Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Seeing the Light

Last week we finally had the memorial service for my grandma. We all went over on Sunday morning, the memorial was held on Monday 22nd in the afternoon. She volunteered for 30 years at the Museum cataloging paintings three afternoons a week, so they held it in the reading room she worked in. They met us all at the entrance and lead us through a warren of tunnels to get to the room. They had laid on a nice little spread of food and drink for before and then we had the service. Mum started off by saying a few words and then various people from the dept. said a few things about their memories of her and then a couple of distant family members spoke. Some of it was moving, some of it was banal, some of it was new to me, some of it was information I have known all my life. The dept. has kept the typewriter that she used to use - she always refused to upgrade past the electric typewriter. The desk and chair are in the basement still. They showed us the little black books that she would type pages, and then unscrew the tops, find the right opening and insert the hand typed card describing each painting that came in. They estimate that she cataloged 50,000 paintings in the time she worked there. One of the ladies told us that grandma always brought in cake, and she typed up a recipe she got from her and handed it out after she finished speaking. They all said lovely things, some more honest than others, some more relevant than others.

I was staying with an old family friend so I had my time to reflect away from the family. My dad and stepmum were there which was really lovely. I mostly got on alright with my mum and sister. We had a couple of stressful moments but on the whole it was a pretty easy going experience - or at least most of the stress didn't revolve around me. I got to see my baby cousin too, which was heartening. It didn't feel like a great relief, or a weight lifting, I didn't cry or sob, or rejoice. I just kind of hung out with my family. But since I've been home things have been lighter somehow, my heart has opened up a little more. I dressed up and I said what needed to be said in my heart I didn't need to say it out loud, and since I've been back I've been happier, easier within myself. Maybe all that strain is finally lifting and things will settle, and the grief that has had a home in my bones for over a year will burrow it's way out leaving a spaciousness in its wake.

And in the meantime I get to look towards some new horizons with a lightness in my heart and a spring in my step.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Existential Nature of Boxing Day Food

Boxing Day: slept in, had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, watched the Strictly Christmas special, and then went out for a stroll by myself in the fresh air along the fields and up by the river - shook the cobwebs out quite nicely. We have so much food left I don't think we need to cook for a while.

I think Mrs. Im feels similarly but just with a lot more family! This was her facebook status today:

Me: are you eating chocolate cake again? With double cream? You're going to be in a diabetic coma by teatime! What about your blood sugar?
Mum: its fine. It's all an illusion. No one can define reality really, what is reality anyway?
It's boxing day, the day of existential food excuses.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas Everybody!

I've been celebrating today with my housemates. It's been cold but bright since last night when we caught the carol service in the square (and were addressed by the archbishop himself). Then Em and I watched A Muppets Christmas Carol, which was the best way to kickstart the Christmas spirit!

The house was already decorated when I came back on Tuesday evening, we went out and collected wood and plantage another day but Middle B put all the decor up. Fairly lights and everything:

This morning we all had a fry up for breakfast and opened our presents. Em went off to her mum and dad's and the rest of us did some prep for dinner and then went to the pub for a couple of drinks before we came back and lounged about before dinner. The lads had cured their own bacon and I'm told it came out splendidly.

We got dinner in the oven about 5ish and sat down to eat at 7pm. We started with broccoli and stilton soup and bread all homemade by Mr. Middle B. (Yes, that is prosecco out of bone china teacups, because why not?!)

Then we girls had butternut squash and mushroom wellington while the lads had steak, and we all had roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, yorkshire puddings and stuffing.

After dinner we all watched The Kings Speech and then had coffee and some mince pies. All in all a really lovely day.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


I went to Mrs Im's over the weekend for a Christmas before Christmas, which mostly involved eating curry, drinking tea and lounging about as we do anyway, only with Christmas music on and Christmas lights up. There were definitely some mixed feelings about the music, but we managed to get through the evening.

We made lemon noodles and lentil and butternut squash dhal, and as is customary the lads made a beef chilli that was hotter than the surface of the sun. I'm vegetarian so I didn't get burned that much - the dhal was spicy enough and mighty tasty enough for me. We made mulled wine after and sat on the sofa talking until about 11. 30pm.

Then we bundled up in all the warm things that we had and headed out to Lavistock in the car. Mrrs. Im lent me two jumpers, a snood and some gloves - it was -4 C by the time we got out of the car. We parked up near a lane with fields either side, found a spot to put chairs out and sat and looked at meteors. It was the peak of the Geminids last night, they are pretty frequent (at about one every couple of minutes) and most of them were pretty big, including a couple of fireballs. We were out there for about an hour before we all had cricks in our necks and our toes were starting to go numb and we decided to go home and have hot chocolate. The night was very cold and clear, you could see the milky way! The moon came up about midnight onwards it got brighter, which had Mr. Im chuntering and turning his chair away, he looked like he was sulking. We spontaneously 'oooh'ed and 'ahhh'ed when we saw one, they were so beautiful, shooting stars all over the place. We heard owls a couple of times, and even a duck. It was a perfect night to be stargazing.

In other news, Mrs. Im has got a really amazing grant to be a resident artist in a Brain Tumour Lab. She'll be trying to help communications between the scientists in the lab, the patients diagnosed that come to visit and the general public by creating art and recording the patients stories. It is very, very exciting, and I'm very proud of her! She starts that in January.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Let's Get Physical

I can't believe it's already December! The last few weeks have been pretty busy at work and I've been pretty chilly and lethargic. A certain gentleman was telling me about his gym routine last week and I got inspired. I couldn't cope with the idea of taking my clothes off and getting into water, so I decided to do a work out at home and I found some of the videos I used to do are now on youtube. Hooray! Only I'm not 19 anymore and my body isn't as fit as I'd like, while the ladies in these videos haven't aged a day! I've done four workouts so far and my muscles have no idea what's happened to them! Here's hoping I stick with it and it gets easier. In the meantime I'll be in a hot shower trying to convince my thighs that's it's all going to be alright.