Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Stuff About My Ordinary Day

New York pavement October 2010

Tiffany glass,  MoMA, New York

 Copley Square, Boston

Boston by the  Charles River

 Maple leaves in the Glass Flower Collection at Harvard Museum of Natural history

Portland, Maine

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Stuff about my day - my ordinary day....

 My sister and her husband are in Boulder City USA so this morning I pick cucumbers, borlotti beans, raspberries, lettuces, kale and sweet peas in their Somerset garden in the September sunshine. I don't notice the sheep resting under the apple trees in the field next door till they start chomping on the grass.

 I call in for a lovely restorative cup of coffee with a friend. At the traffic lights on the A30 I listen to a message from my brother who is about to leave his home in Holland to go and live in Fiji. I pull off the road near Exeter airport and call him back to say goodbye before he catches his start a whole new life in his spiritual community there.

I receive a response to my difficult to write letter which leaves me relieved  - my faith renewed in the goodness of people...

My husband sleeps long into the afternoon after his morning sketching at the Museum Project. So I eat my egg salad lunch at 3pm without him and pour over the figures for the quote to have our chimney and roof repaired.

Later I drive over to see a friend and he reassures me it's a good quote.  I feel so supported by these friends - these lovely men who know stuff that I don't....I'm just worried about how much it's going to that our money is finite.

I talk to my big sister on the phone and she tells me our aunt and uncle - in their nineties -  have both had falls and are confined to their flat...she and her family will visit them in Leeds on Saturday  - my niece has recently been in China and visited our grandfather's ( my father's father) grave in Hong Kong and she wants to tell them the story....while there is still time.

The heating is on now to get the washing dry ( still no washing machine).....I'm getting ready to go away.... I wish it was to New York and Boston but we are going to the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean for a week instead, staying in a cottage at The House of Bread in Symmonds mark our 28th wedding anniversary. It's about 20 years ago we were last there...I'm not expecting my husband to remember any of it.

So I'm taking a  little blogging break.....back in October.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Seagull Theft

St Ives, Cornwall

Exmouth, Devon

Sidmouth, Devon

Lyme Regis,  Dorset

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Algarve, Portugal

Dartmoor, Devon

Exeter - One of my husband's ceramics.

We are walking along the promenade
by the sea
in hazy September sun
absorbed in our ice creams
licking them smooth. 
Excessively large scoops
perched on top of 
small crisp sugar cones.

Cookies and cream - my husband's,
 mine -  fresh raspberry. 

He swoops from behind me
a flap of a wing
in my ear
a scratch on my neck
my ice cream cone
as if I never held it
flipped in the air
splattered on the promenade.

Six gulls descend 
out of nowhere
snatching at the crushed crumbs
the whole icy dollop
in a beak 
out of sight.

All in a snap of a second.

 The only evidence
 the white paper napkin in my hand 
that was wrapped around the cone.

And an aching cavern inside me.
Like someone stole my dancing shoes
before the party was over. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

In The End


My husband's 11year old niece - a very talented piano player - takes after her father....

Lunch - my Carrot and Coriander Tart from a 30 year old recipe book - adapted of course -  it was Carrot and Parsley  - don't think they  used fresh coriander in recipes then ( I've also used watercress on other occasions in this recipe which gives a  nice peppery flavour to balance the sweetness of the carrots). Adding pinhead oatmeal to the wholemeal pastry gives it a lovely nutty crunch too....


Scrumptious brunch at our friends' home.....lovely company, lovely communal cooking while my husband sits at the round table and plays Solitare.


9am - I'm in rush when the phone rings, cleaning the juicer after making our green breakfast smoothie  - running late for my yoga class - been up since 7am drafting a difficult letter on behalf of my husband - been on my mind all weekend.
The woman on the phone is cancelling the washing machine repair man who was booked to come at noon. He can't come till Thursday now. I'm upset beyond proportion, desperate to get my towels washed - pleading with her to get me an earlier appointment. She can't. 
I apologise and say I'm upset about something else  - the washing machine it just a catalyst for the tears -  which are about the letter.

In the end a kind friend washes my husband's clothes in her machine and he picks it up later after his walk with her.

In the end a kind friend helps me re write the letter....and tonight after my husband reads it I email it off.

In the end I remember that I can do this - if I talk to my frightened little girl inside...... if I'm kind to her..... and then imagine I'm a competent and intelligent woman who can write a difficult letter.....and  find a way to get the washing done too.... 

Friday, 19 September 2014

NO To Independence

 This morning we wake to the cracks of thunder and heavy rain. And the news that Scotland has voted NO to independence.

 About this time last year we were visiting our friends who live near Aberdeen - photos from that lovely holiday we spent with them. 

Tonight I'm in that place beyond tiredness....I've been shopping and cooking and worrying all day...making a hundred tiny decisions every hour which all add up to being knackered. I forget about being powerful concentrating on chopping onions and zesting oranges and weighing flour - my mind always ahead of myself and stressing about the next thing. I'm making lunch, including a carrot and coriander tart,  to take to my husband's family in South London tomorrow. I want to make a gluten -free cake to take to the friends we are staying the night with but I run out of time and zest.....but I know they'll understand.

Now I must go and close the windows as the rain is coming in on the wind....

Thursday, 18 September 2014

In The Minatour's Maze

I make my first jars of raspberry jam today with the bounty from my sister's garden.  I try doing a reduced sugar version, but with pectin and lemon juice - without an exact recipe -  and thinking it might not set I over-cook it. 

It's still incredibly sweet - but then jam is.

Probably best not to eat jam if you are trying to avoid sugar.

Tonight's sweet peas from the allotment - to compliment the colour of my raspberry jam.

This evening we walk in the totally deserted gardens at Killerton House,

still blazing with feasting bees and late summer colour.

And the trees standing sentinel

over this family of wicker deer,

so beautifully and realistically crafted.

This driftwood horse was for sale in the plant shop - I didn't look at the price  - but  love the creative  endeavour of the artist - I can almost hear the breath in his nostrils....

All day  I wrestle in my mind with an ongoing sticky messy problem. Standing in my new place of power..... of inquiry and determination instead of I can't do this/I don't know how to do this/ I'm hopeless, it's too difficult, I ask for help..... talk to a friend who knows stuff that I don't or knows "a man who does"....and he guides me between the rock and the hard place.....Still it's not resolved, still scary, but I feel I have a thread to hold on to in the Minatour's maze.....feel so grateful, so lucky.

The air is as warm and soft as breath tonight.... hovering outside my open window. The students are back for the new term, partying in the street, their shouting/laughing voices climbing up through my window - carefree. At least that what it sounds like but I know students are no more free of cares than me -it's just that maybe they know how to take a break from them. My version of taking a break is to make a cup of tea and sit on the sofa or watch old re-runs of Lewis on TV......  and like Scarlett O'Hara say to myself,

I'll think about that tomorrow.

When I'm fresh.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


This morning the washing machine breaks down half way through a cycle. I drive to my sister's farm with a basket of soggy clothes and while I pick raspberries and beans and Russian kale (and these gorgeous roses) in her garden, her washing machine does my laundry.

This afternoon I defrost the freezer, the back door open to the dust of next door's building work, the sun drying my washing.
In amongst the frozen chills, the frozen garlic bread, the frozen left over onion gravy from December 2013, I find two mini Mars Bar ice creams. I eat both of them while I hack away at the compacted ice on the top shelf in the freezer.

This evening a friend gives me the gift of some of the best coaching I've ever me access to the idea of taking back the reins of my life in a powerful way instead of acting from my default position of feeling helpless, hopeless and inadequate especially when I need to make difficult decisions - which I have a lot of at the moment.

He helped me to remember that I haven't always been like this - anxious and fearful and indecisive - there have been times in my life when I felt confident, I made good decisions, I trusted my intuition, I took risks, I did well. I just forgot - it's not too late -  I can choose which version of myself I want to be at any one time. 

Not much I can do about the situation with my husband now but a lot I can do about feeling powerful or not about myself. And trying to control how many biscuits he eats only makes me feel anxious and cross, not loving...or powerful.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Table Tennis In The Park

Exmouth, last Sunday....


On the way back from the hour consultation with our lovely homeopath - he prescribes Sulphur for my husband's itchy skin patches - we walk through the lovely park, Northernhay Gardens - the oldest public open space in England in Britain dating from 1612. I've been walking through it into the far end of  town for ten years, ever since we came to Exeter, and only recently read about its historic significance - bounded by a Roman and a Saxon wall.

This evening it's crowded with groups of young people lounging on the grass in the sunshine and the flower beds are tall with rows of crimson dahlias and flopping echinacea daisies.
We stop to have a game of table tennis at one of the free tables set up by the council, sharing our ping pong balls with the four young lads in black T-shirts on the next table. They are polite and sweet and move their iPod playing very loud reggae music further away.  Between points one of them does some amazing upside down acrobatics on the table, and my husband cheers and claps him.

He wins our set of three games in spite of the sun shining right in his's  6.30 pm but still  warm and balmy as summer. 
We leave the park and my husband wants to show me all the Ethnic supermarkets he has been visiting recently on his walks to and from the town. He came back with a box of Turkish Delight, some chocolate Rice Crispie squares and a packet of Custard Creams the other day. In the Asian Stores he's fascinated by anything with Chinese writing on -   anything dried or frozen or pickled or tinned  - I don't recognise some foods which look like they could be animal parts and have no wish to try them....we could be in Singapore, inside the shop.
I say I'll make a  Chinese meal for supper and we buy delicate green tea ramen noodles, coconut milk,  sticks of fresh lemon grass and a bunch of coriander.

Much later we sit down to stir fried chilli prawns with the noodles tossed in sesame oil and a wokful of gingery, garlicky, coconut veggies - pak choi, baby corn, courgettes, beans and red peppers spiced up with  a secret ingredient - Vietnamese Mint which has a chilli hot flavour - a plant given to me by a friend who has a friend who sneaked it out of the country.....she says I  must keep it well watered.

Now I can hear my husband having a bath....and I think about the friend I had breakfast with this morning - her husband has semantic dementia too  - only he lives in a care home and has to have supervised baths as he doesn't know how to use the taps...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Glastonbury Now and Then

Saturday, 2 weeks before our 28th Wedding Anniversary at Glastonbury Tor, Somerset....

 the top turrets swirling with House Martins.....

getting ready to leave maybe....

There has been a chapel on this site since the 12th century.

Rufus has other things on his mind....

 and it's hard to keep both your ears up in the wind at the top of the Tor.

 This Saturday I tell my husband that we came here for our first wedding anniversary in Sept 1987,

and we climbed up to the top of the Tor ..... loved this same view..... but the round stone he's sitting on wasn't there then. He says the name's familiar but he doesn't remember climbing up to the Tor at all.

 Back home even when I show him these photos, taken on our wedding anniversary in 1987 he still doesn't remember ....

 and I'd forgotten that I ever wore white trousers.... but here I am in black and white....

The photos don't lie just don't tell the whole story.....I suspect we have very different memories of our first year of marriage..... for me most of them best forgotten ....but at least I can choose what to remember....what to forget.