Friday, 30 March 2012

Nightmares and Angels

30th March 2012 Friday

I had a dream last night.

I’m sitting in the church waiting for my father’s service to begin. But instead of being in the front row I’m at the side behind lots of people. Two huge flower arrangements are withered up and drooping in their vases. Suddenly everyone surges forward and I can see my father’s coffin being carried up the centre isle. I stand on the pew and start screaming,

Daddy, Daddy.

But they carry on up the isle and no one hears me above the cheering of the crowd.

There won’t be a coffin tomorrow and I know the flower arrangement I ordered was delivered today. It’s already in place by the altar and is being well watered.

This morning I am supposed to be buying birthday gifts for my husband but I find myself looking through dress rails in East. I thought I’d decided what to wear tomorrow - a clothes swap tunic top which I love but it doesn’t feel quite right. I find a dress, the colour of seagrass, which I could wear over trousers. I can’t decide and leave. I find a silk scarf in another shop which might go with the dress. I can’t decide and leave. In my head I go back to the clothes swap tunic idea.

Then a fairy godmother moment happens. Coming towards me in the street is a dear friend on her way for a cup of tea. So we share a pot of Earl Grey and then she offers to help me with my to-buy-or-not-to-buy dress dilemma. And so I do. Buy it. And the scarf and a necklace she picks out which is perfect.

I think angels are always there for us.The thing is to recognise them when they come along. Help is always there for the asking. I just have to remember to ask more often.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Surprise Birthday

29th March 2012 Thursday

It’s that time on a Thursday night after our Deeksha meditation, when our friends’ living room is buzzing with conversation, the sounds of kettles boiling and called out requests for Earl Grey, Roibos and fennel tea. In the utility room off the kitchen I’m busy lighting candles on a carrot and walnut cake - squidgy with a mascapone cream cheese frosting, The dear friend next to me is also lighting candles on her beautiful arrangement of chocolate almond cupcakes.

I ask someone to dim the lights, everyone starts singing Happy Birthday, and we carry in our plates of flame flickering cakes and set them down in front of my husband whose face lights up with surprise. He blows them all out and then conducts us with his two fore fingers dancing to the rhythm of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. He opens his unexpected cards and gifts and checks with me who they are from before he says thank you. It’s not even his birthday till Saturday.

I feel so touched by the wonderful warmth in the room for my husband. The way these dear friends accept and love him - just like they always have. The way they are accompanying us into these bumpy unchartered waters like a flotilla of rescue boats always within makes my heart melt with gratitude.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Deep Cleaning

28th March 2012 Wednesday

Spring cleaning with a friend is so much more fun than doing it alone. Especially when you stop for cups of tea and a flapjack or two. And you can get to quite deep emotional stuff while you are scraping away at black grease inside your oven and she is standing on a stool dusting the picture frames...... noticing the needy little girl inside me who wants to scream - what about me?

And all this time I thought it was my husband’s needy little boy inside him that I was resisting.

If I listened to her and let her have her three year old tantrum till she was tired of it, and realised she was loved anyway, then I could open my arms and my heart a bit wider to my husband. They say the car is a good place to do your screaming......

And tonight I’m so grateful for my sparkling, dust free kitchen.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cups and the King

27th March 2012 Tuesday

I’m feeling as fat as our new water butt which is squatting outside the back door. It’s all that sampling of potential cake for my father’s thanksgiving service. And how much milk, how much coffee do you need for 250 people? At least 10 litres of milk says my friend who knows these things.

There aren’t enough tea cups at the church hall where my father’s thanksgiving is being held in London. At least the sink is very small we are told - paper cups are advised. In Tesco polystyrene cups cost £1.50 for 10. I don’t buy them.

Later when the sun is high in a blue sky and it’s as hot as August, my husband and I drive back from Homebase, the water butt wedged in the boot. We pass a huge catering wharehouse and I say,

‘Stop. Let’s go in there’.

What for?

Paper cups, of course.

The woman behind the desk says if you aren’t a business you can’t come in.

Where can I get paper cups then? I say. They cost £1.50 for 10 in Tescos.

What do you want them for? She asks.

My father’s funeral, I say.

I’ll give you a day pass, then, she says. And lets us in.

We find the cups - £2.20 for 50. And 200 bright daffodil yellow napkins. My father would be cheering at our bargain.

I think he’d also be chuckling to know that on Saturday we have to finish his service by 4.30 as the King of Tonga is having his memorial service in the same church immediately afterwards. I wonder what the king's family is going to do about the small sink and the dearth of tea cups.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Biscuits Cakes and a Legacy of Goodness

26th March 2012 Monday

I’m standing in Marks and Spencers Food Hall looking at the rows and rows of biscuits and cakes, checking them off on the list my sister has sent me. Our job is to choose a selection and work out how many packets and boxes we need to feed a possible 250 people after our father’s second thanksgiving service in London on Saturday.

I have to squash down that rebellious throbbing pulse which says ‘but they aren’t good enough - they aren’t homemade’. The Extremely Chocolatey range look rather tempting though and maybe the Cappucino Sponge Roll - cut into eight slices and on offer at 2 for £2 - would be acceptable....... Then there is the issue of carrying them on the train all the way to Paddington....

I’m not complaining though - I don’t have to write anything or read anything in the service - my brother in law is doing the lion’s share of all that....choosing biscuits is a piece of cake.

Tonight we watch Jeremy Paxman bumping along in a Landrover in Malawi - telling the story of David Livingstone in his programme about the Empire. There are black and white photos of Livingstone’s funeral at Westminster Abbey - a thousand weeping mourners line the streets. He was my grandfather’s hero - inspired him to become a missionary in Africa. My father too.

So thank you, David Livingstone - for your legacy of goodness which didn’t die with you.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Teal, Tangerine, Kingfisher

25th March 2012 Sunday

A good day to start blogging again - the beginning of summer - the sun still pouring through my study window at 7pm, dazzling my computer screen.

I’m wondering how to pick up this writing thread again after dropping it for two weeks, noticing how a whole tapestry happens in one day in my life, and if I don’t write just one moment of it, then somehow the colour of it fades to monochrome and then it’s gone. But maybe it’s just as well not to remember everything in techicolour.

So some colour moments of this particular Sunday in March.

In the kitchen after a sticky croissant and plum jam breakfast - a deep warm hug from my big sister who understands the out of proportion value of giving your wholehearted attention - even for a few minutes - to little people, pussy cats and husbands. A comforting, wise teal blue moment.

Sitting in garden chairs on our patio, unexpected hot sun on my arms, reading yesterday’s Guardian colour supplement, my husband with a pen in his hand filling in the sudoku puzzle. Which he’s never done before. A zesty tangerine orange moment.

Laying out four new paintings on the carpet in my study. My paintings. They are dry now - the thick acrylic paint makes the paper wavy and curled at the edges. Just swirls and splodges and flicks and washes of yellows and greens, reds and purples - yesterday’s mood captured in technicolour. A flashing kingfisher moment.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

To Do or Not to Do

7th March 2012 Wednesday

Feel hunted by my TO DO List. Stalked by tasks I’ve been putting off - ‘till after the funeral.’

Things like -

research loft ladders,

get quotes for mending the shed roof and building shelves in my husband’s office,

burn my South African photos onto a disc,

re-new the car insurance,

iron summer clothes to take to Portugal

phone the surgery about my chest pain.

Instead of doing any of these things - except calling the doctor who says it is only a pulled muscle and nothing wrong with my heart - I make us lunch. Stir fried veggies in lots of coconut oil, ginger and garlic and a pan of fat prawns in parsley, lemon and more coconut oil. A dear friend has alerted us to the benefits of it for people with brain diseases so I’m putting it in everything - it makes melt in the mouth flapjacks and wonderful green coriander chutney.

Feel lighter after sharing my TO DO list dilemma in my coaching session and get lots of help with downloading it into the weeks after we come back from holiday. At home again I take down the suitcases and start the ironing.

Last blog for a while - going to let the sunshine seep into my hurting heart..... leave some sadness behind in those footprints in the sand......bring back some courage from the hushing waves which only ever listen to the moon.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Blogging Journey

5th March 2012

My husband has a letter saying he is no longer eligible for Employment Support Allowance. He may have a disability but he’s not quite disabled enough according to the criteria of the Department of Works and Pensions. Not knowing the difference between a courgette and a croissant isn’t quite the same as not being able to dress yourself. The man on the other end of the phone says he’ll send him a form to appeal against the decision. I’m not holding my breath.

We drive out to Otterton Mill to meet up with a dear friend from my university days, and her husband, who are visiting from Scotland. We haven’t seen them for eighteen years. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding thirty two years ago. We laugh when she says

I can’t believe I let you wear that awful pink confection of a dress.

It seemed pretty at the time though.

They come back to our house for a cream tea - I had to buy the scones - can’t use my left arm for mixing or chopping or rolling out as it hurts my chest. My friend doesn’t eat them though as she is on a diet - she has already lost stones - I hardly recognise her - and she has toast and smoked salmon pate instead.

The men say the scones are good. But not as good as mine which would have been hot and crumbly and straight out of the oven.

Today is the birthday of the beautiful young woman who started me out on this blogging journey - nearly two years ago. Happy Birthday and thank you, sweet niece.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Can't ....Won't

4th March 2012 Sunday

Find I can’t write about my father’s Thanksgiving service last Friday. Even though I want to. Even though it was wonderful.

And because I can’t write about it I can’t write about anything else. So I have stranded myself here - lost in writing limbo - feeling weak with a pulled muscle in my chest and a sharp pain around my heart.

I hear an old mocking voice my head that says -

No such word as can’t......can’t means won’t.

Today we walked in sunshine with a dear friend by a churned up river, through a park splashed with purple crocuses, and along a sea promenade. Her dog, a young brown and white splodged pointer, danced around us and then ran faster than a cheetah, into a field - on the hunt for a squirrel or a pigeon - a streak of pure joy flashing through the cold wind.