I Get By On the Leftovers From My Friends..
Tiny vase from Tanya. Willow-pattern plate from my mum. Silver bell on legs from my Grandma Hazel. Turkey feathers from Katherine's turkey. Hydrangea skeleton from gardening client. Swamp oak cases from the museum carpark. Tulip-tree seed-case from up the street. Almost invisible - a Cape gooseberry skeleton from the backyard.
When I look around my kitchen I can see a whole community which surrounds me every day.
Above the fridge are houseplants which came from cuttings from my friend Carla.
Devil's ivy plant from Carla. I also took cuttings from her chain-of-hearts plant and miniature swiss-cheese plant. New plants from old! I will soon be able to do the same for all my friends and neighbours as these plants get big enough. I am not quite sure how plant nurseries ever make any sales..
On the bench are jars of quince jam that I haven't put away yet. The quinces came from my friend Tanya and sat on my kitchen bench for weeks, flavouring my kitchen with their exquisite scent before I made them into jam. On my bench also are seeds that my friend Karlin dropped in for my birthday. Note to self: plant seeds.
My friend Katherine emailed me and said there was a heap of hardwood on her front lawn from the kitchen cabinets she was replacing. Would I like it for kindling? I went and picked it up using old chicken feed bags I also got from Katherine, and since then I have also picked up feijoas from under her tree as she doesn't like them.
My friend Sandra called from the airport on her way to do some volunteering in Thailand. Would I please pick the last of the zucchini, tomatoes and basil from her garden and also help myself to figs? Soup, pasta sauce, dried basil and fig jam, yes please.
The fire is blazing merrily away courtesy of a day of cutting firewood in the bush at Paul's place. I also have chicken feed bags full of bark and twigs to start my fire from his place as well.
Firewood from Paul
My neighbour from up the road stocked my freezer with meat recently, courtesy of a mate of his who dropped off half a sheep, and also some freezer-burned lamb shanks he doesn't want to eat, due to having a freezer full of fresh lamb, but that I will certainly hide in slow-cooker chilli. That same neighbour also brought me some chestnuts he'd brought home from a chestnut farm he had visited, so I have now roasted chestnuts for the first time ever. Yum!
Chestnuts from Bram
My fridge is stocked with chutney, jam, quince paste and olives from friends, and even the shirt I am wearing came from my friend Lillian who didn't want it anymore because she accidentally tipped bleach on it. Because I spend most of my life in my garden or someone else's garden up to my elbows in mud and manure, it really doesn't matter how my shirts start out, they will all end up significantly the worse for wear. Lillian also gave me some chrysanthemums and a wasabi plant that were struggling in her garden, and now that they are happy here I have potted up cuttings from the chrysanthemums to give back to her.
Speaking of chrysanthemums, Paul's sister brought me a bunch from a roadside stand that has flowers for sale every day from a prolific garden just outside their village. Now that I know how ridiculously easy it is to grow chryanthemums from cuttings I am going to try it with these beauties. Cut off the blooms, dip the stems in hormone powder, pop into potting mix. I'll let you know how it goes.
A bouquet of chrysanthemums, and hopefully future chrysanthemum plants from Anita
More plants: Posy's teacher discovered she was interested in succulents and gave her a bag of cuttings from his collection. They are still sitting in the kitchen waiting to be potted, but we'll get to that any day now..
One day my mum's friend was here and saw I had a certain blue striped bowl. "I have three more of those I don't want. I'll send them to you," she said, and sure enough Mum turned up the next week bearing three bowls for me (now holding chestnuts from the neighbour).
Another time I went to visit my friend Tanya in her antique shop and she gave me a box of blue and white crockery she couldn't sell. Now my kitchen shelves are augmented with extra lovely blue and white china.
Willow pattern egg cups from Tanya
And this is just the kitchen.. my whole house is a testament to the kindness of my friends and my enthusiasm for hoovering up everyone else's cast offs. Of course, it works the other way, too. I love visiting my friends and seeing furniture, books, plants, clothes and jars of jam from my place being used in their homes as well.
I love to live in a home where every time I turn around I am reminded of a friend, a neighbour, family, someone I love. There are plenty of good ways to live, but I think that my life is pretty special.