Some little stories for you because The Kitchens Garden blog is celebrating a year of Blogging

Today is the Fourth of July, 2012.  The Kitchens Garden and its Farmy has been on the internet, blogging about day to day growing, cooking and farming in a sustainable manner, using organic methods  for ONE YEAR! THE CROWD ROARS!  (If you open your mouth like a lion roaring, then whisper the roar you will sound like a thousand of people cheering.  So go ahead, give yourself a cheer!) 

Now don’t panic, everything will remain the same on the blog.  I am not going away.  The blog is not going away.  Your animals are not going away, we will still be doing what we do every day.  And the journal will still go up for you every dawn. I love my good mornings!

Plus, as we discussed yesterday, we are now looking at turning the highlights of the blog into a book. Three books actually. The Stories. The Farmy. And a toddlers Children’s Book. So in case you want to double back and look at this year of work from the beginning -day by day,  and maybe point out anything that I can polish up and  use for any of these books, or just out of interest,  I shall provide the link to this date on the blog a year ago.   This will be at the bottom of each post.

Now, because it’s my blog birthday  and I will cry if I want to,  I thought I would do something completely different just for today and tell you a few stories from my youth. I used to be a wee bit naughty. I adore that word naughty. Do you remember Fawlty Towers!  You’re a naughty boy! and smacking his own bottom,  then hitting the straight face button and stalking off. What was his name I am having a blank.

Anyway I was not always good you know.  I try ever so hard to be good now.To amuse myself I shall tell you a few stories about me that  you may not have known. These are previously unwritten excerpts from the as yet unwritten book ‘Potatoes are your Best Friend’. A manual on how to survive with too many children and not enough money.

My life was a bit bumpy once upon a time. I was divorced with a bunch of very young children, by the time I was 27, soon after my mother died actually, and for a wee while the kids and I  were sailing along, steered by our wits and  just ahead of the wind!  For years actually.  I have always said that my children and I grew up together. 

Here are 5 little stories from that time.  Number 6 is from the Beach.

1. When I was home alone with all my children,  I used to work as a life drawing model at a local art school to make extra cash.  I was raising my kids by myself, and they were so young that I could not work very long hours so I was very thin. Like really thin. Racehorse thin. This is why I was popular as a life drawing model.  My bones showed. Plus of course I could stay very still for a long time. That hurts by the way. Sit still right now and count to 60 .. No, not like that!..  count slower. Sit absolutely still without moving a muscle not even your eyes for a full minute. Go on. I’ll wait.

Hard isn’t it. Not hard for me though because I was modeling in the daytime plus working in the old folks home at night. So I was very tired and I found it very easy to completely zone right out of my body.  I would come home from work in the mroning, have breakfast with my children, (we had a flatmate who rented one of the rooms in our rented farmhouse on the orchard and she stayed with the children at night.)  I would  take the kids to school, or kindergarten, zoom out to the community college, change into my robe (a cerise and black 50’s full length, full skirted dressing gown.. I loved that gown and wore it completely out, it took years!). The models changed  or rather disrobed, in a big storage cupboard that smelt like oil paint.  Then I would walk across the hall  and into a class of between 15 and 20 students of all ages. I would get my instructions from the tutor, arrange my body, then fall asleep.  Asleep.  Fast asleep.  Absolutely and completely asleep. I would sleep stark naked in the center of the classroom, on a raised dias in front of a crowd of people. My eyes closed, my mouth just so, knees together, my arms placed by the tutor were relaxed,  my breathing would slow right down and I would sleep without moving a muscle.  Sometimes I went so fast asleep that the tutor would have to wake me to stretch and change poses.  I was a legend.

2. Something else I am sure you did not know. About the same period I used to steal toilet paper. This is true. I am ashamed but there you are. The kids and I did not have a lot of money so if there was more than one spare roll of wrapped toilet paper,  I would grab it and stuff it in my enormous handbag.  Fast. Even though absolutely no-one is looking at you when you are in the toilet, I always whipped it up with a lightening strike, into my bag and bam it was stole. Then my conscience could not get a chance to speak I suppose.  I had an entire wall of toilet paper in my house one time. It became such a problem. I was a compulsive toilet paper thief. I probably should have been in therapy.  Of course I am over it now. But I am proud to say that I never stole the last roll in a stall. That would have been bad.

3. Once and stop me if I have told you this story before,  a man I knew a little broke into my house. It was the house on the hill above the sea. I was single for many many years  when my children were small and some men think that divorced and still single means available. And this man was one of those.  The kids were at their Dad’s for the weekend. And  I was fast asleep in my bed in my bedroom with the yellow walls, in my little rented house on the very top of this hill.  I had been out the night before so I was really really fast asleep. I woke to a sound and there was this man standing beside the bed. I screamed (well more like a pathetic eek actually – very embarrassing) then grabbed the sheet and YANKED IT OVER MY HEAD!  This was my total reaction to an intruder. Covering my head with a sheet!  Bonkers. After I had recovered from my fright I asked him politely what the hell he thought he was doing.  He confessed to me that he had come in through the lounge window.  I can fix that for you, he said. Then he went on to tell me that he had looked through my bedroom window first to make sure I was alone before he broke in!  Oh how generous of you, I thought. My mind was boggled. I opened my patio door to let my ancient three legged half blind dog rush in. She stood ..um.. threateningly next to me and we asked him ever so firmly  to leave.  Why is it, I said to Mazolet Mazout the Marzipan Kid (that was the dog’s name),  after I had locked the door and jammed the window shut with a stick then climbed back into bed. Why is it, that when you say No to a man, he hears Maybe.  Mazolet Mazout the Marzipan Kid did not answer as she was still wondering how I was going to protect myself from an intruder with a sheet over my head! 

4. Oh here is one. This was terrible. Do you know what a sausage sizzle is? Well in NZ all kinds of  groups have sausage sizzles to make money. They get a big grill (we call it a barbeque) and someone’s dad and he would grill sausages and wrap them in a buttered slice of white bread, draw a line  on the sausage with tomato sauce from a plastic squeezy bottle shaped like a tomato  and if you were lucky there might even be a wee bit of onion.  Well, once there was a tire store that had a sausage sizzle to attract customers and they were giving the food away.  Free sausies, the sign said.  When the kids and I were young we did not eat a lot of meat, it is expensive in NZ and as we drove past, on the way home from the beach, we could smell those sizzling sausages. So I parked, we worked out the game plan.  I  tweeked my skirt up higher and let the strap of my top slide off my shoulder just a little and sauntered over to talk to the man about buying FOUR  new tires. While I had them working out which ones and how much  and when would I come in to have them  fitted .. Oh dear I will have to get back to you with a time, do you have a card?.. the kids mobbed the sausage sizzle man and ate as many as they could stuff in their gobs! When I saw that they had started jamming  bread in their pockets as well, I said thank you very much to the man, took his card, smiled  brightly and  said I shall call you later today.  (Not!)  gave the children the look and the sign and we all walked with nonchalant swiftness back to the car.  The kids wiping their greasy hands on their shorts! Then wiping their faces on their T Shirts and grinning like idiots.

5. Oh here is another one. At the supermarket there are those nice ladies in aprons giving away little tastes of something. Well, I would stay out of sight and the boys would send Bad Baby Sopsta the youngest and cutest, again and again to get two morsels at a time and bring them back to them.  They would be hiding around the corner. While this was going on another two sons were at the deli making eyes at the butcher and looking starved but clean.  We all have these blue eyes and two of my tiny boys at once  doing their best Oliver imitation could haul in the luncheon sausage. It became a competition to see who could cadge the most free stuff. They never left a supermarket hungry. Never. Naughty, naughty, naughty. 

They can still get by on the smell of an oily rag these kids.

6. Last one. This is from another era. When I was little and lived at the beach  I once staged a murder to prove that  police men in police cars don’t see a thing. They would slowly cruise past our house on the beach  every afternoon, all summer, looking official but really they were checking out the surf. I know this because I squirted tomato sauce all over my sister then got my Dads enormous bone handled carving knife and repeatedly pretend-stabbed her,  both of us screaming our heads off (ha ha plonk) out on the balcony, in full view. I could not believe they did not see it.  They just drove on by their eyes on the sea. We were both deeply disappointed.

There now. Some of the skeletons from my closet. Actually that was fun.

Good morning.  Mama had a better day yesterday. I let her back into a little field with not too much tucker but she was very grateful to be out of the barn.  It was 100 degrees again, is that the third of the fourth day in a row? The prolonged heat is getting to the animals, particularly Queenie which is a surprise. Daisy is still giving 33 pounds of milk in the morning and 28 in the afternoon. Just like clockwork.  And stands out in the sun munching  on her clover while everyone lays about under the trees.

Have a lovely day. Tomorrow we are back to business as usual with a farmy walkabout!

celi

Now, to the beginning of our Book Project.  As promised, here is the link to the very first Kitchens Garden blog entry. I read it and am mortified that I  promised to link you back to every one.  It becomes immediately apparent that some of those days are not really worth linking back TO. This one  is just.. so, well .. enthusiastic and a little confused. Plus the picture seems to have gone.  But the next one is not until the 7th so you have time to recover!

Posted on July 4th 2011.  sustainable chatter..

131 thoughts

    • morning mary, sometimes i do the ‘you’re a naughty boy’ out here in the states when someone tells me off and the LOOKS!!! It still makes me laugh!

      • I’ve been known to get into trouble for saying, ‘Manuel, you are a waste of space!’ And your stories reminded me of my own days of bare subsistence with 5 children to feed. I stole toilet paper and light bulbs left behind by tenants in the apartment building where I was manager. The day-old bakery (more like 4 days old) was a regular stop and I took the week-end job of lady-who-hands-out-samples in the supermarket so I could bring the leftovers home. My kids, too, turned out to be super resourceful and sensitive to how little Stuff one really needs. Good for us!

        • good for us indeed! i worked as a waitress for years so that i could take home the leftovers!! i did not buy dog food for YEARS! aren’t we awesome! c

  1. One year of blogging! Major congrats! I’ve always had the feeling you had been blogging forever!
    Cannot tell you how much I enjoyed your stories, my favorite being the first – I know I could not be still for 60 seconds, now that would be a story of mine to tell if I ever gather the courage to do so. Long and convoluted story.

    Amazing everything you went through, I guess every person holds the universe inside in terms of untold stories…

    Hope you go on blogging for years and years, I’ll be “listening”

    • Funny story, i said to john I put up a shot of your baby eggplant, they are coming along aren’t they. peppers he says they are peppers, your readers will know that!!! and you did.. Laughter! c

  2. happy 4th and 1 year anniversary! i love your stories. i once had a huge guy break into my apartment in the middle of the night. i woke up to him standing over me wearing a mask and gloves. i jumped up on my bed in my flannel nightgown and knee socks and threw myself on him. i startled him i guess and i pounded on him until i was able to push him out my front door. however, he came back through my back door and then i pulled my gun out and pointed it at him. he ran off and the only reason i didn’t shoot him was because i was afraid the noise would break my cat’s eardrums. he broke into the wrong girls apartment! toilet paper theif!!! hahaha! i am sure many people have done much worse!

    • good god, you brave girl.. they say the first thing to do to an intruder is to go screaming mental at them..I win all my fights by half a mile! at least you did not hide under a sheet! c

  3. I’ll read the old post next.
    This one is one of your best.
    I’ve been known to scoff the little squares of cheese
    left to tempt us in the supermarket. You are not alone in your iniquity.

  4. Happy Versary and I remember taking my kids to the big box store (Sam’s) on the weekends just when I knew all of the little old ladies would be busy handing out the samples of food. Free lunches!!! You had to do what you had to do, c, for your kids and I am sure they love/d you for it.

  5. What great stories and such good survival instincts. It must have been harsh to be bringing up three kids at such a young age all on your own and working at night then doing life modeling by day – you must have been permanently exhausted xx

  6. I made myself a promise many years ago that I’d never put anything into prints or public domain that might come back to either haunt me or bite my on the arse 30-years from now. As a result, and because I’m a fanatical promise-keeper, I’ll not be spilling any beans…tempting though it might be.

    Happy 4th, and happy 1st anniversary to you, C, and your farmie family of fuzzy, feathered friends.Wow, now that’s what I call a string of F-Words… ;)

  7. When I was studying fine art at Portsmouth Art School i remember models being wasted on me in life class. I would draw every part of the room, the pattern on the carpet (if there was one on the set), the furniture; in fact everything but the model. There used to be a model shaped space in the middle at the end:)

  8. Happy Blogging Anniversary, Celi! I love the stories and can see your sons widening their big blue eyes at the supermarket, sniffing the air like hungry pups — I’m sure they learned a thing or two from you and your antics. Your blog is now the one I want to read first, especially when I have been away. Happy Independence Day, too, one of the fun American holidays — all about barbecue, parades, fireworks, picnics and pie.

    • It is a lovely celebration day. morning sharyn and thank you! Now I shall pop over again and see if you have had time to post about your travels yet! c

  9. Ooooooh, you WERE a naughty girl but perfectly entitled I think at 27 with all those wee kiddies! Looking at your cheerful, smiley face, no one would guess that you once exhibited Toilet Paper O.C.D.!!! Fabulous stories, how many more can you have tucked up your sleeve? My life feels positively dreary. I was a relative latecomer to your blog so I’m going to thoroughly enjoy reading your early tales. The link today has to be the intro for your farmy book I guess but I have a sneaking suspicion that this challenge is going to be far more, well, challenging, than your last one of choosing photos as prints!
    Christine

    • Yes you are right. Though i will point out any posts that have potential as we hit them.. they will begin to stand out i think. We don’t mind challenging work though do we christine! have you got a full house today? at the B & B.. c

      • Yes, we are full every day now. It’s interesting to see how nationalities change over the year. Americans, Australians and the Brits are beginning to give way to Spanish, French, Germans, Belgians, Ital …
        Christine

  10. Celi, today’s “little stories” made me smile but also moved me to tears. The one about “life modeling” could easily become a bigger story. So touching. (It set me imagining a piece of fiction about a woman who does life modeling and is able to detach from it, the way she detaches from other very hard things in her life. Hmmm. I won’t steal your stuff, though!) Whatever you did for your kids, for all of you, to survive–you shouldn’t be ashamed of. You were inventive, that’s what you were! I also went back and read the very first blog. I’ll enjoy those, since I’ve a relative late-comer here. Happy anniversary!

  11. Happy Blogging Anniversary, Celi, and may you have many more. And a Happy July 4th to you, too. As always, I enjoyed your stories and knew you had some naughty in you! So what are all those little food samples for, if not to be eaten, I ask you? The TP fetish is another matter, but what an exciting life you kids had. I’ll bet in many ways they never felt lacking…or truly loved. Gonna go check out your first post. Have a super lovely day!

      • Wow, a few typos I left here this a.m. I hope you realize that what I meant here was that I was sure your kids never felt they lacked a thing and always knew they were truly loved…somehow in re-reading what I wrote my sentence structure doesn’t seem like that came out very clearly! Anyway, you are a most excellent mum, that is abundantly clear…to your kids and your animals! :) Again, Happy, Happy!

        • Oh I knew what you were saying, we all write our comments fast as the thoughts flow so I just read it as you thought you wrote it.. I knew what you meant! No probs darling! c

  12. Happy Anniversary! And what a great post to mark the occasion. I thoroughly enjoy these stories, Celi, and I know a certain Lady in Michigan that will too.
    Temps are supposed to drop as many as 20˚ this weekend. Relief is on the way!
    Have a great 4th, Celi!

  13. Happy Blogaversary – many more! I loved your murder on the balcony story. Celi I sat down and started from day one when I stumbled on your blog on Desi Valentines, so I am eagerly awaiting till we get a little further down the line. To stress you even more – you could even get a Farmy recipe book out of the blog too :) Happy holiday today too. Laura

    • Morning Laura.. the original recipes will go in each chapter of the Farmy book. They will be interspersed with the stories. I am not much of a recipe writer though. fancy you starting at the beginning, how wonderful i had no idea so many people had done that already! c

  14. Happy Birthday and Anniversary! And thanks for sharing your stories, very nice to read a bit more about you. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Congrats on the books too!

  15. Happy anniversary! Can’t believe it’s been only a year, feels like The Kitchen’s Garden has been around for ages :). Love those stories – you think they are about ‘bad’ things you did haha, but really, they are entirely heartwarming.

  16. Wonderful–and a toddler’s book–yes! Looking back at past posts may make you cringe, but it marks growth. And stealing TP–I know something of that.:)

  17. Happy one-year anniversary! While I have not been following you since day one (didn’t know about you, or I would have been), I’ve surely enjoyed each day since. You have a gift for storytelling and photography and we are so blessed to be the recipients of these gifts. Here’s to many more years of blogging.

  18. The break in…..sheet over one’s head….perfect sense to me = if I can’t see you then you can’t
    see me = you are not there and i am not here either. My animals do it all the time, my grandchildren do it and I have been known to do it too. Sometimes just looking
    away works= don’t even need a sheet. I will have a very fun day chuckling. I
    loved all your stories.Your sense of humor is why we became fast friends !! My
    sense of humor has literally saved my life. Happiest of Anniversaries my dear.

    Still laughing….nanster

  19. Dear Cinders…Happy Blogaversary…is that how it’s spelled?? I am so glad that you are going to continue the blog, especially after I just found you and was hooked right away! You and your blog are just delightful, heartwarming, uplifting, wonderful, lovely, etc. etc. You know really…you are a bit of a celebrity…I mean look at all the adoring fans you have!! :)
    Your story reminded me of my mother’s earlier life…she also raised 5 kids by herself and I’m sure she stole more than toilet paper!!
    The very warmest best to you in your new bookwriting venture…they will be bestsellers, I’m sure of it!!

  20. Good afternoon, miss c! I just spent some happy time re-reading your earliest posts. Love your words, always. I used to be an artist’s model too, and had that same talent for stillness that would make instructors forget that they were using a live model. Happy US Independence Day.

    • Awesome. it is strange work. While sitting it is not uncommon for the tutor to refer to her polaroid then walk up to you and slightly tweek a bit of your body to match an earlier sitting as though you are lego or something! did you get that? brilliant.. c

  21. Happy blogday to you! I used to model for life drawing classes too, and I was always amazed at how strenuous staying still can be. I absolutely loved your post of Feb 15 2012. You had this wonderful bit of dialog with your son in it where he’s making a marmite sandwich and you’re picking the butter out of the marmite and it’s just so great- lots of unspoken communication. So that gets my vote, but I’m off to read more.

  22. Congratulations on you first year of blogging – I look forward to many more years to come!
    Thank you for sharing your delightful, heartfelt stories of days gone by – I can totally relate as I was a divorced Mom of 5 too! It’s wonderous how life turns out, isn’t it?!

    • Oh yeah.. forgot that one.. you know my doc said if you lose any more weight i am going to put you in the hospital, i said excellent.. who is going to look after the kids? Tho I think HE would have, he was a lovely man.. c

  23. I think one of my English friends must have been watching you! Single mothers can be the most clever people on this planet! Happy one year, Celi – here’s to many more!

  24. This is going to be fun, Celi! I look forward to the linking back. And you definitely have the stories for at minimum three books. I think it’s easy to figure out where your current strength and resilience comes from! You have had to think on your feet, or sleep naked in front of a crowd, for a long time now! Whew! :-) Debra

  25. Happy Anniversary and I hope you have many more….. I’m just one of your many readers but have often forwarded your posts on to various friends and relatives when I’ve really needed to share the enjoyment with someone. Thank you for sharing with us – my morning cuppa would not be the same without the farmy!! Joy

  26. Thank you for not stopping this blog after your one year as you had first intended. Your faithfulness to this daily practice astounds me, especially after I read about all of the other needs that cry out for you on the Farmy every day. I am selfishly grateful that you will continue because I love being surprised every day. It’s been so much fun to be a witness to your process of writing daily and to see how it has gotten into your blood. As you have gotten into the hearts of so many others. Reading your blog is one of the first things I do every morning over my first cup of coffee, just as so many others are doing the same. How cool is that? Look at what you’ve done in a year Celi! You’ve brought all of us together in this virtual world and made us feel like family. Your writing makes us care and gives us hope in a world that sometimes seems to have gone terribly awry. And hope is definitely something that everyone in this world needs a lot more of.
    Every one of your stories today has a common theme: they speak of an indomitable will to survive in an otherwise cruel world. Poignant, funny, sad, scary and full of love and fun. And real. I’d be willing to bet your offspring know how lucky they were to have you for a mom during those tough times. Life is rich indeed.

    • Maggie, thank you.. what a lovely compliment and i especially love that everyone does feel like we have our own farmy family here and you all are a part of it. I love the most the fact that people sit down to read with their coffees, or on the way to bed and you are all reading about the same time. Which does develop an interesting and rather charming connection! It does make me feel like I have company.. It really does.. c

  27. Happy 4th of July.. Happy 100 Farmy Stories.. I loved reading these little snippets of your life, and I, too, felt moved to tears.. It’s quite the life you’ve lead and I see now why you write. I think all of these stories could become part of your book, I’m not sure how, but fleshed out with the setting, details, words.. what I love the most is that they are from a completely different point of view than my own, they are so fascinating.. and best of all, you leave me wanting to read more c! I enjoyed your first post.. just look at how you’ve found your writer’s voice over the year! So much to celebrate!! xoxo Smidge

  28. Congratulations. Your stories illustrate you were then in a different environment what we see now – clever, resourceful, entertaining… getting a day job that enabled you to counteract your sleepless working nights, keeping your kids fed & passing on your smarts, making the most of TP opportunities… ;)

  29. Stories of survival and ingenuity when times were tough. You’re still doing it, only in a more positive way. You are definitely a survivor! Don’t forget that you can take a rest from the blog for a day or two if you want.

  30. Congratulations on the one year of blogging. It’s been a pleasure to discover you and the farmy.
    Hadn’t thought of it before, but blogging can feel a bit like standing naked before a crowd. Maybe all that practice at age 27 prepared you to do it with such grace now? I’m looking forward to the next phase. -Nikki

  31. I just love your stories Celi!!! You write so it feels like we are there when it is happening! The sausage sizzlle story is wonderful!!! I can just see your wee ones grinning and licking their lips!
    And I must admit that I just love going to grocery stores that have free samples!!! :)

  32. Happy First Anniversary of The Kitchen Garden Blog! Good luck with the books! Aha, turning the blog into paper! Is not paper the first anniversary gift?! (Technically, for weddings, but I haven’t seen a blogging anniversary chart, so I’m improvising.) :)

  33. Only one year? Happy blog-o-versary! I’ve been following you on FB but haven’t been able to come to your blog for a while. I’m so glad I came today. You are a brilliant storyteller. Loved your little bits.
    You know that radio/TV show where a panel has to guess your occupation? Imagine a show with your “sleeping in the nude” job!

    My family also love Faulty Towers. I once met John Cleese at my museum shop. We aren’t supposed to identify famous folks but hey how can you not say “Hello to John Cleese?” So I went up to him (hes very tall and very thin) and said “what an honor to be standing next to the famous John Cleese!” and he said “I usually charge $5 for the privilege..” and of course we both laughed and were best of friends.

  34. Lovely, Cecilia. Kind and honest and funny and sad and powerful and real and unpretentious and thought-provoking and heartfelt and fearless. And look at you now, surrounded by the kindness of creatures who provide what you need and get what they need in return. The farm gives new meaning to the taking and the giving.

  35. Congratulations on one-year Celi! You know how I feel about this little space of the blogsphere you have created. It’s so comforting and warm. I just adore it. I loved each and every story today. Thank you so much for sharing. My favorite has to be the last one though – reminds me so much of my sister and I. Truly. Congrats C!

  36. Pingback: Weekend Highlights – Noteworthy Articles by Fellow Bloggers – July 07, 2012 « Granny's Parlour

  37. I’m a bit late with my roar, but “Happy Anniversary!” anyway!
    It’s been fun, and I’m looking forward for more and to a book or two.

  38. Oh celi that was all good naughty fun! So glad you never took the last loo roll, but I´m sure we all understand that times were tough. And as for the free food-…well, if they want to give it away, it´s got to be eaten! And you´d better watch out now as the police may be after you trying to “solve” that murder ;) PS. Happy Anniversary (sorry I´m late).

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