This week I said “Yeah, Christmas was great!” and “We’re just chilling out” a lot. Actually I felt like I was drowning under a relentless tide half of the time. I’m not used to spending this time of the year in Australia and it seems to me a cruel coincidence that the festive season is also the end of the school year (read 2 months of the kids turning feral), and the time when your cleaning lady, plumber, nanny and babysitters all go on a long vacation, and you’re expected to party like it’s going out of style. Big smile!
And add to the mix, the fact that the poor Irishman is down with some scary staph infection of the knee and confined to bed, and it all adds up to hours of tedious monotony everyday doing the dishes, caring for the farm animals, cooking, vacuuming muffin crumbs, pulling tinsel out of crevices and cleaning up science experiments of exploding bottles of coke and sand.
Housework is not my favourite. In fact I have never done any housework prior to coming to Australia at all. Which doesn’t mean that I spent my childhood lounging about Gatsby-like sucking on bon bons, but in Singapore kids generally contend with mountains of psychotic homework (and hours of tuition lessons after school ) instead of the laundry. Dylan sighed “I miss our maids Auntie Margie and Auntie Sholekah” the other day, and I said “I miss them more!” as I tried to glue my shredded cuticles back together with Shelleys superglue.
In the meantime, my only domestic assistant is “Bot Bot”, our robotic vacumn cleaner. He also doesn’t require superannuation or have a TFN (*Tax File Number for you non-Aussies) , so he does have some things going for him.
The only time I got some respite was after the kids were in bed. One day I just had enough. I left the dirty dishes in the sink, the air of frying hanging in the air and ran out into the cool evening garden barefoot with a pair of secateurs and my camera. Shoot and snip mission. I found glorious hydrangeas in every shade from palest robins egg blue to deep cobalt. Just growing around the water tank, under our window sills, thriving in the unexpected places.
And the alliums were taller than me. These are actually garlic flowers. Their geometric beauty lending them an alien air. These guys are so robust that they last for months and months after they’re cut and dry out eventually, preserving their beautiful globe like heads.
And the passionfruit vines were bursting with these cheerful little purple and yellow flowers, harbingers of the sweet, tart fruit to come.
Arranging flowers in the evening is very meditative. Snip, tuck, place.
Even as the year drew to a close, every day brought new milestones.
The last day of the year was especially big for us. Our littlest one, Dylan, lost her first tooth and you never saw a girl more pleased with herself. Her whole face looks different now, less of the buttery baby chubbiness and more scamp street urchin.
And our 15 year old Sean, started his first day of proper paid work as a kitchen hand at the beautiful Crittenden Estate restaurant, one of our favourite places on the Peninsula. I picked him up at 1 a.m. in the morning on New Years Day and he collapsed into the car in a excited puddle of sighs. Apparently he had witnessed a Greek wedding for 300 which culminated in hundreds of smashed glasses and a topless 70 year old dancing on the bar. It’s fair to say Sean’s no longer a child!
Mark and I felt like it was the end of an era. The biggest one almost fully hatched, the youngest one losing her baby teeth. We held hands and went to bed a little dazed by how fast time has flown by. The clothes remained on the floor, the rooms dishevelled and disgraceful, but in our hearts we felt rich as kings, drunk as fools and full as gluttons celebrating the end of another brimful year.
Happy new year all my friends!