Quiet Saturday Morning

Last night I stayed up till midnight, for the first time in nearly four months. I did feel like crawling into bed around 10, and I was slightly ill with tiredness by the time I got there, but still – midnight! We had some of Michael’s international work colleagues over for dinner. I made roast tomato and carrot soup (yum), and then we had falafels, homemade hummus (I think I’m perfecting the recipe, and topped it with toasted sesame seeds), fried halloumi, roasted peppers, tzaziki, olives, sundried tomatoes, pita bread, potatoes, and a green salad with lettuce, cucumber and avocado. (It was fun expanding the cheese horizons of the Americans – one of our guests had never tasted Halloumi before, and I also gave her some Norwegian brown cheese to try, which she was pleasantly surprised by.) Then at Michael’s insistence (and after a decent pause), I made my childhood favourite: chocolate self-saucing pudding, which was appreciated by all. The kitties were the stars of the show, and enjoyed trying out the different laps, and cavorting with a toy mouse in front of an audience.

This morning Michael’s off at yet another meeting. I’m deciding whether to head off to the shops in Sweden (to be sucked in by a sale at my beloved Iittala outlet), or just to bug down here. Most of all I’d like to go for a coffee with one of my Adelaide friends, or cousins, or Aunts, or my Mum or Dad or brother. I wish there was a fairy who could whisk up our house and our lives and plonk them down somewhere in the Adelaide hills.

My Grandma had a knee replacement operation this Wednesday, and she is recovering well to our great relief. It was a really annoying operation, as she had it done a few years ago, but they discovered they had put in a faulty part that was shedding bits of metal into her knee, so had to take it out and do it again. The first time she had a quite a scare with clotting problems, but this time they were keeping an eye on that from the outset, so it’s all going well. I send her and Granddad all my love and I’m so glad it’s all going smoothly. (In true G&G style, they spent the two weeks before the operation on a bus tour of outback Queensland!)

And two more of my dear Adelaide friends have had a daughter! My poet friend and his wife now have a little Beatrice! (So four of my best friends have, between them, a Beatrix and a Beatrice, born only a couple of weeks apart.) I know my poet friend really loves the Paradiso, and listened to it on audio-book when he was recovering from his stroke. Beatrice is a lovely name – all light and hope and exploration.

So most of all I’d like to see my Grandma, and meet the little Beatrices, but there will be time enough for that next year. In a couple of weeks I get to meet my cousins and my Aunt for a weekend in Berlin, and the Michael’s parents are visiting, and in October I’m zipping across to the UK for a weekend to see my Leeds friends. And my family are with me here, even in the food I cook: Mum’s and Grandma’s chocolate pudding, Dad’s hummus, and the roasted peppers that my cousin Sal learnt how to make when she worked in a cafe.

This week Autumn has arrived – a chill in the air, a smell of apples and woodsmoke, and torrential, flooding rains. I’m loving our little house at the moment – I’ll post some ‘after’ pictures of all the work we’ve done soon. In other news, I’m 17 weeks now, and I don’t feel pregnant at all! In fact I feel better than I did before I got pregnant… We have another scan in a week – it will be nice to confirm that the little thing is still in there! Love to all. xxx

Home improvements

Dad cooking dinner.

Hummus! (And you can see our partially installed dishwasher in the background. It worked but tipped over if you weren’t careful, and we hadn’t taken off the bright blue protective plastic. Dad helped Michael to get this fixed – and propped up to the proper height – before they left.)

Yum! Veggie curry with hummus, coriander, and rather good South Australian white wine.

Mermos trying to help.

Mum patching holes after we removed the green kitchen door that the previous owners had decoratively hung on the wall.

Dad moving the power-point so we could put a bookshelf next to the sofa.

Mum painting our kitchen wall after patching the long narrow crack.

Dad installing the kitchen door back where it belongs. (Which means this winter the kitchen won’t resemble a freezer – hooray!)

When they left, Dad left behind two huge boxes of chocolates (which sadly didn’t last for long), and Mum left behind a gorgeous blue and white fruit bowl with two matching tea mugs, also buying two of the mugs for herself so that we can have matching cups of tea, hemispheres apart.

Now if only they lived a bit closer…

Swimming

I’ve started to show a little bit this week. Not much, but my colleagues are gleefully pointing to any evidence. They are very excited for me. (But the new lady, who didn’t know, was surprised when she was told, so I think if you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t see much.) Anyway, this was accompanied on Monday by some rather alarming back pain in my lower back. Nothing debilitating, I suppose, but I am not accustomed to back pain and I don’t like it! And this is only fifteen (well, nearly sixteen now) weeks! I haven’t even gained weight yet! It’s got to be downhill from here. So I dragged myself off to the pool.

It’s a pretty small pool, but it’s only a fifteen minute walk from the house. On Monday I managed fifteen laps, today twenty-five. My back still felt pretty dodgy on Tuesday, but it’s better now. So I think I’d better keep this up. Mermos doesn’t like it because it makes my skin smell funny.

I never used to be terribly good at swimming, but then I discovered goggles, and the swimming cap. Without a swimming cap, all the water gets caught in my hair and drips down into my mouth when I’m trying to breathe. I polished my swimming skills in Adelaide, before I moved to the UK seven (gasp) years ago. I thought it would be a grounding, calming thing to do. It was.

In York I used to swim a kilometre twice or three times a week. I would walk to the pool – an old, fifty metre monstrosity – with my housemate and fellow masters student Neil, early in the morning before our day of writing our dissertation. It kept us sane, and the thought that a friend was waiting for us ensured we dragged ourselves out of bed. I kept it up for another year or so after I moved in with Michael, riding my bike there to break up afternoons of writing and thinking. But after a while the chlorine made me sniffly, and I joined a fancy new gym, where we just used the pool to boat around in after a workout, and that was that.

But I think it’s good for backs. And I love the smooth, cool rhythm of it. And this little pool is more than enough for me in my current state! Tonight I even managed to walk down. It’s still light until about 9pm. There are trees bulging with green apples blushing pink in many of the gardens. It rained heavily this afternoon and this evening the sky was still grey though it’s pretty warm. The ground is clean and shiny.

I arrived home to Michael furiously sanding our kitchen and our lounge room door, to the strains of a rather groovy playlist. The amount of work he’s put into these doors is staggering. (After Dad re-istalled one of them). Stripping and sanding and filling holes. And painting and sanding and painting again. Michael calls it the circle of life. But they’re nearly done now. Just have to get hold of some proper oil paint for the final coat. Anyway, will stop rambling now. Good night!

Day by day

Well, I had another scan at the end of last week in Oslo, and everything is looking good! We saw it bouncing around. And the doctor had a very close look and said everything looks perfectly, absolutely normal. I’m starting to relax now. It feels like such a gift. I was really really hoping it would be ok this time because I couldn’t face the thought of having to go through three first trimesters in a row. Two was enough! Just over fourteen weeks now and the yuckness and tiredness are starting to ease off a little. (Well, I say that now, but I have the early early shift tomorrow which means waking up at 5.30, so we’ll see how I feel then…)

My parents left this morning and it was sad to see them go. We shared such a lovely holiday with them! And I cannot believe the number of little niggling problems with the house we managed to sort out. But that deserves (yet) another post, including ‘after’ pictures once we’ve got the place tidied up a bit more.

We went for a long walk in the forest this evening and are sitting out on the deck as it’s still pretty warm. The kittens are bouncing around. Life is so much better with kittens.

The main thing

Ok now this is the main thing. On Monday we drove to Fredrikstad for a scan. I was terrified. On Saturday I was so nervous that I felt nauseous all day. But this time, Michael was with me. He lent me his iphone and I played Stoneloops of Jurassica in the waiting room, which so successful at distracting me that I didn’t even hear them calling my number. Then we went in for the ultrasound. And there’s a little one in there! It’s alive! It doesn’t seem to have the same problem as last time.

I was so relieved I went out of the hospital and I cried. For the little one who will never be born, and the little one who in all likelihood will.

And then we met my parents for coffee and cake in the old town.

***

After lunch I called my Grandma. Eventually I managed to interrupt the flow of family news.

‘I’ve got some news for you too’, I said. ‘I’m pregnant again!’

‘Oh!’ she said. ‘Someone else is pregnant too!’

Not exactly the response I expected, but anyway… ‘Who?’

‘Well, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell you, but Caitlin rang this evening and she had her scan this morning and she’s twelve weeks!’

‘Wow!’

‘How – where are you…’

‘I had my scan this morning and I’m twelve weeks!’

Many breathless phonecalls ensued. Caitlin is the wife of my cousin Joseph. They are living in London at the moment. All going well, these babies will be the first great-grandchildren on this side of the family. My Mum and her sister will become grandmothers together. Everyone is ecstatic. Apparently my Grandma was so excited she gave herself a migraine.

***

I had the scan on Monday. Wednesday was the estimated due date of my previous pregnancy. And on Friday, two of my closest friends in Adelaide had a baby girl. So, for me, it is slightly bittersweet. Yesterday and this morning I felt this piercing, heavy sadness. This new story is wonderful, but it is coloured by the old one. And it feels so unreal. In my (very limited) experience, pregnancy doesn’t mean a baby. My parents have driven off for a few days holiday in the mountains. They will be back next weekend, but then they head back to Australia. I think I also feel sad about that. About living so very far away. But I have learnt, too, that sadness passes. That it is like a thick mist, damp and cold, touching and clouding everything. But it lifts. Already I feel a little better. I made some rather strange but fairly tasty brownies this afternoon, and I go back to work tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting into routines again. I feel rested. I am looking forward to writing and thinking on my Fridays off. And we are looking forward to our new stories, to all their colours.

***

Many more things

Austria was gorgeous. It already feels like a distant dream. I had some beautiful flights, nosing about in the thermals and surfing the rising air above the ridge. My parents, Michael and I bought a five day cable car pass, which meant that we could go up each of the four cable cars in the region once a day. One of them you could paraglide down from. One of them had a toboggan thing on a monorail, which was awesome. And they all had beautiful views and walking opportunities.

We had amazing weather – it was warm and sunny nearly every day. The food was cheap and good, the accommodation was great, the landscape stunning. Too many adjectives, I know. But it really is the most relaxing place. Most afternoons we would head down to the local pool (entry was free with the guest card we got with our holiday apartment) and float around, looking up at the mountains and zooming down the waterslide. My parents were duly impressed. I have a feeling we’ll all be back. Mum had a tandem flight.

Michael’s Mum came along too, overcoming her fear of heights by coming with us on two cable cars all the way up to the base of the glacier, and talked about getting a tandem flight herself next time!

***

It’s a good thing we had a decent summer holiday this year because we have been back a week and the weather has been dreadful. As Michael puts it: Norwegian summer = a gap between rain showers, just enough to mow the lawn.

My folks have been here all week which has been so nice. I had this week off too. We have worked incredibly hard though!!! My suggestion to drive up to Ikea on Wednesday was met with enthusiasm, and resulting in four major (and several minor) purchases that then required assembly. Each job seemed to lead onto another one… Dad moved one of our powerpoints so we could put the new bookshelf where we wanted it. He then not only took down the door which the previous owners had ‘decoratively’ hung on the wall but also re-installed it in its proper place between the kitchen and the hall. This will be brilliant in winter because it will mean we can actually keep the kitchen warm. And we have been patching cracks and holes, painting walls and cupboards, installing light fittings, hanging curtains… Everything I thought to myself – oh we should do that sometime – is getting done. Michael reckons my parents deserve their own TV show.

My new sewing machine has been getting a workout. Michael made a pillow for the kittens and I made a mouse.