Monday, 19 February 2018

Small Mountains and the Elephants






What a tail.....



and you can see why this salix is called pussy willow...in the park on Sunday.


Today the stairs are mountains - 
 air at the summit
is thin.
I need to sit
on the carpet 
 to catch my breath
my legs weak as 
willow twigs.

Maybe it's
last week's virus
hanging around 
in my blood - 
a house guest 
outstaying its 
welcome.

Or maybe it's
the weekend's onslaught
of new grief 
weakening 
my resolve
to leave 
our home
and all my 
safe
anchors.



And then I think about the elephants
and how they never forget.

And how if you think about someone
you have loved and lost
you are already with them.**

A thought which helps me
 scale all my small mountains 
today.



**Thanks to Jodi Picoult in her novel 'Leaving Time' about the plight of the elephants...and how they grieve and how they remember.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Sunrise from a train....and a funeral














Sunrise over frosty fields  from the window of the London train this morning .....on my way to the funeral of Robin's uncle who died recently after a long illness. He was 91.

He was a military man and they gave him a good send off. When they played the Last Post at the end it cut me up...it's always the music that does it. Funerals are rather a trigger for me now....and seeing some members of Robin's family....it plunges me into my life as it was.....forever over.

The train home was seriously delayed so I'm travel weary and unsettled tonight. And so grateful that all I have to do now is sleep till morning and let tomorrow unfurl as it will.



Thursday, 15 February 2018

Each person in your life is there for a reason...


Today when I go to collect some pre-paid train tickets from the station I discover that one of them is missing. There has already been a long ticket saga with the company I booked with - a result of changing one of the tickets to an earlier time and paying a fee to do so.

In the car driving back home to sort it out on the phone I'm already in a righteous funk - planning what I'm going to say in my head to the sales person in India - basically make her wrong and blame her for the inconvenience and cost.



Then I have another thought - what if I just bless her with the opposite of all that - with gratitude and kindness and remove my poisonous darts from her direction....and expect a good outcome.

Actually I'm still pretty cross on the phone to start with and she's pretty cross with me...but then as I listen instead of blaming it seems that it may have been my mistake as well as theirs. And in the end we clear it up. 
She even says I don't sound old enough to have a senior railcard which makes me laugh. I still have to make another journey to pick up the second ticket but this time it's more peaceful.


It all seems to fit with the message I received from The Universe in my inbox this morning.

Each person in your life is there for a reason. And that reason always has something to do with love.

Like me,
The Universe.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Duck attack....and a surprise Valentine Day's gift.


Yesterday in bitter cold the park is deserted.  Just this pair of peaceful mallard ducks strimming the borders of the pond.


Suddenly there is a  huge squawking and splashing commotion when another male flies in and


dive bombs into their territory.  I'm too far away to see what's happening but it sounds nasty
so I just snap with the camera and 


guess the paired male is defending his mate. But when I download the pictures at home it looks much more disturbing ......


as if they are both attacking the female 



and trying to copulate with her.


When I do some research on google later about the mating habits of mallards, 



I discover that is what happens... they do mate for life but as there are more male than female mallards it is common for many males  - up to 30 at a time - even if they are already paired -  to


violently attack a single female in an attempt to pass on their genes.



Often the females are injured or killed but they can also escape unharmed. I'm so glad this one did in the end.

I know it's a different law in the animal and bird kingdom ...the instinctual  survival of the species ....but I found it horrendous to witness...and it has changed my views about my favourite ducks....it will be hard to take photos of them now without remembering....


Early this morning a man comes and bangs up a  FOR SALE sign in the front garden.

My lovely cleaner hoovers up dust and sparkles away smears.

Two men arrive with long flexible hoses with brushes attached. They wash the highest to reach windows with floods of water and whoosh away the moss dropped by the birds on the plastic kitchen roof.

I scoop up and secrete into cupboards all my personal clutter so that when the man with the scanning camera arrives the house has never looked so clean and tidy. As if no-one lives here at all.

I leave Rachel Jamieson's painting of Robin still hanging  over the mantlepiece in the dining room. I imagine him watching over the crazy proceedings ... and laughing about it all - especially my cleaning obsessions....and I know somehow he'll help me find the right buyers. 



And also help me to let go of our home and all its memories.

 I just have to look at this photo of the stairs and I'm immediately reminded of my beautiful niece, a radiant bride, descending these steps on her wedding day .....followed by her beautiful sister in her cerise bridesmaid dress....their father waiting for them at the front door....


And  late this afternoon, even though the 3D tour of the house isn't ready for the brochure yet, my estate agent emails me to say I have now gone live on Right Move. A surprise Valentine's day gift.

And so the next chapter begins.



Tuesday, 13 February 2018

A fresh wellspring...


This morning I give a vegetarian cookery lesson in my kitchen to the wonderful archangel friend who supported me and Robin with all things technical, practical and legal during the darkest days of his illness. He goes home with bowls of supper for his friends tonight.


Later, I tackle another layer of history and memory and dust in Robin's office. Luckily the banging and drilling of the workmen next door muffe my howling as I'm scoured out yet again by the guillotine loss of him and the echoing void of me....drizzling myself into the carpet where the wheels of his chair have left it threadbare.


When I can't clean any more ...his desks ....his filing cabinets...the walls where he stuck up photos and post cards and inspirational words, I  take my camera into the park in search of beauty and cold relief.



On the way back I buy yellow and amber tulips and white chrysanthemums at Waitrose and fill the house with vases of spring colour.....ready for the filming tomorrow.


I make a bowl of pasta and Parmesan and garlic comfort for supper. 

But tonight all my positive affirmation chanting ..... and counting my blessings.... don't cut the mustard  - as my father used to say.

And it just keeps leaking out of me....a fresh wellspring of mourning.....that I thought was drying up.


Monday, 12 February 2018

Snow and small things....


Sun setting last night...


and waking up to a snowy garden this morning. 


The first smattering of light crystals this year...


freezing the water in the bird bath...



dusting  and crusting 


the hellebores...


and the beak of the blackbird....



fatsia boat leaves...


and fir fronds....


and covering the sleeping guardian of Flapjack's grave at the bottom of the garden ....one of Robin's early pieces.


It didn't last long - the snow. By 10 o'clock when my lovely gardening friend came to prune the bushes and the hedge at the front, it had all melted and the sun was even warm on our backs.

Later a man came to carry out an energy efficiency survey of the house. A requirement by law now if you are selling. A house this age with draughty sash windows, no insulation in the walls, and lots of LED lights will never be energy efficient. But that won't stop the right people buying it.

He also climbed  the ladder up into the loft....and I had a look around too. I'd forgotten how much junk was in there. Another big de-cluttering job to put on the list.


These clouds look like they are kissing.

I like this quote from Mother Teresa that I read today,

Not all of us can do great things.
But we can do small things with great love.


Friday, 9 February 2018

....in all the rooms of our house.


It's a good day to take photos of the house as the sun is shining.  Lovely estate agent says he'll come round first thing to photograph the front garden and come back later to do the internal shots for the brochure.

I sweep the front patio and wash down the yellow front door. And move the pots around in the 


back garden and get completely frozen fingers trying to tidy up the beds. But it's winter and there is nothing much to be done to the still hibernating plants.

I had invited a dear friend round for lunch but she has had a bad fall so I take meals on wheels round to her house. A roasted tomato, red onion, chilli and feta frittata and spiced red cabbage and apple with out of season raspberries for dessert.
She tells me about her recent trip to Cambodia and Laos. And also that their Grey parrot died unexpectedly yesterday. He has been a member of their family for 38 years and I feel her shock and sadness still clinging to her like mist.


Back home I whizz around and clear the mantlepieces of family photos and my personal clutter....shove teddy bears and jewellery into drawers and half worn clothes into the bottom of the wardrobe.

 I do some research about the beautiful ceiling in our sitting room - it's a rare example of Victorian Lincrusta-Walton wall paper - made from wood pulp and linseed oil gel, rolled between steel plates and layered up to make this type of  elaborate embossed paper.

Lovely estate agent says it's a unique selling point for our house and he has only ever since it once before in a house in Crediton...and he has been in the business for 30 years.


The sun is still pouring into the kitchen as he walks around taking photos and measuring the rooms


of the home I'm already leaving behind in my mind. 

All day I've been missing Robin with a deep ache in my chest that won't go away. Doing this without him is all wrong. However much I tell myself it's what he'd want for me all I can feel is the emptiness of the space he used to occupy ...in all the rooms of our house... in the chambers of my heart.