I received these beautiful note books in the mail recently as a birthday present from my dear friend Jennifer. I was overjoyed. Apart from the fact that they are so gorgeous, it’s extra special to receive something handmade with love.
Jennifer is a talented surface designer and quilter. For as long as I have known her (nearly thirty years) she has been creating beautiful and inspiring things. These days she works from her studio on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, in Canada, where I would love to be hanging out. Why do my special friends live so far away?
Christmas Eve dinner was at my house this year. But first, did you notice the Chinese figures on the cabinet in the background? Here’s a close up.
Aren’t they charming? I just love them. They make me happy. And I especially love them because they were a gift from Son number two and his girlfriend, who are home from China for Christmas – and for my 50th. I know, I can’t believe it either. But I’m adjusting. Lovely gifts have helped a lot.
Anyway, somewhere along the way our extended family started having two Christmas dinners – a hot one with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve and a cold one with salads, seafood and other such deliciousness on Christmas day. It spreads the festivities out a bit, and makes sense because we cook enough turkey to last both days and the rest. The turkey cooking is men’s business actually, apart from the stuffing which is my mother’s job (that and the pumpkin pie), and is cooked in the barbie.
Many hands make light work. One benefit of your kids growing up is that they can be useful in the kitchen, talented even. Niece number one made the most amazing cranberry sauce (with fresh/frozen berries) infused with cinnamon and star anise. I can’t begin to tell you how well these flavours marry with turkey. Niece number two made her signature dish of warm beetroot, pumpkin salad with goat’s cheese and walnuts, equally stunning with turkey and the glazed ham. Their mother did a mighty fine job with her pavlova. We decided to mix it up a bit this year and went for a lighter dessert with the heavier meal and a heavier dessert for the day time meal. I think we got it right.
It’s been one of those weeks where things just go a little hay wire. But we’re through it and it’s all good. I’m on that ‘thank God for the normal day’ high, you know what I mean? Just thankful for the simple every day things you usually take for granted. Oh to hold on to that gratitude.
The brilliant news in this neck of the woods is that the surgery to remove my Dad’s brain tumour has gone very well. Better than expected, according to his nurse practitioner, who says he’s her star patient this week. Apparently it’s not usual to be sitting up reading The Australian the morning after brain surgery. It’s a long road ahead, but hallelujah.
To top it off, my Mum, who has been a little run ragged this week, as you might imagine, last night was awarded the Complex Weavers Award at the Fibre Fest – New Traditions Exhibition, currently showing at the Mt Cootha Auditorium, Brisbane. Isn’t that great? She contributes so much to the Arts community. It’s nice to see her work appreciated. As well as being a wonderful artist, she’s such a champion.
And I’m already happy just thinking about watching No 1 Ladies Detective Agency tomorrow night. I’m a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith, particularly this series, and I can’t believe how well it’s been transported to the screen. It’s aesthetically delightful from start to finish, portrays Africa beautifully, and captures the inherent ‘goodness’ and uplifting spirit of the books. As my friend Nonie says, ‘they take you to a better place’. So does the film version.
And speaking of a better place, I was determined, for once, to have this home in a little better shape before David gets back for the week end. That was my task for the morning, and instead, here I am blogging. Displacement activity you think?
Ladies No 1 Detective Agency, ABC1 – Sunday 8.30pm
I still have more to tell you about Italy. I know, I’m a bit all over the place. I’m afraid my thoughts haven’t been terribly ordered or consistent of late. To tell you the truth, I haven’t felt much like talking. Since I returned from my trip, I’ve had to tackle THE question of moving back to Canberra, once and for all. It’s not that a decision hadn’t been made, it’s just that we keep changing it. The kid says he’s scarred for life, I’ve said I’ll pay for therapy. There have been lots of things to consider … Anyhow, the recent discovery that my dad (who has been in remission from cancer for two years) has a brain tumour, has confirmed that I’ll stay in Brisbane for the time being. The teenager will board in Canberra and David, who works in Canberra and commutes to Brisbane on weekends, and I, will to and fro. Clear as mud? I think it should work. For now. It feels right.
The good news about my dad is that the tumour is operable and a positive outcome is predicted. We feel grateful. He has surgery on Tuesday. It’s amazing what you can get used to in a very short period of time.
I’ve also had people staying. Not just any people, my dear friend Karen and her two little boys Malachai and Tobias (my godson) from Canada. You can read about this family’s life in the Canadian wilderness on Karen’s blog, Tree Changed. It’s another world! I’ve known Karen since she was her kids’ ages, and she use to babysit sons number one and two, many many years ago. I think I paid her a dollar an hour. But she was worth it.
Oh, and I just remembered, I knew there was something else… On a weekend visit to Canberra recently, son number three took a bite of a biscuit containing a peanut and ended up in hospital with anaphylaxis – life threatening allergic reaction. We’ve lived with his food allergies for 12 years, but it was a huge wake up call for us to be more vigilant – ask more questions about food, carry two epipens, and ring the ambulance immediately. Scary stuff.
Two weeks later, we were back at the Emergency Department after he woke with severe headache, stiff neck and nausea. He was diagnosed with Viral Meningitis, not to be confused with the more life threatening Bacterial Meningitis, but which has similar symptoms, and was home from school for a week. He was very upset about that. Not.
I think that covers it. But I’ve talked myself all out now and I’ll have to do Italy another time.
I have felt a bit ordinary this week and have had to slow right down, take it easy, surrender to my bed a little more than usual. Yesterday as I was doing just that, settling into a meditative mood, I realised how much I was enjoying the view. So much so that I got quite excited and had to grab my camera (so much for meditating …). I don’t really expect everyone else to share my excitement, but you can humour me. The point is really about taking a moment to enjoy the spaces we work hard to create and the bits and pieces that make up home. So much time and energy goes into the ‘doing’ and sometimes we (I) forget or are too busy to just appreciate.
if I really do have Chronic Fatigue, I can understand. What can I say? About five years ago, while in India with my mother and sister, I discovered that I can do travelling. It was a fantastic discovery, given I had been very worried about going. I was worried that I would get sick, wouldn’t be able to keep up, ruin everyone else’s holiday. How would I have my naps? Well, it turns out that I can sleep very well in cars, trains and buses, and otherwise manage to work my day around a nap somewhere. In fact, I discovered I am my best while travelling. I can only put this down to no chores and responsibilities, meals on tap, and the great adrenalin rush that comes with adventure (and shopping). What can I say? It agrees with me and I should have more …