Sunday, May 29, 2016

Over the Fence

I woke up one day this week and realised that we had not done any fun things together as a family for far too long. I threw the floor open to suggestions. I wanted to walk. Posy wanted to picnic. Rosy just goes with the flow. So yesterday we picnicked and walked. We have a magnificent river gorge in Launceston that cuts right through town and provides wilderness right on the doorstep, so we packed a picnic and off we went. We hiked up along the river from the main picnic grounds, far from the madding crowd.

It was the most glorious autumn day. I am rather goal oriented at times, and was all for marching us along the river path on the 90-minute return official walk. The girls want to clamber over boulders and lie on their stomachs and look in rock pools. I took a deep breath and calmed down a notch. So we climbed over the fence that was keeping us safely on the path and went down to visit with the river.

We found so many treasures. A willow tree sprouting in a rock.

Blue wrens flitting under the trees and willy wagtails doing daring aerobatics in pursuit of juicy bugs. Moss on rocks, algae waving eerily in rock pools, tiny purple wild flowers.

But mostly we just sat in the sun and watched the river. Sometimes I forget that we need to stop and sit in the sun, be together, have little adventures. Sometimes too it is important not to follow the path but to climb over the fence and see what lies on the other side.

On the way back...

...Posy demonstrated her super power of holding up gigantic boulders...

What would we do without her?

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Another antidote to anxiety that sometimes gets lost in the welter of worry and panic is the practise of counting my blessings. They are manifold, and I am truly grateful.

This is one of my two favourite doors in the house. We have it permanently propped open with two old brass fire nozzles because all of the floors, walls and ceilings slope in different directions. Last night it occurred to me that I could shut it, thus dividing the house in two to keep the dog tribe and the cat tribe separate. Instant peace.

I now live seven blocks from the library. Seven! I walk the dog there, tie him up to a tree, run in and collect the latest armful of books I have ordered, then walk home again. Lovely.

Not only have I moved closer to the library, I am also ten minutes' walk from town, and two minutes' walk from a slew of cafes, the greengrocer, a farm gate butcher's shop and the supermarket. Also, if I break a leg the children can roll me two blocks down the hill to the hospital. Handy.

Posy and I now live further from school and work respectively. But it means that most days we get to walk together up and down a hill and get fit and chat. It's nice.

I have met nearly all our neighbours. They are universally gorgeous. One of them is our osteopath, and another is one of the adorable five year olds I work with (but that is Launceston for you. At my old place I popped my head over the fence to introduce myself to my new neighbour only to discover I was now living next door to my GP).

I have finally made friends with the wood stove. Two weeks ago I was kicking it in frustration and wailing to Rosy, "I have no idea how houses ever burn down! I can't even get a log to burn in a fireplace!" Last week we had reached an uneasy detente where the logs were burning in a half-hearted manner and the house was lukewarm. Over the past few days I have nailed keeping the fire going - as I write it is almost TOO WARM at the dining room table, and the wood stove is my new BFF.

After much searching I found the slow cooker, and have a pot of chilli on for dinner. The house is warm, and it smells good, and dinner is making itself. Gratitude.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Panic Stations!

This is the view from my new kitchen window. A lovely apricot tree is the centrepiece of the new garden:)

I am emerging from two weeks of post-moving blues. If there is a way to panic and worry about any situation, I will find it, and moving house is ripe with potential for panic. So far I have panicked about being unable to light a fire and having us all die of hypothermia, panicked about the cat refusing to accept that this is his new home (I have had to retrieve him three times so far from the old house), driven myself to distraction trying to keep the dog and the cats apart (they still want to tear each other limb from limb whenever they see each other), panicked that I have moved to a house with not enough sunshine for growing vegies, worried that the children will regret leaving their old house, worried about the plumbing, about curtains (or lack thereof), about dry wood, about getting a new fence built, changing addresses, building more cupboards, getting some trees cut down to let more sunshine in, and getting all the boxes unpacked before 2020. 

The thing is, none of the things I worry about are at all impressive. I get my knickers in a knot about the most mundane things, but from the point of view of panic they seem insurmountable. Yesterday I took a break from worrying and doing all the jobs and being snappy and irritable, and went back to the old house, this time not to pick up the cat, but one of my lemon trees. The new owner removed one, and as he knows how attached I am to all my trees, he offered it back to me, which was very nice of him. I went and picked it up and brought it to its new home, found a sunny spot and started to dig. There is already a lemon tree here, and while I was poking around I found another wee lemon tree, almost smothered under weeds and a wildly tangled rose bush. Feeling like Mary in The Secret Garden I rescued it and dug it in to my ever expanding new little citrus grove.

Newly discovered lemon in the citrus grove at the top of my weedy new garden.

I moved into a house with one lemon tree, and now I have three:)

My new-old lemon tree. It is a Meyer, my favourite. The terrible thing about transplanting trees is that you have to cut all the fruit off to let the tree put its efforts into roots rather than fruits. It feels mean.

But here is what I remembered as I dug and weeded and planted. Gardening makes me calm. Gardening is literally a grounding experience. All the worries fall away as I potter about and talk to birds and plants and earthworms and enjoy the sun on my back. For the past weeks I have been diligently doing my jobs inside, unpacking and cleaning and cooking and rescuing cats and comforting children, and for the weeks before that I had been doing the same at the old house. What I was missing was hands in the dirt! So today I went out and planted daffodil bulbs from the old house that I found in a box. Luckily there is always another job to do in a garden. In this garden I have years of anxiety-reducing messing about in the dirt to do. Such a relief:)

What do you do to calm down the panic stations?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Moving Days

Table set for Mother's Day high tea..

Well, here we are at last in our wee cottage. It has been a week of the usual drama associated with moving house. For a start, Tasmania's drought broke, with a vengeance, all over moving day. I felt so very sorry for the removalists man-handling furniture down a set of twisty garden stairs in the pouring rain. The rain has hardly let up since, which is a wonderful thing for Tasmania, and probably good for the efficient unpacking of boxes, as I have been prevented from running out into the garden every two minutes, but have been trapped inside dutifully putting things in cupboards.

With the rain came the cold, so we have been juggling with the fire all week. For the first six years we lived in Tasmania we only had wood fires to heat the house, so I am quite good at lighting fires. Currently I have only wet wood to work with, which is a challenge, but I will find a space to store wood dry before the really cold weather gets here. It is lovely to watch the children settle into a routine of fire watching, adding a log or twitching the air vents to keep the sulky wet logs going.

We were without the internet until Friday - the nice man came on Thursday to hook us up, but when he plugged in the the NBN box, half the house lost power for twenty-four hours. Eventually the electrician worked out that it was a badly wired plug which had shorted out all the power in the kitchen and living areas, by which time the fridge had been without electricity for a day, and we were exceedingly glad that we heat with wood now..

I held my breath as the couch came in the side door. It wouldn't fit through the kitchen door, which has a little storm porch attached. The side door was our last hope. It opens into my bedroom, then into a skinny hall. I was so convinced that the couch would get stuck at any one of those points. I stayed in the kitchen with my eyes screwed shut and my fingers in my ears until it was all over. But, miracle, I have a couch, and bookshelves, and all my lovely, lovely books unpacked. The day after we moved in we went back to the old house and spent the day with my parents and some friends, both with trailers, and we moved all the heavy garden pots, and my hoarded piles of red bricks, plus all the garden tools. It took half the day, and afterwards I lay down on Posy's bed with the dog, and accidentally had a nap, and while I was asleep Rosy and her very kind friends unpacked all my books and put them on the shelves, and also unpacked all our food and found interesting places to put it all over the kitchen. 

Next room to tackle - the hallway. We have the cats trapped in the sunroom which runs the length of the house off the hallway. We are trying to persuade them that this is their new house, and that they really like living here. When the windows are all closed and the dog is out of the way, we let the cats out to roam around. On Thursday night though, Milo the adventurer jumped out of the open attic window we had overlooked, and disappeared. Poor Posy was dreadfully distraught and took the day off school, and we searched the neighbourhood shaking his food bowl and calling and calling.. nothing. Then I went over to the old place and called, then over to the neighbours' and called, then around the corner to Posy's friend's house. It has always been Milo's home away from home, which he loved for its sunny stone verandah. I called at the gate there as a last resort, and there he was, bounding perkily across the lawn, and miaowing happily to see me. I still cannot believe that he made it all the way home so unerringly. More time in cat jail now..

I keep having to pinch myself to believe that I am really here. I bought a house! I am living in a Beatrix Potter cottage with my girls and my cats and my dog, and it is lovely! I have had so much help to get here, and so much help to move us in - my parents worked solidly for two days straight, packing and cleaning and driving back and forth with loads of, er, precious things, and very kind friends turned up on moving day to unpack my kitchen and make sure everyone had cups of tea and biscuits, and the moving men put our beds back together, which was so kind of them, as I still haven't quite worked out where my wrench is..

I have lovely friends who bring me flowers and dinner and cake and chocolate, and help me through the awful parts of my harebrained ideas, and beyond that, I now know that I can do difficult and scary things to get to a place that I want to be. How extraordinary is that? I feel a heady sense of the possibilities of life. But first, I must unpack all the boxes..