It is just past 5pm and already, it is getting dark. There are only a few more days of autumn left before winter hits us. July is probably the worst month here in Sydney. The cold seeps into your bones and hearts get heavy. But then August gets here and that first jasmine flower blooms and things don’t seem so bad after all.
I’ve got Sara Groves playing on my Spotify playlist and i’m reading everyone’s blog post on Mother’s Day. I just have this to say:
I think most of us mothers are trying to do our best bringing up our children in a world that is beautiful, yes, but also scary and judgemental. Whether you choose to do without drugs during your labour or want that epidural (“RIGHT NOW!”), whether you choose to bottle feed or breast feed, whether you co-sleep or prefer to have your child in a cot/crib, whether you choose to send your child to a public or private school- you really are doing your best. And some days, that’s all you can do.
Mothering is hard work and oftentimes, thankless. But to me, when my little girl is in her twenties a long, long time from now, and still wants to spend time with me and knows that my love is without conditions, when she loves others, is kind and gentle, when she is a good person even when no one is watching, i will know that i have done my job.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to you. Even if you are not a biological mum but have mothered someone (like my two beautiful aunts), Happy Mother’s Day to you. And thank you.
I live on the top floor in a block of eight apartments. Right next to our block, is a similar block of eight apartments and when we look out of our apartment, we see…another apartment. It doesn’t make for the best of views, looking into someone else’s living space. It always feels like i’m intruding somehow or that i’m seeing something i shouldn’t have seen.
But i have gotten used to it. Three weeks ago, the people who used to live in the apartment we look into moved out and in many ways, i was relieved. The lady used to walk around in her underwear which made for some uncomfortable viewing and i always imagined waving hello to whoever it was that lived in the house as i was washing the dishes (which would make it less uncomfortable), but that never happened. They just didn’t seem like those sort of people.
Today, i realised that there were moving boxes in the living room of that apartment. Ah-ha! New neighbours! From where i was sitting in the balcony, i noticed a pair of black Hunter boots sitting in a wicker basket that was faded from being out in the sun. When i saw that, i thought to myself, “Surely, these people are my sort of people.” The boots looked just right sitting there. Beautiful styling, new neighbours!
Now, we’ll see if i can wave to them in the next few days. We don’t have to be best friends but it would be nice to be friendly with the residents of the apartment we look into, especially when i can see the crumbs from their toast sitting on a plate on their kitchen counter.
The scene at Local 1205 in Venice.
Photo by: Cal Bingham
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This is my type of cafe!
It’s 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I just stuck my head out of the window and breathed in deeply. The air smelled of damp earth (it has, after all, been raining for a few days) and my neighbour’s washing powder- clean and sweet and familiar.
I love it when it’s all quiet outside in the middle of the afternoon. The boys from the nearby school have gone home and i don’t need to hear snippets of their conversations.
The beautiful autumn light hits the steps to our block in such an inviting manner that i am tempted to make a cup of coffee and settle myself down in that patch of sun. Instead, i stay in the bedroom and watch the reflection of the leaves on my closet door. A person walks past, a car drives down the road. The birds have started calling out their nightly goodbyes for the day. I hear a mother sing and then ask her young son if he knows what they’re having for dinner.
The world always looks so much more beautiful after some rain, doesn’t it? Everything is fresh and feels like it’s been made new again. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a person who took no notice of these things. Life would surely be more dull.
The days, they are growing short. Everyday, i turn on the light in the kitchen a little earlier to start on dinner prep. I used to sit in the bedroom in the afternoons during summer and soak in the light that was streaming through the windows and into the room, onto the bed where i would be sitting with a book. I loved the 8.30 sunsets and the possibility of doing things at night (although almost every night in summer, i was home having dinner with my husband). But just the thought of those possible activities made me happy.
And now, it is Autumn. The past two mornings have been cool and crisp, unmistakably autumnal in nature. The leaves have slowly been turning brown and soon the trees will be bare. It’s a beautiful time of the year, isn’t it? As much as i will miss summer and days spent swimming in the pool, i am looking forward to the softer light and the slowing down that cooler weather requires.
There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning, opening the windows and feeling that bite in the air that makes a small shiver go through your still-warm-from-being-under-the-blankets body. That first cup of coffee tastes even more delicious and more necessary when it is cooler outside, especially when paired with a chocolate and salted caramel tart.
Yes Autumn, you are so welcome here.
I have my ‘Dusk’ playlist on now. It’s 8:15pm and really, it is night time. The days, they are getting shorter fast. Where it used to be light at this time a few weeks ago, now it is dark.
We are expecting some storms to come our way over the weekend and already, the winds of change have come. I am writing this by the window, which i have left open so i can listen to the wind and the way it stirs things up. My husband is at a pizza and movie night with the boys and Elisabeth is in bed- not asleep but nevertheless, quiet.
While having my shower, i thought about how weepy i’ve got today as the day has progressed. I love music and the way it gets to me. But tonight especially, i feel extra reflective. Every song on my playlist seems to open up certain closed up areas of my heart (now, Nights in White Satin by The Moody Blues which reminds me of my Dad.) and forces me to think and remember and long for and cry. Really, all i wanted to do tonight was watch Downton Abbey and have ice-cream!
I don’t have time during the day to think and be in tune with my soul but quiet nights like tonight allow me to do just that. What is the longing of my soul? What makes me unbelievably happy and sinks me to the depths of despair?
The other day, i thought of New York. You know, New York is never far from my mind. It has become part of me and i feel a connection to the place that i simply cannot explain. I thought of the city in winter and what it would be like to spend a winter there.
This morning, as i walked back home with Elisabeth in her stroller, i again thought of New York and what it would be like to be a somewhat famous writer who was invited there for a book signing. Flying business class, being met at the airport by a man with a sign bearing my name and getting ready in the hotel. I thought about the way i would text my husband when i got there and arrange for a skype session to speak to the kids. Because i think too much, my daydream also included planning how my husband was going to manage taking care of the kids and ferrying them to school and sports while working. Surely, we must call someone to come help out and cook decent food?
Elisabeth and i were at the library earlier this afternoon and i wondered if we had indeed read all the available books that were appropriate for her. But then i chanced upon three shelves next to the DVDs that were filled with books that i knew she would love. And that made me giddy with excitement. I think i may even have given an audible yelp. I am of course beyond happy when i find a book in the adult library that i cannot wait to get home and read but knowing that Elisabeth will also find wonderful, interesting books- this also makes me beyond happy. Books changed me and prevented loneliness from taking over when i was a teenager alone during recess. When i think of all the worlds that will be opened up to her as she reads and the way she can get lost in a good story if she is upset or angry, i feel a certain gratitude.
Today, in fact, i whispered a prayer: “Thank you, God for Elisabeth. Thank you that out of all the babies that could have been mine, you chose her for me. Thank you.” This child, she is so much like me in so many ways. We are both short-tempered and stubborn yet generous. And we love books. I see the way her forehead creases up as I read to her. She studies the illustrations carefully and i see the connections she is making in her mind at that very moment. She then asks questions or points things out that interest her. I answer her calmly but she doesn’t know that inside, my heart is doing a happy dance.
Right now, the windows are open and it is quiet outside except for a car or two going past. I am sitting in my bedroom listening to a radio station from back home, thanks to the wonderfulness that is Internet radio. I am reading the archives of a new blog i found- don’t you love it when you find a new blog and have the pleasure of reading about their days gone by? I do.
A half hour ago, i was sitting with my husband in the living room. The cricket was (well, it still is) on tv. I sat on the couch by the window with a cushion on my lap and my lunch on the cushion. I was reading The Mitford Bedside Companion, which has excerpts from all the Mitford books in addition to notes and essays from the author. Such a delightful, uplifting and positive book to have around. I made believe that the view from my living room window was of a field strewn with wildflowers instead of an ugly block of flats. I have to say that that made my reading even more enjoyable.
This morning, because of my husband having some time off work, i took myself for a walk down by the beach, without my favourite little girl to keep me company. It felt different to not have her by my side- different but good. I realise now that she has become a sort of crutch for me and i have come to depend on her not only for company but also to avoid facing my fears. Honestly, it was difficult for me to walk alone and not be consumed by a million anxious thoughts running amok in my head. The number one thought of course was that i was going to collapse from a weak heart, which did not make for a relaxing walk at all. I did manage to have time alone in a cafe after, which was much more pleasant and i thoroughly enjoyed my alone time then.
Back in the bedroom, Dan Fogelberg’s Same Auld Lang Syne is playing on the radio. I love that song and i guess December 27 is an apt time to play it, what with the new year approaching too quickly.
Reuben Hills on a Sunday morning.
The moment the lights are turned on for the first time.