24 September 2011

we are on the road to nowhere

Here I have been sitting hunched over the keyboard of my fancy new laptop for the best part of the day translating and editing an endless paper on human rights violations to indigenous communities at the hand of large multinational corporations (those with the shiny ads for the glamorous and easy life, gold jewellery, diamonds, oil, cars, the works, you name it) where one unimaginable cruelty is followed by yet another even more horrendous one. 
But here is the catch: when it becomes too much for my feeble imagination and when my neck and shoulders are all stiff, I can get up and make myself a lovely cup of (fair trade, organic) tea and walk around the garden for a bit and lie back in a deck chair and let the sun shine on my face. And I try and chase away all thoughts of how futile this all seems, how many years I have been reading and translating these reports from NGOs and all those dedicated human rights advocates. There is no end to inhumanity.

21 September 2011

my life of luxury

Tomorrow is bulky waste collection and all day the treasure hunters and scrap metal peddlers and their friends have been cruising the neighbourhood. We put out stuff and the old toaster which is slightly banjaxed. I got too nervous using it because it gets too hot or nothing at all and I had visions of flames coming from it one day and I was looking around the kitchen figuring out how quickly everything could burn down incl. the cat and the me. So the minute we put it outside this man jumped out of a dishevelled van - with Hungarian/Polish/Romanian registration - and took it out of my hands and politely said thank you. I still feel woozy and quite ashamed, actually.

delightful life

To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is. 

Pema Chödrön

harvest time

Suddenly the evenings are cold a bit chilly, it gets dark too soon and the air smells of wood smoke. Plus all that other stuff: falling leaves and ripening pumpkins and spiders inside the house and a cat that wants to sleep all of the time. And figs to pick and eat and delicious fresh grape juice every other day.

18 September 2011

when I first heard this silence turning into music some years ago I sat and cried for a good while

14 September 2011


My neighbour across the road tells me that 'they' have been robbing his flowerbeds. They? I ask stupidly, you mean it's more than one person? No, no, them, he replies. 
Them are the riff-raff, lay-abouts, foreigners, kids with no manners, maybe even foreign kids with no manners, or possibly eco-communists like us with the no nuke stickers. So now he has erected a sign warning all and sundry that he is counting the cosmea flowers and should he catch the culprits (incl. children) he will prosecute.
So there.
He is out there now with his fan club of blue rinse ladies all tut-tutting about the dramatic demise of the neighbourhood. Godlovehim, I'll sneak out through my back door, he gives me the creeps.

13 September 2011

cheer up

to get a sense of proportion once in a while

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. 

Carl Sagan  1994

11 September 2011

A friend wrote me an email wondering how I can manage with S being so far away right now implying that she would find it very hard if that was happening with her own daughter. Others are surprised that I haven't booked the flight first thing.
But no, I don't find it harder than any other day. It's still the same feeling, heavier at times, but generally there always, like a scar. Maybe it's better with me out of the picture. I know I would do the heavy control thing, not outright but scheming all the way like that time after Xmas when I sneaked into that flat in town when she and all her flat mates were away and I actually cleaned her room and - yep - the bathroom and the kitchen and afterwards carried bags and bags of trash down the four steep flights of stairs. It was very messy and very dirty there, probably borderline health hazard but she was already above 18 and well, I have no reasons to be proud of having done this. But lots of excuses, obviously.
Anyway, no one noticed I think.

04 September 2011

my crooners

Driving up the hairpin bends from Baie Lazare after a day on the beaches. S is sitting in the back between her grandparents, they are teaching her to sing Fly me to the moon  and Swinging from a star.
On top, we stop for a while and get out to enjoy the view and S performs her new songs with granny and grandad dancing to it.

reading a bit of Joseph Conrad

The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is – marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvellous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural, which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.
Whatever my native modesty may be it will never condescend to seek help for my imagination within those vain imaginings common to all ages and that in themselves are enough to fill all lovers of mankind with unutterable sadness.

01 September 2011

There are things in life we don't understand, and when we meet them, all we can do is leave them alone. Sounds reasonable.

music for late summer

So it's hot again and clear and a big big sky but I feel like coming down with something, headache, weird pressure in my ears and of course I am checking my hearing like mad. Felt like a beetroot on fire all afternoon. Cycled into town and then to work (25 k round trip back home) on Monday and basically collapsed after dinner. So there is a limit. For the moment. Wait. WAIT, stupid woman. This is not the end of the world. Just a bit shitty right now.

Booked us into a gorgeous rustic B&B in the Cantal en Auvergne for late October and I am already super nervous and lots of what-ifs (S's health, my health...) run around and around my head, while R just shrugs and gets on with it. He is already overworked after only three weeks of school and we are back to skimming along the surface of things, work always hovering at the back of his mind. Late in the evenings I hear him yawning in his study where he is marking home work, preparing lessons with some loud music blasting from the speakers.

I mentioned S and her surgery to my father when he called but all he wanted was for me to book him online tickets for an exhibition in Berlin hey presto (and I did). He is so scared. I remember him passing out at the sight of blood from our scratched knees when we were small.