I think it’s understood by all who read this blog that there are six other creatives behind the scenes of The Aran Artisan that contribute in each their own means. If I had my way, everyone in our family would participate in the writing; they know they are more than welcome to. Johnny takes quite a few of the photographs and helps with the editing and I know he is happy with that role. I’ve encouraged the children to consider writing book reviews, poetry, or short stories but it just hasn’t been the right time for any of them to do so and that’s just fine with me. They certainly contribute plenty of material through their daily living for me to shape my writing around. My family is the heart and soul of this blog.
Yesterday my eldest child, Margaret Maeve, turned thirteen years old. I’ve mentioned her Instagram art account Create Without Limits before and several of you support, encourage, and follow her and for that I thank you. Her birthday seemed just the time to do something that we’ve talked about for a few months now, adding that account here on the blog. So that’s what I’ve done, here in the widget section on the right-hand side, you’ll find her most recent posts →
Above is a thank you card made using a drawing of hers. It’s drawn from a photograph and is the first grandchild of the cousin who sent the children their telescope at Christmas. They each wrote a message of thanks and it’s been sent on its way to America. I’m both proud and happy to feature her here and hope the other children also eventually add their own personal touch to the pages of our blog.
“We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Did everyone see the brilliant full moon last evening? All in my house went to bed while it hung directly out our east facing window and woke with it directly out the one facing west. This amazed my children. While we lie sleeping, the earth was revolving around the sun as the moon revolved around the earth; they know this fact. Yet, it was still an altogether beautiful discovery this morning.
They gazed at the morning moon through a telescope received for Christmas from cousins in America. A treasured new gadget for their curiosity toolbox. An extension of their eye and of their imagination that gives a view to endless possibilities. They can’t get enough of it. Outside, inside, upstairs and down. ‘Are there stars out tonight?’ Sadly most nights have been cloudy so they’re practising patience while anticipation is building. This is a good thing.
Yesterday we had a light brushing of snow. I honestly saw none remaining on the ground within fifteen minutes of it falling for it was washed away by the drizzle that immediately followed. Don’t you know, hours after the snowfall when my children returned home from school, it took them no time at all to pack a half dozen large ziplock bags full for storing in one of our chest freezers.
I asked them why they wanted to save it. Aside from it ‘being cool’ it was also ‘to help us remember’. The last time we had any significant snowfall on the island was seven years ago so most of my children have little or no memory of it. At their current ages, they’ll surely never forget this adventure. But lest they forget the emotion of that afternoon’s mudlarking (or should I say snowlarking), they’ve bags of frozen-fingered memories at the ready.
Earlier tonight, while clipping my son’s fingernails and listening to him explain how he was writing a new season to the Lego Ninjago cartoon series, I praised him saying ‘The skies the limit!’ His reply? ‘No, it’s not Mom. There is no limit.’ Well, he certainly set me straight didn’t he?!
This photograph of a rainbow over our next door neighbour’s house was taken this afternoon from an upstairs window of my own home. I was thinking to frame it (sans quote) and gift it to them. What do you think of that idea?
Several years back I read a couple great books by Robert Kiyosaki. In one there was a quote about not giving children an allowance because it teaches them to work for money rather than learning to create money. It made a bit of immediate sense and was worthy of more deliberate consideration. In the end, Johnny and I decided to do both, give allowance earning opportunities as well as instruct in ways to create money for themselves.
We have five children aged six to twelve years, two girls and three boys. Most of their chore doing is for no other reason than because we’re a family. There’s no list of what they earn for which job so the lines are blurred between doing for the family and doing for allowance. They know we give them money in order to teach them how to manage and understand it. It’s nominal, between 1€ and 2€ each per week. We also give them €5 per week for depositing into their savings accounts and the majority of gifted money goes in there also.
August is over so it seems time to get my backside in gear and post a few of the many photos I took around the garden throughout the month…
Can you read my messy writing? My far from complete ‘can’t wait to-do list’… I was going to rewrite it neatly, but decided to spare the waste and instead trace the pen in rainbow colours to brighten it up for this post.
While the photo is all about my work that is creative, fun, and without strict boundaries, the accompanying haiku refers more to the laborious aspects of working to provide food for our family…
working the body
harvesting diamonds and pearls
feeds autarkic souls
The diamonds I refer to are those we harvest from the ground, the pearls being what we garner from the sea and shore. By now, you know that those aren’t the only gems provided by the earth, our little island, our neighbors, and our homefarm; we harvest, gather, barter, and recycle.
No surprise, it’s not always easy living out a dream. We do it not only to support our family’s food needs and desires to be self-sufficient, but because we genuinely love the physical demands and the creative challenges that come along with choosing this lifestyle. It nourishes our soul as well as our bodies.
The process of providing for one’s self and family gives an energizing rush– though, ironically, we’re often working while feeling sleep deprived. We feel this rush when physical and mental boundaries are stretched to working out of our comfort zones, or sometimes it’s when we find creative/inexpensive solutions by putting our ideas together and trusting one or the other’s better judgement.
I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit that there are failures and disappointments, injuries and losses, timelines not met, plans that don’t turn out as expected (or, ugh, never even get started). We get frustrated with ourselves, each other, the community, and the weather. I’d rather talk about the blessings though, not the problems. I prefer to write about the problems after we realize the lessons learnt from them.
Finding the balance between the planning and the trusting, the listing and the letting go, the doing and the just breathing, is something we are getting better at. Like gardening, some things are meant to be learnt over a lifetime, one experience at a time.
I hope all reading this are feeling balance between head and heart in all to do with work and life.
in the game scrabble,
smooth is worth eleven points,
milk ten, and home nine
A B C D E F G H O M E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H O M E F G H I J K
The scrabble ‘HOME’ cubes are a few years old now, an irresistible buy as the game is a big part of our family and home life. The scrabble game itself is mine from the late 80s and has wooden tiles and holders.
The family name collage is from two years ago as is the picture of Nuala. The other two pictures are of our family room and taken this week. I’ve never liked the blue wall paint, thinking that it makes the room feel cold. I spent this past week painting the interior of the hotel where I work and now see our small room as nothing to tackle in comparison.
Painting our family room is not all I considered from a new perspective this week. I had to do a bit of creative thinking to make Ron’s haiku words ‘milk & smooth’ work. The photo ended up being a collage as I struggled to pick just one to represent this week’s photo word ‘home’.
Have a super weekend everyone!
I started stitching this ‘crazy quilt’ years ago. All the fabrics are recycled from working as a seamstress back in the States. Most are scraps I collected from my client’s clothing and home decorating projects. There’s a pair of my own repurposed jeans in there too. It was set aside in the busyness of starting a family, though, ironically, it was inspired by those same events as a tribute to the life Johnny and I had started together.
stars and hearts stitched to
honour children and true love
on their special days
When the idea was conceived, I imagined it like a map of our family with significant moments plotted out in embroidered calendar dates, with plentiful zig-zags and curves, stops and starts, flowers, fireworks, hearts, and stars that represent the highlights and unexpected twists and turns of travelling through life. Our wedding anniversary, the children’s birthdays, our trans-Atlantic crossing, moving into our home– they’re intentionally not being placed on the quilt in chronological order. While it is our history, I don’t want it to read like a timeline. It’s just not the reality of travelling through life. Or reading a map. Rarely does one travel in a straight line for very long. And, honestly, it seemed a bit boring to do it that way. Since taking it out of storage, I’ve added it to my list of 16 things to do in 2016— that is, to embroider more of the patches. Continue reading
I believe we all know the feeling of when something is not quite right. The feeling grows and grows until you decide assertively (sometimes in a matter of seconds) that “No, this just won’t do.” Continue reading