Monday, June 1, 2020

coming of age



My son has just turned 21. We moved here the day he was due.
Tim was born right here, peacefully and safely at home. I guess that makes him a local.
He is well and truly all grown up now – a mature man with his own business.
He came home to play the other day. 



Tim has graduated from playing Tonka trucks in the paddock to operating the huge machines that make mountains into molehills.
He climbed into the yellow cabin of a 20 tonne excavator and made short work clearing a mess of privet, lantana and scrubby wattles in the beautiful part of our property where the tall gums grow.   We named this place after the towering Tallowood trees.
He knew what he was doing. It’s instinctive and he’s wanted to do that for years.
Life has come full circle.


In our first year here, I had a bee in my bonnet to tackle the bush and tame it. We had all that beautiful space and land. It just needed clearing.
We had five children under 10 and then baby Tim joined the crew.
There were so many things I’d dreamed of doing.
Building a swing in a big tree and clearing the way for a long flying fox was on that list.
Undaunted and naive, I ventured out into the bush with the children, wielding a big brush hook, wearing my baby boy in the mei tai sling.
Slashing and bashing through lantana with a vengeance, I had my eye on clearing to a beautiful big native fig tree. I could just imagine the swing!
After three days I was angry, frustrated and utterly, tearily exhausted. I could hardly summon the strength to cook tea.
My husband, who wasn’t involved because he was busy working elsewhere, kindly sat me down with these wise words.
“Stay inside the fence.”
It was such a relief that I didn’t have to feel responsible for 27 acres all at once.
We narrowed it down to two around the house and built a swing set instead. It’s hardly been used to be honest.
A few years ago, Tim and his youngest brother, Daniel were busy outside. I was busy inside and didn’t really take any notice of what they were up to.
They were busy for days. I was happy they were happy working together. 
“Mum, come and see what we’ve been doing.”  I put that off until I finally did follow them out.
Out into the wild bush around the Tallowoods.
Déjà vu.
The boys had cleared the whole area around the fig tree...and they had rigged up a big rope swing.






Sunday, May 10, 2020

gathering IRL

There’s been a lot of focus on the blessings this time is for introverts. Yay for them.
I love slow solitude at the best of times.
During these not-so-best times though, I realise afresh that I am a people-person.
I love gatherings. I love meeting people IRL. In Real Life – capital letters.
Gosh I miss it.
I’m not such a huggy person, but I bounce off other people’s energy and body language. I talk with my hands.
Who’s with me?
I love my loved ones. They are constant and comforting. We have our ups and downs. Familiarity can breed contempt, but I don’t take family for granted. We need extra grace in our household just as much as you do. Each one in my family is precious to me.
But I MISS MY FRIENDS!
Do you?
Do you miss getting together with friends? Gathering in small groups? Bouncing ideas off each other? Understanding easily as we communicate and connect with kindred spirits.
I cannot cope with zoom. I don’t like it at all. Anyone else?
I don’t mind a one-on-one facetime call. I like talking on the phone, but I don’t do group gathering on technology. I miss the vibes. The synergy of creative people bouncing off each other and the multiplication factor of that for our own creative sparks.
I love seeing what my friends have been up to when we visit each other. Sharing projects and possibilities with ideas and inspiration. Tangible evidence.
I love workshops. I do not like learning online and piles of paperwork without interaction.  I love meeting new people and discovering new interests. Learning and growing and stretching. I love spontaneous adventures and serendipity.  I need things to look forward to in order to keep moving and motivated. I need big ideas and external pressure outside my own four walls.
I get restless and stale sometimes.  It’s a pattern I recognise as I get older. As I face that again, I feel discouraged. Is that a weakness in my personality?
I need fresh vistas to foster contentment. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true. Exploring new places makes me appreciate afresh where I have built my own life. Road trips stimulate our senses as they broaden our horizons and introduce us to new ideas to interpret and come home to. New ideas to translate and perhaps fold into our own lives in different ways.
Curtailing all that has been lonely, frustrating and discouraging for me personally as I face those aspects of my personality and wade through ways to deal with this and come through strong.
What has helped you over the hurdles you’ve encountered during this strange time?
What are you looking forward to when the restrictions lift?



It is so special to be welcomed into a friend’s home. 
To know your company is anticipated and prepared for. 
I visited a dear friend just before all these restrictions unfolded and felt such a heartwarming welcome as I saw her beautiful attention to detail in preparing afternoon tea for us, pictured above.
I am longing to share our beautiful autumn garden with friends. I look forward to welcoming them with a lovely tea party.
Here’s to saying ‘cheers’ with a beverage in fine china or clinking a glass of something bubbly in jolly good company.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

sacrificial giving



The plea for donations keeps coming. 
More money to rescue more animals. More money for relief organisations like the Red Cross and the Salvos. More money needed to rebuild and repair houses, schools, businesses, farms and livelihoods in rural communities.
My husband is a generous man. He supports many organisations doing wonderful work all over the world and at home with hard earned finances.
The greatest gift he’s giving this week is himself.
A donation of time and energy.
He has flown south to help battle bushfires with more than 200 volunteers from rural Queensland brigades.
Instead of reaching deep into his pocket, he dons his yellow uniform and forfeits income as a solo business operator to work alongside fire fighters from across regional Australia.
Andrew used to travel a lot for work. Our children are older now, so we don’t miss him quite as much as we did when they were little.
To have daddy gone for a week was huge. Not only was I solo parenting, we homeschooled too, so there was no reinforcement at the end of a long day with a handful of children at different ages.
I longed for emotional support and physical help loving them. Reading the bedtime stories and tucking them into bed with fresh love and a kiss. Doing the early morning toddler shift when I was too tired to rally after a broken night rocking a baby.
This week he is on risky night shift taming a monster down south.  Another one.
He fought fires here in Ravensbourne late last year then flew south to Nowra with a local team in January to back up the fire fighters on the south coast.
This time it’s Canberra. As I write, there has been at least 80,000ha of bush burnt. That must be a fair chunk of the ACT.
The fires have been relentless this summer. Everyone is aware of that.
What many don’t think about is the fire fighter’s family at home.
While dads are out on the fire front, mums are holding down the home front.
They do their part for the cause by carrying the family load in order to free them up to go.
One of my young mama friends farewelled her husband again this past week. She bravely shoulders the responsibility for four young children and homeschooling too.
My daughter-in-law does this every week as she regularly waves our son off to work as a professional full-time fireman. She is a hero too.
I salute all the mums with little ones. As they wave daddy off, they turn to pick up parenting duty single handedly.

Our men are helping with the back end of the fires. My heart goes out to the women who continue to wait and wonder when their men will return safely home from the raging front line.
It reminds me of wartime. The enemy is a fire breathing dragon and the battle seems relentless against the onslaught of destruction to flora, fauna and even whole towns.
These long weeks, and now months, are a glimpse into what others experienced over years, watching and waiting, wondering when or if their menfolk would return home.
We experience a micro-glimpse of restless sleep, oversensitive to bumps in the night and hyper-alert as a solo parent needs to be when there’s no reassuring offsider to share responsibilities for the family’s safety. We feel vulnerable and fragile. Humbly aware that safety and wellbeing is never something to take for granted.
It is tiring for the teams who have already been at the fire front fighting fierce flames for days in the heat and the hot wind. Someone still needs to monitor the back end of burnt land. Massive logs can smoulder for months. Mop up work needs to be vigilant and thorough.
Monitoring the blaze is often tedious work, with long, boring hours of maintenance, keeping a watchful eye out for sparks and embers, aware that the wind can change and danger is a real possibility.
That’s where these back-up crews come in, bringing relief and reinforcements.
A heartfelt donation.


*Of course, I realise there are women involved in fire fighting too. Full-time and volunteers. For the purpose of this piece, I am writing from a wife’s perspective with her husband is away.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

mid-winter wonder


Mid-winter is when my favourite treasure bursts into spectacular bloom.
 A Vulcan Magnolia tree. 
Its rich magenta flowers are as big as your open hand. 
The branches are completely bare except for the furry buds and flowers. 
They sure stand out!
 One day there are only bare branches and plump furry buds with a hint of colour. 
Then I wake up and see the glorious surprise of the magnificent flowers.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

cést si bon


It’s been a deliciously damp drizzly Saturday with very welcome wet weather and the cool change at last.
It is more cosy to stay home than to head out the door and into rain. Far better to bake up a storm in the kitchen and potter about.
There is a strong café culture these days. It’s tempting to pop out for a special coffee close by. We have a beautiful café just up the road. I have always declined buying a coffee machine because I'd rather a special treat where really good coffee is an artform.
To actually enjoy being together at home is a lost art I suspect. Families are fragmented every day of the week with everyone going in different directions. It is nice to gather at home in each other’s company with the chance to really relax and save some money by cooking something special at a fraction of the cost of going out. It is wonderful to be sociable, but you don’t necessarily need visitors and extra company to experience those special touches of hospitality.



I love watching some of my children get creative in the kitchen. For two in particular, it is their way of relaxing. The more fiddly the recipe, the more they enjoy the process.
My son relished a slow start to his weekend. It is so different getting up early to catch a school bus and be away each day.  To stay home is luxurious for a schoolboy. Especially on a rainy day.
One of the few souvenirs from Daniel’s travels last year was to bring home an épandeur de crêpe, a wooden tool for spreading crepe batter. It is quite tricky to make a good melt-in-your-mouth French crepe. He certainly mastered them this morning!
Daniel was inspired by the beautiful visual feasts of @_foodstories_ 
 and their recipe for crepes with apple and berry sauce. He adapted the gluten free recipe and used coconut milk. They were soft and delicate, just as a good French crepe should be.
Here’s to home cooked hospitality – food made with love for one another - just because.
                Bon appétit!


Thursday, March 14, 2019

escapees


We can find hidden beauty wherever we are.



I discovered these beautiful dahlias growing wild amidst the weeds and grasses down in a ditch. 
The vibrant pink pop of colour was so cheerful, it just made my day!
 I love that their seeds jumped the fence and escaped the confines of a garden to brighten up the roadside.
I spotted them out for a jaunt on a bicycle on a recent visit to Tenterfield. Such a leisurely way to explore a new town! You can go slowly enough to really see things instead of a fleeting glimpse in a car.






Wednesday, July 25, 2018

compost


Out the back door,
 down the steps, through the hedge, 
behind the shed
Is a pile.
A mucky messy pile.
The scraps of life.
Fragile, broken eggshells, 
squished up, used up peels and pips and dregs. 
Refuse tossed from the kitchen.

Compost
.



All simmering and shrinking imperceptibly into a small pile of delectable new soil.
The hidden ingredient is time.
God’s work takes time too.
He takes the mucky mess, the fragile, broken pieces and uses it all to work things out for good.



God makes all things new in His time