On parenting, bread and things in between

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Parenting is tough sometimes. I mean tough in the real sense of the word.

The internet is so full of beautiful images of parents {or, more often, mothers} with perfectly clean young kids in spotless houses and having perfect holidays. You don't see the mess, or the tantrums, or any reference to how in fact you spend half of your day squatting, either picking up a child or cleaning spilled liquids and any kind of objects. Or any discussion about having hard days too, and we all being just humans having perfectly human feelings.

Anyway, in those tough days, when my head seems more of a grey cloud announcing rain, I fall only too easily into the comparison trap set by these perfect images- what a terrible parent I am. Feeling tired, or with low patience, makes me feel like I'm doing it all wrong.
And so I start thinking, ignoring this whole strange new world called the social media. And I realise humans have been having children and reflecting about their emotions for something like 350 thousand years. That's 350 thousand years of humans having perfectly human feelings. You, me, we, are not alone. Nor in history, nor in time, nor in space. And for sure there is no such thing as a role-model parent.

In these days, my journal is more scribbled than usual. Last time, it said something like "I feel like I want to put a backpack on filled with chocolates and bad literature and just run away. Although I would probably be back a couple days soon feeling miserable because didn't even brought a tent and it rained". I closed my journal and, as my two loves slept {because even on my bad days they are my two loves}, I went out with my bike and visited neighbors. Neighbors with children. Real people. Even though Sam feels the things similar to mine, sometimes I need someone from the outside to talk with, if it makes sense. What I search, on those days, is not sympathy, a gentle tap on the shoulder and a smile "you'll have better days". Of course those are kind and I'm grateful for that, but when my friend looked at me and said "Yes, it is awful, it's like one of those days you just want to run away, you know?", I was like YES. THANK GOODNESS. I'm not alone feeling these feelings. It is awful, it will pass, but the fact it will pass doesn't make the feeling less worthy of importance.

A couple days later, the entry on my journal read something like "I fell in love with it all again. And I am grateful for the ups and downs, because both of them are opportunities to learn more about myself and grow." So cheesy, I know.

So, 350 thousand years of feelings. Of all kinds of feelings. Our ancestors, going through it all too. And now comes the bread.

I've very recently fallen in love with the practice of sourdough bread baking. The sourdough culture, such an ancestral way of baking. Tending for a culture, getting something in return. Feeding it with wholegrain flours, adding water collected from the rain. Feeling the sweet, beer-ish smell and thinking of my ancestors, doing the same things. Feeling feelings in their heads and creating with their hands. Making a fire, keeping the room warm. Kneading. Waiting. Watching it grow. Going to sleep leaving the dough next to the woodstove. Waking up. Checking the dough, it has doubled its size. Restarting the fire. Flop the dough over to a tray, or wait another day. Baking, powered by the trees from the forest. Hugging a child, sniffing the air together. Checking in. That scent, fresh sour bread. I wonder how many waited for the bread to completely cure before cutting open - it's just too good when warm drizzled with that olive oil from your neighbors.

There is more than a blood lineage weaving us to our ancestors. There are practices. There are feelings, living deep within our bones, our material memory, stirred up every now and then, when we do not pay attention. When we forget. We are not alone, nor in history, nor in time, nor in space.

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Promises of the year ahead

The last days of 2017 and the first days of 2018 brought many things which my overly positive self is taking as good omens of what's ahead.  Here are a few:

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The first harvest from our new garden, for salad and tea - of much gardening and harvesting.

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The first batch of brined olives (we have still got like 70 liters of olives to prepare, in case things go wrong) - of much preserving and fermenting, because I also started a new sourdough.

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Shipping new orders - well, of many more blouses flying off!

Finishing projects and doing my first test knit ever - of much knitting. Always.

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Clear skies, crisp air and bright moons, while wild animals scatter the bushes - of magic.

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These two, plans coming out of the heads and new window and door frames in wood - of a house to be, hopefully!

What are you looking forward for the year to come? Any signs whispering to your hear? And I know, I know, the beggining of a year is just a random day out of 365 days, but I am not one to squander the opportunity for this whole start fresh thing. What can I do. Wanna join me?

The Polish influenza

Last month, we received a crazy volunteering form in our inbox, all the way from Poland. We somehow lost contact along the way {OK, not somehow. Our reception was worse than ever and my inbox never updated}. Then, one day, I receive a phone call from a friend living in a community not too far away from us.
"Cat, there's a bunch of people here asking for you."
Oh my goodness, they did it! The next day, this beautiful VW is parked in our land.

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It was a group of five, and it was the best group of five we could have asked for. Big smiles and a refined sense of humor, patchouli and beautiful dresses, and a dog that would drool every time she saw our cat - drool as in I like you so much I could eat you. 

It's hard to believe we did more work in a week than we would have done in a whole month {even though Sam was going out for work almost every day}! Here are some of the things we checked off the list:

  Clearing land - we did one of the most critical parts, which was the totally overgrown forest on the upper part of the land
 ☑ Clearing the inside of the house - debris and stones out, almost ready to start working on that floor!
 ☑ Taking down the walls of the old pigpen, to lay the foundations of the future bathroom
 ☑ Making new garden beds  

Yes, we were busy!

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That's the work on the old pigpen/ future bathroom, above.

And below... Well, we're one step closer to have this as view from our front door

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I really can't put my finger on what is my favorite part about having volunteers. There are so many things that warm our hearts about these helping visitors. The shared meals, the new kitchen flavors, the late night {sometimes deep} conversations, the different opinions on how to do something, the indelible touch people leave on the land and buildings... I love looking at something done with friends and thinking "oh, I remember how hard it was to place that stone there", or smiling upon the memory of the joke someone did while we worked together. These memories build up. And so does reality. And suddenly, our land and our building is no longer our land or our building. Embedded is the physical memory of the people who passed by, and in the air lingers the light breeze left behind those who moved around bringing something new, every time.

Like the remains of a cough our friends had upon arrival, that turned into cough for us that turned into fever that turned into a flu that put everyone here in the valley down for three weeks. We've called it the polish influenza but hey, now that is has passed I'm proud of it. It too tells a story.

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Scenes from early autumn

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To identify the woodpeckers pecking the trees near our trailer - they're nor shy of shameful.
To think, and rethink, and build with winter in mind, helped by friends who wear banana stickers on their foreheads.
To forage and cook, and share and trade for fresh sourdough bread. Always with a some knitting nearby.
To dream about the next batch of chickens.
To dream about the house-to-be.
To overcome insecurities and make new things for selling. And to have the support of your beautiful friends.
To try new kitchen adventures and laugh at the little one sniffing the air. To dive into warm apple and cinnamon, because the weather forecast says rain next week.

A new garden, from the very very beggining

Autumn is swiftly approaching, and my excitement grows with it - I am so looking forward to the autumn and winter crops! As we didn't manage to plant anything in spring and summer (besides a ridiculously small tomato plant which is still somehow hanging around...), this is a sweet moment of a new start.

But phew, starting a garden from scratch is quite some work. Getting the hands dirty on it is my task, with Sam working away every day. Little by little I manage to do small sessions of work, if the little one feels cooperative.

Here are some images of the garden, since when we arrived to now - so little seems to have been done, however looking at them uplifts my spirits, I can't lie.

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The first day of clearing we made! We had moved in just a while ago and were still figuring where is where what is what.

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Wow! Is that like, the same spot but with a half meter deep trench full of branches from the clearing you did and compost, surrounded by a super cool mimosa weaving? Totally. It will be a long garden bed very soon!

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Then I sewed a banner for the garden, because... Well, it's cute.

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And garden bed no. 2 is coming up! A square one, of more modest dimensions.

Now that both beds are framed, the task is to bring earth in, as well as some horse manure from the neighbors' horses. I'm filling the beds with the earth Sam dug out of the water mine during the cleaning process. Try to picture 60 years of abandon translated into fallen earth and decomposed organic matter... Sheeesh, that's a lot of volume!

So I surely have the filling for the garden beds, but would like to have more time to work on it. Motherhood has these things, which I'm ok with! There is time, and all the seedlings are patiently waiting on the trails, growing a little taller every day. Every day I tell them they can trust me and that they will be in their new homes soon.  I've got this handled, right??!! 

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