Mum rang me this morning. My paternal grandmother’s had a bad fall. Nothing terribly unusual for someone of her age, sadly (she’s into her 80′s). She lives in a downstairs apartment of my aunt and uncle’s home. They were out of town and it looks like she decided to go upstairs, fell down the staircase. A family friend happened to call around, realised the dogs barking was completely out of character, and broke in through a back window. Poor Nana. She hasn’t broken anything, thankfully, but she’s badly bruised, and having heart issues.
I’m about to head out of town for a week. Our tech down in Christchurch needs a break from the earthquake zone, so the rest of us are being rotated down occasionally to cover him. This week is my turn. Tobermory and I have realised as a result that we haven’t actually been apart for that long in the four and a half years we’ve been together. The odd weekend here and there when the other person’s taken a trip somewhere, but not a whole week.
He’ll probably enjoy having the bed to himself.
The only thing I really object to about the trip, silly enough, is that it means I’ll miss a zouk lesson. I’m really enjoying my zouk classes, and I don’t want to skip one!
I’m looking down the home straight of going back to work, now. I’ve had a lovely holiday, I don’t really want to go back to the grind.
But, the last day will be a good one. I am going on a road trip to my hometown, with Kat. I’ll duck in and visit Mum, and we have plans to visit one of the tourist spots, and probably go swimming – what with six hours in the car, getting into togs and into the water Sounds Like A Plan. Plus I will be picking up a chair I acquired via TradeMe, trying to avoid speeding tickets, and generally going “whee, last day of holidays, Make It A Good One”.
I’ve had a good break. A nice mix of productive things and faffing about being lazy. The days around Christmas and New Year, I conscientiously sat on my bottom and ate as much as I felt like, interspersed with occasional amounts of cooking and tidying up the absolute minimum (ie, plates, trash). I did extend myself to the efforts of making some food, though – a roast chicken for Xmas dinner, a ham for New Year’s Day.
When Tobes had to go back to work, I did too. Around the house. I got the snug craft room – known for the last six months as “that room with all the stuff piled on the couch and no visible carpet” – tidied up, with the aid of some new storage and a bit of judicious recycling of empty cardboard boxes. I belatedly finished a couple of Christmas presents, having discovered enough desk space to be able to work. The spare bedroom is now actually usable as a bedroom again, and I even found a couple of headboards on Freecycle for the bed. I finally turfed out three trash bags full of unneeded clothes (also via Freecycle). I painted various external bits of the house that needed painting. I washed apparently endless amounts of laundry. I arranged the car’s registrations and warrants. I took down and washed and hung curtains, took down and replaced venetian blinds. Little housewifely busy bee.
I quite enjoy being a housewife. I kind of wish that we could afford for me to be a housewife. It’s not feasible, obviously, but it would be nice. The cats have enjoyed having me around – especially once the snug was tidy again and they could reclaim their perching places in there. And I get a lot done. The house gets tidier, laundry is all completed. I sort of ran out of oomph after wrenching my knee up a ladder, but that’s life.
I like my home, I like my home life. Plus, it’s summer, and being solar powered, I am happy.
This was my Christmas dinner table. During the day, my “number of guests to feed” went from three to two (myself and Tobermory and Ahze, then not Ahze then Ahze again) up to five (about half an hour before dinner, Thaqui came home and Colitis came over).
I had a size 24 chicken, however, so this wasn’t a terrible problem. I usually account for unexpected guests when I’m making dinner, as there is a tendency for people to show up randomly and need feeding around here. I don’t mind, I like that we’re the kind of house and kind of people where our friends are happy to wander in and be fed.
So, dinner was roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing (handmade by me), a large salad, mashed potatoes (with herbs and cheese), glazed carrots (sugar, honey, sesame oil), gravy (pan drippings and home-made stock), orange and cranberry sauce (made by me!)… and when we are not all so stuffed full of chicken that we can contemplate dessert, there will be hand-made fruit mince pies. With pastry and fruit mince made by me!
Yes, this is a weee bit gloaty, but I am proud of myself. The chicken was gloriously falling apart and properly cooked with lovely crisp skin, the potatoes were delicious, and for the first time since I started trying to make gravy my gravy was PERFECT and the right consistency and was tasty.
This might be the first Christmas that’s actually felt like a ‘proper’ Christmas.
I don’t really have any Christmas traditions – growing up in a family that didn’t celebrate it isn’t really conducive to having them! And Tobermory’s traditions revolve around, well, being in the Northern Hemisphere, for a start, with the attendant snow and ability to eat yourself into a stupor without boiling to death, plus his family gets together and does The Family Christmas Thing.
They have a twelve foot tree this year.
Tobes and I haven’t really had any traditions of our own. This year I got a real tree, mostly because he asked.
Now, it’s Christmas Eve. The presents (such as they are, as we’re having a cheap year – house repairs this year have been Expensive) are all wrapped. The lights on the tree are on. I have LED tealight candles on the staircase. His stocking, the one his mother embroidered for him while pregnant, is hung. The fridges are somewhat excessively full of food, an issue I plan to resolve in the next few days (along with some careful stashing of the inevitable leftovers in the chest freezer).
We had steak and salad for dinner – we’ve done this fairly consistently for the last few years. Why not, it’s summer, right?
And now we’re all ensconced on the couch, with various drinks and snacks, watching the Sky adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. I am warm, well fed, very happy and content, and snuggling with my husband.
This is a tradition that I can get behind.
Mum and I sometimes manage to talk about things. Religion, my teenage years, depression. The last time we spoke at any length about those topics, I found out that Mum had absolutely no recollection of what, to me, was a pivotal moment in my teens – the point when I stopped trusting Mum, the point where I stopped confiding in her.
I’d already realised that I wasn’t cut out for her faith. I just couldn’t do it, I wanted other things, I was miserable being forced into the mold young people in the congregation were expected to like, I wanted to be normal. We had an argument, no unusual occurrence for a teenage daughter and menopausal mother, and mid-argument, I finally summoned up the courage to say “but I don’t WANT to be part of the congregation, I don’t WANT to be part of that faith.”
Mum turned around, looked at me, snorted, and said “oh, don’t be silly.”
It was a small moment, really. But I couldn’t believe that she’d called something so IMPORTANT to me silly. I tried to explain a few times, probably failing terribly badly in an overblown emotional teenage fashion, and the moment passed.
From that day forward, I lied to her. I lied about where I was and what I was doing, and who I was doing it with (or to, as the case may be). And I was utterly miserable for, god, I don’t even remember how many years. Teenage blues, yes, but I’ve realised that my stomach problems in uni were stress induced, the varying sleep issues I’ve had over the years are certainly stress-aggravated.