It feels almost like summer, a day for throwing open the windows and revelling in the sun on your skin. I wore pale blue cotton trousers and a summer top and sat drinking a skinny cappuccino and reading my book feeling like a pampered princess. Bare feet and arms and the sun on my skin is enough to raise my happiness levels from 0 to 10 in the space of opening my eyes. Hearing the birds singing outside the window and the light filtering through the blinds as I wake is good for my soul.
Throwing off the blanket of winter and feeling myself begin to emerge from a long phase of being cocooned has been happening over the last months. Healing from any injury or illness is a slow process. As I am shedding some layers of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually it seems they are all tied together. No big revelation there, but the process is something to be treasured as well as the outcome. For after all, we are all in the process of becoming. The thing is, how to learn to just stay in the process whatever and wherever it takes me? That being in the moment thing.
The curse of depression is a dreadful sense of isolation and disconnection which comes with it. Some days it seems like a deep dark place that you just want to hide in for ever. Add to that any addiction and the sense of isolation and despair increases. Being grateful is a simple skill in theory and one to practice for the sense of hope it can give.
Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.
I am writing an eulogy. Summing up a life. Remembering moments. Telling stories. Collecting memories. Anyone who has ever written one will know how hard it is. My mind keeps going completely blank. I tell myself that I have been writing about Mum for months, sharing every day gems and the joys and sorrows. And still it is hard to do. I keep starting again. The boys are writing their own words to join with mine. Everyone has been thinking about it today and you can feel it in the house.
I have looked up other words from more famous or clever people. I talked to my sister from my other mum and she told me how she had written a letter to her Dad. I understand that no-one wants a CV, especially one that is dry as dust. It could be like one of those awful courses you go on with work where everyone is supposed to introduce themselves with their name and place of work. It becomes a competition to see who can be the most experienced/cleverest/highest earner. Then again no-one wants to hear of sainthood. The best eulogies seem to combine affection, humour and somehow capture the essence of the person who is gone.
I have been searching for a quote, a few pithy words, a poem, a line. And yet in the end it will be what it has always been – an act of love, speaking words that come from our hearts, raising a smile. In the meantime these few words have made me smile or seem to catch a glimpse of what I want to say.
Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.
“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” ~ Eskimo Legend
“The highest result of education is tolerance.” Helen Keller
“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”
Oh and then there are the reindeer ears. This story must be told. At Christmas time on our regular trip to the garden centre Mum found these ears. They play music too. She insisted on wearing them all the way round the shop. One or two people looked askance. Most smiled with us. “They can use me for advertising” she said. We brought the ears home this week. They still make me grin.
We don’t live in a big city. No great metropolis round here. Our city is a collection of six towns, literally. Each town still has its own separate and distinct identity and compared to London or Manchester or Birmingham we are pretty small potatoes. So Stoke Pride today in a local park was something that even a few years ago was the source of huge controversy in the local papers and started as a very tame and feeble event with a few stalls behind the only Gay Club in the area.
Today the sun shone and the people turned out to celebrate in all our glorious diversity. Young and old, gay, lesbian, bi, trans and straight. Big and small, kids, families, black and white. We ran into old friends and drank beer or coffee whilst sitting sedately on a picnic blanket. We danced to Lady Gaga, admired drag in all its gorgeousness and realised that tutus and fairy wings, like rainbows, are alive and well in the lesbian community. I quite fancied a rainbow bandana for the dog but the boys think he is feminine enough as a poodle pooch without any extra adornment.
The usual array of stalls representing community action groups, Health, Police and the City Council were running stalls and giving away freebies. Between us we have postcards, pens, a can opener and an ice scraper for the car. Oh and we won a bottle of sports drink and a beer with a glass both of which I am happy to pass on.
It is fun to sit and watch the community go by. High heels and glam frocks, butch shirts and short hair, boys in angel wings, girls in tutus. Small people in big wigs and lotsa lippy, boys with posing dogs on bling leads looking for a cute companion. There was free face painting, clay to play with, balloons galore and sparkly colourful wind socks and flags flying above the crowds. An afternoon of fantasy and fun. A safe, friendly atmosphere. Raucous sing a long to “I am What I Am”, and like Pride the world over, a moment of joy that this is ‘My’ town, my tribe and I am proud to have been there. My friend T. took this photo because she said we looked like something out of ‘Little Britain”, I see where she was coming from! If you don’t know the series the reference will pass you by but it sort of sums up the ironic humour of the event too.
This weeks photo challenge is ‘colourful’. This shot is of the Kids Field at Glastonbury festival 2010. Both times I have been the Kids Field is one of my favourite places. It is full of magic, colour and play just as every childhood should be. It’s a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by, enjoy the crafts and play areas and watch shows designed for every age of child. As a 40 and 50 something the times I’ve been, my qualifications for entry are only that my inner child couldn’t resist.
These gardens light up a busy road every Spring. The attention to detail and colour is awesome and traffic slows down every year to see them. The gardens and the gardener always seem to me like an act of altruism, they can be seen best by passers-by rather than the house owners. For a few weeks every year they are a source of utter joy.
Mum likes to go out in her slippers. This has been the case for a few months now. She has two identical pairs of maroon wrap-around old lady slippers. They are the sort she would have hated back in the day. Now she loves them.
She has had circulation issues and skin problems so her feet have been swollen and her legs bandaged. Now her skin is clear and she wears compression stockings. Mum always prided herself on ‘having good legs and slum ankles’. Not being related genetically means I have legs like my half sisters, chunky strong legs. I always used to feel cross when Mum would refer to her slim legs in contrast to my solid ones!
So day in and out the slippers are on. And they get trodden down at the back and need replacing.
Appearances have always mattered to Mum. There are two sides to that. But the good side is that it is intrinsic to her to care how she looks. So we have ‘sets’ of clothes. Edinburgh Woolen Mill shop does very well out of our weekend expeditions. They make nice pull on, elastic waist cotton trousers. She has denim look, cream, and khaki as well as winter weight ones. Their blouses and tops are colour coordinated to go with the trousers (clever eh?)
So, to get back to the slippers. We ambled ie mum queenly in wheelchair, past a discount ‘crocs’ shop. Now anyone whose ever worn them knows they are comfy like slippers, never wear out and don’t slip. Plus they come in a series of eye opening shades. Mum went for bright pink, orange it turquoise. Turquoise won.
So mum is now the proud owner if a pair if crocs. She wore them straight away like all the best purchases. There’s us no time to ‘save it for best’ like there used to be.
Mums new shoes will be worn with everything. Letting go of elegance for child like joy. Not a bad exchange.
Posted from WordPress for Android
Digging up our first ever potato crop yesterday was truly like finding golden treasure. To put the fork in and turn the soli over then find a perfect new potato just made me shriek and grin! I dug up just enough for dinner for last night and we savoured every delicious, earthy, sweet mouthful. And yes, they really do taste different. We ate them with salmon, some lettuce from the garden mixed with sugar snap peas, cucumber and mint ( also from the garden). We had a large jug of iced water with lemon and mint, added butter to the potatoes. Heaven.
I love potatoes.The daughter of a friend of mine, who is now in her twenties, asked Santa for a bag of potatoes ‘All for herself” when she was 7. She would have loved these!
You can do so much with a potato. Boil it, mash it, fry it, make chips and fries with it, bake it, add cream and onion and garlic and Frenchify it deliciously.Make Bubble and Squeak ( potatoes and cabbage leftovers English) or Colcannon (Bacon and potato leftovers Irish), Potato Cakes ( Welsh), Champ or Tattie Scones ( Scottish).Use it in an ‘egg’ and spoon race. Play counting games with it. It must be one of the most maligned vegetables, blamed for making us fat when it is a solid satisfying complex carbohydrate which releases sloooow sugars to keep us steady between meals.
This was my first foray into potato growing, there are lots more out there just waiting to be savoured and eaten. The onions are coming on too, as are the carrots and beetroot. So, One potato, Two potato ….
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland, ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’
The vegetable patch is exploding with growth. Spring cabbage and potatoes are vying for space. The carrot tops are waving like a feathery forest. Feeling tired tonight and needing a simple but ‘good for you’ meal we had fresh new potatoes with butter, chicken gently fried in some olive oil and with organic stock cubes and tarragon for flavour and a spring cabbage cut straight from the garden.
It never ceases to amaze me just how miraculous it feels to grow, cut and eat your own vegetables. I know I am not naturally ‘green fingered’ and I don’t honestly know that much about gardening, but I am learning by trial and error. I love the fact that the earth is generally so forgiving. I know that to get ‘perfect’ show specimens it is probably wise to follow the rules, whatever they may be, but there is so much joy in having planted those little plug plants of cabbage, weedy as they looked and now to have big green plants and eat them!
Some days you just stumble upon something that lights you up. A few years ago we had a weeks family camping holiday in Norfolk. The sun shone, the skies were blue and even the cold North Sea was warm enough for us to swim in. It felt like an Enid Blyton sort of holiday. The village next to the campsite and the flavour of a 1930’s Poirot mystery. I’m sure Agatha must have been there. It even had an old-fashioned railway station complete with pots of flowers on the platform. One day we caught the stopping train to Norwich for big city delights. But we were glad to come ‘home’ again to the quiet dawdling days by the beach.
One hot day we went past a church with a little poster advertising an Art display. Expecting some watercolours and a few crafts we sauntered up the path. The boys stayed in the car as boys do. The art was incredible. And the setting in the church was beautiful. Inside the ordinary looking stone building were stripped bare whitewashed walls and huge windows. The stripped beams in the roof felt like being in an upside down boat and the place was full of light and air and the scent of the sea. Most of the art was in the church yard, installations and witty signs.
The stars in the ceiling made me happy. I was thinking of them today and of how that stop along the way filled the day with light. Sometimes just taking the time to look reveals hidden beauty.
I have no idea what makes people like what I write some days and not so much others. I suppose, like everything, there are multiple reasons but it certainly makes me curious. I find my best writing is usually those days when I have an idea and it ends up being quite ‘stream of consciousness’ stuff. Maybe that vibe comes through. Having “site stats” from WordPress means that I can see how many people visited my blog each day and today was my best day so far. And that was before i posted.
Of course being in the UK means that we are on a different timescale to a lot of bloggers/potential readers out there so sometimes that means people catch up on me the next day.
The things I like writing about most are: the journey with my mum through old age and towards what will come, the process and feelings around getting fit and losing weight and the recovery from depression and illness and the sort of daily ‘in my head’ meanderings that reflect on life and living it. Writing about mum is therapeutic for me, allows me to share some of the joy, sorrow and laughter in this part of our lifetime contract with each other. I hope to write about her always with respect. But the events and experiences we are living may shine a little light somewhere for someone else going through or thinking about dementia and care and these changes. That matters.
I don’t write too much about the other most important people in my life, my 4 nearly all grown up kids and my missus. I reckon everyone deserves their privacy and apart from the occasional reference or moment of pride that I just have to shout about I don’t think any of then would thank me for blogging about them. Or putting their photos up. The dog is a different matter, I reckon he’s fair game. And everyone likes a dog story, right?
I started this daily blogging in March, so I am now nearly 4 months in. From being a little girl I have loved words. I loved to read and remember writing stories as soon as I could write. Through primary and high schools I wrote. Teenage poetry, wordy and angst-ridden Im sure. I always imagined I would go on and study English and then maybe have a career in writing or journalism. And then I got sidetracked into Sociology. I loved it. It transformed me and filled me with another sort of passion. And I don’t regret for a moment where it has taken me. But along the way, apart from brief periods of conscious creativity the writing got lost along the way. And I forgot. Writing became about reports and essays. Emails and Facebook. Until now. This year is about recovery. I have a journal that I started last October. I wrote on the inside cover “The Journey Back”. I meant back to health, back to sugar-free living, back to life. And writing has become a part of that. Making a daily committment to be here, to just show up and get those words on paper. To share what I think and who I am. And I love it.
The thinking, the processing, the way the words race and tumble over each other to come out on the screen.Googling, researching and taking photos to fit. The weekly photo challenge adds another dimension of fun and spark of creativity with the visual image. I rediscover why I love playing with colour and seeing the world through a lens can be illuminating.
Showing up every day isn’t easy but I can’t bear to miss a day. I have a dream to write every day for a year. I am honing my muscles here. I want to do more. I want to write. I want to write a book, see those words on paper. Whew! I am sticking my neck out and stating my claim on the Universe. I am going to put in the work. Watch this space.