Friday, 17 January 2014

Trusting the Beauty in the Land

I've been to the hairdresser and the chiropodist. 
I've ironed my sarong.
I've bought my husband new sandals.
I've booked the Whale Watching trip in Kaikoura.
The fridge is echoey empty
just some grapes and some greens for tomorrow 
and heels of Parmesan cheese to freeze.

I haven't replied to my emails.
The No Jetlag homeopathic pills haven't arrived in the post.

My friend in New Zealand says it's cold and wet, blowing Arctic winds.
 It was 1degree C last night in the South Island where they live.
But she says bring a hat and suncream as well as a mac
and a spirit of hope.
At least an expectation for 30 degrees C 
which is more normal for February.

I've been advised to pack a large quantity of
patience and humour
to stay present to each ticking moment.

And I'm trusting the beauty in the land and the lakes
will calm my anxious heart.

Last blog for a whole month.....and probably a week or two to get over the jet lag....

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What Will You Remember?

Posted by my husband's 9 year old niece at the entrance to her toy shop.

We need to get some money for Singapore, you say, lying in bed this morning, looking at the ceiling

I say,

We got £250 in Singapore dollars.....last week. From Marks and Spencer's. You came with me.

Did we?

I'll get the New Zealand Dollars today, I say.

Thanks for doing all this, you say.

I'm trying to imagine us, next week, in all those beautiful new landscapes .....far away from home.....and what you'll  remember....and how soon you'll forget.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Photo Dieting/ Dental Serendipity/Coconut & Garlic Greens

Nearly full moon and sun going down on our river walk at Otterton on Saturday.

 Last night a news flash on my laptop  - 

Your start -up disc is nearly full.....need to delete files...

It's the 11,000 photos that are stored on my computer, and which I add to every week, that are causing the problem. Our lovely Mr Fixit comes this afternoon and we make a start at making Gigabites from the trash, from downloads, from music, from stuff I didn't even know I had.

It's another kind of de-cluttering  - deleting photos - realise I could take fewer or at least dump the rubbish ones before they ever get near my computer. But that means making least favourite activity. The timing is perfect though - going to New Zealand with a camera for me is like living in a Patisserie in Paris - but this time on a budget.....will need to do some photo dieting....

More perfect timing today. I had a dental check-up appointment booked for this morning but I cancelled it yesterday - too much NZ stuff to do. Last night, while eating a plain salted crisp, I felt a piece of grit on my tongue - blamed the potato pickers - then felt the ragged edge of my back tooth and the sharp cavity where my filling had been. This morning I called the dentist and my appointment was still now I have a smooth filled tooth again.... dental serendipity.

On a foodie note - this is how I'm cooking leafy greens at the moment - inspired by a friend's recipe at New Year. Steam a big pan of chopped chard, Neroli cabbage, spinach, kale or purple sprouting broccoli then tip into a clean pan. Crush or finely chop several cloves of garlic, stir into the hot greens with a spoonful of coconut oil, heat till the oil melts and scrunch with sea salt and black pepper. Raw garlic -  great for our colds.  Coconut oil great for husband's brain.

(My friend used grated parmesan in place of the coconut oil - also delish if you are eating dairy.)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Rosemary for Remembrance & Miniature Perfection

Yesterday morning, two years after the death of our father, my sister and I carry a pot of three emerging hyacinth bulbs and a small fragrant rosemary bush, up the hill to the grave where he and my mother are buried. I cut the grass round the concrete plinth with kitchen scissors and she waters the pots and dead-heads the primulas. The sky is a soft dense pearly white.

Afterwards, continuing the tradition, we go to the  Boston Tea Party Cafe opposite the Abbeyfield Home where my father lived at the end of his life. We sink into a deep squashy sofa, drink peppermint leaf tea. And spill our memories.....of being in this place with our big sister, our niece and our brother the day after his death, after choosing flowers for his coffin and toasting him in ginger beer - his favourite tipple.

Late afternoon my husband and I drive through sheeting rain to Plymouth to meet our new great-neice who's just over a week old. I hold the tiny weight of her - 7 pounds - in my arms and marvel at her miniature perfection. Her mother says that her stomach is the size of a grape. Her little bottom would cup easily into the palm of my father's hand. How he would have loved to greet  her.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Before The Sun Goes Down

 We walk along the river at Exeter Quay this afternoon, a grey sky echoing with the call of gulls and pigeons, swans and black shags, I feel immersed in the holt of an English winter.

 Realise I'm thinking about some other birds which I saw on a UTube film recently - the endangered Kakapo parrot, the flightless Kiwi, the Albatross of New Zealand..... where it's full summer now.....and where we'll be in two weeks time.

 I'm checking off in my mind the piles of clothes I laid out on the bed in the spare room
 this morning,  T-shirts and jeans, tunics and sarongs, a swimming costume and my one and only long summer dress - kingfisher blues - bought in South Africa some moons ago.....and if I only pack one pair of flip flops which ones should they be?

Getting ready to fly away for a the Land of the Long White Cloud. My husband has always wanted to go to New Zealand......I thought we'd have lots of time, lots of money to travel the world when he stopped working.

 Seems that the time is now....before it's too late......before the sun goes down in his mind.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Making Space

Camouflage in Bushey Park

The impact on my energy, on my psyche, of de-cluttering a cupboard stuffed with stationary, a shelf of old magazines, a table of files and papers is huge. I feel lighter, cleaner, clearer. Thanks to my dear sister who knows about these things...... and about picking up the next book, bowl, receipt, plastic bag, and choosing what to do with it NOW.....not tomorrow or later. 

 I suppose it's not all that strange that making space on my desk makes space in my mind and settles my heart. The only problem is that, like the washing up, keeping order is a never ending task. Which could keep me busy all year - encroaching on those spaces which I have yet to allocate for my real, imagined life.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Line in the Sand

It strikes me that my husband's latest Weird & Wonderful looks a bit like a Gruffalo...... and that the colours of him are etched in our late afternoon walk at Budleigh Salterton one day last week when I was still feeling raw as an east wind.

 Sometimes you just make a connection, something falls into place - clunk click.

Today, in the clear waters of  a wise woman's counsel I saw beyond a wound in me, a weakness, that allows a crossing of a line. Today I saw that I could draw a line. A line in the sand. A line of safety,  of conviction. With deep, free, ancestral roots.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Christmas Feasting/Remembering Love

Christmas Day lunch table....Pointsettia and crossed red ribbons ( symbolising my grandmother's wedding bouquet and their first Christmas in China). In foreground my Wild Mushroom Nut Roast. And my nephew's Roast Potatoes which made my day and which I pigged-out on...those and my sister's Christmas Pudding - the best I've ever eaten....

My Last Minute Christmas Crown Cake.....left it too late to make my usual cake - this is a lighter, less fruit, doesn't-keep-so-long cake. I found it disappointing but my tiny, delicate great-niece approved -  a  surprise to her mother as she doesn't normally eat cake....

Unseasonal Asparagus Tart for Boxing Day which went down well with the Armenian branch of my husband's family at his Aunty's home....

New Year's Eve brunch in the lovely home of dear friends - keeping up our favourite tradition.

One of the precious little people we spent our Christmas husband struggled to read her a Ladybird book of Winnie The Pooh but she didn't seem to mind. He said the best thing was being with the children as they don't talk very much or if they do he can understand them. And they love him unconditionally.

I expect the very new little person who arrived 3 days ago will in time also find that she loves him - our sweet great-niece - bringing her own joy to our world.

Now it's a week into another year.....and Christmas seems like another country ago.

Today we sit in the office of our young Clinical Psychologist, (he of the kind eyes, the drainpipe trousers and shoes that we used to know as winkle pickers) who believes that our love for each other will see us through this lightless tunnel.
When we argue in front of him, disagree about the facts of what happened, about the size of a glass, about what I did or didn't say to my father, about how much is enough, about who is right...he says things like, 
It's hard to get to the truth of facts as they are really perceptions, but somewhere in it all is an emotional truth which is probably more important to find.

I've been wondering what that is .....buried deep beyond my fear and shame, my rage and hopelessness.....a memory of love.

Yesterday I read this Robert Holden quote which gives me an access to that.....

This hurry and busyness are not your real life.
Your real life is in the spaces between that.
It is here that you connect to what truly inspires you.

Making spaces to remember love - feels like my greatest challenge yet - a thousand guilt habits to hurdle first.