Making and doing: 5 things 6.6.2016

1. I finished a big lace project this week that’s been in progress for a whole year. I’m pretty angry with myself for letting it take so long (because children, and sickness/other disruptions, but mostly children – it just wasn’t something I could do easily in the knitting time that’s usually available to me, because of its size and beads and the level of attention required) and I can’t yet tell whether it’s actually any good. I’m too close to it and it’s been too long. The stitch pattern is amazing though, so that’s something. 

2. Elf took a big step forward this week, spontaneously deciding to go for a solo walk to the shop (about 1km along a footpath, so, it’s safe) and buy something. She’s done the walk alone before, exactly once, but handling money and talking to the cashier without mommy – that’s new, and scary for her. I’m so impressed. And now she’s mad keen on the idea that I can send her on errands. Which could indeed work out pretty well for me too. Yay Elf! 

3. For entirely mysterious reasons, I started working on two creative writing pieces this week – a poem (completely spontaneous and hailing from who knows where), and a non-fiction thingy in response to a submission call. It’s an odd feeling. It’s been over 20 years since I last dabbled in poetry, and prose – well, I blog of course, but not seriously. About two years ago I did try to get some other things down on paper, intended for submitting to online magazines, but not very successfully. Partly that was because at the time I was getting about 2-3 hours of sleep per night, and not all in one chunk either. But partly it was also because, not having done this before, I never learned how to write.* By which I mean mostly: I never learned how to revise. My instincts are very much to jot it all down, rearrange with a wave of the hand here and there, and consider it done. It isn’t. It really isn’t. So I’m consciously trying to work on that now: take time and revise. It’s… odd. I find it very, very hard to know when it’s done, when I’ve revised enough. Yeesh.

4. Elf’s mad enthusiasm for making things (from a shoebox “rabbit hutch” with paper cutout carrots to an actual sewn and embellished tote bag) seems to be infectious. She nagged/inspired me into making her a cloak, from pink stretch velvet in the stash. (Bought 17 months ago on clearance because hey, Fr1 a metre!) And Pumuckl demanded one too. I’d been putting it off forever because I can’t sew and I need to learn in baby steps but really, she doesn’t care if it’s sewn well, she just wants it DONE. So… it’s done. But not without the obligatory sewing machine dramas and enormous stress. In fact, the machine suddenly seems to be completely non-functional (for no apparent reason), so I sewed the damn things by hand. Which at least motivated me to carry on with a huge pile of much-postponed mending, so yay? And yay for getting things done? But Friday really sucked. For that and other reasons. BUT ANYWAY it’s over now. Yay.

5. Farming culture is big in Switzerland. From the cows-as-prizes thing to the Gruyere Beard Society, there’s a lot of appreciation for the agricultural tradition. It’s supported with government money – payments for service in protecting the landscape, upholding animal welfare, sustainable farming methods etc – and consumer money; farm shops are popular of course (often featuring automats, since the farmers are too busy farming), but even the big supermarket chains make a point of selling locally farmed goods, labelled with the name and address of the farmer. Anyway, yesterday was “Farm Open Day” across the country. We went to a nearby farm that specialised in, not the omnipresent cows, but water buffalo! Kids enjoyed pony rides, a horse-drawn wagon ride (officially intended as a shuttle service to the bus stop, but freely exploited by all), “milking” a fake cow with working udders, and so on. A very Swiss day out. 

* With my newspaper background, of course I have published a few articles. But nothing requiring serious effort. And newspaper deadlines being what they are, slow-cooked revision really didn’t come into it.

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