31 Mar 2015

prepare

the daisies I planted are finally blooming,
a little jacket is ready for seaming,
baskets are filled with small clothes, nappies and cloth,
the first quince of the season handpicked from a friend's tree,
and a batch of hot cross buns are baked -
this morning the boy introduces "his chicks" to the pasture,
and we spend the late afternoon harvesting honey,
elevenses are observed,
as are zinnias, and behind them golden nasturtiums, red geraniums -

we are in the final days of waiting for this so-loved little babe to emerge, and so we potter in the garden and plant out cabbages, we prepare our bedroom and assemble a bed with three sides next to ours, we clean the house, we keep running a business, we bake for easter, we plan a birthday meal, we hiatus from facebook, we cuddle on the bed and read stories, we welcome the gifts of friends (child-minding, encouraging messages, hole-digging, maple smoked bacon, pickles, appliance installation), we stretch on our hands and knees, we reflect on the word...

there is so much to be thankful for, so much to savour
and the less I worry about everything on my to-do list
and more I savour the rhythm
of these fresh autumn days,
and anticipate...

18 Mar 2015

scenes

Stuck around the mirror of our wardrobe are polaroids I took with Reu in Paris. 
It seems like an age ago we lived there, 
that my now articulate and boisterous boy 
was a babe in my arms. 

I gaze and reminisce - 
I imagine life in a few months, 
when this babe quickening in my womb 
is strong enough to hold his head up, oh
..
The dahlias are in season. 
Ruby-red, sun-gold, bloody lovely
..
I step on a floor laid sixty years ago, marvel at the poetry of stain and crack
..
We have thirty five chickens living in an upturned closet in our back room. 
I can hear them as I type, 
chirping noisily, scratching about, 
catching sunshine on their week old golden fuzz,

they were not planned - 
but acquired on a whim 
(because they needed a home)
it's a trial for us - in what will be 
an essential part of our business:
producing pastured chicken for eating
..
I am nearing thirty-eight weeks,
tomorrow Reu and I catch a short flight
to Sydney, for my sister's wedding
my doctor has cleared me to fly
but I am a little hesitant,
(of all the toddler and baggage juggling mostly)

then I remember soon
I'll be with my kin
and hugging them
..

12 Mar 2015

Harvesting


I say to Alex one of things I love best about living in these climes is the fruit and vegetables that grow so easily and abundantly. Autumn is an especially wonderful time with trees by the roadside laden with apples and plums. What better way to preserve over-ripe (or underripe) fruit then to cook down with spice and honey, puree and air dry - fruit leather being the happy result! It can then be cut up and put in cooking, soaked for muesli, or eaten as is, with a slice of cheese or two... my two favourite combinations are:
plum, apple + vanilla bean

4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
10 small/medium plums, cored and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
raw honey to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

pear, rhubarb + cinnamon

4 large pears, peeled, cored and chopped
4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground
raw honey to taste (I used about 2-3 heaped tablespoons, but you might want more to counter the rhubarb's tartness)

Cook fruit on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Cool and blend into a fine puree. Smooth puree out over baking trays lined with baking paper and dry in a very sun place covered by mesh or glass or in the oven on it's lowest temperature overnight - I tend to put them on a table that gets flooded with morning sun for a few hours, then in a switched-off oven after I've done a big batch of baking so it's still very warm. You'll know it's dried sufficiently when the surface is firm and shiny. Gently pull leather away from baking paper and store in an airtight container. 

Other things are being harvested too - copious handfuls of basil, chives and parsley are picked for batches of pestro - which I spoon into ice-cube trays, freeze, press-out and store in bags for the rest of the year. 

I've also been rendering lard from the fat of two very well fed and cared for free-range pigs (courtesy of our good friends). Lard is so luxurious - fragrant as a belly roast as it melts - snow white and odourless when set - keeps for years in the fridge (and beyond in the freezer) - it can be safely heated to deep frying and roasting temperatures without burning or denaturing like most other fats and oils - a wonderful source of saturated fat - it's hard for me to fathom why this fat became so unpopular, and why it becomes a discarded "waste product" in abattoirs. I plan to use most of this lard for soap-making, as well as experiment with lip balm and hand salve using our own beeswax and dried herbs...

5 Mar 2015

to nest and sew

I am nearing thirty-six weeks and feeling so very full of child! The due date no longer seems a mile away, but actually rather soon. I do not want to hurry along these next weeks of preparation - nesting - readying my home, body, heart for a new season of newborn haze and winter hibernating... aside from the myriad of book-keeping, cleaning and cooking tasks, is my wish list of things to sew before this sweet babe arrives (when I am sure my sewing machine will lie dormant for some time in the corner of the spare room).

Some recent makes:
I love a good U-shape pillow, especially when breastfeeding but I lament how limited options are for cases. I made this simple case with some lush double gauze cotton by nani iro, and to my delight had just enough left over to fashion a cover for a hot water bottle - another postpartum essential item to soothe those after birth pangs...

Then there's a new pillow case for the tired looking reading cushion in Reu's room - sewn from folksy printed linen...

A stash of washable nursing pads in pure linen and repurposed cotton pre fold nappies...

A peg bag to remedy the cumbersome bending down for pegs in the rusty tin scenario...

And finally some tiny booties and bibs for the babe, just because...

Still on the list (and possibly never to be complete/begun): a linen hospital bag, a soft fleece sleeping sack for babe, linen pot holders for the kitchen, drawstring bags for carrying nappies and toys...

xx

2 Mar 2015

thirty five weeks

Sweet babe,
You're more than thirty five weeks grown, and life seems busier than ever. Nature is telling me to lessen the load, but I'm afraid we do have another fortnight or so of hard work; farmers markets to bake for, art classes to teach, chickens to order and others to prepare for, pigs to help butcher, friends to love and support, a wedding to fly to, gardens to plant. Sometimes I feel strong and full of vigour and other times I want to curl up in the bed and do nothing at all. I read that your ears are fully formed now and can hear some of what's going on out here - in the last little while you have heard me cry bitterly in grief, sing to your brother, laugh at your dada, listen to howling wind and a thunderstorm, mill up flour and potter around in the soil as the crickets begin their dusk-light chant... I remind myself that my slowness is not something to fight against, but to accept gratefully - it is a blessing to be so heavily pregnant with a healthy, soon to be known and kissed and wrapped warm - you....

21 Feb 2015

presently

life wraps around us
beautiful, changing, unfathomable

summer comes late
and we sweat in our beds

we welcome three hundred baby chicks
and learn to brood as a hen does

we are blessed with local produce
summer squash, zucchinis,
cucumbers, fist-sized tomatoes, pig livers, 
and our own grown 
lettuce,  chard, chives, dill 

I spend whole days 
preserving and baking for market
and savour the satisfied smiles
from happy bellies 

I piece strips and squares of linen together
a quilt for the babe
to thread in the six weeks that remain
craving softness, gentle hues

we mark our fifth anniversary
a day late with lunch
and a trip to the nursery
we buy a tree to mark the milestone -
wood,
we are the sturdiest 
we have ever been

we learn the heaviest grief
friends can bare
the loss of their child
still sapling
and so
so full of life

we ache
we cry
we gather
we retire late
we rise early
we love
the best we can.

10 Feb 2015

and then he was three

Amidst the busy blur of the season my little boy had a birthday; he turned three years old, and I too marked three years of motherhood. How quickly our little ones grow up, how long the days can seem, how fleeting each wonderful stage of growth is... 

For a while now I've sensed us moving into a new rhythm of family - a different dynamic of parent and child hood - as we draw closer to the birth of our babe, as we learn to work the land, as we engage with local community, as we carve out our own home, as we dream about the future... 

Happiest of birthdays my darling - you are little in stature yes, but you are so large and lofty in character and soul - Your sensitivity and curiosity. Your dialogue and remembrances. Your independence and your neediness. Your experiments and your boundary crossing. Your need for us to be present, and our need for you to teach us continually patience, humility, humour. And so we move into another year together, most likely fumbling, knowing we are blessed to have each other and the space in heart and hand and mind to grow. 

I never want to forget the two-to-three year old you, especially:
your love of water play, in any way, shape or form
your use of gendered-specific pronouns for everything, which I like to think is the Frenchborn in you
your favourite song requests - "bird song" (Watermelon man - Herbie Hancock), "strawberry song" (White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes), "hospital song" (I don't want to die in a hospital - Conor Orbest), "steam train song" (Marrakesh Express - Crosby, Stills and Nash) and the "car/frog song" (Riding in the Car - Elizabeth Mitchell) 
your genuine concern for any minor cuts/burns/bee-stings/bruises mama or dadda incurs - which you remember for days and weeks afterwards and will plant a healing kiss... 
your love of books, your storytelling and retelling of favourite picture books and nursery rhymes, oh and phrases like this (upon us singing the incey wincey spider climbed up the water spout) - "poor spider, he's all wet - he needs to wear an umbrella"... and after reading about jack and hill - "oh that poor jack, he fell down the hill, broke his head, needs to get the water again"
your love of sticking, glueing, play-dough, drawing circles and rings "holes for polar bears" and squiggles "zig-zags"
your insatiable (and constant) appetite for ricotta pancakes, banana, freshly squeezed orange juice, the whites of boiled eggs, peas, olives, yogurt, honey and parmesan cheese
your love of creatures big and small, especially chickens which you seem to possess an aptitude for wrangling... 
your spontaneous face plants, morning cuddles, kisses on our cheeks, rubs on my belly, little sighs "you okay dadda? you're happy?","ohhhh mamma, oh mamma, you're my mama, Reu's mama", "I love you, sleep well"...
your keen observations of anything around you, like native birds sounds in the morning, correct naming of sea creatures in a book, types of cars and trucks going past the window...
your gender generalisations of vehicles - "that's a man's white truck... that's a lady's blue car... that's a boy's little red car"
your smiles at passerbys, your willingness to help us with tasks, your unprompted pleases, thank-yous, excuse me and sorry... 
and always your wonderful locks...

thank you 
thank you 
for being ours
xx