Three things: Life and things, oil and coffee, and foxes

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Life is just ticking along at a lovely clip and I have finally got into the swing of the school day with S.’s naps and my daily agenda. Sometimes when I am feeling organised, I usher the kids out of the house 50 minutes earlier for a walk in the woods to visit our transplanted Christmas tree before school. This is never without complaint from myself or the kids, but once we’re on our way, all is well and the rest of the day just clicks into place. The weather has been bitter, but look at the quality of light! I love this time of year. We’ve had a lot of indoor time too. Water play at the sink has been the activity-du-jour. Our kitchen floor has never been so clean.

Do any scientists (or anyone, really) out there know why the coconut oil on top of my coffee (don’t ask why there is coconut oil on top of my coffee) went into this incredible formation?

The first signs were the toys belonging to one neighbour’s dog ending up in another neighbour’s garden. Then there were the shallowly buried bones in the garden, exhumed by the afforementioned dog. The flickering of security lights at strange hours finally illuminated the story…we have foxes, my friends! And, because we no longer keep chickens, I am very excited about this! And I can’t stop thinking about foxes. I’ve been reciting this favourite song for the kids, listening to this album while I write, and remembering my favourite scene from our beloved film, Fantastic Mr Fox. 

I’m going to take another little break from blogging over the next couple of weeks. My partner is out of town, and I have a variety of extra commitments that I am excited about, but also a little daunted by, as I will have to manage them alongside the extra domestic duties. I hope you enjoy the rest of Autumn (or Spring, you southern hemispherers), and I will see you soon!

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Through whom You light the night

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We sang at church yesterday a hymn based on the Canticle of the Sun (sometimes known as the Canticle of the Creatures), a song originally composed by St Francis of Assisi. It is a joyful sound and always brings to mind how amazing the world is, and how fragile its ecosystems. Yesterday it also reminded me of a children’s book we have at home with another adaptation of the song. It’s called Brother Sun, Sister Moon, by Katherine Patterson. The illustrations are done by Pamela Dalton using a technique called scherenschnitten, in which sillhouettes are cut from paper.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Another amazing Scherenschnitterin is Lotte Reiniger, whose work I stumbled across about 7 years ago in Tübingen. If you have ten minutes up your sleeve, you might like to see her intricate work for this film Hansel and Gretel.

Three things: Projects, cards, and Who Gives A Crap

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It may be because school is back in session and I have one less being to engage with for 6 hours of the day, or it may be because the clocks went back and gave me another hour this week, but I have been productive this week.  I am not usually a productive person… I know… having a blog gives me the illusion of being a productive person… why do you think I have one?  On Monday, however, I was productive.  I only realised this when the boiler man came in to replace a piece of our boiler.  I saw the shock on his face when he went into our kitchen and found every surface covered with mini projects: a bowl of beech nuts and soaking nettles that we’d collected in the morning because the kids needed something to do with that extra hour of life, sauerkraut fermenting, 12 bulbs of garlic in various states of undress on the way for the other fermentation jar, defrosting marrow bones, thawing fish heads, and a big pile of stuff for our Christmas cake. Oh, and the veggies for tea that night. I may have just completed all the tasks I will get done for the year!

On a similar note of productivity… I’ve been printing Christmas cards to sell. Here’s a sampling of one design. Last year, a creative friend of mine printed a bunch of sweet cards which sold like hot cakes around the university we’re associated with. Then she had the audacity to move back to her home country.  So I am filling the void in the market.

I have recently learned of one product that I can promote without feeling like you will waste your money if you buy it. Or that the planet will curse me and you for the plastic involved. Or that you will be ripped off. Or that you don’t actually need this item. Or that other people in the world won’t benefit from you making this purchase. Loo roll from Who Gives A Crap! This is an extremely ethical company making a product that most of you (not all? No judgement here. You must have a very small footprint) use. I bought my first box of it a few months ago and am only making a second order now–it lasts for ages, is very well priced, high quality, and has that feel-good thing going on with its environmental and social ethic. Go to their website to check out what they’re about. And then use this link to get £5 off your first order. (Full disclosure: if you choose to buy through this link, I will also get money off my next purchase. But don’t worry–I am not getting into monetizing my blog, and probably won’t make another plug like this for another 10 years).

Morning Light

From this lovely poem….

Everything changes, we’re told,
And now the changes are everywhere:
The house with its morning light
That fills me like a revelation,
The yard with its trees
That cast a bit more shade each summer,
The love of a woman
That both is and isn’t confounding,
And the love
Of this clamor of questions at my waist.

From “Egg” by C.G. Hanzlicek from Against Dreaming.

Three things: Quinces, jumpers, and liturgists

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One of the highlights of my week (which has consisted mostly of wiping noses and thinking of ways to exert the energy of whichever child is most well) was this number of quinces that came with my veggie box. I love quinces! Although we ate quince occasionally when I was a kid (I think), I don’t remember it making a particular impression on me. When I was a university student and staying at the convent at Hiruhaarama, one of the elderly sisters came into the kitchen needing help with a few buckets of the fruit that she’d got from a nearby tree. They were covered in fluff–natural pectin, she’d explained, to be left on as they cooked–and she was going to leave them on the table for a few days to allow the scent to fill the room, purely for enjoyment. And that is what I am doing with mine right now… until I can’t hack it any longer and I cook them up. I am going to cook them with some apples and use the mix for crumbles for winter puddings. I love a quince jelly or paste to go with cheese, but I am doing my best to avoid added sugar, and jelly or paste will be an irresistible temptation!

Another treat this week was finding not one, but two lovely homemade cardigans. One for S. (who rocks the matching mitts, using them as cleaning cloths), and one for L.–brown with rainbow flecks through it. Although I bought them at charity shops, they were new. And ridiculously cheap. Offensively cheap. These items cannot be made for the prices that they are being sold for (even excluding labour costs) and there is something in my feminist crafterly heart that wants to scream about that. There are people (women) volunteering their time to make these beautiful and practical items and  they do not receive recognition, financial or otherwise. And yes, they do it because they enjoy it, and see the societal value of wee ones being warm, but there is something that makes me feel uneasy. I touched on this a while ago–check Question 3, paragraph 5– but there is so much more I could say about the value (or lack thereof) of “women’s work” and just how much unpaid “women’s work” props up society–care work, social work, craft work, cleaning work, cooking work, etc, etc. I know, I know; these are very deep and anxious thoughts for a simple find in a charity shop… I should just just be grateful… but, in many ways, these thoughts do come from a place of gratitude… ugh… shush, Ruth

Finally, I have been listening to a new-to-me podcast called The Liturgists–discussions at the intersection of science, art, and faith. Do you know it? Two episodes I have enjoyed so far, and are very relevant to current events, are: How Do We Know What We Know? and Enemies.