28 June 2017

bits and pieces

That expectation that life should proceed in a straight line. Preposterous really - and everything I have learned about life up to now confirms that - yet deep down, I want it that way and most of my disappointments in life are based on this being so impossible.

Listening to a pleasant Sunday morning radio show, a chatty interview with an Irish author/musician, I feel a jolt of fear passing through me when he mentions with a sigh that most of his life is behind him now, that aged a bit over 60, you never know, it could all be over sooner rather than . . . and so on.

Before sleep, I read Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, which is quite brutal, almost like a thriller. I hold my breath and race through the pages to find out whether a patient survives. And with the relief when it happens I feel a short wave of anger wash over me. Recovery, complete recovery. How distant, impossible, almost mean, nasty these words have become.

I remember a friend who - many years ago - insisted we teach her everything about vegetable gardening, now, because she had been told that she only had months to live. All afternoon, we walked through the garden and she took elaborate notes about soil and compost and mulching and crop rotation. Later on, we got drunk. It wasn't a day for tea and biscuits.

Yesterday, a man approached me outside our local supermarket. He looked friendly, tanned, dressed in stylish sports clothing, with a well equipped touring bicycle. You are a housewife, he asked and I laughed, not really. Look here, he said and held out a stick of lard. For two weeks, I have been eating one of these every day, with onions and salt, and my skin got smoother, I feel much younger and healthier. Pig's fat? I ask. Yes, I boil it until all the bad stuff has evaporated and eat it right before bed time. We went on from there, covering the essentials, as you do, from factory farming, antibiotics in animal feed, hair dye, DNA sampling, white flour, exhaust fumes, the difference between fluorine and fluorescence, which brought us smoothly to the subject of migrants and there I bid my farewell. You meet all sorts, my grandmother often told me, if you have the time.

This morning, my daughter gave me her pep talk about my future. She's very good at it, pointing out where I have already, secretly, unbeknownst to me, made my decisions and how to follow up on them. She makes it all sound dead easy. And why not.

Today is our 35th wedding anniversary. We googled and learned that in Germany, this is the vellum (or maybe canvas?) anniversary, whereas in America, it is a coral one. For us, it's the what-day-is-it-again anniversary. It was a mad time and a wild day.

I think I got it all covered now, a cliche about life in general, a brief contemplation of my usual self pity and anxiety, bits of memory, local folklore, family chit chat, love and a link to an older blog post.

Ok. Maybe a bit of glam rock to spice it up. That's it for today.

23 June 2017

"This not about sharing a burden. It is about sharing a global responsibility, based not only on the broad idea of our common humanity but also on the very specific obligations of international law. The root problems are war and hatred, not people who flee; refugees are among the first victims of terrorism." 

-UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

20 June 2017

Here I am, almost 60 years old, exhausted, ill and world weary and yet, every morning waiting for my life to begin, for something new to happen to me, for more of the same wonderful surprise.

17 June 2017

This is one reason why my grandmother is muttering inside my head.

"There you are, turning the ignition of your car. And it creeps up on you. Every time you fire up your engine you don’t mean to harm the Earth, let alone cause the Sixth Mass Extinction Event in the four-and-a-half billion-year history of life on this planet. But harm to Earth is precisely what is happening. Part of what’s so uncomfortable about this is that our individual acts may be statistically and morally insignificant, but when you multiply them millions and billions of times – as they are performed by an entire species – they are a collective act of ecological destruction. Coral bleaching isn’t just occurring over yonder, on the Great Barrier Reef; it’s happening wherever you switch on the air conditioning. In short, everything is interconnected".

Timothy Morton

Ph.D., Magdalen College, Oxford (1993)
Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. He gave the Wellek Lectures in Theory in 2014 and has collaborated with Björk, Haim Steinbach and Olafur Eliasson. He is the author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Columbia, 2016), Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism (Chicago, 2015), Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minnesota, 2013), Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (Open Humanities, 2013), The Ecological Thought (Harvard, 2010), Ecology without Nature (Harvard, 2007), eight other books and 160 essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, music, art, architecture, design and food. 
Blog: http://www.ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com. Twitter: @the_eco_thought

16 June 2017

That kind of day, when I hear my grandmother's voice inside my head, muttering under her breath while doing the dishes, oh god, oh god, oh god.

13 June 2017

Sunday was a hot day with the powerful scent from the hundreds of lilies flowering in the garden.  It was too hot to think in long sentences. My back started to hurt a bit and all afternoon I frantically reassured myself that yes, it's muscle and no, I will not need more spine surgery. That's about the level of sanity I am currently entertaining.

Every day, I go through my rituals of back exercises as instructed and then out of boredom and because I have this stupid idea that I am missing something, I branch out, using nifty gadgets and online videos. Afterwards I freak out for a while because you know, I could be doing it all wrong. But, hey, movement is best, yes?

The last lab works were rough but some of it I can hopefully remedy with supplements, some of it does explain the weak knees and the bp in the low 80s and all that fatigue stuff but no real clue as to  why and how but I told them I was not up for anymore abdominal diagnostics for the time being. Give me a break, I shouted whimpered.

My daily medicines now come as a big box of colourful sweets in fancy shapes. And that excludes the one I refuse taking at the moment because it's contraindicated when taking immune suppressants. I asked WTF and they said, let's try it anyway for a couple of weeks and I said no and then I felt a bit like a fool but also a lot like a stroppy woman and I needed that. I also pushed my clenched fist into the clinically charged air between us while clutching the instruction leaflets from all the medicines with the one million side effects highlighted in neon colours. Alright, I didn't do the last bit, the fist raising, but R had marked the side effects earlier and when I told them, they shrugged their shoulders and offered a cheap grin, worth a try, they mumbled.

In the evening, I was lying flat on the hot patio stones and for a long time, watched the swifts catching insects in the sky above me. Earlier, we had cancelled the very expensive flights to Portugal. So what. I could probably have made it there and back. But. I could not persuade my health insurance, which is currently paying my salary, that gallivanting around Porto is part of my treatment.
So. There I was. Watching the swifts and the beautiful evening clouds above me. I felt small and insignificant and at home. Nothing seemed more important than this right now, hot patio stones, birds, insects, clouds, the vine growing above the sitting room windows.
Then a warm gentle wind started rustling the tall poplar trees, I closed my eyes and listened.

Much later, we watched Manchester by the Sea  and I couldn't speak for a while afterwards.

06 June 2017

this is for Robin

In March, you told us the story of a rose and this morning, look what I found in our garden. We bought the rose bush last summer in Italy in a small garden center off the road in the South Tyrolian Adige valley on the sunny side of the Alps.
I have been thinking of you and your rose story today.

02 June 2017

On a day like today, I wish I was dumb and naive and blind. That I could spend my life in a golden tower of happy ignorance, never getting lost in a forest, never watching the sky for rain before I hang out the laundry.
I wish my father would have never explained to me about the water cycle and the importance of aquifers when I was a child who just wanted to spend a precious moment in time with him by the stream at the bottom of the field beyond our house.
I wish my parents never took it for granted with their books and science magazines and endless Sunday walks that I would recognise how everything in the natural world is connected, instilling in me, by the way, a deep respect for life on earth, from the dead lizard I carried for a while in the bib pocket of my overalls to the swifts nesting below the eaves and woodlice crawling inside my welly boots.
I wish I had spent my university time in a fever of mostly partying and never read a single sentence by Rachel Carson, James Lovelock or EF Schumacher. Never heard of the Club of Rome, A Blueprint for Survival, Fritjof Capra, Chico Mendes.
I wish I never went to the  inaugural meeting of the Green Party, never heard Petra Kelly say that if we want a future, the future must be green.
How I wish I never met Vandana Shiva and Farida Akhtar, never listened to a word from Wangari Maathai or Jane Goodall, never watched David Attenborough.
I wish I never stood at the viewing platform of the Grossglockner glacier on a hot August day in 1983 with a sleeping baby in my arms, while R took pictures of the massive ice sheet that today has shriveled to a fraction of its size.
I wish I never let myself be carried by the strong warm currents of the Indian ocean, surrounded by mysterious schools of fish, floating above a paradise of colourful corals that are now dying.

But most of all, I wish I had never seen this: