Monday, 5 September 2011

Rats!

It would appear that I completely failed to blog every day for the month of September ALREADY.

'Twas a lofty goal, indeed.

Why I'm not so good at gardening OR, An admission of lunacy

I am trying to grow avocado trees. I originally thought I'd just do one, but you really need more than one in order for them to pollinate, right? Also, it's too cold here to leave the plants outdoors and depend on bees to pollinate the trees, so I may have to do it myself with a feather or something.

That's assuming I don't kill them first. I'm not the most green fingered of individuals, but I came across a little tutorial on the web about growing them, and it was so cheerful that it made everything seem so simple.

I love the idea of growing my own food and depending less on the local grocery store throughout the year. I realise that living a subsistence lifestyle isn't glamorous by any means, but doing a bit of grow-your-own can't be bad.

My plans entail getting an allotment and owning chickens. I want to grow a mini orchard and have a fence covered in trailing blackberries and raspberries. If we manage to put up a greenhouse, maybe my avocado trees could live there during the summer.

But in the meantime, they are just avocado pits, skewered on four sides, suspended half in, half out, in a glass of water. My job is to keep the water topped up until the roots start growing and then plant them in a pot-o-dirt. I am going to have to refresh my memory by that point, because the tutorial said something about pinching leaves off in order to force more growth, but that sort of thing makes me nervous and makes me sad for the plant who just grew the leaves in the first place.

It's possible that my anthropomorphising of plants inhibits me from being a good gardener. Cut a tree back? Ack! Pull the weeds? Poor guys.

I think it stems from a science fair project I did as a kid wherein I said nice words to some plants and mean words to others and the insulted plants withered away.

Or maybe not. I can't remember for sure.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

I'm not a hoarder. YET.

I've been watching old episodes of Hoarders, and gosh. I can see why the show is so popular; it's the quintessential train-wreck that all at once makes you feel disgusted at other people's houses and pleased as punch about the state of your own house.

I must admit, though, that I can see myself going down the path of hoarding in my old age if I'm not careful. My particular weakness is books. They contain USEFUL information! Or they are lovely stories! Maybe I will read it again someday! It cost a fair amount of money (or, it was really cheap and a GOOD DEAL).

Except, libraries exist for a reason, google is my friend, and I will always have money to buy that book again in the future if I really needed it that much after I got rid of it.

We moved to a bigger house earlier this year, and with it came a lot of storage space. I am trying very hard to prevent that storage space from filling to the rafters with excess stuff.

So now, I am in the midst of sorting through old books, but I do find it difficult. There are lovely picture books that the kids just don't care for any more, but the baby might like them, so I am tempted to keep them. Although I must admit that there are just so MANY books that anyone would be overwhelmed by the quantity and the kids generally are.

Another reason why I find it difficult to get rid of books is because we home educate. I keep thinking we'll need it in the future and if the books go than an EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY will be WASTED.

Again, google is our friend. Libraries are helpful. My kids will not be without opportunities to learn things.

So the show is good for me. It's helping me to gain the impetus to clear up and clear out. I like having cupboards with hardly anything in them. I love it when the garage is tidy and that the attic is only storing seasonal clothing and holiday decorations (aside from my sewing nook, that is).

There is a wonderful freedom to not having so much STUFF. The important things are easier to find, for one thing.

I don't know if I will ever succeed in having a completely pared down life. One of my big dreams is to live without any computers or televisions in my home whatsoever, but it's not realistic; how would I blog?!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Time well spent

I am American, and have been living in England for the past 12 years. For whatever reason, the closest friends I've made while living here (aside from my English husband) are other American women.

And they are both leaving the country by the end of the year. (maybe) (very likely) (sob)

Two years ago, the three of us got pregnant within the same sort of time frame, so now our toddlers are merely weeks apart in age.

Logically, I knew that our time together would be short - I am the only one of the group married to an Englishman and I'm the only one who is a citizen of this country. (yep, I hold dual nationality) Their husbands are here for a specific job, and both of those jobs are coming to an end.

Technically I was the first to move away; our family moved to a town 40 minutes away at the beginning of the year. One of my friends moved a couple of months later, meaning that she now lives an hour away from our house. Getting together with our young families is a challenge.

But yesterday we managed to spend the day together; three mommas, fifteen kids and one on the way! It was the kind of day that you know in your heart won't happen again - an end of summer sunshine, kids playing in the pool, moms lounging on the couches watching the toddlers try to figure out how to play nicely.

These women have become the sisters that I never had, but always longed for. While I am happy for them to move back to our homeland (my family came with me to England, while they have been heartsick for theirs for years now), I wish this world of ours wasn't quite so big.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

In Which I Kill Myself Whilst Wearing Wheels Strapped To My Feet


That is not me. That lady up there is in the process of whipping a team-mate, or is being whipped. Not sure.

And here is where all you readers who have clicked through from a quilting blog go, "Huh? Why am I reading this?"

Well, the main reason is that I'm a dabbler. Two and a half years ago, I started teaching myself how to quilt; I was pregnant with my fourth child and wanted to make quilts for all of 'em. I made a few other things and it was great.

Then I had my baby, and sitting at a sewing machine was not on the agenda. My baby is now 15 months old and I still haven't really gotten back into it, unfortunately. I still sew, but I don't really have the drive to make quilts any more, much to my husband's disappointment! His camo quilt still isn't finished....

So I've moved on to a different hobby that takes up my time and money! Hurray! Only this one is as far removed from quilting as you can possibly imagine - Roller Derby.

I am not a particularly athletic person, really, but roller skating is incredibly fun for me and I've decided that I need to keep fit and active by doing things that I enjoy.

And boy, do I! Last night I went to practice and participated in my first "scrim" - a practice bout. A bout is made up of several "jams" that last 2 minutes each. I was able to play different positions on the team, and even managed a few hits and blocks!

I've only been to 10 practices, and am happy to say that I'm bruised and battered and thoroughly enjoying myself. It seems ridiculous to say that, but I kind of love falling - I have lost my fear of it, and suddenly everything is just fun. I'm also getting fitter, too!

Roller derby is not for the faint of heart, but it can be for everyone - there are young, single ladies on the team; there are women with teenaged kids; there are women with babies at home (or sometimes even at practice!). I probably break the mould of the stereotypical roller derby girl with my four kids and our home schooling lifestyle, but that's cool. It just means that this sport can cross all sorts of social strata.

What I love the most is that women of all body types are able to play together. We use our shapes and sizes to our advantage and get in there to knock people OUT! All that matters is your skill on the skates.

And I'm getting there.....