Monday 3 March 2014

Tomatoes, and why I might not be a very good female role model

I haven't been in this space much for a while.  There's been a little gloom, and it's been hard to get it together.  But today things are looking a touch more positive, so here I am.  I could write about how tough things are right now, I could tell you about little worries and stresses that have eaten away at my confidence and left me lying awake at night and in a state of anxiety in the day.  Or I could tell you about tomatoes.  Yes.  Let's do that.

I planted some.  It was late February and it seemed like the right time.  I'm sure I did it about this time last year.  It's tricky to get it just right.  Too early and they get very spindly, too late and you just end up with green tomatoes.  As always I have too many packets, although to be fair I never seem to end up with too many actual tomatoes.  I have Tigerella, Essex Wonder, Ferline (supposedly with some blight resistance), Golden Sunrise (thank you Flighty), Gardener's Delight, Red Alert, Marmande, Alicante, Sungold and Striped Stuffer (how could I not?).  Now I've listed them it seems slightly embarrassing.  Ten varieties.  I don't know how this happens.  Last year I was fairly controlled about tomatoes, but I think my self-discipline is pretty non-existent at the moment and somehow all of these seeds have appeared, although to be fair several of them were left over from previous years.

I planted them a week ago, and today I noticed the first teeny tiny loop pushing up through the surface of the soil.  A Sungold, my number one choice for reliability.  Even in the very worst year there are Sungold tomatoes to be had.  (I'm hardly superstitious at all, saying this won't in any way curse us to the worst summer on record and a year of abject nationwide tomato failure I am sure).

In other news, there has been some den building around here.  I'd quite like a den of my own actually.  I don't think it's something you ever grow out of, that love of a tiny, cosy space to curl up in.

Some painting of flags.  I'd quite like to sit and paint for a bit too.   In fact being five must be brilliant.

We went to look at the sea again.  Much calmer now.

I spotted this lovely beech arch.  I'm really getting quite fond of beech, it has a nice traditional quality to it and it always looks good, winter, spring, summer or fall.

Nighttime in the city.  I'm almost never in the city any more, let alone after dark.  This shot was taken outside of Bristol Children's Hospital.  A quick check-up was required - no treatment needed thankfully.  The doctor we saw was absolutely fantastic.  Fantastic.

A happy parcel in the post, all the way from the other side of the pond.  The lovely Katie at Life With The Crew had a giveaway for this wonderful pendant, and I won.  It's made by Samantha of Pipodoll.  I love the natural themes and materials Samantha uses.

Another treat - hot chocolate in a cafe in Wotton-under-Edge.  A rare treat as we always take our own drinks and snacks when we go out, but the biggest boy was in need of a sit down, so we had a delicious moment together, just me and him and two cups of hot chocolate with shortbread.  Blissful.

An early morning glimpse of the moon.  I opened the window to take some pictures, and was amazed to hear how loud the dawn chorus was.  It was still quite dark, but birdsong was everywhere.  It was utterly enchanting.  I stayed listening for so long I was frozen, but it was worth it.

I'll leave you with a little conversation I had with the two biggest boys this morning as we got ready for the school run.  To give you some context, I always consider myself fairly low maintenance.  I do all the odd jobs around the place, the mending, the building, the heavy lifting, the putting out of rubbish, the garden etc.    And I don't shop much or do particularly girly things, although I do love femininity.  The conversation went something like this.  (Names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Middle boy:  "Do you know, Jack in my class thinks that twins can read each other's minds and that they are always thinking exactly the same thing."

Biggest boy:  "Well they can't."

Middle boy: "I know."

Biggest boy:  "I bet Lily and Jess [twins] in Year R aren't thinking the same thing as each other right now.  I bet one of them is thinking about girl stuff and the other one is thinking about shoes."

Me: "Girls don't all think about shoes all the time you know."

Biggest boy:  "You do."

Me (outraged): "I do nothing of the sort!  I'll have you know I've got hardly any shoes for a girl."

Biggest boy:  "You've got TWO pairs!"

Oh dear.  He is in for such a rude awakening when he gets out into the real world and discovers girls that won't build flat packs and that own twenty pairs of shoes.  I'm wondering if I should try and be a bit more vacuous.


  1. Can you imagine what's going to happen when he gets out there? I'm like you, and we're a rare breed. I had my son with me in the store this morning to buy toilet paper and I also picked up a new package of emery boards for myself. You should have heard him carrying on about all the cosmetics around him in that part of the store. WHO wears all of this stuff? Some women do. WHY? They like it. WHY? I don't know. And so on and so forth. Sigh. They're lucky to have us, really. :) I'm sorry you're having trouble right now. I'm not doing so great myself. But it's going to be okay for both of us. Hugs to you.

  2. LOL I always wonder what kind of girl our son will choose. He's lived a rather unconventional life where Mom does some very "ungirly" things like fix plumbing and catch the snakes that get in the house.

    While Dad does cooking and does the occasional load of laundry.

  3. Hope life picks up for you. We just had a good break away, but now things have gone pear-shaped again. Ho hum. I'm sure you're an excellent 'girl' role model for your boys - anyway, I doubt one can suddenly become more vacuous! Have a good week. X

  4. Boys look for partners who are just like their Mum, apparently. Yours will be very well provided for, for sure. Take care x

  5. Haha, the conversation cracked me up.-I have a few flats here and there.-Nothing too fancy though. Just to think what he will think when he finally gets out into the real world. I hope everything falls into place for you.

    I also love the painted flags. My daughter loves painting, and creating things. She inspires me. :)

  6. Ha! I JUST LOVE that conversation with you and the boys! He is in for a huge surprise...and he will appreciate you that much more!!!!! Your around town photos are ever so lovely! And the tomatoes...oh how I would like to plant some right now but the ice covered snow will not go away! Wonderful varieties by the way! I will be praying for you...that whatever is hard or troubling will move on out and in its place peace and good will come. You take care friend! Nicole xoxo

  7. Sounds like you need a little hidey hole like mine to run away to with your paints just now? Hope things improve for you and that life gets back on an even keel again. Love the real-ness (is that a word?) of this post and how it captures life as it really is. Hope your boys will find girls just like you in due course and please don't try to change you are lovely just the way you are. A little quote a friend sent me recently: I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being - written by a Persian poet Hafez in the 1300s so it seems life has always had its ups and downs!

  8. Oh my! The last part of your post is a delight! I should have take a pic of my shoe heaven before I declutter to let your boys know... I am even ashamed to mention publicly how many shoes I had...
    I wouldn't dare doing any planting now... Yest, I am waiting for it! My plans are done. Flowers, veggies and fruits all listed...
    I love the moon pictures, they are beautiful.

  9. One of my sons has far more shoes than me... I call him Imelda! Hope things improve for you, at least the weather is improving and those tomatoes are going to be wonderful! Julie x

  10. I haven't many pairs of shoes either and don;t like shopping.

  11. You sound like an ideal role model for girls or boys, I live in a male dominated household too, those types of conversations happen here all to frequently. Take care I do hope things improve for the better for you soon. xx

  12. Selecting seeds, sowing and then seeing them germinate; for me that is a very uplifting part of the year: The sign of spring and longer days and good things to come. I hope your worries and anxiety will be lessening soon, but I know how it can sometimes be hard to shake off.
    I was just thinking I need a new pair of shoes; my second pair are getting worn. No feminine role model here either. I also would be the one that does the flat packs, the painting (no flags, more ceilings), and much lifting and carrying. I never thought about it, but my boys will probably be in for a shock, too... Jennifer mentions buying emery boards, the last emery boards I bought were for the boys to use with their model kits!

  13. Ha ha, he's in for a rude awakening. I love the flag painting, flags are something that Daniel was always fascinated with as a child, not the painting though, he doesn't have an artistic bone in his body. I haven't sown my tomatoes yet, it won't be long though now.

  14. What a hoot! My morning laugh - thank you! Two pairs of shoes, oh my. I consider myself low maintenance with about 8! Lovely moon picture - I did a similar thing this morning. The red sunrise was just fantastic, low over the horizon. Just had to get out of bed and grab the camera to try and capture it through the window. Thanks for the shout-out - glad that the pendant arrived safely and that it was a nice treat.

  15. You are exactly the kind of role model any boy should have! And girls, too. Recently, I went as a PTA helper to a valentines disco and there were ten year old girls in heels so high that I thought I was hallucinating, and shirts so short you could see their knickers. I bet these girls don't have a fab role model like you! I have to admit though, I do own more than 2 pairs of shoes. I am doing less well on the clothes front, my six year old asked me the other day when I was going to wear something nice again.... I hope you will be able to put your worries and anxieties to rest soon. Good luck with the tomatoes! I didn't know there were so many varieties. Cx

  16. A most enjoyable post and wonderful pictures. Thanks for the linked mention.
    I laughed at the boys conversation and your comment.

  17. Great post! Those first signs of seedlings coming up are exciting arent they? I havent sown my tomatoes yet but hoping to tomorrow. I tried Golden Sunrise a couple of years ago and they were amazing - so prolific and lovely and sweet.
    Your boys conversation made me laugh! If they think two pairs is a lot....................!!!
    Hope you manage to stay positive during your difficult times.
    Gill xx

  18. Hey CJ,
    So sorry to hear that you are blue. I am often tempted to make a den and hide when I feel blue. I hope that whatever is troubling you resolves itself. Sending much love your way. I have tomato envy. I am still in a quandry about veg planting. I am thinking I should just go for it. It gives me and Pops so much pleasure, and we may be here for months so....
    As for girly. I think that I'm quite a traditional female role model. I am a full time Mum and I am totally useless at anything diy - it's the main reason I got married ;) I come from a traditional working class family, and I guess I have inadvertently slipped into this role too. I have worked - full and part time - but like being at home most of all. I have more than two pairs of shoes, but live in my wellies and another pair of totally ruined boots. I rarely wear make up or anything like that. My nails are a disgrace, and my legs have not seen a razor since September.
    Chin up buttercup. Thinking of you. xx
    Leanne xx

  19. We should all build ourselves dens and let the rest of the world deal with all the anxieties and niggles, for a change. I also have two pairs of shoes, and do all my own DIY (mostly with superglue and duct tape, but hey, as long as it works, right ?). Hope all the botheration blows over soon. In the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend Kalms !

  20. Two pairs of shoes that's a big number! Sorry you have had some worries and gloom. Your post however is so full of good things hope they have helped to make you smile. Take care hope you are getting some of this sunshine too! Sarah x

  21. I hope things brighten up for you soon, x I got some tomato seeds in the post today, it made me very excited! as for the shoes - truly priceless!

  22. I am sorry to hear you are not in a good place at the moment, I hope it is short lived and you can find a way out.

    That is a lot of tomato seeds coming from someone who hasn't sown a tomato seed in years! I was given some tomato plants last year and even with a hotter than normal summer they didn't ripen they are not worth the effort in these parts, sadly.

    Your shoe conversation is priceless, my husband definitely has more pairs of shoes than me!

  23. Thank you for leaving me with a laugh. I'm sorry to hear about your anxiety and struggles lately, though. But it's quite a skill to be able to focus on the present and the positive; a skill I can tell you have. The tomatoes sound wonderful. You've inspired me. The time spend with the boys sounds wonderful, too. You make parenting seem so pleasant. xx

  24. I'm sorry things are gloomy right now. I'm sending you good thoughts across the miles in hopes that things brighten up quickly. Sometimes it is easier to focus on hobbies when things get too stressful. I find I'm turning a lot of my focus to crafts, because it's something finite I can work on that has an answer. I agree with you that being 5 must just be the best. I've always said I would love to be a kid again. Your son is in for a rude awakening with girls! Hopefully all your sons will find someone as warm, caring, and beautiful as you:) Hoping you have a wonderful rest of the week:)

  25. I love boys conversations and their take on reality. I have one at home 'ill' who's currently playing a tennis match on the xbox. I think he done me like a kipper...

  26. I'm sending you some anxiety relief. I could feel my own mind racing as you described that feeling ... and I'm glad you are focusing on the positive. And thanks for sending some out into the world. Ha, boys and how they perceive females and female things. I think my one just thinks girls at school are weird and nuts and I essentially solidify his findings. He does realize the yarn problem is unique ;)

  27. I had to smile at the world according to boys! I'm sorry to read that things have been tough for you, though, and I hope all is well again soon. I've noticed the dawn chorus lately, too with the lighter mornings - it's so magical and beautiful. And I love the idea of dens for everyone - I can imagine mine now with a "please do not disturb" sign hanging outside!

  28. Firstly lets start with the giggle, that conversation made me giggle out load, yes he is in for a serious rude awakening. In fact just send him round my house, as I am a gal who loves shoes, a bit ironic seeing that I hardly leave the house these days, but that's another matter. I am sorry to read that you have been feeling a little unsettled of late and I am sending you heaps of healing light and love and I really hope that somehow you can feel a shift in that pesky insecurities that can make us so ill at times. As for tomatoes, thank you for sharing this with us, I so wish I had a green house. I used to grow them in SA, but I have never succeeded here in the UK. I am also very pleased to hear that your trip to the hospital was nothing too serious. Love the pic of the boys painting flags, I look forward to doing that with mine when they are a little older. Wishing you a lovely rest of the week xoxo

  29. Bless his heart. Two pairs! The decadence of it!!

    Here's hoping your heart is lighter just now x

  30. Sorry to hear you had a visit to the hospital, I hope your son's ok.
    I can't believe its planting time aleady! I love home grown tomatoes! By the way, you could sit down and paint a flag couldn't you? ;) Those paints look like my Windsor and Newton ones, just the job. :)
    Jess x

  31. Hello CJ
    It sounds like your head is full to bursting of things right now ... and I agree it would lovely to be 5 again, even if just for one day. My favourite picture is the one of the moon, how peaceful and serene it looks, and hasn't it been so lovely to hear the dawn chorus again ?
    I hope you have a calm and restful weekend,
    Kate x

  32. Really sorry to read that life is a bit pants at the moment, I hope that whatever is going on gets better soon. I always have the same dilemma with tomatoes in terms of when to start them, mine generally end up leggy but I've realised they are super resilient to being planted deep (after removing the lower leaves) and so removing some of the 'leg'. Your seed collection is bigger than mine! I've limited myself to only 4 varieties this year so I don't end up with a glut. Lovely buys. Let's hope this nice weather continues :) Beth

  33. Oh that's so funny! You own TWO whole pairs of shoes? Well, that's just excessive! ;-) Very funny, thank you for sharing. The conversations between my two often cause my husband and I to glance at each other in silent understanding and try to suppress a laugh.

    I'd noticed you'd been quieter than usual here and have been thinking of you. I hope things are ok, or at least improving. x

  34. I love this post...eek! And squee!