Christmas time

The plane bounced sharply a few times on our descent into Cairns, causing high pitched shrieks from the passengers. It was that sort of jolting that makes you gaze out the window (while clutching onto the seat in front of you) and contemplate the interesting fact that you’re hurtling through the air in a pointy metal tube, through the pouring rain.

We arranged our motley collection of bags and instruments around Dad’s two door car and gazed at it contemplatively. It resembled a logic puzzle that we might not be able to solve. However, the car demonstrated its Tardis-like qualities and we crammed it full of luggage, wedged ourselves into the back seat (which was tremendously uncomfortable), and gradually made our way to Daintree, stopping for fish and chips, a litre of Bacardi, a bag of lychees and some pineapples, two cartons of beer, and a kilo of bacon. It was pouring with rain the entire way, the sea steely grey and choppy, with a dark blue layer of clouds lying ominously along the horizon.

I woke up on Christmas morning to find a blister on my hip and realised that I hadn’t managed to avoid catching chickenpox from my husband after all. I felt rather headachey and dizzy, and spent a lot of time on Christmas sitting and chatting while everyone else cooked. My sister in law kept making cocktails and handing them to me – mojitos and pina coladas – in between making me drink horrific shots of herbs which were supposed to reduce the chickenpox symptoms. I was given chocolates and a hemp bag and books, including a book of ukulele music from my brother which was responsible for me attempting to learn to play Black Sabbath’s Paranoid on the ukulele (an interesting sound) and the recording we made of Bad Moon Rising on ukulele and guitar.

My brother lent me his mask and snorkel and I swam in the pool – formerly a chlorinated pool which my mother has transformed into a pond, complete with fish and plants. The walls of the pool are covered in ridged curves of sponge-like algae (or possible a freshwater sponge, there is some debate on the matter). Little bubbles of air cling to it, and when brushed by a hand, or waves of water, they pop up bubbling to the surface. I lay on my back for a while under the falling water of the sprinkler that aerates the pond, feeling soothed and cool on my skin – I had a day or two of feeling quite itchy as my skin bloomed with attractive blistery spots.

The husband and I played a few games of chess while listening to Bach – I said it was the sort of sophisticated music that one should listen to while playing chess, but spoiled by new veneer of sophistication by dancing my pieces into their new positions to the beat of the music. I have never won a game of chess against the husband, as I’m not very good at thinking ahead or anticipating any of the other player’s moves. It’s the sort of thinking I would like to get better at, but I’m not sure how to do so apart from playing more terrible games of chess.

We have returned home now, much to the cats’ delight; they woke us up early this morning patting our faces to check we were still there, and got shoved off onto the floor for their pains. My chickpox spots are gradually drying up, and I will probably be entirely recovered in time to return to work next week, which is rather unfortunate timing really. And it’s now time to turn my mind to the new year; my resolutions generally last me for a few months at least, so I feel it’s still worth the time to make them.

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