Saturday, August 06, 2005

Back and Sewing

I am home in Cairo. It felt like home as we landed, and yet so did Canberra! I think that means I am destined to feel somewhat split in two as I live here with children in one place, husband in another.

I am buzzing with wide-awake-ness even though I had a restless four hours sleep and it is now only five am! Worse - I have just finished Harry Potter and am rattled by the end which I think contributed to the lack of sleep. Jet lag is horrible but at least my email is all cleared and a lot of the computer based tasks I have meant to do for ages are now done.

Cairo is hot, and very very humid. It is not a nice combination. The first step outside and you think “well, this isn’t too bad, I can live with this.” Two minutes later you are slick and wet all over, sweat starts to run down the back of your legs, and you realise you are really uncomfortable.

We still have flowers on the poinciana. I looked at Google Earth while away – and like all the world, I found my house. I can see from the brilliant red of the poincianas that it was taken in early summer.

We also have flowers on the jacaranda – again. It is heavily in flower, but unlike the spring flowering it is now loaded with deep purple against sharp grass-green leaves. There are two other trees in flower. One has a crown of brilliant yellow and Gamal hates it as it drifts a constant confetti of gold onto everything below – white marble steps, driveways, just-washed cars – and every balcony. The other is amazing and I haven’t the faintest idea what it is. It is heavily covered with what looks like Victorian posies of small flowers, tightly bound in discs in palest pink on the outside shading to deep pink in the centre.

From my studio I look down onto it all, and from the reading room I look straight into the heart of the jacaranda. You could drown in that colour.

There was an absolute delight in sitting quietly in the studio yesterday sewing (deadline is looming for Across Australia). With over forty degree heat outside there was little temptation to leave the air-conditioning. I watched a queue of rosy bronze pigeons at the drips from the iced-up air conditioner – drinking, one after another, then getting back on the end of the line again. What a pleasure that must be if you are a hot pigeon. Bob came up with cups of tea, and sat and read while I stitched and we talked a bit. I had Eva Cassidy (current favourite) singing Fields of Gold on CD. Sting is a wonderful song writer. I realised I was absolutely happy. I have really missed sewing.

I realised yesterday though, that I don’t like living in a huge house. Tabbi calls this ‘the palace’ and in a way she is right. It is not the distance between things, or even the height of the climb to the roof to my studio in a very hot stairwell. It is the sheer loneliness of cooking dinner in a very state-of-the-art kitchen in white and ice cold grey, with granite benches and absolute silence. It is such a long way from the study where Bob tends to sit over a mountain of newspapers that I can’t even hear the television when it is turned right up. Because we cook with gas I am not even comfortable putting things on to simmer and walking away.

It is so different form the intimacy of a kitchen that is open to the family room, with its ongoing conversations, and switching in to odd bits of television that we have in Canberra. Cooking here is not something you do without noticing, it is a task that holds you separate from others.

I have fixed it though, with a decree that a pre-dinner drink is to be served in the kitchen from now on.

We thought we had a cook and now we haven’t. It was a brief fling with the idea of efficiency. Lucas unfortunately was found to have stolen alcohol and drunk himself out of a job –in fact – out of the country as his previous employer deported him.

I go to Tehran to teach next Friday. I only have a single day off in the time I am there – but just wait for wonderful pictures. I will be the blob in black as you have to cover up there – head and all!

We follow that with a trip to Sri Lanka where we meet Sam, my son, on the first stage of his Grand Tour, then after only a few days we are off to Syria.

So – watch this space as I am back!


Blogger Helen from Canberra said...

Hi Jenny

You don't know just how good it is to have you back. I am a bit late with my comment today because I had to be at the dentist at 8 AM and was there until midday.

Do you know that Eva Cassidy is my very favourite singer and Fields of Gold my very favourite song. Many a quilt I have quilted with her CD in the background.

Have you ever noticed in Canberra that there is one magical day in the year in late winter when the garden just suddenly wakes up after it's winter dormancy. Well for me today is that day, yesterday my blossom trees were bare and today they have the tiniest tight pink buds, the deciduous trees have little bumps from which the leaves will eventually emerge. The roses are shooting as are the tulips and daffodils. To add to all this today is a picture perfect sunny day, clear blue skies and no wind. Mind you it was -4o at 7AM and the mercury only climbed to a maximum of 11o.

Cheers Helen

4:58 pm  
Anonymous debbie jordan, elf4 said...

welcome back jenny - i was at jeff's shed last week when you were there, but forgot to look out for you on the bernina stand....only remembered it today......looking forward to lots of good reading and great photos again.

5:22 pm  
Blogger Marion said...

Welcome back Jenny,
Last weekend we had the WA Craft show at which we have the Southern Country Quilters exhibition. The display of quilts from the tACTile group were wonderful. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your great photos.

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Liz Needle said...

Hi Jenny,

Me again. Caught up with most of your blog at last. Thanks for sharing Tabbi's writing with us. She certainly has the ability to pull her reader right into her world. Hopefully she is going to do something with that talent? The Middle East is becoming more and more fascinating and compelling thanks to the Bowker family. If/when I finally get time to travel overseas, I will definitely include this area in my travels. Perhaps it will be before you leave. Meanwhile I must think about more mundane matters like who is going to make it through to the AFL prelim finals next week. Sorry on Bob's behalf that it won't be Essendon.


6:33 pm  

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