Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Wounds and Redheads

In the garden last weekend...
On the far bank of the stream this lovely quince japonica - Chaenomeles Nivalis - has broken out into flower over the last 10 days.....

bringing a welcome splash of white to the bare winter branches of the trees.
Not sure what this is...just one flower head on a still bare bush...a viburnum maybe.


the first time I've seen a starling in the garden..at least I think it's a starling...I'm more cautious about naming birds now...and there's a bold chubby chaffinch on the branch too...

they put me in mind of Teddy Boys for some reason..

not sure what this ball of fluff is...

love him.... or her.

I wasn't planning to buy this gorgeous teak garden bench -  called Sunburst  - but it came my way unexpectedly...at a very  discounted price....a bargain ... apparently made for the Chelsea Flower Show ...the last one left....in a temporary position on the patio till I decide where its new home will be.

 I'm feeling sore on my left side. I had 3 minor surgeries this morning. 
 A very young and lovely consultant in the dermatology department at the hospital removed the basal cell carcinomas which have been giving me trouble. They are only small but leave a large wound sewn up with tight black stitches.  
The procedures  took over an hour and most of that time we, and the assisting nurse, were talking about food and cooking and vegetarian and vegan recipes. My surgeon said her dream would be to do operations 2 days a  week and the rest of the week run a delicatessen!
It helped to take my mind off what she was doing to my arm and my leg and the sound of the cutting and scraping and cauterising and stitching. It also took a bit longer than usual because being a redhead I need to have more anesthetic ( at least 3 big injections in each one today) than the rest of the population. At least 20 percent more.We redheads are more sensitive to pain and therefore need more anaesthesia  - I notice it especially when I go to the dentist - needing mega doses of novacain before my mouth will go numb.
 Other things peculiar to redheads - due to the gene which is responsible for our hair and skin colour - a protein called melanocortin 1 receptor  - are that we are more sensitive to painkillers, we feel hot and cold temperature changes faster and with greater intensity than those with other hair colours, we have increased risks of melanomas, and we rarely go grey  - at least we go light copper, then blonde then white - skipping the grey stage altogether. 
I found all this and more on the internet of course but it does totally reflect my experience about needing lots of anesthetic and feeling the cold intensely.

It was a bit tricky bathing tonight -  trying to keep my dressings from getting wet. The soap somehow ended up on the bathmat - I couldn't reach it - and most of the towel ended up in the bath water.
Later I made myself a big bowl of spaghetti with loads of garlic and olive oil and black pepper, a poached egg and asparagus spears, and some sweet cavello baby sprout flowers. 

Pure comfort food for my wounded self. Better than painkillers.  Especially for this redhead.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Wolf Blood Moon

Saturday evening, about 4.30, coming back from a walk I find the moon is hanging over my garden

 a silver white football....

which shone all night so brightly I thought I'd left all the lights on outside.

 Early Sunday evening I thought I might be lucky to see the lunar eclipse as the moon had risen high above the clouds over my back garden. I went to bed late and set my alarm for 2.45 am first checking where the moon would be, and I found it had moved to the front of the house. I could see it easily from the landing window.

2.45 I got up and was disappointed to see that the moon looked exactly the same silver white and it was half obscured by wispy clouds.

When I came back a bit later about 3.15 and opened the window wide, the sky was clear velvet black, not a  cloud in sight, and a pale red tinge had started to stain the base of the moon which was   
surrounded by a crystal pincushion of stars. Unfortunately they haven't come out at all in the photos.
It was the most magical and breathtaking sight ...watching the  coppery red stain slowly slowly spread over the  whole surface. I kept taking photos, with both my cameras, not sure if any were coming out, changing the settings all the time, hoping one would work as I've had absolutely zilch success in taking photos of the full moon in the past.
Downloading them later I found I had pressed the video record at one point and I have a short wavering  clip of the carpet on the stairs and me muttering to myself about the camera settings, completely unaware I was recording myself. A bit sad really.

My almanac said the full eclipse would be at 5.12am. And it was.
A whole glowing red, dark mottled football, hanging in the total silence of the deep night. I could hardly believe I was witnessing such an amazing and rare phenomenon. The newspapers call it  a super wolf blood moon.

I've since read on the internet how people all over the world travelled in freezing conditions to find a place to view the lunar eclipse and some missed it completely because of cloud cover or bad weather.

And I was lucky enough to witness it in a small corner of Mid Devon, in my own house from the top of my stairs, through the open landing window. I did get freezing cold and when it was over I had to make a cup of tea and take it back to bed but I couldn't sleep for ages.
I still feel in the impact of it ...as if the red tinged beauty of those moments has somehow entered my blood and marked me too. Me and those wolves.

Friday, 18 January 2019

"The soft animal of my body...

When I come home this afternoon in the nearly dark, and walk into the kitchen it's perfumed with the scent of  fresh  hyacinths - a gift from a dear friend yesterday...

and a sweet, sharp citrusy smell.....a pot of Seville oranges on the hob, cooling in their cooking liquid...ready for me to make marmalade tomorrow.

My marmalade season has come early this  year....it is also the season of death and funerals in our family...the anniversaries of them.

Tonight I read that my favourite poet, the American, Mary Oliver, died yesterday.
I have quoted her many times on this blog..I once learned by heart her iconic poem
'Wild Geese'...
"You do not have to be good.....you do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."

And 'Roses, Late Summer..'
.....the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness....

and "The Summer Day"...
"Tell me what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?"

And from When Death Comes...
"like the hungry bear in autumn...

"When it's over, I don't want to wonder 
if I have made of my life something particular and real
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to have simply visited this world."

To have left this legacy of words of wonder...I'm so grateful to her...and so sad that there will be no more of her words to reach into my heart....to amaze me.

Because the thing about death for me...I can't yet contemplate how to do anything other than "visit this world"....

is that it just highlights how very physical this life is....and how death destroys that living breathing beauty and mess of it...

and how, at this moment anyway, I don't really care about the legacy that Robin has left the world, although of course it is unique and precious to each of us who knew him....

what I care about is that he can't put his arms around the burden of  my shoulders...he won't ever hold  my nearly always cold hand again...I won't ever see the smile in the tinsel of his eyes......the smile for me....and I can't touch the skin of his face or hear his voice in my ear...or read his handwriting in a note he has left me on the kitchen table.

He is what 'the soft animal of my body loves'.
Where once I felt my life was particular
now I'm visiting it ...
still amazed I am here
without the calling card of 
my husband
to make it real.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Extremely, unreasonably tired.

Random photos tonight as I'm feeling extremely, unreasonably tired.

 Even though I had an easy, lovely day including taking in a matinee with dear friends at The Exeter Picture House....where I was transported to Paris in the early 1900s watching the excellent 'Colette' with Keira Knightley and Dominic West, I've been knackered since about 3pm.

Now it's like every ounce of chi has been syringed from every cell in my body.  I'm a sleepy rag doll with nothing left to say and just the bliss of a whole soft bed all to myself.... till morning comes.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Vegan Cook-Up....Snowdrops....Brexit - a blizzard of confusion

Yesterday in the narrow alleyway outside 

The Garden Cafe in Frome where we had

a fab vegan mezze lunch.

And the results my cook-up today... which all happen to be vegan... which I'm not because I don't want to give up eggs....and I do eat cheese sometimes.
 Left-over curried mushroom and aubergine soup which a dear friend and I had for lunch in my warm underfoot kitchen( I have a new Ikea rug on my quarry tiles now)  this afternoon accompanied by a vegetable samosa and apple chutney....
the makings of a thick soup...lots of root and green veggies in stock that need eating up after the Christmas excess....
and roasted beetroots - golden yellow as well as red which will keep me going me for several suppers.
New rug...it's called indoor/outdoor ie hard wearing and easy to clean ( even if I drop beetroot on it). 

The glorious sky .....late morning 

before the rain swept in.

And thank you to the lovely B for pointing out that my woodpecker is a female as she doesn't have a red cap on her head like the male.

It was so wonderful to see her again this morning 

swinging confidently, briefly  on the fat ball feeder.

I also spotted a clump of delicate snow drops which have pushed their way up and out into  

the  grassy bank of the stream.

This is what my Almanac  - A Seasonal Guide to 2019 by Lia Leendertz  - says about snow drops....

Latin Name - Galanthus nivalis.
Galathus from the Greek - gala meaning milk and anthos meaning flower, and Nivalis from the Latin meaning snowy or snow-covered or snow like.
But I like their common names...Mary's tapers, dingle -dangle or Candlemas bell. And my favourite - in France they are called perce-neige which means snow- piercer.
"They are symbols of purity, optimism and hope....and they will collapse if frozen but they quickly perk up again when temperatures rise, so don't worry: their leaves contain a sort of' anti-freeze' that prevents the cells being damaged by frost."

No snow today, just rain ...drenching the only primrose I've found in the garden so far,

 also nestled in the grass bank of the stream.

The sky this evening... as I was leaning out of the landing window as far as I could to take the photo, my neighbour's visitor was doing the same in her driveway and we both agreed how beautiful it was.

 Tonight the rain is a constant drumming on the garden.....the sky letting go of all that Brexit tension ....still at a weeping loss of what next.....the blizzard of confusion still not pierced through.