My Nanna was one of the people has influenced me the most. She was a truelly remarkable lady. Her life was not an easy one but she was such a positive person who just got on with what needed to be done. She managed her family through the depression and world war two. She had to endure the doctors decision to sacrifice her unborn baby boys life so she could live and provide for the children she already had. She never forgot this baby, the little boy she named but never saw. She only found out where he was buried when she was in her 60's - in a unmarked area of the cemetry where stillborn babies were buried together. Even at the age of 80 she would talk about him, not in a grief stricken way but as a matter of fact way. She was a breast cancer surviver of more than 15 years. She went through a mastectomy, chemo and radiation and just accepted it as a hiccup in her life. She talked about her false breast and her mastectomy in a positive way and just got on with living.
Nanna once said to me that she was an enviromentalist and a recycler before it was trendy to be one. By this she meant that out of necessity she needed to be frugal, needed to recycle and reuse things. She needed to care about here patch of earth and ensure it provided all she needed it to for her and her families day to day survival.
There are many things I remember about my Nanna and I thought I would share a few.
She started every morning with a warm water with lemon juice squeezed into it. The lemons were from a large old tree in the backyard that always seemed to have a never ending supply of lemons on it. The tree is still there in the yard and still provides a prolific amount of lemons each year.
She would sew, knit, crochet just about anything she set her mind to. This started out as being a necessity - making handmade dresses for her little girl, knitting socks for her husband, scarves, beanies, baby clothes etc. As she got older she began knitting and crocheting for pleasure and for here children and grandchildren. Each of her grandchildren were given a hand crocheted mohair blanket as a 21st birthday present. When I had Guitar Dude, my first born very premature baby, she was knitting tiny beanies, matinee jackets and booties for him using dolls clothes patterns. I still have all these put away. She made bunny rugs for her great grandchildren and the most adorable soft knitted toys, baby blankets. I have fond memories of sitting in Nannas kitchen , near the old kerosine heater and of her teaching me to knit. I am left handed and she was so very patient reversing everything and explaining the stitches to me, picking up my slipped stitches and providing me with endless amounts of wool.
Washing day was Monday. The clothes would be washed, hung to dry, brought inside to air, ironed and folded all on Monday. As the washing machine emptied into the laundry tub she would collect this water in buckets and water her plants with it. Not a drop of water went to waste. Even the left overs from the teapot went onto the garden.
Wrapping paper form present was recycled. We were encouraged to open the presents carefully by unsticking the sticky tape so as not to tear the paper. The paper was ironed to get rid ofthe creases and stored until needed for another present. Same with ribbons. This is something I do, as did my mum.
Nan lived in suburbia and over 3/4 of the yard was garden or fruit trees. There were apple trees, peaches and apricots, plums and lemons, raspberries, loganberries. And many, many vegetables. What she couldn't use was given to neighbours or family.
Leftover foods or scraps were composted in an old metal drum. Egg shells were placed on a tray and when she had been cooking she would place them int he oven, then when dry she would crush them and put around the vegetable garden to stop snails eating her veges.
Old clothes were reused and reused. And when they were threadbear she would use them as rags for dusting, cleaning windows, scrubbing the bath etc. Before using them all buttons, zips, lace or ric rac would be removed and reused in other sewing projects.
She made tomatoe and plum sauces to last all year, her own jams, relishes, biscuits and cakes. Visitors never ever left Nannas house empty handed. They were always given homemade food to take with them.
There are so many other things she did that I will share in another post. There is so many things I have learnt because of my Nanna, things that I do today not because I have to like my Nanna did but because I choose to.