28 July 2013

The weather forecast is dodgy. Last night, early morning, hot strong winds, trees bending in the moonlight, three drops of rain and then silence. And now, another hot and humid day and the rains have just begun. Across the garden I can hear my neighbour's teenage daughter wailing in despair at her mother, cups are flying across the patio and the church bells from down by the river join in. 
Was it that difficult with us, I asked S last week and she very diplomatically replied, no Mum, never. It is a blessing, this selective memory. But then again, there always has been and will be too much love between us. Enough to blank out the difficult bits. That's what this love is for. 

My mother never liked or loved her children. I know there are people who hate me for saying this. Didn't she make these lovely matching coats for us? Her vegetable garden, the bean poles, the field of strawberries to get lost in after school? The one (and only) time she went with us all to the movies (Cinderella)? Come on. 

For a long time after her death I would meet her. She called on me and she watched me. 
One day she was a shiny black crow suddenly landing on the uphill forest path, forcing me off my bicycle. We looked at each other for some time, silent and completely motionless until she turned her head and flew away.
Another time, she was a young hawk who suddenly swooped down on me with a loud screech, almost reaching my hair with her claws. Only I was faster, cycling on with my heart leaping out of my throat.
Some winter Sundays, she sat silently on the bare branches of the pear tree, staring through the kitchen window in her shiny blue jay glory.
Most often, though, I met her as a stringy old pigeon, one eye missing, deformed toes, picking through the crumbs and cigarette buds under the chestnuts by the outdoor cafes in the city.
That was then. 

The birds I meet these days are young and cheeky, like that fearless blackbird with the odd white feather sticking out sideways. The noisy green parakeets flocking the garden in big swoops. Magpies with their messy nests.

24 July 2013

A man tells me about the seemingly endless time he was stuck inside the wreck of his car, which had slipped down a muddy slope, rain pouring down, darkness. I don't remember if I called out, he says. I have no recollection, no idea how long I was down there, but then someone shouted: We can hear you! We can hear you! And these two sentences were the most wonderful thing I ever heard in my life.
And his face is so kind and sad and when he starts to smile, all I want to do is fold myself into his arms and cry for a long time. But of course I don't. I don't know this man, we never met before. How did we get to this topic? I have no idea. The door opens and the receptionist calls my name. I get up and he turns to continue reading his newspaper.

23 July 2013

This could be the day when I slowly start to forgive the oral surgeon for all she has done to my mouth two, almost three weeks ago. In fact, I may even start to think that she and her colleagues were completely correct with their diagnosis. 
Admittedly, I have a hard time trusting experts in the dental/oral surgery department. Mostly I think they are all tossers who do it for the money. And with all their big white teeth smiles they surely have never ever experienced any discomfort, ache or pain (here I said it) and are thus obviously ill equipped to offer the appropriate supportive treatment. 
Come to think of it, I distrust most doctors. I occasionally wonder whether our family GP is actually able to see the Bigger Picture and even my lovely immunologist seems to smile far too much considering the severity of my fate. Oh, the nights I have wasted convincing myself of misdiagnosed heart attacks, lung failure, shrivelled-up kidneys, even tumours hidden in secret cavities. But I don't double check anymore, I no longer discuss the myriad details of how this illness apparently affects is slowly but surely destroying my body and mind. I have long since stopped going back to the experts like a lost pet dog looking for scraps of food. Nowadays, I just think that I'll show them how wrong they were provided I survive the night.
I know. Foolish.
But today I kind of seem to get there. Some form of normal has returned. Despite the fact that it's one hell of a scorching hot day. I got into work as early as I could and even my Heidi Klum colleague agreed that we put on the fan at full force. She worries a lot about drafts, the lovely Heidi. But thankfully not today. Still, I am aiming for an even earlier start at work tomorrow, just after sunrise. Provided I survive the night.

21 July 2013

One way to start the day. A phone call. I hear R talking to whoever it is, all reassurance and lots of yes, yes, yes and something stirs. This is what happens when your child calls you during a 6.9 earthquake. 
Eventually we all, incl. the earth, calm down somewhat and in our well tested family fashion we resort to jokes and funny memories incl. cats. Still, we all check http://www.geonet.org.nz/quakes/felt every couple of minutes for a while.

17 July 2013

A beautiful day. I put the box with the pain killers back into the medicine cabinet. It's been 48 hrs now without and I tiptoe out of the bathroom. Careful now, no lifting, no running etc. they said. For a couple more days at least.
Eventually this will pass, this feeling of being delicate, fragile, not quite whole. Not yet. I pull the deck chair to the most overgrown part of the garden, where the bryony has almost covered all of the bramble hedge. Its little yellow blossoms are teeming with bumble bees. I look up into the summer sky and my mind opens wide.
Once upon a time when I took health for granted, my days were full, like a doctor's appointment book, slots of 10 minutes max. The things I could stuff into 10 minutes, shower, breakfast, laundry, rain gear, lunch box, cats, quick phone call, whatever. Now I am a 30 minutes person at a stretch. Some days it works. 
The blackbirds in the garden are fearless this summer, hopping around me, picking raspberries and twinkling at me with their little shiny eyes. The cat pretends to be asleep. And I will pretend to be healthy.

16 July 2013

correct me if I'm wrong

Because this is happening so far away, yes. And you know, I am a biased and ignorant fool when it boils down to it and all I know about Florida is what I learned from watching Miami Vice in the 1980s. In other words: nothing.

And yet, the arguments around this case seem almost more bizzare than the case itself - from my laid back European distance. So, when all commentators cannot stop stressing over and over again that it's not about race, that this is just a law and order case, well it just rubs it in, doesn't it? That it is in fact all about race. I haven't followed it in all detail but it appears that every benefit of the doubt was given to the shooter, while not a single one was given to the victim. I read that the victim was tested for drugs but not the shooter who was on prescription meds with known side effects of triggering aggression. After the trial, the black community but not the white community was warned not to riot. The shooter had a restraining order after he had attacked his girlfriend. And more.
I read that it's a criminal justice thing and that black people have a problem with it. But never the white guys, they have no problem with the system. I read about gun laws and stop and frisk laws - and I feel stupid in my disbelief: the sense that an entire system is turned against black kids as a whole. Don't get me wrong, we do have our share of xenophobia and racism in this part of Europe, but an entire system? And then my distant cousin across the Atlantic points out to me that there is this case coming up and before I can catch my breath, she sends me this and I just want to run.

14 July 2013

A & E

Complications, abscess, antibiotics, but I was in and out in one hour. Most people were lovely. The rest is pretty shitty.

11 July 2013



and again

this will always be my secret song

09 July 2013

bees and Dutch custard

This healing takes time, sometimes I think I can feel the shifting and rearranging of cells, other times I just take a pain killer, I am not tough. I can hear my mother, pull yourself together and stop making such a big deal about a bit of pain. (Let's not go down that memory lane for now.)
The circulation is dodgy, sometimes the ground moves under my feet, my ears begin to hiss and I give in and stay put in the deck chair under the wisteria. 
So I distract myself (or panic for a short little while).

The little cat stays by my side, probably because I supply her with empty vla containers. Dutch comfort food for the chewing-impaired. That and porridge with one of R's smoothies. Come to think of it, my nutrition has never been better.
On Sunday afternoon the garden was suddenly buzzing with hundreds and hundreds of bees and by the end of the day a colony had settled high up in the Douglas fir. It sits there now, a large brown teeming drop, shiny and calm, just the occasional humming. Eventually the distraught bee keeper arrived, in shorts, sticking his pale bare legs out to reassure us that there was no danger. He has only been doing this for a year and apparently this is the second time a rebel colony has left his garden down the road. He frowned as he looked up into the tall tree and mumbled something about a ladder but we haven't seen him since.

And I have been watching all seven parts of Top of the Lake and now I am trying to convince everybody and the whole world to watch this. In one go.

03 July 2013

the vast blue sky

Behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky.

Listen carefully, my heart, as I will only say this once.
Your kind dentist took a careful look at the various x-ray images and before he said anything you could read it in his serious face. Still, you did not expect surgery and hospital and general anesthetics. But so be it, you will sit in the waiting areas, you will fill out all the forms again and again, you will explain patiently that you have a rare autoimmune disease, you will hand over photocopies of all diagnostic reports, lists of the drugs you have to take, you will smile a lot, remember, you will smile whenever you can. You will really try to like everybody you have to deal with.
And from now on you will only mention any pain you may feel if asked. You will not, absolutely not make pain a subject of conversation. In fact, you will not dwell on it at all. 

You will enjoy tonight's dinner and eat all the strawberries R picked this morning and nothing will spoil your enjoyment, no thoughts of what your mouth may look and feel like in the coming weeks. 

And tomorrow you will just walk into this adventure with an open mind.

02 July 2013


I give in or maybe I give up? This is nothing. I will not spend my waking hours (and there are too many of them) worrying whether it's an infected dental root or just massively inflamed gum tissue. One minute I am convinced of the latter and the next minute I freak out at the thought of root resection. But I very carefully and wisely push away any thought of the possibility of extraction.
Anyway, all this is history, no more fretting. From now on I am just an ordinary woman with a hot face and a couple of aches and a touch of fever probably due to any old virus. Which thankfully helped me to secure a sick cert. 
Instead I am going to be utterly calm and all zen about it. From now on. The frivolity of it! Let everything happen to you, the beauty and the terror etc. (thank you once again R. M. Rilke) only this isn't terror, doesn't come near it. Beauty? Nah. Just my own little hamster wheel.