Showing posts from October, 2012

Stress, magnesium and love.

I realise that I do indeed have a privileged first world 1.5 income household with food, warmth and shelter pretty much guaranteed so long as I don't develop a gambling habit.  No one hits me, I'm married to a wonderful person, the kids are healthy and lovely and are enjoying and progressing at school.  On the big scale, it's all pretty hunky dory.

If we could zoom in though, I want to write about my recent strategies to manage stress and get my nutrition intake back on track.  At my work, it is absolutely the most busy and pressured time of the year at the moment.  I'm at work what seems like all the time, despite being paid to be at work half of the time.  It will pass and the pressure will, I hope, ease off significantly in a fortnight or so.

I've been losing massive amounts of sleep, which no one has ever been able to convince me is an optimal way to live.  Some nights I've been awake for hours in the wee hours of the morning when I don't even have alco…

How Far is Heaven

How Far is Heaven is a beautiful film, set in Jerusalem on the Whanganui river, where the Sisters of Compassion, there for over 100 years, still have a base.  We took the children, mostly so we could spend some more time with them rather than getting a babysitter, and they enjoyed and got something out of it as well.  The comments by the nuns about the meaning of compassion (to suffer with) and their concept of being alongside someone/people, gave me much pause for thought.  Please go and see the film if it sounds interesting, as I know I haven't captured what I felt well in this very brief review.  The cinematography is beautiful.

I've finished one sleeve of my pink Miette cardy and started the next.  I'm really keen to have it finished by early November and my floral curtain Colette crepe dress adjusted to wear with it.  I have a theory that if I take the dress up at the shoulders, it will stop falling off my shoulders and thus fit better.  This fitting malarkey seems to…

garden colour and produce

The genealogical obsession continues.  Thankfully, the children have two parents, which meant they did get to eat meals in the weekend.  Checking just one more source, and then just one more, isn't conducive to cooking tea.  I did find that my 4xgreat grandmother was a midwife though, a profession I admire greatly.

Below is my Chatham Islands forget me not.  It took over a year before this plant bloomed, but looking at that intense shade of blue, I think it was worth the wait.  I'm going to plant some more.

Our little manuka, which I thought was going to die, is flowering.

Iceland poppies.

 Self-sown borage and calendulas.

 There isn't a lot to eat inour garden at the moment.  There is mesclun, of which the red russian kale and the giant red mustard dominate entirely.  I've been putting it into salads and stirfries. We need to eat this up most vigorously in the next fortnight, as the tomatoes need to go in its place soon.

Broad beans.  Half hearted, interrupted att…

Like Dorothy

I feel like I've been plonked down in a weekend after a storm.  I went back to work after a fortnight of mostly time off, and the kids went back to school and swimming lessons and ballet and kung fu and cubs (spot the lengthening list and laugh if you are one of the people whom I told I wasn't going to 'do' extensive extra-curricular activities with my kids) and then last night I collected various vehicles and people and dropped them all off again and picked them up again and then it was my turn to go out and possibly it was a good idea that I was driving so I couldn't give in to the temptation to drink lots.  Not because my life is going wrong; it's actually going wonderfully, but because I was so tired and shell-shocked from the week that drink seemed a good response.

So I listened to a band called Radius and played a game of working out what instruments they were playing.  One of the band members was no help because she said that after mixing up banjos and m…

blue irises against the red red fence.

This year I put blue irises in the punga raised bed, and now that they are out, I love the look of them against the red fence.

Back in the term time groove, I think I'm doing okay on the extra-curricular front, an aspect of parenting which I try to support, but frequently do so only with poor grace.  Yesterday both kids went to kung fu with FH, and today we started back on swimming lessons.  Ballet is going okay now I can leave Brighid there and not get told off for talking to other parents during the lesson.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a trial run at cubs. 

There were tears at the dinner table tonight.  Fionn's best buddy moves to Auckland at the end of the school year.  I felt for my boy, and didn't say out loud that there might be several more.  Spring Creek indirectly paid a lot of school fees where my children go to school.

I need inspiration for meal planning.  I used to be better than I currently am.  I think this is for two reasons:
1. I used to be home more, so c…

agency, crafting & elderly people

Tonight I was reading Steph C of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World's post on the purpose of sewing for her and her response to greenie interrogation. The response I wrote in her comments section was so long and also threw in some things I'd been intending to share on my blog, that I've pasted a copy of my response here:
"I used to be more focused on living 'greenly'.  I haven't decided that it no longer matters at all.  But I have returned to the paid workforce and now have school aged children and the choices I make are different to the ones I made when they were tiny and I was at home a much bigger proportion of each day.  I see that time I put in when the children were younger as a positive legacy rather than bemoaning that I'm no longer making my own bread and raising all of my plants from seed.  I learnt a lot in the kitchen, in the garden and craft-wise.  We wouldn't have time to build a chook run from scratch now, but we do have the endurin…

The season changes again

This weekend I made some trousers, from the Simplicity 1887 pattern.  The sewing part turned out fine - I do feel I am making progress towards sewing competency.  But the fit is terrible.  The trousers bag out enormously in the thighs and then taper in again and I look like an ice cream cone silhouette.  I've just lined up my pyjama pants on top of them and my elastic waist pjs are considerably more flattering.  I have a whole shelf of non-stretchy fabric awaiting transformation (almost all of it thrifted or gifted to me), but more and more it seems that all the clothes that I like on me are made from stretchy fabric.

The sun came out!  I transplanted the asparagus and the cosmos and the sweet pea which so desperately needed it that I would lose them if I waited until next weekend.  But the rest of my many garden projects will have to wait a little longer.

The car project is nearly at completion stage.  Some time later this week, we will have the ability to travel long distance ag…

Our trusty Nissan, 1991-2012.

It was at Wilson's Hotel, in Reefton, that we had our last supper before the car started to emanate steam through the bonnet.
Looking eastwards at dusk, this is Reefton with its lovely old buildings and a vista of bush leading to nowhere.
But Reefton, like all of the West Coast, has a long history of speculative excitement.  Even the tearooms.

Mercifully, after the big steam and almost bust, we had enough spare water to get us back to Reefton and add lots more water and fill all the bottles to attempt the journey home.

We got home safely and yesterday I left the car with the wonderful JJ and it was early this afternoon that we learnt that our car, the one which JJ had fixed so many times for us and kept it going and warrant-worthy, was not worth fixing.

Before this tumultuous event, I was spending large amounts of my time and headspace, during this school holiday fortnight, in a genealogical bubble.  I lost interest in blogging, or Eliza, or housework, though I did rouse myself …

Eliza # 4

"Crowded" took on a new meaning on the Jessie Readman.  You might have read the reports that it was clean and comfortable and generally a much better ship than some others which my later friends had the indignity of sailing on.  But comfortable is always a relative term.  Sometimes it means hardly anyone died. 

Cleaning, always cleaning.  Perhaps generously paying upper deck passengers had someone else to clean for them, but on our deck we all had to clean everything to a certain standard by half an hour after breakfast.  As you might imagine, in the women and children section, there was no shortage of officious matrons who lead the charge on making sure we all did our bit.  Not that anyone had a large area to clean, but you can still make a mess in the space it takes to swing a cat.

One day there was something of a commotion in the bunk next to mine.  Mrs Doherty was having a tough time delivering her fifth child.  Blood was running everywhere and the women beside her were …

happy holidays despite usual chaos

One fabulous day, the perfect kind of holiday day, where I get to chat with my friend N while our children play happily.  We went swimming, we ate and we went to the library.  Low cost, high pleasure.

My efforts to streamline our swimming pool visit had dismal results.  I separated my keys so that there weren't so many in the open lockers at the pool.  But, one house key and one car key are not sufficient if I go crazy on the security on our 21 year old, multi-dinged and filthy station wagon and put the clublock on.  FH came over and unlocked it, not even trusting me to borrow his key.  Nice work on the small town front that he was so close.

Next stop, the library.  As seems to be a routine bordering on ritual, this school holidays I realised that a generous but compulsory donation to our local library was going to be necessary if I wanted any more books out.  I'd not found three books for months in the midden, so decided to bite the bullet and pay for the books, a most genero…

Eliza # 3

I'd had no longing to cross the seas, become a 'colonial'.  At the time, I thought books would somehow be the saving of me from a lifetime of preparing dull food and destroying my body with babies.  The preacher in the pulpit wasn't keen on women having any thoughts of their own, but he was keen on everyone being able to read and write so they could read the Bible whenever they weren't doing God's drudgery in the kitchen and on the fields.

The Bible has been no saviour for me, and reading and writing hasn't prevented the endless housework and baby rearing.  I've managed to keep my babies tally down compared to some, but more about that later.

The boat trip over to Port Chalmers gave me a chance to learn a little off the other women.  There were many who were very pious - we were on a boat from Greenock to some vision of a brave new world free of sin after all - but by no means everyone.

There were, it turned out, a couple of 'fallen women' on th…

Eliza # 2

It wasn't so bad, the trip over on the boat.  The Jessie Readman, the ship was called.  The boat was indeed full of crying mothers and babies and the kind of iron rules keeping men and women apart which Mammie would have praised if she'd known and requested if it wasn't like that.  I was a married woman now, but not one who arrived at that state the way my parents intended.

They didn't really know what to make of me, the men at the back of the Albion.  Those who knew my family knew that I should be tucked up in bed with my Bible.  Those who didn't and weren't completely drunk, wondered at my high necked grey dress in a place where women either didn't visit or made money from visiting.  The stupid man who made grabbed at my dress to pull me down didn't count on my brothers walking in at that point.

George Mitchell.  He knew of me, though I was a good few years younger than him.  He humoured me while my brothers were gone, offering me a drink and his arm …

Eliza # 1

Mrs Geo. Mitchell to the rest of the world.  Housewife, cook, sometime mother and keeper of the books.  I'll be Eliza in these letters.

I suppose you want to know if I will tell the truth?  Truth, now that is an overused word around here, and seldom does it tell the story from a woman's point of view.  When Albert Jones beat his wife until the blood seeped through his boots, his truth was that she should have had the dinner ready.  I saw her clutching her stomach before he got home.  I'd heard her vomiting of a morning for a few weeks, and wondered what she would do to feed another child.  Now, she is dead, so is the unborn child, and he looks for someone else to look after his brood.

Perhaps you want to know what it looks like where I live.  Dull.  Brown.  Dirty.  Lives spent chasing sheep, scrabbling for long gone gold, and selling bread, gin and God.  Sex and cooking are never in the census, for women are invisible, or perhaps the shorthand of "married" requir…


School holidays.  No making school lunches at 7am.  The juggling game stills for a time and we all get to catch up on sleep and time with each other and the garden and the house.

While the sun shone, I set beer traps for the slugs.  Favourite Handyman mowed the lawn and Brighid and I took Mary K (85 and in a rest home) out for a drive.

While the rain poured, I made laundry liquid.  I helped Fionn empty his room of clutter (I think he calls most of it Lego) so that I could vacuum the entire wooden floor.  Favourite Handyman put Fionn's posters up and now the room looks superb. 

Yesterday we all went to the movie Kiwi Flyer.  It was lovely.  A perfect family movie in an old fashioned sense.

This morning I finished Skylark by Jenny Pattrick.  I really enjoyed it, and I'm so pleased that someone has put part of the goldfields story to print, especially since I've still not written up the stories I think need telling yet.  Now that I have five minutes to call my own, I think o…