Who doesn’t want a little pretty on their wrist? I know for sure that I do. And though I rely almost completely on my mobile phone for telling the time, I do love to see those who remain so very dedicated to their wrist watch and wish rather heartily to be in their gang. Wrist watch wearers have always struck me as such sensible people. The sort who probably haven’t tucked their phone into their bra, in case, heaven forbid, they should find themselves less than inches away from their technological lifeline.
I live in hope you see, of turning sensible. Though it seems unlikely at the grand old age of 44 that sensibility will settle on my shoulders I do believe it is important to keep on believing that even the most ludicrous of notions are still possible even when there are hairs growing out of your chin.
So you see now that I have happened across a range of Cath Kidston watches on Very.Co.Uk hope is springing eternal. For there’s a watch or two I might just want to strap to wrist. One I might remember to wear in the same way I remember to wear my Fitbit. One that strikes me as strapping a little happy to my arm. I do so like to add a little happy to my black uniform. A pretty scarf. A pair of earrings tinkling when I turn my head. A vintage brooch to catch the eye…
So umm, yes. Cath Kidston does pretty watches. And I am never, ever going to be sensible. Not even when I grow up.
Yesterday in my Facebook group, one of my lovely Living Roomers posted her “Honesty Injection” and it was a little bit of true wonderful. And so today in the spirit of Kathryn, I hereby present the first in a new series of “Honesty Injections” because I want you to know that my life is just like yours – in all it’s messy, crazy, sometimes ugly glory…
The day begins not with birdsong but with high winds whistling down the chimney and screeching a not so merry tune in the Victorian fireplace in my bedroom. A room with temporary wibbly-wobbly grey fabric wardrobes and seven boxes of overflowing nonsense scattered about in lieu of the furniture I cannot yet decide upon.
I can’t bring myself to start the day. Three days in to the new term and there is already an element of the groundhog that I can barely tolerate. Downstairs Ste will be mutely making porridge for himself, for life takes most of the day to warm up his voice box, while in the far room down the landing stairs, Finn will be unconscious under a tangle of the duvets, quilts and pillows he insists on pinning himself asleep with, and will when I open the door to kiss him awake, point blank refuse to get out of bed, insisting that he needs five more minutes of the kind that will no doubt turn in to forty five.
I know how he feels, so for the moment I lie listening to the trundle of lorry’s heading towards the motorway on this oh so busy road. When I get out of bed I will have to hunch as I try to get dressed as the blinds I have not yet replaced on the two little windows in this room do not quite reach the windowsill and passers by must so very often be treated to a flash of my chubby thighs. For a reason I cannot fathom I have thrown my all in to getting all the other rooms liveable in this house but have in my wisdom chosen to ignore the very room that could set body and soul at peace.
In the bathroom I huff to myself as I straighten the towels scrunched over the rail and put the toothpaste my family cannot lift off the sink back in to the cabinet. I brush my teeth, worry about my gums and go to wake Finn up. He is, as predicted, flat out asleep, though his room is now always tidy (his need to control his own space I think spinning from the chaos inside his head as he learns to navigates his Sensory Processing Disorder), he is himself a beautiful, rather stinky muddle of ruffled hair and acknowledges me with a teenage grunt as I sing Good Morning and switch on the fairy lights draped across his desk to help him blink his grumpy eyes awake.
Out on the lane, my neighbor’s recycling bin has blown on to the road and spilled McDonald’s wrappers, pizza boxes and wine bottles all over the road, my path and his. Cars are screeching to a halt in front of it and in the end Ste goes out in his pajamas to right it. In the kitchen I wash dishes we left last night after a late supper and feel a bit sick to the stomach when I realize that yet again there is no milk. While having a milkman delivering milk in lovely glass bottles is all fine and dandy, if he doesn’t deliver it until after breakfast it rather defeats the object. I make a cafetiere of black coffee and feel like smacking someone. Mostly because in the night the fence panels the builders have left in the garden have blown everywhere and at any moment the wind could topple the huge metal gates they have propped against the gate and bring the conservatory crashing down upon our heads.
In between filling lunchboxes and setting the domestic machinery ago-go with today’s laundry, I run in and out of the kitchen to the hallway to screech at Finley to get out of bed. Though I would prefer music in the mornings, in the living room, BBC breakfast is starting my day with a litany of misery I deeply resent. Ste is still quiet until outside there is the smash of glass. For the milkman has delivered the milk, plonked it down in front of the step and the darling little postman has knocked it over so that there is glass and milk all over the path. I rush out and refuse his offer of money to fix it, get a dustpan and brush, and have Ste crawl on his hands and knees under the car to fetch half the bottle so I do not run over it and burst my tyres on the way to school.
I refuse Ste’s offer of a sunshine smoothie and a slice of wholemeal because with five minutes to spare Finley has just arrived downstairs with perfectly coiffed hair and a pair of Harley Quinn socks that are definitely not school uniform. I decide that if he wants to get in to trouble at school it is up to him, for I am learning to pick my battles with my new teenager and I know that his teachers disapproval is more effective than mine when he can so very easily charm me with the kind of kiss he presses on my head with the words “little Mummy” though I have never been little in my life.
He ignores the beautifully laid out breakfast table (one wonders why one bothers!), gulps down tea and then I rush him to school for he will not walk since he was run over, with the car screeching all the way as the fan-belt is on its way out. At home I close the door behind me and breathe a sigh of relief that the morning is over and the house is my own long enough to add another three thousand things to my list of things I must do before life will feel perfect. Perfect is something of an ogre. A constant mither on my mind.
In the little laundry room I peel off the mouldy spores growing on the sky blue chipped paint and take a soggy cucumber out of the spare fridge I keep forgetting I own. The door to the outdoor loo has been flung open and the room is full of leaves but I can’t bring myself to go out and fix it because it smells of the many builders who have used it and I am convinced a family of rats live in there though I am assured this is deeply unlikely and I am preposterous.
While I know it would take only moments to scooch around with the steam cleaner to remove the faint prints left by those who will insist on wearing shoes in the house I decide instead to ignore that and the many hand prints on the conservatory doors and opt instead for a cup of mint tea and ten minutes being a bad housekeeper and playing Sim City when I could be improving my life…
And now I am here. In bed. With yet another cup of tea and the mustard yellow floral quilt pulled up high though I am fully dressed in my usual uniform of black. I am cold and I feel weary. But despite the fact that Ste has laid out a rather bizarre arrangement of Nivea products on the top of the little junk shop drawers currently living in the corner of the room as if he was setting up shop himself, I am comfortable here away from the stares of passers by, and from my own need to keep a watch out for those who seem to live by the clock on this lane and do exactly the same things at exactly the same time each day as if I have found myself living in The Truman Show…
I am longing for Summer but while it is blowing a hooley outside I will work here. My laptop propped upon a cushion and my head full of ideas. Later I will prepare a plate of sliced roast beef and my beloved pickled onions and though I know the very thought of pickled onions in bed is outrageous I will bring them back up here regardless.
This then is my reality and I do not mind it at all.
What if today was the day you decide to do as much as you can manage? No more, and here’s the rub, no less.
If you are anything like me (please say you are like me – I feel better in a crowd) then this business of housekeeping is a fluctuating matter. One day full throttle. The next nothing at all. And equipping yourself with all the fancy scrubbing brushes and ecologically sound cleaning fluids you can find just doesn’t make a jot of difference to what comes to pass on any given day. Rather it seems to be a matter of the very careful weighing up of hormones, energy levels, mood, kids, and reason to be interested.
Oh yes, let no man or women assert that we are all in the mood for disinfecting the u-bend at any given hour of the day. In fact should this be true then I must insist you find a hobby. Housework exists to support our way of life – not to be our way of life and the minute it becomes obsessive, is the very minute I suggest you have a lie down with a flannel soaked in hot water and rosemary oil so you can take a thorough squint inside your empty soul.
Ahem. I’m clearly feeling feisty today.
Anyway my point is this: housework has to be done. Surfaces have to be lickably clean. It is awfully nice to have fresh sheets and so much easier if the children aren’t careering around the house naked in search of clean underwear. We have to do it and we do it because unlike some of those we live with, we have a certain amount of home-related pride and we feel better when life is primped and preened.
But some days housework is hard. Some days tipping milk in to our tea seems like an effort so chances are such days are not those we are likely to find ourselves dragging a step-ladder upstairs and tackling the dust bunnies in the eaves. And it on those days I am urging a new “as much as we can manage” attitude to keeping the house spick and span. Even if that means hoovering the living room with your bottom parked firmly on the sofa. Or swiping the shower screen with a squeegee just before you step out to get dry enough to go and swoon in dramatic, melancholic style on the chaise lounge.
If however, doing what we can on the days we don’t feel like is important, then so too is doing as much as we can manage on the days when our hormonal stars are a-lining. The days we feel so fully alive we rather fancy hopping around the shops and buying lots of things we don’t need and dragging the dog around the woods, and meeting everyone we know for coffee and generally wasting entire days busy doing nothing when we could be channeling our energy in to scrubbing, sorting, getting wildly KonMari about the insides of our cupboards or getting ahead on a decorating project.
Oh yes: those days when we have got energy and determination beaming out of the top of our head are just right for really throwing ourselves in to the domestic melee and getting a grip on it, so on the days when we are wearing fat pants, eating chocolate for breakfast and feeling more than ready to launch the next cheeky chappie who tells us to smile, we can feel more than OK about skulking in our bedrooms and losing ourselves in our much loved stack of Georgette Heyer paperbacks with a truffle stolen from our comfort drawer and earplugs jammed firmly in our ears.
This then is doing “as much as we can manage” and it requires us to be totally honest about how we are feeling: to tune in to both our body and mind, assess what we are capable of and act accordingly. You see if BrocanteHome is about anything it is about extreme self-care and we practice that both when we are gentle with ourselves AND when we are disciplined enough to do what we are more than capable of doing.
What can you manage today?
A New Year is filled with too much possibility isn’t it? A person could get overwhelmed and find herself wanting to chuck out everything from her make-up bag to her entire way of life. A person you see can get carried away when it would serve her better to allow the New Year to settle in first. To reveal itself later, when Winter Hygge has truly done its job. For wouldn’t it be better to hibernate now and re-invent ourselves later?
I am such a person. A person who has rushed out to buy herself everything necessary to Bullet Journal and felt the flush of embarrassment when her thirteen year old looked at her sternly and said “Now is not the time for jumping on Instagram bandwagons, Mum, now is the time to blog.”
Oh yes! Blogging. That’s what I was doing. And though I have been doing it for thirteen years I worry that I have quite forgotten how and find myself more willing to deal with the midnight burglars said to be prowling the streets of my locality than turning up for my own, lovely, precious, self-inflicted work. I am too anxious. Too twitchy to be able to make sense of myself right now. And anyways I thought I might find myself in a bullet journal. People say they are life-changing. Sensible people say such things! But oh what a rabbit hole of pretty pattern and pointless scribing it could it could be when a person should be blogging…
Anxiety is such a funny old woman. She pokes you with crooked fingers just when you are getting in to your stride. She whispers “Who do you think you are?” just as you are falling asleep and has a way with words that ties your good intentions into troubled knots. She will not be soothed with your endless cups of rose tea. Nor accept a little round of homemade shortbread and agree to keep her mouth shut. Oh no, not her. Not she who laughs at the elaborate baths you take, chin high in restless leg improving salts and stands mocking the dreams pinned to your vision board. Instead she tries to force you to start again. Oh heckity pie yes, there is nothing Anxiety likes better than a clean slate and before you know it she has got you believing that nothing, oh but nothing, not your work, your relationship, your body or any of the thoughts in your head are good enough and thus must be re-invented right here and right now. With no time to recover from the onslaught that was Christmas. No allowances for the kind of weather that really should have you doing nothing other than sipping soup under a cosy quilt. No excuses accepted at all.
Anxiety you see is the New Years best friend. She lurks around all December, allowing you your fun but come January 1st she pounces, stabbing you right there in all the bits you are trying to teach yourself to love. Twisting her dirty fingers into your scabs and telling you there is no time to dither, one simply must GET THINGS SORTED. And by things she means all things. Every thing. And she will not rest until you have found the perfect planner. Signed up to the diet club. Thrown money on an improving course and chucked every last edible bit of Christmas out of the cupboards. Because she is a mean old bat. The kind of mean old bat who needs dealing with by sending her screeching in to the drowning rain when you simply refuse to do anything other than practice the kind of extreme self-care that January really calls for.
For yes, now is the time to snuggle. And kiss. And read. And binge-watch. Now is the time for good red wine (instead of festive plonk), warm rounds of Camembert stuffed with garlic and rich chocolate brownies eaten straight from the oven. For starting difficult books and playing Monopoly. It is for baking cakes for kids coming in from the cold and nibbling late night slices of hot, thick buttered toast, just because you can. It is a time for healing from the slings and arrows of family forced upon you during the festivities, for booking holidays and inviting friends over for early suppers. It is a time for soothing your weary soul, mending what has to be mended and surviving evenings when you just can’t get warm.
Just the right time methinks to tell Anxiety to sling her hook. And take her Bullet Journal with her.
So a few days ago I wrote about the lull and now I want to talk about the frenzy.
Heaven knows why but Christmas arriving at the weekend thrills me. Christmas on a Sunday seems just right to me. Much better than Christmas on a Tuesday! So this year I do believe we are blessed with festive order and if we play it right we can truly enjoy the week before the holiday arrives, without feeling the kind of demented we only ever experience when we can’t decide whether to ice our stockings or stuff our Christmas cake.
You see it is time. It is time to work yourself in to a complete frenzy and get everything left on your list done. While I usually try to encourage a graceful swan approach to the season (even if those webbed feet are crazed beneath the water), today I am saying, nay, ordering you to go bonkers; to work yourself in to a complete festive frenzy so that you can declare yourself done by Monday morning, and then sit back with a smug smile and truly enjoy the abundant gifts the season has to offer.
Right, so that means there are three days left to do everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
I’m talking close family Christmas cards written and gluten-free stuffing shopped for. I mean the kids presents wrapped even if it means staying up until the early hours to get them done. I mean getting to the shops at silly o’clock in order to pick up the last of the gifts on your list, taking that trip to the farm to pick up fresh mistletoe, anything that can be cooked and frozen now for Christmas dinner, cooked and frozen! I am talking about rooting out the Christmas stockings so you don’t find yourself clambering in to the loft on Christmas Eve,and wrapping that gift you bought for yourself so you can pop it under the tree.
(You DID buy YOURSELF a gift didn’t you? NO? Have I taught you nothing at all?? Add it to your to-do list RIGHT NOW and get thee to the loveliest boutique you know post-haste! And for heavens sake stop making me SHOUT in capitals please!).
I am deadly serious about INSISTING that you make a big fat long list of absolutely everything left to do before Christmas and blooming well getting it done over the next seventy-two hours…
You see work until you drop now and from Monday you will have one lovely week to just be. Right there in the bliss of the season. Work until you drop now and you can spend your free time in the week before Christmas enjoying the proper pleasures of the season. You can watch cheesy Christmas films and play board games. You can sit and stare at the pretty lights on the tree and sip at a glass of mulled wine in utter peace. You can read the kids Christmas stories mindfully, wholeheartedly, without wishing they would fall asleep so you can get back to playing hunt the sellotape in the piles of wrapping paper downstairs. You can take yourself to a steamy coffee shop, drink a gingerbread latte and feel calm in the midst of the chaos, and step out late in the evening wrapped in scarves and gloves to walk around the neighborhood feasting on the festive displays of lights and loveliness.
It would be worth it wouldn’t it? Feeling bone-tired for a few days so you can relax those shoulders come Monday and enjoy Christmas the way it is supposed to be enjoyed. It would be worth it because sometimes the after-glow of frenzied activity is a joy all by itself, and feeling smug is something we should all treat ourselves to at least once a year don’t you know?
Ready, steady… go!
The turkey is ordered and at least some of the presents are wrapped. The tree is up and dripping with nonsense, and all the films I want to watch have been marked in yellow highlighter pen in the Radio Times… a ritual from childhood I am not willing to give up, though if the truth be known there is so little time at Christmas to watch anything peacefully, particularly anything that does not please this house full of boys!
But school is not yet finished and the internet has not yet delivered all the gifts I have ordered. I have not iced the Christmas Cake and I am yet to churn out a single mince pie. The weather is mushy. Drizzley and yucky. Not crisp and white as Hollywood insists it should be. For the first time Finn refused to accompany me to the Christingle service and a little drop of sad fell on my Mummy of a Teenager heart, and today I have got a little tummy bug about which you really don’t need the details.
My Christmas isn’t picture perfect. But I feel Christmassy regardless. And Christmassy feelings are most of the battle aren’t they?
(For without them Christmas can feel like the most awful drag and those who harbor draggy feelings in December really aren’t good for our souls and must be banished to festive Coventry without so much as a nod to their inner Grinch).
This then is the lull. The calm before the cinnamon scented storm. It is the moment when much, if not all of Christmas is done and there are only fripperies to be organised and enjoyed. It is the time to notice. To sit by the lights of the tree and experience Christmas. To stop and actually listen to the words of the songs piped in to every store and to savor the first sip of that oh so retro bottle of Babycham. It is time to take flowers to the graveside of those we have lost so we can wish them all the love of the season, and to spend quiet time with those old or ailing and for whom Christmas has become just another day. Time to watch the children’s nativity and to truly treasure every single second of it, (for all too quickly they are too old to play silly shepherds or haphazard fairies), and it is without doubt time to get in as many early nights as possible with a stack of Christmas chick-lit and a flask – yes, a flask!- full of cocoa…
In my own lull, I tend to contemplate and reflect. I spend evenings with my Leonie workbooks and a pink pen, tearing through sentences for my eyes only, trying to make sense of what has happened in the year just gone and fashioning dreams for the year coming, with my fingers crossed and bound for a year better than those in my recent past. Another ritual of my own devising I cannot see myself ever wanting to give up in any given December in my future… for in its own way it shapes my year and though during this year there have been occasions when I have been barely able to breathe, let alone achieve, still I have been ticking off so many of the 100 things on my Leonie list and it continues to astonish me that writing a wish down is often enough to have the universe conspire to deliver it to you…
Tonight, I have got a couple of silly Christmas novels on my bedside, lavender starched pajamas laid out on my cosy yellow eiderdown, and a row of twinkly tealights lined up along the cast iron mantel of the fireplace in my bedroom. It is cold and I am not sure I can face a bath, but I will shower quickly and coat myself in the sandalwood and germanium sleep balm I am currently obsessing over, read through the wonderful descriptions of all your Christmas’s described in the Living Room, and kiss my family goodnight.
I am tired. Tired and Christmassy. Tired and content. This then is the lull.
Here we are again: time to get a grip on my head and my heart by auditing the ins and outs of my world. As always please feel free to steal the graphic and do a life audit of your own, or indeed download the Life Audit PDF (it’s free) and get your pencil out…
Today I am…
Organising the Christmas budget on YNAB. Dressed in about thirty layers of thermals and the kind of slipper socks so thick I rather feel as though my feet have gone numb. Drinking Yogi Moon Cycle tea because it helps. Thoroughly unable to catch the cold that has been lurking around my nostrils for a few days now, threatening to floor me but rather pathetically turning out to be nothing more than a very irritating sniffle. Excited because there is finally grass in my garden. (Yay! Thank-you Builder Men!). Fighting a losing battle with the muddy feet traipsing in an out of my little blue-tiled porch. Receiving parcel after parcel for neighbours who never seem to be home.
Embarrassed after nearly knocking a woman out with a cocktail shaker. Don’t ask. Scattered. Immensely frustrated and positively demented by technical issues here at BrocanteHome. You see I just want to write but writing time is lost to endless admin issues and computer problems and I rather feel like banging my head against a brick wall. When oh when did blogging get so complicated? If I could roll back to five years ago I really think I would. I truly miss offering little snippets of daily inspiration and my work-life balance is so skewhiff I feel exhausted so something has got to give though I do not know what yet. One idea I have been considering though is a move away for printables to simply writing for the Kindle then dear old Amazon could handle the relentless trauma of lost passwords and email inboxes that swallow downloads…
Ste laughs because he cannot fathom my method of reading: I usually have at least two books on the go (truth… maybe three. Or four. Or twenty-nine if you count what goes on inside my Kindle.): a novel for snuggling up with and some sort of self-help, life enhancing/thigh-slimming/business orientated affair on the coffee table for browsing during elevenses. Tonight’s novel then is The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, though I have read it before, because this 1920’s fairy-tale is ultimately so life-affirming and it is Lucy Maud for heavens sake: what’s not to like on a cosy November evening? And my coffee table book is Lisa Sugar’s Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice & Build Your Dream Life because I’m hoping she is a lady who has been in my shoes and cares to share a way through the madness that is online business…
Roasted vegetable with halloumi. Or cubes of feta and a splash of balsamic. Roasted vegetables blitzed with a cup full of stock in my Nutribullet for the fastest bowl of soup in the land. Roasted vegetables on a puff pastry base. Umm, yeah: roasted vegetables night after night after night. Roasted at the beginning of the week and stored in an airtight container and used for everything from soups to stews. Oooh and pickled onions. I can’t get enough pickled onions. I’m all sorts of wrong these days. With pickled onion breath.
A reversal back to our old routine now Ste’s short dalliance with shift work is at an end and life can go back to normal. A new one-stop dreamy place for my membership groups The Salon and The Living Room. Beavering away behind the scenes to bring it to life as fast as possible. Staying up late with a furrowed brow and the kind of creative inspiration that has got me firing on all cylinders. A weekend away with Kath, Diane and Emma this Saturday to celebrate Emma’s birthday. And gifts for the two “brothers” Finley didn’t have just two years ago – Mark’s son Sam who is so cute he is almost edible, and who will turn two at the beginning of December, and Ste’s son Stevie who will be eleven a few days later and who arrives at my house every second Friday and quickly collapses into Finley inspired giggles that remind me how very blessed we are to be family.
A nap. Are you a napper? Oh but you must be! There is nothing quite so wonderful as stealing a geranium scented afternoon nap now is there? Particularly if the house is quiet and you can slip between the sheets for the kind of drowsy, battery-charging slumber one can only really enjoy during the afternoon slump. Pity there is so very much to do today and the chance of a nap is up there with the chance of me re-inventing myself as an Instagram bikini model. Some days dreams will be dreams and simply refuse to become reality, damn them. Speaking of geranium though… I have a new ritual that involves cleansing my face before a much coveted nap and then massaging it with the blend of almond and geranium oil I have come to associate with switching my over-active mind off…
I wasn’t growing a beard. No really. I swear I am growing a beard if seven rather persistent hairs can be considered beardy? Also wishing my bedroom was the sanctuary I need it to be RIGHT NOW -long before in fact I have got to get Ste to understand that cream paint is not just cream paint and there will be a whole lot of dithering before I actually take the plunge and apply paint to the walls. And much more dithering after that as the search continues for suitable wardrobes. For frankly what possessed me to leave my wardrobes with the new owner of my little old house is quite beyond me. I can only surmise it was the hiatus hernia tablets that send me off my head and made me thrust generosity into that young mans face.
Everything. No really: EVERYTHING! Ste is working overnight and the plans I had for the evening were cancelled so I am taking the opportunity to print out my Leonie Dawson Life and Biz workbooks, for OH YES the 2017 workbooks are here!! Did you hear me: the Leonie Dawson Workbooks (and wall-planners, and diaries and to-do lists) are here! Roll on my 2016 Closing Ceremony for heaven knows I am so ready to say goodbye to this year and hello to a new one blessed by certainty and security please…
Ste’s new job with a meal tomorrow night with our boys at a local Turkish restaurant with great hummus, chosen because they have extensive gluten free options for Finn and a meat heavy menu for Stevie who is close to being the world’s fussiest eater but will eat meat until the cows come home. Oooh and did I mention the hummus? Its the best.
So much on this the American day of gratitude. This house – because it makes me smile when I creep down first thing in the morning and it is warm and welcoming. Finn’s understanding that clutter is the enemy and keeping all the plastic nonsense from his childhood will no more tell him who he was than knocking at the house next door and asking the nice strangers there to tell him who he used to be. For the calm of his almost empty bruise colored room now. For hope. And possibility. For a conversation yesterday that made me howl with laughter. And for pizza delivered straight to the door (It’s a lazy Mama night. Don’t tell anyone).
And finally tomorrow I will be…
Packing for my overnight stay with my bestest friends. Working on sending another lovely Brocantehome PDF in to the Salon Library before I have to get my gladrags on. Worrying that my non-existent wardrobe full of gladrags is much depleted since I got over-generous with the recycling bag too…
On my to-do list this month?
* Christmas. There’s just no getting away with it.
* Watching The Crown on Netflix because rumor has it, it is a little bit wonderful?
* Finding a pair of slippers that don’t threaten to end my life whenever I come down the stairs.
* Choosing between a real and an artificial Christmas tree tall enough not to look daft in this high-ceilinged room.
* And finding a tiny little decoration to hang on it to remember Mum.
Happy Thanksgiving Housekeepers.x
Good morning. I hope this missive finds you cosy.
I have been up since silly o’clock. Drinking too much coffee and trying to fix something that won’t be fixed. Frustration tempered by the bliss of working by candlelight and making Finley giggle when he discovers me somewhat drunk on caffeine. Some days hysteria rather sets in doesn’t it? Some days hysteria sets in and you find yourself dancing in the kitchen.
During the night there was a hailstorm, an auditory fright of relentless gunfire on the conservatory roof. So many ambulances went by: the blue lights illuminating a tangle of dreams during which most memorably I served Ste a rat pie and vomited in horror when I realised, before insisting that he wash it down with a pomegranate smoothie and calling the police to investigate what had possessed me.
And now I am here and it is so deliciously Wintery and snuggly I really rather wish I could invite you in. Serve you a slice of warm banana bread straight from the oven and share secrets over our teacups. I wish you could smell the amber candles burning on the tray on the coffee table. A brass pot laden with succulents glowing next to them. The blind over the window pulled down so I do not have to share my hygge with the men still nipping in and out of the outdoor loo in my garden, occasionally waving to me when I stand washing dishes in lavender bubbles or popping in to say that the fuses have blown and can they do something fiddly to my fuse box so they can carry on using our electricity to build the house in the back garden. (I do hop they aren’t powering a generator). Sitting on the wet step to remove dirty boots before they trudge in barefoot and spending so many hours just standing chatting over dirty mugs of tea that is quite astonishing that the house has gone up at all. I think I might miss them when they have gone.
I have the weekend to myself. Tonight Finley will be spirited away to Mark’s house and Ste went to work this morning and will not return until late tomorrow night. He will sleep and then return to work on Sunday morning until Monday evening. Thank heavens then for a promotion that means these endless exhausting shifts will be no more: for the blessing that a nine to five routine again will once again be. For the joy of a job that will challenge him.
But for now I am alone. My laptop my companion today and drinks with a friend planned for this evening. Tomorrow I am going to fashion Christmas for our plans have changed and suddenly it looks as though I might be in sole charge of creating the very first Christmas Day I have ever had to conjure up for a house full of guests: a rite of passage that strikes me at the grand old age of forty-four as proof that I am no longer the child someone else will look after. Though I am still blessed by Mums. My own Mum’s sister Barbie always at the end of the phone, Ste’s Mum a reassuring hug whenever I need it and Mark’s Mum, who rings me and though she has long been my shy, reassuring friend, tells me that now my Mum has gone, she is my Mum and makes me want to weep tears of relief for this unexpected kindness. I am blessed by Mums. And by those of you in my Living Room who know all my secrets and let me in the safety of our inner sanctum, spill out my sometimes ugly guts.
I quite like being alone. Watching the world go by. The girl with the mustard scarf she wears like a roll of carpet around her neck. The jazzy little geriatric in the leather pants who wanders up to the post office for a newspaper each morning pulling at what is left of his greying quiff. The Siamese cat in the little terraced house across the road. Entire days could be spent just watching other people spend theirs. But there is work to done. And as a reward for doing it, at the end of the day there will be a book so painful and elegant I cannot begin to describe the joy of it. Though joy is not quite the right word: but how else is one to describe a book that tells of unrequited love and loss in fine detail that both manages to get under your skin, create the subdued loneliness of another place and time right there in your bedroom, and have you looking forward to stepping in to that place though we anticipate only anguish when we get there? What is that? If not joy then what? The very act of reading – the experience of it, bewilders me.
I am hungry now. Caffeine burning a hole in my empty stomach, but hungry for I know not what. And isn’t that the most awful thing? To know not what we hunger for? Cheese on toast or freedom? A bowl of soup or a day lying in the arms of someone we love? I am hungry and rambling as I so often find myself doing in these morning pages. I am hungry and the kitchen floor could do with steaming. That pile of laundry carried up the stairs and tucked away. The problem that won’t be fixed tackled once again with determination. The steps up to the house sprinkled with salt so none of us kill ourselves on slippery hailstones. Maybe a trip to the shops for something that will make me feel beautiful tonight. And afternoon nap in orange blossom sheets?
I am hungry and wish someone else could tell me what for. I want to feel sated by life all over again. I want to read books like Winter for always.