Sunday, 13 September 2015

Picking myself up

You will probably have noted it's been a while.

I am currently struggling with most parts of my life, and there is a serious lack of structure. Which is resulting in nothing being the most successfully(?) accomplished job. As in nothing is getting done.

Today I am going to attempt changing that. So I'll be sharing pics of the disaster area known as my desk and work area. And going to make a serious attempt at doing something about it.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Long time, no see

Well, I have been rather remiss about writing anything for a while. I have been in a mental state which hasn't really allowed me to write for any length of time, much less think thoughts which made sense when put together.

Things should be easing up now. Some of the issues which have been hindering me are more or less resolved. The main one being the fact that my aide was moving, and which meant I was going to have a new one, and all the uncertainties involved.

My aide of eight or so years has now left. She came to my home for the last time about a fortnight ago. This Friday my new and future aide will be coming for a short visit, just so we can get a feel for each other. Then her usual time for visiting will be Thursday mornings. This means my weekly schedule, such as I had been working on for a good while, will need changing.

My Thursdays are now probably going to be my busiest days. See, I have also managed to start going to choir again after a few years' break. And that is Thursday evenings. And the afternoons will be knit group meetings once that starts again.

On the other hand, this means that Tuesday is now an empty day. Which can be used for a whole multitude of things.

Now, Tuesday was the day when we got the veggie box. And I have to admit, it hasn't worked well for me. Or not as well as when it was Thursdays. Because it meant moving my meal planning day from sometime in the weekend to a few days into the week, so I could incorporate the contents. I need to figure out how I am going to solve that pickle. I might talk to the lady running the veggie box distribution about moving the day. One solution, the one involving not getting the box at all, is not going to be used. Because I can tell by the amount of veg I have eaten since the summer break (aka hardly any veg at all), that getting that box is a good help for me.

I seem to be improving on the fruit eating though. Or drinking. I have started making smoothies several mornings of the week now. So I'm not going totally without natural vitamins. And as I now finally have bought my second freezer I will be able to get loads of applesauce for consumption in innumerable ways added to my list.

Tomorrow is 1st September. The first day of a new month, the first day of a new season, and also the first day of a number of challenges I've signed up for or decided to do.

I have decided to do my own decluttering challenge. This involves me taking a picture in the morning of some small area, and then putting up a second picture of it in the evening. The goal is that the second picture should look much better. It doesn't have to be perfect, just better. If I do that every day (bar my birthday), I should have a tidier home at the end of the month. At least, that's what I'm banking on. If you want to keep tabs on that, I can be found at otteatthebackofbeyond there. I'll be using #Septemberdeclutteringchallenge2015.

I am also taking part in Miss Trenchcoat/Alexis Giostra's #CharmedDSLR photo challenge. I may well be doing it with both my new phone camera as well as my parents' old camera.

And then I want to see if I can finally get to grips with the ListersGottaList challenge. I have been trying - and failing - for several months. I think if September fails too, then it might be time for me to give up on that challenge entirely.

Now, all that remains to see is whether all these good intentions bring me towards Hell or someplace else.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Homestead happiness

Some people may have a romantic image of what it means to have a homestead. I know I do at times. The reality is not quite so rosy red. There's a lot of work involved. And maintenance.

At the moment I have a bricklayer working on the rear end of my stable. He is prepping for the carpenter to put in some new doors and windows. One of the doors had all but disintegrated and the other wasn't too hot either. The windows were perhaps not too bad - but plexi instead of real glass.

The brickwork isn't finished with this. Around the beginning of September the bricklayer will be back to remove crumbling mortar and refinish the walls on the outside (bar the parts which got repaired some years ago). I know this is necessary work, but it does mean unforeseen expenses for this year, not to mention a lot of mess and noise and blokes running around all day.

So perhaps I should focus on some of the good parts. Friday I had my parents around to help harvest my cherries. There was rain on the horizon, and ripe or almost ripe cherries do not handle large rainfalls well. They start to rip open and then all the insects get ready for a party. We managed to get over 11 kgs of cherries picked. Which was pretty good. There were still a good number of kilos left, perhaps another ten or so more, but the rain has been playing merry havoc, and there's no more cherry harvesting this year.

And then there's the whole matter of what you do with 11 kgs of cherries. By the time we had finished picking I had already stuffed myself full of them, so I wasn't in the mood for eating any as such.

Instead I used three kilos for making cherry mush, as I call it. Basically applesauce, just made with cherries and mashed through a sieve. Which makes for good exercise. And a lot of hard work. Mum took a few kilos home, and I gave another to a friend. And the rest got tossed in the steam juicer, or Mehu Maija as we call it, and turned into cherry juice. I didn't bother using any sugar at all - last year mum put in some and made it almost too sweet. At the moment I still have some left in the juicer, and some mush in the fridge, but the rest is now in the freezer.

This of course leads me on to another of the joys, or is it woes, of homesteading. Freezer space. Which I am running short on now. And this is before apple season has started. And mum has now informed me that she has ordered a whole lamb from a mutual friend. I think I'm going to have to get that second freezer I've been talking about this coming month. Which will provide me a few more headaches and decisions; where should I put it, which freezer do I actually want, another bill to pay.

And in spite of these challenges and issues which need taking care of, I wouldn't want to pack up and move into a more urban house. I may not always find it amusing to have to deal with these things, but the pride and joy and sense of fulfillment which comes of eating things which I have grown myself keeps me on. I may never get to being totally self-sufficient, but  that's okay too. At least I am trying. And not just dreaming about it.

I wish I had a picture of the cake mum made Sunday. She baked the cake part using my eggs, and then the fruit in it was partly from my garden, and partly from theirs. Cherries, raspberries, red currants, white red currants, black currants. There were a few store-bought strawberries too. And the flour, sugar, and creme fraiche/sour cream were bought too. But half of the ingredients for that cake were home-grown. I'm afraid I just gobbled up my part of it before taking pics. Too tasty to bother with that.

(And in case you are curious - I have now succeeded in getting pics from my phone onto my blog - but it isn't as smoothly as I suspect it could be. I will be experimenting more. But this is a step forward from last.)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

How the mighty have fallen!

You may recall me being skeptical about mobile phones. You may also remember me saying I had decided to get one at long last.

Well, that happened Thursday. I went off to the "mainland" with mum in tow to get answers to questions, and have a look at phones. Actually deciding and getting one was not part of the deal, for I expected I would need time to then digest all the information first.

Well, I had apparently done my homework well, for in less than an hour I felt I was okay to actually make a decision. So about 90 minutes after walking into the phone shop, I walked out with a mobile phone in my bag. And on some sort of high. Partly because I was all excited about this, partly I suspect because being able to make that decision in that short span of time is a new thing. I think I spent half a year contemplating a stove about six or seven years ago. And after finally having decided upon one, promptly discovered it had been discontinued.

The washing machine I bought four or so years ago took about an hour, but that was mostly because there was a limited range to choose from, and I really wanted one. And mum was along to help back then as well.

So, now I have had my phone for a few days now, and I am spending a ridiculous amount of time focusing on it. I now have an instagram account, I have downloaded several games with which I am wasting so much time, and I have been playing with settings and things, and generally being obsessive. I have learned how to text, and also now have whatsapp with a few friends on my contacts list. The only reason I haven't stuffed more on is because yesterday morning was time to harvest my cherries (or at least start) because rain was promised (and delivered in no uncertain way) for today. And rain and ripe cherries are not a good combo. Ruined harvest is what happens.

Now, while I am getting the hang of lots of new things, there are twice as many which I still haven't mastered yet. One of which is getting pictures from my phone to my computer. Or figuring out how to get images from instagram on to my blog post. I have a lovely picture of the bulk of the 11+ kgs of cherries we picked yesterday, but I can't get it to turn up here.

Meanwhile I have also been slipping up in my newly formed habits. I haven't been carrying my planner around with me at all times these past days, and things have been erratic. I am taking the philosophical approach to this. I know my brain and nerves have been all on red alert with the phone thing, and now that is mostly dealt with. I also know this is only for a short while as I adjust to this. And I have become aware that some things have been slipping because of my focus being so firmly attached to the phone. And in fact, I have already started taking steps to make sure that there is no further slipping.

Yet another sign I am getting better.

And now, allow me to present you with ... oh, right. I still haven't named my phone. I don't even know if it's a he or a she, or possibly it doesn't have a gender.

 He/she/it is a Samsung Galaxy S6 in the white, and lives in a dark grey/black Krusell magnetic cover.
I can keep it in just the case, or in the cover. Currently I'm using the cover on the go, but remove it and just use the case at my desk.

My two laptops are Athena and Bunter, which makes me wonder if my phone is a C. Do any of you guys have a clue about its gender or name? Or are you one of those people who never names items and gadgets?

And if you want to see what about 10 kgs of yellow cherries look like, go check me out on instagram @otteatthebackofbeyond.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Summertime Blues?

I haven't been posting this past week after coming back home from holiday. I have been tired, and also in a funk of sorts. It hasn't been easy getting through all the days, and I've had my work cut out just keeping me fed. Meal planning has been a lifesaver.

I am reminding myself that I am only human, and one with a few extra challenges installed. It hasn't completely kept me for beating myself up about not posting. But even though I have a few things I know I want to write about, I just haven't been able to put pen to paper, so to speak, and get the posts written.

I hope you can forgive this lapse in posting. I am hoping to get on to it next week. I have loads of stuff to share. The week that is leaving saw me have a yummy meal at one of the local summer restaurants, and the summer concerts started. At the end of the month there's a medieval fair type of thing going on. I scored lots of crafty stuff on holiday. My planner is developing.

I think I am going to go outside and sit down on one of my lawns, and either blow soap bubbles (yeah, I haven't grown out of that) or continue excavating my dinosaur egg (no, not a real one, those made of gypsum and with plastic bones in). Nothing too strenuous, brings a quiet joy, and gets me out in a bit of light and fresh air.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Summer in the garden

While I am off gallivanting to the summer home in Finland, these things are going on in my garden.

My peony is looking like this:

Up close and personal it looks like this

The white rose which is just younger than the house (1907) is looking a bit spindly, but ready to burst at the seams

Also in the front garden, this white flowering shrub, whose name is currently evading me

Now, it's not just flowers I've got in my garden. This is one of the many tiny apples growing on my trees (17 apple trees if my memory serves me right)

And while they do first have to form flowers, these funny-looking chaps will turn into grapes in some months' time

And finally, flower and food (or in this case drink) in the form of one of my elder trees

And they will definitely be long gone when I come back. Fortunately mum might harvest some to make cordial. But the fried, battered flowers won't be happening this year.

Makes you wonder why on earth I am heading off north with all this going on. But when I return, I'll have pics and perhaps even some videos which should explain why I am off north. And might make you wonder why on earth I am coming back home again.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Travel nerves

Right now I am sitting on a ferry. I am off on holiday with my dad. We are headed off for the family summer home up in Finland. Sort of at the back of beyond.

When you live at one back of beyond and holiday at another the trip takes on epic proportions. The fun part is that we get to use practically every form of transportation possible. So we're now on a ferry. Once we get to the mainland we walk a short bit to the bus station. Then we go by bus to a train station. From there we catch (surprise!) a train. This time we are actually not headed for the airport, so instead we'll be headed for a hotel. But tomorrow we will be flying. And when we get through baggage reclaim and passports and customs we're going to pick up our rented car.

I guess at some point we will have to figure out if we can get bikes or carts pulled by animals in there.

I have a love/hate relationship with travelling. On one hand I like to go places, familiar and new, and have a change of scenery and find myself removed from the daily routines. On the other hand I suffer badly from nervousness and anxiety about travelling. I worry about getting to the next place in time, I worry about losing my way, I worry about forgetting things, I worry about having to keep an eye on my stuff. This time around I started being restless and unfocused almost a week ago. Even though I actually did have a list of things to bring, and having help in making sure I had clean clothes to bring.

One thing I am pretty pleased about, though, is that for once I haven't left a mountain of dirty dishes for mum to deal with. I did have help, my aide came round this morning and helped me. But there is just one glass left because I needed a drink. I also did get a few areas looking neater than normal. I also failed (again) to make the entryway more navigable. I have had to ask her to return some library books. But the dishes aren't there!

Now I'll leave you with some pics I just took from the ferry deck. I might be able to get another post ready for while I'm gone, but I am headed for non-internet territory so you will likely have to wait a while.

The view looking straight back into the harbour.

The famous (and protected) bathing huts at Vester strand

 The closest teeny-tiny island, uninhabited, but frequently used for cow pasturing

Same, with view to more islands in the horizon