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Month: December 2011

Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts

I knew this holiday would be lovely, but there have been many moments of simple and unexpected happiness that have felt as good as a wrapped present under the tree.

After a month of mud the ground froze and we’ve had many days of snow, allowing for many days of snow play, snow bears, snow fights and…well…snow.   The chance to sit quietly and listen to the boys laughing as they play outside with their Daddy, to watch them in their moments of harmony, sharing simple experiences like decapitating snow bear and beating him with Ninja sticks.  Just as they did in days of old. Visits from friends, the joy of sharing our home with them.  And today we had actual gifts from Aunty Rose across the water in Scotland (thank you Aunty Rose!), gorgeous hand knits with the cutest little snowmen on them.  Those are going to get plenty of wear this winter, plus they double up as Ninja Warrior Scarves, which is handy.

The greatest gift, of course, has been time.  Time to sit together and read a story by the fire, time to snuggle under a blanket, even time for Mummy to read her book by the fire while the boys have quiet time upstairs (“Muuuuuuuum, is quiet time over yeeeeeet?”).  Time to talk endlessly about plans for chickens, the problems of keeping water unfrozen in the chicken house and whether we should buy more (wait for it) chickens.  Each day we’ve spent together, whether outside in the snow or warm by the fire has seen me grow a little more into my home, my toes spreading out like roots.

Soon this dream will be over, we’ll be returning to the days of Stephen back to work (boo) and the running of things will once more be a solo gig for most of the day.  But I feel that we’ll be heading into the new year a little more refreshed, secure and with a sense of optimism about the coming year.  Before then, though, we have a few more days of sharing bliss, of snuggled stories, christmas movies and much, much too much chocolate.

I’m going to make the most of it!  Wishing all a Happy New Year celebration this weekend and a peaceful entry into 2012.  Bright blessings from our family to yours.

A Chickeny Post All About Chickens Including Pictures of Chickens

A Chickeny Post All About Chickens Including Pictures of Chickens

In case you are wondering “What’s with the weird title Emmalina?” allow me to explain.  My lovely french friend Emmanuelle has an overwhelming phobia about any feathery creatures and so, being the good pal I am, I promised to fully announce any chicken related blog posts so that she can avoid them and run away from her computer very quickly.

So now you know.

Anyhoo, for the last couple of days my thoughts have been very occupied by our chicken companions.  We have a poorly girl in seclusion in the basement and a case of Runny-Bottom-Poorly-Chicken-itis.  That’s latin I think, no need to look it up.  So I’ve been searching books (which actually weren’t a lot of help and basically said ‘kill it’) and the internet (actually helpful, less killing) to find a treatment and in fact a diagnosis.  What I have concluded is that my chicken has a case of worms.  Apparently, and again the books were all quite silent on this subject, I should have been worming my chickens regularly and I haven’t been.  Ooops.

One of the problems I have is that in Canada the medications seem to be only available through vets, which means doing a screen on the droppings, a consult and buying the meds.  A pricey option for a chicken that cost us $10 and hasn’t laid an egg for a few months.  But I don’t want to give up on her and I certainly don’t want my other birds getting sick, so I started researching some options for a future chicken health strategy that would lead to happy chickens and lots of healthy eggs.  That is when I found it.

There is another world out there.  A world where things don’t end in -cyclene or -tocin, where you can make remedies from kitchen ingredients and find products made from herbal ingredients that won’t kill your dog if they accidentally ingest some of the dosed animals droppings (this is a real concern, as is the safety of the children); they also don’t render the eggs inedible or poison the meat of an animal that might be on our table at some point.  Basically I found my peeps, people who have recipes for chicken carrot smoothies, recommend apple cider vinegar for overall animal health and who use herbal products that don’t terrify me just from looking at the packet.

In our family life we try and stick with natural remedies, chiropractic and good health management to avoid sickness, it’s good to know that this approach can extend to members of the animal kingdom too.  While I would never refuse to use a pharmaceutical remedy if one is necessary I would prefer to avoid unnecessary use.  For more information on why a herbal approach is important when treating animals have a look at this lecture given by an holistic vet in the UK.

I’ve read quite a few people recently who’ve said that they look for the meaning in illness or problems, why is this happening and what are we meant to learn?  I feel like this challenge is giving me the opportunity to develop a vision of health for our farm and the animals that live here that will influence so many elements of what we do in the future.  Our goal is to produce enough food for ourselves (and some friends too!) to support a healthier life, that includes the ways that we prevent and approach disease in ourselves and our livestock.

Well those are my chicken thoughts for now, I’ll keep you posted about the well being of Runny Bum as she is affectionately known.  Hopefully she’ll survive this episode, unless of course the Avian Assassin/Chicken Chiropractor has his way (Warning: This blogpost might make bubbles come out of your nose from excessive laughing). In the meantime she is enjoying a little holiday in the Basement Hotel and, judging by the weather outside, she’s probably feeling pretty happy right now.

The Worlds Only Chicken Chiropractor

The Worlds Only Chicken Chiropractor

Anyone that knows me might be surprised to learn that I’m somewhat of a sceptic when it comes to alternative medical therapies. Like a French politician extorting the value of selflessness and the importance of embracing non-gallic behaviour, something just doesn’t add up in my logical brain and I’m left with an unpleasant feeling of indigestion. In fairness, as Emma discovers more about vaccinations, I’m also becoming a huge disbeliever of mainstream medicines as well which will leave me in an awkward position if I ever fall ill.

As the missus discovered to her astonishment and soggy misfortune many years ago, I’m unable to drink potions, tinctures, solutions or otherwise steeped infusions of herbs without gagging, then dramatically and violently ejecting said fluids faster than an Australian draining a free bar. She loves making them. Like some country-wise disciple of Potions Master Alan Rickman, she delights in brewing evil in a bottle. There is one particularly nasty butter-based mixture that personally I wouldn’t feed to a Belgian. She swears it’s medicinal but even GlaxoWellcome might have an ethical concerns about marketing it. Dave The Man had the misfortune to come over for a build budget meeting with a sniffle and, despite my surreptitious warning signals, he accepted a cup of it. Poor fool obviously needed to learn the hard way.

So, I’m not a big believer in alternative therapies and medicines. Obviously massages are an exception and in my curious mind don’t fall under the “alternative” umbrella. I’ve had them given by a mad Canadian in a health retreat (for the record, ouch), svelte Geordie RMTs in Newcastle (nice), through to wizened old grannies in India who literally walked up and down on my back.

In my experience, the best ones don’t tend to happen surrounded by lush, verdant forestry, the delicate sound of a stream and chimes. Like many good things, a decent massage will involve equal parts grunting, farting, awkward positions and a vague confusion why you should be paying for the abuse.

Building on that kernel, I’m learning to appreciate the surprising efficacy of chiropractic treatments. Slowly, I’m preparing to extend the Circle of Acceptance (currently solely occupied by hardcore massage) to include it too. In the past I’ve been known to call them quacks, charlatans, jokers, numpties (one of the great Scottish contributions to the English language) and useless time-wasters. Yet, having put my back out a couple of times from utterly random things like getting out of bed while being used as a grumpy trampoline complete with sound effects by a two-year old, or seeing my little baby niece taking her first overdue foot steps after visiting one, I’m inclined to concede that they might be genuine. Running the farm, I also suspect that I will be seeking their services out on a reasonably regular basis next year.

That doesn’t mean I’m about to go all hippy and wear tie-dyed Hug A Chiropractor T-shirts while reeking of patchouli oil. I’m unlikely to want to sit cross-legged in a circle of love with desperate middle-aged, middle-class plonkers while they sing earnestly about the Earth Mother and redemption. Seriously people, and you know who you are, just stop.

Apologies, I’m digressing. The reason for this recent opening of my mind is, of course, chickens.

Last summer we purchased a small starter flock of 4 ready-to-lay birds to augment our three surviving chicks. Within weeks one of them fell ill and died of what we suspected was coccidiosis. Another, later named Drippy Bum, seemed to succumb but Emma The Chicken Healer rallied and nursed it back to health. As a side effect of the illness, it stopped laying and has been a target for my macabre intention to Kill A Chicken ever since. Like an overly protective mother, Emma has forbidden me the coup-de-grace (sorry for the pun) and thwarted my plans. But now, with the winter fully upon us, Drippy Bum fell ill again. We decided to isolate her to save the rest of the flock from catching the parasite and give her a last night of relative comfort inside.

Meanwhile, I read the classic Seymour text on how to wring a chicken’s neck and practiced the appropriate hand moves several times just to be sure I had them correct. Then, when the kids had gone to bed, the time had finally arrived. Dressed in suitable black Ninja Pants and T-Shirt, I decided to do the deed while Emma was researching on the computer upstairs.

Like an avian assassin, I entered the holding area and observed my prey. She looked hunched and ill. Resolute that I was doing the best thing possible for her, I grabbed her legs in one hand, her head in the other and stretched her out. She looked at me with a wide, feathery eye and I could almost picture a tear of gratitude. It was an emotional moment. Then, drawing a breath to steel myself, I positioned my thumb and twisted her head back.

I heard the click and pop as clear as if it was Dave The Man gagging on a mouthful of buttery cough potion. Her body felt limp in my hands and so I put her down…where she proceeded to stand up and look at me in an even more confused state of mind. I’d failed!

Now, not one to take failure lightly, I tried again. This time, bending her neck further until the crack was like the opening of Mordor’s Pit Of Doom. She flapped once and then lay limp again. It was done.

Like a slinky, I laid her body down at the same time thinking of what to tell Emma. Unfortunately, my thoughts were broken by the astonishing sight of Drippy Bum gathering her legs under her, doing a little hop, chirp and finally looking at me in a defiant way that clearly conveyed “try it again fuckwit and I’ll have your sodding eyes out”.

Now, I’m not a heartless or stupid man and was prepared to accept that a third twist of her neck was probably a smidge unfair. Instead, I stood and watched her hop about a bit and then it dawned on me what I was. Not a failure, but The World’s First And Only Chicken Chiropractor. Time will tell if my treatment helps her, but Emma got to complete her research and discovered that the chicken has worms which can actually be treated. So, on reflection it was a good thing that my Ninja Assassin Moves need some improvement.

I haven’t given up my dastardly plans to Kill A Chicken, but for now, the miraculous Drippy Bum is safe from further “chiropractic” treatments.

Shifting Tides

Shifting Tides

As well as simply relaxing, enjoying the company of my family and eating my own body weight in chocolate, there was something significant that happened to me this holiday.  I realised that I am home.

That may seem obvious.  You may be thinking “Emmalina, has it really taken you two months to notice that you are now living in the house that you built yourselves?  Have you been at the liqueur choccies again?” And yes, that is a fair point.  But the difference is this, my head knew that I was home but my heart didn’t.  I couldn’t quite settle in, relax, really enjoy.  I would find my mind turning to the next move, wondering if I should unpack this or that or rearrange a room the way I’d like it.  I am so used to avoiding these things because it simply isn’t worth it that these behaviours have become ingrained.  The feeling of being temporary has become my normal state of being.

That changed on Christmas Day.  I was sitting by the fire, wearing my lovely and extremely comfy new sweater dress and looking at a sewing book, when I suddenly realised how happy I was feeling.  Utterly content and filled with joy.  This shouldn’t be an unusual feeling on Christmas Day, but it was more than just the presents and the kids having fun and the access to pounds of chocolate.  I felt at peace.  Looking around it was as if a film had been lifted from my eyes, everything was coloured by my blissful happiness.  Around me I saw everything I could ever want, need and love.

This feeling has lingered, the initial euphoria has worn off but I am now feeling more grounded, rooted in my surroundings.  I am making plans, thinking about the future, reading farming blogs with a new excitement, plotting many sewing projects in my mind.  I have a feeling of confidence and excitement, a focus and enthusiasm that I can finally inject into my own life.  After a decade or more of dreaming we are now in the stage of being able to put our energy into making our imaginings real.

It is appropriate to be thinking this sort of thing at the turn of the year of course.  The new year dawned with the new sun and I always find myself dwelling on thoughts of the future over the christmas tide.  With Stephen here I have time to plan and muse, research and fill my brain with information.  I have a partner to bounce ideas off and a supporter in moving around furniture, building shelves and general rearranging ready for the post holiday new beginning.  I am ready to work on what we have now, refreshing, reorganising or simply leaving as it is; we have nowhere else we need to go, nowhere to be or rush to.

Nothing has really changed, yet everything feels different.  Of course it is just me that is different, or perhaps just the way I see things.  It’s as if I’ve reached out and grasped my life, it feels solid under my hand and I am wondering what I want to make out of it.  I am ready for the activity of the spring to come, the summer of work and hopeful abundance; right now that is many snowstorms away but the winter months will give us time to plan and scheme.

In the mean time here I am.  Going nowhere, not if I can help it.  As the icy snow whips horizontally outside my windows I feel content to be here, knowing there is nothing better ‘out there’, no other wonder than can beat this life.  Here I am, and here I stay.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

This morning the house was cold, really cold, it made me want to stay in bed and pull the duvet up over my head until at least an hour after dawn, but the boys had other ideas.   I made them breakfast and then, rather grumpily, bundled up to go outside and collect wood from the far garage as we’d run through our inside supply last night.

The crisp air, the crunching snow and the tingle on my skin soon woke me properly and I began to enjoy my outside time.  When I turned to go back into the house with my heavy box of wood I was transfixed by the rising sun; I dashed inside for my camera and managed to capture a little of this stunning morning for posterity.

A year ago I was sitting in a rental house in a suburb, somewhere I didn’t want to be, dreaming of this land that had just become ours.  I have no words for what it means to me to be here, to be living in this beautiful place, to have the privilege of watching the sun rise over our fields each day.  Watching this light, like liquid welsh gold,  a red and yellow glow that paints the world in pastel colours and makes me catch my breath.

In that moment I don’t feel the cold, or think about the day and the work that still needs to be done.  All I can do is marvel at the beauty of it, at how far we’ve travelled to finally arrive at this place.

Tonight I sit in front of the fire, the dogs passed out on the warm floor, the boys asleep in their beds dreaming of Father Christmas.  There are gifts under the tree for me that I can’t wait to open, christmas has lost none of it’s glitter as I’ve aged.  But truly the greatest gift is being here at all.

Wishing you all a merry and above all peaceful christmas.

Please Kill Santa, He’s A Knob

Please Kill Santa, He’s A Knob

Christmas is a weird time. Let’s face it, unless you have the social graces of a Scottish drunk with a habit for eating all the purple hazelnut Roses and an inappropriate love of telling fart jokes to children, you’ll be in demand to visit all your family. That even includes those you’ve been avoiding since last Christmas when their over-indulged, chocolate-crazed progeny drove you to the edge of reason and a desperate, ill-fated dive into the cheap whisky.

You will undoubtedly complain about the lack of “downtime” and a hectic schedule. There may even be a few white lies told to steal a sneaky weekend away by yourself.

Please forgive my tone of smug, self-congratulation but for us, that happy Christmas pantomime is a thing of the past. Not just because we now live in Canada and all our family are several thousand miles away on another continent. Not just because basically I have no friends and am close to being named an honourary Scotsman. But because since Emma and I met, we’ve maintained what I like to think of as the Cartman Policy.

It’s really very simple and goes something like this: “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

You see, we decided to avoid all the wrangling over whose parents we should visit each year and not go to any of them. With a couple of sad exceptions, we’ve stuck to that policy for the last seventeen years and it’s been remarkably healthy for everyone involved. Sure there have been attempts to subvert us and guilt us into a visit, but they quickly died out. What we gained was a measure of control and peace, plus an opportunity to do things our way.

For a few years now my father-in-law has come to Canada to share Christmas with us and that’s been great. This year the prospect of the cold weather was too much and he came in November instead to help us move into our new farm. So we’re on our own again and I have to say, it feels bloody good. In my heart, I can’t deny a little sadness that my folks won’t get to see the kids open their presents and that we won’t get to see the annual re-run of Star Wars on the BBC. But, as mentioned in previous posts, I’m a Jedi now so I know how that story goes.

Instead we get to begin building traditions with our kids. Not all of them will be fuzzy and idyllic. Some of them will probably involve shouting and standing on toys in the dark. I’d like to try to combine some of the best ones I remember from my childhood and I’m sure the missus will introduce some of her own. I’d like to start the tradition of Throttle The Damn Chicken, because I swear if Custard The Evil pecks my hand again while I’m feeding them, he’ll be a MasterChef-inspired main course by Boxing Day.

Whatever traditions we come up with, my intention is to abandon the day’s association with Christ and Christianity because let’s face it, if he’s real I’m buggered and have already booked an Advance SuperSaver ticket on the Express Shuttle to Hell so we may as well have some fun on Earth in the meantime. I’m fully intending to follow the stereotypically romantic image of a pagan and embrace their proclivity for excess feasting, celebrating, generosity and belching.

To be more specific and in homage to the tradition of Best 5 whatevers, here’s what I liked best about my family’s Christmas celebrations before the Cartman Policy took effect and what I’m going to try combine into our new traditions:

1. The Hidden Present

 It’s a classic and those of you that haven’t been on the experiencing end of it are either adopted, or quite frankly, have rubbish parents. Either way, you should probably get in touch with a counsellor to talk about your neglected childhood. It goes down well whatever age you are and with Sid James inspired cheeky chappiness, the savvy present giver can use it to their advantage. For example, Emma is now so excited and conditioned to hoping for The Hidden Present that she will practically do anything on Christmas day. Ask for a cup of tea and she’s at the cupboard in a shot looking for a small box. Take these clothes upstairs to put away? No problemo, I’ll just take a quick peek to see if there’s a nice new top hanging up with a bow wrapped around it shall I? It’s a genius tradition that gives a win all round.
2. Bacon Butties For Brunch
 Another classic. For anyone not British or Danish reading this, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about because it’s unlikely you’ve eaten proper bacon. I’m not talking about that streaky, mean-cut, fat-heavy, water-filled junk that masquerades as bacon. Oh no. I’m talking about the real, English-style, thick-cut, smokey bacon with the rind still on it. The kind that doesn’t vanish into a pan of white foam and grease. Get some, fry it up until the rind is golden and crispy but the meat isn’t as dry as a Rivita (seriously, unless you want to slice your throat from the inside, what is the point of that stuff?) and serve without draining in a white floury bap. If you want to go Proper Northern Style, try to get your hands on some Chop Sauce from Hammonds of Yorkshire. A worthy second best would be Daddies Sauce. Of course, if you do, then I’ll probably be sharing those butties with you.

3. It’s Father Christmas, Not Fucking Santa

I’m not being funny but they’re not even from the same origin. Santa is a commercial North American concept that unfortunately many people are too ill-educated to know isn’t the same thing. Father Christmas is way cooler. He’s also known as Father Winter, descended from the pagan god Woden (and Odin for those Norse junkies). A frickin god. And he doesn’t wear a crappy red suit either. This fella wears green, doesn’t do deliveries and only says Ho Ho Ho when he’s quaffing flagons of ale or crushing his enemies. He’s the real deal and the lord of winter, to which puny humans should give offerings and good cheer, otherwise he’ll eat the fucking lot of you. And your cat too.

4. The Christmas Creep

Unlike the name might suggest, this isn’t about intoxicated Belgians or Frenchmen with overly familiar hands. But if you’re a Dad, being a Christmas Creep is essential to the drama of the day. Of course I’m talking about the accepted protocol for Checking If Father Christmas Has Gone Yet. Fairly obviously, given my lecture about Father Christmas above, you can a) understand why you’d want to check that this mad fucker isn’t still in the room when you bring your kids down and b) wonder what the hell is in those presents. Whatever, the Christmas Creep is essential to creating the perfect atmosphere of suspense and really gets the day off to a great start.

5. A Mountain Of Food

In the spirit of Christmas being about the celebration of winter and that the days are (hopefully) going to start getting longer and less dark, the Christmas Feast has always been an important centrepoint of the day. Whether you decide to roast up an unfortunate turkey (um, boring), or a simple chicken (I have a spare), it’s important to go Over The Top. Personally, I don’t mess about with Starters and just head straight to the Main Course. Three types of meat isn’t excessive, along with every vegetable that can be boiled, mashed, julienned, diced or roasted. On the side Yorkshire Puddings, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Pork Crackling and thick rich gravy. If you can get up after that, you haven’t done it justice.

Whatever your customs and beliefs, I hope you have an intoxicated Christmas / Yule celebration filled with belly laughs, new traditions and Jedi Knights.

The King is Dead.

The King is Dead.

As the saying goes The King is dead, long live the King.  This line resonates with me particularly at the moment as we are thinking and talking about, as we ll as celebrating, the winter solstice.  I’ve been reading this story with Huwyl about the death and rebirth of the Sun King, it is a really special rendering and ties in well with the story I’ve been telling him since he was being carried around on my back.

This was the first time it really  sank in rather than being something I said for my own benefit; he asked questions about how it worked and what would happen next.  I explained that the sun would be weak for a while as he is just a baby now, but  by spring he’d be getting stronger and by the summer he would be at his most powerful.  I talked about the cycle of the year, the dark and the light, the times of balance and the times of heat and cold.  I answered the questions when I could and let the mysteries stand when I couldn’t.  I could see that the magic of it all awed him a little, yet when we talked about how to celebrate the suggestions were very tangible.  A cake for the Sun King, what a great idea!

The recipe is the Six Minute Moosewood Cake, I found a reference to it on Heather’s blog and it worked like a charm!  As well as being delicious it is vegan so great for anyone who doesn’t want dairy, plus I have a personal belief that anything vegan is calorie free so even more enjoyment to be had!   The boys really enjoyed ‘helping’ and we had the fun of sharing our treat with friends who dropped by for a bit of tea and a pre-christmas present exchange.  Today we’ll be celebrating solstice eve with a candle and a piece of cake; there is ice rain outside so a cosy day with favourite movies has been the order of the day.  Tomorrow, the pagan New Year, will see us at a party at Neirin’s preschool and an afternoon of friends joining us for yet more cake.  Now that’s what I call celebrating.

On the winter solstice last year this land became officially ours, a lot has changed since then.  I can’t help reflecting on how much we’ve achieved in such a short time, no wonder we are all so exhausted!  This year christmas time is about recharging, peaceful time with family and friends, looking at what we’ve achieved and knowing that there is more goodness to come this year.  While our celebrations have been small, a cake, some sofa time, a few festive stories by the fire or snuggled in bed, it has felt right for us now.

And really that’s what counts.  Wishing everyone a peaceful and abundant New Year, bright blessings to you and your families!

Schoolhouse Tunic Mark 2

Schoolhouse Tunic Mark 2

It would seem that I’ve finally got my sewing mojo back, phew, that was a worry!  My beautiful machine was waiting oh so very patiently for me, she never criticised or even complained but I knew she was there, waiting.  On Saturday afternoon, a beautiful sunny day with sunlight literally streaming into the house, I thought I’d make a start organising my sewing stuff.  I’ve appointed myself a ‘studio’ (aka the spare bedroom) and am using my Dad’s desk as my sewing table, it works like a charm.  Plus having a bed to lay things out on works really well.   But the best thing about it all (apart from the light, the light!) is the door.  I can close it and know that little fingers are less likely to be moving, poking, disassembling or pricking themselves with pointy sharp things.

So what started as “I’ll just get my machine out, that’s all, no harm in that.”  Ended a few hours later with this to show for it:

Please ignore the strange woman modelling with her ‘cleaning day’ pigtails and general air of insanity, it’s the sewing we are focusing on here.   I made this tunic using a pattern bought from Meg at Sew Liberated.  It really is a brilliant pattern, challenging enough to be interesting but extremely clear with supportive instructions, if you go wrong it really isn’t the pattern.

The fabric I used is a vintage sheet my friend gave to me (yay for free fabric!) that I love.  I intended it to be a summer top and indeed it will be super for that purpose, but for now it is a great layer over a vest top and yoga jeans.   The final product is a teensy bit ‘blousey’ due to the slight stiffness of the fabric, the pattern suggests something with ‘a nice drape’ and I don’t think this is quite it.  I’d love to try it again with a knit fabric, something with a little more weight and movement and I will definitely be making a couple out of super light fabric for the summer.  The fit is so comfortable and I wore the tunic happily all day.

But the real bliss was not just in the product (which I am very pleased with!) but in the making, the sheer unadulterated joy in using my amazing new machine. I love my Emerald, she is utter bliss to sew on and I am already thinking of my next project.  Oh Christmas holiday, how I will sew during thee, as the old saying goes.

And for anyone not interested in tunic tops or sewing (weird) here is a little something extra from my photo shoot this morning,

That’s right friends, a classic Bunty Annual from 1983 courtesy of e-bay and my Dad.  If you were a girl in England in the 80’s (and let’s face it, who wasn’t?) you will be heading down a tunnel so filled with nostalgia you’ll have to take a back pack and a change of socks.  Huwyl is currently enjoying the Bunty experience and I will be doing a bit of e-bay cruising to add to my current obsession collection.   That’s if I can tear myself away from my sewing machine of course.   Hmmmm…Bunty might just have to wait.

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping

Yesterday I was a poorly person, I could barely stand up out of bed and after a brief sojourn downstairs and a few sips of tea, back to bed is where I went.  My knight in shining armour (aka Stephen) spent the morning at home, went into the office for a couple of hours then came home again all hero of the hour and sent my pathetic self back to my bed for more rest.  Of course that meant working until midnight but he didn’t mutter a word of complaint.

Not only did he take care of everything while I slept but he also came up with a fun homeschool project to do with Huwyl.  They did some research on bugs and then made a load of their own creations out of plasticine and lolly sticks.  So not only did he do my job, he did it better than me.

So there you have it, a wonderfully creative, fun and educational project all at the drop of a hat.  Brilliant.

And in case you are wondering if I am jealous of my beloved’s ability to make up super awesome projects with no seeming effort whatsoever I say unto you, no way!  Because I, and this is the crucial part my friends, I bought the supplies in the first place, without that it would all come to nothing.  Yep.  Total credit.  Secure as anything.  Yep.  Totally.

So a big ‘thanks for keeping me alive and stuff’ to Stephen, couldn’t do it without you.  Wouldn’t want to try.

Fuzzy Day

Fuzzy Day

The fog closed in last night, the view from the window was suddenly foreshortened and we found ourselves suspended inside a cloud.  The cloud seemed to settle firmly in my brain today, after a night of Neirin tossing and turning, the strangely dispersed light making it impossible to know what time it was.  I woke feeling disorientated and couldn’t really shake off that feeling.  Everything felt undefined, trying to apply order taking effort and energy.  It felt like a day to drift and dream.

Standing out on the new deck, the damp air curling around my ears, woke me a little but made me want a cosy day; the inside seeming so inviting.  So the fire has been tended and some apple sauce made, the smells of wood and apple creating and internal cloud of pleasant scent.  After doing some school Huwyl made an ornament for the tree, the boys played and ran amok; but still I felt a little vague, concrete plans for the day eluding me.


The mild weather has brought more than fog with it, the earth on our homestead, already loose because of the build, is more like quicksand now.  Everywhere I look there is mud, tracked in by boys, dogs and adults alike.  Stephen build a fantastic dog area by the walkout so that we can contain them and give them a quiet place to retreat to aswell.   It has worked beautifully and the house is less chaotic as a result, but the mud still gets everywhere.  A simple trip to the chickens suddenly feels so much more complicated and much less fun.  I’m hoping for a good freeze to make it all a bit cleaner and easier to navigate, though this does give us a taste of the spring conditions next year.

Finally I roused the troops, redressed Neirin (for the third time?  the fourth?) and piled out in search of honey.  I was totally out, not even a scraping left, giving me an excuse to visit a shop I’ve seen on the way down to Winchester further south.  It was closer than I thought and after browsing for a while I wished I had brought my camera.  The evidence of generations of beekeepers could be seen in old equipment and on shelves.  The writing was from the 50’s, the jars from the 30’s, I was in love immediately.  I bought a large jar of late season honey, darker with a rich flavour that comes from the wildflowers of late summer; I had just enough for a little candle aswell, something to light at dinner time to mark the transition to a quieter pace.  Well that’s the hope.

The lady running the shop was the quintessential grandmother, like a Mrs Claus but with bees not elves.  She gave us tastes of honey on sticks, like nature’s lolly pops.  She fussed after the boys, patting them and forgiving their bumps and eager fingers.  She told me her “first three children” were boys and when I asked she told me she had 6 children.  I blushed internally at my impatience, my lack of fortitude as I imagined this maternal woman benevolently caring for her brood of honey children.  But as I herded my two boys out of the door, hoping to avoid actual breakages, she patted my back and smiled kindly.  Her eyes were warm and I felt understood, she had been there too.  After all, we all have fuzzy days.

Some tv time for the boys gives me time for a cup of tea,  flavoured by the beautiful honey with illicit christmas chocolates to soothe my hormonal and sleepy self.  I think back over the day and am reminded of the sweeter moments, I think about the quiet that will descend after that candle has been extinguished and my boys are sleeping heavily in their beds.  It makes me think I’d like to snatch a few more cuddles out of the remaining hours, some fuzzy snuggles to warm our evening.

Tonight there will be no dramatic sunset, the day will become just a little more grey, it will slip sleepily into night.  It gives me permission for my own sleepy self, it tells me to stay fuzzy, to slip into dreams.  Just one more cup of tea I think, and maybe one more chocolate.  Or two.