Finding Christmas

I Didn’t blog last week, cause I felt too sad. I went to a funeral on the Monday it was my mums birthday on the Saturday and both events left me feeling a bit lost. The funeral was for a woman I met in a writing group earlier this year. When I think back now I’d only met Jenny six times. But there was just something special about the way she encouraged me to take risks with the group that made me feel especially close to her. From the first session I knew Jenny was on my side. I told her I was new at this teacher caper and at every opportunity she tried to spur me on. Jenny was determined that one day our little group would continue. That we could form  a community of writers and learn and support each other. As I left her funeral I felt sad that Jenny wouldn’t be there when we get the group back together. I felt sad for her family that christmas without Jenny at the table, wouldn’t be the same.

As the end of the week drew closer I couldn’t stop thinking about my mum. Her birthday was the fifteen and it’s been five years since mum died. I used to love mum’s birthday. Used to love the fact that to her the simplest gift was like treasure. Mum loved ornaments and stuffed toys and flowers and her little unit at Nagambie was like a shrine of birthday presents. Giving mum a five dollar nick nack from the reject shop was like giving her the world. After she died my sister-in-law and I went over to pack up the unit. Putting those ornaments into packing boxes was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

My mood didn’t budge till the Sunday when I went to see my grandson Jake sing at the carols by candlelight in Wodonga. As my bride and  I drove up I wondered if I was in the right frame of mind for christmas songs in the park. But when Jake walked onto that stage my sadness left me, my heart soared and I found my christmas spirit. I watched him. Watched my wife and daughter watching him and thought to myself, life is good.

On the drive home I thought  a lot about the people we share life with and those we miss. I thought about Jenny and her gift of encouragement. About mum and her nick nacks. I thought about Jake and his grin as wide as christmas and for the first time in a while realised how blessed I am.


Just Doin the washing Up.

At 56 I’ve come to realise I’m not like most blokes. I’m not much of a sports fan, don’t like beer, haven’t got a shed full of power tools, but I reckon, I’m the best dishwasher in Sunbury.  Some might say that cleaning pots and pans and shining cutlery is not much of a strong suit. We live in a society where we worship sportsman and the rich and famous but I reckon it’s time we started to applaud and acknowledge the effort it takes to tidy up the kitchen after a meal!  Sure those high marking footballers can bring a crowd to their feet. The rich and famous swan about at this premier or that and tell us how tough life was on the set. But I wonder if any of them know Morning Soft is the best dishwashing liquid or that microfiber cloths leave your benchtops sparkling! Somehow I can’t picture Brad Pitt rocking home from a night at the Oscars and knocking over the dishes before he hits the hay.

For me doing the washing up isn’t a chore. I get a real sense of achievement out of that simple little task. Over the years I feel I’ve become, at the risk of sounding boastful, something of an expert. I reckon I’ve tried every dishwashing liquid on the market. I can spot a set of shonky rubber gloves from ten feet away. And the amount of knowledge I have about tea towels, well, I really shouldn’t brag. But while were on the subject, next weeks blog will be a discussion on cotton vs linen!

A couple of months back while perusing the cleaning products at the supermarket I found the holy grail of rubber gloves. As I reached up and took hold of the , ‘ Tough Task Outdoor Heavy Duty babies,’ I knew my quest for the top was in sight. While other blokes might have bought them to paint a fence, I got em because I knew I could have my washing up water as hot as hell. I reckon I could use  those gloves could handle molten steel. If there’s ever a nuclear attack on this country it’ll just be me, the cockroaches and my Hercules gloves. But for the princely sum of $3.98 I’ve taken my exploits in the kitchen sink to a new height. Our plates almost dry themselves upon hitting the rack and our cutlery sparkles like diamonds,

My daughter has one of those whiz-bang dishwashing machines and when I go up for a visit she makes me load up the white and silver beast claiming, ‘ It really does save time dad.’ Now I’m not a time and motion expert but I reckon by time you bugger about stacking everything into those silly racks I could have washed them by hand gave them the once over with the terry towel and be back in the recliner eating dessert. And anyway I reckon doing the washing up by hand is a nice way to say, ‘ Thanks for feeding me.’

I guess I’m just old-fashioned. Or maybe my obsession with washing up  dates back to my days as a kitchen hand at the restaurant where I had my first job. There were no machines, just a grumpy old chef telling you to talk less and wash more. The plates and cups like the insults from the chef de mason, just kept on coming. Once in a blue moon these days  I have a night off from the dishes and my stepkids do the job. They  grown about how many dishes there are and carry on like washing up is a punishment . I wonder how they would have gone doing the pile  after a wedding reception where they’ve had four courses and there’s 130 of the buggers. The other kitchen hand and I used to take turns of washing and drying and used the spurs of the chef to set speed records.

These days I don’t race the clock. I enjoy the task. I think about the day that was. Think about my bride who cooks for me and cares for me. Sometimes when I wash up I think about writing, about the past, about the future. There’s something about putting our kitchen back in order, something about a stack of clean plates that symbolises order in the messy kitchen of my mind. So if you’re looking for peace don’t worry about taking up yoga. Just get some morning fresh a good pair of gloves and keep your water hot!