Sunday, 25 January 2015

Day of the Dreads

Thomas died three years ago today.

Gappy, Pickle and I and a couple of friends went up our hill to the Dada Lump. It's not as obvious as it once was, but still makes a good seat.


We lit a little fire (Thomas always made a fire) to burn some special things.


We ate (another of his favourite passtimes); even Pickle who is still too poorly to eat much.


 Treasures were hung in hedges and buried in the earth, but my favourite thing was this:


I hung all my splendid dreads, wool and all, in the branches of the hawthorn tree which grows above Thomas's head. He always wanted dreads, so now he has mine.


I don't know how long they'll last; I expect birds will make good use of them for nests.






The wind may take one or two, possibly for miles.





Or they may just dangle about, confusing the fat and happy sheep.


The hundred trees, planted by Thomas's wider community and lovingly tended by his father when he visits Pickle and I, are flourishing. It is a good place, this land which holds the Dada Lump. I am very grateful.

Pickle was tired and cold, so we blew kisses to Primrose and Fey, who also lie up here; put out the fire in the traditional manner (a very quick way to warm one's cockles) and headed for the nearest pizza.

It has been a tough day, but also it has been just right.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

For the Benefit of Humanity

For the benefit of humanity, Pickle and I have undertaken some research and the results are very interesting.

Two ill people can acquire the energy to walk to the shops, buy what they need and walk home by first eating the following:
chocolate brownie, icecream, jelly, chocolate mousse - ideally all together in a bowl, and fast.

However, it is imperative that the larger of the two (who will carry the shopping plus the smaller one at some point) also has a coffee immediately before departure.

Should the two ill people also attempt a meeting with the smaller one's teacher on top of shopping and all that walking, their only hope is that someone gives them a lift home from the last shop.

Unfortunately neither of us are now sufficiently ill to continue our research as planned. We share these results in the hope that others can build on them and one day ill people will not be restricted to sweating in front of screens, eating ever weirder combinations of what is left in the cupboards.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Weight Loss

Like many people, since Christmas I have been carrying a little more weight than I would like. Today, I shed several pounds, and this is how I did it.

I have, for a while, had big red dreads. They were cool in a white-girl fluffy kind of a way and I really loved having big hair after a lifetime of despicably obedient head girl-type hair. However, dreads weigh quite a bit once they get long. And when they're wet, they weigh a lot more. Turns out, if you wrap a ton of wool round them, you risk breaking your neck every time you get out of the bath.

Life in general has been getting a bit heavy lately, so I chopped them off. First I cut them down to the wool or a couple of inches from my head so they stuck out in every direction.



I had a bath (without endangering my neck) and used lots of conditioner. My hair hasn't seen conditioner for four and a half years.


Then I pulled apart the dread stubs, using  quick unpick when I met with resistance. The result was a very eigthies wig effect.


I tried hair wax for the first time and it was so much fun!



But I didn't like the feel of it in my hair, so I washed it all out and looked like Marilyn Manson instead.


Having had a very happy day, the real joy came when I realised I can now wear Pickle's amazing hats!


I feel bear-headed!

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Other Side

Well, a splendid new year to you all. Whether you turned with the sun or the calendar, here we all are, safely on the other side. It's much sunnier here. And, as we are past Christmas, I can now show you one of the name signs I made this (no, last) year:


I had a little exhibition in the local cafe, as I have for a few years:


and autumn came in exceptionally splendid colour:


We, very sadly, had our last day at Forest School. Pickle climbed trees (of course),


then the mums had had enough of the freezing cold and we went into the hut to make clay pots,


and dress up as a ram.


When we thought all the fun was over, we found an excavator in the car park!


We were all (mums definitely included) sorry to leave, but luckily at home we have the best toy ever - a washing machine box (note 'cat flap' onto sofa):




Pickle's final day at her superb Montessori nursery came and she was a gender-bending Jack Frost in their Christmas play:


Tip for parents here: it takes a VERY long time for liquid eyeliner to come off a child's face. About a week, in fact.

And then, after all that picture-door opening and day-counting and decorating and wrapping and card-making... it was Christmas! I think last year Pickle couldn't anticipate so well, but this year she really struggled with the waiting. But it was all worth it. She spent the first 24 hours in her dinosaur onesie and was kept in a constant state of delight with presents and lights and music and treaty food and all manner of rules (I love a rule) relaxed.


We spent Christmas morning together, just the two of us, for the first time. I had been worried it somehow wouldn't be special - wouldn't feel Christmassy. This is linked to my suspicion that just Pickle and I aren't enough people to really feel like a family. Basically, I feel there should be more squabbling and a complexity of dynamics. I thought a lot about the last time we were home for Christmas, in 2010:


but was rescued from my secret maudlin thoughts by Christmas dinner with our wonderful neighbours and an afternoon of more presents, much food and some ridiculous fashion attempts with a fibre-optic lamp.

And throughout all these doings, I have been through my first cycle of IVF. I never really believe things will be as tough as people say, until I do them and discover, yes, this is really tough in every way. As well as the emotional double-whammy of doing a really intense thing while injecting yourself with hormones, I had a bad reaction to some of the drugs (OHSS if you're in the know) and it all got a bit scary at the point I couldn't quite take a full breath. I was put on extreme rest (an older, and old-school, nurse gave me a proper scolding about what I had been doing (which I thought was resting). She actually wagged her finger and told me I was not allowed out the house or to stand up much at all. This became boring within minutes but I was a good patient and I'm fine... but no baby. It was amazing watching (on a screen, obvs) the little embryo being squirted into my uterus (twice, in fact, as it accidentally got sucked back out!) and the doctors were excited about the quality of my embryos... but it just didn't snuggle down and stick. 

So, this month we go again, but without the drugs which made me ill, because I have two little snow babies (frozen embryos) waiting for their chance at life. And such a beautiful world to welcome them into:











When gorse is in blossom, love is in fashion:


Monday, 29 December 2014

Bedtime Story

'Life is not peaceful', said Snufkin, contentedly.

- Tove Jansson
   Finn Family Moomintroll

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Intention

Once upon a time there was a very normal underachiever. As soon as her child was asleep, she'd decide she couldn't be arsed to wash up and instead sit numbing herself with sugar and salt and screen. She talked about writing, but mostly just scribbled notes on newspapers and failed to open old Word docs. In a town swarming with artistic talent, she produced amateur images of flowers and trees, like a schoolchild. Her house had terrible trouble with piles and there were corners unhoovered for so long they had been declared off-limits. She was pathologically single, but leaned on her friends like a poorly-rooted tree in a wood, sharing the strain whether others could take it or not. When she noticed how little she contributed, she would weep and moan and dream about the difficult things that had happened years ago and those which might happen in the future.

And it happened that also there was a woman of remarkable strength and grace and courage. Her widowhood, still serrated and not blunting with time as she'd expected, infused her with a constant sorrow and great surges of pain. Her mum was living under a cancer cloud and the fear of the first, fat drops sat quietly in her, not yet pouncing but never really retreating. Against these griefs and fears, she held out a daring hope for another child - one last before her ovaries were taken away. Already without breasts, it would be a strong sorrow to not give that baby mothers' milk, but she would do all she could to give it life and love. Daily she did her fluctuating best for her child and herself, putting what she could into words and images and dreams for a time when joy was king again.

This coming year, I will try to love both these women equally.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Solstice Lamp

The night - that last night - Thomas came home from hospital, I lit a lamp and hung it outside our gate so, as he was driven back to us, he could see home from the earliest possible moment. I couldn't wait those extra seconds for him to know how much we wanted him back.

The dark is good for me this year, a good time to be trying to brew new life.

But still, the tiny lengthening of the light feels like the world hanging out a lamp for me. I will get home. And if I am very, very lucky, I will see the sunrise.
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