Island Blog – There is old and there is laughter

I notice a thing or two these days, well, maybe a thing or three. Although I am young inside, my thoughts still girlish, I cannot dash as I once did, dammit. The way I could spin and jump, run and skip are now a memory. I could even catch an escaping child once, and although I accept the hilarities of growing older, there are times when the whole thing bugs the bejabers out of me. It makes me snort and stomp and then, as if snorting and stomping were big deals, I have to sit down. I don’t remember when this all began. In my short term memory I remember being able to lift a fallen husband from the floor. I could dash here and there, had to be able to dash here and there what with all the calling out of my name, the cries for help. Perhaps, since he died and with my to-do list barely covering the back of a postcard, I am allowing sedentariness. This does not sound good, not to me. I also notice that with an armful of bedding en route to the washing machine, I am very cautious as I descend stairs I used to hurtle down, arms full. I am more chary about where my feet land as if they’ve forgotten the way.

I still walk daily, move any time I feel a bit stiff from sewing. I still keep up an active and mobile life, although not to the same degree because there is no need, no name calling to react to, and more, no real requirement for that morning planning. Prioritising tasks is unnecessary now. I can take all day to one thing and sometimes I confess I do. I eke out the task, moving slowly, simply to fill in the hours. Oh, I know I am not alone in this limbo of puzzlement. Many of my age feel the same. How did old age creep up so quickly? When I do recount my own experience of this unfortunate process to others, we very quickly turn to the funny side and this is the blessing of it all. We regale each other with experiences, errors of judgement and our mild to horrific encounters with embarrassment. We throw back our heads and laugh, showing what teeth we have left to the sky. The magnifying mirror is now required to check we have our face on the right up and around, the dress not inside out, the shoes match, the car keys and sometimes the whole car are not lost. The way we might paint on eyebrows only to discover we have two sets having forgotten the job is already done. The discovery of hair in places that were hair free just last week, or so it seems. The way a younger person studies our faces just a beat too long so that we just know we are out there in public and impersonating a Belisha beacon. We write Washing Up Liquid four times on the shopping list because we remembered it four times, even if we only need it once. And the way we tell ourselves over and over again that we are not in danger of any marble loss, we are fine, this is normal.

Although I have no issues at all with the natural circle of life and death, I honestly never thought it would come to me. I have been one of those laughing at an orange face or two sets of drawn on eyebrows in my time. I have rolled my eyes from behind a dithery old woman in a shop queue whilst she counted out £30 in two pence pieces. I have scooted past the slow movers, been impatient at those who take two days to ease into a car, travelled behind that car on my hurrying way into town, swearing and flashing my lights for her or him to pull over and let me by. Old is hilarious until Old arrives with a lot more than overnight luggage.

I walk, along with my peers, through a limbo of opposites. If I decide to hate it, which I do, then I lose because this pugilist is way stronger than me and besides, hating anything never brings peace. But and but there are ways to accept whilst always seeking the funny side of this aging thingy. It is all, as it always is, up to me to choose how I respond. In my case, the red rebel fire still burns. I will still adventure, still walk in curiosity and gratitude, in humour. So what if my teeth are falling out. So what if I must needs take my time in rising my body up and out from my low slung Mini Cooper, whom I adore as she resembles my final freedom from having to accommodate, well, anyone else. So what! If I ever think wistfully of the days long gone, I quickly remind myself of how raggedy they could be, how little time there ever was for myself, how tired I could feel and how defeated by the endless demands on my time and my skills.

They say, whoever ‘they’ are, that we women should glow red and gold in the Autumn of our lives, how we should continue to walk sassy, to speak with confidence and with a truth reserved only for the over 65s, the grannies of the world, wise, hairy and albeit cautious as we descend the stairs. We should continue to shake our booty, to swing our creaky hips as best we can, to take care with our dress, checking for food stains which now invite an ‘Oh dear’ from anyone with younger eyes. I get it and I do practice this booty shaking thingy no matter how old I feel on any given day, but I shake with caution, sass with my eyes on the ground in case of trip alerts always hoping against hope that I don’t fall over, a laugh held in my mouth just in case I do.

Island Blog – Here and That is How it Is

So here is how it is. Ten days of a visiting son with his kids, this morning, gone, the air sucked out of my lungs as his car disappears around the corner. Nothing has changed. The sea-loch still rises and falls to the whimsy of a Sturgeon moon, the birds still flit and flut between feeders, the house still stands strong, broad shouldered stone, protecting me from a load of outsidery things. The shop still opens at nine, the builders head off to work chugging iron bru at 6.30, my neighbour heads off to his fishing boat for another day of net tangles and swear words. And yet everything has changed.

I meander through the morning telling myself not to focus on the gone thing. I tell myself to get busy as if all is as ordinary as it was 11 days ago but as the hours slouch by I know this gone thing will catch up with me, with the hours, with my thoughts. I feel old, stiff, annoyed with both. I never thought I would get here to this old feeling. I used to laugh at such nonsense from my ma, my scary mother in law when they looked as I might look now if I allowed anyone to see me looking thus, which I don’t. Feeling old, I told them, is one thing. A thing you cannot avoid. Presenting it is a choice. Don’t make that choice. I hear again my wise words, spoken through a young set of lips still plump, words begat by the father of ignorance. Who can know the feel of old until it arrives one morning with enough luggage-intention to stay long term? Nobody. What we do, when this guest arrives is to choose our pretence. It’s a bit like a journey on a false passport. This is me, not me, me from choice. I may not be this person but I am determined you will acknowledge this ‘me’ because if you don’t then I am grounded with the old feelings, the fear feelings, the lack of swing and chortle feelings and I refuse, point blank (whatever that means) to accept that.

I walk as I always walk, noticing the grasses husk and ochre. I touch their still yet softness as I pass. I see bracken spot and curl, the carpet of fallen leaves, already brown and crisped into tiny coracles on the track. I see hazel nuts overhead, rowan berries blood red against a blue sky, beech leaves goldening high above me. The ground is soft and mud blown, cut and spun into soup by yesterday’s sudden thunderstorm, here and then gone in a matter of one short hour but nonetheless a herald of Autumn’s closing fist. We may have more sunshine days, who knows, but the word is out among the seasons and the Your Turn thing is shifting. I pass by the shore and look down but cannot go. For ten days it was crazy down there, endless loud girls crab fishing, the growl of a quad, the squeals of delight, the absolute takeover of a small thrust of rocks, the learning, the delight, the falls, the fire lit to cook noodles or sausages, the glorious family fun of it all. I continue around the track, remembering. In my mind I see them all, bright eyed, ready for nonsense, scaring me with their bravery, no, not that. It is their confident youth. The way they skitter like lizards over all terrain, the way they sparkle at cake or chocolate or fruit pastilles. The welcome they give me. The whites of their eyes, their teeth, the shine of their wilding hair, the flash of their feet as they dash past.

They are gone and it is a heavy thing. I know, I know (please don’t fix feelings through logic) they will come again. Others will come again to inhabit this glorious place, to redefine it, to render it their own for a short time. They will sing into the clouds, the blood red sunsets, yell at the moon, cry at the falling in, laugh at the cake, fish for the abundance, argue, storm off, come back for a warming hug. I know this. But this day I feel their loss deeply. And that is how it is.

Island Blog – Cake on a Plate, Curiosity and Choice

To choose a day, if I had to, it would be this one, simply for its beauty and surprise. It began with what looked like a full moon at 2am although I was never spot on with my absolutes, an almost circle millions of light years away being, by definition, unmeasurable through the naked eye. A little sleep later and I awaken to warmth, to clear blue skies the colour of possibility and happy sighs, little puffs of cloud as from a celestial pipe. Tranquillity after months of rain and a twisting wind unable, it seemed, to settle on a restful direction. It thinked me of bluebottles which, in my opinion, have no sense of direction at all. Too hot by coffee time to sit outside, I throw open all the doors and windows and settle to my weaving, now that I have completed my ‘journey’ wall hanging, the completion of which made me restless too. Completing a long-term project means I now have to think of the next one and that place is like a crevice between two cliffs, or two rooftops, the possible fall a fatal one. I look down it and my eyes cannot find the bottom. It is unnerving although it never used to be, not when my to-do list was the length of a roll of wallpaper at the very least, those days when I just jumped the gap, undoubtedly in pursuit of an escaping child.

However I knew it was coming, this crevice thingy. I could tell even from a distance, that a break awaited my footfall, even if I couldn’t gauge its width nor depth. But I am a moving on sort of woman and also a curious one. Nobody ever got anywhere by turning back through fear, only through a considered choice. My weaving is my first, colourful of course, and without an image in mind. It is a journey and I am at peace with that. I find my colours in voices, encounters, skies, hills, woods and shorelines. The chirrup of oystercatchers, the piping of curlews, the scurry of woodmice, the distant laughter of children, the sound of a boat heading out to see the dolphins play. And, through endeavour, I learn. I learn and I improve, I change and I adapt and all beneath the cloud scud, the cerulean canopy, the broil of Father Sun. It is enough.

To say I choose a day might sound as if it is the best of all days by comparison. As if somehow all prior days were a bit limp. But this is not what I mean. Not at all. Sunshine is a truly wonderful thing, necessary for a spirit lift. Sunshine warms the skin, sets natural hi-lights in dullen hair and tints bare skin to freckles and tan. But there are a zillion days when this is not the case, when it’s cold and darkling, wet and endless, but even that last word, the endless word sits me up straight and shoots my eyebrows into question marks. I want to shout ‘So?’ because when I awaken to one of those, it is just one. There may be more, although life is never linear, not really, even if the weather appears it so. It is all about attitude, about personal choice. Will I venture out #eveninthis or will I sit on the wrong side of a the window and allow my body to slump in defeat? Will I follow my curiosity or will I grump that Alice in Wonderland is ‘just’ a story? Just a story, as my own life is and I will not write out a boring one, one that sleeps everyone shortly after Chapter Three. No indeedy.

As this day is chosen for its given beauty and surprise, like cake on a plate, other days are no less of a gift because we never know when all days will stop. The thing I do on far-from-cake-on-a-plate days is to choose. I am a bright, intelligent and imaginative human, just like you. It is a singular choice to celebrate every single day, regardless of weather, circumstance or cake. Among those whose lives are a real and genuine struggle, I have met the widest of smiles, the warmest of welcomes, the wonder of generosity. The impact of that insight changed me forever, and deeply.

Tomorrow, whatever the weather, will be my next chosen day.

Island Blog – A Feisty Queen

Waking after a good sleep to the moon, huge and bright, her mountains shadowy. She isn’t full yet but will be tonight. So long we island folk have missed sight of her, clouded thick and rained off as if dissolved completely. Funny how important it is to be able to see the moon (and the sun) and after many many weeks of a closed day/night sky, I can feel a joy run through me. It was midnight when we met. She lay heavy on my bed, waking me, her lemony gold light pushing around the blackout curtains, strong as a policeman’s torch. I got up to welcome her. She hung powerful in the black, throwing her light down into the sea-loch, lifting it into an eerie luminosity, rippled, soft, almost green. I heard oystercatchers up way too late and, in the distance, the scream of some creature calling out the last of its life. It didn’t last long.

Some days are full of fun and laughter like the lift of a kingfisher, all sudden and electric blue and unexpected, or the happy cries of children, or a kindly word from a friend or stranger. Other days can be quiet and unresponsive, seemingly tired of being ‘just’ a day. Little things can elevate a mind, blow away the closed sky, open it wide to the sun or the moon, bring a gasp. But these are not little things, not in my thinking. Little things are such as a household shop, taking out the bin, opening a bill, tidying a room, making a bed. Big things always involve people. People change everything. A chance encounter with a kingfisher is a wonderful thing but I want to share it. I want to point and say Look, There! It’s the same with the moon, or Father Sun when He finally battles his way through the endless cloud. I want to share it all.

Although Myself does, as you know, a lot of snorting, she is a mate. She is always here and I now recognise her value to me. Chances are she snorts at this too, but I am busy writing and she knows not to disturb me at such times. I also get that people talk to themselves. I am doing it all the time and it isn’t weird as is generally perceived. When there was another here, I didn’t need her. Now I do. And I am thankful. However, in the perception of the world, I might be seen as a weirdo. Well, no change there. I decide to fully engage. I still love people interactions, still need them, we all do or we end up in a silence that I’m not sure is healthy. But I do know that being alone and out of kilter with that alone-ness is just a state of being and I have gone through plenty of those, all those transitions, all those changes over so many years. And what I understood every time is that my full engagement with the uncomfortable process handed me the key. I must re-kilter. If I can accept and allow whatever life has thrown my way then I take control, not of it, but of me, and that is empowering.

I love a full moon these days because I have her number. Instead of allocating all blame to her, my mood swing, my lack of sleep etcetera, I welcome her. I ask her what she is teaching me about the bloody hoopla of womanhood, the lies that fetter a woman, the controls that imprison her. She doesn’t bother my sleep any more and I love to wake to her voice, to watch her fill the night with all her power. Controlling the tides, the women of the world, the weather, she is, indeed, a feisty queen, whether I can see her or not.

Feisty Queen. I wouldn’t mind that on my gravestone.

Island Blog – Depth, Mining and Tomorrow

On days or at times when I am less happy with my ‘freedom’ I usually avoid writing here. In moments of truculence I disturb that thought, winkle it about with a pointy finger, snarl at it. Why must I always be upbeat about flipping everything? Answer. Nobody wants to hear doom and gloom, well do they? Everyone has more than enough of that within the walls of their own insider life. Well, don’t they? Yes, I have to concede, even as I feel hapless and my arms flop like limp seaweed to my sides. But (and I have plenty of buts) what about being real, about being balanced? In other words, the rough and the smooth, the bitter and the sweet, the death and the life of everything. If everything passes, then surely those readers out there will know that a doom day is just a day, or a time, or a week, and that, once it passes, the sun will out and out once again. And this is true. But there is a lonely in keeping quiet about the times when I feel like a bottom feeder without gills. watching from my depths, the wiggling legs of the surface swimmers, knowing they can laugh without drowning, smile without grimace, breathe good clean air.

At such times I know I choose this bottom feeding thing, not that I’m feeding, obviously. I am a woman, not a fish and I have sunken down here below the laughing others out of choice. I have attached the weights. I know it even as it rolls my eyes, if I could entertain such a thing down here among the octopus and other hideous creatures with gill breath and the roar of forever in my ears, the pressure skinning me even thinner. I am mining. I am searching for treasure deep deep down among my own oceanic rocks, for something, for anything that just might look like an answer. I have always done this, I remind myself and, yes, myself snorts because she has the unpleasant (at times) task of being beside me, even through dreams, the latter enough to send the strongest woman running for safe harbour. You have, she concedes. Childhood was exhausting btw and don’t get me started on adolescence. I say nothing, because if I did we would both drown down here. My eyes are wide for answers, my mind focussed, my fingers raw and bleeding but determined. Answers are here somewhere, I know it.

Diving deep into the sea of psyche is not for many, not for most. We want to find answers at the surface. Few have the courage to sink, to dive into the roar, to mine the rocks. Down there is scary, the predators are lit up like a firework display and they have serious teeth. They don’t want to be recognised or identified and they definitely don’t want to be understood or broken down into their component parts. They are centuries old. They are formed from childhood abuse or neglect. They are the physical result of all ‘crimes’ that happened, in the perception of a mind. They may not be absolute truth but they feel very real. Memory is a fickle friend. Our memories are seen only through the lens of our own perception. But the feeling creates the bottom feeders and those creatures swim forever in our minds. Most days we can ignore them. Many days we cannot. Hence my dive. I want the damn things excoriated and the only one who can do that is me. But before I do this excoriation thingy, I need to see them, recognise and name them, or neither, and let them go. Only then can I deal with the now of Now.

This is why I am down here. However, I need to breathe like everyone else, and tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow always is. And, even down here, the sun will out.

Island Blog – Drunken Cakes and Rising

Today I didn’t bake a cake. It was time to take a day off and besides, I had no butter in the fridge. Recently I have been baking in those early hours when even the blackbirds are still asleep out there, up in the safety of tree foliage. The idea came to me one dawn as if someone spoke the word. Bake. But, I said, fighting my way out from beneath a twisted duvet, I loathe baking, don’t you remember? All that flaming baking palaverance at Tapselteerie, when guests expected tea and cake after a day out and me in the kitchen facing yet another flatpack frisbee, burned at the edges and refusing to rise to the occasion? Remember that? And I never got better at it, not in 15 years. That’s because you refused to follow a recipe, she snorts. So? I hate following anything or anyone.

Bake, she says again and I watch the bee words fly about the room, hear them laughing. I get up to flap them away but they are too fast for my morning flaps. They follow me down the stairs and perch, one on each shoulder. Bake, bake they say again, tweaking my ear lobes before lifting like bluebottles into the air. Well dammit! Alright, alright I will bake but the idea is ridiculous because I don’t eat cake and rarely have done so throughout my long and cakeless life, and the only time I did was because it was someone’s birthday. I breakfast and perform a few mindless chores, mindlessly.

This is my point, says Bake Voice. Mindless tasks are not enough for you, not these long solo days. Not any more. It is time to push away the walls of your comfort zone, to reach beyond your beliefs that you have no point, you are done, might as well sit and brood thing. If you bake, they will come. Who will come? I feel defensive. I don’t want any ‘comings’ thank you very much. I am just fine on my own, fine without cake. Bake Voice is quiet for a bit and just as I’m thinking she has gone to harry another poor cake-disliking soul, she says this. Give the cake away. Now that peaks my interest because I am a giving-away sort of woman who takes great pleasure in the process. Who to, I begin to wonder, and how much to who to? I hear Bake Voice chuckle. She knows she’s got me.

Stocking up with stork and butter, icing sugar, jam, castor sugar, flour and soft fruit, I lightly baste a deep cake tin and flip on the oven to 160 fan. This cake will rise I tell the line-up of ingredients, wagging my finger. You will rise. Nobody responds which I consider a good student reaction. They are subdued and obedient. I haul out the big mixer and affix the whirly thing although it takes me a few minutes to remember how to, and set the process in motion. Apple Cake today, I decide and I slice up dessert apples, pouring a hefty tablespoon of artisan chocolate rum over the pieces to marinade. Assembled and smelling divine, I feel a little tipsy at 5 am which is something I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. I smile, pour the mix into the cake tin and slide it into the oven. Although I have made this recipe up, I do know that a deep cake full of drunken apple slices will be a slow cook. 45 minutes should do it.

Although I can barely believe it, the cake rises and remains risen, its top warmly golden, its centre cooked through according to the clean tip of an inserted skewer. I leave it to cool a while in the tin then turn it onto a wire rack. I am excited and very proud. Share your pride with me, says Bake Voice from the other side of the kitchen and I drop her a deferential curtsey. Later, once cooled, I split the deep cake and fill with jam, sliced strawberries and butter cream icing. I take a photo, just to prove I have evolved from my frisbee period. My neighbours are delighted. So are the local shopkeepers, passing strangers, the chimney sweep, the plumber and the gardener. Some of them are going on a diet. Each morning I bake. Lime cake with gin and blueberries; Raspberry sponge with strawberry jam, lemon zest and plum brandy. Yes, it sounds confused yet it still rises into a moist and delicious Not-Frisbee. Each recipe is made up, magically. None of them should work, let alone rise, but they all do. I am obviously a gifted cake genius.

It isn’t magic, says Bake Voice, startling me from where I sit watching the birds flit and flut among the feeders. What? I say. It isn’t magic, she repeats and you’re no genius. It’s me guiding you. If life had been left up to you, it would be same old same old. I got you off your butt and into elevated thinking. I un-dulled your mind. I smile. She’s right. I have felt excited and curious each day as my thoughts dance through an unlikely list of ingredients, turning them into gifts that bring happy smiles to cake-loving faces. So, Smartarse, I round on her, when I have run out of friends because they all weigh 28 stone and hide when they see me coming, what then?

Oh, she grins, don’t worry, I’ll come up with another idea. Trust me.

Island Blog – Tatterlife

Yesterday the air was warm and still and the sun shone like a circle of fire in a right blue sky. T’is rare here and so very welcome. We, who live as islanders in the now of Now, know this and our shorts and suncream come out just like that. There is no Winter/Summer collection of clothing. We find the beach, the forest, the shore, just as the birds do. We do not presume another such day. This day the wind rises, not cold but coming from a source that will turn to South Westerly but not yet. This afternoon the wind is slanty-eyed, mean and punching and the poppies will not last the night for the accompanying rain that batters resolute. These are the days of our life up here and I remember it well, travelling back overtime when being ‘out there’ for the animals and the visitors brought a damp into the evening kitchen. Oh dear, tomorrow there will be people at our door, damp guests in need of warming food instead of the fresh salmon salad with minted new potatoes I had planned. Dawn found me making soup, a contradiction of what was yesterday as they chuckled in frocks and sunlight. But I know what you don’t know yet. I didn’t say.

And it thinks me. I wonder how those who expect Summer to be Summer or any season to be as it was, either in childhood, or just before we finally (good lord) got the hang of climate change. Resistance is futile. We know this. And we still resist. I think about that. Out here inside the sharp-toothed mouth of a volatile Atlantic Ocean, we might be wiser than we thought. After all, we have lived with a dynamic not many could ever live with and for years, no, generations. I get that island roots help and they do, a lot. My own understanding of this came once I discovered that my great grandfather was a lighthouse keeper on Skerryvore, one of the wildest and most isolated of lights and I mean so wild, even when the Atlantic was in a good mood. Ferocious waves and zilch accessibility. My great grandmother, on Tiree must have wrung her hands at every storm approaching. Or maybe not. Maybe she just got the hang of this sunshine calm/ ferocious storm dingbat thing like every other day. A boat will bring mail/people/family/food supplies. Or not. And the Not might be months.

I think we island folk, for all the moaning that goes on about ferries and poppy stripping, are pretty well equipped mentally for the way times are a’changing. I think that everyone should experience life in a wild place. Not not and not again as a holiday home but as an experience. The island, all islands are beautiful in the sunshine days. But there are zillions of poppy stripping days, of roofs lifted in sudden changes, of the slam dunk and crash of nature blasting in, of freak storms, of ferocious and terrifying gales with hours of lashing hailstones that can kill a cow, a deer, a sheep.

But I am glad to know this, to be in the mix of this. Not happy about the scary times but somehow in tune with what I have known for decades. However, this time, this climate change time does alert me like a rabbit to danger. And it is ok. If I am resistant to the change that is a glare in my headlights, then I am a fool and I am no fool. The poppies will be stripped in this sudden wind. And then I will walk out in the calm of the next day, thank them, and let them go. This is a Tatterlife. We are all living it no matter where we are, what we earn, whom we know. It isn’t that life is dying, no. Life is finally asking us to live it.

Island Blog – About That Gasp

As I wander today beneath leafy boughs lowered by all the flipping rain, I look up to a bright blue sky. Not an ‘often’ thing here, not nowadays. Now that we have collectively and successfully stood against Mother Nature, she is bringing in the clowns. Oh she will survive, of course she will. We are not important to her future but she is very important to ours. The aforesaid boughs used to be way above my old head but not this summer. They bend and make me bend, even me, the shortarse that I am and I decide to engage. I don’t brush away. I touch and say hallo. Hallo I say and then (I say) you were way up there last year and now you come to greet me. How wonderful and I thank you. I say. The green is changing. The leaves in Spring are vibrant with youth, ebullient, reckless, much like my kids were, much like I was, pulsing with life and excitement and with absolutely no fear of the future, no care for an ‘old folks’ warning. No care at all. And now the leaves are turning, gentle soft, compliant. Aah, I whisper. You know the way it needs to be.

Mindfully walking, slowing my pace and this last is, I confess, a ruse to fill in the hours, I consider the way thinks change as age softly wanders in to make a home. I watch a second hatch of young blackbirds being taught flight control, see their wings elongate daily, hear and hear their little squeaks of panic, of search for parental guidance. I see butterflies, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Common Browns, Common Blue, although how this one could ever be called ‘common’ beats me; the black and yellow striped caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth (spectacular crimson beauty) on buttery yellow ragwort. I see the way endless varieties of bumbly bees with copper pointed tails, round black tails, rust striped, harlequined, big, small, huge and sounding like airoplanes, or the tiny wild bees, also an endless list of varietal marvellousness as they whizz and ping around me because I am in the way or, maybe, they just want to check me out. And there’s a thing that smallens the biggest ego. Just right there. Well it does mine, and in a way that creates and fixes a sense of perspective.

Walking in this ego bashing perspective thingy, I don’t feel small at all. I feel important. I may be a piddle in the oceanic vastness of the world, in the millions of years the world has been a world without me being in it, in the splintering of timelines and the ridiculousness of controlling prophets, royalties, presidents, prime ministers and influential powermongers, but a piddle can upset any gathering. At best, it is an apology on a floor. At worst, it can pollute a freshwater lake. Not that I want any of this, but it just serves to elucidate my point. What was my point? Give me a minute….

As I s l o w l y wander through the hours of days and the days of weeks and la la tiddlypom, I inhabit a lot of thinks. A lot of them I cast away like a burned pastry rim. Go! I say, lifting like Vesuvius from my bed coverings because those burned pastry rim thoughts only ever propagate overnightly or around 4 am. I am mistress of them, now. No need for a messy eruption. Instead I consider the wonder/wander of evolution, the evolvement of states of being, not just species. The slow walk from married to not married; the shucking of a long term marriage when one dies; the death of a child; the suicide of a child; the sudden rejection. There are many states and from the initial shock a seed is sown in the dark, in the cold, silent, silent, silent loving ground, and for some time. Then, one day, one day, it pickers up from the gravel and you see it and you gasp.

Life is all about that gasp.

Island Blog – To Self

I used to think I was myself. I thought ‘self’ rhymed with elf and that worked for me because I felt easy around elfish thought and elfish being. But I was wrong. Whom I thought I was didn’t fit with city life around a mum who wanted to fit in and I did not. Oh, I am not saying I didn’t enjoy the cityness of city, I did at times but there was always a longing for what, for something I did not yet know, nor understand. I watched my friends happy (it seemed) in their environs, around the lifestyle their parents had forged and fought for and I turned green at their easy joy. Like an elf.

Moving on, because this is not about me at all. My baby sister is famous for her internal bubble and fizz. She is still just herself as she always was, but I do admit my watching her was through binoculars as she turned from girl to woman. Nonetheless, she was herself. You might, had you been there as we grew and flew, observed that, as the youngest of five and as a very feisty pint sized girl, she retained her identity, when others of us higher up the line might have bent and bowed in order to avoid parental judgements, admonitions and flying hands. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there. I was firmly married and dealing with all the upsydowns of such conjugality. She was not afraid to speak her self out, stand her ground but always gently, not like me. I doubt she ever slammed a door or tantrummed out or performed any other such taradiddle. Maybe she did but it isn’t in her eyes, not when I look. And those eyes are still brightly focussed and merry, ready for a twitch or a lift or a dance or a spontaneous hug.

Over time and troubles we have learned each other as grown women. Although we shared parents, her memories are not mine. I remember one evening when the three ‘Little Ones’ remembered something. I knew nothing of what or whom they spoke, their happy voices and smiles lifting like birds or butterflies into the room. I had gone by then, moved away from self and it thought me, thinks me now on my peregrination to self and it is as wavering and wandering as the word because if you have bent and bowed for most of your life, how can you easily find your own self? It also laughs me and fill me with chuckles because I know Self is out there somewhere and she will find me too, one day.

I digress. Sorry Birthday Girl. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being so beautifully wild and strong. You little pipsqueak, you tiny powerful woman, you know your self. And I think I always loved that in you.

Island Blog – Happy Birthday Little One

Today is my sister’s birthday, my little sister and I have 3. Of course they are not ‘little’ anymore but to me they are still little. I remember being ordered, and often, to keep an eye on the little ones and I would roll my eyes and grunt like Kevin because I was that much older with a brother in between and where they still giggled about rude words, I was wanting to kit myself up in mock leather hipsters or culottes (oh dear) or a mini skirt and jackboots in order to attract wolf whistles from builders. As the years rolled on and they all became women, our ages differed little and our lives diverted down different paths, we found common ground. Womanhood.

I have no idea how old she is today but I know she loves birthdays and not just her own. She is a woman who celebrates all dates important to those she loves and she does love actively. As we all dive into our separate lives, we can lose the connection we had in childhood, to a great degree, or it can become misty, hard to see in the harsh light of reality. Unless we are in touch with each other we won’t know what or how each other feel about things. About fish, or holidays, or cold winds or street entertainers. Or anything else for that matter. But it doesn’t matter, not if the connection forged in childhood has rooted. When we would meet as adults at first we were cautious around each other for how can we be sure of all we might say, that it might not upset or offend? We don’t. But now, as we move through our 60’s, we are less easily shunted off our rails. Ah, if we could know this gentle acceptance in our 30s what a world this one would be!

Back to the birthday girl. I know what she means to me and she knows what I mean to her. We have history. We have gone through pain together. We have fumbled, got it a bit wrong, come back and made it right. We are sisters and that bond is the tap root. She is a marvellous strong kind and loving woman. She is funny, naughty, mischievous and intuitive. She can laugh a grumpy room. She is a changer of moods, a shifter of darkness, a bright light and she can cook a symphony.

Happy Birthday Little One.