Cloudy morning

On grandparents, and traditions

I used to both love and hate being "shipped off" to grandparents for summer. Mostly loved it in the beginning, hated it more so the longer it had already been.

As a 28-year-old girl, a woman, a mother and a wife I appreciate how much those summers have shaped me, in so many ways. I look in the mirror and I see my grandmother's hair weaving across my forehead. She used to wet it and shape it with a comb, mine does it naturally, stubbornly so.

I see The Man fixing something in the yard and I think: I remember my grandfather doing that. I know how to build a greenhouse, I know how to weave a basket. I know a lot of fixes to a lot of things because I used to watch my grandfather, a lot.

I know how to use a loom. A big, fill-the-whole-room sort of a loom. My grandfather built it out of sleepers he salvaged from the mine and my grandmother then worked it during long cold winter months. I know how their clothes went from wear-it-to-special-occasions, to wear-it-ordinarily, to wear-in-the-garden, to rags to cut-up-for-using-in-the-loom-and-make-rugs. Nothing was thrown out unless it really, really wasn't much (=any) use anymore.

I didn't use to be like that. I, too, went through an era of having lots of stuff and not thinking twice about throwing something out. But now as I've got older and a little wiser and found my own feet, I've gone back to my grandparents' ways, surely and quietly.

I patch clothes. Rags go into rugs. My Man, bless him, makes doors into tables, sets up a fenceline from pieces of scrap wood, builds a cot from rimu sleepers. I'm pretty sure that if I showed him how a loom works, he would build me a loom. Like my grandpa did.

I saw a loom for sale on TradeMe (which is sort of like eBay in New Zealand) and when I looked at this picture I thought: I could make rugs on that. I know how to operate the bloody thing. And I bet The Man can figure out a way to build me one.

And then I thought: I wonder if... I live to be sixty, seventy maybe - will I have a loom in my home? One that The Man has built? Will I also sit on its bench on quiet winter evenings and weave rugs, like my grandmother did?

Will I wet my hair and shape it with a comb so it weaves across my forehead?

Of letting go, and letting be

"You can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him," said Dory to Marlin the clownfish in a movie called Finding Nemo. 

And every day it's like this: I watch him do things and explore and I think "Wup! He might get hurt! He might fall! Go catch him!" and another part of me says "Easy, let him be. He will be hurt sometimes." 

And he is. Sometimes. Today.

Sometimes it happens where other people are, observing and maybe even judging, I don't know. Occasionally I get a person come up to me and ask: "Aren't you afraid he's gonna x, y or z?" And I look at The Kid and say: "Maybe. Seems alright, though."

Every day a part of me reaches out to hold him, support him and help him, but every day another part of me lets him go and be. 

I remember how important it was to me, to be let go and be. It's still so, so important.

He's not me and his boundaries will be different from mine, the more so the older he gets, but every day I make an effort to let him be him and, sometimes, he ends up smack bang on the pavement, with an audible thud, and a part of me wants to run and never let that happen to him again, ever, but still I walk to him calmly and I pick him and he cries a bit and then he stops, smiles and... goes off again.

Goes off being him

Good morning

From February 22, 2011

I've watched as other people have published their stories from two years ago when much of Christchurch was damaged in a powerful earthquake, stories so different from mine.

I drove to work that day, listening to news on the radio, pregnant belly bulging out above the seatbelt. Work was much as usual - I think it got windy later that day and so we cancelled the afternoon skydives. I don't really remember the details. It was sunny. The summer was warm in Wanaka.

What I remember, though, is anxiety that carried through our neighbors' families that day and for a week afterwards.

On the first day they didn't know whether he'd survived.
On the second they were told that he'd died.
On the third they were told that sorry, it couldn't really be confirmed either way before the autopsy results were published and that was going to take a while longer.

I don't remember how long they waited. I think six days, carrying on with their lives but really simply pacing backwards and forwards and simply wanting an answer. Shopping for groceries, having showers, watching the news and knowing that most probably he'd died that day as he'd never been heard from afterwards, but, really, not knowing it for sure.

All the while Christchurch families were appearing in Wanaka, kids enrolling in Mt Aspiring College, people opening up their homes and batches for those wanting to get away from it all.

A mother from Europe calling up our dropzone, asking if we'd possibly had a girl named this-and-this skydive with us - a daughter she hadn't heard from since two days earlier, all whilst we knew there had been unidentified backpackers at YHA.

I don't have much of a story from February 22, 2011. Christchurch, to me, is a city of traffic cones, bumpy roads, broken neighborhoods and soaring (rental) prices. I don't pang for the buildings that aren't there - to me it's just neighborhoods "with nothing there".

So if anything, I re-live and carry the earthquake legacy through the people I've met - ones who had much more traumatic experiences from that day, and I listen and nod.

But to me, Christchurch isn't a traumatic city. It's just a place I've come to live in and, maybe, that's a good thing.

On courage, and stubbornness, and fear

I've thought about courage today, and about standing up, and about simply doing my best even if it's not great.

I remembered two quotes from Catherine Stewart's book "A Wife on Gorge River". In one it was, I think, her mother saying to her that done is better than good. In another, her father said that courage is fear that has said its prayers.

And so I've thought back to Wanaka today and about standing up for myself. About not needing everyone's approval, or understanding, or agreement. I got yelled at, and yet I do not have to take responsibility for why he is angry with me. He can take responsibility for that himself.

And so I looked up a few other quotes that speak to me.

One was, of course, a quote I've considered opening my book with. It's from a movie called The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In it, he says:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” 

Another is from a place/time I'm not aware of.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.“

One is from Carrie Jones' "Need".

“The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.”

And as I've thought about courage, and stubbornness, I've smirked.

It's that cheeky sort of a smile one would have if one spraypainted on another's fence 'Dickhead' - a disrespectful action, no doubt, but in a peculiar set of circumstances would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and even to be proud of.

And I thought of how 'aussie' a thought like that is. Defiance. Head held high. Fishing a mobile phone out of a long drop and after a good wash using it again.

(Wait, that was Jenny in Alaska.)

And so today I brush my teeth, take my Thyroxines and go to sleep, proud of what I've said today, and though it could've been said better, I did my best with what I've got and that is what matters.

Because that is exactly what matters.

Omg, omg, omg, omg....

I am so nervous it's not funny.

I am starting work tomorrow. The Kid is starting daycare. I am not nervous about how he'll cope with the change - I trust his carers and I trust that he will get used to the new "norm" - but I'm up to my ears in organisational tidbits.

Clothes? Check.
Nappies? Check.
Food? Gotta keep it in the fridge until I leave, so not yet ...but got to remember to take it with me before I go!
Bibs, cloths, spoon? Check.

Was there anything else? Possibly. Omg, what am I missing? There's probably something I'm missing and I don't even know what it is.

As The Kid stays his first day with a carer, I'm off to get a portacot and a few shirts that I can wear to work. I assume skydiving t-shirts will be a no-no and I really don't have much more than that...

And whilst I'm at it, there's almost nothing in the fridge, so gotta get groceries, but the car is so low on petrol I'm not even sure she'll get her legs down to the petrol station, and it's not like I can walk anywhere from here...

Oh this is just so classic. I've lived in this domestic cocoon of routine and now I'm fussing over a bag of baby gear and groceries.


Good morning!

Even if not favorite food, it's close

It is such a peculiar taste he's got for veggie and grain mixes.

Have a look at this: rice, quinoa and buckwheat mixed with standard 3 veges. No salt, so sugar, no oil. I find it lacking in taste - though it's certainly got texture - and yet he loves it.


Not that it matters, why. It's healthy, it's filling, it's easy to cook and keep and the fact that he loves it, I think is just great. Really!

But I'm just really curious, why.

On the road ahead

After dinnertime a Filipino woman picked up The Man's palm and declared he will have 4 children. I laughed and asked her to see if there are also any other wives ahead because I am certainly not providing that many.

She looked at mine. The same, she said - four children - but added that this will only be if we don't use any protection.

She said I don't hoard - I save up money and then buy really nice, really durable items.

She also said I need to look after my health, especially after I'm forty.

And then she furrowed her brow, looked up at me and said: "Please be careful when driving. Promise me? And when crossing the road."

Talk about unsettling.


Our neighbor had her palm looked at by a 11 year old girl, back in the days when she herself was young, very young.

"You will live until 90," that girl said to her and when our neighbor laughed, thinking 90 is a very long time indeed, the girl insisted: "Well I am sorry, but you will need to make do with 90."

She's already over 80. With a clear, clear mind and a cheeky speckle in her eyes.

The op-shop show off: a rock, rock, rock, rock rocking horse

It needs a bit of work, sure, but... it's a rocking horse. Who doesn't like a rocking horse? (Especially for $5...)

I briefly considered upholstering it in something colorful and happy, but now I think I'll just fix its saddle (it's sort of sad-looking, so I've already taken it off) and we'll call it a day.

The Kid seems pleased. I'd be, too, if I still fit on it.

Eco Shop $5

Good morning

On those autumny feel summer mornings when the light is just starting to hit Lyttelton up here it looks more like this.

Morning rant

I sometimes wonder... wait, let's start over. There's a background story.

When I was in high school, I was a top student. Not like a all-around-A-student-excelling-everywhere - I didn't like chemistry and so I got a B in that - but still, pretty good. I did the students' speech at our graduation ceremony (traditionally given to the student with the highest score) (which made my mother immensely proud) and when applying to uni could've, literally, gone anywhere. In Estonia, anyway.

I'm not sure if it's part of that top-student heritage or whether I'm inherently ingrained to function in this way, but I learned to please whoever's in charge. I'd quickly figure out who's 'running the game', decide whether I was gonna bother being likable, and then - if indeed that was what I wanted - get likable. I've got spectacular work ethic, so whatever was needed for that likability, I could do.

Where it gets a little fishy, though, is that - I think - I didn't really tell a difference between being really good at something and being liked by someone who was really good at something. There's a fine line, sure, but in my head it was pretty straightforward: he's awesome and he thinks I'm awesome, I'm awesome! Or, she's really good at this and she says I'm pretty good also, so I must be good then!

Sometime in uni I fell out of that top-student tango. I think I was still ingrained for likability, but what I didn't have was much respect for what many of my lecturers were doing. Uni was boring, a lot of the classes were un-enganing. I looked at the lecturers and thought: I don't want to end up doing what they're doing. Screw that!

And so I went off on my own adventures. Dog sledding. Alaska. Winter rafting trips. Rock climbing. Arctic.

New Zealand.

It's been a long time since I've been off on an adventure. Lately I've been hanging out with stay-at-home parents, mostly, and working mothers. The conventional lot, and I don't mean it as a derogatory term.

And where the trouble is, is that I really like them. I look at the quilts they make and think: wow, this is awesome! Or how the kids are tightly spaced and, holy macaroni, the mess they then make, which gets tidied up every single day, and dare I say it, by the parents, not the kids, really. And how they're just... very cool.

But I don't feel I fit in. I try to be like people I like because I'm not sure I'd be liked otherwise. Or, like is not really the word I'm after here... Get - get is what I'm after.

I try to be like people I like because I'm not sure they'd get me otherwise. And I really want to be got.

I'm making an effort in being social because it's keeping me sane. Ish. But although I well and truly admire a lot of the people I've met on this parenting journey I keep on having to remind myself that I don't have to be like them. I can like them without having to be like them.

Ahem! I'm repeating myself, ain't I.

So anyway, I'll just keep on going forward and working my way through those awkward social moments and keep on reminding myself that I'm alright and that one day, this too shall pass, and I'll finish my book and go on road journeys and hitchhike and walk the remote gravel lanes with dust on my boots.

I just really hope I've time.

(Oh dear, it's one of those posts where I've gone really off topic, isn't it. From where I started, anyway. Oh well.)

Show & tell: down duvet... for 30 cents

A few months ago The Man and I used up several hundred FlyBuys points to get ourselves two decent feather and down pillows. (No more of that polyester-n-s*it crap!)

Both of us found the pillows a little too high and hard, so I cut the pillowcases open, removed a third of the feather/down, sewed the cases back up - and used the remaining feather/down to fill another pillowcase, so we ended up with three wonderfully fluffy pillows, instead of two hard pillows. That's when I thought: man, I could make a whole duvet like that.

And now this weekend - I have.

The thing cost me 30 cents - a price of a pillow from a Salvation Army store. And better yet: when I cut it (=the pillow) open to get the stuffing, I found that it was almost entirely down. Good, fluffy, healthy-looking down. For 30 cents!

And so long story short: I used an old curtain (one that has very little rubber backing - just enough to keep the stuffing from poking through fabric, but not enough to make it sweaty) to make what was essentially a big rectangular... bag; stuffed it with down, sewed it shut, put a few dividing stitches in and, voila!, The Kid has a wonderful, warm, fluffy down duvet.

For 30 cents.

Salvation Army's awesome, man.

Good morning!

Oh, don't mind me here, I'm just eating your hedge, pooping on your driveway and squashing your car mirrors.

Good night

Show & tell: quilt / rug for a baby

Here's a little something I worked on last week: a heavy blanket (or a sturdy playmat) for a little girl. You'll never guess what her name is ;).

Middle fabrics are from upholstery samples I scored at an op-shop, letters also, brown sides are from heavy upholstery fabrics I already had at hand and that around-bit (how do you call it?) is leftovers from breeze stops.

And I'm definitely not a pattern person - didn't even do any hand stitching before putting this together. No, mam, I was way too impatient for stuff like that. So what's my method of choice? Just wing it and go.

It's not a Michelangelo, but it's not half bad. And when her mum finds me a feather pillow from an op-shop somewhere I'm gonna make a feather duvet that fits the size and clips onto it. A winter sort of setup, really.

Yum-yum sandwiches

One bag has sandwiches in it, the other - bread.

Now imagine his surprise (or disappointment) when on his lunch break he opened a bag of what he thought were sandwiches, but instead found - bread.

I mean, it's good bread, sure - but it's still only bread.

Nifty thrifty cheapy little solutions 2

Alright, picking up from where I left off earlier.

Bucket for a baby bath

We've had very low water pressures in both of our last two houses, and so filling a bath for any occasion - let alone baby bath every single night - has been a no-no. Which is why we've brought in this guy here.

Again, brilliant. Uses up relatively little water (and I put it on garden plants when we're finished anyway), The Kid loves it, everyone's happy. I think these buckets cost about $25 in Warehouse.

Rocks in breeze stops

After we're finished in the bathroom and open the window to air it out, breeze stop minimizes the, well - the breeze coming through underneath the door. It's basically a piece of fabric pieced together like a snake and filled with pillow stuffing and little rocks. Pillow stuffing makes it puffy, rocks give it weight to stay tight against the floor and the door.

Bed sheets to towels to wipes

The evolution of fabric in our house goes like this: when a bed sheet is worn out enough that it doesn't want to go on the bed anymore, I cut it up into pieces and it becomes kitchen towels. Cotton is good at absorbing water =)

Then, when the kitchen towel is manky enough that it doesn't want to be a kitchen towel any more, I fold it in half, sow the edges together and it becomes a baby wipe. (And I don't mean a bum wipe, I mean a general-mess wipe.)

Worn out baby wipes then become car grease wipes for when oil needs changing or whatever. And then, after that, the fabric really does retire. For good =)

Baby clip-on chair business

Another re-purposing for bedsheets is this:

You see, we've got one of those clip-on baby chairs in the kitchen. But although fabric-part (basically, the chair part) does come off the frame and can be washed, it's a pain to go without a chair whilst it dries on the washing line.

So our solution was to piece together a simple chair cover made from an old bed sheet. It's wonky and stitches are coming apart, but hell, it's still way better than washing the chair itself (or using an old-food-covered chair, yuk). We've got two of those - one is in the wash, another one on the chair.

Underneath there's a towel. You know, so I don't have to clean the floor itself =).

Fridge pens

We've got shopping lists and to-do lists (and whatever else list) on the fridge. But is there a pen? Where's a pen? Has anyone seen a pen in this house, goddamit!

Oh, of course, here it is. Can't miss it, it's attached to the fridge.

Long story short: a pen, a couple of magnets from broken baby toys, a piece of string and some clear tape. And a fridge. (String is like a backup-plan so that pen never ends up on the floor where The Kid then takes it apart and swallows the spring.) (Never happened so far, you see, but there's a string nevertheless.)

Stitched up washing basket

I've learned the hard way that I shouldn't leave a washing basket outside. We live on a hill, and where's a hill there's wind, and where's wind there's also washing baskets flying and crashing into things.

No worries though. I just drilled some holes, put a string through the holes and, tadaa!, the washing basket works again.

And last but not least:

Pocket organisers for car seats

I am surprised - no, make it baffled - that I haven't seen this solution in more cars. I know some companies make it professionally, but I haven't seen a single one, and yet it's brilliant. (I know I've used brilliant before, but this really is brilliant.)

(Please look past the knots on strings - it's a lesson I've learned now after using this thing for over two years. I'm replacing these strings (and knots) with something else when I get onto it, because - turns out, elastic strings stretch over time! Who knew ;), right.)

I saw it on this website 3 years ago and almost immediately made myself one. Heck, it's not even complicated sewing - I think it's one of the first few items I ever made.

In hindsight I would've used un-stretchy string for ties and made a pen-compartment next to bottle-compartment where I can reach it easily. (Attached to big pockets pen gets lost.)

Alright, domestic issues are out of the system now. Phew!