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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday night blog

One of my girls told me the other day that she wondered if she was spending too much time on social media lately looking at people having fun in the sun on the other side of the world at the beach and by swimming pools. She wondered if I thought it might be a problem. The funny thing in our house, is that our girls are so much more responsible and aware of their social media habits and the impact they have on their lives and thought patterns than I am.

After we spoke about it for a while I realised that I've been doing the same. I'm not looking at cute teenagers in vintage bikinis under umbrellas on pristine beaches, but I am most definitely hunting for photos of brightly coloured rows of summer flowers, farmers and gardeners working in their fields and orchards in the sunshine, women and families in summer dresses, and other pictures where the light streaming in looks warm and golden.

It's freezing here. It's often misty, the skies are white and there's icy cold moisture in the air. My face hurts from the cold and when I go outside I have to wear so many layers of clothing and scarves and hats and gloves that I can hardly move.

The following photos that I've taken over the past few days, one week after the solstice, one month into winter, are the exact opposite of those that I've been gazing dreamily at; they're dark and they're moody and they look cold, but maybe if you've  been sweltering in the sunshine on the other side of the world, they'll be exactly what you've been looking for to cool you down (yeah right!). They tell the story of our season anyway.

Our big girls have been on school holidays for the past week and there has been non-stop guitar strumming, lyric learning and melody writing going on. It's been such a joy to have their music floating through the air, down corridors, from behind closed doors, in the lounge room, in the kitchen, in the sun room, in bedrooms. Once I had to ask for a few moments of silence so I could concentrate on a piece of writing and follow a thought through, but the rest of the time I can't stop smiling and singing along and wondering if they know how lucky they are to have this passion and how awesome it is that they can share it, and wondering how things are going to change now that Pepper is on school holidays too.

As I wrote at the end of last week's blog, my farmer boy got on his lathe and turned a couple of door handles for my studio. It took him a few goes to find the right wood, and then the right shape, but now that they're complete I'll be reminded of him and his craftsmanship every time I open and close my studio door. Bespoke door handles...seriously!

And speaking of my studio, this week the insulation went into the walls.

I spent a few days with my farmer boy pushing floor boards from the old Malvern Star factory through the thicknesser.

Then Jobbo cut them to size.

And then they started lining the interior walls with them. They'll need another light sand to smooth them down, but gosh they're looking great. And by the end of today they'll hopefully be close to done and it'll be time to fit out the inside. Can you imagine! Honestly I'm not sure I really can yet. It feels kind of huge and unbelievable. But also ridiculously exciting at the same time.

And despite the icy cold air, we've been out farming. We finally finished pulling the nets off the trees, I pulled out masses of summer flowers, started digging up the dahlia tubers, planted some more bulbs, some sweet peas and some hollyhocks and finished with the wood splitter.

Mostly, once I'm out and into a job I quite enjoy it, once my blood is pumping, and once I'm making a difference, but psyching myself up to get out in it is another thing entirely.

I've almost finished knitting another pair of Uppsala slippers for Bren's dad John.

I've been reading and really enjoying my Mum's library copy of The Good Brother.

And we're watching Friday Night Lights again but this time with our big girls who are loving it.

I was just about to sign off for the week when I heard a bit of activity outside and decided to go and check it out for myself. And then when I saw what everyone was getting excited about of course I had to go and get my camera and include you too.

The beautiful hand-nailed Malvern Star floor wall, the windows, my farmer boy builder, and the chairs that I had seen outside a shop in town today when we were driving home from Pepper's parent teacher interview. I screeched to a halt outside but there was already a woman there buying them. I sat in the car wishing for her to change her mind while Bren went out to negotiate. He asked the shop owner but she said he was five minutes too late so he started walking back to the car.

I can't tell you how disappointed I felt. I've been scouring the internet for months for these chairs and then here they were outside a shop in our town. It felt like a sign.

But then, what do you know, the shop lady came to the window of the car and asked for our phone number because she wasn't convinced the other lady would buy them. And then as we were hunting for a pen and piece of paper she decided that she wouldn't. They were too much of a risk for her Airbnb. They were ours! Some for the sun-room, one for the deck of my studio and maybe one for inside. I'm thrilled!

Thrilled! If only it wasn't hurting cold outside I'd move in immediately.

I had a conversation this morning with an old blogging buddy of mine from eight+ years ago. She stopped making and blogging years ago and it felt a bit weird to say that I'm still here, still creating, photographing, writing and still pressing publish. She's moved on but I've stayed in the same place. After all this time, after all these posts. But then as we hung up and I plugged my card reader into my computer and sat down to write today's blog, I felt so pleased to be here. It felt like coming home. Who knows how long I'll go on for, but for now I'm happy to prioritise Friday blog day and I guess that as long as it feels good, I still will.

So tell me lovelies, what have you been working on today?
What's the soundtrack to your life at the moment?
What's your favourite way to deal with weather that hurts you?
And what are you still doing after all this time?
Do tell.

See you next week!

Love, Kate x

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