Saturday, October 27, 2018

Self reliance--in underwear!

I hate bra shopping.  Actually I'm not big on clothes shopping and mainly try and put it off as long as possible (to be honest I find shopping in general to be stressful and not enjoyable).  This means for things like bras, I wear them to the absolute limit--and then carry on wearing them some more.

Well, the time really had come and for all the good they were doing, I might as well not be wearing a bra than continue with the two I currently had.  These two and their two predecessors were bought online, because did I mention how much I hate bra shopping?  All that trudging around shops, trying on bra after bra to find one that fits and is in the right color and made of cotton--yeah right like that ever happens.

Until now, that is.  Because I bought a bra sewing pattern instead.  And I cannabalized the hooks and rings (and even some of the elastic) off my old bras and now have two new bras.  They fit, they are the right color and are made of cotton (an old t shirt from my scrap bag, actually).  I can make more of them if I want--any amount of them, and even if I change size I can still make more because it's a multi size pattern.  I never have to go bra shopping again!  I think I'll move on to undies next :)

(While I'm willing to write about my underwear online, I draw the line at showing it!  Suffice it to say that one is all gray and the other is black with turquoise lace overlay.)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Gardening (and writing about it) for pleasure

Close up of a cluster of apples growing against a fence
If I've been a bit lax in my posts here, it's because I'm channeling most of my energy into my garden, and its subsequent chronicles at  It's focused on my gardening exploits, methods and philosophy--with a strong emphasis on food production.  I don't write much about myself or my family there:  it's all garden.

Still, I find it very therapeutic to document my successes and failures in the garden.  Well, maybe not too many failures!  But I sometimes almost feel a compulsion to write, and get it out of my system.  I don't think I have very many readers at all (and I think my only reader here on this blog is Partner), but I don't mind;  I'm not really writing for an audience, but for my own state of mind.  I'm passionate about gardening (maybe even obsessive?) and that blog is an outlet for me.

This blog?  I have written about my garden here in the past, but I've moved away from that in the past few years.  I suppose that is part of why I'm not updating here so often;  my creativity has become diluted without the garden.  What else do I have to write about?

I'm living my life, day by day;  going to work, keeping up the house daily, working on small projects like my knitting, or slightly bigger ones such as redecorating.  Many days are similar, and perhaps boring to read about--although I'm not bored living them.  I find a great deal of satisfaction in raising F, running the household, making and crafting, and putting meals on the table from good (homegrown, of course) food.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

One year on

A small flock of chickens on grass
It's been a year since our baby boy Teddy was born and died.  I'm not in shock any more, and rarely start crying suddenly.  I've heard people say it gets easier with time;  maybe this is true for some people.  The grief I have is still just as extreme:  it's just easier to compartmentalize.  I can stick it in a box now, instead of being helplessly overwhelmed.

That said, some things are more painful now:  I'm sensitive to death at the moment, for instance.  Our young rooster died suddenly a little while ago, and I found his still warm body under a tree.  I grabbed him, warm and soft, and held him on my lap, doing chest compressions for ten minutes at least, desperate to get him breathing again.  It was no good though:  he was gone.  That was really hard.
A little basket with several different colored eggs
Still, nearly all my days are good and I can focus on the positive.  It's easier to do this now in summer than it was in the dark, cold winter.  In the first few months after Teddy's death, I was able to keep busy out in the garden, and with household projects.  When it got too cold and rainy/snowy for outdoor work (from about November to April), I felt a bit lost.  Going back to work in February was initially tough, but helped me get through the last of the winter.

I've put a lot of work into my garden over the past year, and it really shows now.  We're eating loads of vegetables, including the last of the broad beans, plenty of peas, lettuce, carrots, turnips and chard--and there's lots more things to come.  We're picking plenty of berries, and are just finishing the sweet cherries (pie cherries finished a week ago).  We have four new season chicks bred from, hatched and raised by our own chickens. 

I think about Teddy every day, mostly happy and not too many sad thoughts;  as I wrote previously, I have no regrets about the choices we made and for that I'm grateful. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stop snowing already!

A little boy posing with a posse of tiny snowmen on a garden bench
The snow family
Winter's been a bit colder than the past few years, although luckily we haven't had prolonged snow cover like the winters of 2010 and 2011, when I thought we had somehow been transported to Iceland.  But it's still been snowing far too much for this time of year.  It's nearly spring equinox and still snowing.

F had three days off school early this month because of snow, and consequently I had three days off work (my school in the next village over was closed two days).  He had two days of snowball fights and snowmen with kids on our street, but by the third day--a Friday with even more snowing--we were all tired of it. 

My garden plans are on hold too.  We've had a few nice, warmish days prompting me to get and do some jobs;  seeds have been sown, fruit and rose bushes have been pruned.  However, though March is generally a bonanza of seed sowing, most of it hasn't begun yet.  I did some parsnip seeds a week ago, but I don't know if they'll handle the snow and cold.

I'm also a little concerned about my almond tree, covered in little pink flowerbuds not quite open.  It's so close to blossoming;  I really hope it can hold on past this latest cold spell, otherwise we won't get almonds this year.  The same with my little peach tree--it looks like it's finally forming flowerbuds for the very first time and I don't want to lose the first fruits that I've been waiting for these four years.

Though to tell the truth, my main concern is that we don't get any more snow days off school!  Almonds and peaches and parsnips are little luxuries and I don't need them really.  Let's just get some spring please.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Life skills

My son Franklin is nearing eight years old.  I've been thinking about his future and what we are doing now to prepare for it.  For instance, he has a children's investment account which he will be able to access when he's 18, and we try to save a little for him each month.  But more importantly I think, are the life skills he learns now. 

Physical skills

I didn't learn a lot of these when I was a kid--I had to teach myself as an adult, and some I still don't really know.  The kind of skills I mean are basic cooking and housekeeping, easy home maintenance and repair, gardening, simple plumbing and electrics, pet/animal care, budgeting and saving, etc.  There are a lot of useful things, which in the past all children learned from their family/community--either from observing or from helping. 

When I was young, my mother stayed home with us kids and did pretty much all the housework and cooking;  I didn't really learn how to do any until I moved out.  Though I eventually learned how to cook, I'm still not great at housework.  The more traditionally masculine skills, such as cutting firewood, I was not allowed to do (we were expected to conform to gender roles);  instead I was allocated caring for my younger siblings, something I didn't enjoy and has put me off childcare for life!

I want Franklin to know how to do many things (particularly without confining him to stereotypical roles), and this means letting him do those things--even if he does a terrible job at first.  To this end, he has his own regular chores including most of the chicken care, dishes twice a week, tidying away his own toys and books, and making his own school lunch.  He also helps me do laundry (sort, wash, hang, fold, and put away), sweeps and mops the floors once in a while, helps cook, changes his own bedding, and more. 

Emotional/relationship skills

Then there are less tangible skills which I hope Franklin learns, such as self-confidence, initiative and hard work;  and others like compassion, optimism and honesty.  I think he can learn these things only by example, and I try my best for him.  I let him know I trust him by allowing him do things himself, and try not to show him my own fears and inhibitions (sometimes this is hard).  I treat him with respect, and let him know I expect the same treatment from him.

I encourage him to make his own decisions, and I always try to tell him the truth, even when he asks awkward questions;  for instance, once he asked me why I killed our dog!  But I don't want him to think there are things he can't talk about with me, so I didn't get upset but explained about how old and sick she was and we took her to the vet to help her die so she wouldn't hurt any more. 

The goal

Basically, he's learning how to be an adult now, while he's still young enough and willing to learn--he's usually willing, though not always!  I hope he can grow up into a happy, well-rounded, well-skilled adult, capable and confident of taking care of himself.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Slowing down this winter

A simple holly wreath on a front door
Our front door
I made two festive wreaths this year, one for our own front door, and another for our baby Teddy's grave.  I collected some trimmings from our own holly and fir trees, and using some dark green yarn, coiled them into simple wreaths.  As you can see above, ours was just plain and rustic;  Teddy's was made from the fir branches and had some berries we collected around our garden (honeysuckle and rosehips) as well as some we found in the woods. 

We had our usual quiet Christmas, although some of us were/are under the weather.  I personally haven't got it (yet), but there's still time I guess!  Instead, I've got a bit of insomnia, which is also not fun.  I'm trying to get in a walk every day, and limiting caffeine.  Probably all the Christmas sweets and treats weren't helping.
A colorfully striped cardigan on a hanger
Crazy stripes!

We've had some snow and cold weather this past month, and I've been missing my garden time.  However, I've been doing a lot of my usual winter crafting, especially knitting.  I knit Franklin a very colorful striped cardigan (it has 11 or 12 different colors) and now I'm knitting a very colorful pair of socks, but in multi-colored yarn, so luckily I don't have to have 12 balls of yarn on the go, unlike the cardigan.  At least I only did stripes (easy), unlike the one I did for him for Christmas a year ago:
A hand knitted Christmas sweater showing a snowy village under the moon
Yup, I knitted this too--for Franklin for Christmas 2016 (still fit him this year too)
That one took me a while!  But I started early in the year to make sure it'd be finished in time.  The stripey one was just a couple weeks in the making.