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I bet I can do that

Flourishing now, fruit later

I bet I can do that.

It’s a mantra I learned from my Mumini. Don’t misunderstand: it’s not like she wandered the house, murmuring it over and over like some sort of Lady Macbeth of self-sufficiency. That would be weird, although it would make juicy fuel for a memoir. But if something was wanted in our house, she could usually do it. She can draw, crochet with thread as fine as cobwebs, embroider and she can sew like she made a pact with the devil for it. My childhood memories are crammed with requests that she produce something random (“I want a pig made of an old stocking with a button for a nose!”) which she would then produce magnificently. She once sewed an entire wedding party: the six bridesmaid dresses, the groomsmen’s matching waistcoats, the mother of the bride’s outfit, and the bridal gown — a full-blown EXTRAVAGANZA of a dress with a hoop skirt, puffed sleeves, roses around the scoop back and an embroidered golden monogram, good grief. Now, if I tried to undertake that sort of project, it would start badly, continue worse, and end up with me sobbing by the clothesline, as per the Pavlova Incident of 2007.

She made most of our clothes as we grew up, partly out of economic motivation, but mostly out of sheer love of it. I have fond memories of a sweater-dress made from grey marle fleece with a glorious quilted/appliqué galah on the front. I have even fonder memories of my staggering collection of lycra tights in various colours of the rainbow, not to mention my many stirrup pants.

My Mumini knew what a pre-teen needed in the 1980s and it was NEON.

My Mumini is a lady of many talents: she can draw like nobody’s business, she can stretch a dollar until you could shield your house with it, she can wrestle ivy into submission and make wild violas erupt into shrubs just by force of will (seriously, it’s like they spring up in her footsteps or something). She has lived through traumas and family tragedies that can break people and she came through laughing — and, even more: she pulled the rest of us through and made us laugh as well. She’s brave, tough as a dog-toy, smart, kind and funny. She has a near-infinite capacity to find love and patience for others that I can only hope to cultivate. And it’s her birthday today.

My Mumini taught me — completely without meaning to, I suspect — that “I bet I can do that” is a secret code for a kick-arse approach to life. It’s one of the reasons I love making my own yoghurt/bread/muesli/etc. It’s the reason that, when I see new clothes, furniture, food, sports, challenges, my first thought is “I bet I can do that”.

The strawberries pictured above: my nearly-dead plants have erupted over this past spring into a pair of runner-sprouting fools, sending out shoots in every direction and flourishing. I was going to work on a metaphor about the joy they bring me with their determination, their ability to try all different directions, their sweetness and perseverance, JUST LIKE my Mumini — then I figured, I could just say that.

Thanks, Mumini. Happy birthday.

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