Friday, February 19, 2016

What I've been up to - the late summer edition


How are you lovely blog buddy?

What have I been up to? I thought you'd never ask. Here goes;

I've been picking celery, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers and herbs from the garden.

Somewhere along the line I ditched the cider vinegar method of preserving and fell in love with fermenting. These fermented pickles are super easy to make, barely cost a thing in terms of ingredients and dollars, they are DELICIOUS and are full of beneficial nutrients for your gut. WinwinwinwinwinYUM!

I'm using Amanda Feifer's book - Ferment Your Vegetables as a bit of a bible, but I'm certain there are loads of great recipes online and in other books too.

I think my poly tunnel cucumber vines are nearing the end of their season but my market garden vines are just taking off. Looks like I'll be shoving cucumbers into jars, filling them with herbs and brine and vine leaves and burping their air bubbles for many weeks still to come.

We're picking apples! So far we've picked the the Jersey Macs, the Abbas and the Galas. Gosh it's good to be an apple farmer in apple season.

After a few years break from pumpkin growing due to lack of interest, we finally planted the seeds and had another grow(!). I'd forgotten how much fun it is to watch those big leafy vines take over the space, to watch those yellow flowers form bulbs behind them that seem to grow and grow and grow every time you look, and even though I am not a pumpkin eater, none of us are, this autumn I resolve to try a whole lot of recipes until we become so.

We've been sharing our grapes with the birds.

I read, and fell in a deep hole, and wept over, and despaired over, and then finally finished Hanya Yangihara's A Little Life. Reading it affected my entire life for two weeks like a bad dream that haunted my days. But as traumatic and heart breaking as I found it, I also thought it was brilliant. I couldn't put it down. I made excuses to run inside to my bedroom to change clothes just so I could sneak a few pages, I stayed up waaaaay too late at night to devour big chunks and I read on the treadmill - which is something I've never done before but which I have always done since. I loved this book and still feel myself sobbing a little when I think back to it.

And even though I made jokes that I needed to read a fluffy romance novel after I finished A Little Life - I started reading Room by Emma Donoghue, a much less traumatic but still very disturbing and claustrophobic novel.

I've almost finished my Flower King beanie from Anna Maltz's gorgeous book Penguin. The pattern calls for a big pom-pom on top, but I'm thinking an i-cord finish might be better for my little penguins to wear to school.

I've started a Bracken jumper for Miss Pepper which is knitted inside out with two different sized needles which is fun and fast. It's been ages since I've knitted jumpers and cardigans for my girls but this year I'm hoping to have them all rugged up in time for winter.

I felt like the luckiest Mum on earth when I discovered that an entire ball of HOT PINK yarn had gone through the washing machine cycle and not coloured anything else pink. I have no idea who the yarn belonged to, I have no idea how it even happened but I do know that I am grateful beyond words that there wasn't even a streak, or a tinge, or a speck of pink on anything to be found.

I am loving the little posies of garden cut flowers that have been appearing in jars around the place.

We watched and loved both seasons of The Leftovers and have no idea what to watch next.

And I'm thrilled to report that we have finally joined the rest of Australia by having bowls of tomatoes on the kitchen table. Finally. For a while there I thought that the girls would eat every single one that I brought into the house as I brought it in, but eventually supply overcame even their demand. We still are nowhere near a saucepan of passata or a tray of semi-drieds, but as I keep chanting to myself - tomatoes are an autumn fruit and we are still 10 days away from autumn.

And as usual I've been watering and weeding and feeding and planting and digging and fencing and cooking and baking and jamming and dehydrating, and driving, and listening and solving and writing and photographing.

I haven't yet used the spinning wheel I borrowed from my spinning group, maybe this weekend.

And that's me, us, we.

Tell me about you. How are you travelling? What are you reading, growing, dreaming about?

Wishing you the most wonderful weekend.

Love Kate

Thursday, February 4, 2016

school's in

It might just be impossible to write the blog post I want to write this morning.

It's Thursday, Bren is probably on his way home from driving the girls to school and I'm alone at the kitchen table in what would be a silent house but for the hummmmm of the dehydrator. All week I've been thinking about how to tell this story from my perspective. How to tell of the early days of starting a new school but without giving any of the girls' personal feelings or anecdotes away.

A while ago, when my girls were not so little anymore, it occurred to me that I have to keep them out of this blog to respect their privacy and their rights to tell their own tales and develop into their own people. Mostly I think I have succeeded although there have been times when we've had to workshop certain issues as a family and come up with solutions that suit everyone. If I stick to my thoughts and feelings and happenings then generally I am safe.

Although I do want to keep to these self imposed rules, I must admit that the censorship means that I am mostly telling less than half of the story and leaving out the best bits.

I long to tell the truth about our experience of parenting adolescents and teens. I'd love to talk about the struggles, the solutions, the failures and the joys. These years have challenged me way beyond the newborn years, they have thrilled me, terrified me, made me scream, and laugh and feel more full of love than I ever thought possible. Maybe if you've been visiting Foxs Lane for a while you've read some of this between the lines. Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. I wish I could document these years more openly and feel that cathartic feeling that pressing publish on a meaty post brings. I wish I could read your feed back and know that you're going through it too, or that you remember when you did, or offer me advice, or reading material.

But while I have chosen to have a public profile, while I have chosen to air my dirty laundry for anyone to see, they have not decided the same.

So the story of starting a new high school 50 minutes away from here, a school that until two days ago didn't exist, is told from the mother's perspective only. I'll use broad sweeping statements and tell little bits of the story but if you read between the lines you'll notice the beginnings of something sparkley.

So far the commute has been long but easily doable between the six of us. The different starting and finishing times feels annoying but eventually will surely become valuable social time or homework time. The fact that there is homework assigned still doesn't make sense to me. I'd much prefer them to work outside on the farm or play with their sisters or friends after a day spent in classrooms. But they are enjoying the introductions to their subjects and looking forward to the benefits that a creative arts based school can provide.

Socially, my sweet friend Cath put it best when she described it as turning up at the best party ever - but alone. But knowing my girls, they won't be the new girls for long.

So I guess that's it. Day three and my shoulders are starting to relax and my stress headache is disappearing. It's still early days but I'm feeling a little bit optimistic in our decision.

I know from my limited experience parenting adolescents that there is no such thing as a smooth ride. That there will be bumps and skids and headwinds. I'm just hoping that our girls feel creatively fulfilled. That they feel included and challenged and empowered and educated. I hope they walk out of class sometimes feeling like they are buzzing with the excitement of new knowledge and the big wide world opening up to them. That they feel empowered to change their minds and then change them back again. I hope they feel inspired to go to places they've never been and to stay up late at night reading everything they can about a certain subject. I hope they want to go to school most mornings. I hope they make strong, life long friends.

And I hope we can maintain some sort of Jarrah/Indi/Pepper/Kate/Bren/farm/home/community balance.

I have so many hopes.

Love Kate

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