The First (and the only) Mindful Monday

I don’t ever do a mindful Monday, but a friend sent this quote to me the other day around blood, vibration and motherhood. She was at an event, and this passage was read, and it made her think of my novel, Claire Never Ending. (I’m quite honoured that she made such a wonderful connection). I read the passage and it made me think: DAMN THAT’S POWERFUL. Now it’s your turn to read it and feel your own response. I’ll link to the origin of the post below.

It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother’s heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother’s blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born. And this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother – we are truly children of one blood.

Layne Redmond

From When the Women were Drummers,
found on Gaiman Life

P.S. Did you ever consider how you originated in your grandmother? This is some literal linkage here! And the vibrating! I’ll say it’s the ripples of Claire, but you can call it whatever you like. :)

 

The Power of a Pause – stories from Zsolt’s grandmother

This past Saturday we piled into the car and drove across town to visit with Zsolt’s grandmother, Anna for a chat and to pick some fruit. She’s his grandmother on his mother’s side. I met her about 9.5 years ago, when, while visiting Hungary, the ‘grandmothers’ would come by for a meal. By grandmothers, I’m referring to Zsolt’s grandmothers and aunt Zsuzsi – who I may write about one of these days, because she’s quite the character.

Anyhow, back then and for much of the time since, I didn’t really get to chat with Anna. Fact is, we speak different languages, and Zsolt’s dad’s side off the family are very much gregarious show stealers. Hilarious people! His gran, Gyongyi, was always fretting about being old and Zsuzsi was always telling her latest story from wandering around town and having no sense of personal space.

Anna was far more quiet. She would sit across the table from me, on the very far side and only occasionally – and calmly – ask a question that Zsolt might translate.

wine_thief

Then a few years ago she moved to a new home, and we suddenly began to pay her visits there. Her house once belong to her grandson, who has quite the green thumb. The yard is a literal orchard of white peaches, sour cherries, apples, berries and more. It’s not even that big – it’s just incredibly well designed. So we go and sit in the garden, and she makes lovely food that I don’t eat – but think looks really, really delicious.

Inside of Anna’s house, where we migrate whenever it begins to rain, is a real treasure of stories. Her walls are covered with carefully preserved photographs from her days as a school girl, and her wedding, and her children (including Zsolt’s mom), and more. And, her sofas are covered with finely embroidered pillow cases – with or without the pillows inside. That was her profession, she grew up doing embroidery and had an incredible talent with the needle.

Everyone sits around the large table in the center of the room – the old family table – and politely chit chats about the weather, the amount of snow in Canada, their sore joints, some family gossip . . . and then, if we stay there long enough, someone like Zsolt’s uncle or aunt may show up, and the chit chat happens again – until eventually, it doesn’t. People go out to pick fruit, or turn to one another for more quiet chatting.

Zsolt and I are left there sitting beside his grandmother, Anna. And now, the real conversation can begin.

Anna has a very special talent beyond caring for her home, sewing and the garden. She’s an excellent multilingual conversationalist. Nope, she doesn’t speak a bit of English. But what she’s very good at is knowing when to pause.

Zsolt will look at me, then ask in english: What should I ask her? So I say, ask her about her garden. And then he does. Anna will reply, and then she will pause so that Zsolt can translate to me. Then, the stories somehow unfurl from there, and as she tells each piece of the story, she’ll pause and Zsolt can translate.

Normally folks go on for 5 minutes, and then I get the 5 word translation because big Z can’t remember what they were saying. With Anna it is so wonderfully different.

During our last visit, I asked Anna whether she makes palinka (a kind of very strong fruit alcohol) from the abundance of fruit in her garden. She explained that her children gather the fruit to make palinka, but she personally has no use for it.

Oh really? I ask – as Zsolt translates everything – Why is that?

She really just has no use for drinking alcohol. She’s never cared.

Oh, I reply. Me neither! I just don’t care about it. I’ve always thought this was a genetic thing I got from my mother.

Now Zsolt explains his stance on alcohol, that he doesn’t ever drink it at home because I never do, but when out with friend he’ll definitely have some drinks.

Then, Anna explains that her father loved his drink. They had so many grapes and wine all around them, there was an abundance of it. Her family always had alcohol on the family dining table, and when folks visited, they were always sent away with a bottle of wine from the vineyard. It was as plentiful as the bottled water we have today.

And Anna, when she was little, used to go to that dining table and pour herself little sips of the palinka and the wine – just quick tastes. She’d do it whenever it pleased her, and no one ever noticed, because there was so much of it!

And as she tells this, we can picture her as a little girl sneaking into the room and pouring herself a quick shot of drink. And suddenly we know her a little bit deeper. We know her beyond her age and status as a grandmother, beyond the eye surgery she just had, or how she becomes tired very easily these day. We know her story, just a little bit more.

All of this because she pauses, and in turn, I can ask questions.

It’s a lovely think to chat with Anna. In those moment, I don’t feel the language divide. I just feel like family.

 

 

Yummy Europe

We are here, we have arrived. As I type this, I’m looking out the bedroom/office window and can see the peaks of neighbouring homes (red tiles) and green gardens. There are electrical cords too, but let’s skip over that feature. Hungary:Home. We are here.

The past two weeks has been such a lovely disconnect. Big Z couldn’t say the same, I am guessing, considering he worked for quite a bit of the trip. However, we still crossed Europe quite happily and still managed to see the sights.

[warning, I’m feeling lazier than usual and will not be checking for typos. Read on at your own risk. Editing may come later as a result of post-posting shame]

Nice was *happy sigh* so nice. Between the thunder storms and work deadlines, we managed to stroll along the promonade and soak up quite a bit of ambiance. Essentially, we were able to – ten years later – revisit the site of our first meeting. There was Villefrance-sur-mer that I tend to never stop talking about.  Stepping off the train, I immediately recognized the roads and turns taken on our original visit. Ten years later, and it’s still deeply impressed in my mind.

Ten Year Anniversary Catherine and Zsolt

This is a small, old fishing village where the buildings are ancient and painted in the Mediterranean colours of pinks oranges, greens and browns, and they are lined up very closely together to help block that beating sunshine.

Beach

Hot damn, look at us! Why can’t my hair do this more often?

We wound through the streets and made our way towards the beach. Ten years ago, Zsolt had not brought a towel along with him for the day – so, even though I didn’t actually know him – I let him share mine. Hormones and adventure mixed together created quite a different Catherine than the world had ever seen before, back then. So, during our recent trip we shared a towel again.

Then later in the day, we visited an old Nice ice cream parlour where the waiters have been, both times, not so lovely. Hot milk for me, ice cream for Zsolt. It was pretty special, actually. Pinocchio is really the spot that was our first ‘date’ in that it is very date-like. A guy and a gal can’t share a strawberry ice cream dessert (eaten ten years ago, before I broke it off with sugar) and still decree it wasn’t a date.

Later that evening, while walking down the beach promonade and listening to the various buskers serenade us – saxophones and cellos – with their karaoke backups, we debated the spot of our first kiss. Thank goodness for facebook – we were able to look it up and then revisit the exact location the following evening.

FirstKissTenYearsLAter

So talk about your nostalgia!

Following this was another flight to Milan. (We had flown from England to Nice and had mucho, mucho turbulence. On the flight to Milan, our seat was at the very front of the plane. Turbulence happened again and my hands started tingling then going numb – I was going into shock, I think. Or just having a panic attack. However, I didn’t not tell anyone this…at least, I didn’t tell anyone official. The airline steward was kind enough to let me know it was perfectly normal and would be over in 5 minutes. See, they should always do this. I’m far better when someone official explains what is happening, rather than 20 minutes later come over the speaker and say ‘oh, we had some turbulence but it is done now.’)

Anyhow, Milan. Mostly, we saw the train station. And in the train station, we met some very rude people. Ugh. This made me grumpy. But again, deadlines had to be met! On the day of our flight, we woke early to walk around the city, and I think the visit was salvaged. Zsotl had some soft, flurry lemon flavoured pastry that the clerk said was the best in Milan and had a wonderful reputation. My sugar-free self was just a bit envious, but I admit: I licked it, and it was good.

(Props to Z for allowing me to lick your food before you eat it)

And now we are here. Back in the real world, but not the real world. Anna, my mother-in-law is struggling with my eating habits: no flour & no sugar flying the face of all common Hungarian sense. She doesn’t use the internet, so I’ll have to give her some ideas. It’s a very strange dynamic, her kitchen, and I try not to get involved as much as possible. however, the other night she asked if I want to eat pizza for dinner, so I think we’ll need to work on the challenge together.

And speaking of food! I just learned that Zsotl’s sister Anita has a lovely blog sharing her spin on recipes – creating food for those living with diabetes. The food is all diabetic friendly, often gluten free and certainly low sugar. Go and see for yourself. She’s the Dessert Room (Desszert Szoba).

You’ll need to select the English translation via the google widgit. It’s in the right hand column. AND she takes all the photos by herself. She’s a damn food artist, and I never knew it!

From Anita of the Dessert Room

Okay, that’s all from me. I know I promised sentimental posts – and I reckon this didn’t deliver. Remarkably, I was quite composed during the entire visit – except for this part:

We’re walking hand-in-hand down the beach side promenade, having just left Pinocchio‘s ice shop. Just as we’re nearing the Negresco, Zsotl stops and begins telling me that he’s so incredibly happy, and that I’m the love of his life, and everything is so much better when we are together. And he just says all this stuff, and it’s almost better than a wedding proposal how it tumbles out and his stopping makes it such a moment. So of course, I want to cry, but rather just throw my arms around him and bury my face in his shoulder and hug, and hug, and hug.

It’s funny, in the movies I guess they’d have us making out like crazy as the camera spins around us, but in realty all I really, really wanted was to be as snuggled into him as possible. And then of course, share a kiss. But it was his stopping and our hug that I’ll remember. What a romantic man.

P.S. Oh my god, Anna is frying bacon and I can smell it from up here. Whatever she’s making, I want to eat it.