31 January 2011

the last stone

At the traffic light I watch a gang of teenage boys wrestling, red faced, sweaty, coats and gloves on the ground, breaths steaming on this frosty day. The power of testosterone.

30 January 2011


Last week, Dr F the ophthalmologist found my eyes in beautiful shape, declared my optic nerve perfectly healed and well again. All smiles until she insisted on reminding me that living with this disease is like living under a volcano, never knowing when and where it will erupt next. Although in theory I am very aware of this, my heart sank and for a moment I badly wanted to shout at her.
In the evening I cried in R's arms while he reminded me in his reassuring calm way that many volcanoes remain silent for thousands and thousands of years.

29 January 2011

battery change

A persistent tweeting wakes us in the early hours. Half asleep we wander the house in search of a lost bird or injured pet, slowly waking up to the realisation that the smoke alarm is calling for a new battery.

27 January 2011

Surfing on a wave of tooth ache, concentrating on my stance, trying to hold my head upright, hoping desperately for calmer seas.

25 January 2011

cál ceannann

a bowl full of kale - picked after a frosty night - chopped

one large onion chopped
garlic, mashed
all fried in oil or butter
mix with a couple of floury potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with a cup of milk
serve with fried smoked tofu 

Irish comfort food - thank you R
For days only this grey fog outside. I am running on autopilot. Just a small push to shift the fog and clouds, that's all I am asking for.

Maybe some uplifting music...

24 January 2011

grey morning

A blanket of grey fog outside and inside, nursing a tooth ache, too lazy to even make a cup of tea. One more hour of this and I will get ready to go to work. Hard to imagine.

23 January 2011

attempting a supportive email to a daughter who is a bit at a loss

My dearest,
while I was pottering around today and cycled along the river I was thinking of your mail and a few bits came up.
This will read a bit like a string of platitudes, sugary calendar wisdom, but here it goes:
Don't feel too driven to do something "useful". If you cannot think of doing something "good" at least don't hurt anybody or anything - and that's quite a task in itself. Striving for happiness is a killer, waiting is the skill.  It's day to day that matters. Living a day being careful and attentive and kind and honest. To yourself and those you encounter.

Write things down, always. And read it eventually.

And remember:
With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn. Whether you stay home or work or whatever, the next chapter is going to pop right up.

19 January 2011

Eight terracotta pots of budding amaryllis on my window sill. I am expecting fireworks of white, red, pink any day now.

18 January 2011

The bruise inside the crook of my right arm is turning green. I place my fingers on the slight swelling. The monthly tap, checking up how I am doing. Hello?

when Vivaldi came to Ireland

Of course, he never went. Or did he?
Hughes de Courson, French composer and musical nomad spins a story, interchanging Baroque instruments with Uillean pipes, flute and fiddle. And this makes for brilliant wake up music.

15 January 2011

Like walking through a forest towards a house full of happy childhood memories where friends are waiting with hot chocolate.

14 January 2011

After three days of rain and unseasonally mild weather the garden is soft like a sponge. I count the little shoots of snowdrops and crocus. Come on lads, I whisper, don't be shy. I missed you.

12 January 2011

in the words of Kurt Vonnegut

Guard yourself at all times. A lot of people believe that beauty is some kind of conspiracy -- along with friendly laughter and peace.

from a letter found on this blog

my colitis tea

25g tormentil root
15g sheperd's purse leaf
10g caraway seed
15g fennel seed
25g chamomile blossom
10g rose blossom

I watched the pharmacist mixing this tea, explaining the various medicinal uses of the different ingredients. When she added the rose blossoms, she smiled and said, for beauty.

10 January 2011


Driving across the big bridge, a seagull flies dangerously close past my windscreen. Behind the steering wheel I duck.

a talking to

... healing does not always involve a "cure". It happens daily to people with horrendous illnesses. Healing [...] is a balanced state of mental, spiritual and emotional well being that allows for comfort in an uncomfortable body and mind. If we can learn to be with this moment, what ever “this” moment looks like, then the fears that are tangled up with pain, the anxieties that tend to tip us off center, gently reach equilibrium again, at least temporarily.
Then for a breath
...maybe ten breaths,
we can experience relief and peace
...and begin again.

found it here

watching the river rise

Lots of rain, melting snow and now this big fat mighty river has burst its banks. Not the usual little spill-over sloshing along the promenade. 
This time, a fast moving mass of slate grey water pushing its way foreward towards the sea and sideways into fields and gardens, on the tow paths, up the roads and ferry ramps. No barges, no boats, no ferries. Just a handful of confused and giddy ducks swimming on the edges between the tops of trees that normally line the promenade. The cafes and ferry stations and boating clubs are submerged, the odd roof peaking out.
Some benches are bobbing on top, anchored to the ground with their chainlink locks, the odd bin floats by, together with a mixed bag of flotsam: branches, plastic bags, bottles, brown bundles of muck.
All day people are walking down to the edge of the water to take a look. The locals and long term blow-ins, the newbies and the expats, all spellbound by this massive force of water.
Flood tourism, says R and takes a picture.

09 January 2011

07 January 2011

Night. Listening to the rain. Warm and safe in my floating cocoon of dreams.

06 January 2011

blue jay

Brushing my teeth, looking out of the window. A large blue jay lands on the tree opposite, sharpening his beak on a bare branch, whoosh-whoosh, back and forth. He turns his head, we look at each other. He flies off. I rinse my mouth.

05 January 2011


It is not easy - in fact, it's pretty fucking difficult - after such a long absence. My in-tray looks like a laundry basket for a football team, I spent the last two days trying to sort out what is what and still not finished.
There is a little voice inside of me that whispers, you are safe, you are well, you are safe, you are well. And I strain to hear it even through the roaring and the shaking. My shoulders ache from all that effort.
At night when my mind wants to continue sorting through the in-tray, I try to concentrate, you are safe, you are well, you are safe, you are well, you are safe...
All that I need to manage is to somehow make it through 3-4 hours, Mo -Fr, AND get some work done.

04 January 2011

Listening to David Fray playing Schubert. Thinking, this is thinking without words.

03 January 2011

The garden is silent, covered in a loose blanket of wet snow. I am rinsing alfalfa seed. Tiny brown pockets of life, spring in my kitchen.

02 January 2011

on a more cheerful note

paid labour

Nervous. From tomorrow on I have to manage at least three hours of regular work until the end of Jan. That means, Mo-Fr including commuting and the lot. What I have been doing for years and years and what I have been unable/not allowed to do for over 12 months now.
From 1st of Feb it's half day or the battle for disability pension.
My employer has built many bridges for me in all these months and more than once has it been suggested to me that there is no need to work "hard", that there are many others who spend half an hour here and there watering office plants and moving the blinds just right and still get paid.
I don't know what scares me more: finding out that I may not be able to work regularly even for a  few hours or the prospect of having to play a charade.
One week at a time. Tonight all I can see is a steep path uphill and I think I have to run it. through thick mud. With leaking boots. Carrying a load of heavy stones on my back. In freezing wind.
I could go on, melodramatics, my pet.

01 January 2011

unrealistic resolutions for 2011

semi-realistic resolutions for 2011

  • spend time with S
  • work regularly again, at least part-time
  • cycling into town
  • gentle hillwalking
  • reduce immune suppressive drugs
  • stop listening to/reading horror stories about autoimmune vasculitis
  • paint the kitchen
  • make sourdough bread

realistic resolutions for 2011

  • go easy on R 
  • rest, rest, rest
  • pay attention to the moment
  • good food, careful diet to avoid more itisses
  • listen first
  • accept, accept, accept
  • remember
  • trust
  • be grateful without getting soppy
  • send S a huge parcel from home
  • stop being so negative about yuk I cannot change
  • give without getting exploited
  • welcome challenges
Scheveningen harbour 31 Dec 2010