Head Honcho 2: “What’s your *COVID name? Mine’s Exhausted Lamb Rack.”
Me: “Exploding Head Sandwich.” (Thinks: where did he buy lamb?)
Humour. Always a good thing.
(*How you’re feeling plus what you ate for dinner last night. I don’t know who came up with the concept, but it’s made me smile.)
Hello. How are you? I am, alas, still essential at work, just for one more day. There are fewer and fewer of us and we all look tired. I scurry from the car park to the coalface each day feeling that at any moment I might be challenged for being out and about. I’m half expecting someone to leap out in front of me and hand me a white feather, as in the First World War.
A good thing that I’ve implemented before rushing out the door each morning is a brief pause. I remember a film set in Russia (which I think was the one about Tolstoy, with Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer and James McAvoy) in which everyone madly rushed around getting ready to go out, then just before they went out they all sat down and had a cup of tea.
Taking that moment to pause is a terribly civilised thing to do, but I have never done it. Lately, though, I’ve stopped myself from dashing out by removing my shoes, stepping out the back door instead and doing 10 minutes of Qigong in the garden.
Slow breathing while looking at the trees and the mountains is what I start with. Next, I do a few flowing exercises as slowly as possible. Then I put my shoes back on and walk calmly to the car. I fight with myself every day about whether I’ve got time to do it, but so far the sensible person is winning over the stress-head.
Back to the subject of Russians and tea, another thing I remember from that film is that they put jam in their tea. A colleague of mine who’s from Laos puts marmalade in hers. In a share house I lived in once, my Dutch housemate watched me put milk in my tea and shouted, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
It’s interesting, isn’t it, how different tea drinking is around the world and how important tea is to so many cultures. I’ve had a bit of fun reading articles about Russians and tea. Tea is definitely a good thing in my day. How do you take your tea?
We swam in the river again. It was cold this time and brown as tea. The rapids pummelled my shoulders harder than any masseuse could. Up above, the trail was unusually busy, people passing each other with as much distance as possible but always with a smile and a hello. I like the upsurge in etiquette that the current situation seems to have promoted (on walks if not in the supermarket).
We are so lucky in this city to have so much open space. In the older suburbs in particular, every cul-de-sac has a path leading to a park. Every hill is a nature reserve with walking tracks, and roos and birdlife to look at.
There are a lot of butterflies around right now. Near the river, the shrubs are flowering: hot red spiders and delicate white stars. The slanting autumn light makes the afternoons golden.
I’ve been feeling a bit retro here in my 1970s house and listening to “old” music. I love the joyful rhythm of this. Inexplicably, I particularly like the bits where someone whistles in the background and someone (Paul Simon?) says, “Pick it up, pick it up.”
I’ve also been dancing in the lounge room to this. In 1988, when this song came out, I was unemployed, nuclear war was a real threat, and a little understood virus called HIV was travelling the world. I know today’s situation is different, but we danced in the lounge room then and we can dance in the lounge room now.
I’ve made labneh. It’s the easiest cheese to make. Put some yoghurt (full fat Greek yoghurt is best) in muslin or a clean tea towel and hang it up so that the whey drips out. I usually leave mine like this all day, if the house is cool, then put it in the fridge overnight. (Tie the muslin to a wooden spoon balanced over the colander.) Spread it on toast, sprinkle it with herbs/salt and munch.
Eggplant relish has also featured heavily in the kitchen lately. Oooh, it’s so good! I bought a jar of the fiery stuff last week and can’t leave it alone. The question becomes not “What can I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?” but “What goes with eggplant relish?” It’s excellent with feta. The salt balances the heat.
On the dining room table I’ve got a growing list of good things to do that I never seem to get around to. Now might be the time. While part of me longs to go and hang out with friends, hug someone or just sit in a cafe and watch the world go by, another part is thinking what an opportunity this is. Enforced time for reflection, for checking in with ourselves, for living slowly and deliberately is a bit of a gift.
The ever-changing new normal notwithstanding, there are still a lot of good things around. I hope that’s true for you too.