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

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'

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