21 February 2020

For what it's worth, I have tried and failed. There was a bit of tsk tsk tsking yesterday when I finally sat down in front of my GP but we both had a moment of hilarity when I eventually got up again, waving my latest sickness certificate (which allows me to stay home until Wednesday). It was her mentioning work life balance that made me smile at first and when I told her how my boss had responded to my calling in sick (how much can you work from home?) we both laughed out loud.

For lack of energy and also because I am somewhat deranged in my mental capacities (hello vertigo), this is a short post. But here's a bit of music from Italy - after all, it's Friday, music day.

Gianmaria Testa

Lascia che torni il vento
E con il vento la tempesta
E fa che non sia per sempre
Questo tempo che ci resta

(Let the wind return
And with the wind the storm
And let it not be forever
This time we have left)

14 February 2020

Currently, I can touch with my tongue seven open sores inside my mouth. Not too bad. I've had more. Once upon a time in my innocence I tried herbal rinses, sage tea, mint concoctions. Now I go straight for the hospital size tube of chlorhexidine forte and lather it on, reeking like a dental clinic.

Things have been rough recently. Don't ask. Winter. Cold air. The News. My aching hands and feet and shoulders and that whole chaotic mess of a compromised body. The exhaustion. Feeling too sorry for myself. The medications. Always that. I am a bunch of  walking side effects. Sometimes it's a bit much. I know it could be worse, don't fucking tell me how to cope. Don't even start.

I am working, I carefully design my days so that I can spend four to five hours at work. My golden hours, my smiling face. Two cups of coffee before I leave home to keep myself upright until I force myself to walk up the stairs of the multi storey staff car park and drive home with the radio keeping me awake. My friends in HR calculated that I have 461 working days left before retirement. At night, I do the numbers, substracting leave entitlements and overtime and public holidays. Like counting sheep.

The news. I read. I watch. I listen.
The Syrian nurse (he really is a fully trained surgeon but has no papers to prove it) who works a floor above me laughs into my face, I am going insane, does it show? Nine years of war and nobody cares.
There is a scene in For Sama (this important documentary is free online) on endless repeat in my head, the scene where the pregnant woman is brought to the underground hospital where the blood runs along the floors and the doctors deliver her baby by emergency cesarian while she is unconscious. The rough way they rub and slap that newborn until it finally finally draws a breath and screams. Life and death in war on earth. This is where we are stuck.

Last week we saw the first bold attempt of the fascist right wing party to uproot our democracy here. They failed.  But, history, people, history.

After breakfast I watch my grandchild climbing stairs with concentration. I will not allow myself any speculations about this child's future. In the evening, R rubs arnica ointment into my shoulders, hands and back and we both believe for a while that it helps.
"Most people want to believe in the idea of a just world. They want to believe that the consent of the governed still matters, so they try to give it in retrospect. Because for most people, these are crimes so enormous they undermine our sense of safety, crimes so big they can’t be allowed to be crimes at all. And that’s a kind of innocence we can no longer afford. It’s happening all over the world, wherever swollen strongmen swindle their way into power. It’s happening in India, in Britain, in Brazil. And wherever it’s happening, the center ground, people who believe in the “decency” of the system, are clinging to the swinging basket of institutional checks and balances, holding their breath as the ground disappears and the air gets thinner, wondering if it’s too late to let go."
Laurie Penny

Today is Valentine's day, that sticky commercial ritual that arrived here in Europe along with coca cola and fast food. Everything is sugar coated if we let it. But remember. Sugar is bad for you.

02 February 2020

Don't be afraid.

The most hopeful day. Today we are halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. Today is all about the light. The ancient Celts in Ireland called it Imbolc, and celebrated it as a fertility festival, honouring the goddess Brigid. The catholics swiftly made her into St Brigid, as you'd expect.

Brigid, holy or not, is known as the patron saint for good crops and healthy babies, for bountiful milk supplies (both in cows and nursing women), for children born out of wedlock, children born into abusive families, children born after the father has left. She is the patron saint of blacksmiths, boatmen, brewers,  fugitives, and travellers. She looks after midwives, nuns, poets and the poor. Basically, it's good to have her on your side.

In Germany, this day is candlemas day, which is a much holier and churchy day. But whatever legend the church rulers saw fit, even then it's called festival of lights. So there you have it.

Without much ado or ceremonial intent, went out into the gloomy wet garden and cut a few hazel branches and brought them into the house where they are now in a jug of water on the kitchen table, because that's what you do here.

In Ireland, we would walk down to a river or a well and dip our hands in the water. Don't ask. Of all the strange Celtic traditions, this is the one I buy wholeheartedly.

Anyway, Luke Bloom explains it all here: