Thursday, 25 June 2009

the onslaught

we are being inundated with family this weekend, and i can't tell you how delighted i am about it! n's sister, brother-in-law and niece arrive from canada tomorrow, and then on sunday almost all of n's british family will be joining us for a bbq. please, please don't let it rain. they won't all fit in the house. because i'm not working at the moment, i've had time to plot and plan and it has been fun, and probably a good distraction. i love planning parties. i love planning anything, truth be told.

the house has not looked this good (aka clean) since my parents visited in december. it scrubs up well, actually. and n and i are absolutely knackered. we are doingthat thing where you yawn and look at the clock and ask each other if it is too early to go to bed (8:27 - he says yes, i say no).

sweet dreams

Friday, 19 June 2009

a difficult decision

for the past 2 1/2 years, on and off, i've been a volunteer on a rape crisis helpline. on and off, because when projects got too crazy at work, and i had classes and papers too, i couldn't do the line as well. when i first started, i knew i wanted to do something, but i was really scared by the idea of answering calls on the helpline. the training was excellent, though, and i got over my fear, and for the most part i enjoyed volunteering. lots of our callers ring regularly, and you get to know them. sometimes i knew i was able to give information that people needed, and that felt right. and i believe women (this line is women-only - staff, counselors, volunteers are all women) need all the support they can get, especially in dealing with issues like sexual abuse and rape, where open dialogue is often not possible for a number of reasons.

a lot of our more recent volunteers are trained, or training as counselors themselves. hearing them on the line, it seems like they know just what to say. they are a different breed. i'm not all together sure i actually like them sometimes - there's a coldness somewhere i can't quite put my finger on. i never saw myself as a counselor type - in fact, when i found out that was what the helpline was, i thought, uh oh - not for me. maybe i was right.

for the last few months, i've been feeling increasingly uncomfortable on the line. i feel, at the core of it, that i can't offer anything. helpless. i have nothing in me to draw upon - and i can't pretend that i have any idea of anything - a futility of knowledge. a plaster (band-aid) on a sawed-off limb. one of the things that helped me overcome my fear at the beginning was knowing that we were not trained counselors, we were volunteers, and our job was to listen. this now feels really inadequate. i feel like i may have come to the end of my psychic availability, if that makes any sense.

i explained this to my friend j, who is a psychologist. she said people burn out, and that 2 1/2 years is a long time. she's subtle, isn't she?!

so i decided to quit, and that tonight would be my last time. and i felt relieved, which i took as a sign that it was the right thing to do. but then tonight, on the line, i just felt really guilty. all the empty spaces in the "july" rota, the nights that the line hasn't been open because a volunteer couldn't make it, or we just didn't have enough volunteers to fill the rota. am i being selfish? is an incompetent volunteer better than no volunteer at all?

i thought maybe i could offer to do something else - like write a monthly newsletter for all of the volunteers so we/they would feel more connected and up to date on issues, law, etc.

i really don't want to do it anymore. and i feel really bad and really guilty about not wanting to do it anymore.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

gates and fences



two and a half years ago, when humphrey, our greyhound, came to live with us, we put up a temporary barrier to keep him out of our neighbour's garden. it was an amalgamation of an old trellis, several reclaimed fence posts, and an industrial amount of gardening wire. it was not pretty, but it did the trick, kept humph from eating the neighbour's three (3!!!) cats, and anyways we were going to put a proper gate there soon.

in one and a half weeks we are hosting a gathering of n's family, both canadian and british. this has put the fire under us, so to speak, and we are getting things done

oh yes

and we built it ourselves

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

what do you do with 20 kilos of cherries?

you make wine, of course!! what a silly question!

we were planning on making a large batch of cherry wine this year, as cherry wine is one of our favourites, and last year's gallon seemed to evaporate in a most unseemly manner. so imagine our delight, when we found small flats of cherries on sale in our local farm shop! spanish cherries, which is not ideal, but this is wine, not eating, and at this price, spanish will be just fine. in a few days/weeks the british cherries will be out and we will feast on those.

when you have 20 kilos of cherries in your kitchen, your options for what to do with the afternoon become startlingly limited. it took about three hours to de-stem, squeeze, bag and prepare these beauties for their first ferment. in radio four talk, that was all the way from the afternoon play till after the six o'clock news. phew.

this should make about 25 litres of wine, about 30 - 35 bottles. they'll be ready for the new year and will be a welcome reminder of summer in the dark days of january.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

you'll be happy to know

that i've snapped out of sanctimonious self-pitying bullshit mode and have reverted back to my general oh well better get on with it mentality.

these days i am spending my mornings doing job-hunting sort of stuff - emailing long lost colleagues, agencies, trawling through job sites - it's fun, oh yes. that is once i get up - which i have this sort of delusion that i do at 8 am to join n and the dawg for the morning walk. what actually happens is n comes back into our bedroom (he has been up for HOURS at this point) and i sometimes don't wake up at all, or if i do, i mumble, what, 8 o'clock already? and roll over and snooze for another hour, because i can. 11 hours of sleep a night, people. it's a beautiful thing. i haven't slept this much since i was a teenager and i love it.

afternoons are spent foraging (elderflowers at this time of year, soon gooseberries and cherries), running errands, trying out new recipes, like this artisan bread in 5 min a day thing which is cool, or will be once i figure out the right moisture balance so i can make loaves instead of discs.

tonight i taught n how to play dutch blitz, on a pack i rescued, forlorn, from my parents' box of board/card games last time i was in canada. ironically, for a game that i am guessing was designed to keep good mennonites (or whatever) away from evil cards, it will make a great pub game. i'd love to say i trounced him, but he is a quick bastard and picks up on games remarkably quickly.

it's all good, or good enough, anyways.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

well hello

i've begun the inevitable. i've begun looking for paid employment. i've been putting this off, but my inner task master (damn you! DAMN YOU!!!) has demanded action and i have thus coughed up. i have been enjoying my holiday - i have been enjoying my holiday so much that enjoying sounds like some sort of euphemism. i have been reveling, lolling, nay, luxuriating in my holiday.

i was going to write about the horror of hearing my voice slip back into work mode, and the tenseness that came with it, and the feeling of education that comes from finally working out a bit how the whole networking thing works so i'm working names properly (i hope) for a change, but -


we have to do these things. and believe me, i know i'm lucky to have these things to do. i do know that. it's not just hard work. i was lucky to be born into a family where a work ethic was taught and expected, and where i saw everyone around me work, and work hard, and teach me how to work hard. and my friends and family who support me and are proud of me and cheer me on. i know, and i'm grateful. and i don't mind working hard.


our corporate model is corrupt and dangerous, and benefits no one but those lucky enough to be at the top, and i do mean lucky. it's not right. it's not justified. and by participating i am complicit.

so i am proceeding with a heavy heart, like in so many things. is this age? maturity? the gradual weight of your heart until you are stooped and shuffling?