Friday, May 25, 2018

may be

Hello my friends,

How are you feeling?

I haven't had a great week. The sleep thing really got to me and on Monday when I couldn't handle it any more and went to see a doctor and she asked me how I was feeling, I told her I felt broken. My body wasn't doing what it was meant to do, my brain felt full of mush, my emotions were turned all the way up to 11, and I didn't trust my responses, I couldn't remember words, I felt off balance and teary and cold.

I didn't cry to the doctor which surprised me, we chatted for a while, we made a plan for the next few weeks and I left with a prescription for melatonin that I promised to persevere with for at least a week.

For the first three nights nothing changed. I lay in bed all night in a tangle of bed sheets, headphone cords, podcasts and meditations and tried not to let thoughts of all that I wanted to accomplish the next day sit in my stomach. I lay there. And lay there. And lay there. Staring out into the darkness listening to the sounds of the forest at night.

Late yesterday my friend Kate suggested I mix drops of frankincense and lavender essential oils with some fractionated coconut oil in a roll-on bottle and before bed apply some to the back of my neck and the soles of my feet. Just before bedtime last night I made up my potion and remembered how Tara Westover in her book Educated described passing her mother's homeopathic remedies through a circle she made with her thumb and forefinger 100 times to activate their healing potentials. So just for fun I did the same. Then I visited each of the four members of my family in their beds and applied it to their feet and necks and then I did my own. (Actually that's not quite true - one member wouldn't let me near her with the oil despite my pleading).

Last night I fell asleep at midnight and this morning I woke up at 6am!! That's the longest I've slept for all in one go for months. Today I feel relieved and happy and a little bit giggly. The sun is shining and the world feels full of possibilities. Obviously I'm not confident that one good night's sleep is the end to my problems, but at least I do know that it's possible. And who knows why last night was finally the night, all I can tell you is I'll be applying my magic oil again at bedtime tonight, that's for sure.

Let's get back to the photo-a-day, okay.

may nineteen

Last Saturday we fired up the splitter and made a huge pile of firewood. At this stage we still haven't decided where to stack it neatly to cure for the next few years, but I'm tempted to borrow Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mytting from the library again and to learn how to make some fancy stacks.

may 20

On Sunday, feeling particularly awful, I went for a long walk around the farm in the rain trying to find the beauty. These echinacea that I planted from seed so many months ago are only just starting to flower now despite the low temperatures and lack of sunlight. They feel particularly precious blossoming long after almost everything else has finished.

may twenty first

I feel like I take a lot of photos from inside looking out. Here are some out looking in. Stripey tee-shirts, chrysanthemums, potted colour.

may twenty second

The very last of our dahlias. 

And the coriander that I am desperate to pull out so I can replant the bed but I'll need to collect the seed before I do, so I haven't.

may twenty third

On Wednesday the ceiling went up in my studio and the boys made a start on the roof. I hid inside only popping out at the end to admire their work and take photos. Watching them with their power-tools up those ladders was a bit much for me. But how pretty does it look up on the bank, nestled in amongst the trees.

may twenty fourth

Bren's sitting next to me as I type this explaining the process they went through yesterday to finish the roof. He's using words like rafters, ceiling, battens, insulation, sisalation, roofing and ridge capping. I feel grateful that he's fascinated by the process and I'm pretty confident that if I took the time and listened then I'd find it interesting too, but it's enough for me that it's pretty, that it'll keep me dry and warm and protected, and that it fits into its surroundings. Late last year we pulled the car-port that sat in front of our house down. I really, really love the fact that they used the rafters, the tin and even the screws from that car-port for my studio roof. That car-port roof travelled 10 meters to the east where it shall sit above and shelter the prettiest little studio for ever more.

Yesterday I pulled the very last of the tomatoes out and planted garlic in behind them.

I love how the view changes seasonally. A whole bed of cherry tomatoes on tall trellises stood in front of the greenhouse for the past six months, it's lovely to be able to see inside again.

may twenty five

I never ever thought I would post photos of a roof to my blog and tell you how much I love it and how happy it's making me, but here you go. Big wide hardwood offcuts that became dark stained ceiling boards. Rafters that came out of a factory in Sydney, went into a building at Docklands studio in Melbourne and now are on their third use in my studio roof.

I imagine I'll spend many an hour gazing upwards, tracing the lines with my eyes, smiling at accidental hand prints and remembering the process it took to design and construct it.

And my Merricks shawl. I think I'm probably two thirds of the way around the edging. Hopefully I'll have some finished photos for you next week.

And that my friends is that. The roller coaster of one week of my life. And that's not even telling the story of the grumpy teenagers and the tears on the way to the compost heap.

I'm grateful for all of the wonderful sleep remedies and suggestions you've been sending me.
I hope you've been sleeping well.
I hope I haven't put you off with the roof photos.
I hope you know how much I appreciate your visits and your comments.
I'm wondering if I should continue this photo diary format for another month.
What do you think?
What have you been up to?
What can you tell me?

Got to go and make soup.

Love y'as!

Kate x

Friday, May 18, 2018

wish i may - wish i might

Hello my lovelies,

Another Friday, another Foxslane post.

So much of my last week, if not the past three weeks, or even the last year, has been affected by the fact that I can't sleep. It feels like I've spent so much time talking about and trying different preventatives and cures, working on my sleep hygiene, pushing harder at the gym, cutting down on coffee, learning meditation, taking herbs, writing lists...but still I can't sleep. My body has forgotten how to sleep. And so I've been walking around feeling like the front of my head is filled with soggy cotton wool and hoping the right words will come to me in conversation when I need them.

It's frustrating and exasperating and scary. I feel like I'm wasting the days of my life working at quarter strength. Wandering around in a daze, dazing around in a wonder.

But late last night when I was preparing myself for another eight hours of lying in the darkness, my farmer boy suggested that whatever happened or didn't happen overnight wouldn't matter because all I had to do today was sit up in bed, knit a couple of rows of my shawl, edit some photos and write my blog.

I hardly slept at all last night and feel like I'm in slow motion again today but it's been kind of nice taking the pressure off and not expecting to get anything done but the bare minimum. So please excuse me if I'm a bit incoherent in places, I'll totally forgive you if you lean on the pictures instead of the words. And let's just cross our fingers and hope that by some miracle something changes soon and I sleep and make sense again.

So how about we get back to the photo, or five, a day, okay?

may twelve

Last Saturday we picked the last sale-able apples from the trees. Five crates of Jonathan's. It was so cold that I couldn't feel my fingers, the rain was dripping off the trees and nets down my neck when I looked down and up my sleeves when I reached up, and it wasn't an altogether pleasant experience. But the apples were bright red and beautiful, they came off easily and we filled the crates in no time.

As we walked the rows of the orchard afterwards and noticed how the leaves were turning golden and fluttering to the ground, we thanked the trees for the beautiful apples, made plans to take the nets off before we pick the grannies, and acknowledged the fantastic season we've had and all that it involved.

We put those apples on the farm gate stall and by the next evening a box had been taken for an apple pie cooking lesson at a Women's prison nearby and the rest had been sold to passers by. We took the signs down, we put the scales away, we emptied the money tin and then we closed the stall doors until next season.

may thirteen

On Sunday we helped Indi paste one of her photos on the water tank at the top of the hill. It's part of her year 12 art folio and has all sorts of theory and meaning behind it, but like I said I'm not in the right head space for explaining anything complicated so you're just going to have to take my word for it.

She printed up some more yesterday that will hopefully get pasted around our farm over the weekend, I'll report back next week.

After the trek up the hill and the pasting we ate pancakes for Mother's Day lunch.

may fourteen

After school on Monday we went for a walk through the sunflower patch to assess the storm damage. Being such a late crop they're probably not as strong as they could be and many were lying down or bent over, but still there were enough standing upright staring at the sun for us to get lost in the magic of and bask in their glow.

may fifteen

These are the chrysanthemums I bought myself for Mother's Day. Bren bought me a blue handled pocket-knife which is equally as pretty and I probably should have taken a picture of, but I forgot.

may sixteen

On Wednesday Bren and Jobbo built the roof of my studio. I had been worried that adding a roof onto the structure would make it too big and overpowering in that space, but after they played around with angles for a while I think they got it just right. I love it and its little pitched roof.

Bren's parents drove up for lunch which was fun.

And then I walked up and down each row of flowers until I found enough for a bunch.

may seventeen

Yesterday I planted some more garlic, I pulled the basil out of the garden and saved the seeds, I watched as they wrapped the studio up in sisalation and Miss Jazzy got her braces put on her teeth.

may eighteen 

Today. A few days ago when they were discussing ideas for the ceiling of my studio, I sent my farmer boy an instagram photo of a ceiling I love. It was one of those dreamy cabin photos with a pitched roof, chunky rafters and big, wide, dark boards covering the the entire space. From there the boys went into action pulling bits of timber out, sanding, staining, oiling and then holding them up to be discussed. At one point Jobbo remarked that he'd always wanted to see what sump oil did to the colour of a wooden board and the next thing he knew Bren came back from the depths of an old shed with a bucket full from an old tractor. From time to time we laugh at him and his hoarding tendencies and then at other times we are swiftly reminded that he's the one laughing. Or feeling smug anyway.

Eventually they sourced some hardwood offcuts and spent today getting them ready. Jobbo cut them to size, Bren sanded them down and then they played with the ratios of linseed oil to sump oil for the dark and richness.

They got rained out this afternoon because sanding is not an inside job, but with any luck by this time next week I will not only have had some good hours of sleep - but I'll have a studio ceiling too. How exciting.

And I'm still knitting my Merricks shawl in Abbe's Noble Fox yarn. I've just finished the second colour and am about to make a start on the border, it's the most beautiful blue and I'm so excited to use it.

Which brings me to now, still sitting up in bed, staring at the late afternoon shadows dancing on the wall, wearing the new to me cardigan I bought myself this afternoon on our local buy/swap/sell Facebook page, wondering what to make for dinner that Jazzy and her new braces will be able to eat.

And that's me!

Please tell me about you. Are you building? Wallpapering? Is your team winning? Are you excited about something? Dreading something else? Please fill me in, I'd love to hear it all.

Love! Love!

Kate x

Friday, May 11, 2018

wild and woolly

Well hello there, it's so nice to see your beautiful face this stormy Friday morning.

So another week has passed and another set of emotional waves has landed on our family's shores. It still amazes me that in one family five people can deal with their troubles so differently. We span floods of tears and the constant need for direction and reassurance, all the way through to guitar melodies and faint strains of lyrics behind the firmly closed bedroom door. And everything in-between.

And it feel like the weather has come to the party. Since yesterday the temperatures have plummeted, crazy winds, hail, sleet and rain have battered our little farm and it feels like the only safe place to be is sheltering indoors. I've filled the fire box, I'm sitting with my back up against a heating panel, I have a hot water bottle on my feet and a hot cup of tea sitting right next to me. I'm all set to go.

So let's get to this week's photos.

May 5

Late Saturday afternoon we gathered in the garden for what might have been the last market posy pick of the season. Zinnias, Dahlias, Sunflowers, Chrysanthemums and Eucalyptus leaves filled out our bunches. The end of the season was obvious and it was a challenge at times to find decent sized flowers with strong, straight, long stems, but the air was crisp and the skies tuned golden and it felt like a pretty magical place to be.

May six

We spent half of Sunday at the Daylesford Sunday Farmer's Market. It felt like a real family affair with us and our three girls, my parents and Bren's parents. I'll really miss the social aspect of the market when the seasons's over. Especially since our girls who grew up at the markets are now taking charge which allows us to sit back and drink our coffee while it's hot. Winning!

And in the late afternoon I spent time amongst the sunflowers photographing Jazzy in my recently cast off Mirehouse sweater. When I posted one of the photos on instagram I wrote next to it - 'My family bought me the yarn for this sweater when we went away to celebrate my birthday late last year. Together we carefully chose the colour and the pattern to suit what I wear and my farming lifestyle. In January I wound the skeins into balls and then knit, knit, knitted every spare moment I got for the next three months. I'm writing notes at the moment for a talk I'm giving at the Soul Craft Festival on my life with and love of craft, I feel like this sweater tells the story better in stitches than I'll ever be able to in words, I just hope it fits me.'

The Ravelry details are here.

May seven

We picked through the last of the tomatoes. After that we pulled out the vines, rolled up the fences they were trellised to, scattered a green manure crop and then ploughed it all in. Done!

May eight

Poor Jojo had to stay inside because Bob (@trees_to_timber) and John were spending the week at our place cutting down some big trees that were getting too close to the house and blocking out the sun. Look at that log flying through the air just after Bob split it. That'll be my job for the next few weeks...and then to stack it all neatly to cure.

May nine

Jobbo and Bren started framing up my studio. It's progressed a bit since I took that photo. The four walls have been framed up and the entire box is covered in a tarp to protect it from the rain. I spent some time in there yesterday afternoon and then again this morning looking out of the future windows and imagining what it'll feel like within.

May ten

The wood shed is now at the very end of the sun-room which means you don't have to go out side anymore to bring the wood in. It's one of my farmer boy's clever design ideas and so far it's working brilliantly.

On that day I spent a few hours in the forest collecting kindling and bringing in wood and stacking it. Apparently Bren squealed with delight when he discovered the pile. Later that afternoon he told me that for him that was definitely a Love Language . I wonder if I should write to Gary Chapman and tell him to start writing his new book The Six Love Languages; receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch AND split and stacked wood and piles of kindling.

May eleventh

WILD and autumnal in the garden.

I'm reading my sister Abby's copy of Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson. Abby recently interviewed Eliza at the Sydney Writer's Festival. It tells the story of Willa and her odd bunch of blended family and particularly focuses on the six times she meets her step brother Patrick over the course of many years from childhood into her twenties. I can't pin point the exact reason why I'm enjoying reading this book so much. I think it might be the fact that Eliza writes in a such a dreamy, detached way about unsettling events. I'm not sure. I look forward to reading the rest and seeing where it goes.

And I'm still knitting long rows of my Merricks shawl. The rows are 249 stitches long now and I'm hoping that a colour change is coming soon. Whatever the way, Abbe's Noble Fox yarn is a dream to knit with and Kylie's pattern is easy and just complicated enough to keep it interesting.

Which brings me to now.

There's been a lot of talk in our house lately about finding those things that you love doing, those things that make you feel a little bit better when you haven't been feeling your best. And then making time to do them often. Mine are growing flowers, working in the garden, picking bunches of flowers, knitting, reading, spending time with the people I love, listening to podcasts, drinking coffee... how about you?

See you next week lovely ones.

Love, Kate x

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