Creating a safe haven

27 October 2022
For the past 25 years, I've lived here in a very slow lane. I've often written about closing the gate on the outside world so we could remain oblivious to what was happening out there. On our side of the gate every day brought challenges on how to fix the soil, work with compost and think about how many chickens make the ideal flock. We planted fruit, herbs and vegetables, collected eggs and shared what we had with others. We were always less concerned with what was happening 'outside' because on our side of the gate, days were full of interesting and unusual projects and the promise of that continuing tomorrow.
 
 
 
I wrote about feeling safe and secure, of having time to enjoy what I'm doing and a growing appreciation of being able to learn traditional skills to help me carry out my work here. And sometimes I wrote about the quietness of my home, hearing the neighbourhood sounds, a train in the distance, welcoming migrating birds back each year. It was such a peaceful and enriching life.
 

 
My dish cloth and tea towel drawer. 

You may be surprised to learn I was quite chaotic when I was younger but over the years I discovered the benefits of being slower and more mindful. I mellowed a lot and relaxed into home life and what it gave me. Eventually, everything flowed and I had time to enjoy the process, ignore what was happening online or on TV and to make plans to live a more traditional and bespoke life. I smiled a lot, especially when I was alone.
 

 

It felt like that existence shattered when Hanno died and I wasn't sure if I would still feel that my home was a safe haven. Last week, I turned that corner. I've been working in my home every day since Hanno died. With no real plan or definite ideas about what the future holds for me, I've been establishing new routines, organising things to suit me and not 'us' and I slowly worked to put life back together, piece by piece.  I'm happy to tell you I feel I'm almost there. Of course, there is a deep sadness I feel every day and I doubt that will go but I also feel optimistic, strong and independent.


These pastries are the easiest you'll ever make. I'll show you how in a future post. 
 
 
And I think that for me, although I had those initial doubts about the veracity of my safe haven, I've proven that home does have the ability to nurture and restore. My home wrapped itself around me well before Hanno died. It welcomed me back every day I visited him and it made me feel comfortable and safe, even with him gone. Over the years I've put a lot into my home. I wanted it to look after us and everyone who visited us and it's safe to say now that it's paid me back for every repair we ever did here, every floor I moped, every toilet I cleaned, every painted wall, solar panel  and water tank we added.
 

 
Circa 1980s and 90s - a collection of old recipes I'd collected were among the many things that rode out of here in the rubbish bin.
 

This has been the worst year of my life but I'm pleased to say that even though I'll be 75 years old next April, I feel stronger and more determined than I ever have before. I have plans to paint, write, tend my garden, cook, rest and think out there, on the verandah, with Gracie. I don't know what I'll do tomorrow, but it will be very similar to what I did today because that is what life is all about - rituals, routines and repetition.  I'll cook food, make the bed, clean up, make a batch of laundry liquid, put things in place and whether these things are done for necessity or love, it is all a part of homemaking that over the years helped create a safe haven that was here when I needed it most.

61 comments

  1. A beautiful post Rhonda. This made me teary. I feel the similar about our little home. Though we live in perhaps the most uncertain times in my adult life so far, I get such comfort from our life here on the farm. It is a buffer from the uncertainties of the world. xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a beautiful post, and may your comfortable and safe haven serve you for as long as its needed. I truly find your posts comfortably and relaxing as i read them. Thank you as always for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well done Rhonda, I can sense your peace and pleasure as your home wraps it’s arms around you. I love the thoughtful messages you send to us. Thank you. Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's always a joy to read your posts Rhonda, and something about this one resonated with me. It's refreshing to hear your thoughts on loss when so many people won't talk about it, and I'm so pleased you are finding your feet. Thank you for sharing.
    Take care. Margaret

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an oddity, Margaret. The thing that absolutely everyone will go through is death and loss of loved ones but it's difficult to discuss. Thanks for your comment. xx

      Delete
  5. Thank you for a beautiful, moving and powerful post. I love the idea of my home being a safe haven where I can escape, at least for a while, from the troubles and uncertainty of the world we live in. In one of your books you wrote 'my home mended my broken spirit' and that quote stays with me every day. It feels so validating to hear others who feel the same about 'home' as I do. I am so happy Rhonda, that you are feeling stronger and looking to the future with positivity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember the day I wrote that phrase, Carolyn. It felt as true then as it does now. xx

      Delete
  6. Rhonda I am so thankful that the home you have tended and served so well continues to be a safe haven for you. The love and care you’ve provided it comes full circle.

    I’m sure there will always be pain surrounding the loss of your beloved Hanno but I’m glad you feel you’ve turned a corner and righted your world again.

    Thank you for continuing your blog and for always sharing the realness of your life and how we too can find contentment in our ever changing lives.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That sounds really sensible to me, Rhonda. I’m only a couple of years younger than you, however after loosing our home and everything we owed in the fires on New Years Eve 2019, I have been collecting things for two years now. Actually nearly 3years now. Even things I realise I just don’t need anymore. We again have a lovely smaller home and I’m very grateful for that, however it’s time to pare down now and not keep things that we don’t or won’t use. One of the things I do miss is my recipe book, with all my basic recipes seasonal recipes. I’m not a fancy cook but I had things that I baked that my Mum and Nan used to cook and they’re gone now. Our veggie garden is smaller but quite productive and our flower garden is complete. Times are changing and it’s getting very difficult for some. That’s why your writings are so important now more than ever. We just have to get back to a simpler lifestyle. I read the other day that during the Second World War people were healthier than they are today even with food rationing. That tells us something. Anyway thanks again for sharing your life with us. I often refer back to older posts when I want a recipe or information on something.
    Many thanks Gail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gail, I can't imagine how traumatic losing your home would be. I'm pleased to know you've resettled and are getting on with life. I'm sorry you lost your family recipe book too. Can you write another version of it and add to it as years go by? Take care. xx

      Delete
  8. This is such a lovely update Rhonda, thank you for reminding me to “bloom where I’m planted xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved what you wrote today. I love smack dab in the middle of the United States but can relate to what you wrote today.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such an encouraging post. How wonderful that you feel you have reached a better place. No doubt your home is as inviting to everyone who visits as it is a comfort to you. It's good to hear how much someone else loves their routine and rituals. I find so much comfort in my day-to-day tasks. Blessings to you sweet Rhonda.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A very thoughtful and lovely post. I'm 5 years younger than you and have similar feelings about our home. I'm a minimalist but there is always things to remove if they now longer work or aren't needed.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for this post. We in the northern hemisphere are naturally turning inward to the seasons of shorter days and longer nights. This lovely post reminds me of the importance of home as a place of comfort. I also appreciate your focus on the ritual and predictability of everyday life. Although I had a very strict ritual just to get through the day, as a career driven, working person, now that I’ve retired, I have a harder time finding a day to day schedule at home that seems comfortable. Your blog reinforces the need I have to just stay home and enjoy my nest. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Rhonda. I loved your post today. I am a single person and have been for a long time. I love my home like you do. I feel joy out of the simple things I do and like so many I am living a much simpler life and love all the new things I learn. I found your blog a long time ago and you have taught me such a lot, thank you. I look forward to your next post. Take care as always. Robyn

    ReplyDelete
  14. Rhonda, I do appreciate you taking the time to blog about this stage of your life. I've followed you and Hanno for years, while our kiddies were little and when we homeschooled and now hubby hitting 60 we are gearing up for our next stage in life. Your writing is important. Thank you for sharing your hardest year with us xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember you well, Leanne. You were on the forum and have been in my comments for years. I hope life is good for you. xx

      Delete
  15. Thank you for this beautiful post.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Losing your partner is such an adjustment and your grief my dear is justified. I love all the pictures you post, as I want to be you someday. I live a chaotic life and yearn to slow down. Hang in there friend you still have a lot to offer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This post is so beautiful. I'm happy you are adjusting to your new life. I so enjoy reading all of your posts and am pleased that you are continuing with them. Thank you for all you have given us.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Such a wonderful post Rhonda, it inspires me. Thankyou

    ReplyDelete
  19. I loved reading about your huge adjustment, Rhonda. There's always a sense of wholeheartedness in your writing and daily routines, and I find that very comforting. Thanks for sharing and showing us your life.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is a beautiful and timely post Rhonda. I have been following your 'progress' closely lately. My husband is not doing so well and although I hope he will recover sufficiently well enough to stay around for a long time, it has had me thinking and perhaps preparing. It is good to see you are managing well with your grief. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  21. When people are gone we love our lives are changed forever and you never get back to the way life was when they were here. Finding a new normal and coping with life without them is very challenging. I'm glad you are putting one foot in front of the other and each day you get through you are finding your new normal. Big hugs to you Rhonda I'm so glad you have little Gracie to keep you company. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am encouraged and blessed by your post today Rhonda. May you be encouraged and blessed as well. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm glad you seem to be doing well. Your home always looks so inviting to me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've been following and enjoying your blog for awhile (I also bought a copy of Down to Earth). I haven't often commented, but I do need to share this thought with you. I started an old classic today that I've never read: The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher. Early in the book, character Penelope Keeling (a 64-year-old woman like myself) says upon returning to her home after a brief hospital stay that she was "assuaged and comforted by her surroundings, as though her house were a kindly person, and she was being embraced by loving arms." This made me think of you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen. I don't read much fiction but we certainly share the similar feelings towards our homes. Thanks for buying my book. xx

      Delete
    2. Karen, if you enjoy The Shell Seekers, you might like Coming Home by the same author. There are some lovely descriptions of home in that one as well--not so much the grand house at Nancherrow, but the Dower Cottage that Judith moves to as an adult, for sure. It's actually my favorite of Pilcher's novels.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Helena. I'm still pretty early on in The Shell Seekers, but I will keep it in mind!

      Delete
    4. I think home as a refuge is a the in Rosamund Pilcher novels. I reread The Winter Solstice each winter. I think I like it so much because of all the details of the daily rituals about the house - linen cupboards, food prepared, rooms got ready for visitors.

      Delete
    5. I think home as a refuge is a the in Rosamund Pilcher novels. I reread The Winter Solstice each winter. I think I like it so much because of all the details of the daily rituals about the house - linen cupboards, food prepared, rooms got ready for visitors.

      Delete
  25. Beautiful words Rhonda. I could feel the rhythm of your home and life wrapping around me! So happy to hear you have turned a corner and your home is still there nourishing, sustaining and healing you 💟

    ReplyDelete
  26. I loved the three, "R's" you spoke of...rituals, routines and repetition. They really are the basis of our lives, aren't they?

    Take care as you continue your three R's.
    Darlene

    ReplyDelete
  27. Such a beautiful post Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
  28. The last paragraph read like sweet poetry to me. So reassuring and peaceful. Your example of hard work, calmness, and practicality is inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Such a wonderful post. You are so strong. I love reading about the way you change your way of working in the home, to cope with all the things that happen in your life. Thank you so much for sharing ❤

    ReplyDelete
  30. What a beautiful post, Rhonda. You continue to inspire me as I get older and think about navigating the next chapter of life.

    Take care, Madeleine.X

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you so much for sharing this

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you for posting this today. I found it to be so calming and it gave me a fresh outlook on my day to day life.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What a beautiful post, Rhonda. Nancy from Northern California

    ReplyDelete
  34. What an incredible post! Thank you for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  35. What a lovely post. I'm glad your home brings you such comfort

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and feelings about your hardest year. I have just retired and am working on the purge and re-do even tho I still have teenagers in the house (guardian of 2 grands). Due to the family situation and working full time until this past July my house had really taken a back seat. I am now focused on reclaiming my space and not overlooking the pile up of other peoples stuff as well as my own. You have always been an inspiration and now more than ever you will help me find my way back to home. Thanks again for all you share-my best wishes to you. Karen from CT (junklover53 on instagram)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a big job, Karen, but whatever you can get done now will be a very useful investment in your future. I wish you the best with everything you do. xx

      Delete
  37. Beautifully written and a great reminder for us all to slow down and enjoy life as you never know what is around the corner xx❤️❤️

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hello Rhonda,
    I think this is the first time I have commented though I have read your blog for some time. I turned 64 yesterday and had a lovely day with my family. I have lived alone for many years now (apart from my dog Lucy) and am slowly but surely learning to live a more simple life (and enjoy it) than I ever did. I retired from teaching some years ago and I love pottering about at home. I also love “Vera” and as I live where the books are set, I actually had the joy of watching a take where “Vera” climbs out of a hole in the ground! Very exciting. I have also read the books and have to say that Brenda Blethyn plays “Vera” to a T.
    Best wishes from Tricia x

    ReplyDelete
  39. Dear Rhonda, when I discovered your blog a few years ago, I immediately anderstood that something was going to change in my life. I recognized myself in you, because like you I have two grown-sons (41 and 37)( and also a 27 year old daughter) , like you I have a grandson whose mother is Asian (thaï), he is 11 years old (we take care of him after school), like you I have an other grandson who is also 11 years old and his sister who is 7 years old. But I also have two other grandsons who are 5 and 3 years old.
    Now, I feel you like a friend on the other side of the world.
    I'm sad when you're sad, and I'm happy to know you're happy. My husband and I are now 66 and 65, and your blog helps me to organize a simple life and to love my house more and more.
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a lot in common Pat. How wonderful. If you find out what we'll do next, let me know. xx

      Delete
  40. It is so good to read that you are safe and comforted by your home and that all your (and Hanno's) hard work is paying off. It is especially important for those of us who are in the "making the nest strong" age to read this message. Best wishes for many more years of peace and comfort in your home.

    ReplyDelete
  41. What a beautiful and uplifting post. Of course you are very much missing your lovely other half, but knowing the comfort and peace your home brings you is granting you and your readers hope and confidence in your ability to live a good life despite loss. Your courage and generosity in sharing Your progress is so valuable. You are inspiring others in similar situations. I'm so blessed to have found such a lovely role model as yourself. I look forward to your posts and am always inspired by you. Thank you, keep writing when you feel up to it Sending you so much love and a great big squeezey hug. Xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Aisling. I'm glad you're still visiting me. xx

      Delete
  42. So much of life is routine and chores. Doing them really makes our home comfortable and it becomes an expression of ourselves. I think having a dog when you live alone is fantastic. They are so tuned into us. I have two! They are curled up on the couch right now, snoozing in front of the fireplace. Those pastries look divine. I just made a batch of chicken stock and am enjoying mugs of it throughout the day to stay warm. It has gotten very cold here in the mountains; it was in the 20's last night! Each afternoon I gather more firewood. I had two cords delivered last week. Life is calm when you are prepared. Thanks for all the lessons, Rhonda. I learned to knit because of you. I am wearing everything I made up here, in layers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I drink warm stock during winter too, Stephenie. It really does warm you up. xx

      Delete
  43. What a beautiful post Rhonda. You brought a tear to my eye when you spoke of your sadness over missing Hanno. I'm glad you are feeling stronger, you inspire me. You often put into words exactly how I feel about living a slow and simple life, but can't articulate myself. I find such contentment and pleasure in homemaking as a single mum, but I feel many others see my life as boring or lonely. Thank you for sharing and helping me feel understood and valid xx

    ReplyDelete
  44. Ohhhhhhh, thank you, Rhonda. For this dose of inspiration. I shall hug Matt tightly tonight. And I shall continue steady on to build a beautful life and sanctuary for us in our humble home. It really is a gift.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Greetings Rhonda. Long time reader who comes to your blog when I feel I need a safe place to lurk for a little a while, away from the work and life stresses. I find comfort in your writing about the simple but significant things.....always inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thank you, Rhonda. I often return to your writing when i need to feel grounded and remember what's important in my life. Again, thank you as always for sharing so generously. Kate xx

    ReplyDelete

LINKS, EMAIL ADDRESSES OR BUSINESS INFORMATION WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED.

Thank you for your comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.