Another Way To Go Home ...

I love when I use some simple product, like hand cream, and it transports me back to one of my homes ... riding a memory.

Destination 101 Islington Street, Invercargil.

Nana's house.

The square brick house that backed onto Turnbull Thomson Park, the house with the glasshouse that filled with tomatoes in summer.  Where the soul of the house was located in the body of the coal range Nana cooked on.  Where there was a garage, with accordion-like folding doors that fascinated me.

As children, we watched the trains pass by on the tracks at the back of the park.  The excitement of seeing them, counting the carriages, receding as we grew older. 

Today I drifted back in time, to Nana's red formica table, there in the kitchen.  To those early morning cups of tea we had before breakfast, dunking our Griffins wine biscuits while Nana skim-read The Southland Times.  Her most beloved newspaper, always.

Today's hand cream was L'Occitane.  A plain one, for dry hands.  So simple and yet it became some kind of time machine that allowed to me to revisit Nana's kitchen.  To remember her red lipstick, stored up on the ledge above the range.  And the small mirror she used to apply it, hanging there on a nail near the breadbin.  The ticking white clock, with its heavy tock and black hands ...

I remembered the creak of the door to the hallway, remembered the smell of that house that gifted me such a strong sense of home that, after so many years, I find it's still there in my memories.  Just as it was.

Miss 10 Captured Me ... in a dress

It may be that for the last 8 years, or more, I have refused to wear the dress Miss 10 knew that I had.

I'm not sure how it happened ... this fact that I had become more comfortable in trousers but it did.  I picked her up from school yesterday, wearing this dress in 30 celsius heat. I foolishly Facebooked the moment, just mentioning that I knew it would surprise her.

My friends ... they picked up on it in a way I didn't expect.  A photograph was demanded.  So here you have it, Miss 10 approving and me ... painfully posing.

Even I see that it's too amusing not to share.

The story of that dress ... when my first husband ended our marriage, I had to go onto welfare.  The solo mother's benefit.  I hated it but I was halfway through that university degree I'd begun aged 34. 

I found part-time work, went in to tell them that I didn't need welfare money anymore and the woman ... she was an angel, said that they had to give me an allowance to buy clothes for an interview.

I said, no, it's okay, I have a job.  She insisted, as my previous welfare person had messed up my payments so badly.

I found the dress, laughingly called it my princess of the pacific islands dress, and moved to Istanbul where I wore it for parent/teacher interviews.

Then, in 2006, I pulled it out when I got married to the Belgian bloke and was, once again, without money.

Fast-forward to 2015 and here I am wearing that magical dress again.  Things are changing drastically, here in my Belgian life ... updates to follow.


Saying Goodbye ...

I remember ... trying to be too much in the world or, perhaps, of the world while my dog companion of so many years was dying.

I had Sandie for 15 years.  She was old for a long time and she was a soul-mate of mine.  One of the best.  I carried her on and off our beloved beaches for another year after she couldn't walk up and down the dunes or along those pathways that led to the sea.

Perhaps I kept her alive too long, I really don't know but I still remember the day the vet 'put her to sleep'.  Sandie dog wasn't ready.  Nor was I. 

I had been planning to bury her alone but I arrived at my Dad's, my dog dead in my arms, crying so hard that I couldn't speak.

Dad said, 'Oh Annie', and then he set to work, digging a massive hole, deep into the clay under his vegetable garden, while I sat there with Sandie dog in my arms.  I wrapped her up in my big old woollen jersey then Dad and I said goodbye to her.

She was my best friend ... for a very long time.

I loved this story of Denali.  So much.




Sweet Spring Rain, Antwerp

Today a storm passed through, reversed/returned or swirled back on itself and crashed  and over the city again ... a storm so powerful that, for now, the air is clean and sweet-smelling.  It's reminds me of New Zealand ... where I know almost all of the scents that you will find in the South Island air. 

The thyme-filled Central Otago air, the rainforest lake air of Te Anau, the merging of beech forest and ocean spray down at Tautuku - photographed at the end of this link to another rain post.  Then there's the glacial rock and ice scent, mixing with the huge forests on the wild west coast, and jasmine-scented harbour air on the verandah of my Broad Bay house back in Dunedin ...

And that's me, the woman sitting next to my open window here in Antwerp while Spring rain continues to splatter nosily down.  The rain is so juicy and sweet-smelling that I am compelled to stop and open the other side of the window occasionally, undoing all of the good that the insect screen does, just to lean out and inhale the delicious scent of wet vegetation ... created by a garden so lush that the smell of it reaches my first floor window here.

For years now, this song has been one of my favourite songs.  On Paul Kelly's cd version of Midnight Rain, he opens with the sound of heavy rain ...