Friday, December 2, 2016

the lentil pancake blog

It's three o'clock on Friday afternoon. I'm sitting cross legged on the green chair in the picture above, with my laptop on my knee. It's quiet apart from the croaking of the frogs in the house dam to my right, and the crowing roosters in the distance to my left. My entire family have been gone since nine this morning. I've had the whole day to do with as I please. And yet since nine o'clock this morning I've found a hundred excuses not to sit here and do the one thing that I really have wanted to do all along, and that is to write my blog. 

I've done some knitting, I've hung out some laundry, I've washed the dishes, (I probs should have vacuumed the carpet in the photo above - oops), I've watered the garden and I've made sure that I'm up to date with all the social media, but it's 3.20 and my blog is still unwritten.

I've always maintained that the more I write, the more I write, the better I write, the happier I am. But something happened a few months ago that stopped me writing and I haven't known how to come back. Something made me ask 'so what' and 'who cares' every time I thought of something little I wanted to say, so I stopped wanting to say it. It can be so mean at times that internal voice of mine.

So I started looking at the bigger stories in my world, but mostly I found that they weren't mine to tell. Blogging as a mother of teenagers is such a tricky juggling act, a crazy adventure. I'm on my toes and my lips are sealed.

There's a little thing in our house called the lentil pancake. The lentil pancake is the first pancake you make in a batch. You always chuck it in the compost because it tastes like the lentils you cooked in the pan the night before, but you have to make it so you can get on with the important task of making the rest of the yummy stack.

So I've decided to think of this blog as my lentil pancake. I've been putting it off all day, it feels sticky to write and there's an excellent chance I'll chuck it in the compost once it's done, but I have to write it, I know I do.

So here goes - 10 random things about now;


This was the last pair of socks that I cast off. I made them for Jazzy's thirteenth birthday. These socks are made from yarn I bought off someone who didn't want it anymore, I made the pattern up but had to reknit parts when my tension was all wrong. These socks jiggled around in the bottom of my basket for about three weeks. I knitted them while watching episodes of Outlander and as I sat huddled by the fire and wished for winter to become spring. Although these socks contain the memories of two separate incidents where the recipient expressed her doubt in quite strong words, I'm happy to report that these socks, knitted extra long to be worn under Doc Martin boots, are being worn at this very moment and have been on and off for most of this week.

Details here


October/November being birthday season around here means we've all, with the exception of our farmer boy, turned another year older, and wiser, and more wrinkly (that's just me).  Miss Pepper celebrated turning nine with a pussy-cat roller-skating party, which of course makes perfect sense as she wants to be a roller-skating vet when she grows up! Thank goodness for Pepper.


Despite the fact that I announced loudly at the start of birthday party season that I was retiring from making pass-the-parcels and other party games, something crazy overtook me the night before each invitation had to be handed out and I became obsessed with the cutting and the gluing. I spent hours on Jazzy's flower pots, and Pepper's cats had arm and leg joints that actually moved!


After weeks of wind, rain and worry, the sun came out and then the apple blossom followed. It was patchy, and unlike other years there wasn't a week where all of the orchards were in flower at once, but we are hopeful of a medium-sized crop and are ridiculously excited to eat them.


The story this photo tells is of bonfires of apple prunings, of learning how to use the new lens I got for my birthday, of after-school barbecue picnics, and of shrieking girls lifting branches filled with flames high up into the air.


Six is for the music, because with four of the five of us now taking voice and instrument lessons, there is never a moment without a tune.

Actually, I wonder if the click-clack of my knitting needles could be considered some form of percussion? Do you think?


The flowers Indi picked for my bed and the books I'm reading.

The top one my mum passed to me this morning and I haven't started, Outlander I'm 160 pages in and loving, but I'm yet to come across a description of a knitted garment, which is disappointing, as any knitter will agree that was a highlight of the series. I've read some of the Tim Winton stories before and I've heard him discuss some of the others in interviews so it's at the bottom for now but my farmer boy has bookmarked a couple for me that he thinks I'll love and I look forward to them.


Eight is all about how we've been living in a renovation site for three months as we slowly turn our ugly duckling house into a swan. Indi has a new bedroom, we have a new studio/office, the lounge-room has new shelves and there are lots of new/old doors and benches and desks around the place too. 

One afternoon Bren's dad walked in to say hello and having elbowed his way through piles of boxes and kicked his way through drop sheets and tools, he called out BOMB SITE! BOMB SITE!! And for a while it did feel exactly like that. For even longer, because Jobbo our builder only worked with us for two days a week. But sitting back now, almost at the end of stage one, and seeing how beautiful everything looks, how every single piece of timber has a story and how happy it makes us living here, I can say that I'll be pleased to spend another three months living in a bomb site next March when we take on stage two.


These are the socks I'm knitting right now. I thought they were for Indi's sweet 16 year old feet, but she thinks they might just be too bright. I'm obsessively loving knitting them though and I won't be at all upset if I'm the one who ends up wearing them, that's for sure.


No random post of mine would be complete without a bit about the garden. As with the slooooooow arrival of the sunshine this year, so it is with our growing season. But I'm happy to report that I've filled up the kitchen garden, the hot house is BURSTING with seedlings, the poly tunnels will be planted out this weekend, and hopefully everything else will be going in next week.

So far we're eating snow peas, and strawberries, and lettuce, and spring onion, and garlic.

And that's it! I'll leave you with a photo taken from where I sit. I didn't clean it up before I took it, but hopefully that'll just inspire me to take some better shots soon and show you around all of our new spaces and tell you their stories.

Any finally, thank you if you're reading this, for sticking by me and encouraging me and making me happy. If you've messaged me asking if I'm okay and when I'll be back here, thank you for that too.

It's funny but at the same time as I want my girls to know that they are so much more than their social media stats or content, here I am rather hypocritically putting blogger in my bio. Go figure.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend my friends.

Oh and if there's anything else you'd like me to blog about please let me know. It might just shut that 'so what - who cares' voice up once and for all.

Love Love

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

dear indi (the third)

Dearest Indi,

You've now been away for two and a half weeks, which makes this the longest time you've been away from us since you were born, almost 16 years ago.

We miss you.

In the past week since I published my blog we've heard from you twice. Each email has been the sweetest surprise. We've read them over and over, out loud and to ourselves. We've discussed all the details and tried to fill in the blanks. For me it's enough just to hear that you are well and to get a glimpse of where you are and how you're feeling. I almost can't believe that while we're still here, you are spending your days climbing to the top of mountains, visiting ancient places, jumping off boats into the bluest seas, eating meals in the ruins of castles with no roofs and watching fabulous sunsets. But for Dad, your emails just make him miss you more (he's such a sook).

Until now you've been traveling around the same Greek islands that our family travelled around last year. When you talk about Santorini I know what that crazy drive looks like from the ferry right up all those sharp hairpin turns to the top, I can imagine you strolling through the white stone alleyways with your class mates, making friends with all the cats and the old Greek men selling olives and grapes. I can feel how hot and sweaty the air is and I can easily remember that sunset and the crowds that swarm to that side of the island to watch it. I hope you managed to stay well away from their pointy selfie sticks.

But last night, or the night before, you travelled to Athens and from here your trip goes into uncharted waters as you visit places we've never been and we can only imagine. I wonder if this part will feel harder for us.

The highlight of our past week has again been the rain. (I know you think excessive weather talk is boring). Last Wednesday we were flooded in as our driveway became a raging river that tipped me over while I was trying to rescue some crates that were starting to float away. Piles of stacked firewood disappeared down the creek and we lost a bee hive that we later found at the bottom of the orchard. Jobbo had to cancel work on the renovation as he couldn't get here and we had to take the back way through the forest to get the girls to school, which involved cutting two fallen trees up with a chainsaw.

It all felt very dramatic and exciting and was all anyone was talking about, but the noise on the roof started driving me crazy and I missed the sunlight, and the garden, and I worried about our precious top soil being carried off down the valley.

In the end I made a Facebook plea to Mother Nature to let it rain all she liked in September but to please give us an October filled with still, sunshine filled, perfect bee flying weather for the apple pollination. In retrospect I probably should have said something about being kind over the school holidays too, but one can only hope...

This week the renovations have continued and just before I took my computer out to write this in my car (I can't concentrate with the radio playing loud inside) I actually stood in your room. The lining boards on one side are up, the door is framed, a beautiful second hand door has been bought, and the electrician is coming in tomorrow to work out where all of your power points will go. It is crazy exciting and I know that you are unsure but I know best that you'll love it.

Last Friday night Dad and I went to a party hosted by Instagram. By the time we drove into Melbourne through horrific Friday night traffic to drop the girls off, drove back across the city to the hotel to get changed, and then caught a cab to the warehouse, we were an hour and a half late

We missed the introductions, we missed the panel's talks and the discussion and therefore we missed the point of the whole thing. Which was a shame. We did have a drink and admire the table laden with sweet food that looked like savoury and savoury that looked like sweet (there's a couple of pictures on my Foxs Lane Facebook). We chatted to a few people who seemed very excited about the whole experience. We tried to work out what sort of accounts the other guests had, we kissed and posed for photos in front of the instagram sign (I know, teenagers) and we grabbed our show bags and left. We never did meet anyone famous and we never did see anyone else with dirt under their fingernails or accidental straw left in their beanie.

I've looked but I haven't seemed to be able to find anyone else's account of the night. It was actually weirdly noticeable how few phones there were at a phone app event. I seriously felt self conscious taking the couple of pics I did!

In the last week I finally cast off the Aztek sockz and have gone back to the scarf I was knitting in Woodend. It's kinda nice to be slowly working through those colourful balls that you wound for me before you left to keep your hands busy while your brain went crazy with all the 'what ifs' of this trip.

After I finished a horrible book that I don't want to talk about, I read a chapter of The Catcher in the Rye which I ended up finding in our bookshelves as we were clearing them out. Are you reading it too? Are you enjoying it?

I'm also reading Nina Stibble's Paradise Lodge which Bee handed over last night. Jazzy has started calling her my dealer.

And I'm listening to a podcast called Casefile which is true crime stories and pretty bleak. I'm totally addicted though and it has filled many hours of school drives this week.

The leaves on the apple trees are about to come out, as you can see by the photos we're moving the chooks and we've got a tower of egg trays on the bench, we've eaten asparagus, rocket and still loads of potatoes.

As I'm finishing this off I can hear Jazzy rehearsing her song for the soiree tomorrow night to Dad in the other room. Pepper spent the day at an art class and is shattered. I wonder what you'd be doing if you were here. I wonder what you're doing over there?

Years before you were born I remember sitting with Bee at one of Emily's gigs at Revolver. Emily was on stage playing guitar and singing and seemed larger than life. A star of a person. At a break between songs I turned to Bee and asked her if she could believe that she made Emily. That she grew her and looked after her and helped to become this amazing individual. Bee told me that she couldn't. Emily was Emily. It was too big to reconcile.

That's how I feel a bit about you. This independent, guitar playing, Greek Island hopping, beautiful email writing girl. I feel so blessed to be your mother but also to watch from the sidelines as you have adventures and find your place in the world.

I'm so proud of you.

I love your guts!!!!!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

dear indi (one week later)

Dear Indi,

When I was your age and traveling overseas my Dad would write me an aerogramme once a week to keep me up to date on the goings on at home. Without email, text messages, social media, or any sort of address, consider this my aerogramme to you.

It's been a week and a few days since you left.

I remember telling you on the way to the airport that night that there's almost no point missing us because things will be exactly the same here while you're gone. We'll eat porridge and drink strong coffee in the mornings, we'll drive the girls around, we'll shlep wood in to keep the fires burning, we'll juggle farm work and house work while trying to have some form of social life and I'll snatch every spare moment to knit a row or two of my socks.

But as the days have passed by I've been thinking about that statement and how although all of the above is true, all the details that fill the hours and the days in-between are different. 

The biggest thing that has happened since you left has been the rain. It has rained, and rained, and RAINED. All the tanks, and dams, and creeks and rivers are full to bursting, and on the weekend our driveway flooded over and we thanked goodness that our house was built on a hill. I also thanked goodness that we don't live in the nearby flooded town that reported tiger snakes floating down the main street. Can you imagine?!?

We've made use of this forced indoors time to clear every single thing out of the trapeze room. We sold the bookshelves, I donated five bags of vintage sheets, we've made a mountain for the op shop and everything else has been boxed up and carried to the shed. Jobbo came in yesterday and marked the new walls out on the ground, the electrician is coming tomorrow to work out where the new power points and lights will go and then hopefully by the time you return home you'll have a new bedroom and we'll have a new office/studio. I'm getting excited.

A few days ago I finished Anne Patchett's book State of Wonder which I really loved and of course cried when I finished. I almost expected you at the end of my bed when I looked up all teary from reading the last page, funny how often you're there when I do.

Although I'd decided in the depths of winter to give the veggie growing a break for this season and concentrate instead on the apples, the bio dynamics, the soil fertility and the cleaning up this place, anytime there is a break in the rain I've found myself running to the hot house with a bunch of seeds. I can't explain it except to say that I must be addicted to having my hands in the soil and the anticipation of each stem and leaf as it emerges from the earth. I loved the thought of supporting the local farmers for a season, but it seems that I love growing my own even more. I can't wait to watch your face as you eat your first veggies picked fresh from our garden upon your return.

I have fallen in love with and listened to every single episode to date of Not By Accident, a podcast documentary about choosing to be a single mother and coping with being one. And although Sophie's and my journey's to motherhood couldn't be more different, listening to her stories of pregnancy and planning and birth and early motherhood have brought back so many feelings and memories of that time when I was pregnant and full of wonder about you.

 I'm knitting my second Aztek sock, still loving the pattern and laughing at myself every time I think that I had hoped to finish them before you left and sneak them into your backpack.

The chooks have started laying again so we're eating lots of eggs, and although it's still slow, the rocket is growing and delicious with a squeeze of lemon and a blob of feta on top. I've been searching for asparagus but still haven't found any yet.

Jazzy came back from Canberra last Friday full of stories of parliament, the portrait gallery, the CSIRO, op shopping, bus rides, tricks played on boys, and a type of Scienceworks. She had the best time ever she says.

Pepper's world is full of circus tricks, roller skating, stories about New Zealand (her inquiry project) and ukulele tunes. 

Dad and I spent a rare day alone with nothing to do in Ballarat last Friday while our cars were both being serviced. We wandered, we ate pho twice, we saw a movie and we had so much uninterrupted talking time that we managed to discuss each of you, problem solve lots of our present and future issues and still have time for silence. It was wonderful and much needed. The hardest part was driving home to Daylesford in the dark separately. I know you'll laugh and call us teenagers when I tell you that Dad called me on the way home from his car to check on me and chat.

Slowly the day to day signs of you around the house are fading. Your laundry is washed, folded and put away in your room, the pages of the house diary with your writing on them have been turned over, we've found all your hidden love notes and there are only two mugs on the bench top awaiting the morning chai ritual. 

However we are referring to your printed out itinerary that we have stuck to the fridge often and are constantly counting back seven hours to work out when exactly you'll be on that ferry or what island you'll be exploring. You'll be traveling from Santorini to Crete this evening, how exciting! 

I miss you so very much my darling heart. In a happy way. I love to dream about you on your global adventure soaking in the sunshine, learning the language and the history, eating feta and olives and tomatoes and baklava, making friends, and visiting some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. I'm so excited for you and the person you are becoming.

It never occurred to me when you were small that one day I'd send you off into the world to explore but now that we're here I understand it's our job not to keep you close but to give you the tools you need to find your own way. 

This morning I read an interview with John Marsden in the latest issue of Slow magazine where he talked about wanting to give his students first hand experiences..."so they've got stories of their own. Because stories define us, our stories shape us, and the more stories you have the more interesting person you are." I'm so excited for you and your stories Miss Indigo Apple.

I love you, love you, love you.


Oh and I've been watering your plants and they're all looking good. Even the peace lily. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

dear indi

Dear Indi,

Last night we took you to the airport for your six-week class trip to Greece. 

It had been a few intense months in the making and by the time we actually arrived at the airport it almost felt like a relief. But still I expected tears, I expected clinging hugs, I expected last minute nerves and I expected not to be able to look at Pepper's face. But instead you were so excited you could barely stand still long enough to pose for your group photo. We've got the sweetest little film of you yelling out 'let's dance' and the group photo quickly dissolving into a mini dance party for a moment or two. I've watched it 10 times already.

Your smile couldn't have been any bigger when you looked back at us one last time before disappearing through the departure doors and so we walked away with completely unexpected smiles plastered to our faces too.

What a wonderful start to your great adventure.

And what an unexpected happy start to our six weeks without you.

We spent our first moments as a family of four eating sushi at the airport for dinner and then we drove through the dark to Emma's in Woodend. She'd left a bottle of wine for us because she thought we'd need it after what we'd just been through. How sweet is that!

The little girls slept well but me and Dad lay awake for hours reading our books and chatting. I wondered if it was because we'd never had the big tearful release that I'd expected, or if it was because we'd had such a big intense before and the after would need some adjusting to, or if it was the sneaky chocolate we'd eaten in bed.

This morning we packed Jazzy up and waved her off on her Canberra camp. Then we drove off as a family of three. Until Friday we'll only have one girl at home. Crazy.

We had breakfast in Woodend, drove Pepper to school and then spent a few hours in the oldest apple orchard making big piles of the prunings. It's still so wet in there and my boots and socks were saturated . And as I worked I listened to my 'beautiful songs that make Kate happy' soundtrack and they did. And I thought of you flying through the air and how proud I am of you and what an incredible adventure you are going to have. 

I love that your school cares about rites of passage and the transition through adolescence. I love how perfectly timed this is for you. And I love you!

And I think that over the next six weeks of planting, pruning, packing up, renovating, planting and living I might just take this opportunity to get back into the blogging groove and keep you updated on what we're doing and thinking and planning. (Although you definitely won't read this until you get back and possibly won't ever).

So this is it, my stories from while you're away.  I can't wait to hear yours.

Better go and get Pepper from circus class.

Love your guts!


PS the shawl details are on my ravelry page

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

five hours

I'm all alone in a tiny cabin on the edge of a forest in a town an hour away from home. From the last school drop off to the next school pick up I've counted five hours. I have no wifi, no washing machine, no farm work, no house chores.

Somehow, due to some crazy planning, compromising and trialling, that little seed of a dream that has been at the back of my mind through all the crazy chaos of the last 15 years of parenthood has come to fruition. I have complete silence (except for the wind and the birds), I have no one to look after or talk to, there are no shoulds, only a heap of coulds.

To be honest, part of me is slightly terrified. I'm worried that my precious time will go too fast and be over before I've done anything with it, and I'm also fearful that it'll drag on forever. I feel bad that my farmer boy is braving the winds and the rain pruning the apple orchard back home. I feel sad thinking about Miss Pepper sick on the couch. And I'm a bit nervous that my mind will travel to dark places and I'll have nothing to distract me from exploring them.

And I think I fear the fact that this thing that I have wanted for so long, this precious me time, is not in fact what I want at all.

And of course another part of me is beside myself with excitement at all the possibilities. I feel rich with time. I don't know what to do first. 

I could knit some squares onto my memory blanket, I could play spider solitaire on my phone, I could have a long shower and wash my hair and then dry it, I could fill in our census forms,

I could hop into bed, put the electric blanket on and read the last hundred pages of my book, I could rug up and go for a walk, I could make some notes for myself for when I go home,  I could tackle my inbox on my phone,

I could fill in an interview for a magazine that I've been putting off for ages, I could cast on another hot water bottle, I could lie on the daybed and listen to a podcast, I could call farmer Bren again, I could try and attempt to graph out the knitting pattern that is stuck in my head,

 I could visit the local town and walk up and down the main street, I could pop the kettle on and make another cup of tea, I could knit the other heel of my ugly socks, I could scroll through instragram and Facebook, I could borrow Indi's water-colour paints and paint in my journal, I could even have a Nana nap.

Or I guess I could sit on the couch by the fire, sip my hot peppermint tea, watch the crazy wind in the trees and the sheep out the window and write my blog. Acknowledging just how precious these moments are and how lucky I am to have them. Trying not to be swept away by the unsettling wind and to enjoy my moments.

I miss my people. But I just had a little thought that I might be a better person for them because I have had a chance to.

Three and a half hours still to go. I'll publish this and still have more time.

Sending you all the love.

Do you know this place I'm in?
Have you been dreaming about it too?
Or have you been here?
How did it make you feel?



Friday, July 22, 2016

fierce love + pretty cocktails

Gosh being a blogger is a funny old thing. You stumble around in your pyjamas at the kitchen table loading photos and trying to find the right words to tell your stories in a way that makes them relateable and understandable. You share your heartaches, and your successes, and your hopes and dreams while the dishes lie soaking in the sink and the laundry waits to be hung out. It's all stolen moments and wondering if other people will find interest in the tales you're telling. It's all bursting to express yourself completely, while desperately trying to honour the pacts of privacy you've sworn to uphold.

And then occasionally a blog bursts forth from you and everything makes sense. It heals, it connects and it empowers.

I agonised for weeks over whether to write the words of my last post. I worried about breaking my daughter's trust, I thought about exposing myself to the world, I feared judgment, and in some strange way I didn't want to cause pain to the other party. But the sentences were screaming to be written. They'd go round and around in my head until I felt like I was going crazy.

So on one of the first days of our holiday I closed myself in my bedroom and wrote them down. My part of the story. My feelings and reactions and fears.

I contemplated leaving it in my drafts and hoped that the writing was enough, but it wasn't. That post wanted to be published.

Mostly in the minutes after I publish a blog nothing happens. I feel relieved and happy to have sent my story out into the world. I press the button, I close my computer and then I move onto something else.

This time it was like a volcano erupting. In the minutes after I posted, my daughter came and lay with me on my bed and I read it to her to make sure she felt like I'd been sensitive enough and that she felt safe. Then, before I'd even finished, my computer started binging with messages and comments and texts. Messages of support, messages filled with stories and messages of empathy. And a week later they still haven't stopped flowing in, spreading a thick layer of compassion and understanding and community.

I am gobsmacked (I've never used that term before but the visual feels so fitting) by how wide spread this issue is, and has been for a very long time. It kills me. I can only hope that all the cliches about time passing and difficult situations making better and stronger people are true.

I'm holding this passage from Alice Miller's - The Drama of the Gifted Child close to my heart;
It is not only the 'beautiful', 'good' and pleasant feelings that make us really alive, deepen our existence, and give us crucial insight, but often precisely the unacceptable and unadapted ones from which we would prefer to escape: helplessness, shame, envy, jealousy, confusion, rage and grief. 
I'm so terribly sad and sorry for those of us who have been been treated badly and especially for those of us who have had to watch it happen to someone we adore. It's the worst. Worst! Worst! I'm sending love and strength and courage out to all.

In the meantime I'm happy to report that our holiday in the sun has done us wonders. We've talked a lot, we've made some big decisions, we've left it behind for a bit, and we've watched our girl become her sparkly self again, which has been amazing. The best!

I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for letting me share my pain with you and for the love you've sent back. I adore this community! I'm trying my best to reply to everyone while still maintaining my holiday distance from my computer. 

Fingers crossed for a smooth term three. Writing this from the other end of the country with the benefit of time and geographical distance I'm feeling slightly optimistic but ready to be vigilant. Ready to be fierce.

Sending you the biggest love + tropical sunshine + a pretty cocktail



ps sorry about the phone photos
pps hope you've got something fun planned for the weekend 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

stressing out!

Hello dear readers of my blog, I hope you've been well.

Generally I'm not a fan of blogs that begin with apologies and explanations for time passed but in this case something is making me do just that. Probably because the reason for my absence here is a story in itself, but the delay is because the story is not mine and that makes the telling difficult.

So often over the past seven years of my life I've found the best way to deal with the words that swirl around my head and keep my eyes open and my mind ticking every night is to type them into my blog. Once they are out of my head and published with some pretty pictures, something in me changes and I can see clearer and move on, or at least move.

But this story feels different because it belongs to one of my daughters. All that is mine is my response. How can I write the painful details of this period of time without betraying the trust of another? And is it possible to write the story from my point of view when the story isn't mine to tell?

I think I have no choice but to try.

You see the story itself has been playing out in the school yard but on such a level that I have never experienced in my almost 16 years of parenting, and even in my 44 years of life.

Generally, in difficult times my pattern of behaviour is to experience things like this in the fullest way. To immerse myself in the situation, to dissect every detail, to feel every sharp angle, to analyse and question and discuss and shout and cry. And then after a while I find that I can see things a bit clearer without all the added emotion, and I can move on to the solution.

For some reason though, this time I haven't been able to move through and beyond the emotional, beside-myself stage, and instead have been stuck here for months. We've tried facing the problem head on, we've tried dealing with all the side issues, we've tried building resilience and also taking the easy way out, but nothing changes.

It has been interesting to watch myself from the outside going through this difficult time. Because it has dragged on for so long I've been able to watch how the stress affects my coping mechanisms and my life. A few weeks ago I found myself at gym on a particularly difficult day. I had always assumed that physical exertion would be a great way to help me cope, and even get rid of all the nervous energy building up. In fact that's probably the main reason I go at all. But this time I found myself moving as if under water. I had no energy and was clumsy and powerless. My trainer described the damage that cortisol, stress hormones, can do to your system, and gave me a series of stretches to do instead. Sitting cross legged on the mat, twisted all the way around to one side, I just felt angry that this nasty situation had invaded yet another part of my life.

I've studied my own childhood, focusing on a time when I was excluded and had to make another group of friends, but I can't find any anger or betrayal in that situation to make me feel like I'm playing it out now.

I worry about the damage it's doing to our family when so many of our conversations seem to end up there, going round in another circle.

I find myself not trusting my responses.

I notice that whenever my thoughts go to this situation my tummy fills with ants that start crawling up to my lungs and then my throat.

I'm embarrassed that my reactions to this nastiness are inappropriate and filled with swear words and things I don't really mean.

I realised that even geographical distance doesn't give me emotional distance. A few days holiday with my mum in a cottage on the edge of a nearby forest made the worry bigger rather than smaller.

And the worst part is that I can't work out if my behaviour is supportive any more. As a parent I want my child to feel like I have her back, to feel safe with me and that I am here for her and adore her. But I don't want to live this out for her. So how do I do that? Somehow I'm missing the ability to separate. This situation is nasty, possibly even dangerous, but still my losing it doesn't do anything at all to fix it.

So far the things I've found that really work for me are farm work, taking a big slow breath before reacting and reading in bed at night until I am so tired I cannot keep my eyes open.

A few days ago I was telling my farmer boy the story a friend had told me about how stressed she'd been lately and how she'd almost had a nervous breakdown. That's how I've been, I told him, but he said he disagreed completely. He thought I'd been dealing with it. Interesting.

In any case, this isn't a story that is over yet unfortunately, but this is an intermission thankfully, as the girls are on school holidays and we've taken them far away from home to escape the cold and the mud. I am hoping that by typing bits of it out I'll be able to have space from it for the next little while and that I'll be able to break the blog drought and get back to blogging about knitting and books and food and family.

Fingers crossed.


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