To-do list for Xmas

18 12 2011

We’re just week out from Christmas now and things are ramping up for travel home to family, big Xmas day celebrations, present buying and giving, etc. The kid next door is even practicing “we wish you a merry Christmas” on his piano while I lie here typing this (repeatedly, and the same bung note each time…)

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Well, it is everywhere but here at singapore’s casa del Baรฑuelos e davis. I’m not feeling christmassy at all. I think the main thing is that this year I dropped home to have a week with my family earlier in December, so as to fit in to the annual leave schedule (left booking time off too late and there were too many people away – the office here doesn’t shut down for the Xmas week, so we need people here). This isn’t so bad, it was great to see everyone, do an early gift exchange, and eat, drink and be generally merry ahead of time. It does make me feel like I’ve “done” Christmas now though.

The other factor may be weather. Of course in Singapore it is reliably 34 degrees with 70-80% humidity like every other day of the year. I know I’m
Australian and used to hot christmasses, but I think now I’ve experienced two uk christmasses I realize whats meant by “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. I never realized how stupid and nonsensical it was to eat a full meal of roast turkey and ham, with veggies and gravy followed by a generous serving of steaming hot plum pudding swimming in a bowl of freshly microwaved custard IN FORTY DEGREE HEAT! that meal makes soo much more sense in the northern hemisphere winters, with snow and german Christmas markets and the smell of mulled wine in the air. Again, not that I’m complaining, it’s just that my view on southern hemisphere Xmas has adjusted in the last few years.

The other thing that is possibly adding to my non-christmas feeling is I’m not actually doing anything – previously if I wasnt home I was setting off on some exotic adventure, to Egypt or around europe, so Christmas excitement was replaced with pre-holiday excitement which equates roughly to the same thing. I guess even planning to host/contribute to a christmas lunch or dinner would bring that excitement with it. All the feelings you get – excitement, stress, last minute buying, packing, wrapping, getting to that stage where you think “this is too hard, I can’t even be bothered doing this anymore”, and then getting to the day and enjoying it all.

When I say I’m not doing anything, please don’t break out the violins – I am doing something with sone friends – we are heading off to the ritz for lunch with free-flow champagne!! But going somewhere takes away that anticipation and preparedness and stress and excitement. That’s more the point I was trying to make!

Anyway.

There are a couple of long weekends over the holiday season with christmas and new years day. Also, with people away I have the feeling that both work and upcoming social life is going to be quiet for a week or two. So, what’s my solution to filling my ‘need for human contact void’? HOBBIES!!! Who needs love when theres southern comfort and who needs mankind when you have hobbies??

So these are my two holiday projects:

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A mad men style retro dress which butterick classify as ‘easy’ in pale yellow and baby blues with a skull pattern. Cost me $95 in materials and I am aware that for $95 I could probably have bought quite a nice summer dress without all the effort of making one, but I think that would be missing the point. Plus about $45 of that expense was buying proper scissors, dressmaking pins, pattern etc. It’s like when you bake a cake in your new place for the first time – you go the the shops to buy the ingredients and walk away having spent $50 because you had to buy things like vanilla essence and cake tins and cooling racks and wooden spoons, etc. The cakes after will be cheaper, hopefully so too will the dresses.

I am a little worried about the idea of me learning to sew though. Everyone who knows me knows I have a very strong inner drag queen and this is kept under control mainly by me only being able to buy what is available in shops which means someone has already deemed it alright for day to day use. If I’m in control of fabric selections, cut choices, trim, sequins, feathers and bedazzling then things could take a turn for the FABULOUS (it’s Lacroix sweetie…) although possible a large step away from the corporate chic I should be striving for.

The other project is working on a classical piece of music on piano – specifically beethovens piano sonata in c minor, second movement, adagio cantabile. I’m going to try and do it on my own to improve my reading, plus there are a few keyboard view renditions of this on YouTube that I can use for fingering ideas (minds out of the gutter, all of you) and to listen to in order to hear the dynamics, tempo, etc. This guy does a beautiful version of it, but his facial expressions are so bad and distracting that I kept wiring for the joke like it was a skit from the fast show.

I first fell in live with this piece when dad and I were preparing music for my grandpa’s funeral, which sounds very morbid. But aside from the very simple but beautiful melody I guess it accompanied all that period of pulling together photos of our family on dads side.

We were always close to all of our family, but see mums side more as they tend to travel in packs and be a lot more outgoing and social! If we were heading to the shopping centre or the beach or the cinema it was likely that nan and pa and/or an aunty, uncle, cousin would also be meeting us there. It’s always great fun to catch up with them, but I guess it tended to be something that happened more often.

Dads side were always a bit more reserved, a bit more for the special occasions – Christmas, their birthdays, our birthdays. Dads parents were older than mums, but aside from the age difference there was definitely also a personality difference. While they were quieter and more easily overwhelmed when the Davis tribe arrived, they were still always genuinely interested in what we were doing, would be happy to see us, proud of us. Shannons toilet roll pirate stayed on display in the living room, michaels paintings/drawings were still on the walls, aunty gils paintings and leadlights were right through the house. They held on to the toys we loved like the old yogurt containers with pegs and those itchy wigs – all of them probably untouched for a good 12 years, but were there just in case. They used to put up with our love of their musical doorbell too, me insisting that we had to press the button until the “happy birthday” tune played if we were visiting for such an occasion. My favorite bit was grandpa’s back room – his haven of serenity. ABC classic fm would always be on quietly, his books were all arranged on the bookshelf in height order, a 3 volume series which made up a picture of a silhouette of a sneaking mam was my favorite. He had a keyboard down there with all the different voices and rhythms and backing tracks and I used to go down and bash out some songs on it and even drag grandpa down to listen to my ‘performance’. He was always very encouraging despite my lack of training or more importantly talent. I remember trying to play along with a cassette on his stereo and informing him that his tape deck was running too fast because the song is playing back a semitone higher than it should be, he investigated and I was right, but there was no way to change the speed setting – I don’t think he listened to tapes again through that stereo.

Anyway, I guess listening to that piece of music now is bittersweet because it was used on a sad day, but also it was the background music to reflecting on happy memories and a special person. I find myself missing grandpa a lot these days, probably more because I’ve found myself interested in many things that he was passionate about – photography, musical theatre, piano. Would have been great to mine his wealth of knowledge and share these things with him as I discover them. Of course I miss grandma too, but it’s grandpa I think of most often.

Ok, personal reflections over, it’s a nice piece of music and sounds pretty easy for the most part. Although I suspect that it may be deceptive and actually quite difficult, it’s a grade 3 piano piece apparently – and considering I havent done any formal formal piano training I might be biting off more than I can chew. It’s worth a shot though, right…?

One thing I might struggle with is not humming along with my playing – Beethoven hates that, DON’T HUM!

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One response

22 12 2011
MUM xx

Lauren I sit hear reading your words and the tears are streaming fom my eyes, I am so proud of you and miss you so much at this time of the year. Dad suggested I read your Blog because ”he teared up” reading your reminiscences. I think that was an understatement. You have beautiful memories of grandparents who loved their three grandchildren very much and I have know doubt they watch over you with pride.
I love the idea of you sewing a retro dress with skull and cross bones material, nothing you choose to wear surprises me you are unique. Importantly do you have a sewing machine and do you remember how to sew ( the last Lauren original was a tie dyed midriff top with flowing sleeves that was left to me to hem as you felt finishing off was unnecessary). However, I admire you determination. and will look out for the ‘Lollyshell’ label.
Fantastic to hear you are trying to master your music skills and I love your choice of pieces.
Now if only we could find a man who recognises all your talent and who will love you as much as we do! ( I had to add that, I’m your mother).
Seriously tho I hope your Xmas day is happy and fun, we will be raising a glass for you, Shan and Wade this year, you are in our thoughts.
I am going to find a tissue because the mascara and tears atre stinging my eyes
Love You
Mumxx

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