extensive.

My paid employment is in Aged and Disability Care as a Para Medical Aide. It is described in industry slang as “Coal Face”, but really it’s just a swanky way of saying I help folks do what they can’t do for themselves. My day includes every shade on the spectrum of human experience from rewarding to frustrating, heartbreaking to funny, educational to challenging and occasionally revolting. I spend a lot of time researching the various conditions my clients live with, the best way to help them, to foster their independence and encourage them to eat. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, planning and cooking food just so I can stimulate the appetite of folks who have lost interest in food .. in life.

In what is laughingly referred to as my “spare” time, I am a member of a medieval/renaissance re-creation group. At various times I have tried my hand at period dressmaking, millinery, corsetry and embroidery, dye-ing, cooking, brewing, leatherwork, dancing, singing, perfumery, various kinds of herb-lore, archery, calligraphy tent making. I have even worn armour and wielded a sword. Come to think of it, the threads of my medieval and mundane lives are so intertwined that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

This blog started its life as a chunk of data for my Beloved to experiment on as he was doing some “Web Development”. The reasoning was that if anyone could find a way to break his model, or anyone could come up with an impossibly daft question; it would be me. I should explain that I just don’t understand most of what he does for a living. He often tries to interpret what it is that he is doing with the mysterious black boxes and the wires. Sadly, his explanations all too often seem to be spoken in some arcane language, all mystical symbols and eldritch lore. Keystrokes that determine triumph or tragedy; surely this is witchcraft? Am I going to need an exorcism after this? No. To my surprise what I found was the joy of sharing a lifetime of eclectic knowledge. With you, with family, with posterity. Here I can preserve the secrets of Gran’s Melon Jam (and some of my memories associated with it) or her fabulous Boston Baked Beans. Here I can show you the liniment I use when I really should not have kept working, the “But-I-Don’t-Eat-Cheesecake” cheesecake created for Beloved, or the construction techniques used in a ninth century Rus cavalry coat. I don’t need to go looking for a pen (they honestly do have legs and run away, you know), paper or an old envelope to write on, and photos are likely to be much clearer than my sketches. I hope you enjoy this as much as I am 🙂