The Sound of Silence

If you could have been sitting with me this afternoon, you would have heard the sound of blissful silence. Tuesday afternoons are just for me, and they are blissful. I finish work at 1:00 and don’t have to be at nursery to collect Jessica until much later.

I use most of the time for housework and planning, but try and snatch some time for me too.

So there I was, sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea next to me, and all was silent. Until…my ears tuned in to the rhythmic click click clicking of my knitting needles. I have started the decreasing section on Jessica’s gnome hat at last. I had so hoped to have enough wool left for matching mittens, but it suddenly seems to be eating wool at an alarming rate. 

Then the gentle ticking of the new clock that I bought. The plan is to colour sections to show Jessica when it is dinner time, bath time and bedtime. For now it is just quietly ticking out the minutes.

And my breathing. Sometimes I hold my breath without really noticing it. But between the clock and my knitting, I was breathing softly and regularly.

And so although all was not entirely quiet, it was entirely peaceful.

Now there is chicken stew and dumplings bubbling on the stove, ironed shirts hanging ready to be worn, a sink empty of washing up.

I love Tuesday afternoons.

Book Review: Long Live Great Bardfield by Tirzah Garwood

I was drawn towards Tirzah Garwood’s autobiography, Long Live Great Bardfield, because I live near to and have visited it, and also because she was the wife of Eric Ravilious, who is one of my favourite artists.

I thought it would be lovely to have an insight into his life…but as I read a found myself more and more interested in Tirzah in her own right. 

She wrote her autobiography whilst recovering from an operation for the breast cancer which would ultimately kill her, in the hope that one day her grandchildren would read it. For all that, she does not hold back or sanitise the story of her life.

She is so engaging that I found myself on many an evening sitting up to read just one page more before bedtime. I identified with her as a mother of young children, and there is a lovely passage where she describes fashioning paper birds as Christmas greeting a which really resonated with me, as I have made my own Christmas cards for as long as I can remember.

Then there is the insight into Eric and his work, and the social history aspect too. I also loved that it was gloriously long, really allowing you to settle in and soak it all up.

A lovely additional bonus to her writing is the book is illustrated with  some of her line drawings and prints.

As a Perephone book, it is a delight to look at as well as to read, with the soft grey cover and beautiful end papers. 

Rainy Sunday 

Oh the bliss of a rainy Sunday. When nobody has to be at work, or anywhere other than where they are. The freeness if the time, the slowing of the rhythm, the chance to just be. 

The rain has been threatening all morning, and now is falling. I can hear it in the breeze, against the windows, down the drainpipe, the odd drip down the chimney. It is like having my own private orchestra playing a beautiful symphony.

I’ve been up this morning with Jessica while Carl slept, but now he has taken her out to play. Yes, in the rain. I am feeling queasy and unwell, and tired. He has some jobs to do and she need to have a good run round in the fresh air. So out she has gone in willies and puddle suit and umbrella, and the promise of hot chocolate in the bath when she returns.

I would shy away from going out and getting wet, but Carl just goes with it, and Jessica was scampering about with delight at being allowed to go out and jump in as many puddles as she pleases.

I want to work on my knitting, I am two rows away in the hat I am making from starting to work the decreases. After 52 rows of the same stocking stitch I am ready for the variety. I want to read, and to drink tea. But for now I think I will lay in bed and listen to the rain, and thank heavens for beautiful rainy Sundays.

At Midnight…

I love Tuesday evenings. After an early start to the day and work in the morning, I have thenafternoon entirely and utterly to myself. I spend most of the time at home, tidying it up and cleaning, doing all those little domestic tasks which are so much easier without a little helper. Mount Washmore is tackled, and by the time the evening comes I feel tired but happy that my to-do list has been (mostly) ticked off.

When we settle back in the living room for the evening, I feel relaxed as I know that we are set up for a good week. Shirts ironed for Carl, fridge full, washing up done.

I am knitting Jessica a little hat ready for the autumn. It is from the book ‘The Childrens Year’ and is called a gnome hat…it will go on like a bonnet and has a long floppy point coming off of the crown with a pom-pom on the end. I am knitting it in soft red wool with a little sparkle in it. I hope she will wear it when it is finished, and when the cold weather comes. I knitted a few rows on it, drank several cups of tea, and watched an episode of House of Cards. Somewhere along the way, my eyes closed and I fell fast asleep.

Just before midnight, Carl woke me up…but not to tell me to go to bed as you would expect…but to come into the garden. There was something I needed to see. I was a bit hesitant as it was fairly dark out…and midnight…but I followed him out. 

For a moment I could see nothing. Then my eyes acclimatised to the dark, and I could see a little…but not what I had been brought out to see. Then Carl gently turned me around by my shoulders so that I was facing our little house, and said ‘look’.

I couldn’t see anything apart from our house…until…sheet lightning flashed and lit up the sky. There must have been thunder as you cannot have one without the other, but it could not be heard, and there was not a drop of rain. A moment and then the lightning again. And again…and again.

From the scent of the air you could tell rain was coming, and the darkness seemed soft somehow. We stood together for several minutes watching the lightning. I have never seen anything like that before, lightning without rain and any audible thunder. It was so beautiful.

Jessica woke at 3 and as I settled her into bed between us, snuggled in the warm and dark, the lightning flashed again. This time I could hear the thunder and the rain.

It is moments like these in this little house that I love. Wondering how many other women before me have laid beneath this roof, watching the lightning flash and feeling cosy within.

This morning there is a pot of tea and boiled eggs for breakfast. The kitchen door is open and the cool rain scented air is drifting in. A lovely way to start a Wednesday.

Taking Away and Adding

I have been working really hard to declutter our little home. Suddenly I just felt awash. Out have gone toys which were outgrown, magazines, books, clothes…so many, many things.

There is always more to do, but suddenly you can see the blank canvas of our home again. And it isn’t just home, it is our lives too.

I opted out of signing up to lots of (or indeed any) toddler classes long ago. But now we are trying to make our days even more simple and rhythmic. Saying no to too much busyness, and just enjoying being rather than always doing.

This morning we went to the big soft play center with our toddler group friends, but Jessica just wasn’t in the mood for it. Back at home it was lovely to peg up the washing on the line while she played in the garden, to sit on the sofa with her reading book after book, to let her stand on a chair in the kitchen and cook her dinner. To talk about the clouds.

Since clearing the clutter in our home and in our day, life feels sweeter. Jessica plays with her toys better and more now they are fewer and more easily accessible. 

It isn’t just taking away now though, it is the adding too. The candle we light at meal times. The lavender oil I rub into her feet and wrists at bedtime. The little songs we sing.

There are still more things I want to take away and more things I want to add, but it suddenly feels that after a long time percolating these thoughts, they are suddenly taking shape around me and weaving their way into the fabric of our lives.

Saturday Evening

they I am writing this sitting by Jessica’s bed. She is fast asleep, her head heavy on the pillow, her lips slightly parted, looking for a moment like a baby’s mouth, all heart shaped and squishy. I can hear her soft breathing, and the breeze blowing gently through the window.

I feel at peace today. I sometimes wish I could pin a little piece of now here on the page, to come back to in more fraught moments. The house is still. There is something about a sleeping toddler, starfish hand splayed out, warm and sweet which makes everything feel just right with the world.

We took her to a family fun day in the park today. You paid for a wristband for your child, and then they could go on anything they liked as many times as they liked. There were bouncy castles (she calls these and trampolines bounce-aleens) and roundabouts and a very slow little roller coaster…and she loved it. She jumped up and down with pure excitement that her little body couldn’t contain.

Later, she waited so, so patiently in the face painting queue. At three, patience isn’t her strong point, but then it isn’t meant to be. But for face panting, she will do anything, I believe. Away I came with a little pirate for company.

At home, I have been continuing my decluttering. There has been quite. Abig shift in the living room, and I couldn’t be happier. I finally let go Jessica’s play kitchen. It was so big and she just didn’t play with it. It was a hard decision as it was a gift, and also because I worried that she might grow into it one day…but it was the right thing to do. She now has an art corner with her easel, and then next to it is the rocking chair. Oh, how we all love that rocking chair.

I took a lot of her toys out of their containers and put them into shallow baskets for her. Suddenly they are getting played with so much more.

This was inspired by Waldorf philosophy. I haven’t really written about it here, but Waldorf is a huge influence on my parenting and how I am trying to make our home life. It is based around simplicity, rhythm, giving the children a predictable pattern to their days. On caring for the home together, on stories, on painting, on cooking together. In many ways e mind of childhood many of us enjoyed, but modern life seems to be changing.

I read blogs like Frontier Dreams and Bending Birches and I try and move a little closer to my ideal every day. Baby steps, baby steps, and we will get there.

I can hardly believe that Jessica could go to school next year. I haven’t decided if she will yet. She just seems so…little.

I am reading Long Live Great Bardfield, which is the autobiography of artist Tirzah Garwood, who happened to be married to Eric Ravilious. She writes so beautifully, and I am glad that it is a good thick book, it is the kind you don’t want to end.

I am also reading Excellent Women by Barbara Pym…and having devoured everything of hers, suddenly I am struggling with his one. I suspect I should not keep it for bedtime, as I fall asleep after a few pages, which isn’t really long enough to get into it properly.

I a pm going downstairs for a solitary cup of tea now (Carl is out this evening). There is something rather pleasurable about brewing a pot of tea just for yourself. Sitting and sipping, and contemplating. Maybe some crochet later. But I am finding it hard to tear myself away from watching Jessica’s chest rise and fall as she sleeps. Part of me and yet separate from me…fascinating.

I read an article recently which said recent medical research shows that cells from the baby cross the placenta into the mother, and some infintesimally tiny parts stay…so it feels amazing to think that even in a microscopic level, some part of her is with me even when we are apart…and perhaps a tiny part of the one we lost, too. She will have a name soon. It came to me the other day, what to call her…but having suggested it to Carl I said I would give it a week or so to see if anything better comes to either of us. When I know, I will share.

Oh, and for another day too, I have been feeding a sourdough starter ready to experiment with sourdough baking. Huge thanks to the lovely Annastasia for the starter and the wonderful flour.

Love, Mimi xxx 

Halloween, Summer Solstice

On Halloween morning last year, I had the wonderful news that at last, at last, a little baby brother or sister was on the way for Jessica.

This week, the week of the summer solstice, I should be awaiting her birth, if not already cradling her in my arms.

Today she was due. I would be wondering if every twinge, every niggle was the start. The clothes would have been washed and dried in the glorious sunshine, ready and waiting.

But instead, my baby girl left me and went to heaven in November. 

And so, here I am. I feel so, so alone today. 

My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful glass butterfly last week, as she knew that this day was coming and would be hard.

But apart from that, silence today. And it makes me feel like my baby didn’t matter and that I don’t count, and that is a miserable way to feel.

I know everyone is different, they feel differently, they need different things…but please, if someone you know is unlucky enough to lose a baby, please remember when they were due, and remember them, let them know you are thinking of them.