I try to hit all the stops. And then I really do stop.
Like last Sunday – I was jerked bolt upright at 8:30 AM by the realisation that I did not have to go to work in the cotton fields. Of course we don’t live in Mississippi and I’m retired anyway, but there was still that feeling. And once up, you can’t go back to sleep. The cat will make sure of that.
Then it was off to the shower, the shaver, and the sh….umm..let’s change the subject.
Breakfast. They say we must start the day with a substantial breakfast. Toast is substantial. So is oatmeal. So is rum and motor oil, for that matter. Don’t get near me when I burp.
Out to the Little Workshop. On with the radio. Olde Tyme Wireless from Wireless Hill. So you can avoid the horrid music of millenials by listening to equally vacuous stuff from baby boomers. And it is true that we pluggers can identify a piece of music from the first two notes – if it is one of the only three that the station owns and plays repeatedly. Anyone fancy a Walk In The Black Forest?
Lunch? Don’t mind if I do. The chicken and celery soup is attractive, seeing as it is left over and doesn’t need any effort to heat up. No-one else in the family will eat it, so I get as much as I want.
Shall I work or shall I nap?
And dinner. I must prepare dinner. Fortunately there is an electric oven and as long as you let things cook over a slow heat they will be fine. Too many people think that an fan-forced oven run at welding temperature will be more efficient, but they are eaters for efficiency, and are welcome to it. I cook for flavour, and if this takes 3 hours rather than a blowtorch, so be it.
And the dinner need not be hurried when it is ready. It’s Sunday night and the family is home and there is nothing more important to do than the roast and three veggies. And the glass of red wine. And of course one must not drive or operate machinery after this. Safety in all things.
Sometimes people in Australia have a ” Christmas In July ” dinner. These are mostly migrants from the northern hemisphere who wax nostalgic about the cold weather and sitting around a fire with their hot toddy and plum pudding. That’s all very well, but they never seem to get equally maudlin about blizzards on the prairies or snow freezing on the points at Didcot.
I wonder if there is a tendency amongst Australians overseas to do a similar celebration – except do it on the hottest day of a northern summer? They could all sit round sweltering with beer and prawns. And do beach cricket…amongst the gravel and pebbles of the average English beach that should be quite an experience…
We’ve just done the rellie run to pack in a Chrissie lunch before the in-laws fly off to Broome to celebrate the 25th with other children and grandchildren. The 16th of December will now be my vote for official Christmas lunch – because spacing it out a week and a bit before the 25th means that nearly all the extraneous pressure is off.
The previous years’ trips to a coastal city 60 kilometres away was done on the freeway, but there was nothing free about it. Every vehicle in the metro area was fighting their way down south at the same time. Hour and a half, sometimes…
Today? Clear road all the way there and back. 40 minutes either way.
No last-minute fight in the grog shops or supermarket either – food was easy to get. No queues at the petrol pumps.
The family was still the family and the decorations, food, drink, and fun were still the same. Now we’ll have an easier run on the 25th and dine at a hotel buffet – again no massive cooking chore. Why did we not think of this years ago?
A Facebook image has come through from an old work colleague who is far away, but has kept in touch to share pictures of her new-born baby. I am delighted to see the pictures, and as Mum is a professional photographer, I expect we’ll be given an insight into the life of the family for many years to come.
The most miraculous part of the image is how much of the mother and father we can see in the photo. It’s a baby face but those who have seen the parents see them again in a new blend.
Now for decades we have been told how marvellous it is for animals to be able to recognise their offspring in a herd – the camels, penguins, and whatever who are able to claim their hatchlings in spite of all the rest. We are told that they do it on smell, or instinct ( in-stink? ), or some other mumbo-jumbo and asked to marvel at abilities that far outstrip those of humans. Well, I can tell you that’s a crock…people can do it too, and with as much precision as any other mammal.
Leaving aside the members of the animal kingdom that lay eggs and run for it – not a bad stratagem as it turns out…we are amongst the organisms that are expected to own up to our own. It is a social norm that we do not abandon them in K-Mart and that we will be present for at least one school concert. It might be stretching things a little to ask us to put up major bail money, but I know people who have. And a rotten investment it proved, in a few cases…
Well, away from that, I want to point out to anyone who wishes to credit the rest of creation with more than they are willing to assign to humanity, that people can do it too. We see the face of a new-born baby and can see the faces of not only the parents, but a whole raft of relatives as well. We see Uncle Margery and Aunt Fred. We see grandparents long dead and dust. And we do it on a topography that is as undistinguished as a lump pf Pillsbury dough. The features we descry are nothing more than a millimetre of shadow on a bland surface…and yet we can be as accurate in genealogy as if we were working with a million points of measurement and a Kray computer.
If that is not a super-power, I don’t know what is. Go Humanity. We may not know what we are doing, but we can tell whose kid it is…
When those I love are far away…
This may sound terrible but I assure you it is not. I am merely echoing the joy a friend felt when her family was absent for the evening and she could enjoy cooking for herself. I know exactly where she is coming from.
You have the freedom to play your own music or screen your own television – but frequently it is just a case of having some relief from enduring THEIRS that makes the evening special. Silence can be far more than golden – it can be antibiotic, therapeutic, and blessed all at once.
Of course too much of it can tell on a nervous system that is attuned to ” MUM! HE’S HITTING ME! ” or ” MUM, THE WATER IS COMING THROUGH THE CEILING! “. The feeling that something ominous is happening can weigh on you – even if it is nothing more than the fact that the mortgage is growing. Some parents find it necessary to let off a smoke bomb every half hour or so to anchor themselves to reality.
Solitude once one has pupped is a rare thing. Children need something all the time – diapers, school costumes, bail money…the list is never ending. Even when they are not actively destroying the settee or the dog, they are there with the potential to do so – a wise parent never lets themselves lose consciousness of their surroundings. Foxholes and claymore mines only go so far in family affairs. You need to be actively alert…
I have welcomed the digital age and the X,Y, Z or whatever generation’s concentration on small computer screens – this has kept them within the range of observation for most of the time. Now they have Pokemon to pursue and it is even better – they go out looking for electronic signals and leave me alone in the house. Unfortunately the expeditions do not generally provide enough time for a locksmith to come and change the barrels in the doors, but one day this may be possible.