18 June 2013

Escaping yoga... or not

I try not to do yoga, I really do. Part of me, at least, finds it too physically demanding. And there's always so much else I'd rather do, or have to do.

I do ashtanga yoga, which is very athletic - moving from one pose to the next after five breaths, with press-ups and leaps in between. It's hard work. (Not that I ever do the full 90 minute routine these days...  20 to 40 minutes is my maximum).

The washing dried on the clotheshorse and
my tray of lettuce grew in the sun
as I rolled  out the mat and got to work. 

But I just can't stop. My body gives me a week maximum before it starts feeling like a dirty bathroom - all cruddy on the inside. My joints go stiff and my muscles get gummed up.

So there I go again... cleaning out my body with yoga.

What's more, if I leave it too long, my long-standing lower back pain comes back. The problem, as I've come to understand it, is not enough yoga. If I do too hard a yoga session when I haven't been doing much, my back gets REALLY sore. But the problem again is not enough yoga.

Therefore, if you ever want to try it, be prepared that you may never want to go back to having an old-feeling, rusty body, and you will be hooked.

The temperature in our dining room as I did yoga in the sun, June 2013:
winter time in New Zealand definitely has its good patches!

17 June 2013

Little house on the prairie

I LOVED Little House on the Prairie when I was little. I WAS Laura Ingalls. I wonder if it was that TV programme, combined with visits to a local historic village with its quaint old houses, school buildings and churches, that made me love old things so much?

I think having a mother who ooh-ed and ah-ed over antiques and old villas probably helped me see their beauty just as much, though.

So last week when I accompanied Anna's class to a nearby museum where they had a toy exhibition on, I was delighted when she got to dress up. Pinafore and bonnet... divine... all she needed were the brown lace-up boots.

I have to admit that a primary-school aged me had my mother sew me a pinafore a bit like this. I very much wanted to wear it to school, but the well-founded fear of teasing stopped me.

The toys were lovely and leave ipads for dead, I think, and the children were entranced.

 My favourite was these little wooden hens. There is a string underneath that makes their heads nod up and down as they peck the ground.

I never read the Little House books, just saw the TV programme, but I'm looking forward to when Anna is reading at that level. If she won't read them, I think I will!

Post script: I know I'm not blogging as often these days, so thank you to those who keep checking regularly for posts. It encourages me to keep going!

11 June 2013

Boy energy

Here we are, living with a boy who is soon to turn 10 and is therefore probably half way to leaving home. Every year his energy, vigour and independence increases relentlessly.

I took him and his friend to a Steiner school medieval fair a little while ago. It was a boy's paradise with swords, armour and bows and arrows. Wow. They even got to fire arrows at a real man! He was well armoured, of course.

Because I love old stuff, I enjoyed the day. But often the things he loves seem so distant to me. I cannot, for example, get excited about his lego fighting machines. I'll build the castle or Luke Skywalker's house, thanks.

Yet I click with this boy and enjoy him immensely. I take pleasure in his pleasure. And he's teaching me a lot about men and where they come from.

Aren't little boys wonderful?

5 June 2013

How to be poor

Free school breakfasts: they are coming to New Zealand schools because, apparently, enough families are too poor to give their children breakfast.

I've 'lived' poor for a few years of my life, and gathered a few tips on how to do it along the way. It's quite a fun project if you're doing it because you want to save for something, or pay off a mortgage. I fully acknowledge that it would be devoid of thrill if was done out of necessity. However, feeding your children when you otherwise couldn't would be surely be motivating.

Much of this isn't new and is what almost everyone did until a twenty or thirty years ago, I think.

This is what we did and mostly still do:

1. Eat cheap. We plan for every meal to be made at home, even if we're taking it elsewhere to eat it. Takeaways and restaurant meals just aren't part of normal life when you're in frugal mode. We learnt how to make soups, stews with cheap cuts of meat, home made bread, cheap baking (go Anzac biscuits), creative ways with mince, lentils and beans. We have lots of fruit and vegetables (but only the ones in season, because they're cheapest). A bowl of porridge costs next to nothing.

We make sure everything tastes great! We add flavour with meat and vegetable stocks, garlic and spices. Pad things out with pasta, rice and potatoes.

It relies a lot on being organised. Sometimes we inevitably arrive home late and hungry. There needs to be something in the freezer to heat up. Or pancakes for dinner is OK sometimes!

2. Alcohol is a rare treat for parties and Christmas, if at all.

3. Grow it. Winter garden bare minimum: silverbeet, broccoli and carrots. It's also possible to go all winter without growing a lettuce; we grow mizuna and rocket, which withstand frost, and if they get established in autumn they last all winter. Summer garden bare minimum: tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, carrots and runner beans. Probably cucumbers, too. And we plant fruit trees, because apart from the vastly better taste, it only costs about $20 for a tree that gives you free fruit for years.

4. Ditch advertising. Its main message is that what we've got is not good enough, and that we need to buy their product to be better in some way. It drains our cash and your happiness. We ditched the TV and put a no junk mail sign on the letterbox. (We kept the computer for watching DVDs and all the other useful trappings, some of which are money-saving and mentioned below.)

5. Teach our children well. It's possible to have an extremely rich life on a low budget by living the life of the mind, of nature and of companionship. The library ladies know us very well, and we read, read, read to ourselves and our children, and listen to talking books on CD. Then there's bush and beach walks, mud pies, tree climbing, cooking over fires etc for entertainment. And lots of talking and explaining how life works, and singing,  jokes and games. And there's usually a neighbour to have a yarn with over the fence, or friend to have a cup of tea with. We think these things matter more than movies and expensive days out.

6. Buy second hand. It's good on so many levels... for example using no raw materials, and avoiding cheap nasty stuff priced to exploit offshore workers. I don't think I need to do much persuading here: last weekend I was in a Salvation Army shop and it was packed full of shoppers. It's really caught on! Then there's garage sales and auction websites like Trademe, of course, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Even better, of course, is making do with what you've got.

7. Learn how to do sew and/or do handy-person things like put up shelves and do basic woodwork. It's great being able to fix your gear without paying anyone. On that front, it's incredible what you can learn how to do on the internet, either with instructional websites or youtube videos. I continue to be amazed! Making things is also creative and rewarding, and home-made gifts are usually much appreciated.

Our austerity has worn off slightly as we can manage it over the years - a concert or holiday there, a gelato there, and certainly pricey after-school lessons all over the place (ouch), but really the loosening of the purse strings has made us no happier.

Here's to full tummies. Best wishes to you all.

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