31 January 2008

The familiar rhythm of the unremarkable

Painting by Carl Larsen from allposters

With the Australia Day holiday last Monday I had only two days at work this week, but they were very busy. As well as all the phone calls and people coming in, we're getting ready to move to a new premises, I'm teaching myself MYOB (one of my new tasks is that of bookkeeper), and there was a new volunteer to train on her first day. She has a lot of great skills so I think she's going to be a great asset to the Centre.

Driving down the mountain late yesterday afternoon to return home, I started planning what I would do in the next few days. There is no doubt about it, when you live a simple life there is always something that must be done, as well as all those tasks that might to others seem like work, but are really a joy to me.

I know there are many women who have a few days off and decide to get through the housework as quickly as possible so they can enjoy the rest of the time doing what they love. I am not one of those women, I used to be, but I've changed. Now the various tasks of running a house are what I thrive on, they are done slowly throughout the day and broken up with breaks and what others might consider hobbies, but I see as work for my home. These things include sewing and knitting because although they give me pleasure in the doing of them, I knit and sew for the practical reason of necessity.

When I got home yesterday Hanno told me he'd been cleaning out the cupboards in one of the kid's rooms and found three bags of fabric. Yippee! Two were full of fabric I vaguely remember using about 25 years ago and although it is very old, still looks good. There is plain, neutral linen and small patterns, similar to what I like now. My taste in many things hasn't changed over the years, which is strangely comforting to me. The third bag was full of ribbons, velcro, trims, cording, curtain edging and rings. Seeing the three bags made me realise that although I think I'm new to this style of living, and although I was a big spender in days gone by, there is a mishmash of things - like vegetable gardening, keeping chooks and sewing- that I have done for decades. They might not have been there all the time, but they have dotted my life trying to point me to the place I am right now. I'm a slow learner sometimes but I finally got the message.

So today I am back to the familiar rhythm of the unremarkable. These days are what make up my life now and although they might be considered a bit ho-hum and tedious to many of my contemporaries, it's the part of my life that brings me back to earth, that reaffirms my spirit and allows me to experience a kind of ever present contentment with the soft routine of each day.

Never underestimate the mundane.

Tasks today include: bake bread and an orange cake, strip the bed and wash the sheets, look through my recipes and find two new evening meals to expand my repertoire, continue the garden plan, I'll sort through the fabric bags discovered yesterday and add the fabric to my stash, sew the top of the kitchen curtains, decide on an Autumn knitting project - I have a good amount of pinky-mauve merino wool, and do a general tidy up. It's been raining on and off over night and I hope that continues so I can hear the rain on the rooftop a I work. Looks like a lovely day coming up.

I want to thank everyone for yesterday's great suggestions for portable fast food. I'll be using a number of the ideals presented. I am thankful for all the comments everyday and I think they add a lot to the growing archive of practical knowledge being accumulated here.

I have another request. I'd like to compile a list of potential post subjects. What would you like me to write about? I'm quite happy to consider your suggestions because, although I usually have a topic in mind, or I just write about my day, like above, I sometimes come to the computer with barely the skeleton of an idea. Sometimes I feel I'm repeating myself too, so all comments along this line are most welcome.

I hope you're having a good week. Thanks for visiting me. : - )



  1. I think of it, as embracing with a passion, that which is mundane. You describe it as the "familar rhythm of the unremarkable". what a glorious blessing for both of us to possess, inner contentment.

  2. Hi Rhonda Jean, If you need any help or tips with MYOB only too happy to help. I have been using it for 3 years now and the last year we put on staff so had to upgrade to the payroll version. Good luck with it.
    The orange cake sounds YUM, I love orange cake especially with fresh oranges from
    a backyard tree.
    I was sorry to hear about your son's accident and glad he is okay. I worry about my son driving he is 19 but he is very sensible and always calls when he leaves or arrives at his destinations which is good. This is the hard part of being a parent when they finally leave the nest.
    I would love to read some posts on saving money on bathroom, toiletry products, face creams, soaps etc. and any other tips in that area.
    I love all your posts you write very well.
    My tea cosy for the swap is coming along now, it has sort of been a design as I go along. Should have it finished by the weekend to send early next week to my swap partner.
    Take care, regards from Liz

  3. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    you're doing just fine.....ofcourse I have not been reading your blog as long as others may have, so I don't find you repeating. Every morning, I read your blog..usually with pencil and paper to write down the words I may later look up in my Webster's. You may not realize it but actually beside everything else I learn from your blog you are actually "homescholing" me. You didn't know that now did you. It's a great way to keep practicing my English as I do not get to talk it daily.
    Your blog - is one of the two that I read daily - that have given me more peace with the life I am living ; a far more greater inner contentment. Thank you fot that.Beside that I realize that I can still make more changes in my every day life. And I just love everything you post about your garden and the beautiful picture of it.
    Now what I have been wanting to ask but haven't dared......what do you do with dish cloths (hope you won't LOL!!!. Of course I can translate it.....and think I know what they are used for.....but I'm not sure. Are they always knitted or crocheted from cotton???
    Hugs from Holland and thanks again for all the sharing,

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    I would be interested to know more about you're change of attitude towards your daily tasks, from getting through the daily chores so you could enjoy yourself, to thriving on them as you do now. I wonder did this coincide with children leaving home or hubbie retiring, with possibly more input from him, perhaps a sense of combined effort?

    I personally find my attitudes to life and the way I live it have changed dramatically in the past few years. The more of the simple life I lead the more I feel deeply satisfied, yet I still struggle at times seeing my DH so stressed from his job. We're working towards his early retirement, oh, so hopefully in two years.

    Our young adult daughters at home also don't really know what it takes to be wholly responsible for a home, despite being given plenty of practice. I still have to remind them to do things all the time (one has ADD which is the greater source of constant frustration). Being fussy eaters, despite relishing some, reject a lot of the meals I provide from our lovely home grown vegies. Combined with their lifestyle of burning the candle at both ends, I end up feeling taken advantage of and resentful, that at thier ages I have to work so hard at parenting. Surely I've done my bit by now.

    So, does it just get easier/more pleasant without all of that? What was your experience? What forces do you feel lead you to have the change of attitude? I'm very interested to know.

    Regards, Marilyn

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    "They might not have been there all the time, but they have dotted my life trying to point me to the place I am right now. I'm a slow learner sometimes but I finally got the message."

    I love the message there in those sentences, very well put. It suits a lot of things in my life as well.

    Thanks for the great blog, I enjoy checking in daily :)


  6. I really like those quiet moments and I just recently came across this article here which says how knitting and crocheting can bring you into a meditative state like yoga and so on. It was very interesting. I really like reading all your posts. You tend to cover things I'm interested in in some form or another. If I had to pick something though I would say the canning. I never did it before and I find I'm a little unsure of the whole process. I think I could sus out recipes ok but the actual canning part I'm not sure of the best way to do it. The best and simplest ways with hopefully not a lot of expensive equipment. That's just a suggestion though so please do write what you like. I really do enjoy the blog so much as it is.

  7. Rhonda,

    As a Canuck you can never go wrong blogging about the weather... especially given the drought conditions Australia has been facing; it's uplifting reading about all the rain the lands are getting. But I'm not sure if all your readers would appreciate a daily weather update.

    I would love to hear about your local fauna and flora -- help me get through our dreary winter weather. Most of Canada today has been hit with a blast of frigid Arctic air -- see what I mean about talking about the weather? lol

    All joking aside, I love reading about your work in the garden. I would love to hear more about your aquaponics -- when will the fishies be ready to eat? Or will they not be a food source? I know you're vegetarian but do you count fish as 'meat' -- some vegetarians I know, eat fish, hence why I am asking.

    I'm curious to know about the materials you use for your knitting/crochet projects. Do you purchase them from a local store or big box? Is it difficult to find nice wools, cotton yarns etc...I'm stuck with big box stores here which annoys me to know end. Do you find your yarns in op-shops? Do you prefer a particular brand of yarn over another? Do you own purchase Australian, or can you find imported yarns?

    What else? I agree with Liz Allen about toiletry products. I believe you mentioned you use home made shampoo and soap; what about face creams and the like? Do you make your own or have you found a more earth friendly product?

    What's on your reading list? Do you mostly read about simplifying your life or do you enjoy a good work of fiction? Perhaps you read some great Australian authors that you feel the rest of blogland should know about?

    I could probably go on about all sorts of things, that to me, would be fascinating...but well....whatever you write I will continue to read. Your blog is the first one I read when I get home from work.

    Take care,

  8. What a wonderful title, Rhonda Jean. I love thinking about our lifestyles this way.

    And I completely understand about the occasional day when you sit in front of the computer and draw a blank. I've done that a few times! Though sometimes I find that is when I create the best posts ; ). I don't have any suggestions for you really, other than to keep doing what you're doing!

  9. P.S. I'm so glad your son is ok.

  10. Hi Rhonda-I would love more recipes for shampoos and lotions. We also enjoy hearing about the animals, the gardening and the foods (BTW do you have a recipe for a Pavlova-I have heard about them since I was a kid and have never seen one). It is refreshing and such a great way to slowly change the way we live-to live more slowly and carefully when we read your blog. Hugs

  11. I like the suggestion about recipes for shampoos and lotions...

    Also, maybe some tips for simple living in an apartment? What to do if you don't have a garden, don't have hens, etc, etc. Fx. I am considering petitioning my association for the right to have window boxes, but I don't know what I should plant in them--what would be most useful. Tomatoes? Fresh herbs? Herbs are expensive, but nothing tastes as good as a homegrown tomato! And part of me wants flowers. :-)

    Also more recipes for canning!

  12. Hi Rhonda Jean, wow it sounds like you have a pretty busy day. I found your blog through another one and really love it. Didn't I see you commenting on Jewel's blog too a while ago ??? She closed it now so I can't read her posts anymore. I would love to, but sadly I didn't get the chance to mail her. Are you still in touch ???
    I hope all the things you've planned go well. Have a fantastic day. Greetings from The Netherlands !!

  13. I enjoy your take on living, just being in the country is still my dream..things ARE different there, they feel different, smell different, you DO live differently than when you are in town. I live in a small type town, so that has helped me to be able to have a larger garden than a city person. But living on the corner "right out there" you feel exposed, and watched. So many of the things, that I also love, involve landscaping. And I love the way it looks too, but takes away from the veggie garden, although I do incorporate my herbs and even some vegetables into my other "garden" areas. So, hence...I love reading about your living in the country in general. What the sky looks like, maybe some pictures of sunsets, more of your gardens too.etc....Of course I am a painter too, so am always looking at colors...ha ha...but love the country side in general. So you are inspiring just in what you have been writing. As far as appreciating the mundane more, I would have to agree, and for me that came after the kids left, and now being a grandma, and home more, I too, do some housework and then knit, or sew, or am on computer. I am getting ready now to learn tapestry weaving. A dream of mine. And pulling out my paints to do canvas work..so I am never not busy by any means. Taking advantage of time while my painting for homes and businesses is slow.. Thanks Rhonda Jean..you are an inspiration, and a sweet heart!! C

  14. Hello from the Southern USA! I just found your blog a week or so ago, and I love it. I printed out several of your posts on stockpiling food, as I have two always-hungry teens and grocery prices in the US are rising pretty rapidly. I'm going to use some of your ideas. I was thinking about what I'd like to read in your blog, and the answer is . . everything that Maggie asked about in her post :)
    Nita in SC

  15. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I was wondering if you would mind if I stole your title and made a cross-stitch with it? It fills me with a wonderful feeling of 'warm fuzzies'. lol
    Your blog is my homepage. I just can't get enough of your wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing. I've yet to come across any information on your worm farm (maybe I'm just not looking in the right place?)but I'd love to learn more about that.
    By the way, my kids (2 boys, 10&12) ask me every day what Rhonda Jean has to say. They love you and you remind them of their Grandma. (we lost her 3 1/2 years ago) They ask me how Hanno and 'the boys' are as well. lol We were all very happy to know that Kerry wasn't seriously injured in his accident.
    We are far away in Canada but you and your family feel like family to us. Thanks again for all you do. When I think of you, I think of a 'gentle soul'.
    God bless you,

  16. I agree with everything everyone has said. Your blog is just so calming and relaxing! I, too, would like to see more of your garden and more of the area in which you live. Photos of the forest you live near and the countryside maybe or photos from your drive to work. I'd like to hear how you keep clutter from taking over your home and maybe give us some tips on keeping order in a home with kids! Thanks for what you do!


  17. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I would like to know how to save seed. How much extra do you plant in your garden so some go to seed? How do you dry them and store them? I will be buying from an heirloom website this year since I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I wonder if all these years I haven't been saving them wrong, they're just genetically made to self-destruct after one season! Also, I've switched to all of your cleaning products, but have read that water containing Borax should not be thrown out in the garden. What is the problem with Borax? Should I be using it if I have a dry well since it will end up in the ground anyway? Thanks for your inspiration and all the effort you put into your blog, it is appreciated! Good news on Kerry. A frightening lesson, but a lesson just the same - to all of us.

  18. Hi suzen, there is much to be said for the ordinary, isn't there.

    Hi Liz, thank you for your offer of help. I might take you up on that. I'm pretty sure I have your email address. I've put your ideas for posts on my list and will do something soon.

    Yay Ingeborg! I'm pleased to know I'm helping you with your English. Remember that Websters is an American dictionary and as such will contain slightly different spelling for some of the words I use.

    Hi Marilyn, I dealt with your request today.

    Geoff, I'm so pleased to know you're still visitng. I really miss the other place, especially our conversations in the secret cave.

    Rabbit, thanks for that link, it was very interesting. I've felt that relaxation that knitting brings. I think it's quite pronouced so it was interesting to read the article about it.

    Thaks Maggie, I've added your thoughts to the list. : - )

    Hi Melinda, I agree that a blank state sometimes produces good work, but it also tends to waste a bit of time for me. My brain isn't as imaginative as it once was. ; )

    Hello Sharon, my lovely friend. I have quite a few eggs here so I'll make a pavlova for you and post a photo and the recipe soon.

    Hi Rebekka, I've added your request to the list. Thanks for your input.

    Hello Monique, yes I was one of Jewle's many readers. We do still email at times. I'm waiting for an answer to one now, so I might be able to update you soon. Jewels and family have recently moved to a new home and is settling in. Hopefully she will return to her blog when they are well settled and she is rested.

    Cynthia, thank you. I'll write soon about my take on living in various places while living simply. I'll also try for more photos of landscape.

    Hi Nita, welcome. I've noted your request. : - )

    Karen, of course you may use the title to cross stitch. What a lovely thing to do! I have no grandchildren, so it's nice knowing I have a couple of boys over there who are reminded of their own dear grandma. Hi boys! I read your comment to Hanno, he said hello too.

    Hello Kristina, I've added decluttering and keeping a tidy home with kids to the list. Thank you.

    Hi Meri, seed saving is on the list. Thanks for your comment.

  19. Hello Rhonda Jean~ I loved reading your article on "mending and repairing"; it reminded me of all the mending done by my Mother and Nana in years gone by and of the love that goes into each tiny stitch. Doing those mundane tasks is what gives "life" to the love we talk about having for our family.
    I appreciate your openness of talking about the "unremarkable"; those moments in our days that we can choose to see with new eyes, the ordinary gifts we give to our loved ones as we scrub the bath and make the soup.
    Blessings to you and your dear family. Give your son a hug from all of us in blogland!

  20. Hi Rhonda, Love your blog heaps and regularly visit. I am "Still at Home"'s litte sister, but not so young! I would love to learn more about making Shampoo/conditioner too - especially if you have longer hair. Also last night when washing the dishes ( a very dirty fry pan) I was thinking, what kind of washing detergent, scourer , sponges and cloths are good to use in the kitchen that work well and are also kind to the environment? Looking forward to all your future blogs . Best wishes

  21. I must add to the list of those who love your blog. I find it inspires me to get up and do some housework!!!!
    As for things for you to write about.....I agree with most of what others have said, but could you tell us more about the books you love....fiction and non-fiction...!

  22. I also look forward to reading your blog every day. I've often wondered what you use for skin care products. Your photo shows you have lovely skin, so what is your secret?

    I noticed that quite a few of the commenters on this post are Canadian. Me too! And that blast of arctic air someone mentioned has turned into a real snow storm. I had to leave work early today because of the bad roads. Hard to image that it's actually summer for you!

  23. I love the simple gift ideas. We're being more frugal and seeking to live more simply but while I want to make gifts such as soaps and scrubs, I don't want people to think we're cheap because we can afford to do otherwise, if you know what I mean?

  24. Love those local photos, what great views!! We're remodeling so constantly making choices between how best to spend the money we've budgeted for this. The updates are carefully chosen as necessary for re-sell value and to improve the comfort and usefulness of the house for the next 5-10 years before we anticipate being ready to downsize in a new locale. So I'm always interested in reading about choosing durable items that remain classic and stylish.

    Another topic is about destashing and getting ready for that downsizing that we look forward to. It's been pretty easy to choose among the practical items, but I've put together a "retirement savings" worth of yarn and fabric and other materials, most bought at thrift shops where I find a hard-to-resist amount of available materials (and I try to avoid those places now!). You would be amazed at how many nice, 100% linen dresses I've picked up for a couple of dollars, and suede shorts (shorts!) I got for fifty cents each, waiting to become nice handbags for myself and a friend. And then there are the books...

    Anyway, how to choose, ways to use and re-use, and a continuation of encouragement to enjoy each day's fullness are welcome topics to read about. Some of us readers aren't young folks just learning but the reminders are still nice to read about too. Thanks.


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