Some technical issues have meant I haven’t been able to update this blog for a few days. I didn’t realise how much I missed having a small outlet like this, where I can write what I like and how I like and as much as I like without having any worries about deadlines or criticism or rules of any kind.
This picture doesn’t have a lot to do with this post, but I snapped it last weekend when I had half an hour to myself during which I could enjoy the first mince pie of the season with some coffee made from beans we brought back from France last summer. While taking a break can be good, I need to write for my own sake. I know I’m not writing anything terribly profound on here, and I’m fine with that. I have enough ‘important stuff’ to write in my real job.
I’m currently enjoying the bliss of a week off work, a week where I’m not on a tight schedule and can do things at my own pace. The bonus was having himself here on Monday and getting to do the thrilling work of reorganising our food supplies. I’d done a wee bit of stockpiling in an attempt to assuage my mild panic over Brexit so we had a lot of some things. Let’s just say we don’t need to buy tins of kidney beans, stock cubes or flour for a long time. The problem was the stockpiling had become haphazard and things had been
hastily pushed into drawers and cupboards misplaced. So we now have nice tidy shelves as the result of not very much work. And I know exactly what we need to buy food wise this week which is not very much, given that we can work our way through our freezer full of meals that I prepared in advance of returning to work.
The other small victory is the steady march of baby and toddler related stuff out of our home and into other people’s homes. This week I said a fond farewell to our faithful IKEA Antilop highchair. This was probably the best fifteen euro I ever spent on our children. It has served us for a total of seven years, having been taken out for visiting children, loaned to others in need, pushed right under our table (meaning the tray was somewhat redundant) and used daily until each of our children couldn’t be left alone in it. It is a dream to clean, assemble and use and while I will miss it (oh the memories!), I’m delighted to reclaim some space and send it off to pastures new. We have a horrible plastic chair yoke we strap to our a dining chair now, but at least it takes up no extra space.
A long weekend, jobs ticked off the ever ending to-do list and a full week off work.
Our computer and my husband who keeps on top of IT related matters.
Cloth wipes. I won’t go into details. Suffice to say, they are pretty essential around here.
Getting out of the house and enjoying the autumn freshness and colour.
New to me books from my Chalet School buy and sell Facebook group which come with surprises like a nice fancy label showing one of them was a prize for Elizabeth back in 1957.
The events in the book in the middle happened 80 years ago this year. The Chalet School In Exile is one of the most extraordinary children’s books I’ve ever read and I still get more and more from it during every reread. It’s written contemporaneously, which gives it a unique perspective, and from the point of view of being generously sympathetic to the German population. I’ve often had the thought “When would I leave” on reading it.
Do you leave when you’re getting uncomfortable with the political unrest alluded to in an earlier book in the series? What about when you see the Nazi party consolidating power? Do you start thinking about packing up your life when you see the local young fellas with nothing better to do chasing the Jewish goldsmith through the village? There’s no spoiler alert required; the school quite clearly does leave and goes into exile (spoiler alert: the initial exile is short lived) and lives are upended by doing so. The school’s history is forever altered, given that the author felt she couldn’t move the school back again once peace was restored to Europe.
I haven’t read the other two books as much as Exile, as its popularly known in the Facebook group where these books have gained a new lease of life, but they have sparked similar musings. When should Offred (TV or book Offred) have left? When the creeping march of control over her reproductive rights meant her husband had to sign the form to get the pill? When she was fired from work under the watchful gaze of “some other” army? What about when the initial terrorist attack took place? Packing up your life is a hard thing to do, when you don’t know what’s going to happen. Is it going to get worse? Is this temporary? What do you leave behind? These aren’t rational decisions, no matter how they might appear with the benefit of hindsight.
When Ireland gained independence women lost a lot. Things changed, such as the introduction of the marriage bar for women working in the civil service. Once you got married, you had to leave. This rule wended its way into other parts of the workforce over time. We had never been great at looking after women and children, but the new state didn’t think to address this. Instead, decisions were made to pay religious orders to provide “care” for women, including those who weren’t married but were pregnant. We know how this ended and we have never properly dealt with this legacy. Women were constitutionally categorised as belonging in the home, something which needs to go but is usually dismissed as an anachronism with no real meaning. I don’t agree; it is a horrible thing to read about yourself in your country’s constitution.
Would you leave, knowing the kind of things your new country is doing and saying about women? Would you stay, hoping that the birth of a nation meant some unpleasantness but an eventual working out of the things that a republic is supposed to be? We’ve long had a history of emigration, so packing up and leaving is part of almost every family’s story, mine included. People left, and returned, and made things better. We can change our constitution, and we do, frequently. We have moved forward since independence and this 1937 document. The one pictured above is one of several little blue books I own; this one is from 2018. Before we repealed the eighth. I’m keeping it, because I know how things can change and sometimes its good to have a reminder of what can happen and how it can happen and how hard you have to work to correct the trajectory of a nation.
A first birthday party for a not so tiny baby boy.
A tidier attic, clear wardrobe shelves and the knowledge that precious sentimental stuff is in a safe place.
Dolly at bedtime, thanks to our local library.
Enjoying the wine from last summer’s holiday, planning the next and sharing the name of this delicious bottle with the most niche Facebook group of which I am a member.
Settling into the new routine of working and home time. Being organised is boring but oh so much less stressful.
One place that hasn’t been top of the list of my decluttering/organisation/konmari “journey” is our attic. I’ve been diligent about going through all the other rooms fairly thoroughly, but the downside is that all the excess has ended up in various boxes and bags in our attic. The upside to our attic is that its easy to access. This is also a downside. It is WAY too easy to shove stuff in, close the door and congratulate myself on a tidy set of rooms downstairs.
I had a brief morning of nesting at the start of my last pregnancy and did a perfunctory sift through the baby stuff we stashed up there. I then got sick and tired and anxious and stressed, and any further plans just melted away. I continued to poke around at the space when I had a chance I was very happy with the neatness of the rooms, but a little haunted by what lurked upstairs.
Having been inspired by this post about decluttering and starting with one box at a time, on Sunday I pulled out everything but our (almost never used but won’t get rid of just yet) suitcases, the box containing my wedding dress and the beautifully organised boxes of Christmas decorations and started to organise it. Yesterday, I braved Ikea and bought new storage boxes and packed up some practical and sentimental stuff which I know we don’t want to chuck.
The kids’ stuff is the final frontier. There’s just SO MUCH of it. And we’re not even particularly indulgent about getting them a lot of stuff. It seems to creep in somehow. There’s some stuff we need to keep, some we want to keep (like the little red jacket they all wore home from the hospital) and a lot more we’d happily dump but which our children are inordinately attached too. So, this is a work in progress, but a work which has started nonetheless. Which is an orchid, of sorts.
Homemade pizza. It gets nicer every week.
Downton Abbey on the big screen with friends.
Dinner and lengthy chats with friends after Downton Abbey.
Feeling organised for the week ahead.
Starting new library books. I just adore our library system.