Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Woman's Castle...

We have a bad habit of wanting to move. I think it's the challenge of finding a total dump, buying it for cheap, and then doing it up the way we want.

I've been online tonight looking at houses we can't afford, and having a splendid time. There are a lot of houses out there that I'd like to live in. But I think that I'd like to live in them for a few months, and then after a while, I might start to feel a bit lonely. Does anyone really need 3,500 square feet to live in (I know you're going to tell me 'yes, they do!', but I'm not sure I buy it).

That being said, some of the greatest houses I've seen and been in are houses where it wouldn't hurt to have either an intercom system that worked throughout the house, so that you could page people when tea was ready, or when you were looking for someone ('Boss - I am in the kitchen - report to me, please!'). Either that, or you'd have to have a scooter.

The house that we saw at Grey's Court last weekend was that sort of house. Terrific staircase up from the ground floor where the stairs were so plentiful that you actually went up the stairs, and reached the back of the house before the stairs turned, and then took you back almost to the front of the house again. Super great. The kind of stairs you want to come down for your prom, or your wedding, or when you're having a spectacular house party. Tres glamorous, of course.

But where we are now isn't glamour. It's big enough for what we need right now. Granted, we have way too much stuff. The kids have too many toys, and no matter how many times I suggest a cull, the suggestion is met with more than a bit of resistance. And I have too much crap, too. I love to collect things. I've got a great collection of blue and white creamers. I'm just waiting for a house where I can display them. I also have a lot of other things that I've collected.

My McCoy pottery collection is partially on display, and partially in storage at my mom's house. I've got some great art that's, again, at my mom's house. Although some of it is in our loft here. I've got knick-knacks galore. Books. Old tin toys that you wind up to watch something happen. Memorabilia. Biscuit tins. The list goes on.

It's like water. Crap seeks its own level. The moment we buy a new, larger house (one day), the level of crap will just expand until it fills the space available to it. Another good example is my crafting area (which I did purge earlier this year). The amount of yarn, fabric, do-dads, bits, pieces, notions, and parts of things that I kept in case I ever might need something like them -- it's incredible.

But I do use it. Slowly. I crocheted the eldest her name in brightly coloured yarn bunting a few years back. I just recently for Xmas gave the youngest a crocheted name bunting, too. I'm prepared to organize all the granny squares I've crocheted into a real, live blanket. I just need to sit, and organize it, and number the squares. I've got another blanket on the go - for the beach. I've got about halfway through my second quilt, so that needs doing.  I just need a week off of regular life to finish my crafting projects.

I guess it's just that for some reason I have this idea that if we moved to a larger house, we'd have more space, and I wouldn't feel like it's such a chore to craft. I can't get stuff out to do, and set it up, and then go back to it for a half hour at a time when I can. Instead I have to take things out, and set up in the kitchen, which takes a while, and then do what I want to do for a finite amount of time, and then I have to dismantle it all and put it all away. So more often than not I feel like it's just best to not get it all out.

May be in the spring. Maybe then, for some reason, it won't feel like such a chore.

But I'm going to keep looking at the houses that are for sale out there. You never know. We might find a place we like enough to venture forth, taking all our crap with us.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


I go to yoga class every Wednesday night. My teacher is a super woman named Sara. I'm so glad I have her as a teacher.

She's funny, has great hair, good ink, and never teaches a class the same way twice. It's pretty great.

There have been times when we've done partner yoga (not my fave, but it helps put you face to face with your space issues), and then classes that have been all about balances, or hip stretches, or abs. I swear to you we once did (once the warm up was over) an entire class of pigeons. If you've done yoga, you'll know what I'm talking about.

To crib a statement my grandma used to say all the time about food, 'there are asanas that we like, and there are asanas we are learning to like.' I'm learning to like pigeons. I know they're good for me, but they're uncomfortable as hell, and about as intense of an asana as you get. However, as someone who carries a very large percentage of stress and tension in her hips, the more pigeons I get in a class, the better, really.

Tonight was a great class. Lots of vinyasa (dynamic flow) going on - it gets the blood going, and really helps me to turn my head off. I'm grateful for the time I have every Wednesday night to go.

Because part of what I'm attempting these days is to increase my mindfulness, I think the yoga really does help. I've got a few other things I'm doing (trying to focus on what I'm doing at the moment, trying to see things as they're unfolding in front of me, trying to spend time with my kids and really listen to what they're saying and to really play with them, etc.), but of lot of my mindfulness education is learning to let go.

That's the most difficult thing of all.

I'm a major control freak about a lot of stuff. I can't stand a messy house. It drives me nuts when my husband never puts his stuff away. He's constantly leaving his wallet somewhere in the house instead of always putting it in the same place, or he'll wander round trying to find his car keys, instead of putting them on the key hook. And it's like fingernails on a chalkboard when I go into my kids' rooms and find four days' worth of dirty clothes lying around (I know. It's just going to get worse.).

But where I used never to be able to go to bed without doing the dishes, now (sometimes) I can. And I've gotten a lot better about just scooping up all the junk that gets left round the house and dumping into the little green basket at the bottom of the stairs, instead of putting all their shit away for them. Now if there's something that's missing, I try to say 'Have you checked the green basket?'

So the yoga thing helps with that. It's pretty good exercise - strengthening, limbering, that sort of stuff. But a lot of it is for my mind too.

So Namaste and all that. We had a pretty good class tonight with a good extended relaxation bit at the end. I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

It's All About the Bread, Man, Part 2

So tonight is going to be short. But I had to write this down.

The experimenting with the bread making continues apace.

Tonight we (my eldest kid and I) decided to use some flour that we got last year (don't worry, it's been in the freezer so it's fine) from The Town Mill in Lyme Regis.

We go every year for a week's holiday, and last year we went to see the mill in action. It's pretty amazing stuff. You can go in and listen to a volunteer talk about the history of the place, and hear about all the different parts of the mill, what they do, and how it all works. The wheel itself is pretty amazing, and when they open that gate and let the water in, and the wheel starts turning, the noise is incredible. Even for kids who weren't very old at the time (6 and 3), they were pretty astounded.

The eldest asked 'what makes it go?', and when I told her it was just the water, she said 'I like that - no pollution.' Smart kid.

So they can't sell the flour they grind (for Health and Safety reasons -- aargh), but if you give a donation, you can take a bag home with you. So we did. We watched them pour the wheat into the shoot, and watched the damsel rod regulate the cascade of wheat kernels onto the millstone. Then we went downstairs and watched the miller collect the flour into a brown bag, label it, tape it shut, and that was it.

So fast forward to tonight. Tonight it was suggested that I get the Lyme flour out of the freezer, and use it for tonight's loaf of bread. So we used the same recipe as before, but instead of four cups white flour, we did 2 of each kind of flour. Then I let the bread machine go through a cycle of kneading, stopped the machine, and then started it from the beginning for a second knead cycle. I also decided to put the warm water, sugar, and yeast into the pan first and let it sit for about 5-6 minutes before I put the flour in, to let the yeast ramp up a bit.

After the Third Rise
First rise in the bread machine. Second rise after the punchdown is in the warmed bowl (in the low oven) greased with olive oil. You put the punched down dough in the bowl and turn it so that it's all coated with the oil. Then into the over for a 30 minute second rise. After 30 mins, you get the second punchdown, and then shape it on your baking tray where you've got a dusting of white flour. Another 15 mins rise in the warm oven, and then out to make a few slashes on the top while the oven's preheating properly for the bake (200C/425F). Then bake for 30 mins. Here it is before baking.

(Just between us, it just seems important to let you know that I know I'm starting to obsess about this bread thing. I can't help it. I have struggled for years to bake my own bread. Now that it's working, I feel like I've achieved something major here. I realize it's not string theory, or the double helix, but it's a serious personal milestone that I've reached, and I'm unashamed about shouting about it).

I've also emailed The Town Mill to tell them they should open up a part of their website to allow people to upload photos of the bread they've baked using flour from the mill. I know. It's just getting nerdier and nerdier.

After the Bake
Satisfied Customer
So I'm feeling pretty good about this bread thing. Really good. I actually just did a little jig in the kitchen. And the husband came downstairs, in the middle of his ablutions, just to have a little nibble off the end of the bread. We cut it open and you could see the steam coming out. Oh! And I forgot. I put some of those herbes de Provence in again (eldest voted for herbs, instead of sunflower seeds again). So it should be a good combo - the whole wheat flour with the herbs.

And we all know that the family is pretty much the toughest customer there is. So now it's really a question of if the kids will eat it. I'll bet they will.

And I have to say that I'm actually rather excited to take a sandwich to work tomorrow, using this bread. Ham and cheese with Branston pickle, mayo, and some wild rocket thrown in for good measure. It's so middle class, it's sickening. But I don't care.

I DID IT!!!!

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Grind

So I've posted before about the headaches I get. I call them monsters. And they really are. Horrible things, and I can sort of tell that they're coming. I'm one of those lucky people who tend to get them monthly. However, I can get them any time, so it's not like I can take prophylactic measures, as if I'm a werewolf, and I just need penning up every time there's a full moon.

I've been to the GP to try to figure this out. The suggestion is that I should take ibuprofen two days before my 'cycle' starts (sounds like I'm getting ready to go out on my Triumph Thunderbird for a spin) to head off the headache. But I can't. Because regularity hasn't been something I associate with myself recently.

There's a possibility that it's related to 'hormonal fluctuation', to use GP-speak, and so the topic of hormone replacement of one kind or another was brought up. Regulate the hormones, and then I'll know when it's coming, and can medicate in advance.

Except I can't. Because I'm too old (no COCs for those over 40), and because COCs are a major no-no for anyone who gets migraines.

Did you know that migraineurs (well, officially I'm a migraineuse) have a slightly higher risk of stroke that people who don't get 'em? And if you get aura with 'em, the risk is even higher? I know. It just gets better and better (thanks WHO, for that info).

Anyway - I can't regulate, so I can't anticipate.  And if I can't anticipate, I can't medicate.

I feel like I'm in an INXS video.

So I've been prescribed meds to take when the headaches hit. And believe me, they hit. For people who don't get migraines, there's just no explaining the pain. I have had two caesarean sections. I'd rather have more of those than a migraine.

It's almost impossible to function in the middle of a migraine, and yet just because I have them doesn't mean that I can bunk off work, stop being a mom, not cook dinner, stop doing laundry -- stop my life. There are still a zillion things that need doing and having a migraine hasn't got bugger all to do with not doing all those things.

So I've asked about pain meds, hormone therapy, I've kept a food diary, stopped drinking booze, limited my caffeine, sworn off pungent cheeses -- you name it. And still they come.

Then my jaw started hurting a couple weeks ago. Properly hurting. But I'd had a four-day headache, and a bit of earache to go along with it. Was pretty sure that it was just the preamble to winter illness. But I went to the dentist, thinking I hadn't been in a while, and maybe I had a cavity.

And the dentist, after a quick X-ray (no cavities), asked a few questions about what it felt like, and then came out with TMJ as a possible reason for the jaw ache.

Have you ever seen one of those films where the protagonist realizes something, and there's this great cinematic blur of the images whipping through the mind of the main character as they put all the puzzle pieces together to eventually end up exactly where they are Right Now, where the Solution To The Issue That's Been Plaguing Them is Suddenly Revealed?

That was me.

When I was 11, I had braces. And headgear. And so while I have straight teeth and no overbite now, what I have is a horrible clicking jaw (the husband said the sound of it was practically a deal breaker). And then in 2010 when I was pregnant and at my dentist appointment, I was told that the dentist could see microscopic cracks in my teeth, which indicated that I was grinding my teeth at night. So I was made a tooth guard to wear at night, which I brought home from the dentist and promptly forgot about after the second child was born.

But my mom found something out - she's found a whole bunch of info about how bruxism is related to headache. A Whole Bunch. And bruxism is related to anxiety and stress. Very Related. (NB: Thanks, gaggle of GPs, who've NEVER suggested this throughout my 8 year quest to figure out why I get headaches - much obliged).

The headaches started in 2006, when I worked for a company that I hated so badly I came home and cried every night. Stress? Yep. Did I have anxiety issues in 2007 after my first kid was born? Sure did. Am I a worrywort (2003-present)? You betcha. 

So I dug around in the closet, found the tooth guard, and I've been wearing it based on the recommendation of the dentist (and my mom) who said if I've got it, I should be wearing it. And to go for a good fortnight to see if I notice any difference. And that she reckons the sore jaw, the earache, and the grinding are all related.

Maybe these headaches, while still clearly linked to Diana, may abate a bit by my wearing my bit of kit when I sleep. So far I'm two nights in, 12 to go.

We'll see what happens.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

British Weather

Ladybird Fairy Door
Now that I'm officially British, having naturalized in 2012, I feel as though I'm sanctioned to discuss the weather with the frequency and exuberance with which the native British do.

If it's raining, I complain. If it's sunny, I talk about what a treat it is to have sun, and how we'd better take advantage about it while we have it. If it's cold and frosty, I make sure to enter into a conversation about how the trains are sure to be delayed. If it's hot, I'm guaranteed to interject into a conversation about how the Brits just can't cope with heat.

Today's the same kind of situation. It's beautiful outside; cold, crisp, blue skies with high clouds. And because it's a Sunday we do our utmost to find some sort of outdoor activity where the kids can run around (and get tired) and where we can find something interesting to look at, all topped off by the requisite pit-stop at the café for coffee and cake.

Last autumn, as an early xmas gift, my mom generously gave us a family membership to the  National Trust. The backstory here is that when my mom visits us every year for an extended period of time, one of the things she and I do is go off on a two-day trip on our own to visit some places. These usually include castles, country houses, and most usually, some sort of destination that ends up being a Pride and Prejudice pilgrimage (the GOOD one, mind, not the crap one). Last year we went to Sudbury Hall (Pemberly interior), Haddon Hall (Humperdinck's castle from The Princess Bride), and Hardwick Hall (just bloody amazing).  So now our job is to make sure that we go visit as many NT properties as we can, in order to make sure we get our money's worth. And the thing that's great about having the pass is that we can take the kids, and it doesn't matter if we stay three hours, or 45 minutes. We don't have to stay in order to make sure that we get back what we've paid on the day pass; we can come and go as we please, and not feel under pressure to stay if the kids have gone bat-shit crazy because it's late/they're hungry/etc.

So today we decided to take them to Grey's Court, near Henley. House tours happening, gardens open, tea room available. What's not to like?

Grey's Maze
It was a great place for the kids. They get a map at the entrance showing where they should look for 'fairy doors' - little wooden doors that have been put into place in trees, rosebushes, grottos, and on walls, each with a different motif. They're sweet, and you can tell that someone put a lot of time and effort into creating the fairy doors. The ladybird fairy door was right by the maze and the snowdrops. Watching the kids run round the maze as the sun went down behind the medieval castle wall was pretty great (despite the temperature dropping to near-freezing temperatures by the time the property was closing).

Turns out the house was gifted to the NT in 1969, and there's a lot throughout the house from the late 60s and early 70s, which is a refreshing change from a lot of other NT properties that are furnished with Tudor, Jacobean, and other 'period' furniture that most people just can't relate to. Grey's Court is a house you can relate to - bars of soap in the bathroom, crummy mid-80s TVs in bedrooms, regular quilts on the beds, and in the kitchen, early 70s set of pyrex dishes and patterned cookware sit side by side with copper bottomed pans from the early 1800s. 

The only complaints were the tea room and the tour guide. 

For two adult and one child's jacket potato with fillings, a half a cheese sandwich, two packets of crisps, two juice boxes, and two sodas we paid 27 quid. It seems to me that the NT could relax a little bit on the very pricey tearoom costs, especially as potatoes are 30p each, and you can buy a block of cheddar that'll feed 40 people for a fiver. Is this massive markup really necessary? Lower your prices, folks, and you may find more people eat at your tearoom, instead of packing their own picnic.

Secondly, the tour guide was a very well-meaning woman. The issue was that she constantly repeated herself, and hardly was able to talk about the property in a way that was engaging. There were at least 8 kids in our tour group, and she did very little to engage them. She also kept having to stop her story, go back a few steps, correct the story, and then continue on. By the time we'd reached the third room in the house tour, I had almost no idea who she was talking about, and why. I wish I'd bought a guide book.

However, the good news is that the NT family membership comes through again. It'd have cost us 30 quid to go in today. Since we received the membership, we would have racked up a cost of 22 pounds (Snowshill Manor), 29 quid (Hidcote gardens), and today's entrance fee to total 81 quid. Considering the yearly family membership cost is 98 quid, we've probably only got to go to one more property, and we're even. (If you include my entrance fee to Hardwick Hall back in September (14 quid), we're only 3 pounds out. 

So thanks to my mom for such a cool gift. I can only imagine that as the seasons change, and it gets warmer, we'll use the pass more and more.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

It's All About the Bread, Man...

I'm really getting into the manual arts (see previous post about building the wood storage thingy).

I've been on this crusade for the last few years or so to bake decent bread. I know a few people who consistently bake great bread.

One of 'em is a guy who keeps chickens, cooks from scratch, grows his on veg on his allotment, etc., so it's not a surprise that his bread is great. He's pretty much rustic when it comes to knowing how to do that shit.

The other guy is the former singer in a punk band (therefore, NOT rustic) who not only brews his own beer, but also uses the same yeast that he uses for his beer brewing to make his bread. It's pretty amazing to drink the beer and have a slice of the corresponding bread. 

So here I am, year after year, faced with the glory that these two bread-baking geniuses consistently turn out of their ovens, while my bread turns out like a doorstop.

So I started investigating. Knead time. HOW you knead. Type of yeast. Number of times you let it rise. WHERE you let it rise. Order of ingredients. Temperature of water. It went on forever. I asked my mom about how her mom made bread (which she did EVERY Monday without fail, in copious amounts). Turns out my grandma had one huge bowl, and after kneading, would put the bowl on top of the heating pad, and set it to low, and let the bread rise there. So I'm considering investing in a cheap and cheerful heating pad.

But I also had a great suggestion from someone I know who also tries for bread success. She asked if I had a bread machine (which I do), and if I made my bread in the bread machine (I have - see above comment about doorstop, which applies to both machine and hand-made bread). The suggestion was that I let the machine do the kneading, but only that. Once the kneading and the first rise are completed by the machine, I do the rest.

So I tried it. I followed the recipe in the bread machine book. 1.25 cups of water, 4 cups unbleached white flour, 1.5 tsp sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, and yeast (1 packet). I also tossed in a handful of my herbes de Provence, which I buy a large bag of every year when we take our mini-break to visit friends in Valensole. (Please note that the recipe above doesn't have any E numbers, palm oil, stabilisers, or other garbage in it that bread isn't supposed to have. Your bread isn't supposed to stay 'fresh' for 10 days. Yuck.).

The machine did its job. Then I took over.

I also tried the trick for the second rise of turning my oven on low and letting it heat up for a good 15 mins before the first rise was completed. After the first rise, I took the dough out, punched it down, and put it in the opened, still-warm oven, to go through the second rise.

Then I baked it - 25-30 mins at 200C/425F.

And it worked.

Not only was it edible, but it was GOOD. Properly good bread.

I did it again tonight, but tonight I added sunflower seeds instead.

I'm so pleased about this. This means that officially I can bake bread. 

Watch out, geniuses. Your days of lording your MENSA-calibre bread skills over me are about to end.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Coping Mechanism

I'm starting to think that I'm just not cut out for staying in my job much longer. It's not the job, actually. I really like being involved with what I do. What's starting to wear me down is that there is almost nothing left that has to do with people, or job satisfaction, or with making me want to do a good job. could be a robot. I'm so tired of words being bandied around that haven't got a thing to do with people. It's words like 'workflow', 'protocol', 'process', 'infrastructure', and garbage like that. I used to be a part of a team that worked together on something, and we had to work together on this something once a month to continually produce new stuff to display on our something. And we DID work together.

We discovered problems. We hashed them out. We argued about stuff in weekly meetings. But ultimately, we all worked TOGETHER to put a plan in place to make things work. Now, a few people have moved round within teams (which happens), and suddenly, some of the new team members are more interested in tittle-tattling to their managers than they are talking to the rest of the team, and trying to work with the team in order to sort stuff out.

Gone are the days when we'd all approach a dodgy situation, and everyone would pipe up with an opinion, good or rubbish. And we all depended on each other's experience and savvy. And then we'd figure stuff out, and everything would fall into place. It would work. It was on time. We were successful. And we loved doing it.

Now, the only things that seem to happen is that people can only say why they CAN'T do something; why something CAN'T be accomplished; why something CAN'T be pulled back into a schedule and launched on time.

I'm so tired of it. I'm tired of people giving excuses as to why things can't be done. A year ago, we were delivering twice what we're delivering now. And granted, maybe people went a bit off piste with things occasionally. I understand that it can be dangerous when that's the norm. But CLEARLY what's happened is that all these processes and workflows and protocols and other corporate bollocks that gets spouted daily haven't made things better. Or more streamlined. Or faster/cheaper/nicer.

All they've done is ruin what was working well. The team isn't a team any longer. It's fragmenting. And what we're supposed to deliver is fragmenting as well. To borrow a phrase from someone I admire, we've adopted the 'labour economics of the call centre' right into our open plan office. Pretty soon it'll be about adhering to a script, as part of the 'workflow' we're adopting in order to create the 'infrastructure' that will guarantee the 'resource' we need in order to define the 'scalability' of the 'deliverables'.

Someone asked me yesterday if I were asked did I still want to work on this project, what would I say? And I answered 'no'. I said I wouldn't work on it if I didn't have to. Because suddenly it's not about us all working together to provide 'excellence'. What's been going on hasn't got bugger all to do with excellence. All I'm hearing is no, can't, won't, isn't. And ultimately, it's now no longer about people working together, using their brains and ingenuity and cleverness and experience, to do something really cool and great.

Now it's about being robots.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Doing the Build

I woke up this morning feeling absolutely wretched.

I get headaches. Big, bad migraines. I hate 'em. And I have meds for them, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. This morning was a don't.

So I got up with the rest of the family, did the ponytails and sorted out the toothbrushes. Then when they all left to go to school, I took a shower, and then went back to bed and slept until 11am. Which was great, because by the time I got up, the headache was mostly gone. Like Westley, in The Princess Bride is 'mostly dead', which means he's a little bit alive. So the headache was still a little bit alive, too.

But by about 1pm I was OK. So I decided to do a couple of things that have been collecting. I recycled the old batteries, took the small, broken electrical things to the SBET collection facility (see you, Obnoxious Laughing Santa thing - it's been real), did the charity shop drop, went to the ironmonger, and then home again. Which is when I decided to finish the wood storage.

My husband has been telling me for about three months that he wasn't going to buy any firewood for our house until we had a place to store the firewood. We DID have a place to store it last year, which was just piled crazily against the house about as far away from the back door as you can get and still be on a paved surface. Sort of a long way to go when it's pelting down rain and you're in slippers. But he wanted a REAL place to store the firewood. And when he investigated about how much it'd cost to buy one (150 quid or so), I just said in a casual way, 'Honey, I'll just build you one'. Of course, this was one of those times where he was actually listening to what I said, so he said 'Great idea!'.  Figures.

When I was at the ironmongers, I bought some self-tapping screws (IS there any other kind to use, really?), and some nails (oooh - it's like pick and mix, but for building supplies!). I got a few other things, too, but that's for later.

Armed with a hammer, a chisel, my electric drill (clever me I charged the battery up last week), and my electric saw, I took apart two pallets, and with the bits from those, and various pieces of scrap wood we've been hoarding from a building project last summer, I made him a wood storage. It's pretty great, if I may say so. I think I want to say so because it's made from reclaimed wood, and I like that. It also sort of looks a little bit like something you'd see in R.A. Miller's back garden -- it's not perfect, and it's very rustic, but that's why it looks so cool; at least why I think it looks cool.

So I think that being outside in the cold (2 degrees C today) and doing something physical, but not formally exercise, helped get rid of the headache. It's a bit meditative, actually. There's an end result that I'm hoping to gain, yes, but it's also a task that has to be done in a completely mindful way - there's no room for thinking about something else when you're busy using an electric saw. It's the same frame of mind I can get into when I'm following a really involved crochet pattern - you can't think of something else, or you end up with a completely wonky piece of unidentifiable yarn thing.

So I did a bit of letting my mind wander (in an 'I'm very much paying attention to the electric saw' kind of way) and did a bit of mulling about The Carrot thing. It's still very much front of mind. But I find that I'm able to think about The Carrot when I've got some peace and quiet. It's a drag that the peace and quiet was precipitated by a monster of a headache, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

I've still got some serious thinking to do. Certainly nothing is going to be discovered in a day, or a week. But just going outside, and working with my hands, and starting with a large pile of odds and ends and leftovers, and ending up with a wood storage thing and a much smaller pile, was good. The coldness of the day, and the quietness that was so quiet that I could hear the echo of the hammer hitting the nails, was a good place to be in for that couple of hours.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Carrot

I'm stuck in the middle of things, I think.

A very wise person I know told me that my problem is that I don't have a carrot. We all need a carrot. And after doing some thinking, I've realized that this person is correct; I have no carrot.

There's got to always be something that's going to be the motivator, the enticer, the THING that keeps you moving forward.

And yes. I know that I have a lot of things in my life that are keeping me moving forward. I love my family, I love what we do together, and what we are together. That's not really the sort of carrot I mean. The family, and who we are together, and what I am as a part of this family, is a wonderful thing, and I'm thankful for my family every day. (For the record, they also drive me bloody crazy, and I could spend an entire week telling you about all the things that they do that I wish they wouldn't. So please don't think that I'm saying 'I'm thankful' and divorcing myself from reality here).

But I think that what I've noticed, after a bit of introspection, is that there IS no carrot.

In earlier years and times, there were plenty of carrots, in various incarnations, shapes, types. It was a job, or a guy, or a location, or it was finishing my BA after being a dropout for a decade, or completing my MA despite my dad dying in the middle of the program, or planning the wedding, or being pregnant, or doing up the house, or whatever.

And now, when I've looked around, I'm not in higher education, I'm not planning on popping out any more kids, the house is pretty much done, we've been married almost nine years, and the job is pretty much just some place I go every day for 7 hours, and they pay me.

So what's the carrot? You see? I haven't got one. And boy, it's a noticeable absence, suddenly, when I've finally noticed it.

Sure. I dabble in small things: crochet, bread baking (may have finally cracked this one), knitting, Pilates, yoga, etc. But there's no big thing to pique my interest, get me ramped up, make me talk incessantly about a topic the way you do when you've Suddenly Discovered Something. I get up, I go to work, I come home, some nights I exercise, most nights as a team we put the kids to bed, and then we sort of sit around. Occasionally he'll go to the pub. And I'm fine with that. Better for him to go out instead of sit at home while I crochet, or read another vintage murder mystery by Margery Allingham. It's not his fault I'm bored with who I've become.

But I've got to become unbored. If I live to be 90, say, then I'm at the 50% mark right now, and closing. I've got a good amount of time left here, and it's probably a pretty good idea for me to figure out what the hell it is that I want to do, and what I want to learn/become/figure out/create. He deserves something better than the lack-luster, hobo-chic person that I've become.

Vegetables are supposed to be good for you. I need a carrot.