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Happy New Year!

In 2018, let’s do MORE.

Let’s laugh and explore and play and eat and drink and create MORE.

Let’s forget about moderation and minimalism, even though they’re in vogue at the moment.

Instead, let’s bake and cook and sew and grow MORE than we need so that we have plenty to SHARE.

Let’s build our communities and break bread together.

And let’s find more TIME, for ourselves and for others. Time to sit and be quiet inside our own heads. Time to marvel at the wondrousness around us. Time to be kind…and time to LOVE each other more.

Happy New Year! ♥

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This Guy…

This guy…is going to be annoyed with me when he sees these photos…

It’s his own fault, of course, because he found this cool app that scans old photos very easily using a smartphone. Which means you all get to see what a hottie he was at nineteen…

I can’t tell you how well he looks after me. Or how grateful I am that he’s still in my life 35 years after we met, and that occasionally, he looks at me like this…

…and this…

As some of you already know, he’s had a rough time health-wise these past few years. Please don’t ask about it, as it’s not really my story to tell. But sometimes watching him in pain overwhelms me. I remember asking him years ago, in a weak moment, why so much stuff was happening to our family. Just as we were coming up for air after Small Man’s cancer and other health issues, Pete’s illness pulled us back under again.

My zen, philosophical husband was genuinely puzzled by the question.

“Babe, I think we’re very lucky. Our lives are perfect..” he said.

“You and I are closer than we’ve ever been, our sons love us and are still at home and want to spend time with us. We have a place to live, good friends and food to eat. What more could you ask for?”

I cried and cried, because he was, as always, completely right.

And I remembered that this was what I’d fallen madly in love with. It wasn’t just that he looked like a rock star at nineteen, or wielded a razor sharp wit that made me laugh and cry at the same time. It was his incredible mental discipline that appealed to my scattered, anxious, melodramatic nature. His strength under fire, his almost unfailingly positive outlook on the world, and his willingness to accept whatever life throws our way.

Over the years, we’ve faced our fair share of adversity together. I frequently quote that line from the final episode of M.A.S.H. where BJ tells Hawkeye…”I can’t imagine what this place would have been like if I hadn’t found you here”. Because whenever things have become too big for me to deal with, Pete has always been there. He was the one who held our screaming baby down inside nuclear imaging machines; he was the one who sat with my dad in hospital when Mum and I couldn’t cope anymore.

Then there’s this photo…

Big Boy was only six months old at the time and Pete was completely smitten. He used to come home from work at 7pm every night and wake him up to play – it drove me mental, but how could I say no? He’d missed a whole day’s worth of father-son time.

I’ve never known any boys to adore their father as much as mine do. They don’t actually need to say anything, because they’ve both tried so hard to be him. Which is great for me, because it means that they treat me as Pete does, with gentle teasing and great affection. And as you can see from the pic below, I appear to be nothing more than a cloning chamber…

So as I sit here, looking at all the old photos we’ve been scanning, I keep asking myself… how did this great and amazing thing happen? How did I meet this gorgeous man at eighteen, get to spend a lifetime with him, and still be completely besotted with him all these years later? It had to have been a miracle. ♥

. . . . .

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
Westley: This is true love, you think this happens every day?

The Princess Bride, 1987

 

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Loose Change Smiles

Yesterday, I walked from one end of Sydney to the other.

I started with lunch at Spice Alley with Big Boy and then walked all the way down George Street to buy a hat at The Rocks. I think it’s pretty cute…

As I walked down the main street of our busy city, I was struck by the number of homeless men and women asking for money. Most were sitting, staring at the ground – a couple were bent over on their knees, holding a cup above their heads. I felt sad and guilty, because like everyone else passing by, I’ll often pretend not to see them. It’s too confronting and discomforting.

We’ve all heard the warnings…

“They’re just using the money to buy drugs or alcohol”

“You’re perpetuating the problem if you give them money”

“It’s a racket, don’t fall for it…”

But yesterday, the little voice in my head was saying…

“You’re walking down to buy a hat you don’t really need, and stopping for a $4 coffee on the way..”

So I pulled all the loose change out of my purse and stuffed it into my coat pocket. As I passed each person, I dropped a few coins into his or her bowl. Without fail, he or she looked up, smiled and said “thank you”. I smiled back, and said “good luck to you”. Serendipitously, I had exactly the right number of coins to take me all the way down to Circular Quay.

I don’t have enough money to fix anyone else’s life, nor the emotional strength to shoulder their burdens. I think that’s where the guilt comes from – we see pain and suffering which we can’t fix, and then we feel bad because our lives are comfortable and easy by comparison. So we turn a blind eye, or explain it away, or worst of all, discredit the person suffering to try and make our more fortunate situations seem less unfair. All because we feel unable to make a meaningful difference.

Yesterday, I realised there was something I could do.

If you’re sleeping rough in a major city, my loose change will make very little difference to your financial situation. But what it will do is give me an opportunity to look you in the eye, and to wish you well. It will give me a reason to exchange a smile and a few words, and to interact with you as a fellow human being rather than walking past you, trying to pretend you don’t exist.

I rode the train home yesterday, in my new hat, remembering the faces of those I’d met that afternoon. I hope today is an easier day for all of them.

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Light Show

When the sun is shining and our timing is right, Big Boy and I get to experience this magnificent light show on our morning walks. It’s created by the sunlight on the wind-driven waves bouncing off the concrete pillars on the underside of the pedestrian footbridge. If it was a contemporary art installation at the MCA, I’d happily pay to view it, so you can imagine how chuffed I was to be standing in the middle of it!

It  was particularly glorious earlier this week, so I took a video to share with you. This is exactly as my iPhone captured it – I haven’t added any filters or special effects…

. . . . .

. . . . .

In case you’re having trouble figuring out all the angles, here’s a photo taken this morning from the outside…

…and a middle of the day pic from a couple of months’ ago…

dw6

. . . . .

Pete suggested I upload the wider video as well, so you can see a bit more of the bridge (click on the fullscreen tab on the bottom right of the video for a better look)…

. . . . .

If you’re walking the Greenway or the Leichhardt side of the Bay Run in the mornings, the best time to catch the light show is around 8.30am, on sunny, windy days when the tide is high (I’m adding that info for you, Greg!).

Wishing you all light and happiness every day!

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Frugal Friday Soup

At least once a fortnight, I’ll cook pasta soup.

I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s constantly evolving.

Last night I used nitrate-free bacon offcuts from our friend Johnny, half a packet of leftover pasta, garden beans, onion, carrot, potatoes and a tin each of lentils and chick peas. It was seasoned with a little paprika and topped with garlic croutons made from stale sourdough. The entire pot cost me under $5.

This dish is a house staple – we call it “pasta soup” and occasionally “survival soup”. When we moved into our house more than 25 years ago, we had very little cashflow and pasta soups even sparser than this were what kept us going. We’ve made a variation of this weekly or fortnightly ever since, and Small Man has been known to eat six bowls at one sitting. For all of us, it is quite literally the taste of home. 

You know, we don’t need to eat this frugally anymore.

But I keep making our pasta soup, not just because everyone loves it, not just because I can assemble it in my sleep, and not just because it’s a reasonably healthy vegetable and legume laden meal.

I also make it because it’s good to practise frugality and because it’s good to remember when times were a bit harder. It’s good to teach our sons that food made with love and eaten together as a family is grand, regardless of how “humble” it might be. It’s good to cook large, generous dishes that can be shared with anyone who walks in the door at the last minute.

Pasta soup night, at least for me, is always a time for reflection and gratitude. I remember when our elderly neighbour brought over that first covered bowl of peas, spring onions and broken spaghetti. I watch with joy as Big Boy and Small Man eat their bowls of soup with the same excitement as they would an aged steak. And I feel incredibly grateful that not only have we always had enough to eat, but that it’s always been delicious and nourishing. Even when it’s a simple pasta soup. ♥

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