31 December 2012


three wishes for the new year

1. Be Calm. calmer.
2. Stay open to whatever happens.
3. No more Less gum inflammations.

30 December 2012

29 December 2012


It was a strange visit with a mean aggressive sparkle. At times I felt like I was 15 again fighting for my 20 seconds of attention and not getting anywhere. Listening to my father's lectures on corrupt politicians and people without decent education and poor understanding of science and all the other evils responsible for the state of affairs we are in and none of it is our fault because we have a university degree. 
I want to bury my head and cry or laugh and try not to treat my 84 year old father like a precocious child. 
And then I must pinch myself as if waking from a bad dream and stop being so condescending. 

Totally unrelated:

26 December 2012


The house is clean, the cake is cooling, the cat is asleep. My father is somewhere on the motorway heading this way. I am terrified that he will fall down the stairs one of these mornings, on his early shuffle around the house before day break. My sister's angry voice told me on the phone that he is well able to lift his feet but simply too obstinate to do it. The bad boy.
This could be the year he will have to stop driving his shiny car. I hope not. None of us has a plan B for this.

We have been watching the river flooding the park and the promenades. Xmas day was the mildest on record ever, in between the heavy downpours it felt like Easter Sunday. Not right, not good, but what is?

The air is getting thinner and I don’t feel secure. The powerful and mighty have met and postponed once again anything remotely concerning climate change. The arrogance is simply overpowering. Throughout my adult life I have gone a fairly long way through various stages and methods of personal protest ranging from the emphatic and angry activities of my student years to slow, pragmatic and cowardly withdrawal having faced again and again such raw power and injustice way beyond my means and energy. We confuse money for wealth and are becoming poor (in many of the components of true wealth incl. environmental health). I believe we can no longer achieve anything in protesting, rallying, organising resistance to the big power elites, they have become too self satisfied, too entrenched. The horrible truth is that people at the top are not better off than you and me in the long run but it’s the planet and the ones down at bottom level that are sacrificed. I used to think only fairly recently that the only viable activity in this scary scenario was to work locally, think globally, i.e. lobbying for those who have become lost, who are forgotten - but I think this is just a distraction.

And yet.
Last night we looked up to the almost full Moon with Jupiter close beside it and when I gave it a little wave saying that I hope whoever is out there is making less of a mess than we humans, R hugged me and whispered, we are stardust.

21 December 2012

For nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent.


The swans and the waterfall at Glencar Lough, a place were Yeats spent a lot of his time, faded pictures from a visit in early 1982.

19 December 2012

Remembering the birth of my child, the beginning of my life as a mother, of our life as parents, makes me weep with joy every time. Home birth was a given, I cannot remember us even discussing a hospital delivery. I was so extremely lucky, with supportive friends, understanding family, generous experts and the fact that we lived in the right place at the right time. 
First, there was Mrs Ritchie, a retired nurse/midwife who phoned one day and offered free-of charge ante natal classes to both of us. There was a vague connection, a friend of a friend who knew her as a midwife in Nigeria during the Biafra war. There we sat on the carpet in her sitting room and practised breathing and afterwards she poured the tea and offered home made cake.
Then the midwife, pragmatic Helen who had delivered babies out in the sticks of West Cork for 40+ years, she charged 50 pounds for her services, which included three ante-natal visits (the scheduled six were cut short because of the premature delivery) and four weeks of daily post-natal care incl. a pint of milk from her Jersey cows every day. 
And then the doctor, this calm man who had delivered babies all over the place, he charged us nothing, not a penny, for the entire ante-natal care and all the back and forth during labour, incl. staying with us for the final 15 hrs of labour throughout the night. In the end R planted a walnut tree in his garden.

12 December 2012

We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid. 

Pema Chödrön

don't just do something - sit there

There was a time, way back in my distant past (we are talking about a mere three years eons), when I set about my daily tasks with admirable energy and most of all efficient briskness. Stuff like getting up before daylight, sorting out various household chores incl. breakfast and laundry before cycling off to work where I would of course solve an immense amount of complicated and urgent riddles in support of medical research - easy. With a smile, never losing my cool, gosh, I was wonderful. The bedrock of research teams, and at home Martha Stewart with a toothbrush cleaning between the bathroom tiles.
These days I simply Potter About and completing the whole getting up/shower/breakfast scenario in under one hour borders on the miraculous. I seem to spend an enormous amount of time just sitting there, doing nothing, eventually thinking out my next step, while already composing reasons for not doing it in my mind.
Generous souls may call this mindfulness, good grief - even meditation!
But I call it sloth.

09 December 2012

He who wants the world to remain as it is, doesn't want it to remain at all.

Erich Fried

East Side Gallery, Berlin 

07 December 2012

05 December 2012

We loved her as much as we could and it was really hard work. Especially when she got so sad because she could not take a shower in the mornings because there was some of our hair in it, or because we had forgotten to practise the piano, or hung up the laundry the wrong way, or got sick in the car, fell off the horse after she had arranged lessons with the best teachers, or spilled cocoa on the beautiful new  matching blue gabardine coats she had made for us, missed a layer of dust under the record player, forgot to wipe down the kitchen surfaces after doing the dishes, left our pjs on the bedroom floor. Loving her was like walking on a minefield, you never knew when the next explosion would erupt which would throw you way off and out of her radius of motherly love. There were so many tears, hers and ours. So many hours spent locked into our rooms with the broken plant pot or the torn pair of dungarees, the muddy new sandals, waiting. For the door to open, for the hugs and the promises to be good, to try harder, to never ever make her so sad again. Never again.
My big sister always carried a piece of cardboard in her pocket with the phone number of our GP. She only called there once, on the day we had watched our mother crying and banging her head against the wall for too long. There was heavy snow outside and the doctor said he could not make it but would call the police instead. And my six-year old sister said, no thank you we will wait for our dad.
On rainy Sundays we often played board games, family tournaments, with score sheets and medals and a hollow ache in the stomach, the same nauseating taste as when we had to sit at the table until we had eaten up all that was on the plate. My little brother always developed cunning schemes to ensure that she would win. He loved her so very much. She would put down her cigarette and hug him, my prince, my one and only.

03 December 2012

02 December 2012

01 December 2012

Standing by the window after midnight, waiting. 
For my mind to calm down. 
Just listen: how still it all is, moonlit night, not a breeze, glittering layer of frost.
I no longer dwell much on the why me. 
So obviously futile. 
Asking why me is like asking why not me. 
So there.
But a lot of time and energy has been wasted on why and how. 
There are times when I'd love a culprit, something to blame, wrong diet, bad habits, drugs, drink, fags, that sort of stuff, having lived too fast and too wild etc. 
But, no. 
Even if I did, it makes no difference. 
Congenital, genetic, hereditary: empty phrases, even once you figure out what they mean and how to differentiate between them. 
Disposition? Nope.
A spell? Voodoo curse? Witchcraft? For goodness sake.
It just is. 
For no reason whatsoever.