m i a o w

–YOU KNOW YOU KNEAD IT–

Feeling fruity

At our sewing class this morning, one of only two this term, there was a plate of fruit. Peaches, plums and grapes – all from their property. Every single piece of fruit was sublime. They are frantically trying to keep on top of it all – bottling, stewing, dehydrating… Before they head on holiday and leave the rest – to us!

We will be housesitting there for a month or so from mid-February, and Small DB in particular, can barely wait. She has put herself in charge of looking after the chooks and the sheep, and her sister in charge of the aged (worryingly aged) cat and two stick insects. She has borrowed a garden book from the library so she can identify plants and herbs, and has great plans for what we might bake. She muses fondly on the ice cream we might put in their freezer. We had a lovely time looking after the same house for a week this time last year

It is a nice thing to have on the horizon – it will cut down the driving I do getting the Smalls to their activities, and it will mean that M gives the boat his undivided attention for five weeks. He won’t be called in to fix the toilet, have lunch, rescue my sanity – he will just be doing his two days a week on Dadda Duty while I work. He might come for dinner every few nights.

I am (not so) secretly hoping that this will be the last big push before we get on the water… But that has been hoped many times before. I don’t object so much to the boatyard as somewhere to live temporarily, but it has been a year and I’m pretty done with it. I’ll be happy to have a house around me for a little while. I’ll be even more happy to sail away on an adventure being tied to NO SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES for a considerable time. I hope it’s soon.

February too…

  • Food – packing snacks to try and get us through the day without buying extras
  • Music – first violin lessons of the year
  • Travel – off the peninsula, on to the peninsula – many kilometres in the car
  • Books – going to Frankston Library and revelling in its hugeness
  • Friends – catching up at Small DB’s karate practice, crocheting, chatting
  • Mayhem – the Smalls spending too long on a spinning thing at the playground and Small DB vomiting an ocean of hard boiled eggs, yogurt and sushi without any warning over herself and a quarter of the car when we are halfway home…
  • Teamwork – I hose her down and put her in the bath, M throws together a great dinner and then goes out to be the Sick Remover while I wash up and coax Smalls to bed
  • Wine – I say cheers to my Dad over a glass of two of white wine – Small Z hugs me, and asks,
    “Should we make Beard a cake?”
    “No, I don’t think so. We are thinking of him, and he is in our hearts. Cheers and Happy Birthdays are enough.”
    “OK mama. Happy birthday, Man With Beard.”

February

It’s my mum’s birthday today, although we celebrated yesterday for the convenience of others. It being her birthday means this: tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. The first and the second of February – I used to harangue them about thoughtlessly marrying, having no thought for the financial ruin that their two birthdays would bring upon their offspring.

This year, my mum is here. And my dad is not. Despite his absence he is not gone from me; he is in my every day. I wonder if this is normal. I wonder if this is the outcome of only seeing him once a month or so over the past two and a half years – half the time I feel like we’ll probably be catching up next week.

We all know we are going to die but only seldom do we feel the hot breath of its reality. When I have an existential crisis about such things, all I can see are the flickering edges of existence – how miniscule we are in the scheme of it all – as if an asteroid has passed just by my ear and left me fervently thanking my lucky stars – and then going to make a fresh cup of tea.

The reality of our lifespan, the minimal impact of our existence – they can only touch me for fleeting moments before the thoughts are too big to grasp, the reality too great. I don’t think I saw my dad for his birthday last year. He wasn’t really celebrating, he knew it was unlikely he’d see another one. Didn’t want presents.

I can hear his voice clearly, what he would say when he picked up the phone. I have a million Skype conversations, emails, some books and memorabilia. But I feel the need to delve into none of them. Because tomorrow will be, as well as his birthday, another day of my life ticking by, with Smalls to ferry to violin and karate, shopping to be done – and in fact, it will be similar to most days – where time ripples by and you barely notice, and all the while I have him there, a silver ribbon woven into the tapestry of my existence, constant and continuing, whether he is physically present, or not.

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I lost my first tooth when someone kicked it. I was four, and tangled in a huge and amicable scrimmage between the prep class and their grade six ‘buddies’ on the oval. I thought I had a pebble in my mouth. I spat it out. It wasn’t until I got back to the classroom that I realised my mouth didn’t feel quite right. There was a gap.

Dad picked me up from school that day – not something I remember happening very often. I was tearful and toothless. “My tooth,” I told him. “It’s on the oval.” I held his hand and we walked to the middle of the oval, scouring the grass for my tiny eye-tooth. He must have known we would never find it, but said nothing until I finally gave up.

He took me then to the All Souls Op Shop in Sandringham – somewhere I still love to go – and told me I could pick whatever I wanted. This was enormous. A responsibility. I was thrilled beyond measure, but intent, as well, that I should get something worthy of the occasion. I might never have such an opportunity again.

I picked, for some reason, an oval china dish – one that you might keep trinkets in. I still have it, packed away.
“Do you remember when I lost my tooth?” I asked him, the last time we saw each other.
“I remember,” he said.

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Twinkle Twinkle Wah Wah Wah

Z picks up her violin and tries to play a few tunes to practice – it sounds like she’s sat on a cat. 
“I can’t play! I can’t play! There’s been too many gaps in my practice and I can’t remember it! And I haven’t practiced my karate either and everyone else will have been practicing and practicing. I’m STUPID. I’m STUPID. Everyone will expect me to be good at karate and I won’t remember ANYTHING.”

She wails and rants and cries in this vein for ten minutes before returning to the violin, tentatively trying ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

“Oh!” She says, immediately consoled, “I think it’s out of tune!”
Catastrophe averted, karate forgotten. The more fatigue, the more superlatives… All the females on this boat need A Good Sleep – after three nights of camping, one night disturbed by bad dreams and a late night sleeping over at the Nana’s. Goodnight…

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