I’m back. It feels weird being in our apartment again after wwoofing a week on the country-side. At least it’s finally green around here, too.
This past week was amazing and inspiring in so many ways. Initially we had planned on staying with two, maybe three different wwoof hosts. We ended up staying at Törnagården with Vanessa and Marcus the whole time. The perfect place for us.
I was pretty lousy at taking pictures. Sometimes it feels as if taking a photograph takes away something from the moment. Like you become aware that „this is a moment“ instead of just enjoying it’s existence. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I don’t have a better excuse for why I didn’t take more pictures of some of the amazing things I saw these past days. Like Törnagården itself. Like the awesome house on wheels that Marcus designed himself, and which he has been building petty much entirely from trees he himself cut down. Like the adorable baby clothes Vanessa has been knitting for the little bean that is due any day now. Like the great food she prepared for us every day. Like … you get the picture. Well, I guess you actually don’t in this case. Maybe some.
So, what have I been doing then instead of taking pictures (as I am putting together this post, I realize that I did take more pictures than I thought), and without internet for a week?
When we arrived on Wednesday, we could tell we had come to the right place by the house on wheels that was standing on the lawn in front of the house. We were greeted by two excited little bears who seemed like they could hardly pace themselves behind the fence (another proof of Marcuses‘ craftsmanship). They turned out to be Sophie and Lotte, the family dogs. A highly pregnant Vanessa pointed us to the front door, where she welcomed us warmly. After talking for a while, and Vanessa showing us around, Marcus showed up, too. He had been at his workshop (he is a finsnickare, a carpenter), where he had been – and where he would be for most of the days we were staying at Törnagården – working on a bed for the baby. With the due date rapidly approaching, this was obviously pretty high on the priority list.
They showed us around some more – the green houses, which Marcus had built from parts he found on the property, and which were featured in an åter-article; Vätte, the cow, and her calf Edgar, and the two goats, Bogart and … I forgot the other one’s name. And they obviously gave us a tour of the house on wheels.
After lunch we started getting down to business. The business of shoveling
shitmanure namely. There was a big pile of it by the hen house, and it had to be moved in order to compost. After a while, we accompanied Marcus to his workshop. After we got a tour, we started cleaning up my the saw mill till dinner.
In the evening, Marcus and Vanessa tried to separate Edgar from Vätte over night, so that we would be able to get some milk in the morning. No success, though, or at least not for us. Edgar won this one.
On Thursday we all started the day by walking the dogs by a little pond in the woods nearby, Kvarndammen („kvarn“ means mill, and there was a little water mill).
Then it was back to the workshop, more cleaning. We had lunch at Törnagården, outside in the backyard. It was windy, so the salad had to be eaten fast, but still – we were eating outside, surrounded by nature. Sitting on our balcony here in town just doesn’t measure up to that.
All four of us went to the workshop in the afternoon. Peter and I cleaned some more, Vanessa was preparing the bars of the baby bed for sanding, Marcus kept building the bed. Later Vanessa, Peter and I sat outside in the sun and sanded the bars under Marcuses‘ (justifiedly) critical supervision. We ended up sitting there until after 8 pm. That was one of the most beautiful things for me during these past days: not having a watch with me – and no clocks on the walls. Just going with the flow, letting the daylight be my guide.
After we returned to Törnagården, Marcus went straight back to the workshop, the remaining three of us went to the neighboring farm to get some milk (how cool is that?!). Vanessa made pancakes for dinner, after which we sat and talked for a while. I was very tired, and the first to go to bed.
On Friday Marcus has to attend to a project for a customer, so Peter and I stay at Törnagården and finish of moving the manure from the hen house. We also clean the hen house a little, and I have to admit that the sight of maggots in the hen poo was quite the challenge for me. But the day wasn’t all work: I lay on the trampoline in the sun for quite some time, and in the afternoon Vanessa took Peter and me to a beautiful lake. I took my first „swim“ for the year (not sure if the few seconds I could make myself stay in the coldcoldcold water count).
Saturday Marcus had to finish up Friday’s project (sadly but not unsurprisingly that ate up quite a bit more time than planned). The rest of us went to Falköping. The thrift store Vanessa was going to show us was closed but we discovered one that she hadn’t been to, either, so it was a win for all three of us. Peter bought a beautiful old alarm clock, which ticks very loudly, and which has an alarm sound that I am not too crazy about, but which I hopefully will get used to.
In the evening the four of us went over to some friends of Vanessa’s and Marcuses‘ – Tonie, who was celebrating her 30th birthday, and Fabian. It was a beautiful evening, the first barbecue of the year, lots of interesting people with interesting stories; most of them wwoof hosts and wwoofers. Peter and I felt really welcome, and not like the tags-along (is that even a word?) we actually were.
Inspired by herbal savvy Vanessa, Peter and I went to gather some herbs to take with us to Gothenburg – dandelion, lady’s mantle, nettle, raspberry leaves. Peter wants to make wine from the dandelion blossoms, I have been browsing the net this morning for all kinds of recipes, and now it looks like there is going to be a pesto fest coming up (and thus probably some recipe posts, too).
In the afternoon, Peter and I went to Bossgården, a farm we had also considered wwoofing at, and which is actually the place where Vanessa and Marcus first were wwoofers themselves. At this point, we are trying to get into as many heads as possible of people who are doing what we hopefully will be doing ourselves some day in the not too distant future. Jonas, who runs Bossgården with his wife, Sanna, was kind enough to let us pick his brains over delicious homemade sour dough bread.
On Monday, Peter and I prepared two of the green houses by weeding and fertilizing them. I think I actually enjoyed this activity the most out of all our little wwoof-projects. Who knew that digging around in the dirt with my hands might turn out to be my thing?
My pleasure of digging around in the dirt however was surpassed by the joy of meeting someone else who has been doing that on a whole different scale – and for years: In the afternoon, Vanessa Peter and I went to see a guy that had been much talked about the previous evening. He was said to be building an earthship, and that was just way too interesting not to check out. The earthship turned out much more amazing than what I had imagined (and thanks to Vanessa, I remembered to take at least some pix this time). Kevin and the story of his earth ship were also really interesting, so if you ever happen to be in the Tidaholm area, I can only recommend that you stop by. We showed up unannounced (which we had been told was ok but somehow it still felt a little weird for me anyway), one of the kids had the stomach-flue – and we were still welcomed with open arms both by Sandra and Kevin. There is so much to be said about this earth ship, and the journey Kevin and his family have been on since they started building it. I am actually thinking that it is deserving of its own post, so for now we will have to make do with some pix.
Yesterday (Tuesday), we left – after one last look at the crib.
On the way home, we stopped by Hjo, one of the three cities in Sweden that have made it their goal to preserve as many of the old buildings as possible. It was beautiful, and – again – I took way too few pictures.
I felt really lucky when I found a little brochure at the tourist information about a place that sells locally grown white asparagus just outside Hjo. That has definitely been one of the things I miss about Germany, the measly little overpriced bundles you get at the grocery store here just don’t cut it. So I got to buy expensive but hopefully delicious „real“ asparagus for once. And whaddaya know, the guy running the place turned out to be from Germany originally. Driving by the fields, and seeing the workers (from Poland judging from the license plates of the cars parked at the farm), I couldn’t help but wonder about their wages, and I started thinking about Two Caravans and It’s a Free World … And then I started to think about my own hypocrisy, for after all: what about all the people involved in the process of producing my food that I buy at the grocery store, whose faces I don’t happen to see right in front of me? …
I am beyond excited. Tomorrow we’re heading out on our second (or first official) wwoofing experience. We’ll be staying with Vanessa and Marcus at Törnagården. I spoke to Vanessa on the phone last weeks, and she sounds really nice. In fact, she IS really nice – she got us in touch with friends of hers who will take us in after our stay at Törnagården – Antonie, Fabian, and their two sons at Fridslund.
It’s amazing how I sometimes feel like everything will always stay the same. No matter how hard I struggle, nothing seems to change – and then, all of a sudden, so many things just happen. Without me struggling at all.
I have been browsing the host-section of the Swedish wwoof-site like I normally only browse on etsy. I feel so inspired. There are so many people who sound amazing, so many places that look really beautiful. This summer is going to be amazing.
This may very well be the last blog post where I can claim that I don’t know how to milk a cow …
Here’s to not struggling for change, to just letting it happen.
I did it. I quit my job. On Thursday. In a way, this was bound to happen but it was kind of out of the blue anyway since I had always imagined that I would find something I’d rather do while working.Last week I realized that that wasn’t happening, and that maybe that wasn’t the way to go about things. I remembered my former room-mate in Germany, who had quit her job because she was too discontent to continue but she knew that she wasn’t unhappy enough to do anything about it unless she had to. So she quit, and a few months later she found the perfect job.
For me the realization came during a conversation with my good friend La. I kept going on about how I really needed this to be over soon … and suddenly I realized that I could and would have to make that happen myself. Then I went through a phase of anxiety over the conversation I would have to have with my boss. I dreaded it, and almost didn’t want to quit just to avoid it. It sucks when you feel like you’re letting someone down – and it sucks even more when someone else feels like you’re letting them down, and want to make you feel guilty about it. That was honestly the reaction I was getting myself prepared for.
At the same time all these wonderful perspectives and opportunities started coming into my life as soon as I had made that decision: going wwoofing (we’ll actually start next week, though only for a few days but still), the prospect of a house, actually by now it appears that there might be two … So by Wednesday night (the night before I was going to tell my boss), I was a wreck with all these thoughts in my head. I obviously didn’t get very much sleep. I prepared myself for The Talk with some of the tips that La had given me – most of all: to not let the conversation get emotional, to be compassionate but not make my boss’s issues mine.
So, on Thursday, I went in prepared for the worst reaction. I kept telling myself that no matter how this went down, as long as I did tell her about my decision, it would be fine in the end. It would be over a month from now. And then the most amazing thing happened: my boss was completely understanding, and happy for me. We actually had a really good, personal talk.
My last working day (in this job anyway) will be June 19. Excited to find out what’s next. It looks like I might actually be able to keep the resolution I made for myself – that I do not want to celebrate my next birthday in this apartment.
I just opened my etsy-store! Finally, one loose end tied up! Yay!
I can’t shake this feeling of being all over the place. Probably because I still am. Today, I suddenly had an idea for a movie. Great. One more thing to add to the list of things I’d love to do but can’t commit to because there are too many items on that list. A few days ago I stumbled across one of those simplify-your-life-articles. It says you should make a list of what’s important to you – and cut that list down to four or five items because more than that is unrealistic. Rings true to me, I feel like I have so many things I want to do that all it does is suck any energy right out of me, and leave me not only doing nothing I really want but also feeling guilty for it. Here’s to getting our priorities straight.
I think I am the inversion of Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory – but you probably figured that one, right?). I start a bunch of projects, super-excited about every single one of them but I cannot for the life of me seem to finish any of them. Like the jacket I started knitting weeks ago. (Still not anywhere near a jacket, actually even the opposite because I messed up the pattern so I started to open it up again.) Like the novel I started writing in the fall. (I actually made a deliberate choice of putting that on hold until the job situation wouldn’t suck all the energy out of me but I think for now I can add it to the list of enthusiastically started and abandoned projects.) Like the jewelery. (I am determined to start up an etsy-site as soon as I have made a cool header! Yeah, right.) Like this blog. (Ok, there is no finish but you know what I mean, it’s been kinda
quietdead around here). The list goes on but I think you get the point.
I am more and more in love with the idea of getting rid of all my stuff just so that there won’t be anymore distractions, and I can remember what’s important. Yesterday, I even got so far as to get some empty boxes from the basement, and just started to put my stuff in them. I figured if I pack up everything I don’t feel I need right now it might help. If I realize I do need something, I can always go into the basement and get it back. If I don’t, then great – I am already set for the next time we move. Well, I ended up filling six boxes and to my horror, the apartment feels just as cluttered as before. Also, while I was packing, I got the feeling that I probably won’t go into the basement, that a year from now, the boxes will still be untouched, and that I really probably should just get rid of it all but, of course, I couldn’t. Yet …? We’ll see.
Wait, actually, what was the point of telling you this? Maybe a sort of explanation for the lack of postage around here? That could actually just as easily be explained by my relapse into serial addiction – all three seasons of UNITED STATES OF TARA in three or four days.
Wow, I just wrote and deleted and re-wrote and deleted a paragraph. They were too ranty even for me!?
I think what I am trying to say is: I have been feeling stuck and sort of in between for a while now. As much as I hated the idea of slowly killing this blog, I just didn’t feel like I had anything to say. So I didn’t. But I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Some major changes are about to happen but I’m not really ready to write about them yet. Hopefully soon, though, so bear with me.
Meanwhile: Here are some pictures from our little trip on the first of May.
And a line from the UNITED STATES OF TARA theme song: „I know we’ll be just fine when we learn to love the ride.“ Here’s to learning to love the ride.
OK, there’s no dancing around this: this one may look healthy but calling it tasty-looking would be a stretch.
How to (makes about four servings):
- Soak about a cup of figs over night (it’s a raw food thing: soaking everything – to get rid of toxins (seeds and nuts), or in this case just to make it more digestible).
- About half an hour or so before you want to prepare the smoothie, soak some powdered nettle, hip and blueberry (of course you can use the real thing, too, but we happen to have tons of this powdered stuff, it’s supposed to be rich in vitamins and stuff – gosh, this sounds like I don’t even know why I am doing half the stuff I am doing … which is completely untrue! … er … well). At Peter’s request, I added some spirulina, too (algi, also … um, healthy)
- Put the figs in the blender – with the water they were soaking in! Blend. Duh.
- Add the powder that should have turned into a creamy goo by now.
- Add a banana (or more, if you like), even some agave syrup if you like it REALLY sweet.
- Add water depending on what kind of texture you like
At our friend’s we ate this with berries (picked by her in the woods behind her house, of course). We were out so we had to go without. What I like best about this smoothie/cream is how the fig seeds crackle in my mouth.
Oh yeah: and how it makes it possible to take in all these vitamin supplements that I couldn’t force down before when I tried to just drink the stuff. I guess you can come a long way with sugar.
Like I said, this trip inspired me. A lot. Our friend eats raw food and while we were there, so did Peter and I. I found eating raw food surprisingly diversified, digestible and filling. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel like I had to eat a lot to feel full – but for me that’s kind of a mental thing I need to get over. I am probably not going to go Green for Life, although I did find the book very interesting and sensible in a lot of ways. For now, however, I do feel like trying out some of the nutritious deliciousness our friend introduced us to.
My favorite – which I had tried and failed at before – was her almond milk.
Here’s how it goes:
- Take about two cups of almonds (makes about five cups of almond milk, less if you like it creamier), and let them soak in water over night.
- The next day, pour the water out, and pour boiling water over the almonds. Only let them sit for about a minute, this is just so that you can peel them more easily.
- Rinse the almonds.
- Put the almonds into a blender, add a little bit of water at first, blend.
- Gradually add more water until you’re satisfied with the texture.
- I added nothing else when I made this this morning. Our friend usually put in a banana (both for sweetness and texture), sometimes some agave syrup.
As for the health benefits and more detailed information, I unsurprisingly found something on my favorite health/food/diy blog.
I am back from another trip. More inspired than ever! I do apologize, though, to certain friends (Lisa, you know who you are) who worried my offline-ness might translate to „something bad happened“.
Note to self: in the time and age of „There is no offline, there is only away from keyboard“, announce any awol from the virtual life (technically, is it „awl“ then?). At least for as long as there is no way to virtually transmit the bad smell coming from your apartment that might alarm your neighbors – who might not even care since you live in one of those anonymous big city shoe boxes – but not the ones who do care but don’t live close by. Another note to self: keep notes to self short…ish.
Anyway. Peter and I were visiting a friend who lives the way we hope to do one day – somewhere on the Swedish countryside, growing lots of her own food, with no stupid electro smog. There was no internet. It was beautiful. Not because or despite that fact. It just was. Although we were only there from Thursday through Tuesday, this trip was a real learning and healing experience – most of all, unsurprisingly, about myself; my current state (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, … in any way) as well as my wishes for my future.
I realized that …
- … a life closer to nature and more self-sufficient is not only what I imagine I want. It is what I do want.
- … the difference between life in the city and on the countryside is not to be underestimated. My body had a hard time adjusting to physical labor (which does not always allow for ergonomic execution), my mind had a hard time accepting that I/we took so many breaks. I felt very unproductive, although our host did not express any such complaints – or any complaints at all. Here at home I want to get through with everything I have to do as quickly as possible, there you spread out the (more physically exhausting) work over the entire days, take it slow, take time for conversations, contemplation, simply being.
- … I am especially unhappy with my job here at home.
- … the difference between the life I am currently leading, and the life I want is huge. I had an episode of deep depression the second day when I realized that gap. I had no idea how I should get from one to the other, and this uncertainty scared and frustrated me. I still don’t know but I am hopeful now.
When we came home I was excited to see if any of the seeds I had sown had grown anything during our absence. The score: two tomato plants are sprouting and I can see the beginning of morning glory.
Besides uploading pictures and doing laundry, I also used my free day to finally do what I have been wanting to do for weeks but put off on accounts of the sucky weather – not that that’s changed but I’ve really had it! Yes, I sowed some seeds. Look:
As you can tell, I used egg cartons to pre-grow seedlings. Even felt compelled to make some labels. Here they are, in case you want plant labels in Swedish/German/English for cilantro, parsley, basil, nasturtium, morning glory (love the name), and tomato. I just printed the page twice and glued them together with a stick I made from cardboard in between.
We’ll see how this grows, I hope.