Saturday, April 14, 2018

message in a bottle

Indi told me she liked last week's lessons learnt post a lot more than she likes the ones where I talk about what I've read, watched, listened to etc. I can't remember if she told me why she liked it. We were in the kitchen at the time and there were all these other things going on around us. But I remember being pretty happy that she did.

A little while ago when I sat down to write this post I remembered her words and wondered what she liked about it and thought about being onto a winner and possibly just repeating the same. But for some reason it didn't feel right or like enough time's passed. Like it would just be taking the easy way out, cheating.

And then I thought of the tiny glass bottle with the cork lid that she has sitting on her bedside table. Her environmental studies teacher handed them out to her students at the end of last term and asked them to fill them with whatever their holidays were full of. We threw a lot of ideas around when she showed it to us after the first week had gone by; apple pips, pencil shavings, crushed up matza, tomato seeds... By the time we saw the bottle again a few days later it was full of tiny little zinnia and dahlia petals. All the colours making patterns against the glass as she'd pushed them in.

I don't know if the cork sealing out the air will protect the petals from fading and shrivelling up over time. I'm not sure if her tiny collection will keep the memories of these flower saturated months vivid in her memory as the long winter steals the warmth and sunshine from the sky. But I do love this bottle project and I look forward to hearing what the others were filled with.

You know what's coming don't you? I know it's a bit cliche but I can't help it. And because it's my blog I'm making the rules and giving myself 18 little tiny bottles to fill with the things that filled our last week. I like the thought of them all lined up on the kitchen window sill, so I can watch them and think of these beautiful Autumn school holidays days while I do the dishes.

Just like Indi's, my first bottle would be filled with flower petals from our visit out to Country Dahlias on Tuesday. Jenny's two acre garden has Australia's largest collection of dahlias with 2,250 different types and over 20,000 bushes. At one stage I looked over a row of pom poms swaying in the breeze and found Miss pepper crawling on her knees under some low hanging stems that had given up under the weight of their dinner plate sized blossoms in the next row. 'My heart is so full of love and happiness and beauty and magic that it almost hurts' I told her. 'That's exactly how I feel about a room filled with cats' she replied. Exactly. I think the photos  in this post tell the story of our visit far more eloquently than I ever could with words, it was just magic.

The next one would be filled with the seeds of all the autumn produce we're bringing in from the orchards and garden; apples, cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries. Tiny shavings of potato, beans, cabbage, basil and lettuce too.

Tears from the nights I spent reading The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland's beautiful, devastating and heart filled first novel. Although the theme of domestic abuse running through it is devastating and painful, somehow Holly's book still manages to feel like a magical fairy tale. From the magnificent floral cover artwork, to the drawings and descriptions of Australian native flowers and the language they speak, the story of Alice Hart that spans two decades, to the writing that is so descriptive that at times made me feel like I was right there with Alice on the windsurfer, or running through the sugar cane fields, or swimming in the river, I couldn't put it down. It's been a few days since I read the last page but still I've found myself thinking of Alice from time to time and hoping that where ever she is, she's doing well.

Little bits of bark that stuck to our work clothes as we brought in piles of fire-wood and stacked them in the new wood shed. We're so far away from being prepared for fire burning season, but I do feel relieved that we've made a start.

Leaves from the brassicas I've been planting in the garden.

Sweat from the gym work outs I did with my old crew.

Scraps of yarn that I'm using to stitch up my Mirehouse sweater. I've got one sleeve to sew in and then I'm done. Then comes the nerve wracking time to try it on and hope that it not only fits but actually suits me too.

A little scrap of Pepper's water colour painting of a fairy that I found on the kitchen table one morning.

A splatter of the white paint I'm using on the old doors in the new bit of the green-house extension.

photo that Indi took of Jazzy for her art folio that captures her personality exactly.

A lock of Jazzy's hair just before it was cut so much shorter

Screen shots of different cute text message conversations between my sisters and parents and Bren.

A couple of tiny coins from the apple stall at the front of our farm.

Metal filings from farmer Bren's new love of knife sharpening.

A teaspoon of the coffee that my farmer boy has brought me in bed most holiday mornings.

Rain that is showering on the roof as I type. It feels like such sweet relief for the garden, the orchards, the forest and for our water tanks, thank goodness.

A golden autumn leaf off the grape vine on the deck.

I guess the last bottle looks empty to the eye but it represents my blog writing time. The indulgence of sitting alone, mostly uninterrupted, on the daybed in our studio tapping out words and thoughts. Some days putting aside this time in an otherwise hectic life doesn't feel right, but today it means everything to me. This bottle makes me remember myself and my own needs in amongst those of my family and farm. This bottle reminds me of my love of photos and words. I hope this bottle sets a good example to my three girls about the value of personal space and creativity, this bottle makes me happy.

And there are my 18 bottles all lined up in a row. There's no beach sand, or aeroplane ticket, or road trip dust like holidays of years gone by, but I've really loved these two weeks. I've found them creative and productive, I've loved having the girls around, and I've really enjoyed the break from the school routines and stresses.

I'd best be off now, those tomatoes aren't going to preserve themselves.

So how would you fill your tiny glass bottles?
What would you put in each that would represent this time for you?

See you next week.


Kate x

Friday, April 13, 2018


Hello lovely ones, 

I'm just popping in quickly to let you know that I'll be posting this week's Friday Foxs Lane on Saturday. Tomorrow. While today has been sunny and warm, tomorrow is forecast to be windy and rainy. So while today was meant to be my writing day, it has ended up being my running around picking all the fruit and veg up, tying all the branches and flowers down, and bring lots of firewood in day. And now all of a sudden it's 6.04pm, it's almost dark and I'm too tired to start blogging. 

So I'll wish you a lovely evening or morning, depending on where you are, and I'll see you back here tomorrow. Hopefully the winds won't be as fierce as predicted and the rain will be slow and steady and a lovely background soundtrack for my blog day.

See you tomorrow then!

Love, Kate x

Friday, April 6, 2018

lessons learnt

Hello honey bunches, how gorgeous to see you again. I hope you've had a lovely week since last we met. Ours has been filled with school holidays, family, friends and autumn fruits. Not necessarily in that order. In fact never in order. Well not orderly, anyway.

So here are some things I learnt, or relearnt this week. Just for fun. Still disorderly;

That farmer Bren was right when he told me that we'd have a great tomato season even though it was our first year growing without poly tunnels.

That all the colour can drain out of someone's face. It's not just something that happens in books, I've seen it.

That sewing up the seams of my Mirehouse sweater is taking me almost as long as knitting it in the first place.

That there is no apple that compares to a home grown granny smith picked straight off the tree.

That there is no coffee better than the coffee brought to me in bed on the first slow morning in months.

That it feels strange these days to post a blog without any photos of flowers.

That getting dressed in the morning when you have a pair of jeans that fits you well is super simple and quick.

That 10 and 14 year old girls can still spend HOURS in the garden making pretend food from mud, flowers and petals.

That eventually bras just stop working.

That in order to cut really long stemmed flowers, sometimes you have to sacrifice some buds.

All about life in prison in America after reading The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins.

That there are still people living among us that don't own smart phones. A man sitting opposite me on the train to Melbourne the other day, asked me to look up the address for the CFMEU building in Melbourne and spoke of how despite the fact that he'd had a hand in building half of Melbourne and also built his own family's mud-brick house in the forest, he didn't think his spelling was good enough to be able to use a phone. Of course I filled him in on the joys of auto-correct, but he still looked skeptical.

That after reading a book describing intimate details of life inside prison, I will find myself staring at the man sitting opposite me on the train's faded black tattoos of birds and bees and wonder if they were drawn using a guitar string, a Bic pen and the mechanics of an old Walkman.

That there are brands and styles of jeans that suit me and my eldest two daughters.

That there are people around who think it's okay to give unasked for advice about parenting even though my kids are not babies anymore but in fact practically grown ups.

That boxing into pads held above my head is so much harder than I thought it would be.

That even though I don't like eating pumpkins, I love growing them. The bigger the better.

That despite the fact that I'm only five jars away from my 100 jars of tomato sauce target, I still want to make more.

That happy 14 year old = happy life.

That I should have gotten up and written down the hundreds of lessons I've learnt this week when they woke me up at 4am, because the 5.12pm lessons aren't as free flowing or clever.

That the biggest kangaroo I have seen, jumping as fast as it can to outrun our dog and coming straight at me and my children is one of the most frightening things I have even experienced. Thank goodness it saw us at the last minute, tried to change directions, fell over and jumped away before any damage was done. The youngest of us was still upset hours later.

That a Clydesdale horse eating a carrot sounds like a washing machine.

That a kangaroo can hold an apple in two paws and eat it standing up.

That year 12 seems like a cruel and unusual punishment.

That when the dentist gave each of the five of us a toothbrush after our appointment this week, I was disappointed to discover that mine was orange, my least favourite colour. I'm still childish like that.

That even though every week I feel confident that I will make time to reply to all of your comments and emails, most often life gets in the way and it doesn't happen. I do read and appreciate and answer every single one in my head though. And I love you for taking the time to write them.

I think that's all. Well that's everything I can think of right now anyway.

Tell me some things you learnt this week.

See ya next week!

Love, Kate x

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