I don’t know what prompted me to reach for my phone and search for “Cat Stevens”, but last Monday I found myself dancing in the kitchen with my baby on my hip singing, “glide on the peace train“. A pot of dahl was simmering on the stove, which felt entirely appropriate for the 1970’s tunes decorating our day. I grew up eating my mother’s dahl fortnightly, if not weekly, so perhaps that is why I suddenly found myself missing these tunes. You see, my mother adores Cat Stevens. When I hear Where Do The Children Play and Moonshadow, I remember being around ten years old and standing near the cd player in our living room. It’s dark, so it must be the evening, probably a Saturday night… I am standing and listening and mum is listening and moving to the music, telling us of the time when she was 17 years old and won tickets to his concert via a radio competition to sit right at the front and meet him afterwards. We are getting ready to watch a movie, the five of us, probably something science fiction, which is precisely the opposite of what I’d choose to watch if I had my way, but I always liked hanging out with my family (and there was always chocolate), so I was happy.
Last week, when Morning Has Broken started to play, I began to cry. Often when I think of losing my older brother I am comforted by the familiarity of my feelings. It’s a mix of deep sadness, regret and longing, as well as joy for the time we did get together. But while hearing the music of our childhood and remembering, as I held baby Joan in my arms, I felt a different kind of sadness. It’s heavier and darker and I don’t quite know what to make of it yet, but it’s there… and I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon, because I keep wanting to listen to Morning Has Broken, and so it keeps coming up. The following day when Ben was working from home I called out to him but he didn’t respond. I went into his office to find him typing away with his headphones in. “Are you on a call?”, I asked. “No, I’m listening to music…Cat Stevens.”
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven.
DOING: waiting for Joan to wake up so I can feed her and make a coffee! She’s started to take hour and a half-long naps in the morning, often getting sleepy and starting them while out on our morning walk. Once we get home I just leave her sleeping in the Ergo carrier and reply to emails, read articles like this and this, and do a bit of writing, while I wait for her to wake.
HEARING: Billie Holiday. I go through phases with music, listening to one album over and over before moving on to the next. One singer I always go back to is Billie Holiday. She makes me sway and smile. Her version of I’ll be seeing you is a favourite, and it reminds me of The Notebook, a movie I unabashedly adore. I watched that when I was about 35 weeks pregnant and I was beside myself, weeping to Ben, “They love each other sooooo much!”, to which he replied, “I told you not to watch that movie”.
COOKING: It’s been a granola month over here. I felt inspired to create my own honey and peanut butter granola, which worked out pretty well, but my favourite remains granola no.5, of which we’ve recently made two batches. Served with greek yoghurt AND milk. I also tried a new ragu recipe this month, which came highly recommended from the Food52 community. Ben and I loved it! Though next time I’d add fresh basil to the sauce, include pancetta as recommended and maybe swap the sausage for beef mince. Or I’d find a better, more flavourful sausage, but really I try to keep sausages and cured meats to an occasional indulgence because of the preservatives. Unless you go preservative-free! We’re going to be ordering from these folk soon, as recommended to me by a lovely blog reader.
EATING: Besides a whole lotta granola? We’ve been devouring fresh vegetables from Transition Farm, with the return of our weekly CSA veggie box delivery. I forgot how carrots and capsicum should taste.
I have memories of fried eggs from when I was a child. The egg and bacon rolls of my youth involved hot plates that had seen better days. Everything coming off the grill tasted of meat juice, and not in a good way. Why I’d always order an egg and bacon roll is beyond me, I knew the whites would be crisp and tasteless, and the yolk would always be questionably runny (until a few years ago I preferred my eggs completely hard – “dead eggs”, as my family ineloquently (and rather insensitively) puts it). Now I adore a runny yolk (just as long as the white is hard, am I right?!), but back then it had to be solid for me to enjoy them. The egg would inevitably be served, slapped into a white roll, with strips of bacon that were far too pink and far too fatty for my apparently fussy ten-year-old self. Ughhhhhhh. Fried eggs? No, thank you.
And so I steered clear of fried eggs, leaning my preferences towards the boiled and poached varieties. As the years crept by, my demand for a hard yolk changed to tolerance of a bit of wobble, which later developed into a love for runny, gooey, golden yolks. With age comes wisdom. When brunching, I like my poached and boiled eggs served “runny, please”. And at home, softly folded scrambled eggs are my favourite, well-seasoned with salt or sometimes in place of salt a sharp cheese, like parmesan or taleggio, cheddar or goat. And then last year, something happened. I began to appreciate, fried eggs. No, no, no, “appreciate” doesn’t really convey my true affection, let’s try that again. Last year, I began to love, adore and crave fried eggs. So much so that they are now my lunchtime staple, with sourdough toast and a good smash of avocado. The reason for this flip? Butter.
I was supposed to go back to work today.
When planning how long I would break from the clinic, five months seemed like a good amount of time. I thought our baby would be old enough to hang out with her grandmothers for a few hours each week with no issues. She’d probably take a bottle of expressed breastmilk and have a nap, and I’d get to go to work, earn money and keep the clinic running at an easy, gentle pace to begin with, seeing a few friendly clients on a Friday afternoon. Totally manageable.
January arrived and our babe was suddenly four months old. I hadn’t really thought about my impending return to work until another potential client registered interest in seeing me once my maternity leave finished at the end of the month, so we started getting ready. Having Joan feel ok with being away from me seemed like a good place to start. From fairly early on in her life, Joan hasn’t been great with crowds, and even with her grandmothers whom she knows and loves, she’d often FREAK OUT if I wasn’t in sight. She’s a sensitive babe (a velcro baby, as Pinky McKay puts it) who is very observant and curious, taking in all her surroundings, and sometimes she gets overwhelmed and needs help chilling out with the reassurance that I am there. So mum started coming over to look after the baby while I did housework. Joan was happy, she adores her Nana KK and they have a lot of fun together…but I was in the room, I hadn’t really left her. I knew we needed a few attempts of me leaving her with my mum and actually leaving. The first time we did this I went for a swim at the beach, which was down the road from our house. After a minute or so in the water, something in my gut told me I needed to get home, so I dried off, left Ben and my brother and ran all the way back. I heard the screams from the start of the driveway.