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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Solstice Goodness

Happy Summer Solstice (again!).

Just a few images of our mini-Solstice celebrations. Thanks to Nettles over at The Magic Teapot Chronicles, I am now enjoying the delights of the Medaeval Baebes (the album is Illumination) which includes the track to which she referred in her recent post - 'My Lady Sleeps'. Well worth a little looksie and listensie... (Wish I knew how to embed bloody video to my blog. I've done it once and can never remember how to do it. Anyone who wants to share, please feel free). and yes, I do sometimes long to prance around in a flowing white dress with flowers in my hair.
Forgive the little Santa slipping in there but he's so cute! Not remotely connected with the Summer Solstice but still, so cute!

Flowers from my own garden - which is nice. Aren't they splendid? I don't even know what they are called but they come up in so many pretty colours, I couldn't resist.

Mmmm. Berries. I could overdose on cherries and berries, I tells ya.

Beanie is busy putting Christmas stickers over just about every surface we have, so I'd better go. Enjoy your Solstice celebrations (it can be tonight or last night y'see - depends on your almanac!) and put some flowers in your hair just for funsies. Yes, I mean the men too.


Monday, December 21, 2009

It is the lovely Summer Solstice - also known as Litha in these 'ere parts. A time for feasting, dancing, licking berry juice from stained fingers and nipping off into the woods with your Beloved, should the mood strike.

I am in a Fine Frenzy of musical exploration and enjoyment. I am finishing of last minute Christmas shopping and trying not to ruffle my brain too much by thinking about how on earth I'm going to fit a family sized turkey into our teensy weensy little ice box, which is already overburdened with goodies. Well, it IS summer over here and several different types of icy poles are practically a necessity.

Today is the longest day of the year. I am aware of the soft shift that will come after this day is ended. We move into the hottest of the sun months and swelter and sweat our prayers at this time. Not for us the peaceful still of winter and Christmas. Our Santa wears board shorts and thongs to deliver his pressies.

The summer solstice is the time when the Green Man is at full potency. His fertile touch is clear over all the land, where all things bloom and blossom under his strong hands. New life and the urge to make new life abounds, (and believe me when I say we got dinner AND a show at the Zoo on Saturday - baboon style!) His consort, the Goddess, our Lady of the rolling hills and briny oceans, is pregnant with his child/himself. I do feel very much part of this strange fertile cycle this year. I too am heavy with child and am enjoying the unfolding of this new life within me and around me.

Beanie and I will be tipping our hat at some solstice-y celebrations this evening. I will pick some lavender from the garden and some wild roses and we will do a little dancing, a little observing and little incense burning. That's about all either of us is able to do - her being only three and me being pregnant and about as energetic as an over-warmed slug.

I will make some attempt at sort of celebratory dinner this evening and there will be oodles of berries and fresh fruit. Dinner has definitely been more of an afterthought recently. I've been relying on the toast and tomato scenario this week and Michael has resorted to creating interesting salad's with baked potato-y loveliness for his extremely picky wife and her strange cravings. So far it's been for salt and vinegar crisps, hot chips with salt, oodles of vinegar and gravy and now tuna baked potatoes. Go figure. Never had cravings with Lily - unless you count that one (husband scarring) incident with the crumpet, the hummus and the beetroot.

Other than that it's the usual madness of Christmas to look forward to. We are hosting it at our house again this year but the family groups are each providing a course each. We are doing mains - so that simplifies things a bit. NExt year it will thankfully be someone else's turn because I'll have two ankle-biters to contend with and will want nothing more than to eat and fall into a food drunk stupor in a comfy armchair.

I love Christmas and embrace the full tacky goodness of the season, bells, whistles, and multi-coloured fairy lights and all. Yet here, in this strange country of opposites, I find it a teensy bit depressing. I am a Northern girl and no mistake. This time of year usually means a Yule celebration and fighting over who gets to hog the fire. The southern hemisphere has many delights for me and come boxing day, I'm as right as rain. But the lead up to Christmas, normally a time of mulled wine, hot choccy, freezing blood, aching bones and open fires, is strangely bereft and a fierce longing comes upon me for snow. I want to be cold and wrapped up snugly in my winter woolies. I want to disappear into snowy woods and watch as Jack Frost makes sparkling the whole forest in the night. And I can't. And it makes me slightly sad. not enough to give up on the whole Christmas preparation but enough that it feels hollow and flat. What's a gal to do?

A sane person would embrace the differences, enjoy the sun, welcome the chance to bare her feet and shoulders at this time of festivity. But whoever suggested that I was sane? Not me certainly. I was built for a little melancholy and I'm probably not really happy without a little darkness. Sad but true.

Anyhoo, today is a day to focus on what we have and give thanks for the fertility that is ours to enjoy and share. It's a time for dancing, bold experimenting and making (very) merry, so I'll wish you all a Happy Solstice - whether it be Summer or Winter in your part of the world. May the Gods look down on you favourably and bring blessings into your hearth and home.

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Solitude of Small Things

*photograph by mslume flickr

“You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.”


30-Days of Happiness have flung themselves past me with rude haste. It has been a mammoth month of family, friends, birthday's, anniversary's and the run up to Christmas. I have barely had time to take a breath, let alone a full pause for reflection. Hence the almost month long absence.

This morning as I sat in our sunroom, curled into my golden armchair, letting the (soon to be too hot) sun warm me and drinking tea, I allowed myself to relax. The invisible tension that normally holds me seeped away as the room got warmer. I allowed myself the luxury of silent, unspoiled, uninterrupted moments of nothing more than tea and sunshine. I even read a few chapters of a charming book I'm reading by Louise Erdrich. Her prose lulls me into a deeper contemplation of life and pulls up from the deep, the sensual pleasure of the solitude of small things. I am at ease. I am awake. I am present. It is delicious.

So many things have happened these last two months. We had October, the months of weddings. All of them beautiful, all of them enjoyable but only one of them truly mine. The beautiful Sol-y-luna married her lovely ging and all was well with the world.

Me and My Sister - in true form

November became the month of celebrations and family. My sister arrived from England for a month and, as I always find when we spend this much time in each other's company, our relationship opens and deepens. I have so much respect for my sister. Her life is not an easy one and she seems to have to fight for every inch of space and relief available to her, but she is still full of the life, the joi de vivre for which she is famous. Her youngest child (one of six - four of them an adopted family) is autistic and approaching the very difficult rite of passage that is puberty. It is difficult for most but even more so for children with autism. As she tries to negotiate his needs and desires and ensure that he gets the care and attention he needs in a mainstream school, she must also be on the lookout for those complications that come with puberty - things that can severely offset his health and happiness, like Epilepsy, to which autistic children become prone to around this time. Obviously, her month away from her child has been an adjustment for him too and it has shown in his increasing meltdowns. But this is her life. She is enured to it and he is the main focus of her existence right now. Such is a mother's love. Such is life.

What takes my breath away is that she does it all largely unsupported, with no-one to hand over to at the end of the very long day. There is no man at her back. No-one to crumple into when it all gets too hard, as it often does. There is no-one there to share the burden of her child's difficulties, our aging mother's infirmities and our brother's mental illness. Too much has been loaded onto her plate and it starts to show through the cracks in her armour. Strangely, I welcome the cracks. I love the parts where we start to break apart, to become real with one another. Not that the indomitable willed woman you are most likely to meet is not the real her, believe me it is. It's just that when the soft underbelly is exposed, that's when I love her most. Because I feel her pain, I share it and I understand it. I want to help. Even if it is only in the holding of the moment with her. I am grateful for these little insights into another's life, particularly when that other is my sister.

The hubble embracing Movember in style

November was also the month of my 40th birthday. And what a week that was. My gorgeous man showered me with love, affection and a beautiful white gold and diamond encrusted 'Eternity' ring. There was the surprise party (which was a total surprise!) which included being serenaded (for the first and only time in our 8-year relationship) by my husband, with a song he wrote just for me and which was as funny and sweet as a ditty from Flight of the Conchords. Then came the night in the swanky hotel, the date at the cinema followed by the sharing of very messy Nachos and much talking. It was, without exception, the best of birthdays.

THEN came the wonderful transitional event planned and executed brilliantly by the gorgeous Sol-y-luna. A red tent extravaganza which I can barely even begin to describe. I was massaged, bathed in rose petals, fed bowls of berries and nourishing teas. I was escorted down my own candle-lit stairs by my closest friends, each offering spirit gifts and blessings along the way and finally, I was smudged and shown into a red tent suffused with candle light and filled with the love and the generosity of the suprising and inspiring women in my life. It was enchantment.

It's a butterfly, ok? Just look at the hair - its fabulous!

This event was an opportunity to revisit my life, to share the steps that had led me to this place - this gateway into the afternoon of my life - and a chance to bless it all and release it all before continuing on my way. It was an opportunity for the women in my life to be present, to hold space for me in a sacred and timeless way and to offer me a container into which I could pour myself over and again. Plus, there were pressies! We danced, we laughed, we shared and the love and gratitude overflowed like good wine. It was an extraordinary few hours and a thing of enormous beauty. I have been held in that beauty and grace ever since. And I am very blessed by the women who shared that time with me.

We also shared two anniversary's. The first, our own. The hubble and I have been married now for five years. The second was the first year in our own house. Both were poignant, both were happy, both make me smile.

So, you can see why I may have been less than present in cyber-space, no? It has been a crazy time but a beautiful one and I'm not likely to forget any of it any time soon.

Plus there were these precious moments:

The evil pleasure of watching small children trying to eat doughnuts with no hands...heh heh heh (dress by the lovely and talented Nettles)

Looking for Puffing Billy (the train)

What's snorkelling mummy?

Fossicking around in rock pools - glorious beach days.

Roo Love.

And so, now comes the stilling of the rapidly beating life heart. As it settles into its usual casual (if slightly erratic) rhythm, my inner life can once again come into focus. I can sit and listen and write. I can prepare. I can acknowledge the fiery, spirited women who comprise my family and friends. I can hold my fears and my failings up to the light and know that I am loved no matter what. I can take a deep breath, fill my lungs with the air of silence that now pervades and allow it to take me where it will. I can pay attention to the life that nudges inside of me.


Today I am 17 1/2 weeks pregnant. I feel the baby roll inside me from time to time. The delicate touch of its little hands or feet on my womb that radiates a smile of pleasure through me. The reassuring little knocks and pokes that lets me know all is well within. It has been tiring and will no doubt continue to be so. I have a wired, active, busy and demanding toddler to love, cherish and grumble at. I hit these walls in the middle of the afternoon that have my feet taking me towards bed and sleep, even while my head screams 'Can't!' and my toddler seeks out my hand and my awareness. I am rarely alone with this new life and there is some small sadness in that. But so it is with the second and probably third and fourth children. We are not able to give the fierce attention to the second that was the right of the first. We are not able to sit with the little life inside of us and imagine the perfection of each little finger and toe. We are occasionally reminded of its presence through the miracle of movement and then, for a moment, the grace of motherhood peeps through. The rest of the time its business as usual with small children and of course, life as we know it. So I am grateful for these rare moments alone. Or rather, not alone but with child.

Today is likely to reach a horrific 39 degrees. It is a day of Extreme weather warning which means bushfires are likely. I am spending the day sweating and moaning in the city sharing a Christmas lunch with one of my beautiful women friends. My Beanie is spending the day in the air conditioned goodness of her nanna's house and the cat, I'm afraid, is on her own. No doubt under the house lounging in the dirt, which is the coolest place around here, even now at 9am in the morning.

My 30-days of happiness has passed and, though I didn't have a chance to record it all here, consider this a mini roundup of all the bestest bits.