Friday, May 4, 2018

May days

Gosh, what a week hey. Sitting here alone in the same place I sat alone a week ago reflecting on the last seven days makes me realise what a crazy emotional flood we've been swimming through. I don't actually know if emotions can flood but whatever this past week was made of feels thick and heavy and honestly at times I'm not even sure the swimming we're doing is even getting us anywhere.

Throughout the week I've found myself looking at the unseasonal weather, at the full moon and at the time of the year for excuses for the intensity, but I'm still clueless. I guess it is what it is. And what it is is a jumble of four people's accumulated stress, needs and experiences and my desperate attempt to be the best partner and mother I can; to guide, to take over, to be there, to listen, to distract, to support, and to comfort. AND to try not to get swept along and be overcome by my own emotions in dealing with theirs.

Unfortunately none of the stories belonging to the emotions are mine to tell so I understand that this discussion of emotional overload might feel empty. This is one of the weeks where I definitely considered starting an anonymous second blog to discuss my secret life of raising and living with teenagers in order to get it out and make some sense of it all. But I do feel completely confident that everything we're living through is normal and some sort of rite of passage. Text book normal even. We'll get to the other side and be stronger for it.

In the meantime April turned into May and I remembered that last May I took a photo or two each day and then posted them on my blog every Friday. If you like you can click back to this post for the explanation. I liked the way it forced me to find one moment every day to capture, I liked the way it showed me how diverse my days are, I liked that it got me out of the rush around on a Friday morning, to be a bit more mindful over the whole week, and I loved the way it helped me to see the beauty in my everyday.

So I'm going to do it again. In fact I already started last Tuesday I just haven't told you yet. 

Let's get going then.

May 1

I took this photo of some pots of chrysanthemums on the first but the story they tell is from the days before. Last Sunday evening we drove through the forest and picked our farmer boy up from his time away. It was beautiful and emotional and our hearts felt full. The next few hours were filled with stories and tears and love. On Monday morning not wanting to be separated again so soon, we drove the girls out to their school together. On the way home, alone for the first time in what felt like forever, I couldn't stop looking at him and touching his face.

It had occurred to me the day before that I deal with my life the same way that I deal with a complicated knitting pattern - one line at a time. And that life line started with the preparations and discussions about his trip and ended with the drive to pick him up. One by one I had dealt with everything in between that I had to; I got the girls fed, dressed and ready for school, I did the drop offs and pick ups, I dealt with emotions and crises and tears as they came up, I looked after the farm, I prepared the meals, I picked crates and crates of apples and bunches and bunches of flowers and baskets and baskets of tomatoes, we all went together to a friend's 50th, we set up and sold at the farmer's market, came home for a quick lunch and then we drove an hour past Castlemaine. 

And the same way that I don't let myself look ahead and over complicate things in my knitting, I didn't look ahead in my life. And then all of a sudden when we were driving the wrong way through the forest, worried about being late, it occurred to me that we were going to bring our boy home. His trip was almost complete and then he would be ours. I immediately got excited, impatient butterflies in my tummy. One bit was ending and I could hardly wait to begin the next.

And then the next morning there was that magical, sunshine filled drive home from school. We told stories, we listened, we said so much mushy stuff, we stopped for coffee in a tiny nearby town and when we walked past a little buggy by the side of the road selling potted chrysanthemums - of course I bought them.

May 2

Until Last May we had an ugly poly-tunnel like hot house attached to the side of our house. On the ninth of May last year we pulled down that hot house that had been there since we  first moved here in 2001. On the fifteenth of May last year we concreted in three massive old bridge posts and started the construction of the green house at the back of the photo above. And on the 23rd of May the hot house was finished just leaving the shelves and table to be completed. (Click on any of the links in the sentences to visit those posts).

Exactly one year later on May the second, the sub floor, insulation and then floor of my studio went in and down.

Even though the hot house is predominantly my space it's still family owned and used, even though I am quite vocal and adamant when I decide that I want a recycled brick floor for the sun room, open shelving in the kitchen, and to decorate all the spaces my way, I still can't believe that this new build is only for me. Every piece of wood or window, every nail and screw, every jackhammered hole, all of it has been carefully chosen and designed, and banged and dug, and drawn and discussed, for me. I am definitely crazy excited, but I am also overwhelmed. So much time and effort and money is being spent on something that will be mine alone. I can't really get my head around it.

Watch this space, if I know anything at all I know that it's going to be pretty special.

May 3

On May third, yesterday, rain threatened and I made comfort soup from the garden for my gang and thought about how important beautiful spaces are to my state of mind. One year on and it's hard to imagine life before this greenhouse with it's beautifully big windows and purpose built shelving and table. It feels like it honours the growing work I do and enables me to be better at it.

I also took that photo of the sign I'm halfway through painting because seeing it there yesterday amongst all the golden leaves was the first time I really felt like it was autumn. There was a chill in the air, crunchy leaves underfoot, the air smelt smokey and we were preparing for rain. It's time.

May 4

Today. I always say that I can survive almost anything if I have a good book to read and a lovely pattern to knit. At the moment I have one of each.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Abbe who I met years and years ago at a craft thing when she was a quilter and I was a crocheter brought her three gorgeous boys to visit me at market. It's been years since I've seen her, possibly even since her wedding, but in the intervening years she's moved over from the fabric to the yarn side (yay!), and fallen deeply in love with knitting and dyeing.

It was pretty cute watching her three boys sitting beside our stall munching on apples. It was pretty exciting when Abbe gave me three skeins of her gorgeous hand dyed yarn to play with.

Abbe has teamed up with Kylie from Whiskey Bay Woollens who has designed a gorgeous shawl called Merricks to showcase the dyed yarns and together they are offering packs of yarn and pattern for sale. Click over to Abbe's instagram page for all the different yarn combinations she has available.

That's the start of my Merricks shawl up there, I'll pop all the details as I go on my Ravelry page.

The book next to it, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is the book I'm about to finish. I've loved it and highly recommend it to anyone interested in beautifully written, powerful books about family, fundamentalist religion, mental illness and Mormonism. As Angela M, a reviewer on Goodreads wrote - 'Difficult to read. Impossible to put down.' 

And the last photo is the scene that greeted me just after I looked up from taking the photo above it. On the way to school, hot water bottle against the cold, happy to be in grade 5 again after spending the day at the local high school yesterday.

And that's my May so far
How about yours? How's it going?
Do you have a creative project on the go?
Are you swimming in a thick sea of emotions?
What's your trick to getting through times that are overwhelming? (I've been going to the gym most nights).

See you'se next week lovely ones!

Love, Kate x

ps Our farm gate stall is still open and full of delicious apples...just sayin'


  1. Beautiful words and picture as usual, Kate! Lately I’ve been working on upping my pottery skills. I’m pregnant with my second child and it has definitely been a sea of emotions (and vomit) so far - worried about the baby, worried about how this new one will fit into our family, if I can love another child as much as my first etc, etc, etc - I talk to my friends, get a little perspective. Xx

  2. Maybe you can email me all your teenage stuff & I'll email you all mine & we can both get all the stuff out of our brains & be reassured that yes, all this normal. It's hard man....
    I have decided to turn the new brick beds I made last year into flower beds. I'd love to be able to bring cut flowers into the house. Tim bought me a wattle tree for my birthday the other week I cannot wait for the day that I am cutting big branches of it to bring inside! I have no clue where to start with flowers & so far all that is there is some potted colour my beautiful friend bought Sadie when she was looking after her while I was at Tafe. Even that tiny amount of colour makes me smile.
    Have a great weekend Kate xx

  3. I've pondered how to comment here since I read this post earlier, but still I am no closer to knowing what to say. How I wish I could sit on those seats near your apple sign and chat to you, so I could tell you how amazing and beautiful your photos are, how much I look forward to your weekly updates, how hard parenting can sometimes be, how jealous I am of your sunroom while at the same time I'm so pleased for you, how I look forward to seeing what comes from your very special studio space, and how deserving you are of having that money and time spent on you, you are so very worth it.
    I love your thoughts on working through life like following a tricky knitting pattern, yes, yes, yes. I know if I look at and read a knitting pattern I often have no real idea of what it is saying or how the item will work but when I start knitting, just doing each stitch, each line as it needs, it always works out in the end. This is a great way to get through the days, just do each thing as it needs to be done.
    Enjoy your weekend, may it be full of love, kindness, good books, knitting, hugs and hotwater bottles.
    Love that last photo
    cheers Kate

  4. Thanks for the lovely words about the yarn Kate, I look forward to seeing your Merricks Shawl grow. The boys loved meeting 'The Apple Lady' but they loved the apples even more! Hopefully the angsty stuff isn't too bad. Our chat made me remember what I was like at 14 and 15 and....there was a lot of angst while between the kid and adult worlds. Keep them talking, I think it will help both sides. Catch up again soon, Abbe xx

  5. Yes, parenting teens is mostly a comic minefield! I feel like the high school years fly by, every year is such a leap in development and experience, it seems to flash before your eyes. And the full spectrum of emotions for us all, including new kinds of parent-kid connections. Pretty awesome, little bit scary.
    Creative stuff - timber and clay. I'm always inspired by your woollies though, I'd like to give knitting a go. Perhaps this'll be the winter. Oh to have multiple selves.
    And when dealing with overwhelming stuff... Knowing all things pass and seeking connection. Humour. A nice tea and natter. Listen to the wind. Over-do it with coffee and chocolate. Enjoy the love.
    Lovely week Kate xx

  6. Hooray for May, and new studios, and spaces all of ones own! I hope you enjoy making your Merricks shawl - your colours are beautiful, and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project.

  7. What beautifully dyed yarn. Can’t wait to see what you create Kate. X

  8. I always have to remember as I read your blog you are sliding into the opposite season from us. Apples seem a million miles away from the Spring flowers that are just popping up after what has been a long winter.

    You have to be honest about the hard stuff. Lying solves nothing, but you seem to be finding a healthy approach to it too. There is always one thing that seems to make each day, sometimes it seems so small, but it is there.

    It is a blessing that you do have a space that is yours that allows reflection, creativity,and personal space. That is not easy to achieve. I hope it does help on those days when you do need to breathe because the challenges are big ones.

  9. Oh, how I remember the days when I wanted to be the 'best' wife, 'best' mother that I could be.... and the stress and guilt I suffered when I failed my own oh so impossible standards. I remember the moment when I realised that I was the person I AM: and I loved my girls and respected them and if I made mistakes, so did they and we would work through them together. They have all grown into remarkably sensitive, confident and emotionally intelligent women who are now embarking on their own parenting journeys. It seems to me you ALREADY have the qualities as the BEST wife/mother-- love, empathy, sensitivity, self reflection, eagerness-- and so much more. Don't look into that mirror which reflects a distorted view of your self-- you are amazing and exactly everything they need.
    I enjoy looking at your photographs-- you have a good eye and your flowers have been amazing and your blog is excellent.
    I know we all love reading it-- but please, don't let your readers'(our) enjoyment and expectations each Friday impose a burden upon you. Please know I am sending warm thoughts and encouragement to you and hope that in the midst of the busy times you have you have time for a really deep time of rest and refreshing, sitting and soaking in all that surrounds you. SHALOM.

  10. First, I love your blog! I look forward to your beautiful pics and words at the end of every week. My family and I are homesteading in Vermont (USA), so I always enjoy getting ideas and inspiration from your posts. I so appreciate that you share not only your joys, but also your worries. So often blogs only paint only a rosy picture and leave out the rest of the story. I think that does a disservice to readers. I love that your posts feel real and balanced. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Gratitude Kate...just love reading your blog and seeing your are putting the good stuff in so that in years to come your girls will remember your efforts and always have a place to call home........your beautiful farm, your gentle soul, your loving heart.......xx

  12. Beautiful and real, as always.

  13. totally, totally swimming in a sea of emotions as my dear mum has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I'm at grad school for teaching doing a life change at 48 and that alone was FULL ON without being thrown this! I've a cold so can't even visit my mum as "we" ahd her first round of chemo on Thursday. I haven't knitted all year, but in the last 4 days have started and finished 4 dishcloths for mindless knitting while attempting to study for a science exam and writing zillions of essays/presentations/class planning etc. I've no brain for anything now. I loved "Educated" and your friend's wool is gorgeous. My blogging has dropped off the planet too. My tricks to being overwhelmed - one friggin day at a time now, as no-one knows what life will throw up within the next 24 hours !-

  14. So much to think about, isn't there? But one line at a time is usually how I get through weird spots. Stress and worry can be so overwhelming, and hard for us practical folk who like to get stuck in and fix things, only we can't. and I'm about to go away so am more the Bren than the Kate in this story right now, but as much as I'm going to enjoy it, I'm going to be so sad to be away from my crew.

  15. I hadn't heard of "Educated" before reading this, but I do hope as an avid reader of your blog and a Mormon too, that the book doesn't paint the only image you'll have of Mormonism and Mormons. We're pretty diverse and from what I've read about Tara's upbringing, it was a pretty tragically extreme perversion of the religion. She talks about that in an interview here:
    Anyway, thank you for your lovely words and glimpses into your beautiful, pastoral life. I look forward to your blog posts every week and every week they inspire me to pick up my own camera and scribble down my thoughts. <3

  16. Ditto to Nicola Sousa’s comment. I, too, love reading your blog; I appreciate your thoughtful, honest insights about family life, your beautiful photographs, and the way you find joy in creativity. I also enjoy your book recommendations. However, regarding “Educated,” while I have extreme respect for the author and her ability to overcome an undeniably abusive upbringing, this does not represent Mormonism. Every religion has fanatics; hopefully none of us will judge a population based on their mentally ill. Thank you for always giving me something to think about. Your blog is one of my favorite places to stop for a visit.

  17. Such a beautiful and fabulous blog! Photography so gorgeous!!love this sharing so such.


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I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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