Isolated Delights

Hello from the inside…

Like many of you all around this wonderful world, I’m stuck at home riding out this awful COVID-19 pandemic. One would think it was an entirely delightful thing for an introvert like me to be stuck in the house, and that I would be completely au fait with such arrangements given I happily work from home three days a week.  When my usual routine has been combined with (or has, more accurately, collided with) home schooling, however, I am finding that I am yearning for time ALONE rather than time AT HOME.

Even so, there are still moments of delight in these self-isolated times, little gems that have kept me going as my dear children have driven me slowly but surely around the twist.  It’s true that we’ve had a lot of laughs, including when Marvel Girl decided to christen me “Catnip Everdeen” when I volunteered to run the grocery shop gauntlet and our list included cat food and litter. I also had a life-changing moment of glory when I managed to find not one, but two display books to keep the kids’ many home school materials separated and corralled.

Looking back, there have been several things that I have found truly delightful in the past couple of weeks, and I share them in the hope that you find some in your own self-isolated exile.

Our Tibouchina Tree

TibouchinaIn the corner of our back yard stands a Tibouchina tree. Most of the year it is an ordinary, stock standard tree — you know: green leaves, brown trunk, sometimes bits fall off it, other times there are birds in it. But every year in February and March, the Tibouchina tree transforms itself into something truly resplendent, crowned with beautiful purple flowers. Every year it brings a smile to my face — and this year, believe me, it felt extra special.

Paper Towels

tibou 2I never thought I would live in an era when hoarding groceries became a Thing. The silver lining to this unexpected (and more than likely unethical) behaviour, however, is that when I found a four pack of paper towel on the supermarket shelf while doing my aforementioned Catnip Everdeen impression, I felt like I had won Olympic Gold.

I might have even sent my mother a picture of it…

Passionfruit

Tibou 4Yep, you read that right. Passionfruit. On another of my early morning Catnip Everdeen runs (and believe me, I do them far less frequently than this post is seeming to indicate), I found a whole pile of passionfruit: large, plump and — most importantly — heavy.

I bought six.

Three of us have eaten one so far.

We are all in agreement — passionfruit this good is an unmitigated tropical delight.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive

Tibou 3It’s no secret Australians are completely, perhaps catastrophically sports mad, and the fact that Coronavirus made its unwelcome appearance in our country just as winter sports seasons were kicking off could be described as…unfortunate? No, let’s be honest, here: it’s been devastating — particularly for Miss Malaprop, who worked super hard to make the A Grade team in our local netball competition, only to have the season scrapped before it started.  At least I was able to tell her all the professional sportspeople have been affected, too. The Sydney Swifts won’t be playing either. The Olympics have been postponed. The Melbourne Grand Prix was cancelled…

And that’s when I remembered seeing something about car racing popping up in my Netflix home screen — Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Needless to say, in the absence of any other televised sport, I am devouring it. The ups and downs of Formula 1 racing are so far removed from my daily grind the show is providing me with much needed mental relief. I get so caught up in watching it I don’t think about anything else — and that, at the moment, constitutes pure delight.

Ten Thousand Views

Tibou 5Another moment of delight also came via screen this week…by the very screen I’m watching these words appear on as I type. This, my little blog, the patch of cyberspace I escape to every now and then to make sense of this crazy old world, ticked over 10,000 views — and this Daydream Believer was delighted.

I honestly never expected for anyone to really read this — but apparently more than 7,000 of you out there decided to prove me wrong, and some of them obviously came back for more. It’s times like these I feel most grateful for the opportunity to write, and they take me back to a post I wrote some years ago called The Wellspring, which is as close as I have ever come to writing a manifesto describing what this blog is about. It also reminded me of how I have often used this space to try to make sense of things that confront me (like restlessness), or confound me (like the treatment of refugees), and comfort me (like reading cookbooks, of all things).

I also want to say thank you for being one of those ten thousand views…whoever, wherever you are.

I hope these words, in turn, bring you delight.

BJx

 

 

Breaking Up Is Too Hard To Do

2014

2014: Tropical Vibes Christmas in hot pink, tangerine and gold.

I’m a happily married woman — let me state that, straight up, seeing as though the title of this post clearly implies otherwise.  The Bloke and I have muddled along together for the better part of two decades, and we’re planning to do so for a lot longer yet.

But there are two other men, other than The Bloke, who have made me the happily married woman I am today. Two men who, like my dear husband, have seen me at my best and my worst.  Two men who have witnessed me lose it with my kids more times than I would like to admit, but who have also seen those same children grow to be the beautiful, self-sufficient and (mostly) polite creatures they are today. Two men who have have seen my house look like a tornado has just swept through or like a sparkling jewel where everything is clean and in its ever-so-right place.

2015

2015: Traditional Christmas in red and forest green.

And now, dear friends, (sob….choke…splutter) the time has come for these two men to leave me.

These two men — architects of my continued happiness and transformers of my humble home — are, of course, are my Cleaners.

(Apologies if my tears have actually permeated cyberspace and are pouring through whatever screen you are reading this on…)

To be fair, The Cleaners and I have broken up before. There were a few weeks here, sometimes a few months, when they were too busy, or needed a break, or whatever it was — but this time, this time, it’s for real.

(Extended wail….)

Don’t get me wrong.

2016

2016: Nordic Christmas and the first appearance of the Angel Shazza.

I know in my heart the time has come for The Cleaners to move on. Truly.

Just as they have witnessed my kids growing up (OK…and me…they had to see me doing a whole pile of that growing up business, too), I’ve seen them transform, too.

I’ve watched them grow up, get real (other) jobs, ride rocking rollercoasters of relationships, come out, get promoted, break up (luckily that one wasn’t for real), reunite, get clearer and clearer on what they want in life, get promoted again (and again), and go back to studying. I’ve seen them do difficult things, like navigate visa restrictions in the era before marriage equality, and bury parents and loved ones, and do so with grace and courage.  I’ve seen them succeed in becoming amazing, well-rounded, successful and brilliant young men.

2017

2017: Tiny “We’re Going to Fiji” tree in rainbow ombre to celebrate Marriage Equality

And I guess that’s where we come to the heart of the matter: they are not The Cleaners any more.

They’re truly awesome human beings, one of whom is even more obsessed with Christmas (specifically: themed decorating) than I am.

Seriously — we begin discussing possible colour schemes in October and send each other slow-motion video reveals of our fully decorated trees…and let’s not even get into our long-standing debate over real versus artifical…

And that is why this post is adorned with the trees of the past five Christmases in all their radiant glory, under which there has always been a gift for each of them, and there always will be.

Because they’re not The Cleaners any more. They’re part of the family.

2018

2018: Thrice-decorated (because it fell) gigantic tree in orange, turquoise, silver and lime.

Blue Jai’s Back!

img_1783Hello again!

As you might have gathered, I’ve had a brief hiatus from the blog – but for a very good reason: The Bloke and I took Marvel Girl and Miss Malaprop overseas for the first time. We had a week in California and another week in Hawaii, and are now home again, tired but happy.

Needless to say, we had an awesome time — and I might get around to writing about some of it once I wrap my head around being back in Sydney again. But knowing that this blog is where I come to make sense of it all, there will no doubt be episodes from our travels that need to be unravelled here.

img_1822You will guess from the pictures I’ve included the sorts of adventures we had overseas, but I was delighted to discover that my kids are as enamoured with the unspoiled beauty of the natural world as they are with the carefully constructed pagentry of theme parks. There were plenty of other discoveries I made too, but more of those later.

In the meantime, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, I’ve just been dragging my family around the other side of it.

And finally, I have to admit that despite Miss Malaprop’s issues with various aspects of The Wizard of Oz  (previously documented here), Dorothy was absolutely spot on about one thing.

There’s no place like home.

The Little Things about Home

ShowerSchool holidays are over once again, much to the disappointment and chagrin of our entire household. It seems somehow fitting that today, the day the kids have returned to school, the rain is pouring from a grey-stained sky while the wind is gusting close to gale force.

We snuck away south for the second week of the holidays, lured by the beaches of Bendalong and Mollymook and of days filled with surf and sand.  As with many of our other beachside holidays, The Bloke would have stayed away for three weeks if he could but, strangely enough, after four or five days the kids were asking when we were heading back to old Sydneytown — not because they were dissatisfied with the experience, but just because after a full and busy first term at school they have really enjoyed spending time pottering around at home.

And here’s the thing: I love being at home too.

Much as I enjoy getting away, I have been guilty of occasionally referring to vacations with children (especially children of the small variety) as being rather more like “same gig, different venue” than “relaxing, restorative break”…particularly if said getaways involve foreign languages, flat batteries on any devices possessing small screens, or more than four consecutive hours of travel. Throw in a lack of appropriate snack food (because they’ve eaten everything you packed and nearly started on the wrappers too) and sometimes it seems it would be far, far simpler to just stay home.

Because let’s face it: there are some things that make staying home worthwhile.  Really.  They’re generally only little things, but they’re often the ones that really count.

Here are a few little things that I think make staying at home utterly superb:

1. Home is where your pillow is. Some say that the best thing about coming home from holidays is sleeping in your own bed, but for me, being able to rest your head on your own pillow is just as important — if not more so. In the interests of full disclosure, I suspect the main reason that the humble pillow tops this list of little things is that I forgot to pack my mine when we went to Mollymook. I remembered to take Junior Monopoly, clothes pegs and two kinds of sunscreen, but I forgot my wonderfully comfortable pillow. Returning home, I greeted it like a long lost friend. (Yes, I may even have hugged it.) A good pillow is life-affirming.  

2. Home is where the second drawer in the kitchen contains everything you need. Ah…the much maligned second drawer. Every home has one, but it is not until you’re on vacation that you suddenly (and sometimes desperately, when children are involved) need something from that crazy, cluttered drawer.  Cling wrap, for example, or a knife that is actually capable of cutting. Band aids, rubber bands, a piece of string, blu tak, salad servers, a screwdriver — I defy you to think of a single holiday with kids when for some bizarre reason or another, you didn’t need something from the second drawer of your kitchen at home.

3. Home is where the chargers are. The chargers? Yes, the chargers…all the chargers. The phone charger, the regular camera charger, the video camera charger, the laptop charger, the iPod, iPad and Leap-pad chargers, the Kindle charger, even the bluetooth speaker charger.  In this dizzying digital age, attempting a vacation without packing a vicious snarl of electrical cables is virtually impossible, and heaven help you if you leave one behind — unless, of course, you want to leave them at home and unplug (gasp!) as well as unwind?! The fact that said chargers occupy one person’s quota of carry-on luggage is beside the point…at least at home, you know where they all are.  Either that, or you have enough other cables and bits on hand to Macgyver up something that connects to a standard power point…

4. Home is where you fully understand how the shower works. This brilliant thought is not actually one of mine (you can find more like it here), but the more I think about it the more I know it to be true. At home, you know exactly where to position the shower head or the flick mixer, or how many times to turn the taps, or whatever it is that you do in your shower, to make it just how you like it. Because God knows there aren’t many finer things on this green earth than a hot shower.

5. Home is where you know the exact location of the chocolate stash. Quite honestly, I don’t think this point requires any further elaboration. Besides, I have no wish to inadvertently set off The Bloke’s already highly tuned chocolate sensor to the presence of any confectionary that may or may not be present in our home.

So there you have it: five little things that make staying at home simply wonderful, and wonderfully simple.

Feel free to leave a comment if I’ve left your favourite out!

Blue Jai