Skyscrapers and String


Battling the heat…

This week I have had a stinking cold or savage hay fever.

Either way, my nose ran like a tap, I sneezed continuously and I was misery on a stick.

Nevertheless I put in a heroic week at work, and worked really hard, and kept going even though I was exhausted.

I submitted my expenses, which requires accessing a peculiar website with no instructions and gave myself a high five because it was something I had procrastinated over, and with Mum dying, I left it even longer, which made me feel worse.

Now I feel rather more up to date, and apart from writing to my Aunt I’m not feeling a dreading nagging feeling. The house is very clean, and my two new window boxes are planted with crimson geraniums, and they look spectacular against the white wall.

A couple of days, where I couldn’t breathe, I was sleepless and lay awake with my brain whirring like a washing machine on spin mode.

Unlike other sleepless nights in the past, these hours of reflection were very enjoyable, and I problem solved, thought about complicated things and last night, when I woke up at 1.30am, I woke up in the middle of a dream, and the dream was occurring in a sumptuous apartment in Paris.

The rooms of the apartment were being shown to me by Maigret’s wife, Louise, and the storyline in the dream involved them relocating to another abode while we moved into their place. Hence the guided tour. Waking up, I was able to recall everything, the furniture, the upholstery fabric, the gilded wall coverings, the wood panelling, roaring fire, the portraits hanging on the walls.

Today, I feel enchanted, it is rare to glimpse into one’s dreams, and I feel delighted that my dreams are so lavish in detail and character.

My knitting is slow, I’m bored with it. I don’t know what to make next. I do have things to make, presents to get started but I’m not feeling rushed.

Somehow, knitting was helping me compensate for the mixed feelings I was having about my family, and all the goings on. Now my Mum has passed, I am relieved and no longer feel compelled to knit so much.

Everything feels more balanced now, and I am happy with the pace I am following.

This morning I read aloud to my cat some Lorca, in Spanish.

It’s no mean feat to get this contented.

My Ancient Heart of a Child

by Federico García Lorca

My heart of silk

is filled with lights,

with lost bells,

with lilies and bees.

I will go very far,

farther than those hills,

farther than the seas,

close to the stars,

to beg Christ the Lord

to give back the soul I had

of old, when I was a child,

ripened with legends,

with a feathered cap

and a wooden sword.

Here you can see my knitting, it’s acres of garter stitch. I’m bored and long to knit the fascinating lace edge in apricot silk.

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Doing, not thinking…

A very long time ago, someone from school took me with them to see a fortune-teller.

The man lived in a flat covered in chintz and every surface was littered with china dolls.

It was a bit creepy even in daylight to be honest.

My friend went first and I don’t remember what she said he told her.

I was next and I sat at a round table.

The chap did the reading and I remember him saying that I lived in my head and that I should do more and think less.

Well, those of you that know me would say I have always been very get-go as a person and would find that opinion a bit strange.

However I knew what he meant.

When you grow up in difficult circumstances you question yourself and what you do and what you’ve done. All the time.

This constant dialogue is ever present and until the noise stops, you can’t hear the silence.

For all the heartfelt conversations I’ve had, the hours in therapy, the reading books and searching for a way to live with the burden of the past, I never really found any peace at all.

Now my Mum has passed I finally have found peace.

So now my days are brighter, I have more energy. I feel taller, freer, and shinier.

It’s been a wonderful release and I finally understand what the chap meant all those years ago.

It was true advice but I couldn’t do anything to change.

I had to wait all this time to understand what he meant.

So, now I’m pottering about.

Gardening, puttering, fixing things up. Making my world a reflection of my inner self.

I’m doing doings all the time and no longer ruminating endlessly.

Well, except on here.

It feels like something has changed in my head and although nothing has really happened and nothing ever stopped me from spending each day as I wanted to something has definitely happened because of how I feel now.

I have an ever present feeling of comfort and ease.


Like a baby…

Yet again I’m looking at my life and thinking I’m entering another phase.

I’m looking around at my world in the lens now of being without elders and it’s a different place.

For some reason, I’m lighter, taller and happier now I’m accepting that I am free of the worry I bore for over 10 years.

And I didn’t expect that.

My life is going at a fast pace and now I’m working full time I’m fitting more into my day.

I have crazy days and demanding days and funny days, my job makes me remember what it’s like to have a new baby, because it’s great to have a job, but you’re at the beck and call of it and you can only ride on the emotion of it.

Working twines you into itself and you become chained invisibly to it.

The trick is to make sure you understand who you are and support yourself as it’s very easy to get bent out of shape by a casual remark by a colleague.

This week was interesting because I was dealing with a very clever and vivacious person for the first time but they were patently bored with their job and distracted.

I had to use a lot of effort to get them to engage with me so I could get the project out and put boundaries in place so they would respect the right way to get the work done.

It was like dealing with an infant.

I felt like I had to put reins on them and bribe them with sweets and threaten them with a slap on the legs to get it done but eventually it got done well and if I hadn’t known how to treat toddlers I would still be mucking about with it at midnight.

I’m not the same person I used to be and I’m finding that I want to do something different with my spare time and I don’t know how this will crystallise.

The focus of full time working makes me look at my spare time in a different way.

The things I have been doing and writing and making have filled up my house. I’m wondering what will happen if I carry on the same way for another year or two years, or five years without changing tack.

What would Louis XIV do? Or Madonna, they’re experts in reinventing themselves.


Peace at last…

It’s quiet here, if you don’t mind the two clocks ticking, the third one’s stopped. I must stop buying those cheap batteries.

The day is drawing to a close, dinner was one of my best, pity to eat alone, what with the wine and the bread and the rich garlicky sauce.

I quite enjoy my own company, I daresay I’ll enjoy watching Versailles in a bit and it’s good to have peace and quiet after a busy day at work isn’t it.

I’m finally feeling human again, it doesn’t suit me, all this drama, I know people love arguing and feeling puffed up and being right all the time but it does my head in.

As far as I’m concerned, if you want to pick a fight pick on somebody else!

I’m looking at the rest of my life in front of me.

Right now I’m thinking about poaching some peaches and making peche melba for pudding.

Life is too short and I’m getting on and I want to spend the rest of it happy, not caught up in arguments and lies.

What is the point of telling lies?

You have to keep on top of what you said to who and it must be painful trying to keep your stories straight.

My blood pressure is back to normal and I’m sleeping like a baby.

I’m smiling and enjoying things again and I’m relieved that all the tension of the last ten years is over.

My garden looks fantastic and smells better, I have honeysuckle and lavender and roses and the pond is gorgeous and peaceful and the shed beckons me and shelters me, it’s like a shrine or some kind of holy place because it’s so peaceful and relaxing when I sit in there.

So don’t mind me, I’m going to open the fridge and mess with those peaches, nothing lasts forever does it?


Today…

Today I woke up filled with dread.

My chest was leaden, it felt like someone was holding me down and despite being clearly quite able to breathe I felt like I was slowly suffocating.

It didn’t help that the sky was grey and it was chilly and I could see the paths in the garden were wet from last night’s rain.

Over the course of the day this feeling of malaise started to lift and I opened the doors of my wool cupboard and picked out two beautiful skeins of yarn.

Both were cashmere and silk and one was a vivid turquoise with flashes of green, the other was brightest blue, with flashes of turquoise.

The colours are so luscious I can’t help but think of dragonflies and hummingbirds.

I’m staring at them now and they’re making my mouth water.

On the windowledge by my elbow are two skeins of grey yarn, I rummaged through the cupboard drawers for; one is soft fuzzy alpaca and the other is merino and silk. The shiny grey of the silken skein is like oil in a puddle, there are hints of mauve and plum and green marled together. They’re perfect together.

I didn’t get them out but I’m thinking about the beautiful lemon yellow skein I held for a bit, which I’ve decided will go with the rich golden skein I bought in Brighton a while back.

My mind is now so saturated with colour and opportunity and joy I’m utterly transformed from the sad pale thing I was when I woke up today.

The house is quiet and peaceful and we’re sitting here in the most comfortable silence.

Cat in hammock, sleeping, me writing this to you and His Lordship intently destroying alien vessels on his iPhone.

I’m surrounded by books and the washing machine is going round in the other room.

It’s a fearsome thing to lose your entire family, my Mum was my last close relative and I think it’s hit me hard because there’s no-one left now and I’m feeling sorry for losing all of them all at once and feeling very orphaned indeed.

It’s almost like they’re all in a room together somewhere out of reach and I’m left behind here.

The amazing friends I have now and the love at home and all the abundance and comfort I’m surrounded with give me enormous happiness but I’m grieving and I can’t make all this beauty outweigh the lead shoes on my feet or the clanking chains wrapped round my heart.

So I am staring at all the pretty wool and patting my tiny sleeping cat and pouring love out of my heart to the ones I love now and I’m feeling hopeful that in time I will move forward from this.

If knitting truly was a cure for anxiety and depression I would never have felt a sad moment in my life but I’m afraid that’s some kind of wool marketing PR slogan someone keeps repeating.


So, last week…

Last time I wrote here I was saying how well I felt I was coping with the death of my Mum.

So, last week I went to work on Tuesday morning and I felt like I was going to collapse.

I told my boss I was sick and went to bed. I slept all day long for three days pretty much. I felt sick all the time.

So obviously coping is not something I was doing. I must have just been going through the motions.

I think the lesson here is clear: take time to grieve. Or it will take your time. I’m not convinced there’s much else to say.

Luckily, my friend Lesley took me out to the seaside yesterday, so I’m freckled now and my lungs are full of fresh air today and I remembered my Nan as I paddled in the shallow water and how she loved it where I was.

It took about an hour to get from my house to there, and it was the most uplifting and cheering thing to do.

Sitting on a bench overlooking the beach I watched the children playing in the sand and the clouds scudding across the blue sky and the waves frothing and glinting in the sun.

Everything was beautiful and peaceful and there was nothing to do apart from enjoy it.

The most brilliant thing about Leigh-on-Sea is it smells like childhood seaside.

Flag irises grow wild next to the path and hopping birds poke their beaks into the salty mud looking for worms and things.

There are boats and little cottages and ships bells are clanking happily in the breeze and when you get there the tide is out and all you can see is mud with stranded boats then by the time you’ve had lunch and walked about a bit the sea is properly in and people are launching little yachts and setting off with billowing white sails, gripping the rudder and doing their weekend sailor things.

And so much of my life is filled with love. Even the disappointing bits like the business with my Mum are filled with love.

I’m like the muddy shoreline on the outside but on the inside I’m buoyed by love and the sun is shining on the white waves in my heart.

It may feel sometimes that having a big heart is a bit of a curse but it is amazing to rage to live and feel everything.

I’m surrounded by glorious domesticity. I’m ordinary and I have the same hopes and fears as everyone else. But I see wonder everywhere and I feel like a rainbow. I’m amazingly lucky and thank God for my life.

Today I’m going to potter about in my garden and bake a cake. I’m going to peg laundry on the line and wash dishes and dust the front room.

Important priorities include patting my kittehs and listen to their purring. I’m going to put music on and sit in my shed and soak everything in.

My orange tree is flowering again so I daresay a fair bit of time will be spent pressing my nose close to the shiny white flowers and breathing in the blossom which truly smells of heaven.

Here you can see the boats bobbing about from yesterday. It’s quite a knack staying afloat sometimes isn’t it?


Garden at night…

Even in the middle of crushing experiences, there are glorious moments and these beautiful times in between difficult ones get you through it all.

Today I did some tough things, I was disciplined and did the essential things, I rushed about to be on time and yet I still took care of me and napped and read my new book in the bath.

I had earnest conversations with clever friends and danced in the garden. I drank cold beer and basked in the afternoon sunshine.

Likewise I wept softly as I spoke to my Aunt who had rung to talk about my Mum passing and I sat in the dark garden lit by fairy lights inhaling the rosemary that grows by the bench thinking about everything that has happened as warm rain started to fall.

Everything is wonderful and hard and painful and I’m burningly alive and feeling everything all the time and I wonder if one day the very heat of existence will just consume me and my light will dim and flicker out.

But look around me, at my little house inhabited by my dear loves, my pets, the pond, the garden, my roses and fruit trees, the fairy lights and the beautiful shed, the benches and the seats, and the two story cat house, it’s all really rather sublime and I cannot help but be grateful for every moment of my life and awed by the abundance of my surroundings.

There’s a storm rumbling in the distance and you can just about see the moon behind the clouds overhead.

But everything feels right, it’s all going to be fine.


End of week…

So I’ve stopped crying randomly and I can talk quite calmly about Mum dying.

This is good progress.

I’m sleeping well and getting my regular exercise done and I feel okay in myself.

The big problem is that I now have super high blood pressure and I feel very odd and fluttery in my chest.

But there’s so much to do just to function.

Everyone works. Everyone needs to eat and clean towels and a tidy house and everyone works so we all have to do extra stuff and even on a day off there’s exactly the same number of chores to be taken care of.

We’re all struggling it’s not just me being upset and shocked.

But I’m glad it’s a Bank Holiday this weekend and there’s food in the cupboards and the garden is looking amazing and lush.

One of the things I like about the garden is there’s loads of places to sit so you can find a spot of shade or a warming sunny place to sit.

Lunchtime today I went out to the Library and got a new reading book and I’m excited to find out as it’s the second part of a series.

I’m hoping to do a fair amount of loafing but unless you want to live in a pigsty you have to keep on top of everything around you.

Luckily I have a great family and friends and even my kitwits have been making a fuss of me.


Messed up…

The last few days have been punishing to be honest.

I don’t think I ever thought about how I would feel to lose my Mum, it’s not something that you contemplate willingly is it?

Yesterday I thought I was literally going under with the force of events being thrust upon me, and two pieces of casual unkindness from people who barely know me towards the end of the day really felt like having the boot put in.

But after a reasonable nights sleep (under the circumstances) today my heart and my mind feel restored.

In fact I feel the presence of Grace and the same unseen hand that guided me out of the house on an errand last Friday is holding my hand today and I feel reassured that I’m able to cope now.

It’s funny how things turn out.

But it’s up to me to restore myself and to get control over my life again.

I’m breathing and the grey feelings of sickness and overwhelm have passed.

My entire body hurts still but my head has cleared. Finally.

I hope you’re having a great week and enjoying life to the fullest.


Perfectionism is not a curse…

Many years ago now, when we met for Knitting Club where I used to work, it used to be a great comfort to chat about problems with one’s knitting.

And about anything else in general also, to be honest.

It was the kind of group of people it was a delight to mix with as they were smart and savvy about work and life as well as knitting.

One of our founding members, M, in particular was generally regarded as a model of exquisite and righteous knitting.

Her knitting was so perfect she would knit samples for display in her local shop. You name it, no matter how daunting to the rest of us, she would tackle intarsia in Kidsilk Haze on tiny needles as calmly as new glittery summer yarn tshirt designs.

She always turned out beautiful work.

When anyone confided that they suspected they might have gone astray from their knitting pattern, M was always sympathetic and extremely kind and encouraging yet you knew, without words, that you had to re-do your mistake.

Even though I miss M, and the other members of our club, and despite not having seen her for a few years now, when my knitting goes astray I still think “What would M say?” and immediately I know she would gently infer that I should re-do my work.

So today, reminiscing about the past, I’m looking at the toe of my blooming sock and still it doesn’t match it’s sister sock.

Twice I have redone the toe and twice it’s wrong.

So now it’s again unravelled and I’m going to finish my coffee and darn well get it to match!

Thank you M, you know who you are.