Thursday, January 11, 2018

The happy shirt

I took an unpaid week off work over the holiday period. It was so good! I took naps, I read whole books in one sitting, took long walks on the beach, swam, ate amazing food and hung out with the best of people. I felt rested for the first time in a very long time. 
I also sewed. I haven't done that in awhile. 
I made myself a happy shirt for 2018. I am determined to wring all sorts of deliciousness out of this year and what better place to start than a happy shirt?! I used a stunning vintage voile I have had for years. It was waiting for the right pattern. I got it right! I love it, the happy shirt is on high rotation - perfect for these hot days. Keeps the sun off but is light and cool to wear. I used the long sleeved version of the Fen pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts. Such a great pattern. I have a dress and another shirt cut out and ready for some late night sewing. I have taken over the dining table with sewing projects. Good thing we also have a breakfast bar!
We also have a huge piece of cardboard with 2018 written in big block letters on our dining table. There's a big jar of coloured pencils next to it and we're filling the empty space with colourful words and dreams, envisioning the year to come. It's fun. I usually do this sort of thing myself but it's fun to share with my boy. Except he wrote kitten on there. Sigh. We would be an animal sanctuary if it were up to that one. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Summer fruit

'Tis the season of summer fruit. 
Our fruit bowl is the place to be at the moment. The local fruit and vege shop had $1 rockmelon, honeydew and organic grapes this week. I loved the rockmelon so much. It brought back memories of many a breakfast in Europe. Plus, the younger of us doesn't like rockmelon so it was ALL MINE. I am questioning why I only bought one though. I mean, sure, I am watching the pennies, but really, saving $1?! Sigh. 
Cherries are down to $5.99 a kilo from $ 26.99 a kilo. Totally worth the wait! Blueberries are $2 a punnet and our favourite orchard is brimming with different varieties of plum fresh off the trees. 
The land around our new house has been lovingly planted with all sorts of fruit trees. So far we've picked oranges, lemons, grapefruit, raspberries, blackberries and crab apples. There are pomegranates, figs, guava's, loquats, nz cranberries, feijoas, blueberries and apple to come. We spotted a kiwifruit vine valiantly growing through a thicket of jasmine and I am super glad we've outsmarted the sheep and have secured the paddock gate.
AND, I have my Nikon 3100 back in action so the image quality should be on the improve around here. Phew.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Camping marine reserve styles

I try to step out of the madness and go camping every year before Christmas. It gives a head start on summer and serves as our end-of-year celebration. We set up camp at a regional park which is enclosed by a sanctuary fence so it's rich with wildlife that is otherwise under threat (or just plain absent) due to predators on the rest of the non-park mainland. No mod cons, just a long drop toilet and a tap but you can hear kiwi at night, and every year we go there is some new wildlife sighted. One year we watched a pod of dolphins hunting down the coast, sometimes just metres away off the rocks. This year the kids found a good sized octopus who had set up house in a rock pool near the reef. She was there for a few days and it was super special to get up close to one. We unobtrusively (I hope) watched her change colour, change shape and just do her octopus thing. Octopi are so cool. 
There were shrieks of excitement at finding seahares and I was stoked to see a clown nudibranch. Otherwise known as a disco slug. Those fluoro colours! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcoming 2018

My son took this photo of me. Me, up a tree on a glorious summer day on a recent camping trip. I can't remember the last time I climbed a tree. I think that's why he ran for the phone to take a picture. I treasure this image.
2017 was massive. We moved house again, I worked way too much and the end of the year saw me really struggling. Healthwise, from chronic stress and just exhausted. Partly things were catching up with me. I am still dealing with the fallout from a betrayal of trust that means I am unable to provide my son with the stability he needs and we are looking at a very different future as a result. It's big stuff.
But I refuse to live life all bitter and angry. I have seen what that does to a person. No thanks!

We had a fabulous Christmas. I was dreading Christmas afternoon by myself but it turned out to be perfect. I had two naps, a long walk on the beach with the dog and read an entire book. I took the last week off work and feel rested for the first time in a long time. So good!

I am sitting here in our little house looking out over the ocean and thinking about how things have changed, re-evaluating plans and allowing myself to dream a little.
Our dining table has been taken over by my sewing machine and various creative projects - such creative chaos is always a good sign. We have a piece of card with a huge 2018 written on it. Next to it is a jar of colour pencils. We're jotting down intention words for the year as we think of them. The plan is to put it up on our pinboard. I'm loving the process.
Happy New Year everyone. May the year bring all good things to you and your people.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A different kind of Christmas

I used to despise Christmas. I was uncomfortable with the consumerist hijack of a religious holiday and the societal pressure to have your Christmas look like a Hallmark card. I was sensitive to the highlighting of poverty as people stretched to achieve some shiny capitalist dream. Then I had a child and the magic of the season wormed it’s way into our lives. Sound familiar?
I made my peace by integrating meaningful traditions into our Christmas and holding the focus on appreciating and being with those we love. We make presents and decorations, give away peppermint bark and sugar cookies, pimp our tree and laugh our way through Christmas music (thank goodness for the Pogue’s Fairytale of New York). We do an act of service for our local mission, though this year that has fallen off the list. Things have changed. These last two years have been more about survival than celebration. We qualify for charity rather than giving it. And something weird has happened. This morning I found myself oddly wishing for the Hallmark card version of the Christmas dream.

The only presents under my tree are for my son. They are from me. He visits friend’s houses and sees the piles of gifts from friends, cousins, grandparents and I see the questions in his eyes. We’re not a materialistic family but in years past our tree looked like that too.  The reasons for the slim pickings under our tree are many. A few years ago we made the decision to give presents just for the kids, some of our people are really into zero waste living, some are mentally ill, or live too far away, or live in a caravan on a benefit. I imagine that some go to his dad’s house now. This is all just life. But it’s hard to explain to a child or even adjust to as the grown up.

I have single mama friends whose kids will be getting $10 gifts and pizza on the beach on Christmas Day. Those kids don’t know how to ride bikes or had swimming lessons because their mama can’t afford them. Sometimes their mama cries at night because she doesn’t know how she will fill their lunchboxes. Those kids may not have bikes but there is so much love in that family it beams out of them. I have another single mama friend who is living in a tent with her two kids. Again, love beams out of that tent like crazy. My friends are awesome. Their kids are lucky in many ways. But living hand to mouth with no financial buffer takes its toll on a person. It gives a person a certain look. I saw that look in many women’s eyes at Pak n Save today and I see it in the waiting room at WINZ.
I have a suggestion. If you want to do an act of service this Christmas buy a gift card from a supermarket or a pressie card and pop it in a single mama’s letterbox. Little things like that can make a huge difference.

I bought myself a gift and will put it under our tree on Christmas Eve. (It’s a couture linen sundress I found at the opshop and I can’t wait to open it). Next year I must remember to give my boy some money so he can do his own Christmas shopping. I am new at this. I am not sure how this two-person Christmas thing goes. There is something about Christmas that puts everything crappy under a big spotlight. That stress on top of having to work too much, the emotional fallout of betrayal, financial strain, the aftermath of moving house (again), uncertainty about the future…it all adds up to a bone deep exhaustion in me that no amount of coffee or cheesy Christmas music is alleviating.  

This year my son’s dad picks him up at 11 and for the rest of Christmas I will be alone. For many years I chose this. As a young radical living overseas it was easy to step out of the Christmas thing. This year it is not from choice. That feels vastly different. Asking around I have discovered that there are other single parents who are childless and with no family around who are alone over the holidays too. We’re thinking of convening an orphans Christmas picnic on the beach. 
I don’t want to be available for the phone calls from my son who will be with Granny and Grandpa, aunts and uncles and cousins. There is no longer a place for me there, and that saddens me. It was not my choice. But I will take the phone call and I will make it a good one. That’s what mothers do.

We’ll make the most of our Christmas Eve together. It will be the two of us and it will be fabulous.  I love being with my boy. We have a feast planned. I'm cooking. He’s in charge of dessert and rolling his eyes at my choice of music.