Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

It was a good week last week. It kicked off on the Saturday evening, when we visited friends, we sat outside on their deck in their gorgeous garden surrounded by tree ferns, overlooking their stream, and drank prosecco, before the cooler temperatures drove us inside to dine on a delicious meal they had cooked on the barbecue.

I finally sent off photos of all my mother-in-law’s jewellery. It was costume jewellery, but I wanted her daughters-in-law and granddaughters to have a chance to inherit some things, so photographed over 100 items, numbered them all, and sent them off for requests. The requests came back. A few double-up requests from granddaughters, as to be expected, but nothing that will cause any problems. (As The Husband says, “I am the final arbiter!”) The best thing was that there were requests for more than I had expected, which was lovely and meant that my efforts were worth it.

We had several days working out at my father-in-law’s house. Most of the sorting-through-stuff task has been completed, so I began the cleaning. Both in-laws kept the house immaculate. At almost 60 years old, the house could and probably should be looking much the worst for wear, but is really just showing a few signs of ageing, as in the last few years they were unable to maintain, and then finally even unable to clean in the same way. Over those years I kept the wolf from the door in terms of cleaning, but this time really got stuck in. It took days to finish every surface in the kitchen, but I think it is finally done. Then the bathroom was a chore too. The rest of the house requires attention to the wooden window frames and windows, but not much more. It’s such a relief. Then we signed on the dotted line (or rather, The Husband did) with a real estate agent, and now there is a real timeline for all this to end.

All this cleaning even inspired me at home, as I had to find room for the foil/baking paper etc I was bringing home from the in-laws. Drawers that got messy over time are now beautifully organised, still have plenty of space despite the new arrivals, and reminded me of possessions I’d forgotten I had!

On Monday, the weather was warm and settled. Surprisingly for New Zealand (as an island in the Pacific Island, our weather does not have that continental stability you may be used to), and particularly surprisingly for Wellington, the next three days were forecast to be warm and settled and calm. So you’ll imagine our amazement that we actually were able to plan ahead and offer to cook friends dinner on the barbecue on Wednesday! This meant we were able to brush off the deck (a lot of pine debris from the tree-disaster incident), dress up our outdoor furniture with padding and cushions, and table mats, and actually cook and eat on the deck! It was a gorgeous evening, we hadn’t seen our friends since last year, and they spoiled us with some nice bubbles and we spoiled them with lamb sandwiches and salads, and my homemade passionfruit ice-cream with fruit salad.

Thursday night we went out. It was our wedding anniversary, not a notable one, but once you get above 25 or 30 years, every one feels like it should be notable. We tried a restaurant we haven’t been to for ages, and thoroughly enjoyed it, looking over the wharves and the water, happy and maybe even a little surprised we still have plenty of things to talk about when we go out.

On Friday I received a Holiday card from the US. I’ve received several this year, all in the last week or two, and they all made my day. I intend responding to each person individually, as I was bad and didn’t send any out this year. I feel if I respond now rather than in that December rush, I can take my time, write a real letter, and show my appreciation.

And by Sunday, we were once again out at the in-laws’ house. As I clean I listen to audiobooks, so the time feels productive. Then friends made the trip back over the hill to go through my FIL’s tools. M took away more than we expected, which delighted me, as I had worried he’d come all this way and not find anything inspiring. FIL too would have been happy, to know that the tools were going to a good home, and especially that they would be used to inspire another generation. Even a huge rope from the Wellington wharves (yes, the same wharves where we ate dinner, and where FIL spent his 40 year career) will make its way to the olive groves and a children’s tree house. Perfect!

A week of hard work. A week of organisation. A week of catching up with friends. A week of good food and good wine, and passionfruit ice-cream in the freezer. A week when summer showed its face and decided to stay for a while. February. It’s pretty good in New Zealand. Come and visit some time.

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#16 of Blogging with Friends

My latest Blogging with Friends topic is to talk about a time when a personal prejudice was proven completely wrong. I’m not often wrong (ask my husband), but I’m happy to admit when I am!

I have a friend who, when I first met her, was both both pretty and confident. I was immediately distrustful, prejudiced against her because of her beauty and her confidence; neither of these were qualities I possessed. We got thrown together at work, and I realised how wrong I had been.

She’s someone who isn’t as confident as I assume (though she still has plenty of confidence). But she has a quality that makes you always feel as if she is pleased to see you, and that she enjoys being in your company. I wrote this in my 365 blogging project in 2007:

“Tall, gorgeous and glamorous, effortlessly charming. I almost wanted to dislike you at first, but found it impossible! A friend who always makes me feel better about myself, and always sounds pleased to see me. …”

That quality makes her far more beautiful than good looks. I learned not to judge someone on their personal appearance. And I’m pleased to say that we have been friends for over 20 years.

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Saying good-bye

What a difference a week makes. Instead of writing of a happy, if bedraggled, group of family and friends on the olive grove, today I am writing of some of the same people, on a similarly gloomy day, gathering at a local cemetery chapel, farewelling my olive-owning friend’s father.

The mood was sombre, but the service was intimate, personal, full of love and loss. I had pulled myself out of bed, drugged up, and rugged up against the cold, to support my friend, and if I had not been feeling so ill (and had been much less infectious), I would have attended the wake to support her there too.

Whilst a funeral service is the formal part of the farewell, the wake is where the mood usually* lifts, when people relax after the formalities, and chat about their relationships with the person who has gone. In doing so, they fortify the family and friends who are left grieving, and remind them of the good memories, the ones – in my experience so far – that last the longest.

I have to say that I enjoyed the wakes of both my parents – seeing all the people who came to pay their respects and to support us, the people who helped make my parents’ lives what they were, and who helped make my life what it has been too. I hope our friends found this today too.


*  at least, this is the case when it is not unexpected, and when the person has gone peacefully, perhaps after a long illness

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