Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chaos, Frivolity and a little something for you.


Hello. How are you? Pardon the mess. I'm just snatching a few quiet moments here while Flynn is napping and hoping the deafening sound of the jackhammer doesn't wake him up. I can barely hear Radiohead playing on my headphones and my desk is vibrating but I'll persevere and take this tiny window of time while I can.   

It has been a tad chaotic here this past week. There are lots of balls in the air and we added a few more when we decided to tart up the kitchen/dining area and replace the 30 year old oven that doesn't work before the real chaos starts when we open for business in the New Year. There's also been dealings with local Council and Government Departments, headaches here, hiccups here, product development, selecting all the seeds for my cut flower patch and finalising our business logo only to find that an almost exact copy has found its way into the market place so back to the drawing board with that- grrr! An exploded Fire Hydrant is a picture that springs to mind to describe how I'm feeling right now. I've flipped my lid more than a few times this week, the exhaustion pouring out in a spectacular fashion yet not really accomplishing anything in terms of putting out all the little spot-fires around me.


There have been some nice moments amongst the chaos. Halloween was a hit. I know some people have very strong views on celebrating Halloween in this country and I dislike the commercialisation of these holidays as much as the next person but you have to pick your battles and this is one I'm not inclined to get my knickers in a knot over. The kids love dressing up and we head down to the beachside suburb down the road every year where treat-or-treating has become a 'thing' and we spend a lovely evening walking around the suburb mingling with our friends and eating fish and chips on the beach. It's at the very least a community-building activity, a lovely way to spend the evening and besides, there's not enough Frivolity in the world.

To cope with all of the above I've joined another Knit Along - Stephen West's Exploration Station. Completely uninspired by my current knitting project for the obvious reason (I'm seeing a lot of green in the photo above), I chose some soothing neutrals and a bolt of electric blue (above right). It's not outrageous but at least it's not green. I did a quick search on Ravelry and decided I needed some Stephen West in my life to get me out of my knitting slump. I watched his little video tutorial and he had me at "swooshity swoosh" so I signed right up. It's so far proving to be a very interesting and fun knit, as one would expect.

Images from here
Is anyone joining in? It's not too late, I started on Tuesday night and have finished the first clue already.

Finally, we had a fantastic day at the Tasmanian Craft Fair in Deloraine on the weekend and were completely inspired by all the wonderful craftsmanship. I bought a couple of little things for you too. There's a sweet brooch on the left by Sarah Millicent Elliot and a print "A Riot of Kookaburras" by Red Parka Design on the right. I love collective nouns and when I saw the Kookaburra print it reminded me instantly of blogging, all of us chatting to each other throughout the blogosphere like a riot of Kookaburras. If you'd like these lovely Tasmanian creations just leave me a comment and I'll draw a name out of the hat on Sunday. Good luck and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

20 Year High School Reunion

Blink and suddenly 20 years have whooshed by.

It had been a long time between drinks so I flew back to my hometown for my 20 Year High School Reunion, an opportunity to spend a few days away on my own and catch up with old friends and family and to see just how little sleep I could function on - apparently 3 hours a night for 4 nights in a row is doable but then I need another 3 nights at home to recover. It was all worth it.

I grew up in Wollongong, a big industrial city just south of Sydney which boasts beautiful beaches,a relaxed lifestyle and a sort of gritty edge that I loved. It's a predominantly working class city thanks to the BHP Steel Works hovering in the distance. Your parents were either in some way connected to the Steel Works or were part of the professions that supported this community which made it a close knit city and it was a great place to grow up.

I attended the local co-ed public high school down the road from home. I walked to and from school every day for 6 years, 13 if you include Primary School. I'd pick up my friends along street on the way and wait for them to finish their piano lessons or homework or clean their teeth before heading off. The school was a melting pot in terms of cultural diversity with a multitude of nationalities thrown in together and kids coming from all walks of life. With over 1000 students we all bunked in together in a kind of 'sink or swim' fashion.  Parents had minimal involvement in High School back then and there didn't seem to be the mollycoddling that's around these days. It was free public education at its best and I am so grateful for the experience.

Needless to say I have the fondest memories of High School. Our year group was a 'good' one in that everyone generally got along despite having their own little groups of friends. Since I left home straight after school finished to go off to University I was super keen to see everyone again. I'd lost touch with many friends due to the tyranny of distance and although I had kept in contact with some, there were many I hadn't seen for 5, 10, 20 years. Love it or loathe it, Facebook has been a saving grace in terms of keeping in touch with friends and resulted in the Reunion being a massive success with over 100 of us from our year group attending.

Nothing beats a good face to face contact and the friends you grow up with in your formative years are super special. You know these people really well. They know you. You see them every day, spend huge amounts of time in their homes and know the intricacies of their home life and their family dynamics. You know their issues and they know yours. I particularly have a soft spot for the friends I went through Primary School with, having known them for around 30 years now. We always have a ball when we catch up.

Onto the Reunion itself, it was exactly as I thought it would be. Lots of "OMG you haven't changed a bit!", "remember when?" and "I can't believe you have 5 kids, that's crazy!!!". No one had 5 Kids except me. Everyone was essentially the same, in a good way. There was a lot of openness and honesty. I loved hearing how everyone has been spending their time. After 20 years, everyone was now fairly set on their designated path. There had been marriages, children, divorces and mid-life crises. If you weren't following your passion or didn't know what that was after High School you now did and were on your destined path.  If your relationships weren't working out, you had either divorced or had come to some kind of acceptance. No one had been immune to struggles although there were some truly heartbreaking stories. There really are no guarantees in life when you see the randomness in some of the stories. Some of our class mates were no longer with us through accident, illness and suicide, a sobering reminder to be kind.

The general consensus by the end of the night:

Life is short.
Marriage and Children are hard but great.
No one is doing exactly what they thought they would be doing after High School and that's OK.
Apparently I need to get a Thermomix.
We should have a Reunion every year because it was just so much fun.
Aside from genuine curiosity, no one cares overly much what you do for a living, they are more interested in what sort of person you have become.
Good friends are those where you can pick up where you left off 20 years ago as if no time has passed at all.

There were lots of photos at the Reunion that I had never seen before, reminders of good times I had forgotten about.

and times I never would have thought existed without some form of photographic evidence. I spent weekends at our farm in Braidwood and apparently I used to ride my horse in a bikini.

By the end of the night my cheeks were sore from laughing so much and I had lost my voice. Sometime after 2am we called it a night, the Responsible Lad that was always there 20 years ago to drive the inebriated home safely was there again. After being dropped off I fumbled around for the lone spare key, dropping it a few times in the long grass before tripping down some stairs in my heels to collapse on my sister's sofa fully clothed. Just like old times. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spring growth

There's a whole lot of Spring growth going on around here. The flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing and look at how big our Whippet pup "Rocket" is getting. If only he was as serene at midnight when he gallops onto our bed and takes up his new sleeping position on our heads.

The recently planted trees that looked like sad little sticks poking out of the ground are now either in blossom or covered in leaves. The Strawberries are looking sensational and have fruited and now just needing to ripen. A good number of them are a lovely new variety not widely available and I can't wait to get them into some recipes. I've been inspired in advance of the glut we'll have of Strawberries before the building is ready and have been baking up lots of Strawberry muffins - I popped a couple of choc chips on the top of this batch and they came out looking like faces which thrilled me no end. The fruit hanging off the branches in the photo are the Currants which are coming along nicely and will bush out over time to become an edible hedge along the front boundary.

The shipping containers are multiplying. Five have now been delivered here and will be used as part of the building, more on that later. In the meantime, it provided a nice backdrop for my latest shawl fresh off the needles and dry after overnight blocking. It's my second Follow Your Arrow Shawl by Ysolda Teague which I started 9 months ago as part of the Mystery Knit Along. It was made using the alternate clues I didn't use for the first shawl except for the final clue which was doing my head in and is the reason I set this one aside for 8 months. It feels good to have finished something around here I'm really happy with how it turned out and have realised I have a very strong preference for wearing asymmetrical shawls as this one can be thrown on and wrapped around like a scarf - no gaffing required.

Speaking of growth, all the Kids have had a massive growth spurt lately. They're all legs and arms and Eleanor is wearing size 6 shoes now! Flynn will be 2 next month and is eating as much as the boys, which is an obscene amount. He has joined the others rolling down the hill by the Bridge in Richmond, a tradition that has been going on for almost a decade.

And just to make me feel really old, we now have a kid with Braces. Just how did that happen? Eleanor has the teeth of a 12 year old instead of a 10 year old and so got them earlier than most which is just as well as back in my day the event was accompanied with a training bra, a new nickname - 'Braceface" anyone? -  and a warning to be careful kissing boys who also had braces on in case you got stuck together - a rather scary thought if you're the daughter of a Dentist. I don't think I'm quite ready for all that stuff just yet - jeepers!