A Peek into my Day

29 June 2022


Outside my window it is overcast, the sky is heavy, the cows are lying down suggesting that the rain forecasted is most likely to fall some time soon.  I don't mind a bit of rain at this time of year as it saves me having to water my garden and ensures our water butts are kept full for those times when watering is needed.

Around my house it is moderately tidy.  I had a bit of a purge on the tidying front today, I even got the hoover out to clear the particularly bad corners, I don't have much carpet in the house so it rarely makes an appearance.  It is amazing how much time we spend moving things, from one place in the house to another, which is all that tidying is really, isn't it?

We have had two big fundraising events this month and have another four next month  I am thankful for the generosity of everyone that is supporting us, we are already passed the halfway mark.

I finally got my jumper knitting out of its bag where it had been slumbering, ignored by my fundraising knitting, I am creating dishcloths still, I now have fifteen, but the jumper now has a complete body and half an arm.  Hopefully it will be ready for the Autumn!

We are doing a garage sale fundraiser on our drive this weekend  and I am hoping the weather is dry and folks wander down to our end of the village.

Life is pretty full at the moment and I am thinking about a lot of different things, I am just about managing to juggle everything to keep things ticking along, only occasionally dropping a ball.

Quiet and still time, busy resting is still a feature despite my busyness I am loving this time even when it amounts to a few moments here and there on some days.  The intention is always there.

In my kitchen I have a tin full of leftover unsold cake from last weekend's fundraising efforts,  my comfrey salve continues to steep, my sourdough keeps doing its thing, I currently have a leaven bubbling away ready for making pizza dough for tomorrow nights tea, it is all very tidy,  I am finding I need to keep the kitchen like this when I am busy, I find it easier to keep on top of things. 

Later I am going to take Alice to her home ed gymnastics group, we will do a bit of supermarket shopping on the way.  We have perfected the art of whizzing around the supermarket in twenty minutes, I buy as little as possible in there, preferring instead to support our local independent shops for most of my food shopping.  We stick to the list, which works most of the time until you forget to put something crucial on the list!

I was listening to an interesting interview on a Podcast this morning, the interviewee studied Economics at university 30 years and mentioned that the courses have changed little at his alma mater and many other similar institutions, the natural world, the biosphere, the environment is still not included in the curriculum,  I am pondering that and its ripple effect.  Is it any wonder we have so many resistant to making changes to support the climate.

I have noted the times of the new moons in my diary,  and I am remembering, the importance of being in tune with the lunar cycle, to make sure that the seven days surrounding a new moon need to be kept as quiet as possible.  I have realised this year that around that time I need to be quieter and have more stillness in my life, otherwise I become too exhausted.  

I have read a lot, for me, this past month at the moment, I am reading Mothers of Invention by Katrine Marçel.  You can listen to an interview with the author here, it inspired me to buy the book.  I have also read Devotion by Hannah Kent, my third book by this author, I have loved them all, and Land by Simon Winchester who went to school with my Dad.

I was on the receiving end of rude and unkind words last week, I am wondering why they wrote them.  I think they must be hurting themselves in some way and have tried to give that hurt to me, I am unable to receive it as it will not help either of us.  I am unable to continue working with them, as they do not think there is anything wrong with the words they used, I am fortunate that I am able to collaborate with someone else.

Much as it is hard to deal with situations like the one I mentioned above I am learning that it is possible to find a way through the pain they cause me by not taking it personally and recognise that the other person is the one that is hurting and I cannot help with that unless they recognise it in themselves.

I am looking forward to the end of July when I am hoping my life will quieten down a little.  My diary is looking wonderfully empty and I am going to work hard to keep it like that,  I am wanting a little more spontaneity in my life and there does not seem to be any room for that at the moment.

I am wearing navy leggings, a short pink skirt, a navy linen top, navy trainer socks with white spots and a hand knit pale pink jumper, it is cooler again here today so the socks and jumpers are back out.

Every weekday morning as I potter through the house doing my daily housework I am listening to whatever Podcast takes my fancy.  I love that you can create your own radio station, I used to be an avid BBC Radio 4 listener but I cannot remember the last time I switched the radio on.  I would not be without my Podcasts now.

I heard some wonderful words on a Podcast recently, my favourite quote for the moment, 'the thing that screws us up the most is the picture of how it is supposed to be, what if we deleted that, the idea of that and we just looked at what is and found it to be enough'.

A Peek into my Day

Transform and Grow

22 June 2022

Today in the Northern Hemisphere it is the Summer Solstice (if you are in the Southern Hemisphere you can read my Winter Solstice post here) the longest day when the sun is closest to us and at the height of its power.  This is a time for transformation and growth both for us and the natural world around us.  It always feels like a time of confliction for me, knowing that I and the world around me have lots of energy, that I feel the need to be outside and doing things all the time but in the background is the shortening of the days.  I am feeling the need to find peace with this to enable me to fully enjoy this time of year.


I am the Sun -
And I bear with all my might
The earth by day, and the earth by night.
I hold her fast, and my gifts bestow
To everything on her, so that it may grow:
Man and stone, flower and bee
All receive their light from me.
Open thy heart, dear child, to me,
That we together, one light may be.

C. Morgenstern

Over the past few months the earth has been waking up and putting on its wonderful display and abundance for us all to enjoy.  The seeds that have been dormant over the winter have swelled, ripened, and pushed up their green shoots through the good brown earth.  They have been assisted by the sun and the rain, warming the soil and enabling the seeds to unlock their potential.  You may also have planted your own seeds in the soil too, which have now become the hope of a harvest to come.  It never ceases to amaze me that we can sow our seeds, and in some cases they are so tiny, we water them, keep them warm and with time and care we can harvest and nourish our bodies with their produce.  We too sowed seeds way back at the time of Samhein which we have been thinking about and blossoming into a more focused plan in the time since then.  Now at this time of the height of our energies, our creativity is at its peak, this is the time to really work on them and make them happen.  

The warmth and the light makes spontaneity feel so much easier at this time of year, those ideas and plans that most probably come to you all through the year but you struggle with the energy to make them happen, now is the time take the opportunity to bring them into being.  Your energy is at its peak now, so now is the time to go with the flow and celebrate this part of ourselves.  If you don't feel comfortable doing things in this way maybe now is the time to give it a go?  Start with something small and see how that feels to you.  I do hope it feels right and more natural, it is not about loosing control, if that is important to you, it is more about living in the moment.  Something that can so often get lost in the busyness of life.  I don't know about you but I have found it so much easier to live more in the moment these past few months.

Everything feels so heightened and strong at this time of year, including our emotions.  Sometimes they can take us by surprise and blind side us with their intensity.  It is so important to find the time and a way to make peace with them, to let them go especially if you feel that they are holding you back, there are lots of ways that you can do this perhaps you could express them in a journal, speak them out loud or whatever you need to do to enable you to move on.  If it is your thing you could write on a piece of paper, I leave behind..... or drawing them if that works better for you and then put them into a fire to help with the symbolism of your leaving them behind to help you move on.

I have already mentioned the shortening of the days and what this means to me.  We know what the shortening days mean and what that brings with it! We have been working up to this time since the Winter Solstice now we must continue the cycle back towards that time again, releasing on the way, our fears and worries over what that means.  I am going to work on embracing this, rather than wishing it were not to be.  I know that resisting this is not going to change anything and it is not a good use of my precious energy.

As we begin our journey back to the time of darkness, the shortest day, we can celebrate our achievements, share the knowledge and experiences that we have gained and continue to work on and with those seeds and plans that are important to us.  We can also slowly welcome the change in direction that the shortening days bring, not resisting it but trusting that we will be ok, we can embrace this slowness by letting it be and easing us into the time of renewal and rest, rather than it being the abrupt change that occurs when we are not in tune with the cycle of the seasons.

The sun god reaches the height of his power,
As all of the plants are now in flower,
The longest day brings us strength and vigour. 
As we pursue our aims and goals with rigour.
Love is fulfilled in the warmest of days,
Blessed by the fertilising Sun god's rays,
Summer fruits ripen and fill us with pleasure,
In carefree moments we will always treasure.
All of nature is filled with sweet bliss,
Fruitfulness blesses each honey soaked kiss
Now is the time of abundance and light,
We rejoice in days so happy and bright,
Knowing that we grow in wisdom and might

I hope you can find the time and energy, for those projects that you really want to work on.  I hope you can find a way to make peace with the shortening days and what that will bring to us in six months time.   

Solstice blessings to you.

Othering

15 June 2022

I watched a wonderful documentary film recently, for the second time.  I know that I will watch this again*.  It is honest, heartfelt, and for me an education.  I am aware that the topic means that you might not think it is for you, and that perhaps it makes you uncomfortable, I sincerely hope that is it not the case, I would challenge anyone to watch this and not be touched in some way.  It has given me the beginnings of an understanding of the challenges faced by those that are labelled just for being different in the eyes of the others, to me this means that there must be a 'normal' out there that this is being compared to which is a whole other topic which would need its own post.

Around the same time I also watched a second film on the same platform about a completely different topic but again it was about people being treated unkindly and unjustly.  I was horrified and appalled to learn about the experience of people who were trying to enjoy the beautiful countryside, that I am blessed to call home, like so many thousands of others do, that because they have a different colour skin and were wearing clothing unfamiliar to many they were questioned about what they were doing there.  

We humans all have the same needs and wants wherever we live in the world, whatever our life looks like and we look like.  We need shelter, a safe place to call home, food to nourish us, safe places to work and play.  Our external experience does not change what's inside.

I have always struggled with labels, and to be marginalised by others has always baffled and upset me.  I have often wondered if this possibly comes from a place of fear.  Fear from the person who feels that those that do not look, act and behave like themselves must be a threat to them.  A threat that is going to reduce and diminish their own place in the world.

When we fear something we don't want to get to know more about it.  Our lack of understanding feeds our fear.  We might put it in a box and ignore it, perhaps treat it with contempt, we will often do everything in our powers to not let it into our lives.  We might keep quiet about it or we might tell others, sometimes loudly.  The voices that shout the loudest are usually the ones that get heard especially when we have the power to share this many times over to reach the widest possible audience.  

Those loud voices are also shouting to, I believe, to create divisions, pitting groups against each other and thereby keeping people separate, as disparate groups who see other groups as a threat.  The media plays a role in feeding the toxicity of this division to the advantage of those who benefit from divisions. often as a diversionary tactic so you don't notice other things going on.  We are a social species who thrive on being with others and living alongside others in harmony, when we are divided we are weakened and life becomes considerably less harmonious.

I listened to an episode of a podcast recently, it was one that I had been listening to for some time but I had sensed a subtle change of direction over the previous few episodes.  I was no longer nodding my head along to the words I was hearing, my forehead was getting more and more furrowed with each episode as the words drifted further and further into areas that did not make for comfortable listening.  I am all for being challenged by what I am listening to and actively seek out podcasts that do this for me.  I do not want an echo chamber in my ears, constantly feeding me with words that do not make me see things from a different perspective.  The discussion was dismissive and finding fault with the views of others which were the opposite to their own.  There was no explanation as to why, they were just wrong, apparently.  I stopped following this lazy journalism, but I am sure that there are many that will continue to listen.  

We are never all going to agree on everything, I would not want to live in a world where that was so, but we all deserve a voice, whatever our views and opinions.  I believe that there would be more tolerance in the world and we would not hear words that are so violent towards others, if all voices were given a space and listened to.  I believe that this would start the healing process of engendering a sense of community, belonging, cohesion, looking out for each other, of care towards ourselves and others, being part of something, the togetherness would feed and nourishes us.   When we don't feel isolated and resent others who are different to us, we are no longer wary of them.

It feels to me, that divisions all over the world are getting worse.  I hold onto the hope that there are enough people out there who don't want to live in a world like that.  We are the ones that need to have a quiet revolution of compassion.

* I watched it on this website, a rather wonderful collection of documentary films of varying lengths about a huge range of very interesting subjects, it is free to sign up.

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

When I was pondering the title to this post I considered the word Division, I was worried that folks would think it was a post about maths and maybe not click through.  I know that maths is a subject that some people are not fond of, a divisive topic in itself.  In the way that my brain works I then moved onto to the maths symbol for division and in the light of where my thoughts were swirling considered it in a completely different way, not as a maths symbol,  ÷ , it became the top of two heads divided by a wall. 


Busy (Gently) Doing

08 June 2022




It has been a month of things breaking here, I have already mentioned that the washing machine, dishwasher and fridge need repairing.  The repairs on the washing machine and fridge have worked but the dishwasher is still not fixed, we sent off the circuit board to be repaired as my husband found that one of the microscopic parts on it was damaged, he had to use a magnifying glass on it to see the damage.  The board has now come back but it is still not working so back to the drawing board.  Thank you to all of you who offered to come and do my washing up for me in exchange for me cooking for you, please form an orderly queue, you are all very welcome to come and live with us.  

My watch fell off whilst I was changing the beds.  It took me a moment to realise that I was no longer wearing it, I then had to retrace my steps to work out where it had got to, that took a while, my mornings are often busy with movement.  When I finally found it I realised that the strap had broken, it is a metal one but as the watch is over twenty years old it had lasted well.  I knew that the strap had stretched a little over time but it seemed it had stretched more than I had realised.  We managed to source a new one that fitted, it was really strange not having a watch for a couple of weeks waiting for it to arrive.  You don't realise how much you use a watch until you don't have one, I know that a lot of folks use their phone and don't wear a watch but as I often don't have a pocket to put my phone in that option didn't always work for me.  

The whole family attended a weekend Explorer Scout camp over a weekend.  Cameron and Alice were taking part in the programme, Alice is not old enough to be an Explorer yet (they start around their 14th birthday) but as husband and I were helping out she opted to come too.  We were asked to bring our camping stove for the catering, we haven't used it for a couple of years due to COVID.  It was kind of inevitable that when we got it out a crucial washer had dried out and perished.  Luckily it was easy to get hold of a replacement which arrived in time for the camp.

We had a lovely weekend in the company of 22 young people and six adults.  We were running the canoeing on the Saturday, we had eight in four canoes.  It was a really sunny day which was unexpected as it was not what was forecast, the climbing group who were in another valley had a much cloudier day than us.  We managed 12km and had all our meals on islands on the lake we were exploring, the photos at the top are from that trip.

It was the second weekend of camping for me, I had spent an earlier weekend on a scout training course and had chosen to camp rather than share a dorm room.  I knew that I would get more sleep in a tent than sharing a room.  It was a very tiring weekend, a lot of sitting listening with periods of thinking.  My brain was overloaded by the time I got home.  I managed to lose my glasses at a home ed group I went to on the Monday and I could not remember what I had done with them after I had got out the car, my brain was completely blank.  It took a few days for there to be any space available.

I was lucky that my two weekends of camping were warm sunny ones which could not be said of a fund-raising day we had organised.  It was not for the Jamboree but something else, as I don't have enough fundraising in my life.  We were running a pop up cafe in a usually popular spot, on a very rainy day it is most decidedly not.  We managed to stay for four hours during which we had two inches of rain, we raised £50 which is not bad considering how few people were about.  We had a lot of cakes left over which we managed to sell to colleagues and friends raising another £50.  Thankfully that fundraising is now completed as we have raised all that we need, so we can now focus entirely on the Jamboree.  We had a slot booked to go back and run another pop up cafe this Sunday and I am watching the weather forecast very closely to see if it is worth going back for another go and raise some more Jamboree funds, if it is wet I will be staying at home.

Alice had some disappointing news when she found out that a friend that she has known since she was four is going to start school in September.  If you are new here then you may not know that Alice is home educated and is now thirteen, her friend is fourteen and has also never been home educated all her life.  It was a real blow to her, the friend was the last member of a group, who have been part of Alice's life for years, who has not headed off to school.  We were really hoping that the big changes she has had in her life over the past few years might have finally come to and end, but this is yet another one to navigate through.

I realise it sounds like it has been a month of disaster, disappointment and getting exhausted but there were more wonderful moments than the scout camp.  We spent a day out with my brother and his family exploring the woods and hills by a local lake. It was a lovely day out, my nephew is such fun company.  We took him on an adventure up a hill and through a wood, he loved it although I am not sure my brother would say the same.  

I have managed to find time to spend in the garden this month, it was starting to look a little over grown and was in much need of a weed/clear up.  I finally made it up to the jungle at the top of the garden and have started clearing it.  There are still a few seven foot high kale plants up there.  I am leaving them at the moment as they are all in flower and the bees are loving them.  I don't need the bed just yet so I am leaving them for the bees for now.  I finally placed a seed order, I realise that is quite late compared to some but there is little point sowing any seeds before May round here as it is not warm enough.  If I sow them earlier I end up with seedlings that I cannot plant out as it is too cold for them outside, I start most of them off in the polytunnel.  I have now have a tunnel full of seed trays and pots of wee plants that will be ready to go out soon, I am just hoping that the weather warms up and stays warm.  

This year we are having a rather cool spring, I am still wearing winter woolies.  We have the odd warm day but it has not been continuous enough for it feel like it is warming up.  The winds, which we get a lot of,  have also been mostly northern and eastern which are cold, so even when we do have those rare days of sunshine it feels really cool.  I am ready for it to warm up and hope it comes this way soon.  

The triffid like kale has been stripped of leaves which we have been enjoying in our meals.  It was lovely when it had warmed up just enough for this to start growing again.  It is a very hardy variety that copes with our cold winters but it does not grow when it is cold so I have to be careful about how many leaves I remove during the winter.  It is an heirloom variety which I have had in the garden for about five years now, it self seeds each year providing me with a continuous supply of plants hence my letting some of it run to seed and grow very tall.  I have had a good supply of small plants already growing for my next crop.

I also have a good supply of salad leaves in the garden now.  Some of it is wild rocket which self seeds all over the garden, the rest is oriental leaves such as mizuna, greens in snow, mustard leaves some of which has seeded from our own compost which we spread on the garden at the end of the winter.  Free salad leaves. What is not to love?

Crafting has moved from needle felted hearts to knitting dish cloths, embroidering needle cases and making beeswax wraps when the oven is on, all for fundraising.  I now have ten completed needle cases and twelve dish cloths.  I have paused with both of these for the moment as they had ceased to be enjoyable, they are for an event at the end of July so I have plenty of time to make more.  I have returned to my much neglected jumper which I have been ignoring since before Easter, I had to look at the written pattern to remind myself as it had been so long.  I am now a few rows away from finishing the body after which I can start on the arms.  I think it is not going to be a year of big knitted projects this year, that time will return again but is paused for now.

On a grey drizzly day we had a ray of sunshine celebrating Alice's birthday .  She didn't want a big party this year so we had a quiet day at home cancelling all our usual activities.  I had not thought about what I was going to do on the day until I woke that morning.  I decided to spend the time sewing, I am making a patchwork picnic blanket and managed to add three rows of patches to it, it has grown considerably, it needs another two rows to bring it to size I am after, then I need to work out a backing for it.  It is the first time I had had my sewing machine out for a long time and it was very over due.  I really need to make some more cloths that we use in place of toilet roll our current batch are pretty much past their usefulness.

It has been a full month, one filled with lovely things but rather tiring at times.  I find being busy at the weekend and then hitting the ground running on the next week quite hard work.  I have just about managed to cling onto my rest times although many weeks this was reduced to moments here and there.  I had many naps during the day a much needed recharge, they were a necessity not a luxury, I can thoroughly recommend them.  I can feel more of them being needed this month which is also looking pretty full.

Thirteen

01 June 2022

Last week we had a birthday here in this house, Alice is now a teenager.  I am now a parent to two teenagers.  I know some dread the thought of that or hated that time as it was really hard for them.   I am loving this age, it has been the best of all the years of being a parent for me, so far.  Teenagers are great company, at least mine are.

Each year I write a letter to my children for their birthday these words are for you Alice.

At end of your thirteenth time round the sun it has been yet another year of change, your third in a row.  I had real hope that this might finally be the end of changes, until we had some news this week that more changes are still to come.

I know that you have found those changes hard, especially your big brother going off to college.  He had been at home with you full time all your life, it was all you ever knew.  We took it slow, you and I, feeling our way to finding our feet.  I feel like we have found our way now and I hope that you do too.  I feel sure that you would tell me if things were not right for you.  

At the same time as your brother starting college, several of your friends started school.  It meant the end of a group that has been part of your life for years, this is the second time this has happened to you and I know that you found this really challenging.  Although there was hope that we would continue to meet up with them that has not been the reality.  You knew that would be the case and it has made the transition really hard.  There were times when you were really lonely and did not know where you fitted into things. I hope that has changed for you now as we have made new connections.

In the past few weeks you have now found out that another friend is starting school, this is another connection that may be lost for you too.  There is hope that this one will stay with you, only time will tell if that is the case.

The hardest change for you has been your best friend moving to Ireland to live.  You have known this was a possibility for a while now, but it was hard for you to know how that would feel until it became a reality.  You are so busy with Jamboree fundraising and training that you know it will not be possible to travel to visit before that has taken place.  That is so hard for you.  You have been connecting online, messaging each other and chatting for hours and playing Minecraft together, you treasure those moments.  It is not the same but you are making the most of this time, the hours you spent chatting and playing online on your actual birthday was so special for you.

Talking of the Jamboree, wow!  When I first told you about it you replied without hesitation I want to apply for a place.  I was really surprised that you would want to go but was totally behind you applying.  It was a bumpy road for you to get a place with a selection day cancelled due to a storm and then you got a positive COVID test the week of the rescheduled date.  You seemed calm whilst waiting to hear the outcome but I will never forget you face when I told you you had earned a place.  You cried with joy worrying your best friend who you were online with at the time.  I am so immensely proud of you, for putting yourself forward, for all that you had to do to earn yourself a place and how hard you are working towards the fundraising that we need to do.  The skills you are learning will stay with you for life.

You love everything you have done in the Scouting movement, you have been desperate to join since you were three and your big brother started in Beavers.  That day could not come soon enough for you, the nearly two years you missed through the lockdowns and our village group not doing anything online or restarting meant that you were really keen to join a group somewhere else.  You so often asked me to find an alternative group for you and are so happy in the new one.  You have been on so many great adventures with them already including a weekend of caving, a new, to you, activity.

You continue to love to be outdoors and now that you are taller and stronger we did two wild camping walking expeditions last summer.  You carried all your own kit and your share of the tent, we wild swam in many tarns, you love for wild swimming has gone from strength to strength, I am in awe of your ability to do so without a wetsuit in really cold water.  You really do not seem to feel the cold.

Our slow journey into finding a new routine for you has led to you trying lots of new things.  You have been hesitant and unsure at first but you have found a way through that and now love the things you do.  You started at a music group where you are now learning to play the guitar.  Your regular gymnastics class changed for you as you moved up to an older group, you found this transition really hard as no-one in the class would talk to you.  They had their own friends already.  We talked and talked about this, why they were doing it and whether you wanted to carry on, your love for gymnastics was stronger and you have now made friends with some other new girls to the group, supporting them as they too make the transition.  You come home smiling now, one of those new friends even bought you a birthday present which you were so grateful for.  You have also started a second gymnastics class specifically for home educated children which you absolutely love.  You have made new connections through that class and are hoping you can see them more when we start a John Muir award with them and others soon.

You absolutely loved the holiday we had with extended family, spending time with your grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts is so important to you.  You are really looking forward to doing that again next year.

It has been a year of change for you both outside and within you too.  In the past you have had birthday parties with several friends, this year you wanted a quiet day at home spending time online with your dearest friends.  I took you ice skating the day after followed by a picnic in the park, we met friends for this and you had a lovely day.

You still have an inner confidence that is not an over confidence.  You are kind and thoughtful around your friends.  You are slowly getting to grips with the emotional changes that you feel overwhelm you at times, you find those times overpowering and confusing, this will not last forever, I am confident that you will find a way to be at peace with them.  In a year of big changes you have found resilience and acceptance, such important but hard skills to have.  Your willingness to listen and accept that how others behave around you is not always a direct response to how you are but, as much things that are going on for them, has been important for you to hear, as you have navigated through those changes.  

You are compassionate and kind to others, most especially those that are dear to you.  You have a loving heart and are wonderful company.

Happy Birthday my love, I am proud to be your mum.  

Lessons from a Blackbird

25 May 2022

When I open my curtains of a morning I love to spend a few moments soaking up the view and trying to work out from the sky what the weather might do that day.  One recent morning, whilst soaking up the view, a juvenile blackbird landed on the wire outside my window.  It was wobbling all over the place but rather than flying off it stayed there wobbling back and forth until it eventually found stillness.  I found myself silently shouting encouragement and then jubilation when it achieved it.  I was rooting for that bird, I admired its tenacity and its focus.  

It felt like a good start to the day.  

My life has got very busy again in the past few months, I loved the quiet and stillness that lockdowns gave me.  I vowed that I would try and keep that stillness in my life even when more things were possible again.  These past few weeks I have not managed that very well, my resting time has been slowly swallowed up by busyness.  The attrition of this has been difficult for me.  I value rest now in ways that I haven't before.

When I am busy, things usually go one of two ways for me.  I become paralysed by all that I need to do and don't end up doing very much at all or I become really focused on getting things done so that my rest time can have some space too.  Often the former also means that I end up telling myself that I don't have the time anyway as, in my head everything takes longer than in reality it actually takes.  

So often in the past few weeks I have had to do something because it has got to the point that it is the most urgent of all the urgent things that need doing.  I am telling myself I won't have the time but I have to find a way to make it work as it needs to be done now, it cannot wait.  Then surprise, surprise it doesn't take that long.  I have built it up to something unachievable and that has got in the way of me being able to get started and that becomes my focus rather than what I need to be doing.  

I am getting better at this, slowly, it is a work in progress. Over time I noticed that there were times when I found this easier, realising that, I then noticed that there was a pattern, for me this is in tune with the lunar cycles.  A busy life around the time of the full moon is much much harder for me than around the new moon.  

I am working on trying to be aware of this and attempting to keep my life quieter around the time of full moon.

What we focus on is not always a choice we can make, especially if we are mothers and our children are young.  It is one the hardest parts of early motherhood the loss of that autonomy, others always come first. As our children get older it is all too easy to stay in that rut and forget that you can have some of that autonomy back.  I know that it took me a while to realise that for myself.  My children are older now, they can and do wait for me to be there to support them in ways that they need.  It has been hard for me to ask them to do that but I don't think it is helpful for them or for me to always be at their beck and call, unless it is an emergency.  

The things I need to do are important too, I need to keep reminding myself that they should be a priority too.

When things get difficult or tough going it often feels like the easiest option is to give up and walk away, or to ignore things in the vain hope that they will go away.  There are occasions when things do resolve themselves in that way but it is rare so usually the time needs to be found to get things done.  I am under no illusion that one day my life will be a bed of roses, easy and carefree without a worry in sight.  I am not sure that I would want my life to be like that all the time.  I don't buy into the idea that we should look for the positive in everything to deal with negative thoughts and feelings, the things that are hard.  I am not convinced that is terribly healthy or helpful.  There are things in life that are hard.  Dealing with things that are hard, helps us to build resilience and gives us the skills to deal with similar things when we come across them again.

Reflecting on those hard things is as important as dealing with them.  A pause afterwards to regroup and recharge ourselves so that we are ready to deal with the next thing.  Perhaps you are thinking that would be lovely but my life is too full for that, I am running after the bus that I cannot quite catch all the time. Are you really allowing time for a pause, to recharge you, what are filling those spaces, can those things wait?  

Unpacking the clutter in our heads is hard.

When I watched that young blackbird at the start of my day, it was a busy one full of things that needed to be done urgently.  Every time it felt like it was all too much the bird came into my mind swinging back and forth on that line trying to find the stillness, not giving up when it was hard to find that.  

That is what we are looking for too isn't it, those moments of stillness that are there for us in between the times of focus.  In the busyness we can loose them, not pausing because that can be hard too.

Adventures in my Kitchen

18 May 2022

This post comes from my kitchen,  I am a meal planner and have been for the best of thirteen years, but I am not here to convert you all to doing that too.  One of the downsides of meal planning is that it is just as easy as any other way of organising your meals to get stuck in that good old rut of always cooking the same thing all the time.  It does not require much thinking and some weeks there is not much space for that, so sticking with what you know is the best and quickest option.  Some weeks, I do have the headspace and I get the recipe books out to get inspired.  

On one such foray I came across some pages that I had completely missed in one of my books.  It was easily missed as I meal plan from my weekly veg box and if I am looking for new recipes I turn to the index for recipes that include the veg that I have to hand.  These pages I had missed would not have been included in the index as whilst they are a recipe they are more like a formula for a recipe rather than a formally written one.  

I am loving these pages particularly the one for warm salads.  You roast some veg, add some protein (cheese, nuts or pulses), some leaves such as spinach or rocket, and finally make a dressing adding some herbs.  This has become a weekly fixture on our menu, it is different every time although we usually have the same dressing olive oil and pomegranate molasses which is our new favourite.

Like so many parts of the world our energy prices have gone up considerably recently, my husband saw a slow cooker for sale in a charity shop and decided it might be a good idea for us to have one, as he was sure that it would save us lots of money cooking our food.  He didn't buy the one in the charity shop but spent several hours researching the best one to buy.  We are now the proud owners of a slow cooker, many years after many of you, I would expect, as I know that they have been around for years.  I keep finding things that it is possible to make in it and whilst I was a little sceptical that it would get used much I am totally sold now.  I can see that on those very rare days when the house gets hots (this is all relative you understand we rarely, if ever, get temperatures over about 25°C/77°F) if I do need to cook something it will be better to use the slow cooker rather then the oven which ends up making the house even hotter.  I am loving that I can prepare our evening meal in the morning and it can spend the day slowly cooking whilst I get on with other things.  On those days of the week when time is scarcer this is a huge bonus, I am finding that I often make use of the slow cooker even on days when I don't need to.  Aside from the obvious stew like meals I have also been using the slow cooker to do Jacket potatoes, roasted veg and have even cooked a chicken in it.

Years ago I created a sourdough starter which I kept going for a long while.  I stopped eating gluten for a whole year about five or six years ago and gave my starter away to a friend.  About six months ago I got one going again and it is finally maturing into a reliable and tasty starter like my last one.  Sourdough always seemed like a scary and strange process to me but it is so far from this.  I have had several conversations with a baker at a local farmers market who has kilos of sourdough starter for his business.  The tips I picked up from him through our conversations as I bought his wonderfully tasty handmade baked goods have been invaluable.  We don't eat much bread in our house so I tend to make rolls once a week, when I have the time, we are also really enjoying sourdough pizza dough once a month too, all made with flour, water and wild yeasts, how amazing is that?

I have already mentioned energy prices here whilst the slow cooker is proving to be my new best friend in the kitchen there are some things that I do turn the oven on for still.  I am maximising my use of it each time I use it and often do some baking at the same time.  As this always coincides with making a meal my kitchen gets messy very quickly as I try to minimise the time the oven is on.  I have sedimentary layers of washing up and opened ingredients from the cupboards.  There is something really satisfying about clearing that all away when everything is in the oven.  

I often have something sitting soaking alongside my sourdough starter, when it is not in the fridge.  This past month I made new batch of wholegrain mustard.  We get through a lot of mustard, I used to buy it in large pots from a food wholesaler I use.  I only order every three months so if something is not in stock it is a long wait before I can try again.  This happened to me a year or so ago, stuck without a supply and not being able to find one that was not full of preservatives in the shops, what is with preservatives in mustard?  That has always baffled me.  I turned to the Internet wondering if I could make it myself, it turned out I can and it is unbelievably easy I cannot believe I have not tried this before.  You soak some mustard seeds in vinegar for a few days or if you are like me you forget about it and the few days becomes a few weeks, after soaking you whizz it up in a blender, retaining a few seeds to make it wholegrain, along with a few spices for flavouring.  I made some and gifted it at Christmas last year.

I have also been drinking Cleaver tea.  Cleavers is that plant that sticks to you, sometimes called goosegrass or sticky grass in these parts.  Cleavers is a good cleansing herb which was often used to make a tea at this time of year to clear out the system after the winter particularly at those times when folks were self sufficient and relied on their own stores.  I am making about a pint at a time and drinking a small glass full each morning before eating.  I don't suppose it is good to drink this all the time, I have been making one quantity a week.

I also have a jar of oil steeping with comfrey leaves from the garden, they will sit there for six weeks before I strain the leaves and make a salve with it by adding melted beeswax.  I first made some comfrey salve years ago when I spent an afternoon with a herbalist.  I continued to make my own after I used up that initial jar, I also make plantain, dandelion and yarrow salves too, they also make a lovely present.  Each salve has its own uses, yarrow, made using the leaves, is used like arnica cream except it has the added benefit that it can be used on open wounds which arnica cannot.  Dandelion, made with the petals,  is good for joint pain, particularly arthritic pain, and sore muscles.  Plantain, made using the leaves, is good for bee and wasp stings, insect bites, skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, itches and wounds.  Comfrey is used for burns, cuts, sprains and sore muscles, bruises and fractures.  

My least favourite housework task is washing up, the large piles of unwashed pots that are nearly always a feature in the corner of my kitchen will attest to this.  Our dishwasher broke a few weeks ago, it had become increasingly unreliable and randomly left items unwashed each time we ran it until it finally stopped working completely by spewing water over the floor rather than draining it out.  My husband has had it apart and ordered various bits for it in an attempt to fix it, we are now waiting for a part which we hope will solve everything and it can be returned to its rightful place in the kitchen, it is currently sat looking rather forlorn, and in pieces in the garage.  We did find a large ball of rather greasy looking detritus in one of the pipes which probably explained the lack of draining.  The washing machine went out in sympathy with the dishwasher a few days after the floor got an unexpected wash.  That was a quicker fix and for the moment seems to be working fine.  A machine full of bedding had to be washed twice after it was covered in detritus from somewhere deep in the machine.  I think my kitchen appliances are in collusion with each other as at the end of last week a piece broke off one the shelves in the door of my fridge which nearly sent a half drunk bottle of wine and a jar of mayonnaise onto the floor as I swung the door open.  The fridge is ancient and is looking rather sad and tired, the shelves in the fridge itself are rather cracked and distinctly saggy, one has been replaced by a piece of twin wall plastic leftover from when we made a cold frame.  We have fixed the fridge too, for now.

What's been happening in your kitchen this past month?