Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
These holidays are going super fast.
The girls and I have watched a few Harry Potter movies - every time Ella finishes a book we get to see the movie and she's been devouring them. We've crafted, we've rode and scootered every day. Ella's had a terrible scooter tumble and also had a wart frozen off.
I've had my hair coloured, but not cut. I've been walking a lot, only yesterday did 7.8kms of hilly walks in Healesville, would be lovely to do that every day.
I've made jam and chutney, I've made cakes, bagels and bread.
We're now getting ready for a week at the beach, we've rented a shack down the coast, which is not something we usually do at this absurdly high weekly rate time of year, but hey, you only get one shot so why not.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
A day at the Museum with Nan and Pa. Yes, Leila's wearing a school uniform, she still is. The girls started the day playing schools and my oh my, when Leila came out in a uniform, she looked so tiny! So she insisted on leaving it on, so she wore it to the Museum and to Brunettis for lunch.
Very pleased she's still just borrowing her sister's uniform. Realise now how happy I am for her to be waiting another year before she gets her own!
I've just finished reading Nora Ephron's collection of thoughts "I feel bad about my neck". The book is a small collection of musings and thoughts on various subjects: I hate my purse; Parenting in three stages etc. The final chapter is called "Considering the Alternative" and it is her thoughts on ageing. She begins by saying, in summary, that there's nothing good about it, the getting of wisdom doesn't compensate for the loss of flexibility, memory loss and ill health of those you love.
My friend Judy died last year. She was the person I told everything to. She was my best friend, my extra sister, my true mother, sometimes even my daughter, she was all these things, and one day she called up to say, the weirdest thing has happened, there's a lump on my tongue. Less than a year later, she was dead. She was sixty-six years old. She had no interest in dying, right to the end. She died horribly. And now she's gone. I think of her every day, sometimes six or seven times a day. This is the weekend she and I usually went to the spring garden and antiques show in Bridgehampton together. The fire screen in the next room is something she spotted in a corner of that antiques show, and above the fireplace is a poster of a seagull that she gave me only two summers ago. It's June now; this is the month one or the other of us would make corn-bread pudding, a ridiculous recipe we both loved that's made with corn-bread mix and canned cream corn. She made hers with sour cream, and I made mine without. "Hi, hon", she would say when she called. "Hi, doll." "Hello, my darling." I don't think she ever called me, or anyone else she knew, by their actual name. I have her white cashmere shawl. I wore it for days after her death; I wrapped myself up in it; I even slept in it. but now I can't bear to wear it because it feels as if that's all there is left of my Judy. I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb and I can't believe I'm here without her.
My friend Henry died a few months ago. He was what we refer to as one of the lucky ones. He died at eighty-two, having lived a full, rich, and successful life. He had coped brilliantly with macular degeneration - for almost two years, most of his friends had no idea that he couldn't see - and then he wrote a book about going blind that will probably outlast all the rest of his accomplishments, which were considerable. He died of heart failure, peacefully in his sleep, with his adoring family around him. The day before his death, he asked to be brought a large brown accordian folder he kept in his office. In it were love letters he had received when he was younger. He sent them back to the women who'd written them, wrote them all lovely notes, and destroyed the rest. What's more, he left complete, detailed instructions for his funeral, including the music he wanted - all of this laid out explicitly in a file on his computer he called "Exit".
"I don't want to die," Judy said.
"I believe in miracles," she said.
"I love you," she said.
"Can you believe this?" she said.
No, I can't believe it. I still can't believe it.
But let's not be morbid.
Let's put little smiley faces on our faces.
Eat, drink and be merry.
Seize the day.
Life goes on.
It could be wore.
And the ever popular "Consider the alternative."
And meanwhile, here we are.
What is to be done.
I don't know. I hope that's clear. In a few minutes I will be through with writing this piece, and I will go back to life itself. Squirrels have made a hole in the roof, and we don't know quite what to do about it. Soon it will rain; we should probably take the cushions inside. I need more bath oil. And that reminds me to say something about bath oil. I use this bath oil I happen to love. It's called Dr. Hauschka's lemon bath. It costs about twenty dollars a bottle, which is enough for about two weeks of baths if you follow the instructions. The instructions say one capful per bath. But a capful gets you nowhere. A capful is not enough. I have known this for a long time. But if the events of the last few years have taught me anything, it's that I'm going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow and I skimped on bath oil today. So I use quite a lot of bath oil. More than you could ever imagine. After I take a bath, my bathtub is as dangerous as an oil slick. But thanks to the bath oil, I'm as smooth as silk. I am going out to buy more, right now. Goodbye.
Monday, January 09, 2012
I figured out that the last time I gutted a fish was in 1993 at Sprouce Coulee in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta Canada.
I was dating and living with my then Park Ranger and we'd gone camping near his parents, on the banks of this gorgeous lake.
We borrowed his dad's canoe and were the only ones on the water. I don't remember it being summer, but it was sunny and warm. I have a photo somewhere of him paddling at the end of the canoe, it was like an Indian canoe, quite wide and deep. He then took a photo of me lounging back reading the latest Bon Appetit and Gourmet. Occasionally I'd look over the side and trail my hand across the surface of the water. Out the back I could see his spinners trawling through the water and occasionally a fish chasing madly after it.
We caught fish that day and I gutted my first fish. We were the only ones there and bbqed our fish over the fire we lit when the sun started to go down.
Today the story isn't quite so romantic. The fish were already dead when I bought them but I did gut them myself. Some things you just never forget.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
A visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Adultery and Other Choices by Andre Dubus
Amacord by Marcella Hazan
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
Landfall by Helen Gordon
Light Years by James Salter
Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureshi
The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht
What is the What by Dave Eggers
No stinkers in that bunch. My favourite, A visit from the Goon Squad.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
In a medium pan make a weak sugar syrup. All this depends on preference, I don't like it too sweet so for me a 1/3 - 1/2 cup of sugar to perhaps 1 1/2 cups of water. Throw in the juice of an orange and a long strip of its zested skin and bring to the simmer. Make a tiny incision in the peach skin, around the stalk, to assist in getting the skins off later. Gently place your peaches stalk side down first (the syrup will only come 1/3 to 1/2 the way up and simmer for about 8 mins. Then turn over and simmer for a further 8 minutes. That time's for fairly firm peaches to a fairly soft finish - again, depends on your taste.
Fish out the peaches and you'll see that the skin's become loose. If it still seems really firm, you may need to cook longer, otherwise you won't easily get the skins off and no lovely smooth finish. Set the peaches aside to cool. Put the syrup back on the heat, medium, and reduce until you're happy with the consistency. I added the juice of half a lemon and also perhaps 1/4 tsp of vanilla bean paste. When it's cooled strain for a lovely clear sauce.
To remove the peach skins it really should just be a matter of pushing them slowly back. If you have any resistance just be gentle and patient if you want them to be lovely and smooth otherwise, yank away!
Serve with a big scoop of good vanilla icecream or equally some lovely vanilla bean yoghurt and a good splosh of the sauce.
Monday, January 02, 2012
I'm not worried about you my love. You're such a tender hearted soul, but there is strength to your character as well. I believe you know your worth in this world and won't accept anything less from anyone, it's a wonderful strength to have.
You are a funny girl, making us laugh. You are extremely generous, tender with those you love most, ever considerate, a care for us beyond your years.
Happy Birthday Leila babe. I couldn't love you more.