Marooned in the Modern World

In conjunction with my book "Swiss Family Suburban" this blog is from my diary; the diary of a wife and mum in a world where neither is valued highly. Beth Bill.

24th August 2010

All the children have gone away for the week, to Contagious. The twins went last year and this year Matt is old enough to join them. This means that, for the first time in nearly 17 years, it's just me and David at home (oh, and the poochie). The irony is that David is just SO busy working towards a deadline that he is in his studio for about 14 hours each day, so in reality it's just me and the dog. The days are still so full and busy though, so I hardly notice the time go by - but I am enjoying the quiet. I've listened to a few audio books as I've cleaned out a cupboard or done some ironing - and I haven't had to hit 'pause' once. Usually I have to pause about 20 times an hour, so I've enjoyed uninterrupted concentration. I haven't attempted any filing or marking yet.

15th August 2010

Yipee, it's holiday time! I always stack up a huge list of jobs, which is totally unrealistic, to complete during the summer holidays. I always feel that I've wasted my time somehow, if I haven't ridded out and cleaned every imaginable cupboard and drawer and redecorated most of the house whilst catching up on a years worth of music practise. Of course, I don't manage anything like that amount. I guess anything is better than nothing.

I notice how, at times, I only feel that it's valid to enter details of particular note in this 'diary', and yet surely it's the hundreds of things which don't get entered that matter most. The fact that on any particular day there can be anything up to 10 people for lunch at any given moment, or that the hens are nicely cleaned out, the dishes are done and the ironing pile is eliminated (whilst listening to an Agatha Christie audio book) must truly matter. Surely these are the things that make a house a home. The fact that Em and her friend can sit in the cooling evening, wrapped up in a blanket on the bench in the herb garden
is important to me. Or that her friend can become a semi-lodger for the entire summer holiday, or that I can come home and find a couple of extra boys have taken root for the day must surely matter. Although it's important to make sure we study hard and work to do our best, it isn't that by which we measure our days - is it?

Surely it's important that we've spent the day being a family, being hospitable and working together, and it's from that we can build skills and character as we grow (us adults as well as the children). These last few months have been a constant sally to and fro between Doctors, Dentists, Orthodontists, Opticians, Vets and Hospitals - between 3 children, 3 ageing parents and 2 very aged relatives how else can I spend my time? When mum's are at work all the time who fills this gap? The fact that Great Aunt Hilda got to and from the hospital intact, and Matt and Em's glasses now fit must be of first importance. It's hard to remember that sometimes....

2nd August 2010

David and I spent the weekend restoring an old garden bench, given to us by my Great Uncle (who didn't realise quite how rotten and dilapidated it really was). It would definitely have been quicker to buy a new one, and probably cheaper - but that wouldn't create the same deep sense of satisfaction. We spent until past midnight one night stripping it down and then spent a very pleasant hour the next day searching out a strange green undercoat paint and an antique black to stipple a distressed effect. Some of the bolts had so rusted on that David had to grind them off, to everyone's amusement - bonfire night comes early this year! The end result is beautiful and it's so lovely to see Em and her friend sitting in the herb garden on said bench.

We also painted our old kitchen table and chairs with a "William Morris Blue" eggshell paint that we found whilst looking for the bench paint. I absolutely love the arts and crafts movement (see the William Morris cushions I made in the crafts section) and I think that a distressed effect works well with the original (old) tiles and colour scheme of the kitchen - I'm thrilled with the result and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time 'restoring' with David. There is an old bird table which my Great Uncle has also given to me (which I think we gave to him on some occasion about 20 odd years ago - there is a plaque which is obscured by years of wood treatment). Once again it is rotten, almost beyond reckoning (obviously not enough wood treatment) but I can't quite face just tipping another prospective project. David isn't quite convinced and thinks it may be beyond repair. For the moment we are out of time, as he has too much work on to embark on a project, so I'm tucking it away for now and biding my time.