Friday, March 8, 2019

photos of flowers and things

The other morning when we came inside for breakfast after taking the girls to their schools, stacking a load of firewood in the woodshed and bottling up 12 jars of tomatoes sauce for the Fowlers machine, Farmer Bren looked at me and said 'I get it, this is who we are. This is what we do. This is our life'. 

I guess when you're so deeply involved in what you do sometimes it's hard to remember that not everyone is doing it the same way as you. Not everyone grows a lot of their food from tiny seeds; not everyone makes their muesli from the contents of about 15 jars each morning; not everyone lives so far from their closest neighbours that if they went outside and screamed as loudly as they could no-one would hear them; not everyone could have their growing season ended by one surprise weather event; not everyone uses fire to heat their houses and cook on; not everyone has a kitchen floor that's covered with crates full of autumn bounty ready to be preserved; not everyone only ever eats cucumbers and tomatoes when they are in season; and not everyone owns two pairs of the same boots - one for work and one for town.

There are some things about our world that probably sound so foreign to some people, like the fact that we have a mob of about 50 kangaroos that live on our property and most of the time don't bother us, but sometimes tear the nets in the orchards and eat all the apples. I'm sure there are koalas here too, although I've only ever seen one.

And lots of things I do feel terribly ordinary, like looking at my phone too much, trying to problem-solve for my kids a lot, and boring old housework (only ever the minimum I can get away with though).

I don't actually know what this is all about. My head's a bit cloudy today. I guess what Bren said, plus the messages you guys send me often telling me how different my world is to yours, reminds me to notice the special bits, encourages me to remember the choices we've made, and allows me to see the beauty.

I think that's enough words for today. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I'd love you to tell me a bit about how your world differs from mine, or from those around you. It doesn't need to be big, just anything really.

Wishing you a happy International Women's Day!

And a fabulous weekend.

See you next week.

Love, Kate x

Friday, March 1, 2019

sunshine in my soul

Over the past few months I've settled into this new sort of sleep pattern. After I have a shower and go to bed I read my book until I'm so bleary eyed and sleepy that I can hardly see the words on the page anymore. Sometimes I try to read past this point if I'm up to a good bit in the story, but mostly by now I recognise the peak tired point, I turn off my lamp, pop my ear plugs in and within 15 or 20 minutes I'm asleep. This is new for me, I used to find the getting to sleep part agonising.

Then I generally sleep to anywhere between two and four in the morning when I wake up, get up and go to the toilet and then repeat the reading bit. I can be awake at this point anywhere from half an hour, to the rest of the night til morning. 

I practise mindfulness, I practise good sleep hygiene, but I've never been a good sleeper and I probably never will be.

But the other night, about a week ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and had this realisation that everything right now is good. Now is one of those rare times in life where there don't seem to be any dramas. Everyone in my family is healthy and doing well. There are no big issues, no overwhelming stresses and nothing to keep me awake in the middle of the night. I went through each person in my mind and when I'd convinced myself it was true, I turned the light off and went back to sleep.

And somehow this sense of well being has stayed with me throughout the week. I feel like I've had sunshine in my soul.

On Friday after I wrote my blog we picked little tomatoes to toss over pesto pasta for our dinner, we picked cucumbers and nashis and sunflowers, and we spoke to our Indi while she decorated her kibbutz room with flowers in vodka bottle vases.

On Saturday we picked apples and plums and hazelnuts and tomatoes and cucumbers and flowers. Late in the afternoon I took a basketful of tomatoes outside, laid them out on the ground then stood over them and photographed them. 'Just like I used to do when I was an olden days blogger' I told my farmer boy. He laughed and asked me what exactly I thought I was now. Okay true, nothing's changed there.

On Sunday we strolled the aisles of The Daylesford Sunday Market trying to decide if we should have a flower stall soon, I bought some new kitchen knives and then we came home and celebrated them with super thin slices of tomato, cheese and pickled cucumber on toast. After that we picked huge bunches of straw flowers to hang upside down and dry, we picked tomatoes and cucumbers and we visited our bees to see how they were coping with the heat and if they were making any honey.

On Monday we spent time in the garden deadheading, weeding and harvesting. When the sun went down and it got a bit cooler I started stacking firewood in the woodshed - as much as I hate to think about it, I'm sure the first fire of the season can't be too far away. And I made the most delicious cauliflower and freeka salad from Julia Nishimura's book Ostro for dinner.

On Tuesday I started ceramics lessons and I LOVED it!! The first lesson was all about hand building - pinch-pots, coil pots and slabs. I made a few different styles of vases. It's so interesting to think that I've never enjoyed ceramics when I've tried it in the past and now I love it. Why the change? Why now? My teacher Kim sent us home with a chunk of clay to play with over the weekend and I'm hoping to have time on Sunday, I'm so looking forward to it.

On Wednesday we covered a few of the rows of the apple orchard with nets. It's been an incredibly hot and dry summer and despite the fact that we've been irrigating continuously, this year's crop has been small and disappointing. I blame the dreadful cold, windy and wet weeks we had last year when the blossom was out but the bees couldn't leave their hives to pollinate. If you've been waiting to see us at market or to pop into the farm gate stall, it doesn't look like it's going to happen this season. We're sorry and we're disappointed. But we do claim to be seasonal growers and some seasons are just crap.

This morning when we drove past the orchards to take Pepper to school the trees were FULL of white cockatoos holding apples in their hands eating them. The ground is littered thick with half eaten cores. We didn't feel like it was worth the cost and effort of netting the whole orchard for a disappointing crop, but hopefully we've saved a few rows of our family's favourites.

On Thursday apart from driving Jazzy to school, picking tomatoes, cucumbers and flowers and going to gym, we spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. We squished tomatoes and made an enormous cauldron of sauce and I made some more pickled cucumbers.

Every year just before our tomatoes start to ripen I have a panic and fear that we'll never have enough and end up buying a box from a local organic farmer to get me started and stop my worrying. This year I made a decision to be patient and to trust and not to panic buy.

Last year I made somewhere between 100 and 120 jars of tomatoes sauce and there are still around 15 jars left in the cupboard. That means I'd better get busy and fill that cupboard back up. I'm sitting on zero right now but I do feel so happy that I waited and that they'll all be ours.

To make - fry up an onion and some garlic, stir in the squished tomatoes, add loads of basil, bottle, seal, water-bath.

Rather than just bottling tomatoes by themselves, we add lots of other summer seasonal ingredients from our garden that we won't have growing later in the year

Which brings us to Friday, today. I took Pepper to school early, I picked bunches of flowers, tomatoes and cucumbers with Jazzy, I hunted through the dahlias for the grasshoppers that have been munching my flowers, Bren had a meeting with Dave and another guy about fixing our house dam and now I'm writing my blog.

Over the weekend I hope to start bottling the tomatoes (I'll keep you posted on the tally), keep knitting my socks, continue reading Abby's copy of Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman, start listening to the latest episode of Who The Hell is Hamish podcast, take Jazzy to the orthodontist, maybe speak to Indi, hopefully crochet something that's in my head, go to gym, fill baskets and vases with produce, and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully continue this streak of family wellness and wellbeing-ness.

And if at all possible I would absolutely love to order another week of this sunshine in my soul feeling. I'd love to order one for you too.

So how's your week been?
Did you get up to anything fun?
Are you making anything interesting?
Deciding on anything important?
Dreaming about something wonderful?

See ya next Friday.

Lots of love,

Kate x

Friday, February 22, 2019

i love summer

Hello honey bunches,

How has your week been? I feel like mine's had a bit of everything: a bit of culture, a bit of exercise, a bit of drama, a lot of flowers, some tears, some laughter, a lot of podcasts, a lot of discussions, an argument, a celebration, some preserving, a bit of this...a lot of that. 

It's midday now and all morning I've been wondering how to write a blog that captures this moment in time, that gets to the heart of it without the use of thousands of words, and then I remembered Pip's taking stock, perfect!

Let's get into it.

Making : socks. I never did get around to changing the name of this blog to Soxs Lane. At the moment the ones I'm knitting have blue toes, green feet and little speckley white hearts on them. Hopefully I'll get to the heels on the weekend. I also have a half knitted cardigan using wool I spun myself, but I've run out of the fleece and I'm not sure I can get anymore and now I don't know if I should continue or rip it out. I've made the whole body and only have the sleeves to go and I was planning to dye the whole thing once I'd finished anyway. Hmmmm I'm not sure about that one.

Cooking : stewed plums, zucchini fritters, steamed beans, and pesto. Hopefully the great tomato sauce cook up and bottle will begin this weekend.

Sipping : cold peppermint tea.

Reading: My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I've read all sorts of things about this book but I'm only up to page 61 which feels a bit too early to decide for myself. I will be interested to see how this story develops though because so far it feels pretty stuck in one place.

Looking: out the window at the forest. Tomorrow will be the 10 year anniversary of the bushfire that came through our place in 2009. From where I'm sitting I can see the tall black trunks that are a constant reminder. On that day we evacuated into town to stay with friends. Our girls were tiny, my sister Meg came with us, as well as a little girl we were looking after who had lost everything in a horrific bushfire a few weeks before, and three of our big dogs. It's crazy to think that when Bren called me from our house to see what I wanted him to rescue I was so mentally unprepared that all I could think of was the market money and my Camper boots. It was before I had my own blog or instagram and could not comprehend it when Meg asked tour host if she could use his computer to update her blog and let her readers know she was safe. How things have changed. It was a terribly frightening time but unlike the horrific fires of Black Saturday a few weeks before, the damage our fire caused was minimal. We were incredibly lucky and returned home the next day to put out spot fires and count our blessings.

Wishing: for safe housing for all, for climate action to protect the future, for world peace, for racial equality, for equality and safety full stop, for enough rain and enough sunshine, for a bush-fire free week, for the health and safety of the bees, for access to education for all, for no-one to feel 'othered', for a world filled with loving kindness, compassion and empathy....and that's just to begin with...   

Enjoying: the abundance that comes in late summer. Baskets and bowls full of tomatoes, plums, cucumbers, zucchinis, eggs, apples, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, beans, peas, silverbeet, basil and all of the flowers.

Waiting: for things to quieten down a bit on the farm so I can spend some time in my studio. I haven't even set foot in there for weeks.

Liking: the fact that I'm not coughing anymore. Thank goodness.

Loving: our updates from Indi. My Mum told me the other day that she feels so happy thinking about Indi because she is the best parts of me and Bren. I love that. I often tell people that it's a good thing that there's such a big time difference between us otherwise I might be tempted to message her much too often. As it is when we wake up in the morning she's already asleep and she doesn't wake up herself until late in our afternoon. Hopefully one day soon she'll write a guest post for my blog to fill us all in. It's pretty incredible watching the way she captures her new world. How she interacts with the people and places. It's wonderful to see her great big smile and hear her stories and it's humbling to hear her outlook when things get tricky. Gosh I miss that kid, but I am seriously so happy for her to be having this experience and these adventures and this time.

Needing: to pick Pepper up from school in an hour.

Wearing: work overalls and work boots and a grey tee-shirt. 

Following: the bees from flower to flower trying to work out their path.

Noticing: how much dirt there is under my fingernails.

Coveting: I can't think of one single thing.

Sorting: through the seeds I want to plant this autumn and making sure I have what I need.

Getting: excited for my beginner's ceramics course that starts next week. Although I absolutely adore buying and using other ceramicists' work, I've never really enjoyed the making much myself. I think it has something to do with the coldness and grittiness of the clay. But when I saw the course advertised the other day something changed in me. I feel like it's time to try again. Watch this space for some bowls and cups and planters coming soon (I hope).

Buying: a small sized guitar for Pepper now that she's started learning.

Watching: the autumn flowers as they start to bloom.

Hoping: that all of the winter seeds I planted this week will have enough time to get established before the weather turns and winter kicks in.

Listening: to Robin DiAngelo talk about White Fragility on The Wheelers Centre podcast. I've listened to this podcast twice and I'm about to start again now that Bren has heard it and wants to discuss it with me. This is such an important issue and I feel like everyone should listen.

Saving: seeds. So many seeds. 

Bookmarking: Brunswick Music Festival events and gigs to go to. Have I told you that my sister Emily Ulman is the programmer? STAR!!! It's going to be such an incredible event. So many wonderful shows, so much diversity and more than 75% of all the artists feature at least one non-male member. #proudestsisteralert!! 

Opening: the dehydrator to check if the plum fruit leather is ready.

Giggling: at everything the kitten does. He's such a wild little guy.

Feeling: thrilled that despite the cabbage moth infestation my cauliflowers and broccoli are looking glorious. 

Obsessing: over the dahlias. Each and every one brings me so much joy it's ridiculous. Our house looks like a colourful festival. Every vase is in use, every surface is covered, every colour, every shape, every stem length. We've been talking about having a party at the end of this year but this week decided to hold off until next Feb/March. Of course we're going to have to wait for the flowers.

Wow, that felt quicker than usual. I wonder if I missed a few. In any case I feel like I've taken stock and captured this moment right now.

Please feel free to fill in a few of the prompts yourself in the comments.
Your interactions with my blog are one of my favourite parts of blogging.

So what are you saving, obsessing over, buying, hoping, wearing, needing, waiting for, enjoying, making? I'd love to know.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend friends. Ours will be spent in the garden and in the kitchen no doubt.

Lots of love,

Kate x

Friday, February 15, 2019

with arms full of flowers

Last Friday at around 5 in the afternoon my dad came home from a trip to Melbourne with my fixed up and updated computer. 'Are you going to write your blog today?' he asked me as he handed it over. My computer had been sitting in a shop in Melbourne all week and I'd barely thought about it at all. I knew it was coming home late Friday and assumed I wouldn't have time to create a blog post so I planned my whole day without it, and when he asked I replied 'nope, I'll be back to blogging next week.' 

It's interesting how powerful our mindset is. Only after I'd thought about his question later did I realise that in retrospect I probably could have knocked something together. If I'd known it would be back in the afternoon I could have done everything early and then sat down to write it late. And more than that I would have been thinking about it and collecting stories and thoughts all week in preparation. But my mind wasn't in that state, and I had nothing, so I didn't.

But now that it's a week later, and I do, I am.

Last Saturday after an argument with someone in my family, I was presented with an apology and a big bunch of flowers picked from my own garden. One of each variety of flower and seed pod that we grow. I've made and received plenty of apologies in my lifetime, but I don't think any has ever felt so meaningful and looked so beautiful. 

Last Sunday, actually every single day, I have this routine where first thing in the morning and last thing at night before it gets dark, I walk up and down every row of the garden. I admire the new, I deadhead the old, I tie up anything loose, I harvest the ripe, I watch for any pests, I squish caterpillars and slugs, I sing, or chat or just listen, I try to take it all in and notice everything, I breathe, I fill my cup.

Last Monday I was walking back to the car-park after the school drop off with a mum I'd just met. Her oldest just started his first year of primary school this year, while my youngest just started her last. As we walked we swapped little details of our lives; how long we've lived here, our other children's names, what else we juggle along with mothering.

As we arrived at her car she slid open the door to reveal a row of child seats and it surprised me. Then it occurred to me that it's been ages since I've buckled one of mine in. It's funny how something that's part of your life for so many years can look so strange and alien when you've gone past it and left it behind.

And then I went one step further and thought that not only has my back-seat booster-seat period disappeared, but now I have a child that could legally drive that car. Wow!

I'm not sure this story feels so profound a few days later now that I'm writing it down, but last Monday after we'd said our goodbyes and she'd driven off, I sat in my car for a few minutes and contemplated the stage of mothering that I'm in. It all feels very grown up and big.

Last Tuesday, and every other day, Indi has been texting us stories and sending us photos of her wonderful worldy adventures. It's a crazy feeling to live with someone under the same roof for 18 years and then watch as they travel off to make an independent life on the other side of the globe. It's wonderful to watch the world through her eyes, it's interesting to see her style evolve as she captures her surroundings, it's heartwarming to see her beautiful smile, it's fascinating to hear her stories, and as with all her firsts - it's taking me back to the people and the places and the adventures I had when I was her age doing a similar thing. Of course I miss her like crazy but much stronger than that is my sense of joy and delight for her, and pride and awe of her.

Last Tuesday one of us decided that the new dynamic of four in the family was too difficult to navigate so she went down the hill to stay with my parents for a few days.

It's funny, while the bare bones of our family life are still the same - schooling, farming, eating, home-working, preserving, growing, music-ing, driving...the details are all different. There's one less plate on the table, there's one less pile of washing, there's one less story, there's less drawing, there's one less guitar being played, there's one less person in the shower queue, there's no-one to tell you which shoes to wear, no one talks about Shawn, sometimes there's just no-one else who understands.

It's early days still and I'm sure we'll all get used to our new normal I just hope our little wanderer knows how much we adore her and miss her. And I'm also ridiculously grateful to have my parents at the bottom of our hill to pick up the pieces and to spoil the runaways when a little bit of extra love and care is needed.

Last Wednesday I sat together my farmer boy in the sun-room and had a discussion about all the things we're struggling with. Nothing major, just the day to day stuff like water, and farming, and aging, and sickness, and time, and moods, and housework, and caterpillars, and wanting to be 18 again with nothing but a backpack traveling the world.

Last Thursday morning we dropped Jazzy at school and caught a train into the city. We ate breakfast for lunch, we visited the Escher x Nendo exhibition at The NGV, we strolled around holding hands and people watching, and then we headed back home feeling lighter and brighter and more capable of dealing with things.

It's amazing what a difference a day made.

Which brings us right back to Friday, today!

I'm reading and loving Preservation by Jock Serong, a few days after Indi left I cast on a pair of socks as knitting comfort and I'm slowly working away on them, I'm listening to It's Not A Race podcast, we finished the last episode of Russian Dolls last night and wish there was a second season, we're listening to a lot of very old James Taylor, and we're eating loads of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, carrots, onions, lettuce, plums, apples, zucchini, silverbeet, berries and herbs.

It's pretty nice to be back here. Sitting up on the daybed looking out on the forest, typing away on my fixed up and quiet computer, thinking about my week that's just gone.

Thank you for your messages and your kindness and patience.

If all goes to plan I'll see you again next Friday.

Until then why don't you fill me in on what's been going on for you.
How are you feeling about things?
Have you settled into the new year's routine yet?
Do you sometimes get a glimpse of who you are and get a surprise?
Do you have something fun planned for this weekend?



Visit my other blog.