Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cornbread anyone?

Thanksgiving! This has been a hit and miss celebration during our time in the US.  Twice Dom has been away, and last year I got a half turkey delivered so I didn't have to cook one. It ended up being dry and tasteless but since I was in my deranged post-partum state I can barely remember it. This year we are going to a pot-luck where I was encouraged to bring precisely nothing. Nothing? I thought this holiday was all about cooking and sharing?  There's a poster ad here for Newcastle Brown Ale which has a picture of a pint with the words, 'Making British food palatable since 1927'. The pot-luckers are obviously taking no chances with me.  I protested, and was given the task of producing some cornbread muffins. Knowing Dom likes bread sauce, I also suggested I bring some of that, in the name of cross-cultural diversity. We haven't made the bread sauce yet but yesterday I cooked up three batches of cornbread muffins, the first without wheat so as to be gluten free. These first ones turned out a little flat and fairly tasteless so I bought a mix, thinking if I baked them from a that, then I'd know how they should look and could work from there. Were they were meant to be all puffy with overhang like the blueberry muffins in Starbucks? Unfortunately I forgot the egg so the next dozen were just as flat and heavy.  Finally I made the last batch of cornbread just as the recipe suggested.  Certainly not light and fluffy.  Dom thinks they'd be better hot, with Marmite. Lucky we are not in charge of the turkey!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I actually did...

My weekend alone involved perhaps two overseas phone calls in the end, not the hours I intended - the sun was shining and I had the urge to ride my bike and when you are home alone, you can do what you want. So I rode my bike and browsed in an art shop, and went to the post office and browsed in a lumber shop, and sawed some wood (Jack's Christmas present is coming together...) and went to a yoga class and had an eyelash tint and ate supper early and read and wrote a bit.  I put on three washes and folded all the laundry and amid the quiet I listened to the radio. On Sunday morning I woke at six thirty with the blissful knowledge that I could go back to sleep if I wanted, which I did want. At eight forty five I was woken by the phone ringing. The boys had been up since five and figured I had to be up by now.  So I got up and ate breakfast slowly and suddenly it was eleven and I got a text saying 'Are we allowed home yet?' and in truth I was missing everyone. What I learned this weekend is that an empty laundry pile is an overrated pleasure, but a lie-in is not.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A weekend alone...

This weekend I am alone.  Dom has taken the boys to Sonoma until tomorrow.  The trip was actually delayed until this morning because Oli needed antibiotics dispensed, but this morning everyone was deemed well enough to travel. Train town is on the to-do list. Everyone is very excited.  So, here I am, at home, alone, with SO many things I want to do.  I feel disoriented by the silence and worried that I have so many things to do I will chase my tail and achieve nothing - I want to spend many uninterrupted hours phoning friends overseas, i want to write for the whole weekend, wander the city with a camera, read for hours, sleep for hours, go to yoga for hours, indulge in a lash-tint or a manicure, go to the cinema, make things, sew things, mend things...and that's just the list of what I want to do, there's an even longer list of things I should do... who knew that a weekend 'off' could be quite so fraught...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smother Mother

I write this for the future me. Are you out there, future-me? Have your children left home? Do you remember when Oli was just three? Max was five and Jack was one.  Every day you told them how much you loved them.   You kissed Jack's eyes, like you kissed Oli's and Max's.  With the older two it had become a joke; the kiss in the socket that stole an eyeball which was then chewed up and popped back in with another kiss. "I just love you," you'd say.  Sometimes Max denied it. "No you don't love me!" he said that afternoon in November when he was home with an ear infection. His voice came from inside a cupboard. He'd just tried to bring the garage door down on his brother and that hadn't made you too happy.  And do you remember how Oli was at three? By then you knew how the time flew, how the days were long but the years were short.
"I love you, Oli" you'd tell him.
"You say that the whole time, the whole time!" he said.
"Is that a problem?" you asked.
"It's frustrating."
And what of Jack? Do you remember kissing the rolls on his neck out in the garden, tipping him back to make him giggle, and Dom saying, "Let him breathe Em!"
Remember all that? Did they break your heart?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The stars!

What better way for the winter to announce it's arrival than with the bright starry nights we have been having here since the clocks went back last weekend.  I'm not really a fan of the clocks going back - sure, it's an opportunity to snuggle inside a little earlier and it brings with it the happy creep towards the festivities at the end of the year - but it also cuts the day off before I'm ready to come inside.  However, there has been a silver lining this year.  It's not that Oli has never been out in the dark before but it feels as though he is experiencing all the wonder and awe of a star-lit sky for the very first time.  Last night, as the dark crept up on us that whole hour earlier, I realised a bunch of toys were still outside at the end of the garden. We'd pulled a bag of bricks and cars out to a spot where the low slung sun had been able to reach us in the early afternoon.  Max led the intrepid party to retrieve them.
Let me backtrack a little...recently, Oli has been having some issues with a decorative owl perched on a neighbour's roof. He woke up terrified yesterday morning. 'It's out there' he said, wide eyed and pale at five thirty in the morning, 'Max saw it.' It was dark and it took me a while to work out what was out where. When I figured it out, I lifted the blind to see how menacing the owl actually appeared. I couldn't even see the ledge, let alone the bird and Max was fast asleep.  I was not going to argue with this new found anxiety at such an hour.  I persuaded him the bird was busy looking for mice and too hungry to bother us. But twelve hours later he managed to reawaken the horror of the owl as we went to gather up the toys in the dark. Sliding open the doors to the deck he was worried the owl might be waiting, hovering, ready to dart inside.  I reminded him that the owl would still be looking for mice somewhere else and, tentatively, he came outside. Within a few steps he took a big intake of breath.  Was it possible he'd seen that savage mean owl?  His mouth was wide as he pointed upwards and he was running on the spot. 'I see a star!' he squealed. This particular speck of light which we pass under every night was given the awesome appreciation it rightly deserves.  Sometimes it takes a three year old to make you stop and stare.
The moonlight through the trees left a dappled affect on the deck.  It was that point in the evening when you think you can only see a couple of stars and then suddenly, as your eyes become accustomed to the dark, or as the light continues to fade, you see that they freckle the sky. We could see dozens of them. The nighbours must have thought we'd uncovered a family of raccoons with all the shrieks of 'I see one! I see one!'
And then, driving home from a lengthy visit to the doctor this afternoon, and an extended wait for the antibiotics for Max's ear infection, yet again the dark was upon us and while Jack was voicing his hunger and I was thinking about what I could scrape together for supper, Oli squealed from the back seat, 'I see a star!' The full moon bright in the windscreen passed him by, but that shining solitary star - when I am feeling cheated that an hour of daylight has been stolen from me I must remember that the shorter days have given Oli the gift of a starlit sky.