Monday, March 26, 2018

owl dreaming

Recently, in the haze of sinusitis and grief, I had two dreams about owls.

In the first I was in my childhood kitchen, from which one could see a lot of big trees, with some very cool people - I don't know who they were, but they were intimidatingly cool.
I could hear an owl, that distinctive two tone intonation, and kept trying to find it in the trees.
'Look, there's an owl.' I'd say.
'Nope,' one of the cool people would say laconically, 'that's an ibis.'
'No, there - look, an owl!'
'Nope, that's a hadeda.'
I'd hear it again.
'Look there, carefully, there's an owl!'
'Nope, that's a bunch of pigeons.'

I woke from the dream feeling irritable and embarrassed, feeling distinctly not cool. And then I realised I could hear an owl, loudly.
An owl must have been on our roof, just above our open bedroom window.
It called over and over again, that beautiful melodic sound which is not very 'wooo whooo' but so indescribable with our available bunch of phonetics that I can understand why we call it that.
I listened to it until I fell asleep again.

Surprise surprise my next dream was about owls too. But this time I could see them. I was in a field, at night, with trees dotted around, and just full of owls.
Owls were swooping between trees, dozing on branches, looking at me with yellow eyes. Curved beaks, variegated feathers, talons, fluffy down and severe 'ears'. Owls eviscerated mice, swooped and caught small bunnies carrying them up into the darkness and certain death.
Owls owls everywhere and always the distinctive call in the darkness.

I woke from this dream feeling peaceful and happy.
It was light outside and the owl on our roof had gone to bed.

I have no idea what any of this means, but I love that intersection between awake and asleep, and I love hearing an owl in the night - it always feels like a gift.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


In the midst of all of that, my baby turned 8!

Stella is an oddball, we know this, so I wasn't so surprised when this was her requested birthday theme ... [insert hysterical laughing emoji]

She built the character from various Lego minifigs and we added the blood and bats etc in Pic Monkey - all under her strict direction.
She handed the invites out at school one morning, a few to kids whose parents I've not met before, and I waited to see how they'd be received. Happily well, by most, with just one little friend being 'unfortunately unable to attend' according to her mother and 'I can't come because I'm not allowed to go to parties were there is evil' according to the little friend herself [insert eye rolling emoji]. Cackle.

It was a much smaller affair than usual. Last year's Pandamonium almost killed us, and in the present circumstances I just couldn't muster the requisite energy for a repeat performance, or even anything close.
With our youngest's just 2 days apart Zahida and I would always plan their parties in consultation - firstly on the date so as not to clash, and then always on ideas and details. We did them very differently, but we both enjoyed party-planning and flexing our creative muscles together, I missed her so much while planning this one.

We did a couple of themed foods ...

Vampire bunny cupcakes - you decide whether those are bloody fang bites or bleeding eyeballs.

And vampire bunny jam sandwiches ... 

And then the cake, which in our history of birthday cakes pulled the biggest stunt on us - the idea was half cutesy bunny / half vampire terror but the intricate fondant face we'd tirelessly built the night before melted off overnight, necessitating husband perform emergency facial reconstruction surgery with the last bit of icing and whatever tools he had to hand just minutes before singing Happy Birthday. I think he did a pretty good job considering.

The beautiful birthday girl plus clean-up crew in the aftermath. She did feel the loss of the huge fiesta we usually pull off, 'I missed that there was no running around in the dark Mum', but had a good time regardless and I hope one day will look back and realise what a tough time it was for us.

Stella is 8 and from here on out it feels like we're officially in the Next Stage. No more smalls in this family. It really, really does happen so fast.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

kick-starting grief

My dearest friend Zahida passed away just over 3 weeks ago. Super aggressive metastatic breast cancer, 14 months from diagnosis.
I'd written that last post some time before I published it. She read this blog and I was torn between not wanting to make the pain any more nuanced for her but needing to write this shit out. I had that in drafts and the Friday I published it she was in hospital, not answering any messages, my only updates were via her sister and part of me genuinely thought I'd not ever see her again.

I did. Twice over that weekend I was lucky enough to see her in hospital. Both times I was summonsed by that dear girl, just me and her family and her husband. We said our goodbyes, we said everything we wanted to say, we laughed together, we cried so many tears, we held hands and said thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

She passed away on the following Wednesday, first thing in the morning, and after the Janazah and the endless messages and calls, after we buoyed her family through the first 48 hours, even after her younger sister and I cleared out her closets and arranged a birthday party for her daughter - can you even conceive of turning 8 just a week after losing your mum? Even after all of that I couldn't really comprehend it.
I still couldn't have the ugly cry.

My body did all the things it likes to do in times of stress. A UTI, eczema and eventually sinusitis. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't feeling and I wasn't grieving - not properly. I knew it was there, just out of sight, lurking, and I wanted to feel it. I felt so detached from her for not being able to weep.

So on Thursday I did what I'd been putting off, what I'd frankly wondered whether I would do at all.
I wrote the tear-jerker Facebook post, I put it out there. While I was writing it the tears came, and while I read all the subsequent messages and DM's and emails which it triggered I wept and wept.
I kick-started the grief and now it is here. And while it is awful, it also feels good to feel.

It's been just over 3 weeks and I'm still in shock.
We were supposed to be crones together, Zahida and I. Stylish crones of course.
She made me try harder. She opened my eyes and filled my heart. She had the most magnificent laugh. She had the most enormous brain. 
We bore babies together, we cooked and danced and laughed and cried together. 
She filled my home with beautiful things, my life with joy and my head with questions and thoughts I'd never have had without her.
And in the last year she gave me the greatest gift - the honour of walking with her to the edge of the light.
About 6 months ago she said 'Are you sure you don't want to get off here Mols, it's going to be a roller coaster of a ride'.
I didn't once consider it, and I'll eternally be grateful that she allowed me to stay.
I only wish I was as sure how to navigate the world without her.
Miss you friend, miss you forever.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

camera roll: February

February always starts with a bang for me - the last few years at least - I've worked this big conference in the first week of Feb and then only really caught up with myself, my family, and summer in general after it's over.

This February feels like it's been windier than most, apparently this is a real thing because climate change, but we've had a few magical still days - and evenings. Above pic was taken at nearly 8pm, a still warm evening at the lake.

We spent a gorgeous afternoon at Silvermine too - a mountain reservoir where you can just step off soft green lawn and into the cool water. You wouldn't think we were in a drought from either of these photos would you?

The drought churns on, but it seems less likely we'll hit Day Zero this year. That date has been pushed out to 15 July and we have to have some winter rain by then, surely?
How much rain we'll get over winter is unsure though, and we might be back in this same predicament next year. Water restrictions will remain in place.
As a family we've gotten down to 37 litres per person per day - no mean feat. We're quite proud of our stinky, sticky selves.

Apparently, for the first (and last) time in some hundreds of years, February is unique this year in that it had no full moon.
Twice in Jan and again in early March left Feb with just the rinds, not the full cheese. Ag shame.

Back to school is a real thing now, everyone in full swing. Frieda had her first away school camp and came home exhausted, and - pictured above - had a blast in red frock and gold nails at the Valentine Ball. Ooo la la.

This person missed her big sister terribly while she was away at camp and spent all her time pining and wobbling her snaggle tooth.
'I'd love to do something special with you today Mum, because I miss Frieda so much. Maybe something which includes food.'
If there was ever a moment for a fully-loaded waffle ...

Stella has also decided that she and I go running in the evenings. Just to the park and back - a short run/walk/run/walk circuit - but I'm very pleased to be bullied into it. As you can tell, we're not an innately active family ....
But really, what better way to spend a weekend afternoon? Trevor Noah, Philip Pullman, Hunger Games and two ridiculous dogs? Yes please.

And then, on the last day of February, the loss of my dear friend. I'm not ready to write about it here, I'm not even able to face it irl actually. It still feels so surreal.
As I said to someone this week, grief is a gaping chasm in the periphery of my vision, it's there but I'm not ready to look into it yet. I can't.
I can't believe she's gone.