Wednesday, August 13, 2014

... on out and about and the little things.

Sometimes we get cabin fever and the squabbling reaches fever pitch and the nerves fray a little faster when the husband is away and it's solo parenting for over a week. Then it's time to rush everyone out of the door and no we are not staying home, and no, you cannot take electronics in the car and please put on your shoes even if you really hate the farm and can you maybe screech a little softer as i cannot find my keys ?

And then we are there and it's just down the road but it's a change of scene and we are out. The mood shifts and our feet crunch gravel and there's music playing, and so many people, it feels quite festive here today. We wonder down the path where the farmer's market sits and drool over pastries and freshly baked bread. We buy honey sticks and the kids bite into them at once. Fresh honey and i tell them about how we had beehives growing up, and how no honey ever tasted better. We eat our lunch in the shade of the grapevine and listen to the band playing country beneath the tree. It's Sunday afternoon and the sun is just perfect and we crack jokes and smile at each other again.

We stop to smell the flowers and watch a butterfly drifting up and down. The day feels slow and warm and full. I dream of one day growing my own wild jungly flower garden, behind the fence where the deer can't reach. We walk along the familiar path to see the lambs and talk about having a black one of our own, to keep the lawn trimmed. And because I love sheep.

We drive home, happy to have been out. Just a change of scene.

Like the carnival the night before, with candy floss and lots of rides. A stripey tiger was even won and cuddled all night long.

And tonight the skies opened at the end of football practice, I the only mother not prepared with umbrella or jackets even though it rained on and off all day long. We clung to each other in the downpour and stumbled muddily up the dirt track from the field, now a running torrent of brown. Not an inch of us was dry but we were laughing at the adventure and there was something healing on a rough day that today was, to be all scrubbed clean and pink, eating egg on toast and drinking tea around the kitchen table. Feeling English. The sky dark outside and moths beating their wings against the screen door. The three of us warm inside, flowers from the garden bringing color to the table. Cuddles on the couch and quiet peacefulness in the house when sleep time came. 

It's the little things sometimes. Just the little things.


Friday, August 1, 2014

On heaviness and beaches and escape is a good thing (sometimes) ...

This year has had a heaviness to it. It has dragged and bumped and ground it's way along instead of soaring weightlessly like an airborne kite. It has left me tired and wanting to stay low to the ground, out of the way of gusty winds and high places. Quiet, retreating, re-assessing. Not like the busy fullness of last year, this one has had a weight to it, i carry it on my shoulders.

I've watched family and friends around me suffering in too many different ways ... broken hearted twice too many times. Illness and life challenges and unplanned changes in direction and battling the head winds ... and i've had to stand by helplessly, hoping everyone finds their course again, hoping for gentle landings and healing and new beginnings and for things to come right again. 

I watch the news on the Middle East and think how sometimes I only see grey, and not the black and white - not wanting to take sides ... i think of history and the pain of generations and how hatred and misunderstanding can so easily grow and become entrenched until it's such an integral part of a place, a people, a culture. How history can define us and how hard it is to break free. How i see no sides but only suffering and violence and I think of the children and the mothers and the tears and the losses. On both sides.

Sometimes when the weight becomes too heavy, it's time to run away for a little while and that's what we did. Just for a week, just up the coast. A few hours driving but a world away. Our first vacation in over two years. Long overdue. Quiet gardens and soft rain, gentle beaches and a slow soothing week away. For me at last a chance to stay completely unplugged (by choice), just time for early morning walks and bidding each day goodnight on the beach, feet bare and sandy and counting shells. Books and naps and ice-creams and windy waves. It was good for the soul. Just a reprieve. A chance to put the weight down for a little while and then, when it was time to come back home, the weight felt just a tiny bit lighter than before, or maybe my shoulders stronger and able to take the load again.

Sometimes that's what we need, a reminder of what is beautiful and quietly blossoming in the world. A chance to breathe and collect ourselves again. To remember the good that people are doing in their own ways everywhere, the unexpected surprises, no matter how small ... the lovely words being sent out daily into the ether from all corners of the world ... the books and poems and songs and blog posts and funny quirky jokes on Facebook. They restore our faith, they help us take deep breaths and carry on.

Sometimes we just need to sit quietly on the edges of a water too big to fathom, so that we remember that we don't need to have all the answers, all at once (or ever!), that not everything will make sense, that sometimes we're so confused and lost and we wander blindly but then we turn a corner, unexpectedly, and find something light and new and wonderful. Sometimes on that beach we see the beauty in the sunrise and a white shell fresh from the sea and it's enough just to be sitting there, salty air and cool breezes. Just that.

Wishing all of you many moments of lightness and airborne kite flying, and a lot less of the heaviness in the months ahead.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The other mom ... and bedtimes

Somewhere out there is a mom who glides beatifically through bedtime. She is calm. Serene. She speaks quietly yet firmly and all who are in her path, listen. She does not need to raise her voice. She does not need to yell. She could be humming mantras as she walks slowly up the stairs, children following happily.

She does not scream. She is not snatching at loose limbs as they come careering past her, desperate to grab a hold and to gain control. She does not whack out at passing bottoms or heads, or yank an ear of somebody not listening. HER children do not laugh in her face when she tells them to get into the shower, or that it's time for bed. There are no tantrums or bodies thrown onto the floor in protest in her house. 

There is only calm. Peacefulness. Everyone knows their place. The routine familiar and secure. She has been perfecting it since her children were infants. Each and every one of them knows the routine, it does not vary.

In her house some nights are not television and others video games, some nights playmobil scenes which take over the whole bottom floor of the house. Late nights at the pool or dinner eaten in the garden. In her house baths are taken like clockwork, not dependent on mood or levels of dirt. Swimming does not count as bathing and lack of sweat is not a decent excuse to skip. Bathtime is a happy time of bubbles and toys and the last rays  of sun beaming down onto rosy cheeks.

Cheeks well fed with nutritious home made meals, lovingly prepared while children draw or play outside. Harmoniously. She hardly ever has to interrupt her cooking to walk outside and issue a stern word. Hardly a need to reprimand. HER children know how to behave. They are kind and courteous, even to each other and when she calls them to dinner they run inside eagerly and wash their hands and sit down nicely without scrabbling for chairs or pulling wedgies on their sisters. THEY do not spit into each other's plates or pour spoons full of food into each others water glasses. THEY do not eat with fingers or speak with mouths full of food. They never ever swear. In their house dessert happens only on weekends and no one knows what soda even is.

Teeth are well brushed and there are no cavities. Hair is not left tangled at bedtime and there are always enough socks in the morning. Clothes are not found littered in piles across the floor or thrown into the laundry because no one can remember if they are dirty or clean. There are always enough clean towels. The toothpaste never runs out.

Somewhere there is a mom who handles bedtime with gracefulness and ease. She manages to keep it fun but also stays in control, firmly but kindly. She can laugh and steer the sillyness to her advantage, so that it's a competition to see who's ready for bed first. She smooths a stray curl, tucks and kisses. Her bedtimes are reassuring and full of love. Her children never tell her they hate her or wish she wasn't their mom. And if they did she would smile and say just the right words in response.

Her bedtime is not fraught with chaos, an emotional rollercoaster of shouting and no one listening. She is never ignored or worse still, laughed at. She does not have to resort to threats or hot sauce or creative punishments. In her house the hour before bedtime is a time of calm and family cuddles. When bedtime is done, she glides downstairs into her gleaming kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. There are always clean cups and the dishes from dinner are already cleared away.

She never stumbles downstairs to piles of dishes on the counter and thinks maybe breaking them might be a sensible alternative to washing them again. She never dreams of running off into the night and letting her offspring fend for themselves for a night. And if she were to think said thoughts and maybe share them with her kids, HER offspring would never celebrate and decide that it was cause for a party. She would never walk back upstairs to find one of them wearing a pink witches hat and a pair of glasses, looking highly dismayed to see her back again and saying 'but you said you were giving up, we were going to have a party all night.'

Somewhere out there a mom glides around the house after bedtime, calm and unruffled and still smiling. Her husband smiling proudly down at her.

Somewhere out there another mom looks as if she's been dragged through the
bushes backwards, reaching for the coffee or something stronger at 9.25 pm. The house is finally silent, her partner not yet home, and she ignores the piles of dishes and bills still to be paid. She takes her coffee or something stronger and staggers onto the couch to collapse in front of the T.V. where for a few hours she gets to forget which of the two houses she lives in, before she wakes up the next morning to do it all again.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What i love about summer ....

To those of you in the Southern reaches of the world, dreaming of sunshine and warm blankets, cooking soup and stews and making fires ... i hope you stay warm in the winter cold - i wish you good books and slow cups of coffee. Chocolate and red wine. Today tho, i'm celebrating summer because we get such a short time each year of hot sun and blue skies, and so we have to celebrate it. And we are. There is no shortage of summer-lovin-gratitude going on here.

So without further ado, here's what summer means around here.

Finally making a start on the vegetable garden. 
A start i said. It will take time.

                                        Lavendar blooming ....

Blueberries ripening ...

Throwing leftovers into a salad.
Eating more healthily.

                  Daytrips. We drove to Cold Springs, NY on Sunday for a little            
                       afternoon wondering the streets and eating ice-cream. 
                   It was lovely to find a new place to explore. I've missed that.

Trips to the beach have been planned.
The hammock has been dyed and is ready for long afternoons
in the shade, with a book.
The pool is open and the water is almost warm enough for the 
grown-ups to go in. The smaller ones among us seem to not
mind blue lips and chattering teeth.

 Wishing you a wonderful summer if you're on the Northern side of things. 
Here's to pinterest boards of aqua blue and deep waters, island living and afternoon naps, sandy feet and seashells gathered on long walks on the beach.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Around here lately ....

Around here lately, we have watched the world change from this ...

to this ...

We had two special family visits .... 

And some weekends away ...

 We celebrated two birthdays ...

And i cleared space to play with paint ...

Summer has arrived and i'm excited to finally do some gardening and plant our first vegetables. School is winding down and in just a few more weeks it will be time for sleeping in (hopefully) and hot afternoons at the pool. Just days without a schedule and a million places to rush around between. I can't wait. The beach is calling. I have missed spending time there. 

Here's to tea and cake and chilling in the sun.

Happy Friday everyone.


Friday, May 30, 2014

On gratitude ...

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in envy, wishing for more, for the other, that which we do not have. To feel a little dissatisfied with the day to day struggle.

Browsing online ... looking at beautiful everythings on Pinterest and blogs and reading magazines where houses and lives seem picture perfect. Reading articles by people who are distinguished in their field - so successful, such full lives. Seeing photos of wonderful trips and adventures had.

Sometimes the day to day seems a little mind numbing and just the same, over and over, and we wish for things to change, for a little more adventure.
Sometimes our hearts ache and time does not heal and we cannot find the answers to our questions.

Sometimes, we just need to take a little step back and try to see with different eyes.

Somewhere, someone is fighting for their life. A lot of someones. There is a whole medical team devoted to helping those people to recover and hopefully be able to do the very simple things which might  feel tedious and mundane to those of us lucky enough to be able to do them every day ... take a walk, sit in a coffee shop, read a book, take a drive, run on the beach or sit and watch the sun setting slowly over the trees.
The normal and the every day, which actually when added up, add up to some pretty wonderful moments of living.
Somewhere, someone has lost someone they love.
Someone is grieving an ending, and no beginning in sight.

If you are able to find a patch of green grass to lie back on to watch the clouds drifting or the stars gazing down ...
If you can sip on a cup of coffee and get lost in a good book ...
If you have memories of adventures and passion in your heart ... and something to look forward to ...
If you find yourself laughing and something beautiful still lifts your spirit ...
If you have someone beside you in the world who loves you, who really sees you - a parent, a child, a sister or brother or husband or wife or best friend ... 

Then you have much to be grateful for.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.


Friday, May 9, 2014

On leaving home and tumbleweed ....

                         Scrapbook paper from We R Memory Keepers at Target

Ever since i was a little girl, i had a restlessness inside. My favorite part of school was where we learnt about other countries ... the Kimonos worn in Japan, how paella was made in Spain. I wanted to au-pair in Germany after school but my mother thought it would be best to finish my studies first. After a year at university a friend and I planned and dreamt of how we could leave to take a year out for travelling ... live and work on a Kibbutz, go backpacking around Europe.

I tried to move back home after my studies ended but instead of dreaming about getting married and buying a home and a car and starting a real job, all I could think about was leaving. Not to run away, but to see something new. The world was calling and the familiar roads of the towns i grew up in just didn't go far enough any more.

I've lived away from home for almost two decades and moved house more times than i can count. That restlessness is still inside, it's taking a lot of effort to stay in one place now that the children need to be in school and not moving every year. I haven't travelled to even half the places I still want to go and if i could, i would pack up and set off tomorrow around the States in a camper van and see where the road took me. I'd like to sail down the Amazon a little way at least and travel South America ... Morocco and India and Italy are still waiting.

But something happened along the way with all the moving and changing and restlessness. Something I didn't anticipate. With every move came a goodbye of some kind. To a place I had grown comfortable in, to people i had come to love. Friends travelled and then went home to start their lives surrounded by family and familiarity, support. They knew where they belonged. I waved others goodbye to new lives in other places in the world ... Australia, the Middle East, Europe, South America, New Zealand. And went to America to start another chapter. There was a whole continent waiting to be explored.

Now, looking back, it's the goodbyes that i think about the most, not the adventures I have had along the way. It's the people missing from my life. The friends and family I've known since i was little, the connection that happens when you spend your life living in one place. The people who challenged me and made me laugh. Who helped me see the world a little differently, who taught me something new. The ones who danced and painted and lived creatively. The ones who had a clear vision, who made a great cup of tea or knew when to open the bottle of wine, who emanated peacefulness. The ones I belonged the most to, even though i didn't realize it at the time. The ones who are family, the ones who share my passion for a country at the very tip of Africa.

We moved to this house almost a year ago and i felt such a sense of relief at finally having a real place to call home after all the years of moving and not knowing where we wanted to be. Not that we travelled all the time, not at all - there were jobs to hold down and rent to pay and we couldn't pack up and wonder the world, much as I wanted to. But we also weren't settled down. Not in a real grown-up kind of way. It always felt temporary, just a brief spot before we tried the next place to live. I thought this house would change the way I felt, that i'd finally feel like i'd come home, that the restlessness would leave and I would finally breathe out. 

Only, moving has meant even more goodbyes after a lifetime of saying them. Days of not seeing friends, have turned to weeks then turned to months. The phone has grown very quiet. The texts never come. No last minute playdates or ice-creams at the park. No dinner invitations or bottles of wine shared on a Friday night. The phone rings for someone else, we've shifted our place in the line. Right to the bottom. Living far away as we do from our families and the friends we have known since we were small, our friends here have become our family. Only now they have drifted because we're not longer close by and party of the everyday, and our places have been filled. It happens slowly, a playdate at a time. And suddenly almost a year has passed and they have stopped calling. It means I have to start over, again, here where we live, and I feel so tired and resistant to the idea. I feel like hibernating and hiding from the world.  I don't have the energy to get to know even one more person.

Instead of feeling like a tree, finally rooted and sinking down into the damp earth of our new home, I am a tumbleweed - empty and full of spaces, rolling out across the dust. Hollow inside. Still restless and ever moving. Instead of close friends at my table on a rainy afternoon when the sky has grown purple and the light is green, I feel their absence and lives lived in different directions as I sit across the world from so many that I love, and the rest of them are scattered across the world.

When i close my eyes I dream of a gravel courtyard, paper lanterns strung up across a broad old tree. A turquoise deep sky and a lemon slice of moon. Candles and fresh bread, bottles of wine. Wooden chairs all painted different colours. There is lavendar growing in my dream garden, heaps and bunches of it scent the almost-night air. The seats are filling with the people i love best in this world and in my dream, everyone belongs and everyone fits and no introductions or awkward ice-breakers are needed. We pass the food around the table, dishes are heavy and plates are piled high. The faces smile up at me in the candlelight and my heart swells with happiness. They are all here. You are all here. Here in one place. Everyone i love best in the world. 

Until then, i'll be blowing around the edges of my little world here, wondering if a gust of wind will be strong enough to come and blow me down the road. Maybe there's another horizon out there waiting for me.


    image via pinterest