Friday, July 20, 2018

deep dark winter

This is me right now. It's Friday afternoon, it's miserable and rainy outside, I'm wearing socks I knitted last year and although I have absolutely nothing to complain about, I'm feeling flat and a bit grumpy.

It's crazy what a hold winter has on me because despite the constant reminding myself of all the wonderful things going on in my life, I don't seem to have any control of my mood. It's deep winter, it's been days since we last saw any sunshine, and the arctic gale blasting outside is so icy as it pinches and whips.

It's tempting to make a list of my many blessings here in the hope that it will somehow tip my balance over into the happy, but the truth is that this blog is all about the seasons and the seasonal, and this it appears is my annual, seasonal reality.

So let's get on with the week shall we.

july 14

Last weekend we had some friends to stay on our farm and on Saturday they came up to our house with a bucket full of shakshuka and some Turkish bread and together we cooked and then sat around to eat. We knew these friends at school, we had our kids at the same time, and now here we are as families sharing stories and food all these years later. How wonderful that feels.

july 15

Bren has been turning bowls again. This latest batch are the size of salad bowls and they're incredibly beautiful. He makes the bowls from the wood while it's still green and he leaves the edges thick so that when they dry out he can put them back on the lathe and reshape them. I'll take some better photos for next week's blog so you can see the scale and the shapes.

july 16

On Monday I looked around my room at the piles of books and unfinished knitting projects and decided to make a bit of sense of it all before the big move into my studio in a few weeks time. I put books back up on the shelves, I folded up bits of material and I finished the last few rows of a few knitting projects, then I soaked them and blocked them.

It's crazy how I'm always in such a rush to cast on and knit a new project, but then I often leave them for dead so close to the finish line. 

Hopefully these two will be dry, photographed and worn before the weekend is through.

july 17

There's nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a book you really didn't like the tone of and starting something new and fresh. So far The Dry is everything I need in a book right now; it's engaging, entertaining, suspenseful, and steady paced, thank you Jane Harper.

july 18

On Wednesday Bren and Jobbo made one of my life-long dreams come true when they built me a window-box for my studio. It's incredible how much of a difference it's made to the space by framing the window and the view and inviting you to stop and sit. I imagine many a future blog post will be written in that new spot.

july 19

The power was out for most of the day yesterday so I planted seeds and split wood and the boys nailed shingles onto the front of my studio.

There's a small chance that by this time next week it will no longer be a building site but a small studio instead. Imagine that?!

july 20

The package full of yarn that I ordered full of typos last week arrived this morning. I think I'm going to use the yarn in the top photo to knit a Telija. But first I must finish those wine coloured socks. I pulled them apart twice more during the week. Once because the pattern I was knitting was driving me crazy and not at all fun to knit, and then again when I found a few mistakes. Fourth time lucky I'm going to knit them plain the whole way up to the cuff where I might do something fancy. Watch this space.

Which brings me to now and a little bit of surprise and relief that I managed to string all of those words together considering the grumpiness and the PMS and the rain. As soon as I've published I'll put some wood on both fires, hang out the washing, water my seeds, help Bren with the dinner and hopefully sneak in an episode of The Crown before the girls get home from school.

Hooray for the weekend!

Do you have anything fun planned?
Does your mood sometimes defy justification?
Do you know how much of a difference watching Glow on the iPad while running on the treadmill has made to my endurance?
Do you love peanut butter on corn crackers?
Do you know why our cat spends the day sleeping outside in the cold when she could easily sleep inside by the fire?
What else?

See you next week lovelies.

Love, Kate x

Friday, July 13, 2018

a break from the rhythm

Just as I was about to start writing my blog today I read back through an email I wrote on my phone last night and sent to someone about buying some yarn. It contained two of the most awful typos I've ever made. In my defence I'd just returned from a five-hour round trip to take Indi to Melbourne, but still...

Firstly I wrote that I was interested in the yarn she was advertising on the death page. The DEATH page!!!! Of course I meant to write the destash page and my phone changed it. Actually my computer is trying to change it to death as I type this right now too! There's no hope. And secondly I wrote that I was going to use her yarn to nit. NIT!!!!!! a colour-work sweater. I'm mortified. If I were the seller I'm not even sure I could sell yarn from a death page for someone to nit with. I only hope she's a bigger person than me and can look past it.

I'll keep you posted.

Let's get back to the past week while we wait.

july 7

Last Saturday night we took our big girls to see a gig at a pub in Castlemaine. They found out about it, they booked it, and because it was at a licensed venue, they took us with them so that they could get in. And while we hung out at the back swaying to the music, I got a crystal clear glimpse into the future. Our two were holding glasses of (ginger) beer, pushing their way to the very front, dancing and singing, chatting with those around them, waiting in line to get their tee-shirts signed, speaking to the artist about song writing and playing, and spending the entire drive home dissecting every moment. It was such a great night. 

july 8

On Sunday we packed up our car and drove for an hour to an Airbnb near our girls' school. Jazzy had rehearsals for the musical all week, Pepper was away, and we all desperately needed a break from the routine.

The night before I had learned that later this year there will be a new knitting emoji added to the emojipedia which reminded me of a great podcast, so as Indi drove we listened to it again - 99% Invisible - Person in Lotus Position - it's so interesting and I highly recommend a listen if you haven't heard it before.

When we arrived we discovered that our host had gotten the dates mixed up and that the place hadn't been set up for us, so he sent us to the local pub for a meal on him while he arranged it all. Upon our return a few hours later we soon had the fire roaring and we settled in to watch all the media reports about the rescue of the Thai boys trapped in the cave.

And I finished knitting the beanie I started last week and as I predicted ran out of yarn before the end. I'm hoping that the addition of a pom pom will soften that charcoal bit at the top.
The details are here.

july 9

On Monday after we delivered Jazzy to school for rehearsals, we set Indi up at the kitchen table with her school books and went for a brisk walk in the icy cold to explore our surroundings. I was very interested to see that their daffodils were up and flowering while ours at home haven't even pushed their way out of the ground yet.

Then we settled in for a lazy day of watching episodes of The Crown and knitting socks.

It made me smile later on that evening when I listened to bits of the new song Jazzy was writing and heard the words kings and queens; she wouldn't watch it with us but somehow it still snuck into the lyrics.

And then that night, once everyone was asleep and the house was quiet, I finally finished reading Heart of Darkness, thank goodness. I can't say that I enjoyed reading even one page of it but now that it's over and I am able to hold my own in literary discussions with Indi, I'm glad I persevered. Reading your comments about your struggles really did make me feel better about my own, so thanks for those.

And then, even though it was terribly late, I started reading The Tattooist of Auchwitz. Bren had heard the author interviewed a few weeks before and said it came very highly recommended. I'm not at all looking forward to it, but I am looking forward to it, if that makes any sense.

july 10

On Tuesday we drove to the top of Mount Macedon and walked around admiring the view. And while it was icy cold it didn't snow like it did on the two days after that.

On our way back from collecting Jazzy from school we popped into and explored a rare-plant nursery. The owner told us how disappointed he felt that so many people prefer to buy plants at huge shopping complexes these days rather than from small, interesting, slightly more expensive but definitely more unusual ones. We left wishing we'd had money with us and vowing to return in spring time.

When we got home I pulled apart the socks I'd been knitting and cast on another pattern that when stretched out on the foot wouldn't be lacy and holey and impractical for farm boot wear.

And then over dinner the girls taught us all about the anatomy of a song and we listened to so many to dissect all the little bits. I'm fascinated by their passion, and the music that's coming out of them. It feels like such a gift both to them as a way to express themselves, and to us to be surrounded by it.

july 11

On Wednesday, we packed up and left our beautiful country retreat, somewhat reluctantly, and headed to Melbourne to pick up our Pepper. We'd had a wonderful break from the farm, from our routines, from our to-do lists and from that feeling that everywhere you look there's more to be done.

Of course we had a little photo shoot on the way out.

In Melbourne we kissed and hugged our smallest who we'd all missed like crazy, we shared lunch with Bren's parents and we tried our luck at a local op shop where I hit the jackpot in the book department. I always feel rich when I've got a stack of books waiting and this lot will keep me going for a while.

july 12

Yesterday we did that thing you do when you've been away from home for a while even though it had only been a couple of days. We walked around the garden looking for new growth, we visited my studio to admire the progress, we unpacked and did washing, we enjoyed our own space and then we all sat down to do homework and write some articles.

july 13

Today. The sun is shining brilliantly outside, my parents are just home from overseas and we have friends staying for a few nights, so I really wanted to write this blog quickly today, but it hasn't happened. I took so many photos of the last week that it's taken me ages to edit them down, my brain isn't working properly after a dreadful night's sleep, and I just want to sit in the sun-room and knit squares of my scrappy sock blanket instead.

But the yarn seller kindly chose not to mention my typos and to sell me the yarn so I'm happy. Now I just want it to arrive so I can cast on.

How's your week been anyway?
Has auto-correct embarrassed you lately?
Do you know the difference between the pre-chorus and the chorus?
Have you watched The Crown?
Do you find it hard to resist a jungly nursery?
Do you love a mini break?

I wonder.

See you next week and thanks so much for your kindness!


Friday, July 6, 2018

from winter

Although I would never consider myself a 'writer', it occurred to me a few minutes ago that most of the writing I do in my life is from my own perspective: the how I'm feeling, what I'm reading, what I'm doing sort of thing. But over the past few days I've been writing a bunch of stories that have nothing to do with me. They're general informative pieces, written to a deadline and a word count. And now here I am sitting down to write about my own life and even though it's my usual thing, it feels a bit strange and personal.

I feel like I could easily describe the picture above in terms of the arctic bite of the winter air, the white skies, the thin slices of frost to be found in puddles, the bird song that breaks the silence, the sting of the icy coldness in your fingertips, the clothes you should wear for protection, the steam coming from your mouth as you breathe, the sound of the slither of frost as it smashes into thin glass-like shards against a tree, the smoke drifting slowly from the chimney reminding you of the warmth inside...

But I want to get back to last Saturday morning, and to me. How I lay in my warm bed and put off getting up for as long as possible because I dreaded those few seconds of feeling the wintery chill on my skin before I got dressed in my hundred layers. How I tried really hard not to bang the lounge room door so as not to wake up my sleepy teenagers, while at the same time resenting them a tiny bit for their sleep-ins. How I tried not to feel disappointed at the fact that we aren't going to be able to run away from the farm to the beach this winter. How I opened all the curtains, put wood on the fire, washed all the dishes in the sink and cleared the place up before I ate my breakfast of cut-up granny smith apple and muesli and yoghurt and drank the coffee my farmer boy had brought in to me in bed. How when I finally did get outside and found Miss Pepper playing with the pieces of frost, I got swept up in her winter joy and for a little while I forgot about all the bits that annoy me and enjoyed all the bits that she loves.

june 30

Last Saturday I cast off my second pair of Uppsala slippers and took them round to Bren's dad. I remember reading something in a magazine years ago about how if you give someone a gift of jewellery and they put it on straight away then they love it, and if they leave it in the box then they don't. Well it made me happy to see Bren's dad John take the slippers out of the bag and put them straight on his feet. They passed the jewellery test. 

july 1

We painted the first coat of black paint on the big window wall of my studio. We plugged the heater in so it was nice and cozy and we played music through the speaker and danced and sang, but still I'm finding it hard to imagine it being anything other than a work site. I don't think the reality will hit me until the tools have been cleared away and I'm sitting in there with the door closed in complete silence all by myself. 

july 1

On Monday we went back into my studio and painted another coat on the wall and I painted our names for one of our great, great, great grandchildren to discover sometime in the future when they're doing repairs on the ancient studio. Then we pulled off the tape and admired how much the black makes the wood and the window pop. 

july 2

We drove to Ballarat for studio lights and supplies and I knitted a beanie. The details are here.

july 4

On Wednesday I struggled through a bit more of Heart of Darkness. I remember feeling the same way when I read As I lay Dying, another one of Indi's literature books, last year. I can't work out if I'm finding it so difficult to get into because I know that it's a school book and I'm reading it extra carefully for the themes and meanings, if I'm just not the literature type, or if it is a difficult book. It doesn't make me feel great that the main character in the film of Tim Winton's Breath, a 14 year old boy, was seen reading HOD on more than one occasion. But someone on goodreads mentioned that HOD is one of those classics that you have to read if you want to consider yourself a well educated adult, and I do. Also it's very short at 100 pages. And best of all, I had Indi put a book mark in the spot where she thinks the book gets really good and I'm only about four pages away and I can feel it starting to pull me along and that's promising. Don't tell her but goodness I'm ridiculously relieved that I won't ever have to write an essay deconstructing the prose, or discussing European colonialism or racism. My brain hurts just thinking about it.

And Jobbo gave Bren a lesson in how to shingle a wall.

july 5

Jezza came and hooked up the electrics, fitted some power-points and put some lights in my studio. Bren and Jobbo constructed the mezzanine for the bed. I admired the light from every angle, the silhouettes it creates against the big window and the glow it casts on my knitting when it is held or worn against the wooden wall next to it. And I started to get a better glimpse into my future creative space and its endless possibilities and I got EXCITED!

July 6

After a busy week of digging up and storing the dahlia tubers, loading and stacking firewood, planting seeds, tidying up the garden, running on the treadmill, looking after emotional children and writing articles, today I'm pleased to say that I haven't yet gotten dressed or left the house. Instead I've been sitting here with Bren and Jazzy watching Friday Night Lights, drinking coffee, eating last night's leftovers and knitting this beanie that I'm pretty certain I won't have enough yarn to finish. Oh well, I'll just have to deal with that when I get to it.

And now I have to rush off to pick Indi up from the train station.

How have you been anyway?
Are you on holidays?
Does the weather sometimes make it hard for you to get out of bed?
Do you sometimes dig around where the daffodil bulbs are to check how far from spring it is?
Have you read Heart of Darkness?
Can you believe that it's 4.48pm here and we're almost in darkness?

See you next Friday!

Love, Kate x

Visit my other blog.