31 December 2015

29 December 2015

Up on that hill again, we tried to count how often we have been here, a couple of hundred times maybe. Showing off the views to visitors from far away places sharing a late summer's evening al fresco dinner, escaping the heat of the valley, with an excited S after heavy snowfall, walking, climbing (it's a steep steep path) through the thick forest and down again along the old statues marking the stations of the cross or past the small vineyard, and there have been days when I was really quite dreadfully ill in mind and body when R drove me up here to look out across the west and find myself again in the order of all things.
Today, we visited the posh restaurant and spent a small fortune on two very small fancy cakes and coffee, seated between the Japanese and Russian tourists and their well behaved children.

There is a cold front rolling in from the west. Finally.

27 December 2015

So this is another xmas coming to an end. Unlike any of the other countries where we have experienced xmas throughout the years, this place has been at its usual sedate and silent best. The shops closed on Thursday at noon and will open again tomorrow morning, i.e. almost four days lost to consumerism and I pity the poor creatures who forgot to buy enough milk. 
We did fabulous things and until yesterday afternoon when I crashed quire spectacularly once we were back at the car park, my energy levels were amazing, like a reindeer's flying over the roofs.

I climbed a mountain hill (455m). OK, R pulled me up like a sack of coal but still, I got there just before sunset:

I cycled for hours (four, to be exact) through forests and splattering mud, puffing and singing and cursing, but generally elated:

And look, the days are getting longer again:
While now I am nursing various blisters, looking at a pile of mud coated jeans and boots and basically waiting for things to take care of it by themselves, there is much to look forward to, incl. a string of doctor's visits and well, mabthera, although I am trying not to think too much about it. Yet. Ok, I try not to.

But at the back of my throat are these thoughts, the images that won't go away, the dread, the fear, the conversations over a xmas dinner with friends back from the climate summit in Paris, about the inevitable loss of island states - people sent adrift, homeless and rootless - because we cannot get a grip on wasting fossil fuels, cannot accept our responsibilities.

I would like to have better ways to write about it, harsher, more urgent words, sending out signs and warnings and signals that everybody will understand until we realise what's at stake. Until we wake up from our pretend ignorance and the fake reassurance that there is nothing we can do apart from feeling sorry, oh how very sad and sorry. 
But really, who am I to wish for such power. I am just as careless and selfish as you all, as we all.

24 December 2015

Thus, from one extreme of human evolution to the other, there are no two kinds of wisdom. Therefore let us adopt as the principle of our life what has always been a principle of action and will always be so: to emerge from self, to give, freely and obligatory. We run no risk of disappointment.
Marcel Mauss

In the first days after we had moved into our little house in paradise, we were watched carefully from a distance. Slowly, people started to wave and smile. Children began to come one step closer when we turned our backs and a game of giggling and running ensued until finally, a very cheerful girl about the same age as S appeared at the back door and began interrogating us in the three languages most of the natives, we soon found out, could speak fluently: French, English, Creole. 
Soon, more children joined her bearing gifts. Huge golden papaya, baskets of pink mangoes, a large bouquet of hibiscus flowers, salted fish, coconuts freshly opened and straws inserted, limes of all shapes and colours, a kitten ... we tried to reciprocate in our clumsy European style: packets of biscuits, small toys, pens and colouring books - until a really small boy handed me an even smaller human baby, asleep in a tightly wrapped blanket. It was then that the adults stepped in, shy at first, but with firm handshakes and instructions on how to handle insects, bats and free range poultry and roaming dogs. The kitten and the baby were restored to their original owners but the endless chain of gifts never stopped.

21 December 2015

the real thing

Give Up Yer Aul Sins is based on the Academy Award nominated short film by Brown Bag Films. Based on original recordings of Dublin schoolrooms in the 1960s.

18 December 2015

We are on holidays, which implies that for the next 17 mornings I don't have to worry whether I am able to go to work or have to see the doctor for a sick cert. This is a very nice change of things and I'll probably be right as rain until the day I am due back.
Meanwhile, R is gardening, what with mild spring-like temps and stubbornly flowering roses and fuchsias and geraniums and more raspberries to pick. In December, one week before xmas. A miracle.
I tidied up most loose ends incl. the desk. I divided up my xmas bonus among the needy, wrote my six xmas cards, still pestering R to write his 25 (Irish families etc.). There will be dinners and bonfires, wrapped gifts for the under 18-year olds, but more or less, that's it for the festive season. I am so mean spirited, you have no idea.

14 December 2015

Right now, I don't have the nerves to read anything about the climate summit, the historic agreement, the big speeches, all that clapping and cheering. And the critics, of course, the sane cautious voices because who would believe anything anyway these days. In the end, we all ignored Rio, we laughed our way through the failure of Kyoto, so what else is new? A mad man in Russia, a mad man maybe about to be elected in the US, sure who cares. As long as our sweet little existence goes on as before.

Only, this beach here is almost gone. Literally. Today, now.

It is a special beach, I have at times been quite desperately homesick for it. But every rain shower, every storm surge (and storms have been increasing dramatically) means that more sand is swept away. Local people are blowing up the mountains inland, using the rocks to protect the beaches but it will not be enough. While coastal regions will be devastated all over the globe - and believe, they will be, everywhere, even in our own filthy rich and arrogant countries - island states will simply slip under the water. They will vanish. The homeland of entire nations will disappear, their schools and cemeteries, their churches, hospitals, harbours, playgrounds, markets, farms, restaurants, their wildlife, the magnificent birds, blossoms, trees, their beauty, all of their beauty. Their scents and music and all those wonderful calm Sunday afternoon picnics by the sea.

When we left paradise, I cried all the way to Mauritius (which was/is nothing in comparison, honestly and I tried to like it), I sat inside that sudden luxury of an Air France jumbo jet with my first fresh croissant and coffee with real (!) milk in three years served on a silver tray and all I could do was sob my heart out. At the time, we knew we could never afford to go back to our little shed of a house with the noisy bats and dogs and ants and giant centipedes. Money, jobs, family, and so on. Now we know that the loss is bigger, deeper and not just ours. Do we have any idea of the enormity of that loss?

13 December 2015

it's that kind of a day

rainy, gray, wet, not really focussed

09 December 2015

Some mornings, especially when it's sunny and clear and the garden shimmers in this glorious light that betrays its winter sleep, when the birds are busy messing in the compost bin and the radio with all the drama of our chaotic planet is off, I want to mess up my hair and scratch my face, tear my clothes and bang my shins against the stairs until bruises form, whatever it takes, anything, to show this beautiful calm world what it's like, to shove it in the faces of all the well wishers, to bare it all, my misery, my mean self centred lonely self pity, my losses, oh my endless losses, my purpose, my shiny future.
And so on.
Pathetic. I know.

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.
Neil deGrasse Tyson 

This quote is here to say, shame on you. Or something like it.

07 December 2015

Preparations for plan D (or was it plan C) are in full swing and not as straight forward as expected. After almost six years of running this small business enterprise of living with a chronic illness, I am still at the beginner's stage it seems. This morning, when I told one of the many perfectly polite but incompetent (believe me, I can judge that by now) creatures on the hotline of my health insurance that I want to order a personal assistant, she laughed her merry little laugh until I told her that I was serious. I listed all the paperwork, the travel arrangements, the referrals, the appointments with the experts, the endless lab tests, the parking for godssake, etc. 

Well, she told me to get a grip and try yoga. If I enrol in a class before the end of the year, I can apply for a 50% discount provided I fill in forms 17a and 412b which I can download and print out myself before I send them by post. Processing time is only 3-4 weeks, she promised.

I assured her that yoga was on my list of future treatments but that for now I was scheduled for my first day of chimeric monoclonal antibody infusion (a what? she asked) and that needed to figure out how to get to the clinic and back without driving a car or public transport as I have been told that I will be a) too nauseous and b) too sleepy for either and considering the distance . . . but she wouldn't hear of it. Yoga it is. 

Or should be. But I am not calm enough. I am all nerves and expectations and what ifs. There are people, experts, who think I have found gold and who believe that I will be health reincarnate with this treatment. Others are a bit more tsk tsk tsk plus the frown. I try not to expect anything - ha! This is of course a childish attitude. So no, all I want right now is healthy gums. That would be enough. No more aching bleeding gum tissue. That would be my idea of heaven right now.

03 December 2015

do not adjust your speakers, the first 60 seconds are almost silent

This is the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It touches the soul.