Boozy planning

Knitted Ball

J has been planning.  He picked up some demijohns from Freecycle (when it existed, it now appears to have morphed and we have a local Freegle) and is planning to embark on making wine, or more specifically ‘country’ wine, as although we have vines, they aren’t producing grapes (or are even in the ground yet…)  So I ordered him “Booze”, by John Wright, the twelfth book in the River Cottage Handbook Series.  Of course I had to have a read of it myself.  I’ve made various infusions/liqueurs/ratafias in the past, but not anything ‘from scratch’, so it’s an interesting read (and has given me a giggle in a few places so far).  Lots of inspiration to be had and I’m rather excited that potentially in about a year’s time we may have some of our own home-made wine.

Also on the table is “The Story of Plants” by John Hutchinson and Ronald Melville.  It dates back to 1948 and in the back is the library card from when it was part of the San Mateo Junior College Library.  I first saw this book when 5 Orange Potatoes shared a photo of it online and in a herbal group I was a member of (before I left Facebook) and it looked so interesting I thought I’d try and find a copy for us as well.  I was lucky and managed to find one for a few pounds and was really pleased when it arrived.  It’s a lovely old book.  Originally written for children, so very approachable, without ‘dumbing down’ the information.  I saved it to read until we officially started back home-ed wise and Nin and I have been steadily working through it.  It has some wonderful fold out ‘family trees’ of plants:


We we will be using it for inspiration for further learning in the weeks to come.

The swirl ball is finished.  The actual knitting part of it, a little while ago, but it took longer to get around to stuffing and sewing it up (I’m not a great fan of having to sew a seam).  It was a quick and simple knit and interesting in how it knitted up with the short rows  (not that short rows are inherently interesting, rather how they worked together to make the swirl effect).  I am now on to baby knitting for friends’ babies, as there’s been a few born all around HipHop’s age (and all boys, with one still to come in the next couple of weeks). I was struggling to get basic things done for a while after HipHop was born, let alone manage to knit anything for friends, so I’m now catching up (albeit slowly).

Joining in with Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Along.

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Time flies, regardless of whether you’re having fun…


A crocheted heart garland I made. The painting is a gift painted by a friend of mine, the mosaic is made by Ted, the white candle is another handmade gift from a friend.  The feathers are collected by the children (even the ostrich feather, which was picked up at the local Wildlife Park) and the little blue bird, Moo found in a charity shop for the grand sum of about 50p.  Sweet peas are from the garden.   One day we’ll get another mantel (I’d like an actual wooden one) – but for now, this one was a freebie, being thrown out.

The mantelpiece above is filled with bits and pieces that mean something to me in some way.  Our coffee table does a similar job, glass-topped and filled with various finds from the fields, woods and beaches around us (including the odd gifted more tropical shell; a present of a fossil amongst the found fossils; gifted or bought crystals).  It was bought to house the children’s inevitable ‘treasures’ found whilst we are out walking.  To give them a place where they can see their finds valued and where they can be admired by whomever visits (well, when you can see them under the books, knitting and papers that inevitably get put on it!)

We moved here last year.  It was a chance to finally have a more stable home, moving, as we had, three times between 2010 and 2014 (renting can be tough on the notion of any sort of stable place to call home), this recent move making a fourth. I wanted whatever we brought into the house to fulfil that old chestnut of a William Morris quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Or indeed both!  Well, to do this requires quite a lot of sorting out of miscellaneous material bumph, but for the most part, as far as ornamentation goes, this is slowly happening with things we believe to be not only beautiful, but meaningful.

So why, then, have I not been applying this to my more personal life? To the way I spend my hours when time is, ultimately, one of our most precious things?

I’ve become very easily distracted and unfocused.  I am well aware of brain fog and in periods where I have been ill, being able to concentrate on anything has been challenging, but this seems to have persisted beyond these difficult times.  I admittedly wrapped some cheese and put it in a drawer rather than the fridge this afternoon, but my concern about lack of concentration goes deeper than the odd attack of absent-mindedness common to many of us (especially, it seems, post-baby). I have been pondering this and I don’t think that it is as solely down to pain or babies, I think it’s also partly through my experience with social media.  So many things now are a snapshot; a quick quote; a meme; a cute video of a cat; you probably know the sort of things I mean.  There are so many distractions out there!  Because I’m so often tired, I’ve become used to a fly-by “like” or “thumbs up”. I don’t often take the time to read articles as much as I might have used to.  I haven’t written a personal letter for quite some time (nor a personal email, now I think of it).

I tell myself I’ll blog regularly, but struggle to carve time in the day.  Sometimes this perplexes me. I don’t seem to do even half what some people seem to.  I don’t ‘overschedule’ (in fact, I don’t often leave the house and garden save to walk the dog at the moment).  Days are carved up by feeding and/or (just) holding HipHop and the time inbetween, when everything else has to get done.  He doesn’t really enjoy being in a sling (which is different as the others were quite happy), but also I’m not as fit as I was and I struggle to carry him much doing household tasks (although I can manage to walk him in the woods in a sling – as long as I’m just walking and not bending or doing anything else).  Any larger amounts of activity or anything requiring concentration and smaller movement (ie typing more than a few words, or indeed, knitting, as he’s become grabby, wanting to put everything in his mouth) are difficult.  It is very easy to just pick up my phone or tablet and just stroll down hitting like; typing a couple of words comment; or watching a daft video, in some sort of non-effort to fool myself into thinking that I’m being sociable.

Social media is an odd thing. It promises us community, but that isn’t quite what we actually get.  Yes, it puts us in touch with people from all over the world in a constant stream of statii and shared photos, quotes, etc.  But I think something is lost in that.  For someone like me, who often struggles in social situations (I find ‘real life’ groups – even of people I know and get on with – rather stressful, so larger, or more unknown groups become doubly so) social media offers a bit of an excuse.  Where many might use it and still see people in real life, I think it’s made me retreat more.  I get a quick ‘fix’ of doing something vaguely-on-the-surface sociable (in that I am politely interacting with people), but in reality it feels somewhat empty and, if anything, I find it all rather exhausting and a ‘much of a muchness’.

That is not to say that there are not things about Facebook (and I focus on that because I don’t really understand G+ and subsequently haven’t really bothered with it for a while) that I think are valuable.  I’m a member of a few excellent and interesting groups in which I feel that I am learning new things as a member.  However, to be a member of those groups, I have to be a member of Facebook and, as such, there are always ads, there are quite often posts that I might rather not have seen (of varying nature) and I find that almost every (fairly frequent) visit means that either I feel my blood pressure rise, I sigh, and more often or not, cry.  For example,  recent events with regards to refugees is a stain upon the souls of some of those supposed to be ‘in power’and those members of the public that appear not to have an ounce of compassion.  And I feel duty bound to look, to remember, because every single one of these deaths is a tragedy.  But it comes up again and again in my newsfeed and it eats away at me.  I just can’t keep doing it.  I can keep up with the news, without it being repeated time and time again in pictures, in quotes, in the sharing of the latest awful, racist comment on Twitter (or wherever).  I prefer to do something practical, or support others doing somethings practical, a regular stream of tears isn’t particularly helping this.

But I digress…

I miss the process of writing (something I’ve not done much of for years now, losing much of “my words” in the lead up to my ex husband leaving and then never quite finding them again since – I wonder where they go, because then I’d have a better chance looking for them – but I suspect that having left at the time of my ex husband, they then continued to hide amongst the hours spent scrolling down FB newsfeeds).

So I’ve been thinking. Thinking about why I want to continue to blog. Why I keep telling myself I’ll do so more regularly. What its purpose is and how to move forward to get into some sort of rhythm that facilitates me in achieving this.  And more than this: if I consider ‘me’ as my own ‘house’, how does me spending time blogging and, indeed, spending any time online, contribute to my own “having nothing that I do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” in my own personal minutes, hours and days?

One of the first steps is to try and cut out some of the other distractions I struggle with whilst online (and Facebook is going to go) and to pencil in a dedicated time to fire up the (flickering) laptop and get it done.  I want to pare down the reams of bookmarks and links (Pinterest, I’ll be turning my critical eye towards you, shortly…) and rather than scattering my energy all over the place, get back to frequenting a few blogs and sites and also actually write some letters. In pen. On paper. Because I keep on saying I want to live slowly and simply, but social media doesn’t really help facilitate that (regardless of all the links shared about slowing down, being mindful, etc).

I’d also like to use some entries and photos from here (and in general) to compile into a ‘Family Book’ at the end of each year (because there hasn’t been a photo album made for some time) and would really appreciate any recommendations on printers for ‘photo books’ to this end – if you have any ideas or recommendations, please let me know!)

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A HipHop animation


This may not work on mobile devices, but fine on a laptop/PC: having some fun with baby photos.

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I’ve been feeling a creeping dissatisfaction of late, a feeling of restlessness, a nostalgia for something that I’m not quite sure existed any where but in my memory.  I miss a (perceived) community that seems to have been squeezed out.  We are now supposedly more networked than ever, yet I feel an emptiness in this and that something, somewhere has been lost.  Not that I’m not thankful for the internet, I am, it’s a boon in so many ways, but I miss the ‘earlier’ days where bulletin boards and blogs were the order of the day. I felt I got to ‘know’ people more.  I’m considering leaving FB, carving out a bit more time in the week to get back to blog reading and ‘talking’ to people on a more one-to-one basis.  I’ve even been turning over the idea of a letter-writing (snail mail) circle over and over I  my mind…

In the meantime I’m reading about food and gardening (always favourite things). Mark Diacono is currently my new favourite person – although I now have about five double A4 pages written up full of plants I want in the garden (bearing in mind that, at the moment, I can barely snatch ten minutes out there).  And, of course, the wonderful Nourished Kitchen, inspiring my meal planning.  Also a more unusual hearkening  back to a past interest in anthroposophy in “Machines and the Human Spirit” (maybe more than a little inspired by my recent feelings towards social media).

Inspired by Spiralling the Seasons, I’m knitting a ball for HipHop (who wants to chew everything that he can).

Joining in with Nicole’s Keep Calm and Craft On and Ginny’s Yarnalong

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