A Quiet Life

What’s a quiet life, to you?

If the first thought that sprung to your mind is … a comfortable retirement?

Comfortable retirement. Dancing in the living room. Through the dining room. Tap on the shoulder in the kitchen, lit only by a lamp and the shadows of the plants behind his back moving as they sway gently across the hall. Lines deepening on faces, death followed by new life. Leaves falling and blooming again. Piercing cries in the night, but this time they belong to the generation below their progeny so they sleep a little deeper. Urgency no longer beckons them in their dreams, it does not sit on their shoulders anymore and they do not hear it when they are in the shower. Piercing cries. Precious baby they can love without shackles.

What is a quiet life… to you?

Oh, you there. Yes you. I see it in your eyes.

Your quiet life is still. Even in the chaos there is a dark stillness that shrouds your heart as you wander slowly through a crowded hall with two beautiful loves clinging to your skirts, and you see those who are like you, but not like you, and you feel on the fringes again.

Urgency calls you.

It’s a silent kitchen is a quiet life.

Voiceless.

Echo.

Empty buildings, the sun setting and slanting through the dusty glass and the road outside is still, dry, dust pooling on the pavements because..

Nobody calls you.

You grow alone and you may die alone.

That’s a quiet life.

And there is frustration because you have always felt this deep chasm of loneliness. And you thought it would go away. In your teens you waited. In your twenties you yearned. And you approach 30 and it’s banging on your door this desolation and it won’t go away.

You tell yourself, your mother, your people.. you tell them you’re cosy in this cocoon of isolation.

But you aren’t.

You aren’t.

You worry this will seep through the invisible gossamer veil that hangs delicately between you and your children, you worry it will shroud them too like a clingy web that won’t go away.

You don’t want this sadness to be theirs. This loneliness to ache in their chest. Their precious hopeful faces.

You don’t want a quiet life for them.

So you aren’t. Cosy. Happy. Content.

What is your quiet life?

Were Their Faces Dirty?

I really like to look at old buildings as I sit in the modern day life of hustle and bustle and minds sucked into a cloud of technological machinery grating against each other.

The clock tower, with its ancient clock, still ticking away one hundred and fifty years after some hands carefully welded it all together. Single pane windows underneath a plaque set in bricks which reads ‘AD 1859’ and I think, who peered out of those windows in 1860? Who walked the streets I now walk? I think of how they were dressed and what they could possibly have thought about, and whether they wore hats and then pssshh, of course they wore hats.

They all dressed well back in those days, or at least we like to think they did. Were their faces dirty, though?

The clocktower I was looking at today, as I sat having a chocolate chip shortbread biscuit in Chatwins, the bakery opposite this Market Hall in Sandbach, Cheshire. It did not look like this today, as this photo was taken in the summer 🙂

Beautiful Moment

I went out to get ice cubes today. Morrison’s is just round the corner from where I live and so I set off with a short list in my hand, and some change gathering sweat in the other.

It was a sunny day. I passed a lot of charity shops (thrift stores) on the way, and I paused as I always do to look at the selection of books they usually set on pretty tables outside. Lots of nice things, really. Only I am a bit poor this month, so I shook my head and walked on. An old lady started to smile at me.

I quickly looked away. Then in that split second I thought, why.

Why do I always look away when I catch people’s eyes? What if they fancied a smile and nothing more?

I smiled at her and the expression on her face appeared to be one of pleasant surprise.

So I decided to let go of this people avoiding shell and be a bit more friendly. I am new in this town afterall. Might as well make me some smiling buddies.

As I was walking towards the entrance to Morrison’s, an Indian lady walked out. Well, she looked Indian. For all I knew she could have been Sri-Lankan. She wore a bright pink and purple traditional shalwar-kameez, and her hair was gloriously snowy white. He face was brown as a nut; the deep rich brown of being out in the sun and living and there were wrinkles on her face painted in the gesture of a smile.

I smiled at her because her face looked so inviting. It was a bogus smile at first. The tentative dipping of one’s toe in cold, unfamiliar waters. Then I saw her look at me, and her face lit up. As though she knew me. Her smile in return started off small, but as the seconds passed it spread all over her face like sunshine.

I was so taken aback that I reflected it with one of my own. I felt my mouth sliding upwards of its own free will. I felt it surge deep within me.

She was smiling at me like she knew me. Like she was my grandmother looking at me after years of being apart. Like our souls had met before and this was their glimpse of each other in physical form.

Then the moment passed and I was walking through the sliding doors of the supermarket. I couldn’t help but glimpse back at her as she trudged on with her shopping bags, without a backward glance. 

Perhaps I am exaggerating this moment, perhaps I am reading too much into it. Nevertheless, it is one which I will never forget! I shall make it my point to smile, really smile, at people more often. The aftermath of it is so rich and joyful.

Perspective

What annoys you?
That is what she asked.
But there was no frown on the other’s face, so I assumed it was a general question.
I did not hear what the other said.
The rain fell on my nose.
Sometimes that would annoy me, and sometimes it would please me.
Do the things that annoy you annoy you all the time?
Or is their annoyingness contingent on the situation in which you currently find yourself when you’re annoyed by them?

This is a Monet. Specifically: The Thames at Westminster, by Claude Monet.

Hug

“Do you want a hug?” I asked my sister.

We don’t do affection. At all. Ever.

“She doesn’t,” my mum said, when my sister didn’t answer me.

I was at the door, leaving home to go back to my home after the christmas-new year break.

“Ahh, I think she does,’ and I went to hug her.

“I’m just awkward,” she murmured into my shoulder, so I gave her an extra squeeze for good measure.

My family do not show affection. It’s clumsy, awkward, strange.

Once my sister was in a state of Terrible Hurt. She was crying alone in her bedroom, in her bed, under a pile of clothes and blankets. Normally we are catty with each other, but that one time I went into her dorm room, climbed into bed with her and held her while she cried.

‘Go away” she said in the end, sniffling.

I didn’t go away, and she didn’t ask me to again.

I don’t know why it’s strange and weird and awkward to give my family affection, when I do it so freely with my children and husband. With my cousins and aunts. With my friends.

Why is it so hard?

I love them all so fiercely.

So why is it so hard?

Liver Pâté

Are you a parent?

If you are, I think you can attest that one of the toughest, most worrying things as a parent is seeing your child ill.

My son has been so ill recently. He has caught one thing after another from nursery, and has developed huge dark circles under his eyes, and lost some weight. I can feel his little tiny bones through his skin, and he has lost that round chubbiness of toddlerhood.

It’s the most troubling thing and frankly I am just burdened by it.

Now of course we are having him checked up by doctors and whatnot, but I also sat down to research some ways to add nutrients into the body after bouts of illness and weightloss.

One of the biggest causes for dark circles around eyes is vitamin A deficiency. I have no proof (yet) that my son is deficient in vitamin A but it can’t harm to get some down him, can it?

Liver is apparently one of the biggest sources of vitamin A, so I sourced some liver from the local butcher.

I hated liver growing up. My father loves it, and the Moroccan way to cook it is to cut it into small pieces, fry it up with onions, garlic, coriander and a bit of cumin. Lots of seasoning, and the resulting liver in gravy concoction is eaten with some crusty bread. Freshly baked french loaf is the tastiest option, according to my family. I could never eat this food. The smell of liver alone put me off, and therefore eating it was simply impossible.

I am an adult now. And I know that liver is an excellent source of nutrients for my unwell child, so I looked up ways to cook it where it would not taste so… LIVERY.

One great way is making liver pâtĂ©! It’s liver cooked up with onions and garlic, some dijon mustard, balsmic vinegar, herbs and seasonings…. and a LOT of butter. You can spread it on toast or crackers and it’s just a really tasty savoury spread. So I made some tonight while my kids were in bed.

Let us see how well it goes down tomorrow, ey.

Image credit

Firefly Lane

Ugh.

Netflix released this show called Firefly Lane, which I understand is based on a book. I watched season 1 during the nights of cluster feeding when my second was a newborn.

They released season 2 this week, and let me tell you.. I BINGED that show.

I watched it all the way until 5:30am!

Usually I would never do something so BOLD as pull an all-nighter now that I am a mum of a 3 year old and a 1 year old, but it so happened that both my kids were awake. Wide awake. Some secret demon whispered things into their ears and sewed mischief into their bedclothes, because those two little rugrats played hide and seek and sang songs ALL NIGHT.

No amount of rocking, lullabying, shushing or bottom-patting helped.

They opened their eyes to the witching hour and it bewitched them.

So I let them have at it, truth told. I popped them both into my bed, turned the lights off, and sat next to them watching Firefly Lane on my phone, while they climbed and played and sang. UNTIL 5AM.

By then I had like twenty minutes left of the final episode so I watched that and then went to bed.

I don’t know why I like it so much. It’s so alluring. It tells the story of two girls/women who have been best friends since childhood, and how their friendship expands, blossoms and is challenged into adulthood. So much chemistry though, so much detail, and I really like the colours and costumes.

Anyway.

It’s a good job that happened on Saturday night.

Bloggiversary

I am writing an extra blog post today because it is my Bloggiversary. Nine years ago today I sat down, and decided I did not want my old blog on Blogspot, and wanted to write out the things that rattled around in my brain like dainty fairies wearing saucepans in a new, cleaner space.

So I opened up a new blog. And I called it ‘Ocean Bream’.

Not after the fish. But after a lovely, whimsical book I read called The Spellbook of Listen Taylor where a woman really, just really wanted to be asked how her ocean bream was, my love?

At the time I wasn’t married, but I was a few months into ‘seeing’ my husband, who I had known my entire life. We ‘courted’ for a while and then decided to get married in January 2014. So my bloggiversary is very close to my anniversary, and for me, somehow, that feels a little special.

Image Credit: Shawna Erback

The Nugget

PLEASE SHIP TO THE UK, my fingers screamed into my keyboard. Then I really thought about it and realised that no, I do not have ÂŁ400 to spend on a sofa type thing that sounds like a mini chicken goujon. In addition, I do not have the space to house a sofa-type thing that kids can climb on. Maybe that is why they don’t sell the ‘Nugget’ in the UK, because houses here are so small that we cannot make room for children to play daring games on climbey things.

No we just make do with our own personal sofas, you know, the ones we sit on, for our children to make obstacle courses with and throw themselves off head first in their quests to understand what their little bodies can handle as they grow into human beings and parts of the society.

It doesn’t make any sense, you know, that houses here are so small. The weather is only nice for about 3 months out of twelve, and so the rest of the time most kids spend cooped up indoors because it’s either raining or just too darn cold to layer up in one million layers and slip and slide in the mud outside before coming home and doing a massive clean to remove all traces of the outside world from one’s teeny tiny living room.

BECAUSE HOUSES HERE ARE TINY, did I mention that?

So if we have to spend more time indoors, why not make houses bigger?

The thousand hours outside people will tell you that kids should be out in nature no matter the rain or snow or sleet or blizzard, and I would agree that it does wonders for the mood and the brain and for exploration and for living in general. However, I also still think houses here are too small, and that it’s tough work taking small kids outside in the mud and cold every single day. One gets frustrated with all the cleaning one has to do. Mud and wet grass are awfully messy and gunky things to have on one’s carpets and sofas and all up in the many crevices of baby fat folds.

All this to say, I really want a Nugget.

An expensive sofa type climbey thing that kids can use to jump on, climb over, make forts with and generally be creative. I think my kids would love it. They are ruining my nice sofas with their games and climbing and I think this would get them off my sofas in my teeny house and onto their own climbey things. I also want them to be able to climb and jump about without me feeling like I want to pull my teeth out in frustration. I also think they need to release energy indoors when it’s especially cold and I have no energy to let them roll around in icy mud or poke sticks in icy pools of puddles that are really overflowing drains at the local park.

I can’t justify a Nugget because we are now in a ‘cost of living crisis’, but I want one nevertheless.

I won’t get one.

But I want one.

And I am just putting this out into the ether, as the stars twinkle above me, as the wind roars in the trees, as the cold air drafting through the windows whispers of a tough winter to come.

Baby Bathwater

My two children have been insanely poorly this week. High temperatures, breaking 40C, coughing, lethargy, crying, aches and pains and multiple visits to the GP and also A&E. They’re both on antibiotics because their fevers just refused to budge after 5+ days, my daughter fell over and couldn’t stand on her left leg for abut two days…

Then our fridge stopped working.

Our car started making a funny noise and the mechanic said it was the exhaust pipe connector thingy and would cost about ÂŁ1800 to fix… the car itself is only worth about ÂŁ1000, if that.

So now we have no car, no fridge, two poorly children with no appetites, and just a general air of ‘What will happen next?!’

There is a saying isn’t there? Something about raining and pouring? It doesn’t rain, it pours?

All the bad things happen at once?

I heard a man say yesterday, ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and it shivered me timbers, I tell you. What an awful saying. What, why would you throw the baby out with the bath water?

I have heard this saying multiple times and it’s so horrid, so I did some research and it means something like, don’t discard something valuable with the rubbish.

Just like that man who accidentally threw away his hard drive containing a tonne of bitcoin, estimated to be now worth 150 million pounds, so he has assembled a team of experts to excavate a landfill in order to find it. He certainly did throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But back to that, WHO came up with that saying? Had someone actually done that, so it became a bar by which to judge other similar and not so similar situations? Could we not say something else? Why must it be so horrific and morbid?

Those are my thoughts for today. Unfiltered, unedited, just posting because I need to say something, not that the void needs to hear another yammering voice.

We seem to have become a generation of all talk and no listening.