Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Clutter Clearing

I didn't sleep at all last night ....very knackered now....even though I've had lovely day with a dear friend I haven't seen for a while.....catching up over a toasted sandwich lunch in small market town in Dorset.

I've been thinking a lot about de-cluttering the house. My stuff is one thing. Robin's stuff is something else. I've started little in-roads into it but mostly feel overwhelmed and at a loss where to start. Or when.
All I know is that I don't want someone else to have to make decisions about what to do with my clutter if I die.

Help usually comes when I ask for it and this time it's in the form of some free videos about how to de-clutter by Denise Lynn who has been in the' Space Clearing business' for a long time. Her story and her methods are very inspiring and already making it easier for me to contemplate the task ahead of me. And maybe even start it.

I hope this link works here.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Fire, Pebble Grave Gift and Keeping it all together ...

Saturday afternoon at my sister's farm. My sweet great niece and her 5 year old sweet cousin,

toast marshmallows on the ends of willow sticks, on the same fire that burns up all  Robin's old cheque books,

and the mountain of financial papers I have been clearing out,

and which are too many to shred.

 Over the years he loved the many fires we all used to sit around on special occasions at the farm - birthdays and anniversaries and coming of age ceremonies. Me too. I never dreamed there would ever be a fire such as this - his money history disappearing in smoke and ashes.  

 But it makes it so much easier to share it with the sweet marshmallow eaters who he loved to bits.

On Sunday I walk in wind and rain to his grave. In my ruck sack are two pebbles taken from the beach at Budleigh Salterton. Actually I took them from our garden. They were here  in a pile of others when we moved in nearly 14 years ago. Technically it is against the law to remove pebbles from the beach at  Budleigh. You'd be fined if caught.  But I think everyone does  - they are irresistibly smooth and beautiful when washed by the waves. And so satisfying to tumble in your pocket.

I've decided that they are a more sustainable grave gift than perishable flowers.
I stole this tiny tete-a-tete daffodil from a wild clump under a tree at the cemetery. But it blew away in an instant.....across the sticky red clay and long grass.


I have bad dreams all night - complicated, anxious, confusing .....I've made some huge gaff at  someone's wedding....the groom is furious with me.....I can't be forgiven.... I'm wandering in the gardens of some huge glamorous hotel where the reception is being held..... looking for a way out..... separated from the people I know.....getting hopelessly lost in long avenues of trees.

I can't find a reason to get out of bed this morning. My class is cancelled. I'm not ill. I'm not thirsty or hungry. I'm not tired.
 No sunshine filtering through the curtains to pull me out. No appointment. No appetite for all the tasks on my to-do list.  
I don't want anything. Except to feel something other than this pointless going-through-the-motions habit of keeping it all together. Keeping myself together.

After a while I do get up. Some little voice telling me off in my head. 
And when I've sliced the lemon for my hot tea .....and reviewed my non-urgent action list .....and received some good news about a parcel that I thought was lost in the post.....and remembered that I need to make soup....and remembered that I'm lucky to be alive....it just gets easier to go though the motions.
 And to give up looking for some mythical point of it all.

So I  just savour the crunchiness of the roasted hazelnuts sprinkled over my boiled egg, leek and purple sprouting broccoli lunch.....one small mouthful at a time.....trusting my appetite for my life will return when the time is right. Maybe when it isn't raining.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Grubbiness and Sparkliness and Extra Good

I wish you could smell the perfume of these gorgeous narcissi. It fills the whole kitchen tonight. My kitchen which is almost unrecognisable ....empty and echoey - no curtains or pictures, no photos or chopping boards or clutter on the surfaces. Just black soot smeared walls  - even worse than yesterday since I tried to clean them...with diluted Jif....useless. With a purpose made cutting-through-grease product.... useless. With  the brush attachment of the hoover.... useless.

I give up after 3 hours and phone my decorator who is going to come next week and quote to re- paint it. Maybe I should have started with him.

But at least it's giving me a chance to live in my different kitchen for a while - however messy it is....to think about what I want to put back into the space. And what I want to leave out. A little step from my old life into a new and unknown one.

The walls of my kitchen may be a disaster zone but my oven and hob are a miracle of sparkliness.
All the time that I'm making the walls grubbier  by the minute a lovely man from Wellington, New Zealand is cleaning my extremely dirty, 14 year old cooker - making it more shiny by the minute.
When he's finished - 3 hours later -  it looks like new.

If you have ever thought of getting someone else to clean your cooker and are hesitating  - because of course you can do it yourself - throw caution to the winds and get in 'Oven Gleamers' - miracle workers. The best money I've spent in a long time.

 Tonight -  roasting a tray of almonds and Brazil nuts for the veggie burgers I'm making to take to supper tomorrow with lovely nephews and their little people. I wonder if cooking in an extra clean oven makes the food taste extra good. I makes me feel extra good anyway.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

I've blown the candle out....And Soot

The park is becoming my second home.

The kitchen has always been my first home, place of refuge, place of soup and cake therapy.

But suddenly, since yesterday, it doesn't feel so warm and safe. 

For the last four months I have been burning a fat pillar candle in the centre of the kitchen table. Day and night - replacing it with a new one as the old one goes out. A candle flame vigil for Robin. I didn't think what the fall out would be of this constant burning wick. Now the walls and ceilings and doors and picture frames and light fittings and curtains are covered in a sticky sooty film.

This morning I unhooked the curtains from their rail and took them to the cleaners. I've arranged for someone to come and do a deep clean next week. If I can wait that long.

And I've blown out the candle out. 

But I'm  still keeping his light alive. Burning inside my head and my heart.

 And I've bought an electric pillar candle. A constant, clean light flickering on the mantlepiece, day and night.

The vegan birthday cakes. Sticky ginger,

and all dried fruit.  Both appreciated and enjoyed tonight at my Deeksha meditation group.

But still 'works in progress' in my book.....especially if I can make them gluten free as well....

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Furry Spring and 'I Heard God Laughing'

Although it's a dull grey drizzly afternoon at Killerton House,

the  delicate crocuses and snowdrops

and starry daffodils are sweet soft carpets of colour flung under the trees.

This magnificent Magnolia Campanelli has only just broken out into beauty.

It's the pink pearl jewel in the crown of the gardens, 

flowering before any of the other magnolias which are still snoozing furry buds on bare branches.

The National Trust has brought in some furry Dartmoor ponies to graze in the woods of the 

estate - to keep the grass down, to encourage wild flowers and small wild life.

This is the resident pussy cat of the big house who doesn't seem to be interested in small wild life. He's usually snoozing in a quiet corner whenever I see him.

Today I'm walking here with a dear friend and we are both fascinated by this furry moss and lichen growing up one of the giant redwood trees. The majestic kings of the garden. I love the peaceful glory of this place growing and changing with each new season.

I felt moments of peacefulness today....
.....Appreciating the sparkling taps in the bathroom after the cleaner has been polishing my house.

...... A big hug from the lovely MND woman who supported us so wonderfully through Robin's illness. I met her for coffee today at a garden centre. For coffee and sharing and remembering.

.........Taking photos of all the free wild spring abundance in the gardens, in the company of my friend.
...........The relief of seeing my latest vegan cake  - a sticky ginger one - rising in the oven.

And tonight the pleasure of re- reading Hafiz - 14th century spiritual Persian poet. A wonderful translation by Daniel Ladinsky of " I Heard God Laughing". Which makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

A tiny taste of him here in a poem called,


One day the sun admitted,

I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence

that has cast my brilliant image!

I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,

The Astonishing Light 

Of your own Being!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Wide and Wild and a Ballerina

After my Family Constellations session this morning I walk on the edge of Dartmoor at Castle Drogo following a steep path through woods, the sides of the hills still grey brown, the trees still naked, listening to the sound of the river far below me, winding its way along the valley floor.

Robin and I came here for many years, every season....  exploring the castle....summer picnics.....long  winter walks....then just for tea and cake in the National Trust cafe....and finally just for 5 minutes in the car park, leaving him with Handel's Water Music playing
while I jumped out to take photos.

Although it's spitting with rain all the time I'm walking I want to be outside, in a wide and wild and even bleak landscape. A distraction from the muddle and sadness colouring my inner landscape at the moment. This conflict in me between my sensible, good girl, always doing the right thing and my free and joyous one who always wanted to be a ballerina....

At home I warm myself up with a bowl of pea and parmesan risotto and research recipes for vegan cakes. Although I have already collected and experimented with many I'm never really satisfied with them.
I bake another one full of dried fruit and ground almonds but no eggs or fat or sugar. I  remain unconvinced.

 Talking....walking....baking.....reading....crying/not crying. It's enough for today.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Yorkshire Puddings and Grief in the Freezer

Saturday night.

Giant football sun.












Sunday lunch at Cakeadoodledo  - the cafe at Quickes Farm on the way back from Crediton, visiting a dear friend with my sister.

It looks like a  roast beef lunch with all the trimmings -  which it is except without  the beef  - which is actually a chestnut lentil and cranberry loaf with a red wine gravy. All delicious - especially the roast potatoes.

The last time I had Yorkshire pudding was in 2002 when I cooked a Christmas lunch for the family who wanted roast beef. Yorkshire puddings are not my favourite thing to make and as one member of the family was famous for hers I was advised to buy some 'Aunty Bessie's' ready made, frozen Yorkshires for emergency back up. 

Sure enough on the day mine were a disaster - they turned into soggy pancakes( even though the oil was smoking hot).  Aunty Bessie came to the rescue, lunch was a bit late but they were pronounced the best ever Yorkshire puddings by our expert cook. I never confessed and took all the credit.

Just recently I've been afraid that I'm forgetting Robin because if I think too much about him I start getting tearful and overwhelmed and I'm whisked out of my day into the past. So it's as if I've put my grief in the freezer. To take out in emergencies when suddenly I can't remember his face, or what he sounded like or his laugh, or what our life was like before his dementia. And I can't remember who I was. Or how to connect to myself now in his absence.

But late last night in a moment of longing it all flooded back to me.... doubled up and howling on the sofa...swamped by a river of ice floes.