28 February 2011

my second last long walk to date

You drive along the road from Ballyconneely towards Roundstone until you get to a spot where someone has written "No dogs after this sign" on the rocks. There you climb over the fence and walk around the small lake on soft grassy spongey ground.
Soon you start going uphill between rocks and moss and little streams. You are glad that your boots are waterproof. In places it is very wet and the soil is black and gooey like liquid tar when your feet sink in. Most times it feels as if you are so close to the top before another small ravine means you have to climb down and up again and again.
The sun is quite warm and the wind is gentle and fresh. The odd sheep watch you while you carefully climb higher. It gets a bit tricky towards the top with loose stones now with less grass and moss and more barren dry rocks.
After about two hours or maybe three you are on top of Errisbeg Mountain and you look out around you: to the north the wide expanse of the Emlaghmore bog, a no mans land full of mysterious bog pools and stories of ghosts and fairies and disappearances, the Twelve Bens towering behind. To the east you can glimpse the bay at Roundstone and across to Ballynahinch in the Gaeltacht where a teenage R spent a summer practising his Irish. And to the south and west, this is what you see: Dog's Bay and the Atlantic ocean. It is still and mild up here, the sun bright and benign and you can hear the voices from the people down below, children running and playing on the beach.

Later on you walk along this beach, you take off your boots and socks, roll up your jeans and walk with you feet in the water, stretching your arms open wide and breathing in all this happiness on such a wonderful warm April Sunday in Connemara.

24 February 2011

I've had it up to here with winter. Slushy snow again this morning and a nasty cold wind from the east. Getting ready for another trip to the dentist to rinse my inflamed gums. I am sure the sweet receptionists there think I am one big whining fake. Ah well, can't win them all.
My nailbed is also infected in places and of course herpes thought this a fine time to visit.
If I could just dive into a warm clear ocean and roll in it until this is all washed off and out of me.

This is from spring of 1986, just after Chernobyl, a time when we watched the wind and the clouds and hid away our babies when the rain came from the east across the Irish Sea. 

22 February 2011

delayed fear

For a moment we held our breaths this morning when the worldservice news told us about an earthquake with 60+ dead near where our child is roaming the globe at the moment and there were futile attempts to reach her via various phone numbers etc. 
And then we could breath calmly again because of course she is fine, at the last minute she decided to take a different route.
So this will become another of her nomad tales like the one about the night journey in northern Laos with a busload of soldiers and guns and faulty breaks and the single Buddhist monk to smile at or the flight from Bukhara to Tashkent with the plane falling apart inside and outside.
Please, let her luck never run out.

21 February 2011

toodle di doo

I am no fun to live with, really no fun. I mean, I wouldn't want to live with someone like me, forever moaning about this and that and always so bone tired, with a wonky digestion and picky appetite, to say nothing about those panic stations from time to time. Then there's all that self pity and what with spring and summer coming. I mean, we put last year on hold already. Don't tell me this never ends??
Rant over.

19 February 2011

Jean-Dominique Bauby and Julian Schnabel

I tried to watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly but it I could not handle it, too upsetting, but kept on getting back to it sort of with one eye while playing spider solitaire on the laptop and then the music got to me so so so much. It will be in my dreams tonight.

17 February 2011


I have a hard time remembering dreams so I don't know if it was one or whether this is just some figment that spun out of my half asleep brain this morning but S was stepping out of a plane, a small one like the ones we used between islands in paradise, and as she was walking towards me she got smaller and younger and when she jumped into my arms she was four years old with her hair curling around her face and she looked at me all seriously and said in her grown up voice, damn it, damn it, I think I lost a contact lense.

sing-a-long Italian pop - sticky sweet

più bella cosa non c'è
più bella cosa di te
unica come sei
immensa quando vuoi
grazie di esistere...

(Eros Ramazzotti, live in Rome 2004)

16 February 2011

from the wise man

A given situation can be viewed as either unbearable or beneficial: it depends how we look at it. We must make certain that things don’t begin to seem unbearable. If we look too closely at problems we will see nothing else and they will appear all out of proportion with reality; that is when they become intolerable. If we can stand back from them, we will be better able to judge them and they will seem less serious.

15 February 2011


The crane are coming back. I watch their big V-shaped formations flying noisily in from the south west and we hear them at night, too.
In the mornings before sunrise a single voice of a blackbird comes through the open bedroom window waking me for a short instance just to hear it and wonder and drift back into sleep.
No more tooth ache in the last 48 hours after the dentist and the immunologist decided to cut out MTX for two weeks to give my gums a chance to heal. Endless pots of chamomile and sage tea for rinsing and soothing.

Last year at this time I was falling through space like Major Tom. And the world was covered in snow.

10 February 2011

spring cleaning the kitchen

in the garden

out in full glory: snowdrops galore, primula, pansy, spring snowflake (leucojum), eranthis and hellebores
almost there: daffs, wild tulips,wild onion, pulsatilla, rose hip
budding: lilac, quince, black currants, pears
growing leaf: buddlia, figs, hydrangea
R moved the fig trees from their winter quarters outside as they have started to fruit but I worry about frost and have covers ready.
In the greenhouse the lemon is looking a bit weary but has made it through the winter, no fruit though.
We are still harvesting kale and sprouts and lamb's lettuce.

06 February 2011

the great dentist disaster

After cutting a neat incision into my barely healed gums and flipping back a short section of it, the oral sugeon is using a tiny sharp scalpel to scrape back and forth along the now exposed bone surface of my upper right jaw. With neat little pliers he then proceeds to clip off a small bone fragment that has been  protruding into my gums after all of my upper right molars had been surgically removed during the previous eight weeks, slowly, one by one, due to an infection that had spread from a piece of tooth root left behind by sloppy dentist work a few months earlier. Somewhere along the lines, during the three months with a gaping wound inside my mouth, a nerve was irreparably damaged.
All this happened in the first half of 2007. It took several months and very heavy medication to check the pain to a bearable degree. However, the nerve damaged meant that I continued to suffer from waves of neuropathic pain on and off, more or less all the time, and over the next two years with the help of a fabulous pain therapist/anaesthetist I was able to slowly taper off the medication for that. It sounds gruesome but I should remember that during that time I climbed Mount Etna, did several long-distance cycle trips and translated some of my best work - and lived a wonderful life.

For the last two weeks due to a more extensive case of inflammation of my gums - a side effect of the immune supression - a phantom scalpel has been scraping along the bone surface. Most of the time.

I haven't the slightest idea how to fit all this into my present precarious set up. Sometimes I just want to kick my head against the wall or wail like a wounded dog and stuff like that. But I know that's not going to help. Not one bit.

Breath in.
Breath out.
And pin my hopes on medication once again. May all gods and godesses bless my health insurance and doctors - and R, of course, for holding me in the nights.

05 February 2011

blame it on tooth ache

Thanks to MTX, my gums are sore and open and hence the tooth ache has been coming and going, spreading to the upper jaw into the phantom pain I experienced four years ago after the great dentist disaster that stopped me from hiking in the Golden Triangle hills with S and instead catapulted me helter skelter into the oral surgery nightmare summer of 2007. It seems that life has dealt me this card again. 
But mercyfully my doctor agreed that this is one shit load too many and so my box of pills has two more additions: one to alleviate the inflamed gums and one to handle the phantom pain. I wish these monsters would act instantly but no, patience is what's called for. And I have run out of this kind of virtue so long ago.
Sleep is a rare and precious gift these nights, a fickle one though and last night I spent much time alternatingly making up dream scenarios in full aching wakefulness or concentrating on the soles of my feet whenever the drilling pain in my gummy upper jaws seemed to spin me out of control. Those dear soles of my feet, with all mental efforts available I made them tingle and glow for most of the night.

During the days I am irritable and cranky. Working was the highlight and I feel dead proud for sticking it out even on days when all I want to do is run and hide. My in-trays are all neatly stacked now and priorities settled and long overdues over and done. Before I lock up for the night, I glance back over my shoulder and, wow, does my desk look good!!

On the home office front, I have started an assigement for a feminist/sociologist crowd translating a long essay on subsistence and autonomy - really good stuff - which is starting to become really frustrating. Frustrating because the two women I deal with are a) computer illiterate whereby anything beyond typing is wonderland, b) scatterbrains, charming but grrr! and c) never on time. They are both older than me, honoured academics, well travelled and well connected in the global feminist ecology network but when I try to teach show them the wonders of editing in word, they smile and clap their hands as if we were in nursery school discovering the miracle of how the red Lego stones fit on top of the white ones - every time anew.
I am probably certainly absolutely unfair now and way off the mark, blame it on tooth ache.
Yes, let's blame it all on tooth ache. All. ALL.

02 February 2011

Lá Fhéile Bríde

I am one day late for this.
Don't be afraid of the light that shines within you.


There is this feeling of frailty, weakness, exhaustion hovering above my days and I am struggling with it, really hard, while at the same time showing off my professional and accomplished side during my afternoons at work, all smiles and efficiency. After three hours the latest, this frailty catches up with me and pins me down onto my chair with such power and determination that I am left there gagged and shaking. While my mind wants to get on with work and all the new ideas and plans, my body fails me so utterly.
Oh,  how I miss my energetic old self. I have quite some adjusting learning ahead of me. 

...our wounds and flaws are sure signs of our fundamental completeness. If speech is a finger pointing toward the unspoken, our sense of incompleteness, our fragile, tender vulnerability is a sure sign of our strength.
writes Saki Santorelli

quoting Rumi:
"Don't turn your head. Keep looking 
at the bandaged place . That's where
the Light enters you."

And that old grey-haired magician sings: There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in...

01 February 2011

Connemara tree

Walking along the northern shore of Killary Harbour on an early April morning. The clouds move swiftly inland from the sea, bringing the odd shower. The ground is wet and soft like a sponge, There is no path, just the slope rising steeply to our left, speckled with sheep's droppings. The wind blows relentlessly. We climb along the coastal edge, pass the ruin of a cottage abandoned an eternity ago, silence. Just us and occasionally some very noisy seagulls.