Tuesday, April 27

mountain dwellin'

i haven't stopped in a week, but we're finally in the house... it's a good sort of tired, satisfied....

if i don't share some pics i'm going to be hunted down so here are a few of the first night and the 2nd day with the Wildflower in the kitchen. not very interesting, but it's a taste

kitchen/dining - wood cooker in back
flue needs connecting, doors need painting, splashback needs tiling...

back wall of living room
yes, we went red! but looks brighter in pic
stove needs flue, need more furniture

i've been too excited to sit down. i've waited so long to nest, really nest. so i'm putting up pictures and organising my kitchen cupboards... lurve organising cupboards, i'm not alone there, right?

living room, view into dining room
red space on wall for flat screen telly (roll eyes)

still lots to do. and the water pump is misbehaving, but we're beyond happy to be in.

poor Wildflower though, a whole new environment to accustom to - a few bruises, hurt toes, including falling down the main stairs (3rd one down) and hitting her head hard. she has adjusted perfectly well otherwise. as long as she had me in her line of vision on the first night she was fine. since then, no problems.

her favourite is the outside.... especially the stones to shovel into her bucket.

 yes, that's an Amazon book box bottom right

i'm only on a usb mobile connection for the forseeable future, so my time online is severely restricted. i just can't visit as many of you as i normally do, please forgive me for that. i tried visiting two blogs - one took too long to download, the other had word verification (HATE) that completely killed me off.

i'll keep posting here though, to update friends, and for myself of course (but MAN, uploading pics is taking me a lifetime), and i will visit you guys when i can. at the very least i'll read as much aspossible via my feedreader. i can't imagine not knowing what you're all up to.

Friday, April 23

on the move

our set moving day was tomorrow, but the weather decided we ought to move today. the moment husband arrived with the van (thanks Steve!) it started to sprinkle rain. but the forecast is for a thundery weekend so while i was still half asleep this morning i suggested we just go for it.

because we don't need to be out until tomorrow, we can leave small boxes and return tomorrow to take up the last things on our own, and clean up.

three of our friends popped round to help, so all the big items have gone. the boys are up there now unloading. i'm here in a chaotic mess, with the Wildflower who is too disrupted with the break in routine to nap, just yet.

i'm crossing my fingers that the rain holds off as they have to make their way up a slippery ramp with heavy furniture (we need to build stairs)

i can't believe i'll have no broadband after today, i haven't even organised that dongle thingy so not sure when i'll be around again. i'm using up the last of this month's bandwidth watching art videos, taking a break for my poor unfit body.

can't believe after 2 years of building that we'll be sleeping in our little casita tonight....

 back view

Wednesday, April 21

soup & sunshine & stuff

say it with me - yipee yahooo, we got sunshine today, and lots of it. i'm washing like crazy, airing out boxes and just about every bit &bob, getting the last of the musty-moldy smell out of everything.

i'm aiming for today to be the penultimate packing day, leaving the kitchen and we-need-this-to-the-very-last-minute stuff for Thursday or Friday morn.

clearing out the freezer is just one of those jobs we all do when moving isn't it? so i decided to make soup with the last of my homemade chicken stock*. the weather is still mild enough for soup. and i loooove soup.

roasted cauliflower soup

cauliflower - into florets
carrots - chunks
onions - halved
garlic - unpeeled
olive oil
3 parts chicken stock 1 part water

drizzle olive oil over the veg and roast at 180C for about 30-40mins, until lightly browned.
peel the garlic.
add veg to a pot of water. (i usually leave cauliflower for last 5 mins but doesn't matter)
simmer gently until veg are soft through (about 15 mins).
blend/puree well.
add flavourings.
add stock.
simmer for 5 mins.
adjust water/stock for desired consistency.

ground nutmeg
salt & black pepper
curry powder
ground thai spice mix
bay leaves
fresh thyme (anything but fresh herbs in quick-cooking soups is usually a big mistake)
dollop of thick cream or creme fraiche
roast potatoes for heartier soup

so easy and tasty.

earth day crafts @ crafty crow
facecash replacing the credit card?
I'm not anti-Facebook at all, it's a great tool, but you have to remain vigilant and speak up.
mother gives pot to son with autism
well-done meat causes cancer
10-yr-old pregnancy and abortion debate

* turned out to be pork stock... labels friends, labels...... worked out nicely anyway.

Tuesday, April 20

house, a dongle & links

Our apartment is such a chaotic mess... but for a great reason... we're on the move!

We have a water pump for the well so we have running water, also hot water, electricity, gas hob, underfloor heating, flushing toilets, shower, mostly decorated, so despite still lots to do it's totally livable. I promise I'll post pics after we're settled in.

We're supposed to be out this Saturday, and over the last few weeks we have been moving boxes and stuff up to the house. So on the last couple of days it means we'll just have furniture mostly.

It's been raining and raining and raining... and we could do with a day of sun to air out some items... and hopefully have dry weather for the move itself.

take out drawers and it's practically an invitation to a kid

The satellite guys found that we couldn't get a signal from the main signal-giving-thingy, and the 2nd possibility is erm.. turned off.... sooooo I might get proper internet access in the nearish future because we've heard they'll be turning on that 2nd one soon.

Or, I'll be sticking with an internet dongle connection.

Yes, yes, I have hyperventilated. It means a slooooow connection, minimal bandwidth.... no video uploads or downloads, reduced surfing... argh. But, the good news is that because of technology, I will remain connected with friends - still blogging and (selective) bloghopping, and emailing. And fingers crossed the main connection is turned on, and we convince the satellite guys to return to us (moaning gits).

and some linky love...
Agree completely on her take on children's health checks & those boxes.
Lisa from 5 Orange Potatoes is running the Outdoor Challenge. I'm not participating myself, but love the idea.
I'm going to try Ruth's easy Sun Cake for the Summer Solstice.
Simple and effective adult acne advice from Lisa.
Carin makes a creative space of her own.
A lovely spot at bluebirdbaby.

Kids learn math easily (HT Tara)
A place to search for photos.
100 ways to screw up your life
Study says - marriage does little for child development
To stay or go - so many friends recently chatting about relocating.
Primark (UK) pulls padded bikinis aimed at girls - thanks for that.

Liked this TED talk..

And don't forget it's Earth Day on Thursday. Contrived? yes. Still worthwhile? yes.

Saturday, April 17

she's two

i don't know how many parents i've heard say... can't believe s/he is 1/2/3/4/5/etc... but it's just so true. it goes by lightning quick. i swear i brought her home just a few months ago... and that she crawled just last month... and said her first word yesterday....

but not so... she's 2 and talking fabulously and running around like a ball of fire and full of life and sooo affectionate and knows her own mind and is just beautiful.

we went to a big toy shop across the bay, looking for her first tricycle but only came out with hoola hoops! fortunately though, because we bumped into friends who offered us their son's discarded one. so we still have a big present to buy her. before that we dragged her around hardware shops looking for kitchen tiles... at least the mirrors were fun. she even said happy birthday to herself, which was particularly hilarious as we had only said it once this morning (not making too much of a big deal of the thing because her party isn't for another 2 weeks, due to house move and all)

look at that crazy dreaded hair!

then we were enticed by the same friends to go to a new shopping area in the gorgeous seaside town of Kotor. and there they had a large play area for kids and she had a blast.

 your favourite thing ever... balls!

she played a lovely game of sorting sugar packets with their son as we had coffee. we all had some ice cream. then we walked in the old town for a bit, then home. turned out a lovely day and even the weather behaved.

we even managed to choose some kitchen tiles, no small task here.

Thursday, April 15

Thankful Anyway Thursday

It's easy to be thankful for the good stuff, can you be thankful for the not so good?
(as serious or light-hearted as you like)
read more here

I bought a simple inexpensive locket when we visited UK last November. In it I placed my gorgeous Wildflower's lock of hair, from her dedication ceremony.

Last week, as I packed boxes for our move, it came off, somehow. She walked into the room playing with the locket.... open... the lock of hair nowhere to be seen.

I cried and cried. I was feeling emotional already.
And then she came to hug her crying mama, and we held each other.

Would I like it back? Yes.... but....

I'm thankful anyway because...
...last year I discovered my most powerful capacity for letting go, this tested me and I passed.
...as Husband crawled around looking for the hair, I felt loved and my emotions validated.
...when I had finished grieving I knew that it was, ultimately, only a material thing.
...I was reminded that all that is priceless in this world, I already have, and it can't be taken and it can't be lost.

Friday, April 9

finally, Spring arrived... inside

The Winter hibernation and recent melancholoy postponed Spring for me. Despite that new shoots were rising and the weather was warming up.

My body is out of sync with the moon. My moontime a whole week early. This is a sure sign of my inner turmoil. When what I am doing is out of sync with what I am feeling or intuiting, my body responds.

But colour and light are pushing forth. Yesterday I smiled big smiles.

As a person who prefers to get on with everyone, but is choosy about close friends, I have been incredibly uncomfortable being in a situation where my choices are limited (as it is for everyone else here). As well as the added pressure of doing all this for others, and of not rocking the boat.

For me, a Saggitarius Moon, it feels claustrophobic. I have a desire to spread my wings. And to do so honestly. I expect honesty from others, naively so. I'm the worst around underhandedness or duplicitous behaviour - those that come across as friends but undermine who you are, your choices, your closest relationships.

And if someone is to dislike me, I'm comfortable with that, as long as they dislike me with respect, and preferrably (my Libran side asks) with some justification.

Some people are bitter about their life choices, or being different, or not being the centre of attention.... or it's simple selfish frustration at others not fitting in with your life..... or they are so insecure that they boost their good feelings by feeding off the sadness or misfortunes of others. 'your life sucks in x way? great, makes me feel extra smug for x thing'.

I genuinely wish others around me well. Other people's good or bad fortune isn't about me. So I am always dismayed when I find someone who operates in that way. Who has literally fed off my misfortunes. Perhaps they are conscious of it or not, but they do it.

Then there are those that are so insecure that they are threatened by a strong woman who has made such drastically different choices, and the only way they can feel better about themselves is to mock those choices. Because if those choices are ridiculed and others join them in that, their own life choices are defended.

 my visual journal - Soar

As I was saying to my good friends recently, I don't believe in being a victim. Another friend used the perfect term 'co-creator of my life'. I have taken time to look at how I have contributed. Moaning about my circumstances to one of my old friends would have been taken completely differently - just a moan. Here, it has been used as evidence of my supposedly stupid choices. Or thrown back in my face by sharing in return how great their own life is in that same area. This is not friendship.

Most importantly, is needing to talk so much, and being a generally open person, and wanting to satisfy other people's social needs, that I left myself vulnerable, looking as if I were weak, a doormat even, a fool. Either I opened up too much or kept my mouth shut for the sake of peace. Even when my intuition told me otherwise.

When I describe this to my old friends they are shocked. They view me as strong, confident, powerful, formidable even at times, but still caring and compassionate

I can't do anything about the circumstances of my life as such, nor about other people's personalities and hang-ups. But I do have some control over how I present myself. In my sleep-deprived vulnerability I have, unwittingly, presented myself as pliable and a sacrificing mother. And have dropped bounderies that were never mutual.

I may have moments of naivity, but I am rock solid in who I am and what is right for me, and for my child. I have been made to feel uncomfortable, uneasy, even upset. But I can't be shaken, or made to doubt myself.
My sense of social justice makes me angry knowing that another less secure person or mother would be made to doubt herself and thereby be more influenced away from her natural instincts.

As for mothering. Spending my whole time with my child has been difficult, because I'm not a natural mother and because of the lack of sleep. I will never deny that to others or myself.
Yet I wouldn't change one second of it (except more sleep, yes, more of that please). I mean I would never have had it, or continue to have it for the forseeable future, any other way. It isn't for everyone, but it has been right for us.
I have raised my own child, I haven't missed anything, I have given her the securest base a child could have of being loved. She will never be 3 months old, or a year old, or 2 years old ever again. It has all been mine, and it's been a privilege.

I hope to still get on with others here. It's still my character to want that. But not if it compromises who I am, or jeopardises my family in any way. And all relationships require their bounderies. Sometimes defining the right one for both sides is all it takes for harmony. Other relationships require time to find their balance... or to be eventually let go.

But I began this post mentioning how out-of-sync I was. I have been ill for about 2 weeks. A cold that started in my head and shifted to my chest. A terrible cough - signifying my need to get something off my chest. And then my misaligned moontime that usually visits at every dark moon.

And that's the crux of what I want to share with you. How when we don't listen to our intuitions, or when we attempt to live life according to other people's needs, or when we compromise too much, or when we leave ourselves open to emotional attack, or when we concern ourselves too much with fitting in, we fall out of line with the natural way of things. The flow of living is halted or misdirected. And it becomes a ripple effect. Affecting every other piece of our lives. Including those of our loved ones.

And we can feel like victims... but there is always something we can do. Even if it's simply to believe and stand strong in the truth and worth of who we are.

Wednesday, April 7

egg hunt + tribes

As you know we don't do Easter around here, but we did participate in an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Our little tribe of expats is keen on creating rituals and traditions for our children. We are a community by default, and they will grow up knowing they have a unique connection to these other expat kids.

So the turning of the seasons and some mainstream celebrations seem natural and obvious choices to bring us together in a special way.

I'm interested in holding a Summer Solstice celebration. One of the other gals decided to throw together an Easter egg hunt. It was sweet fun for everyone. And she made hot-cross bun,s which we can't find here in Montenegro. YUMMO! And the weather was gently warm and sunny.

I was still recovering from a bad cold, but didn't want the Wildflower to miss out. I'm suprised that, although dishevelled, I don't look a fright in the pic.

She, having watched Maisy dvds, had a good idea about the concept of finding hidden eggs. So she was all up for it. When I talked about it on the way, I said, "we're going to look for eggs, they're hiding". And she pipes up with... "in the shrub!"
She cracks me up what she hears and picks up.

And thanks for crossing your fingers for us... we got the plumber up there yesterday and back today. phew

Now, I just need internet access.... which involves buying our own satellite equipment because they simply stopped doing the whole package down in this town. And while we're prepared to pay for the whole get-up, we need to convince the installers from up North to actually make the trip down here to the coast to do the job. We've been waiting about a month. I told Husband to mention a cold beer to them. Honestly, it's how it works here.

Monday, April 5

what we've been reading...


I read A Fine Balance (Amazon.com) (Amazon UK). I liked it and would read another of his. But the level of tragic events became somewhat farcical. To the point where I began to disengage, and by the ending it was more - yes, naturally, rather than poor people! I've been to India and know that some of this is very real.

Yet, if it could go wrong, it did. Dickens for the modern age. The tragedy and the caricatures. It wasn't predictable in specifics, just that after a certain point you knew that each event or idea was going to fail. You can't fault Mistry's pace though. Although I did put it down for a week, I can't say it was ever dull.

He handles characters very well. Despite there being a plethora of secondary characters, and countless stories within stories, there are only four main characters. So it manages to not get confusing.

My favourite aspect though, was that despite the tragedy, misery, and often truly horrendous stories, Mistry manages to inject humour throughout it all. So unless you miss the subtle comedy, it's never actually depressing, not for long anyway, and it never mocks where it matters. I do think this is a mark of genius in him.

Yeah, I do recommend it. But not as a Summer read or when you're down in the dumps!


Followed that up with The Book Thief (Amazon.com) (Amazon UK). At first, the format was a little annoying. Seems the author was tring too hard to be innovative. It didn't take long for me to get on board with it though.

You see, we're constantly told what's coming up, usually in a bullet-point fashion. I don't mind this as such, what happens to lead up to a climactic event is the real story, right? The bullet points seemed gimmicky, but I ended up curious as to how the next section was going to be outlined.

It's an easy read and suited to young adults. Difficult not to think of Anne Frank. What with reading and writing taking centre stage, Nazi Germany, hiding Jews, a found memoir. Except this time the young girl is a German, and the story is told by Death.

The language was intriguing. I often loved it - gorgeous play with words and imagery. I often cringed - too many contrived mixed metaphors.

For well-read adults it's all quite cliched, obvious, and occassionally monotonous. But even I found it lightly enjoyable and wanted to know the ending. I would recommend it if you can borrow it. I would be happy for a young adult I knew to read this.

Just can't afford to buy this month's Book Club titles. Let me know if you have or will read it, I'm interested in both.

The Wildflower really enjoys Hush! A Thai Lullaby (Amazon.com) (Amazon UK)

I like it as well. Lots of animals and animal sounds to make (some are not usual to American or British sounds). Plenty of repetition and interesting art work, which looks like rice paper collage. I highly recommend this one.

Just thought I would throw in the last thing I listened to...

Don't mind me a littl' blue grass now and then.

We're sloooowly moving boxes up to the new house. *GRIN* But pleeease universe, could we get just ONE plumber to come and do the final fitting! argh
You'll cross your fingers for us right?

Thursday, April 1

life so far...

I wanted to do a March in Review but I have zero photos. Besides a few of the Wildflower, I don't think I've taken much more (or any!) these last 2-3 months.

So let me fill you in on what's happening around these parts.

I had an emotionally up and down time for a while there, but the end of the cycle saw everything level out. Had to sort out a couple of sticky situations, but now they are sorted out, in the main. What matters is that me, Wildflower, and Husband, are happy and content.

Mon's visual journal - friendship (dedicated to Jenn)

We can see the end of the house build. The kitchen was put in yesterday and the final fix of the plumbing should be done by beginning of next week. (you know you're not Christian when... you ask what day Easter is... ahem)
Our move in date is set for 3-4 weeks. Oh, and the leak seems to have been fixed!

I still don't know whether I can get internet access up there. I would add an exclamation point to that statement but I'm too shocked and anxious to do so.
The guys to fit the satellite were supposed to come last month.... then it rained....now they're just not answering their phones. No idea what's going on.
Unfortunately, because we're so high and far, we have only one company to go with. Obviously that's not ideal....but if they would just ARRIVE!! argh

Money - sigh - not a subject I'm comfortable with, but facts are facts. We've been tight since last July. But it has become tighter still. I'm not complaining though, because we can see hope, and so many can't. By August we should be alright. And if Husband does well with work this tourist season we'll be just fine. But right now things aren't pleasant. And it causes more stress than I like. Husband being the Provider, feels it acutely. I was fairly complacent about money BC, but now with a little one it's not such a comfortable feeling to be cutting so many corners. I haven't bought a book in 3 months I think. shock horror
I've cut my own hair for months so that I can buy some tubes of paint.... I know... crazy.

 Mon's visual journal

On that note, creating on a tight budget makes one even more creative. Really. I've had to do more things by hand, or come up with unusual materials or techniques. So I've enjoyed that. But yes, I would like to be able to buy some more supplies now. BUT I am still creating, and finding so much contentment in that.

Our oven works when it wants to... so baking has been on a hiatus. I have frozen blueberries just itching to become muffin-bound.

We're all currently ill with mild colds. No biggie, and the Wildflower was over the worst in 48hrs. Have I told you how much I love Echinacea?

Colds, alternating sunny and drizzly weather, and some lingering Wintry introspection, a couple of dark clouds hovering over us, means that I'm not really feeling the Spring energy.

But the season has arrived. And I have done some decluttering in Spring-like fashion. How I could have anything left to declutter at this stage is amazing. But we were given some clothes for the Wildflower and she has many items she's outgrown, so it's great to be bagging them up for the next baby.

So all in all a little bumpy and anxious, but happy where it matters, and with lots of hope ahead for the other stuff.