Thursday, December 25, 2008

Making that doll is an achievement! Many late nights, especially the sewing of the hair, but a pure joy every moment. As is the tradition with a Waldorf doll, I slept with him/her to further imbue it with my energy. Beau came into our bed on cue in the wee hours of the morn and I still had the doll close to my chest. When he awoke asking to see what Santa had left I said I had a gift for him first and I brought the doll to his chest at which point he went very quiet and held it to his chest. He said 'Is it a boy or a girl mummy?" to which I answered "which ever you decide" and he whispered 'a girl". I suggested he think of a name for her. Later on I asked again, what he thought she would be named and he said "Arya" which is the name of our friends' lovely daughter who Beau has spent some great time with of late. (Be still my heart). Tonight we put Arya in her Pj's and took her into bed and Beau said to me "Thank you for making her for me, I love her (got up on an elbow to kiss me purposefully). I've never had a special doll before"

sigh....perfect mother/child moment lingering long into the night.

Santa brought Beau a very funky 70's Malvern star dragster bike which has also been the recipient of many declarations of love throughout the day.
It was almost an entirely hand made Christmas which I have declared the bench mark from here on. Start early is the trick. The bright ideas come amidst the flurry of making.

I'll post some more pics tomorrow. In the meantime, Merry Christmas my friends, enjoy your families, food, time out, sun or snow. Be safe and happy! xxx

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Felt frenzy

I love it. If I could make everything out of felt I would. It's so easy to work with and soft and colourful and I'm slightly obsessed with it at the moment. I made the needle pouch for practical reasons but also just as a fun quick thing to do. No big projects going on just yet though today I think today may be the day I actually start Beau's doll. I've been procrastinating for a while now and watch me as I continue to type on in this post, avoiding bringing the materials out of their hiding place.....

We bought a large $2 bargain fake Christmas tree at the local op shop. I had intended to go out into the bush and find the perfect branch that would be more authentic to our Australian Christmas, but there it was looking exactly like the one I grew up with, promising to endure Christmases from here into the next decade or more, and I was filled with sentimentality. Beau and I found old wooden decorations at the op shop too. I've considered the possible lameness of placing so much aesthetic importance on the Tree but really it's part of the magic. We can always do with more magic. Have it dripping from every nook and cranny when possible I say.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Beau and I cut snowflakes today and all the while I thought how very not Australian Christmas a snowflake is but how we just have to have them nonetheless. They were fun to make, and there is this great interactive site that shows you how.
We drove around unknown roads this evening just because. Hills shrouded in mist. Yesterday a phenomenal beautiful out here I can hardly believe it. Starting to feel less like we're on holiday and more like residents.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bit of Christmas crafting and a bit of letting go

Having trouble remembering to photograph the things I've been making of late. I made this Bird mobile for a friend's new bub, in a flash of last minute inspiration and thought only to take a photo in the car (hence attractive vinyl dashboard back drop).

Beau's advent calender is up and the Christmas Fairy nightly brings various small treats or instructions to which end this blog has been really helpful. Trying always to find the balance between getting and giving and to infuse Christmas with meaning. For me it is about family and birth, giving and gratitude and the most fantastic food we can put together. Christmas was magic for me as a kid, Mum went all out to make it so and the main thing for me, as much as I loved receiving presents, were the rituals that evolved for our family; the tree (which we had for 22 years), the way we decorated it, the old stories, the preparation of food,the wrapping and planning and the odd but good humoured family dynamic that was always played out every Christmas lunch - non of it particularly extraordinary but exciting none the less. And even though our family has never been the slightest bit religious, I absolutely loved the stories around baby Jesus born in a barn - the whole nativity thing; the wise men, that big star, arriving on a donkey, Frankincense and Myrrh (which I thought were exotic visitors for a good many years).

My family and I as a whole haven't spent Christmas together for at least 10 years, (probably more in K's case) which I find a little sad. Since mum died our family in general has been somewhat disconnected and which is why I think I'm probably more eager to create a strong sense of family and family rituals than I otherwise might have been. It seems that mothers are the ones who tend to keep extended family together and keep those family rituals alive. Nothing like Christmas to test how many familial expectations there are yet to let go of.

My friend Teresa and I have three gigs coming up, two this weekend and one the day after boxing day. The two this weekend are small but the first for us and for the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to performing. Could it be that my long time and crippling fear of singing in front of people is finally lifting? I do believe so. I think it has much to do with the practice of trying to stay present and therefore spending less time in thought about something that will happen in the future, and much to do with getting older and worrying less about what other people think. It could be, that having just turned 41, I may finally be learning something.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Zen and the Art of Sewing Machine Maintenance

I thought I needed a new sewing machine. For three years I have cursed the Toyota, "should stick to making cars"..etc etc and lots of swearing. I lent it to a friend, it came back missing the foot and has been in storage ever since.

I took it to Donvale to buy a new one/have it serviced/fixed/get a new foot....whatever it would take. Graham gave me a free foot and half an hour's teaching on the practice of presence and patience and correct sewing machine use. I was doing it ALL wrong. When I asked if I could pay him for his tutorial he said "No, I just feel that if people know how to use their machines properly then they will enjoy sewing. Then sewing will be a happy experience."

I took my Toyota home, put it on the table, set about to practice all that my master taught me, experienced the bliss he had promised and found myself humbly apologising to the machine for all the abuse I have so unnecessarily flung in its direction.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Feeling incredibly grateful for the work I get to do; painting cups and drinking tea with sweet Bridget, mama's work (this week especially the making of the advent calendar above ), rehearsing amazing Appalachian songs for 2 gigs in December, helping to organise child care for Rinpoche's retreats next year and then the more intense but but thankfully transformative work that k and I are having to put into our relationship at the moment. Diverse, flexible, creative and shared - text book Sagittarian heaven. I have managed to avoid full time employment pretty much all my adult life much to the chagrin of my family who have always regarded my alternative ways as somewhat worrying. There are times when I have doubted whether it is possible to live a truly simple life and provide a family with all basic needs, particularly early last year. For us, being out of the city definitely helps. I find myself less concerned about material things and more resourceful and content with the environment around me. I'm less concerned about my appearance (although if I had a mirror I may be more so)and what people think of me and my choices. The simplicity of our needs reflects in the work that we are choosing. I feel like we have the freedom to be much more ethically and creatively motivated. I know it's not everyone's idea of a comfortable existence; we certainly go without a great deal of comforts and convenience but I think we are more and more changing our idea of what those things are for us. I don't think we have all the answers and I don't judge anyone for the way they choose to live. I'm simply reflecting on this here life warts and all and it is good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

That shop

I have just been in here for the first time. I've bought on line many times but nothing better than being in there with all the colours and soft wool - I was in there for ages. Heaven.

I found the book at an op shop on the way. Good old 'Golden Hands'.

Monday, November 17, 2008

makin' and bakin'

And yay verily the bread was good and the people ate of it and were glad. It's REAL good.

Some Christmas crafting has begun and as often happens when I sit down to hand stitch something, my thoughts turned to my Nanna who died when I was three - consequently I have no memory of her save photos and her beautiful wooden sewing box which still contains some of her tools. She crocheted lace doilies and embroidered a multitude of domestic cloths and knitted the pram rug that became my dearly beloved security blanket. at one time I was also in possession of her antique Singer sewing machine and many other gorgeous pieces of jewelry and crockery, her wood glory box (which I still have) and her old German piano. All I can say is, that if the urge to run completely feral across the country over comes you, resist the urge to give away/sell such precious items and consider future selves and generations. I sadly mourn these things despite the logic of having had nowhere to keep them until the wanderlust subsided.

The sewing box is therefore every dear to me and I humbly imagine that a little of Nan has come back through me!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

bread baking

Have been having great success in the sour dough bread making department. Lovely crusty topped loaves; a mix of spelt, rye and rice flour and lots of seeds, made from a thirteen year old leaven of which I now seem to have a great excess (so very happy to share it out along with recipe).

Tonight's dough (above pic) looks as though it may not rise....could it be the cool change? Perhaps one day I will know the great secrets.

On to yoghurt next. It's the farmer's wife within me, begging for expression. "Jam, lemon butter, pumpkin scones, strawberry sponge cake" she whispers. I am at her mercy.

Half an hour later - the baker is pleased to announce that the dough DOES in fact appear to be expanding. Crusty evidence coming soon...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

birthday crown

Stayed up joyously last night to stitch together this little crown for Taj's third birthday. It really needs interfacing between the two layers of felt, but fits well and has a tricky bit at the back where the band continues and extends when the elastic stretches.

Tahli performed miracles with sugar free and gluten free ingredients - a feast that left no child out of its head (where's the fun in that?). Just the usual afternoon exhaustion and record number of jumps on the new trampoline.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What The Sky Gave Us #4

Yesterday afternoon, a very long drive to see a very spectacular many photos trying to capture peach and pale blue, fuschia, burnt orange, silver and gold...this little camera doing its best but not quite true to the actual event. the guy up the beach with tripod and lenses....oh I would love to see what he snapped.

Such a beautiful contrast to the bush; watery, shimmery, soft and vast clear mirror-like expanse. The fishes and the birds and the smell. Beau was ecstatic.

We were pretty happy about it all too.....

Armed with excellent advice from Ms Hen and a small but adequate budget, I am on the hunt for a sewing machine. I have three knitting projects on the go, and a head full of projects to sew before Christmas. Beau's doll and a felt advent calendar being two of them. Can this Sagittarian do it before she gets distracted? Let's see......

Monday, October 27, 2008


Experiencing knitting learning curve despite urge to unravel the entire documentation pending final decision.

Green Day at a local farm.

My elephant.

Beau's Island

There's a definite rhythm to life out here now for which I am very grateful and which seems to satisfy the three of us. It's always obvious how much happier Beau is when he can count on a big portion of daily/weekly activities being familiar. When he knows what's coming he gets such a sense of confidence and cooperation and calm. That's not to say that spontaneity doesn't work. K and I wouldn't be ourselves if that disappeared from our life but as a family we all feel the peace and flow that comes from rhythm and dare I say it some good ol' fashion routine. All the more important for us because we have moved around so much and so there are some daily 'rituals 'that we would go collectively insane without. The dinner to bedtime routine for Beau for example never changes except for the location, our mornings and the way we interact with nature and the neighbours now we are here.

Beau's (almost four year old)increasing ability to stay with an activity for an extended period of time is a pleasure for us all. Whether it be wood carving or chopping veges or painting or clay modeling etc, finally we are all getting our teeth stuck into things parents must let go of in the presence of young toddlers with short attention spans . It gives me some insight into the potential for homeschooling which feels to be the right thing for our family. We have started researching and it seems there is a good network in our area. This has been the main issue for us, that Beau would have access to other home schooled kids and shared activities and that we would have support as home schooling parents. I'm so inspired by Amanda,
Blue Yonder and many others whom I have come across in the blogosphere who have chosen to school at home.
We are excited at the idea that home life, play, spiritual practice and education can be integrated, especially now that we are living in the country (Oh how I love to say that; We Live In The Country).

At long last w can say that we are closer to the lifestyle that we have often dreamed of. That in fact I have dreamed of for as long as I can remember. (on parallel with international Jazz Diva which is not of course out of the question either, but is really more about the frocks) Our home life is simplified and slowed down, our working lives are in line with our creative passions, we spend a great deal of time together as a family, we have a stronger sense of community, we are giving our relationship some much needed attention, and we are researching the other ways in which we can create a more simple, sustainable, self-sufficient and communal life style.

The next step for us is to find land, incurring the smallest possible (if not non-existent) mortgage; ideally with two or three other families. We are researching alternative building techniques(in particular Cob) and drinking up any literature about self-sufficiency and simple living; one reason why I'm so glad I found Linda's Blog and book, and so happy for runs and re runs during my child hood of Felicity Kendal and The Good Life.

To some of our friends and family we probably seem very idealistic. It may be so, but we have spent so many years trying to 'fit in', to consume and conform and control, on our own, on others' terms and felt so little satisfaction and much confusion that this year has been about following our hearts and stripping back enough to see what we really need and what we can live without. We find ourselves now in a tiny studio, on a tiny income, with minimal possessions and a lot of time. This has been made possible with years of dreaming and periods of hard slog, a small ($11,000) financial loan from family, a short spell as mortgagees, the reduction of our relationship to a series of practical instructions at the end of a day, a timely and profitable house sale, a bloody enormous amount of letting go, the paying off of all debts, a small but nevertheless very helpful nest egg that is ours, the generosity of beloved friends and the determination to prove to ourselves and each other that we can really truly live as we choose.

The suffering of our relationship over the past 5 years has been in part due to external pressures but mostly due to our respective experience of them. We have coexisted as housemates and managed the day to day living with some ease. We have been parenting with a shared passion for the well being of our child. We have experienced the 'Ships in the Night' passing that can completely wipe out the possibility for intimacy. We have felt that our visions for the future have been completely at odds with each other. We have come face to face with our own feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction to the point where the idea of not being together was mentioned far too many times. Then we pulled the pin on what seemed to be the only real shared plan of action, consequently threw ourselves into complete chaos and confusion, got Very Stressed and Very Pissed Off until we landed here with enough time and space to get back to being nice to each other and patient and, lo and behold, to finding that what we envisage from here on is increasingly the same.

We have a way to go but thanks to the 'C' word ('counseling' just before you get too carried away) which, neither of us had ever had up until three weeks ago, and about which both of us have been dubious ("Oh look, we can sort it out can't we anyway it's YOUR fault...")but for which we are now very thankful because eventually slogging it out on your own can get rather boring, exhausting and just generally no where.

I will spare you any further details about our personal life. I think I've managed to Share the important bits without dragging you into domestic drama. I'm sure you all have/had your own share. Good bloody on you if not!

Suffice to say we have managed not to scar Beau emotionally along the way, though maybe counseling somewhere down the line in his own adult life may reveal otherwise. Let us hope that we may be evolving and parenting in such a way that our kids might be spared the need.

My 45 minutes appear to be up. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kings and Queens

We had these beautiful visitors yesterday and today, so tame, the King Parrot stayed a long while to eat sunflower seeds and pose for photos. Today he flew up to the window twice to get my attention. The echidna is still sitting in the garden with its nose snuffling for ants....I love it that these things are part of our day to day. And Henrik, it is with you most clearly in my mind that I post these pictures; some bits of Australia that I know you love so well! Enjoy my friend xx

Monday has become a very communal day for T and I and our boys. We usually spend the whole day together walking, talking, sharing chores, and preparing meals. I have earned the honourable title of 'Kitchen B****'to Kitchen Queen T. It's all about Superfood and chocolate and all things good and green from our local vege co-op. We think we should have our own TV show, baby in sling and all.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

small things for wee people

we've all been making one thing or another this week, some things finished, some in progress. I love seeing Beau out there with his Dad and some tools, carving and drilling and sanding. I love seeing K finally having the time to get his teeth stuck into a creative project. The first one was a gift that he and Beau conceived and made together for C's 4th birthday, this wonderful sword. Beau has been fascinated with swords lately and I remembered reading in a Steiner Book that at this age children will find great strength and courage in the story of St George and the Dragon, where of course George rescues the princess from the dragon with his mighty sword. Fortunately no dragons have yet been harmed since the making of this sword (nor have any small people who seemed somehow to understand the symbolism with which the gift was bequeathed).

The knitting of a little vest for the wee neighbour is coming along after many unravellings. It is my first attempt at decreasing, shaping, sewing together...very exciting and I feel like the knitting world will be my oyster thereafter.

... speaking of little things for wee people, I found this beautiful dress in a local op shop whilst trawling for dress ups. It's so fine and delicate that I can't imagine who might wear it (a doll perhaps).

...and Beau and I made a fairy house today at the bottom of the garden which seemed the obvious place. It has a view over the trees, open fire and a hand knitted blanket. Available for weekend stay with optional breakfast. Sorry no pets.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

a birthday and a warm sunday

We had a small birthday party last night, for K. good friends, kids, fire, fire twirling, music and food, all the right things.

Today was the first really warm day which was spent recovering from a late night, making things and being still by the river, slowing down time.

and the littlest neighbour grows and smiles....