Thursday, 30 October 2014

Missing Halloween

A Halloween trail for children,

at Knight's Hayes the spider...

the wicker lizard,

scary black bats....

and giant pumpkins


These two my husband brought home this evening from someone's garden excess - only asking for a donation at the gate.( My new camera seems to have a fault - hence mediocre photo - but will fix tomorrow.)

They will have to wait to be turned into soup till we come back from our holiday though......I can't get into the spirit of halloween as I'll be too busy doing my dithering thing about what to pack. I'll also be dismantling the kitchen and taking down the curtains as the decorators are coming in while we are away.

Realise I've been hanging on, wading through tiredness for a long time now, till I can escape to our hideaway in the Algarve where I can give in to sleep and books, walking on the cliffs, eating grilled bream on the beach and letting the sun soak into my soul.....letting my husband be.

Last blog for a while. A friend sent me this wonderful commercial for the BBC...thank you David Attenborough.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Daily Dose of Simon's Cat

A Portuguese pussy cat.....from Faro.... a few years ago when my sisters and I were stranded there for a few days.... wandering the back streets.....filling in time....waiting for a flight out after an air traffic controllers' strike brought the airport to a standstill.

Before we arrive at our EFT counsellor's flat in Sidmouth this afternoon I'm feeling downhearted and as bleak as the mist and drizzle which follows us all the way there.
She says she has something to show us - an antidote to the TV news and cartoon films( Family Guy) my husband watches late at night. She plays us two clips of Simon's Cat. I laugh all the way through them even though I 've seen them before.

Maybe you have to be a cat-lover, but driving home I don't feel so besieged by the proper miserable weather....maybe it's the endorphins that laughter releases in the brain. Or maybe it's the memory of my husband's face after our counsellor leads him in a tapping session.....and he says he feels closer to God since his brain disease. She suggests that as anything is possible, he could keep that God closeness and let go of the disease.

He says it wouldn't be him doing that ....that it's in God's hands.

Reminding me that ALL IS WELL  - especially when I forget to look beyond the mist that hangs around me most of the time now - like a taunting will o' the wisp.

I recommend a daily dose of Simon's Cat for all and any adversity... 

(Click on Films)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Worst Moment

The last Apple Tart Tatin this year.

The worst moment of every day is the moment I wake up. Even before I open my eyes, I remember -  a cloud blotting out the sun -  and I want to go back to sleep.   Every single day there is a reason to get up -  an appointment,  somewhere to go, someone coming or I  make something up, something urgent to pull me out of bed so I know it's never an option to stay there - warm and dreamy.

Even if there are lovely things happening in my day I need to rehearse raising my head from the pillow...putting one foot then the other on the carpet.... reaching for my glasses...... glancing back at my husband as I slip out from the duvet. I imagine it over and over to haul myself out of bed - as if my cloud weighed a if it could stop me going downstairs and putting on the kettle.

This morning my reason to get up is to make lunch and supper for my husband's oldest and dearest friend who is coming a long way to visit him. So I forgo my little yoga/meditation routine and start chopping apples, the last of our crop, turning soft and wrinkly in the shed, and I bake this Tart Tatin instead. And then gradually my cloud lightens a little and I use the hands of the clock to guide me into the corridors of my day.

Much later when our guest has left to spend the night in his hotel, I read this Awakin Weekly post.....and I want to be a Phoenix - I want to be broken open by this adversity in my life now. And I also want to walk out of the door and never come back.

 I  wonder if my resistance to staying awake is so strong that it's the same as going back to sleep.....
Don't Go Back to Sleep
by Elizabeth Lesser
To be human is to be lost in the woods. None of us arrives here with clear directions on how to get from point A to point B without stumbling into the forest of confusion or catastrophe or wrongdoing. Although they are dark and dangerous, it is in the woods that we discover our strengths. We all know people who say their cancer or divorce or bankruptcy was the greatest gift of a lifetime—that until the body, or the heart, or the bank was broken, they didn’t know who they were, what they felt, or what they wanted. Before their descent into the darkness, they took more than they gave, or they were numb, or full of fear or blame or self-pity. In their most broken moments they were brought to their knees; they were humbled; they were opened. And later, as they pulled the pieces back together, they discovered a clearer sense of purpose and a new passion for life. But we also know people who did not turn their misfortune into insight, or their grief into joy. Instead, they became more bitter, more reactive, more cynical. They shut down. They went back to sleep.

The Persian poet Rumi says, "The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill, where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep."

I am fascinated by what it takes to stay awake in difficult times. I marvel at what we all do in times of transition -- how we resist, and how we surrender; how we stay stuck, and how we grow. Since my first major broken-open experience -- my divorce -- I have been an observer and a confidante of others as they engage with the forces of their own suffering. I have made note of how fiasco and failure visit each one of us, as if they were written into the job description of being human. I have seen people crumble in times of trouble, lose their spirit, and never fully recover. I have seen others protect themselves fiercely from any kind of change, until they are living a half life, safe yet stunted.

But I have also seen another way to deal with a fearful change or a painful loss. I call this other way the Phoenix Process -- named for the mythical phoenix bird who remains awake through the fires of change, rises from the ashes of death, and is reborn into his most vibrant and enlightened self.

I’ve tried both ways: I have gone back to sleep in order to resist the forces of change. And I have stayed awake and been broken open. Both ways are difficult, but one way brings with it the gift of a lifetime. If we can stay awake when our lives are changing, secrets will be revealed to us—secrets about ourselves, about the nature of life, and about the eternal source of happiness and peace that is always available, always renewable, already within us.
Share the Wisdom:  

Monday, 27 October 2014

Cheese Scone Pizza

 Late afternoon autumn glory - National Trust's Knights Hayes Court, Tiverton.

The clocks going back feels like a guillotine slicing off the light which has been keeping me alive.

We walk in the park with my husband's family, mushroom dankness underfoot - the children's energy, their bounciness, is luminous in the dusk falling around us  - a smudged charcoal cloak.

Back home, in the brightness of electric light I make cheese scone pizzas for supper with my ten year old husband's niece. My cotton apron, the colour of tangerines, hitched up round her waist, still comes nearly to her ankles. She stands on tiptoe to roll out the sticky dough. The wobbly flat circle looks a bit like a heart so she pulls the edge inwards to make two curves,  pinches the end to make a point and it's a perfect whole heart. The other one we press into the tin in an oval oblong shape.

While I take a phone call, she spreads them with the yellow Brandy Wine tomato sauce I cooked the day before ( eschewing  the stack of tin tomatoes still in the cupboard), she spoons over the roasted peppers and tomato quarters, adds a smothering of garlicky chopped mushrooms, lays Chorizo slices on one and thick slabs of Mozarella cheese on the other,
 showers both with grated Parmesan cheese and finally presses in a pattern of salty Kalamata olives.

While they bubble and bronze in the oven, sending out baked cheesy aromas, we prepare a salad together. She is already a practised cook, well trained by her mother, but still I swallow my heart in my mouth as I watch her slice cucumbers and radishes on the chopping board, the big sharp knife so close to small delicate fingers.

I realise that when I was ten years old I didn't even know what a pizza was let alone how to make one.

Later, when my husband wakes up, we sit round the table in the kitchen, a tall candle in the centre, the gift of white green lilies on the side, and his nephew announces they are the best pizzas ever.

Tonight I tell my husband we are having left over pizzas from last night for supper and I know he'll ask me,

What's pizza? 

And he does.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Best Treat of All

In the garden this evening after rain...the sun low in the sky.....nasturtiums, roses, pelargoniums, begonias - still flowering in their pots - like the last stragglers at a party - reluctant to leave but really it's over - the summer a memory -'mellow fruitfulness'  taking its place. Except it's still so warm - don't even need the heating on - only to dry the washing.

Feeling very nourished by my extended birthday treats all this week -  treats of coffees and lemon polenta cake.....  treats of tea and apple pastries...... lunch treats of avocado sandwiches.....and today in a glass walled cafe, a  big bowl of cep and pumpkin risotto -  all of them in the company of dear friends - the best treat of all....

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Breaking The Mould

Spiral turrets of the Romanesco cauliflower I bought in the market this's a much brighter lime green than in the photo....couldn't get the light right ....

Evening sky/telegraph wires - back garden...

 Nature - a miracle of mathematical symmetry....almost too wonderous to eat.....

Honeysuckle on the fence -  love its wild abandon - don't want to prune it yet....

Birthday gifts.....

My Family Constellation counsellor asks me ,

Is there anyone in your family who broke the mould of "missionary/save the world" ethic which runs like a coal seam in your blood line? 

I remember my mother telling us about her cousin or second cousin who was an actress with masses of curly red hair.....who  was rebellious and vivacious.....who married a famous artist....and later a Frenchman and they ran a restaurant outside Paris.
 I don't know what she was really like - if the stories about her became family myths -  but she  always held a fascination for me.

I close my eyes and ask her if she has any advice for me from her vantage in the spirit world.
She says,

Take the pressure off yourself of getting it right all the time.

Let the people who want to save the world do it their's not yours.

Take the path that brings you joy.

Take the rules out of food and put joy in their place.

Don't over-ride your intuition with duty - thinking it will bring you approval.

What makes you tired is thinking you aren't good enough.

Nourish yourself and it will feed other people.

Now that really would be breaking the mould for me.....

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Leaf Falls and Too Many Tins of Tomatoes

Leaf falls into quiet river
and rests a moment
till a passing current
shoos it on its way
into a wide
far from its tall
in the air.

For some reason I keep buying tins of chopped tomatoes. I get home from Aldi to find a row of them at the back of the cupboard. I add the two cans I bought to the stack.  Every time I make a list I put tinned tomatoes on it even though I don't have a recipe in mind to use them, as all summer I've been using fresh ones from the farmers' market. 

Maybe it's the thought of  the clocks changing on Saturday and the official end of the warmth, the light, that makes me want to stock up. ....makes me forgetful..... makes me want to hibernate.

I think I'll make Tomato and Mozzarella pizzas on Sunday for our visitors. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tiny Triumphs

Today at Budleigh Salterton - between squally showers.


 Little India, Singapore

In the walled vegetable garden at Barrington Court

Allotment squashes from an autumn past....

Chinese lanterns....

Botanical Gardens, Madeira.

Random moments from today....

In a charity shop in Budleigh, shopping with a friend...... finding a wooden bead necklace, tiny  bright beads threaded between the big ones - matching  the colour of my new mustard green tunic top....remembering my mother and how she loved colour co-ordinating everything...

I ring a man to come and mend the lock on our back door which has been broken for weeks - at least we haven't been able to lock it. As I'm  speaking to him to arrange a time to come and fix it I turn the key and it locks like a dream...mends itself....a miracle.

The house smells like Christmas...I make a new recipe - a Chocolate Fruit Cake ( Nigella Lawson) crammed full of prunes and cranberries  - to give to a friend as a swop for his coaching....

 I'm watching a film on TV - Double Jeopardy -  and my husband comes in with my iPad  - he  thinks he's broken it playing solitaire as it's completely frozen and he can't turn it off. I say I'll take it to the Apple Store tomorrow. Then I Google how to unfreeze an iPad says press 2 buttons simultaneously - I can't work out what it means - press all the buttons and it doesn't work....give up and go back to my film.

Then I try again and it unfreezes - just like it said it would  - like magic.

  A few tiny triumphs....shining out like the mustard green beads in the wooden necklace of my day....

Monday, 20 October 2014

Road Closed/Diversion/Eyes Open

Saturday morning we are driving up the A30 on our way for a day out in Somerset.....traffic slows, queues build up, almost to a standstill. I'm immediately tetchy and frustrated - should we try and find a way round through the narrow country lanes or go back or go somewhere else all together?  I hate going back.... hate being thwarted....decide to divert via Honiton ....join the long shuddering queue on the slip road... and finally get clear of the jam. A journey which usually takes 20 minutes takes an hour.

So instead of the trip to Barrington Court in Somerset, we end up meandering along the banks of the brown river at Otterton, past the vibrant displays of hawthorn berries and rose hips -  bright as jewels - and the last straggling blackberries.... and sit in the sunshine at a round cafe table for a late sandwich lunch. Not the original plan....but then things don't always go to plan....I suppose how you deal with unexpected change is what matters.....I don't think it's something you are supposed to be good at....I'm not.....but maybe fighting and resisting it isn't a way through.

 Sunday  morning I set off for my Course In Miracles group in a small town outside Exeter - lunch to share on the back seat -  a warm Roasted Root Veggie Tortilla ( thank you Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the recipe in your VEG book). At the end of our street I see  a line of red and white bollards and a sign saying ROAD CLOSED. Then I remember it's the day of the annual  Great West Run -  a charity event through the streets of Exeter and beyond  - cutting off all normal routes.

I'm immediately furious. I feel trapped. I hate being late - can't think how to get out the city -start driving east to get west - end up at another ROAD CLOSED sign. I don't remember the lesson from yesterday  -  I don't think about all the people who are running the race in a good cause - just how much it's inconveniencing me. A nice Welshman (who I'm rude to) at the ROAD CLOSED sign suggests I follow the DIVERSION signs....being dyslexic about directions I'm quite lost by now so I take his advice. And end up exactly where I need to be to get out of the city and join the A30. And I'm not very late after all.

Sometimes it feels like my life came to standstill after my husband's diagnosis. The road I was on has been closed. I'm being offered a diversion - another alternative route. And a keep trying to get back to  the way it was - (impossible) or to transform the diversion into the main path. And notice what bright jewels could be shining in the undergrowth along the way if I keep my eyes - and my heart -  open.