Back and Sewing
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!