Sunday, May 23, 2021

Home Sweet Home

 It feels like the past month has gone by in a delicious blur.

We are "home" and it feels wonderful.

I wasn't sure how I would go with moving "home" but not home.  This is such a different house to what once stood here.  We've been here enough now though, that I am finding sweet, simple things that work.  I will always miss the old house, but creating little spaces and places here has been wonderful.

My new reading/writing/knitting nook in the bedroom


This table was supposed to be a temporary solution in my craft studio, but when I positioned it under Nanny's window the wood just glowed.  Sitting here, creating, just makes me so happy so we've let go of the idea of built in shelving and will instead go with storage units either side of the desk.  Dean is designing fairy wren stained glass for the outer top window panels and I have plans to plant the red climbing sympathie rose (that came from Nairne as a cutting, and survived the fire) outside the window.





This week, 6 volunteers from Habitat for Humanity SA came and helped me to rescue the old garden walls and replant and mulch.  I cannot believe that it took only 5 hours to recreate something beautiful when all this time I had been looking at it as an insurmountable task.  Not more than 15 minutes after they had left the Magpie family moved in to inspect the new Native garden.  Before I even went to pick Maddie up from school the bees had found the hebe!  Since then we've had so much wildlife returning and it gives me such great pleasure to have a cuppa out the front and just watch the birds and watch my garden grow! I've had a permanent smile on my face ever since.  It is amazing the difference a garden makes to my wellbeing.


Today James helped me to plant the citrus trees, and the Japanese maple and two avocadoes down the front.  He hung the wrapping station baskets in the butler's pantry.  Only little things, but all things that make me feel like we are achieving, and like this is becoming more like home.

Life is good,

Hoping your week gets off to a good start and the sun is shining on you,

Keep smiling,

Nell

Taking Stock - March

 Taking Stock

Making: a replacement baby blanket for Maddie (last 200g ball to go)
Getting: Excited
Cooking: Salmon, and chicken mini roasts, and more Autumnal dishes now that the weather is cooling
Sipping: lemon and ginger cordial with Adelaide Hills Soda Water
Reading: "The Night Portrait"
Waiting: for the house rebuild that never ends (14 months and counting)
Looking: forward to making new memories!
Listening: Norah Jones, Van Morrison, and the relaxation playlist I've created for rest time at school on Spotify
Wishing: We could move into the new house tomorrow (be patient Nell)
Enjoying: Maddie's excitement over the smallest of house things - a $3 hedgehog pencil pot for her room made her so happy!
Appreciating: That I have wonderful friends who are going to put Easter plans on hold to help us move
Eating: Dark chocolate with roast almonds
Liking: How easy our oven baked salmon with beans and tomatoes was for tea tonight - easy and delicious
Loving: the Autumn colour in our beautiful Adelaide Hills
Buying: kitchen stools and mixmasters and lemon squeezers and so many things we have been waiting for
Managing: to juggle work, renting, house project management and all sorts of other crazy bits
Watching: Anne with an "e" - it took me forever to disassociate it from the books and then I was okay to enjoy it
Hoping: The new season of Handmaid's Tale comes to SBS the same time as it hits the U.S.
Wearing: Summer dresses and skirts while I can
Following: Too many vintage/antique/secondhand places on fb and insta
Noticing: That Daniel is almost taller than James
Sorting: clothes, china, books...everything!!!
Getting: Impatient
Bookmarking: The meagre chapter of "The Night Portrait" that I read every night - feels like it is taking so long to read!
Coveting: chesterfields, rocking chairs, cute blue and white lamps
Feeling: a bit lost and discombobulated
Hearing: birdsong this morning when I went to let chooks out

Dreaming: of being "home" soon, so soon!

 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Happiness

I found this old blog post that somehow never got posted. It was written back in 2019 before our lives changed so dramatically but I want to post it now (even if it is out of order) because it is a glimpse into how my life was right then.

Here 'tis:

It is a weird thing isn't it, that humans are so resistant to change..I mean, from the moment we are born we are in a state of change so you would think we would be more used to it.  As many of you already know, this year has been a huge year of change.  I kind of had "change" forced upon me when the job I loved was no longer available and through no fault of my own I became essentially unemployed.

I began doing TRT work - back in classrooms after a 17 year break, often teaching Grades that I had never taught.  In one week alone I managed to teach every age from birth to year 7, and to teach specialist music, drama, art, PE and cooking!  After that I kind of felt like I could take on the world..
As I did more and more TRT days something magical began to happen.. I found that I really loved it.  I was enjoying the challenge.  I was enjoying the wonderful support offered by school staff and parents.  I was enjoying the kids. In fact, I was myth busting a lot of my self-made assumptions about children and learning, and myself as a teacher.  I have always said kindy is my favourite age but what I found was that I have LOVED working with lots of ages.  I actually don't just like kindy kids, I really like kids.  I like that "Ahha" moment when they "get" something.  I like the funny stories they tell.  I like when they feel comfortable to share their stories with me. 

Being a TRT/classroom teacher has had its benefits.  I have been home earlier for my own kiddos and been able to do mum things like make pikelets for afternoon tea, or play a game with them after school.  I have had more nights at home (and in Winter, when it is cold and dark and often wet, it feels like I need to be home and pottering about at night more)  I am definitely not as tired by the end of the week and most often when hubby gets home I am still happy and bubbly and wanting to talk about my day.

2019 brought another significant change.  A friend asked if I would be interested in helping her son with High school assignments and project planning.  At first I felt quite underqualified but then quickly realised that I have an Honours degree in Arts, History and Literature, and a 16 year career in mentoring and coaching about time-management and planning etc through my paper crafting team.  Once again, I surprised myself by actually enjoying spending time with teenagers.  I hadn't long been working with this young man when I was asked to take on a few hours a week with a much younger boy with ASD.  This has been life-changing.  Seeing the world through his eyes is amazing.  Those few hours a week feel like a gift.  He fills my bucket.  He makes me look at the world in ways I have never imagined.  I am learning so much.  I think it is the start of a beautiful friendship.  I am hoping that as we move on his beautiful Mum might let me share more about our rambles here.  I am even reading lots of texts on Autism, and doing my own research into different strategies and approaches.  It feels good to be inspired by something again.

Oddly, whilst I was quietly terrified at the start of the year, and still mourning the loss of a job I loved, I now feel like I am in a really good place.  A happy place.  I have been offered something more ongoing at one of my favourite sites next term, on days that will fit nicely around our life, and I am looking forward to the excitement of having my own classroom again, with kids that I already adore, in a supportive community environment.

Life feels good, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

I have even had time to indulge in reading more books lately and thought I would share a few of my current favourites.

"Why I Jump" is written by a teenager with ASD. Very insightful and a quick read. Fascinating for anyone who works with or lives with people with ASD.


"The Colour Mixing Companion" - gorgeous for teaching, but equally colourful eye candy for anyone who loves art and colour.

"A Year Between Friends" - Beautiful, every time I read it I want to cry, and laugh, and ring my besties.  I love the seasonal nature of this one. Perfect bath reading

"Wordsmith" - a new find.  Janet Clare is a logophile.  Exquisite typography, words, pictures.  Coffee table happiness.

Last but not least, I visited Twisted  Fibre Festival on Saturday and came away with an 1860s copy of "The Knitters Magazine"  It has, among its many patterns, instructions for a "bonnet preserver" and a set of "ladies mufatees"  I adore the primness of the language, the quirkiness of the content and that old book smell.  It is a rare treasure.

So what else is making me happy?  I recently purchased a sweet little slow-stitched journal, which has on its blue and cream cover a dear little squirrel.  It makes me want to do some slow stitching, but more than that, it has me scribbling again - new words that I want to remember, ideas, snippets of my day, random thoughts.  It feels good to be writing again.

I acquired a $7 bunch of poppies from my favourite local deli (which also sells my knitting and cards, and a great selection of plants, and the best hot chips and gravy anywhere!)  They've been on my kitchen table for a week now. Their silken petals make me smile every time I see them.

So what is making you happy right now?
I hope whatever you are doing with your one glorious life you are making the most of it?
Keep smiling,
Nell


Are we there yet?












Apologies for being absent for so long.

To be honest, since I lost one of my most consistent readers (my dear friend Karen last year) I now find myself wondering if anyone is still out there, and if the world has moved beyond blogging?  Is Instagram as good as it gets?

I am grateful to have this blog here, because when I lost all of the photos, it was reassuring to have so many favourites, and so many snippets of my pre-fire life held captive.  The joy of modern technology means I will be able to download and print all of those photos and start to recreate albums.

So where are we at?

We get keys next week. It has not been a fun build.  It has been 14 months that I would rather had not happened the way they did.  I still have days where it feels brutal, and whether I wonder if I will even be able to live in this new house.  It is a very different house to the one I adored.  There are many things I don't like (a stupid pantry because the cabinet maker didn't listen, a massive ugly retaining wall where I once had a bee/bird/butterfly garden, a weird wonky ceiling bit where someone stuffed up) and quite a lot of things I love (that kitchen, my new bath, the wooden floors, my craft studio, the verandahs)  It is definitely new, and modern, and I'm not sure it will really feel like "me" for quite some time.

I talked with another "total-loss"* friend (who moved into her rebuild just before Christmas) and she said that sometimes it is like the new build is on a "ghost house"  - I think that is a good way to describe it.  The light might fall the same way, the view from one window might be the same, but so much is altered, different, and not able to replicate the shadow of the house that was. 

Having said that, the thought of just being in our own space again, the thought of being "home" is so enticing and I feel as though, once we are in and beds are made, I might want to crawl into bed and sleep properly for the first time since the fire.  It feels very much like we will be coming "home" to our haven on the hill and I absolutely can't wait.  I have been so connected to the land there, feeding chooks and/or gardening every day, and somedays just wandering around barefoot lamenting what was.  While the chooks and garden have been a solace and a blessing, I can't wait to be back living there full time - to see and hear birds from my bedroom window, and to begin re-creating gardens and green, quiet spaces around the house.

We are busily packing boxes, and hoping that the real estate can find tenants for the rental and generally obsessing over all the stuff that has to happen between now and next week.

I'll be back with photos of moving in!

Until then,

Keep smiling,

Nell

*I don't personally like that term - we didn't have "total" loss - we didn't lose our friends, our relationships, our memories.  I don't believe anyone had "total" loss and I don't believe grief and recovery can be measured in terms of the haves and have nots.  It was a bushfire. It was shit.  There were no winners. We will all move on in our own way, in our own time.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

It is not always about the roses..but sometimes it is..

 Alright, the roses.





Hubby likes to groan anytime I mention them now.  You see, since December 20th you could be forgiven for thinking it is ALL about the roses.

I can't explain it, but on the morning of the 21st, when we pulled into that driveway to see what was left of our home, I fully expected the roses to be gone.. and they weren't..and I found myself exhaling.

It was almost as though, if those roses could survive, and continue to live there, then so could I.

Most of those roses had come back to me, from our Nairne house, where they were planted as housewarming gifts, or new baby gifts, or carefully chosen as bare rooted roses to match and replicate the roses in my wedding bouquet.  In a strange way, those roses were a symbol of our life together, and they endured, so we could too.

I know that is why I was irrationally cross when the army cut hedge branches and piled them on top of them in the clean-up, and why I recently lost the plot when the builders destroyed the two that had come back from total annihilation up by the house.

It is also why I was deliriously happy when my dear friend Julie helped me create a rose garden earlier in the year, and when, after seeing that the two by the house were destroyed, I came home to find that Kirsty and Narelle had been to the nursery and replaced the pink and the yellow rose that were smashed.






Now that Spring has really sprung, my roses have come into their own.  I am once again able to pick big bunches for friends, and my house has roses in every corner.

Maddie has taken a liking to the Graham Thomas and has them in a bud vase in her room.  The red climbing Sympathie has become a little corner of festive cheer with a Christmas candle.


The roses, they just keep making me happy.  They remind me that I can be resilient, and grow through adversity.  They remind me that you can be prickly and beautiful at the same time.

I take delight in the new ones as they flower for the first time. I take delight in the old ones as my favourites just bloom and bloom again.  I take delight in my friend's faces when I say "these are for you"

So it is not all about the roses, but sometimes, it is about finding the simple joys among the mundane or indifferent.

May you always have roses in your life,

May they be a reminder to bloom where you are planted.

Keep smiling,

Nell

Monday, October 26, 2020

Keep Looking Forward

 Hmmm. 

It has been a confronting few weeks. 2 more friends lost their mums, and we finally had some progress on the block.





I didn't expect that to trigger me the way it did, but 400 tonne of clay and rubble in the middle of where your house used to be is bound to be a little confronting.

I had always thought that I would replant the bee/bird/butterfly garden out the back and when they cut the site they cut right to the back fence and the side fence.  I feel bad for the neighbours, and at this moment I can't imagine how I will be able to have any sort of garden back there.

So far, it feels like nothing about this build has been simple.  They were going to leave the fill down the front for us and then a) it was too wet and would delay by weeks and b) they were going to charge $100 an hour to move it from the top of the block to the bottom.

We got a quote to get it taken away, and then found someone close by who would take it but they weren't interested in that.  Tonight James visited the site after work and tried to save some of the big rocks for me for garden beds etc.  He called me and asked me to come back with him after tea instead of walking.  How beautiful are our friends. My walking crew sent their husbands over to help and we managed to save quite a lot of rocks in a short space of time.  Many hands make light work - so often this year I have been amazed and overwhelmed by how supportive this group of friends are!

Right now it feels like we are the furtherest away from the old house and the furtherest away from the new house.  Kind of in this limbo - a wilderness at the mercy of contractors and bureaucrats.  I am determined that one day soon we will be closer to a new house so for now it is about baby steps that will move us in the right direction.

My garden has been such a solace. The roses are blooming prolifically now, and on the weekend my lovely friend Lea-Anne came with me on a jaunt to Mt Pleasant to pick up this little blue chair! I love it.  I feel like I can sit in it and turn my back on the rubble and house site and just watch the ducklings on the duckpond, and the birds flitting in and out of the roses.




Funny how quickly wildlife adapt to new habitats.  We have magpies nesting right near the house site and galahs further down in a hollow log.  The wood ducks hatched a clutch of 8 babies and a heron has moved into the pond.

Today the first of my big Close to My Heart Re-tooling orders arrived.  This was a wonderful Business Recovery Iniative and will go a long way towards replacing thin cuts and inks and cardstock.




I spent some time yesterday getting inky and making some cards for Sue to sell at the Garden Open Day.  I feel like we have been so supported by so many throughout this process and it feels good to be able to give back, even in small ways.


I've had some IT support too, so learning new ways of using my technology to help grow my business - I think we may finally have sorted the phone photos to blog issue!!!

Anyhow, I have to run and put the chooks in, but I am still here, and hoping to blog more frequently from now on!
Keep smiling,

Nell


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

October Taking Stock

 It is somewhat tradition for me to do a "taking stock" on the October school holidays.

It feels like last term was the longest in history.

We all needed a break so it has been quite a cruisy, quiet school holidays.

I'm still not sure what is happening blog wise.  It feels like I'm not ready to give up on this space, but I need to find a way to easily import photos and update it.  Sometimes it feels like I have nothing to say, and other times it feels like I have too much to say, but not the words to say it.

I recently lost a dear friend who kept me accountable in this space (and sometimes reminded me gently that it was time for another blog post)  She is the 6th important person lost to me this year and that really hurts.  It feels like there is quite a bit of hurt and trauma in the world at the moment.

Anyhow, here it is,

where we are right now:

Making: DK boot socks - so quick and easy I am a bit obsessed
Cooking: chicken dumplings from the Central markets
Sipping: about to have a cup of tea?

Reading: Accordian Crimes (a thoroughly sensory book - lots of vivid descriptions)

Waiting: for work to start on our house

Looking: for lava lamps for Dan's birthday
Listening: to the sound of kids brushing teeth and hubby watching Bear Grylls
Wishing: holidays could last another week
Enjoying: slow paced mornings 
Appreciating: sleep ins and cooked breakfasts
Eating: cheese, lots of cheese
Liking: thinking about Christmas
Loving: knitting,  and scrapping, and hanging at home
Buying: Dan's birthday presents and small things for Christmas stockings
Managing: some low-level anxiety about the house, and next term, and the prospect of being unemployed come December 11th
Watching: The Handmaid's Tale again (what else to watch in this world gone crazy?)
Hoping: for a better 2021
Wearing: Summer dresses even though it is technically not warm enough!
Following: lots of antique/vintage instagram posts
Noticing: Spring blossom and flowers
Sorting: photos
Getting: impatient with the lack of building progress
Coveting: a house
Feeling: a bit blah

Happy Tuesday to you,

May we all find joy in the simple things.

Keep smiling,

Nell

xx