Monday, April 29, 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee

This blogpost has links to all the episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee on youtube, for people like me who cannot access BBC website replay from New Zealand.  I'm completely in love with the show and I'm even contemplating sewing a french seam now.  Fabulous history snippets as well.

Other great things:
  • school holidays
  • feijoas from Golden Bay
  • going visiting with friends
  • having friends come visit
  • my new polka dot circle which I made my very own self (photos to come another day)
  • school holidays (2x great)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Invisible Rider

Some parents take their children to church.  We take ours on marches.

I love my garden.  I've been out in it, even just tiny bits of wedding and caterpillar squashing, almost every day this past fortnight.  I planted out seedlings of crimson kale. green kale and celery last weekend, and have packets of coriander and rocket ready to scatter this weekend.

In The Rushing Woman Syndrome, Libby Weaver talks about exposing ourselves to seratonin through daylight as soon as we get up.  This is supposed to have the effect of helping us start the day bright and full of energy.  I think it is helping.  We have blackout lining on our curtains (I like proper dark to sleep in and also it blocks the street lighting), so it's good to go outside as soon as I get up.  Even when it is raining, I can stand under the lean-to by the old shed and look at the chooks and my garden and greet the day.

Although I haven't dared ask my loved ones for accurate feedback, I think I am calmer than I was.  I'm certainly heaps calmer than in summer when the hyperthyroid symptoms were terrifying.  I didn't even have a tantrum when the photocopier persistently misbehaved at work today.

The fabric shop in town has 25% off everything.  Rumour is it is going to close down.  Although they don't sell the fabrics which I would love to wear, it does so happen that they have red stretch velvet for sale.  I can't decide which I fancy more - a red velvet Tiramisu dress, or a red velvet circle skirt.  I vaguely recall that velvet gives an enlarging illusion to the feminine silhouette, but really, red velvet is gorgeous, and I'm a post-fashion rules woman.

I recently read The Invisible Rider by Kirsten McDougall. It was good.  She has a considerable talent for capturing small details in compelling ways.  When reading this book, I wondered again at the world in which mothers of young children write.  It's a time which, for myself and many others and, I strongly suspect, McDougall, is both rather easy and wickedly difficult at the same time.  It's easy because there is job security (despite the fears which possess us when low on magnesium and sleep) in that mostly the children stay alive and still need their mother.  It's easy (until something changes it to make it not so) because despite the financial pressure, there is food on the table.  But it is difficult because finding yourself, your adult partner relationship and even a decent amount of sleep can be very very difficult with babies and toddlers.

I don't mean to be reductive to motherhood in commenting on this book.It's not even a book where mothering plays a central role.  But I think those challenges around identity and the blurring of love and work which reign in that period of mothering very young children does infuse this book.

When I read McDougall's book, I'm very conscious of her the author.  Why?  It's not like I've ever met her.  I think it is because she writes from a position of privilege (white, educated, financially stable) and she wants to get into something gritty and meaningful and what she has at her disposal is a considerable talent for observation and relaying that in brilliant imagery.  She instinctively writes about a sparse world, and please show me a New Zealand author, writing in a realism mode, who doesn't.  Cliche alert, but it really seems that there are still not that many people in this country and we are mostly inside our own heads in literature.  And why does this chafe at me in some way?  I suspect because if I were to write with the dedication that McDougall has (i.e. considerably more effort than shopping lists and the odd blog post), I might have similar strengths (though not, I would point out, necessarily as good as hers).  All this language rolling round my head, and no big story canvas to paint.  In the end, nice girl writes nice book.  Virginia Woolf made a great job of it, though I still can't finish Mrs Dalloway because all that nice girl observation just drives me nuts.  And she killed herself anyway, so I'm not of the opinion that being Virginia Woolf was great fun or even that satisfying.

Flip side:  who wants such a shitty life that it provides excellent grit and heft to a novel?  My hand is not up.  But, you know, grit.  Grit is good.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Garden love

 Cosmos in autumn.
 Pulled out to make room for more winter veges.  The new chook run for the bullied chook is behind it.  Mrs Victim is flourishing in her refuge, testimony to what life beyond domestic abuse can be like.


 The shady corner by the tree hut.  The photograph doesn't show the nasturtiums, the roses and the jerusalem artichokes, but they are there, roaming free with the wandering jew and the composting cosmos.

 Crimson kale in dappled light.  There is some chicory and some spinach there as well.  The tomato and the marigolds in the background will be pulled soon to make way for more winter veges.  The brick north facing wall provides a great spot for winter veges.

It's a beautiful experience, gardening, and spending time out there every day is doing me a world of good.  Much much better than washing shirts and then discovering at the ironing board that a scrap of orange paper survived the pre-wash pocket check and the shirt is now stained.  Don't even talk to me about workplaces which like to print things on orange paper.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rushing Woman's Syndrome

Rushing Woman's Syndrome, by Libby Weaver, may just change my life.  I've read it cover to cover over the last few days, and it gives me a powerful context for my thyroid problems, plus reassurance that having serious symptoms but still having bloods within the medically accepted range is quite common.  It has helped me to understand what is going on when I get stressed over only medium-sized organisational challenges, like getting everyone to their respective birthday parties, sports tournaments and kung fu gradings.  It's not that what I am organising is impossible, it is that I'm working in frequent (sometimes constant) overdrive so I don't trust that I've remembered everything.

Weaver is a big advocate of yoga, so I'll be sticking with that.  She is also passionately in favour of women giving up or cutting back on their alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption.  Caffeine is a non-issue for me most of the time, but I'm now over 11 weeks into my alcohol fast, and I feel a lot better for it.  I'm even contemplating extending it out to the rest of the year.  Turns out that when I am nice to my liver, it is nice back to me.

Weaver acknowledges that many women are very busy, and can't just give things up.  But she talks about being 'in the moment' and enjoying the wonderful things which we are right in the middle of.  I've realised that the thing which gives me the most deeply relaxing pleasure is gardening, so I'm taking a bit of time as many days as I can in the week to spend in the garden.  Even three minutes is great!

She talks about the origins of rushing woman's syndrome and a lot of it makes sense, but the part where she links it to wanting to please our fathers was the least convincing aspect of the book.  Sure, I've come to some realisations about where some of my crazy drive comes from, and started to release my assumptions around that, but the daddy thing was too big a generalisation for me.

She talks about estrogen dominance, which I've only skimmed past before, but probably is worth me finding more about.  The next recommendations she would make for me (no coffee-tick, no booze-tick) would be to trial no grains for four weeks, and/or no dairy for four weeks.  I know from past experience that both would be massively beneficial. 

I've done a bit of sewing recently.  The emerald half circle skirt is partly pretty and partly terribly made with puckering on the hem.  The skirt itself would have looked better as a full circle skirt.  Stupid half measures - I'll be going for a circle skirt next time.

Last night I managed to break my machine while sewing a birthday circle skirt for a special six year old.  So today I made her a craft bag via hand sewing and filled it with various fabric scraps, ric rac, thread and wool, all of it her favourite colour of blue.  I really hope the sewing machine repair man hasn't retired.