30 August 2011

Making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future.

28 August 2011

smells from the kitchen

Half moon hiding in the clouds, my darling
And the sky is flecked with signs of hope
Raise your weary wings against the rain, my baby
Wash your tangled curls with gambler's soap

27 August 2011

The cat is jealous because I am looking after the two bunny rabbits from next door for a week. Every time I climb through the hedge with my carrots and a handful of hay she hisses at me and whenever I sit down she climbs onto my shoulders and digs her claws in before she gets on with the purring - very loud and very uncomfortable.
Made lots of tomatoe sauce from the massive harvest. And there are more, lots more. Tomorrow.
S made it through her surgery and as a reward she went to see Dylan Moran live. That's the spirit, good choice. She also fell in love with her doctor and the nurses.
And now it looks like we have little bitchy battle with the fancy health insurance outfit on our hands because - aah what the hell. I am postponing all thinking and arguing and basically all mental stress until we get the final results.
Yesterday when I went to work the thermometer said 34°C, this morning it was 13°C. Weird, weird and cold.
My teeth are hurting - again, and it's really only a small bit of sore gum, I think, I hope. 
All in all, I am hanging in there like a limp sack of beans.

21 August 2011


We harvested the last of the sweet peas and when R spread out the compost, he found a mango growing in it. It is now potted and on the patio.

Last night we drove up into the hills to watch the stars but a cloud blanket was moving in just then. So we looked at the lights of the city reflected in the river and when we drove down again the moon was a huge orange slice in the sky to the east.

After breakfast this morning R and S exchanged gardening news over skype and then he said, we will phone you again on the big day, love and we all held our breath for a second.

When R was making coffee he was whistling along to Neil Young.

I discovered that the online rain radar is quite accurate and useful to check before hanging up the laundry to dry in the sunny garden.

In the afternoon I sat in my deck chair and watched the figs ripen. And then my guts started to react to the kilo of apricots I have been eating in the last 24 hours.

So when R set out his pizza plans - zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, sweet corn, anchovies, two cheese... I suggested a more minimalistic approach.

19 August 2011

my lucky girl

It rained heavily last night after a very hot day. I am curled up in my bed listening to the sounds of dripping water feeling the wet air coming through the window. Inside of me, deep in my belly and sometimes in my chest and even in my throat is this smooth cold dark heavy stone. I am trying to accommodate it as best I can while I am thinking of how lucky and happy her life has been so far, my daughter with the golden hair and the laughing eyes.

Remember, I say to her over skype, how you were twice within minutes, hours of death and how calmly we all knew you would pull through and how you had looked at me with your wide baby eyes full of concentration and trust? But of course, she cannot remember her birth or the time when she almost died of meningitis.

And remember the dangerous escapes we have had, from dodgy planes with bombs discovered onboard after a safe landing, or coming down the hairpin bends in paradise one heavy monsoon rain day when first the wipers gave in and next the breaks? And you in the back in a car with no seatbelts or doors? 

I know her life has been so happy, I know it because it shows: in her eyes, her smiles, her chuckles and her sharp remarks, the way she observes the world around her, makes friends and adapts to every new situation. Whatever unhappiness and even personal hell she has had, she knows that is all part of the deal. And I know that.

Remember the time right after we moved to the house?, I ask her. All that winter you were hiding inside your dad's big red winter anorak. I would watch you walking home from the bus stop, all skinny legs and lanky hair huddled up in this oversized bag of a coat with your hands hidden inside the sleeves, trodding along, eyes to the ground and your shoulders pushed down by your schoolbag. And all I could do was watch you and hug you and wait for you to leave this cocoon, which of course you did, eventually.

When I was around that same age I would sit in my father's car on my way to school in the mornings, dozing in the back and listening to the car radio. That was long before iPods or even tape decks and there was no debating the station my father had picked. So I would listen to big bands and what we called movie music, soppy stuff warbling on with violins and simpering choruses, but once in a while there'd be Roy Orbison or the Carpenters or even Leonard Cohen and every morning I waited with expectation and increasing certainty for those gems.
So this is a bit how I feel at the moment, waiting through the dreary bits, for the next gem to pop up.

I looked up the website of the hospital she will go to for the surgery and I find comfort in every thing I see. At least they did a great job with the web design.
And, as it is the case so often, I suddenly meet women who have had that exact diagnosis and surgery years ago, not a bother, fine since  and a couple of the medical staff have come forward with reassuring expert talk and latest statistics from renowned oncology studies.

Of course there is a voice inside my head hissing away: not fair, she is so young!
Yes, the drama of it, hence the stone in my belly.

Here we are, this is life, we take the next step. You are in my heart, my wonderful wonderful girl.

13 August 2011


bursitis in my right ankle joint
something like bursitis, dunno, heavy stiff and painful, in my left knee
I am floored like a beached whale

12 August 2011

It's a bit like a punch in the stomach, this news from so far away and fuck you skype, you are no help. I want to hug and hold my child across the widest ocean and all that I can try to do is stay calm. And grateful that she is not in some jungle without doctors and that the great and wonderful B is with her.

10 August 2011

Oh how I wish I could be harder, let stuff bounce off me and not let it come so close, so overwhelming and all consuming.
Some people can just stay calm no matter what.

05 August 2011

off with the ghosts

Too gloomy, too many memories. The garden smells like a gigantic compost heap. Summer today is heavy grey skies, silent birds and the humidity makes the little hairs on my arms curl up.
Time to cheer up.

04 August 2011

I was only trying to take the easy way out, to cross off another item from my list of unpleasant things that have to be done. And of course I thought I was  really smart, calling the intensive care ward on the day after surgery, talking to a nurse in a hurry or maybe a doctor. I am the other daughter, I am calling long distance, etc. and they would reply with some of the medical talk  reserved for next of kin and a bit of concern and regret that I live too far away to be with my mother who had to get a triple bypass, her poor heart.

But instead the nurse said, hold on, I'll  just put her on to you  and then there was her voice in my ear, her real voice, not the usual drug/booze slur - ten days in hospital and major surgery, what a way to get clean! - and before I could catch my breath there was my mother from long long long ago saying, hello my little one, what a lovely surprise.  And we talked and I realised that this was the first time in my adult life that she was totally sober.

About six hours later her lungs, paper thin from a life of chain smoking, collapsed and when my sister arrived the next morning, she was hooked up to all sorts of gadgets and gagged with tubes.
She never spoke again and my sister was mad at me for a very long time, maybe still is, that I was the one who spoke to her last, that it wasn't fair, I was the one who had run away, never visited, hardly called and basically had never shown any Responsibility for Family the way she did.

On my first visit she was stretched out, small like a child with beautifully smooth skin and large open eyes. When the nurse told me that they often put on a country music station "to keep her entertained" I thought I saw a flicker of despair in these eyes. Back home I recorded tapes with some of the music she liked but when she was moved to another hospital they got lost.

By the time I managed my second visit, she had shrunk further and there was nothing resembling my mother and yet everything was so recognisibly her more than ever, urgently and furiously. When the young doctor with the shiny earrings told me that they have to sedate her more and more and even strap her in at night because like a naughty child she tried to pull out the tubes, I just lost it: Who are you, I shouted in her face, how dare you let this woman suffer on and on. Have you no shame? Look at her, look what you are doing, this woman was a research scientist, you have a copy of her living will in her files. You know perfectly well that she never wanted medical technology to prolong her dying.  How can you act so disrespectful?  

I remember being very loud and that tears were streaming down my face. Later on R told me that they could hear me shouting out in the hall and that the nurses came along tut-tutting ready to sedate me, too.
A week later my mother developed pneumonia and some merciful doctor decided against antibiotic treatment. She was allowed to die that night.