Summer Idyll

I have been extremely lackadaisical about writing my blog over the Christmas period. Perhaps it was all the cooking and general busyness. Perhaps it was the aftermath of eating and napping. I have become like one of the cats: sunning my belly on the deck and snoozing away the afternoon.

Even though there were only four of us, Christmas lunch with my parents was still pretty complex. Homemade pies with beef cheek slow-cooked in red wine. Ham triple-glazed in cranberry sauce and manuka honey. Corn on the cob. Potato & egg salad. Coleslaw of red cabbage, kale, carrot, celery, and sunflower seeds. Another salad of rocket, parmesan & pear, tossed in garlic salt & balsamic vinaigrette. And then we followed that with fruit salad, ice cream, and pavlova with cream and strawberries. A good (if elaborate) summer lunch. And then cheese and crackers, which became my dinner as well.

I deliberately bought the smallest ham I could find (and free-range, of course). It was 1.6kg (about 4lbs), so we’re still left with quite a bit of ham in the fridge. My husband will no doubt do what he can to make it into sandwiches, and perhaps it will find its want into an omelette or soup, but at least it’s a much more manageable size than the ham we gave away. The leftover salad was taken care of within 24 hours, and there was no leftover dessert. There’s still a lot of cheese, and booze, and chocolate, but everything will dwindle with time. The napping may also have been an side-effect of the ongoing snacking.

After lunch, for some reason my family felt motivated enough to drive out to the lighthouse on the Manukau Heads. None of us had ever been there. Only thing is, it’s a long, narrow and windy road, and it turns out that the gate to the lighthouse reserve closes at 5pm – at least that’s what the sign said. So by the time we’d picked our way up the peninsula we never did get to see the lighthouse, but I look pictures of the landscape just to entertain myself. The feathery grass, the pitted sand bank, the rough moss and bracken. It was quite beautiful in its own way. Rugged and windswept – part of an older world.

It is frankly a miracle to be able to spend both Christmas and Boxing Day with my husband, and neither of us have to work. We went down to the beach on Boxing Day (where I slipped over on a rock pool and sliced my hand open on the barnacles). The beach was virtually empty, which I guess meant that everyone else was out shopping. We wandered around the point at low tide and found a freshwater spring and a small cave. My husband made jokes about hunting for signs of “sea-squatch”. We found oysters and tiny crayfish, but left them alone. It was an idyllic way to spend a quiet, lazy day.

Now… back to that ham.



Giving Thanks

Why exactly do we insist on giving thanks by eating copious amounts of food? It does kind of make sense if we are thankful for a harvest, and if the weeks leading up to this have been starving times where we waited impatiently for the food to come… But like most people in the Western world, I have a supermarket nearby, so the highs and lows of subsistence farming no longer affect me. Basically I’m just showing thanks through gluttony.

And there’s still Christmas to come.

My husband was grateful though. Grateful that I would rush home after 11 hours at work to cook a big meal so that he could come home from his work day and eat dinner with his wife. And I am grateful that he is wonderful and he wants to have a meal with me. And that he will do the dishes.

I’m grateful that we finally found a section to buy, and figured out how to make the loan work, even though it’s currently crippling us financially.

I’m grateful that we have a happy home, with 3 sometimes-lovely cats (even though Scrappy kept jumping up on the table throughout dinner and trying to steal turkey off our plates).

I’m grateful that our plants are mostly growing, and in a few months there will be harvests of our own to do.

But mostly I am grateful for him and how supportive and kind he is. I am grateful for that every day.

Despite the harshness of the past winter, there is so much to be grateful for this year.


House Guests

I really cannot understand why my mother insisted on telling me all about how large-breasted women suffer from back ache. She told me this as if it was a fact I didn’t know, and that I should feel sorry for all those poor women. She kept repeating it, just to be sure that I understood. She used anecdotes of distant relatives who had problems, so that I could better comprehend that women I’d met had suffered terribly.

My mother has a AA bust. It fits her well, and she seems happy with it. I have a GG bust. I know all about back ache. I’m lying here now with my upper back spasming, because released the weight off my bra and the muscles are all struggling to stretch back out and relax. It’s the same every time I lie down.

And it made me wonder if we ever reach a time when parents start to grasp the fact that you have life experiences beyond what they have taught you. I am 38 years old.

My mother has been staying with us on and off over the past week, bringing trailers of dirt up to the new section and helping me with the planting (bless her). It is assistance gratefully received, but it sure is odd living with my mother again.

I won’t go into more detail. It’s just that nervous combination of guilt-trips, shame, and near-arguments that add a frisson to life. A frisson of “I love you but I’m glad you’re going home tomorrow”.

Been to Hell and back. I can show you vouchers.

It’s still stupidly cold.

I’m still (stupidly) arguing on the internet. And it’s really bummed me out now. Being called names by a family member will do that to you.

I really should have let it go, but people who saw you as a raw teenager tend to always know how to push your buttons. Still, I’m a grown up and I was keeping it civil and intellectual. He was the one who made it personal, so I flipped another namaste and left.

Still a bummer though. I do try to be a good person. Not everyone will agree. Some people may look at my life as an abject failure (apparently) but I have fought to overcome a lot, and am largely satisfied with and proud of the life I have built from my ashes. I know that it doesn’t meet everyone’s model of success, but (for me) breathing is a success. When you’ve been close to death, breathing is always a success.

Continue reading Been to Hell and back. I can show you vouchers.


Thursday was always going to be the biggest day of my week. Site meetings with four different contractors, and the first big earthmoving task to do: digging the trench for the main power connection.

And then I was meant to come home and clean the whole house for my family to come over tomorrow… but apparently they’re not coming now, so we can gratefully continue to live in squalor for another day.

Continue reading Thursday

Equal and Opposite Reaction

It’s been a difficult day for more than one reason.

However, it’s enormously heartwarming to open up the laptop with a sense of resignation and see my newsfeed full of nothing but love and empowerment. Love in the face of death. It reminds me that, as I’ve aged, I’ve chosen better friends.

My thoughts are so wholly on the suffering and courage of other people tonight. Love, like energy, never dies. It just changes form. And sometimes applying a violent force to love just causes it to explode and cover everything it can touch. It is Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

For my brother and his beautiful wife.