Kitchen Tango

Sometimes late at night  .  .  .  .  .

kitchen tango

we dance

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The supreme moment

One of the most important elements of a marriage (or any intimate relationship) is to spend time with one’s partner and to talk about what that time together feels like.  Identifying, investing in and spending high quality time together is paramount to a healthy relationship.  Investing and high quality don’t necessarily mean expensive, either.  I love sitting at opposite ends of our sofa, me reading and Steve solving the Guardian cryptic crossword; or driving through the beautifully breathtaking Devon countryside surrounding our home and exclaiming over the same clouds on the horizon, or pointing something out to each other.  Those times when we’re sharing the same space, aware of our individual selves and the Self that lives with us.  The Soul of our marriage.

One of the things I love about my husband is his sense of time.  I don’t mean his sense of Chronos, or  ‘clock time’; he can be completely dizzy about what time of day (or even what day of the week) it is.  But his sense of Kairos, or ‘supreme time’.  Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, Chronos and Kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens.

Setting our clock

I tend to fret about what time things are supposed to happen, anxious about being (God forbid!) late and worried about what I haven’t accomplished (according to my list of Things to DO and my often unrealistic expectations of Self-fulfilment).  It can be so reassuring to say ‘I only finished one of these’ or ‘There’s still all this stuff to do’ and hear back, ‘It’s fine, the rest will happen later’.

Just this night, Steve and I went out to dinner at our amazing local restaurant (and where we had our wedding and reception last May), The White Horse Inn.  We had a great dinner of Pan-fried Fillet of Sea Bass and Scallops (me) and Pasta Malfadine with Mushroom Veloute and Beef Fillet (Steve), talked about our respective days and thoughts, reminisced about when we discovered our new hometown of Moretonhampstead (nearly two years ago), planned the week ahead and enjoyed each other’s company.  When we got back home, Steve said that he still had some work to do and went up to his office.  I was so thankful, not only for sharing a lovely meal, but that Steve had taken time from his currently very busy workload to spend time with me.  And that he always lets me know just how valuable that time is to him.

Time flies,
Suns rise,
Flowers bloom and die.

Let time go by
and shadows fall,
Love is forever,
over all.

– quote from a sundial

Married Christmas

Our first married Christmas is a snow-blessed one: crystal white tinged with dawn pinks and afternoon golds that have added their magic to our celebrations.

Still life with wedding bouquet

Last year was our first Christmas in our new home. Then, we had lots of decisions to make; where to site the tree, display the Christmas cards and place the decorations.

Christmas Lovebirds

This year, by contrast, all those decisions were already made and our home was dressed in its seasonal garb in the twinkling of an eye.

There were other new ‘traditions’ that took their place in our preparations. The choosing of an advent calendar and trips to see Steve’s family in Stoke and old friends at the annual Freelance Festive Feast in Birmingham.

Mr and Mrs Schwakhofer-Coxon setting the fashion standard at
the 2010 Freelance Festive Feast in Brum

And, of course, there were menus to be planned. Christmas Eve: pan-seared scallops and pasta with Alfredo sauce. Christmas Day: a breakfast of mimosa cocktails with North Staffordshire oatcakes, bacon and cheese. As for Christmas dinner: slow-roasted pork loin with dauphinoise potatoes and Brussel sprouts braised in cider. Steve also made a pork pie and a ham & chicken pie for Boxing Day.

All complemented by the contents of a Fortnum & Mason ‘Epicure’ hamper – our Christmas present to each other.

The F&M 'Epicure Hamper'

So how does our first married Christmas compare to our previous two festive seasons together? More settled, certainly. More predictable, in a good way, in some ways. But just as lovely and as loving as ever.

Let’s Get Lost

On Sunday September 5th, Steve and I had a little party at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth.  It was actually a double celebration.  First, we wanted to celebrate our wedding with some Midlands-based friends.   We each wore the wedding clothes that we wore for our civil wedding ceremony at the Exeter Register Office.

21st May, 2010

Landlord John Tighe set aside an area in the garden for us which has a big screen TV.  Steve put together a DVD of our fabulous wedding photos which we projected.  The music was what we listened to at our wedding reception.  We both love popular and jazz music from the 1930’s and 1940’s and put together a great playlist on Steve’s iPod.   We also took Devon-based food.  Venison pasties from the butcher over the road from us, Clive’s vegetarian pies and two vegan chocolate cakes from the Plant Cafe in Exeter.  Oh, and of course clotted cream.  We took some Prosecco for a toast in honour of our honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast.  We gave everyone organza bags with sugared almonds and gummi bears.  It was a fun evening.  As we were on our way to Amsterdam for our anniversary trip, we sent everyone home with delicious leftover food.

Nicky Getgood, a wonderful Digbeth-based blogger and cyber-networker was in attendance, which was great.  I met her online after my first trip to Digbeth in August 2008.  I had written about my trip here, her blog found my blog and the rest, as they say, is history.  The night that I went to The Spotted Dog on my return trip (September 5th, 2008) I met my husband Steve.  So this was our other reason to celebrate – the night we met.  Here are some photos that Nicky took with her iPhone at our Spotted Dog party.

I’m also writing about our trip to Amsterdam on my blog Inspiraculum.  Here’s a photo of us taken at the Prins Hendrik Hotel in Amsterdam.  One of the musicians we love, Chet Baker, died there in 1988 and we went to pay homage and drink a toast to him.  Here’s one of “our” songs:  ‘Let’s Get Lost’, perhaps the definitive Chet Baker tune.   Recorded in 1956, it’s a perfect example of the cool and breezy West Coast sound.  A romantic tune that highlights both Chet’s horn and his singing.

Steve & Melinda - lost and found

Bread of Life

One of the wonderful wedding gifts that we received was a pair of bread boards.  They were made by our friend Hen’s husband Wes and her father.   They are made from hand-hewn, hand-turned sycamore and the loveliest part is that they are inscribed on the back with our names and our wedding date.

Steve and I have been really, really busy this summer with a lot of socialising, some travelling, quilt deadlines (me) and business travel (Steve).  Which is why the blog has been just a bit quiet.  Steve was away all last week, and I was working every day on a quilt for a challenge (My Favourite Artist) in Kent.  I finished it on Friday, so to celebrate (and my husband’s return), I made a special Italian dinner with antipasti and used one of our new wedding bread boards.  No matter how busy Steve and I are, when we are at home together, we always find the time to cook and share food together.  We set the table with our lovely dinnerware and cutlery and the right glasses for whatever we’re drinking.  We break bread together and talk about our day or make plans for the future or just enjoy each other’s company.

To break bread together.  The original meaning of this seemingly simple phrase, which dates back to Biblical times, actually referred to the physical act of breaking bread. Even in antiquity, bread was considered so essential to the maintenance of human life that there was no act more social than sharing one’s bread with others. In those days, people did not use forks and knives, but ate with their fingers. Thus, bread was never sliced, it was literally “broken” – or torn apart – to be shared.