Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Hidden Ones

I've realised of late I'm actually part of a rather special secret club!  I first became aware of it after writing the blog 'Fake it 'til you make it' and in the weeks which followed I was approached out of the blue by several people who said 'I love reading your blog because I'm just like you!  Everybody thinks we're loaded but it couldn't be further from the truth!  We're just really frugal and have got so good at faking it that nobody realises we're on the bare bones of our bums'.  I tell you what too, these people were GOOD.  They'd certainly all had me fooled!  I didn't know any of these people particularly well but from then on I felt a little bit closer to them, as though we were allies, all getting through it together.

Since then I've received more emails from others in the same boat.  Here we all are, living in nice homes, either rented or mortgaged, going about our everyday business, at least one partner is working in all cases, if not both and just like Hyacinth Bucket we're keeping up appearances.  We live quiet, unassuming lives, our kids are well fed and nicely dressed and nobody would dream that we can't even afford to buy something as simple as a roast chicken for dinner.  People say to me all the time 'oh you're so good, selling all your stuff on Buy, Sell, Swap!' - they think I'm just decluttering!  They have no idea I'm doing it because I HAVE to.

Mind you I suppose it's a fair enough assumption.  Most solo mums don't own their own homes I guess.  People are always surprised to learn that I own it rather than renting.  I don't really recommend trying to manage a mortgage on your own but at least it's mine.  Well, mine and the bank's.  I adore my little home!  If I say so myself it's beautiful.  It's cosy, quirky, funky and cute.  I get up in the mornings, open the door, stand out on the front step and the tui's immediately swoop over my head and land in the tree across from me, shouting their crazy noises the way only tui's can.  I open the back door, stand on the deck and throw bread to the sparrows.  It's my little morning ritual and it's always a comical race to see who can get there first; the sparrows, our tubby spaniel or heaven forbid a million squawking seagulls.  Often a kingfisher will pop in to say hi and come and chill out on a post or in the branch of a tree for a bit and if I'm really lucky a pair of rosellas or rainbow lorikeets will also make an appearance.  It's a wonderful way to start the day and every day it makes me smile and I never want to let it go.

Not only that, my own back yard has led me to meet so many wonderful people!  In the last couple of months alone more than 20 families have been to visit to help themselves to fruit from my trees.  I had only ever met a couple of them before, now I have a whole bunch of new friends!  I'm happy just to give my produce away but it's also a wonderful old fashioned way to barter and I'm always over the moon when people bring things to swap, it's so much appreciated.  Even the windfall doesn't go to waste!  A friend of mine passed on my number to a hobby farmer who keeps pigs and every few days he and his children come around after school and fill up buckets with fruit that is 'past it' for humans but perfect for pigs!  In exchange I now get free eggs and have been promised roast pork and bacon by way of thanks in the not too distant future!  And then there's Fred.  The first day I met Fred he had jumped over the neighbours' fence and was helping himself to my apples!  Not that it was a problem, I had already told the neighbours and their kids to hop over and take whatever fruit they wanted whenever they felt like it; I was just a little taken aback to see a strange man in my garden!

Anyway, as I quickly discovered, Fred was a complete fountain of knowledge when it came to growing just about everything and from our regular chats which followed I learned heaps about mulching, how to get more yield from my trees and what I should be doing with my banana bunches to name just a few!  He promised to return with a jar of home made chutney and this he did just a few days later.  Turns out Fred is a total whiz at making jams, chutneys and other home made goodies. Tomato relish, spicy peach or feijoa chutney - they're all amazing and Ali and I happily scoff them all. These days Fred uses the driveway and it's always a delight to see him when he ambles up on his bike!

As for the inside of our home, I love it just as much as the outside, with its warm, pumpkin coloured walls, slanting ceilings and timber beams.  I love my retro kitchen too, with its wonky cupboards and benches that are way too high but suit me just fine.  At this time of year I can hardly wait for the evening to close in so I can light the fire, draw the heavy curtains, switch on my up-cycled lamp with its leopard pattern shade and light my favourite vanilla candle.  I know, I'm a creature of habit.  Not to mention a bit of a hippy!  But I love it and it's all we need to light our tiny place.  The very real thought that I'm probably going to have to sell it is really starting to scare me but I'm not finished yet. There are still more jobs to apply for, more stuff to sell and more miracles to pray for!  So I guess I'll carry on keeping up appearances for a while longer.  Thank you to all my allies for 'coming out of the closet' - at least to me.  As we all know, it really helps to know you're not alone!

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