Island Blog – Transitions

This morning, very early, I helped a spider out of the pool.  It was either a Grass Spider or a Wolf Spider.  So, does it bite and is it poisonous?  I haven’t a clue.  I had been chopping some banana up for the Bulbul birds, plus team of ants, and had this kitchen knife in my hand, so I employed it.  Saving things with legs and wings from pools is my thing.  I absolutely can not watch all those waggling legs flattened by the surface and do nothing. That spider, those Christmas Beetles or moths landed themselves in mortal danger, when what they sought was re-hydration.

From the stoep of the cabin I hear hippos grunt and puff down by the river.  This river, when full, is wide as a mile and alive with danger.  We walked along the Kruger fence yesterday in 40 degrees to catch sight of them but saw nothing.  We didn’t see the elephants either, nor the crocodiles, nor the leopard lying in the shade, but we knew they were all there.  A lone giraffe, tall as the tallest tree, appeared and then was gone.  Gone where?  The trees are not a forest.  The spaces in between them is clear to our eyes, the tundra laid out flat and empty, but somehow this huge creature just vanished.  Various buck wandered along the sandy banks and, in my whispering head I wish them safety as they make their way down for water.  Crocs and hippos look like rocks, after all.  From this side of the river, this side of the high barbed fences we can fix binoculars to our faces and marvel at each glimpse of the wild things.  Someone has dropped a crimson flipflop over the wooden rail of the viewpoint but nobody in their right mind would climb down for it.  It lies incongruous on a sand-dusted rock, way down there, in Kruger Park, out of reach, a something out of place, a human footprint.

We drive back to the cabin for supper.  A wildfire sunset settles into dusk as the African night awakens.  Now the leopard will stretch and yawn as her belly rumbles.  Her eyes see everything in the darkness, and everything is jumpy as hec.  I hear lions roaring in the distance and am only too glad I’m not an impala. My night concerns are nothing by comparison.  I spray myself with citrus and lavender against mosquito bites and put down a banana for the bush babies.  They will come eventually, those cute little long tailed things with huge eyes and long fluffy tails, and then, just as quickly, disappear again through the scrub.  3 kudu, long-legged and graceful, come asking  for food and take it from my hand.  Although the feeding of wild animals feels odd to me, I cannot deny the thrill of watching warthog, kudu, or bush buck up close and personal.  They look right into my eyes and I look right back. In my eyes there is awe.  In theirs, I see fear, and, yet, the risk is worth it for the game nuts.

This evening, as the sky squashes the African sun into a crimson brushstroke, we go again to the viewpoint.  My eyes traverse the land that falls down towards the river, across its shining back and on up  into the bush.  From up here I am safe, but down there would be a very different story.  Vulnerable, and on two unfit legs with not much running left in them, I could be dinner. It thinks me of life.

Without risk, life is tame, and I am not interested in tame.  In order to cross a dangerous river, metaphorically speaking, I must risk being out in the open.  There is safety in just looking, but just looking is not enough.  The eyes that look back from the bush are all my own.  This is me watching me, and I cannot pretend they’re not there.  For a life to be really lived, the dangers must be faced.  We all meet our own croc-infested rivers, at some point, and we would do anything to avoid a crossing.  Let’s stay safe, we say, up here, away from all those nasty eyes and teeth, from all those things I know I could do, from the inner changes I need to make, and then to work on, but the river still rises in response to the rain in our minds, however much we try to turn away.  Circumstances always change without our permission and the river divides us from ourselves if we just stay here in the safe place.

What does that mean?  I think it means we don’t risk crossing it because we cannot know, from the safe place, what opportunities lie on the other side.  We can’t see anything, so there must be nothing, but nothing is something.  It’s just hidden from our view.  Yes, going down there, moving into the lazy, deep and potentially dangerous flow of our own river, is a risk.  A huge risk. But life is a wild, crazy, unpredictable risk.

Or it’s nothing at all.

Island Blog – Space

Today the photography volunteers have been given the name of their project.  Minimalism.  I watch them wander around the reserve, deep in thought, eyes looking down, eyes looking up, looking out, thinking in.  What does minimalism mean to me?  Is it this leaf in a dustbowl, or that emerald green gecko shinning up a fat brown tree?  What do I hear while I seek my subject?  What do I feel, how do I feel?  Someone hunkers down to take a picture of an attention bell, one of those ping things that sit at reception when reception has popped out for a pee.  She places it carefully on the wide stone floor and crouches down to get it right.  I see the bell, tiny in such a lot of negative space.  From above it certainly is minimalism.  A child’s boat in a great stone ocean.  From down there, where she is, the bell becomes huge and the stone ocean goes on for ever, or, at least, until it meets the wall.

At art school we were required to work on negative space.  I hadn’t a scooby what that was, thinking it was something dodgy, the opposite of positive space, if, indeed that’s not an oxymoron. I found it extremely difficult at first, looking at what wasn’t there, the space in between the things that were.  We had to look, see, draw the spaces, not the jugs or benches or trees or parked cars.  All I could see was physical presence until, eversoslowly, just as my eyeballs threatened early closing, I got it, saw it and it was huge.

My understanding of opposites can often be This or That.  I forget there are many miles in between the two, many colours, hues, options.  Inhabiting that space is something I need to re-train my mind to work with.  A physical life requires certain choices between This and That and decisions are based on what I see, what is available, what is acceptable in any given moment.   We like routine, most of us, known quantities of things fixable and in good working order, things we use in our daily lives.  There is, after all, a time and place for everything, is there not? I want a positive space to live in, one that protects me, mostly, from myself, one that nurtures, one I can see clearly and understand.

At home, I would call those times of deep internal unrest, negative space.  Instead of really looking into that space, seeing it for what it is and allowing it just to be, I feel that I need to colour it in with my own pack of crayons.  I need to get busy, sweep the floor, cook something, change a bed, anything that gives me good grasp of the positive, the physical. What I can touch reassures me.  At least, over these things, I have control. That awful empty space back there, the one I just ran away from, the one full of unhappy thoughts and doubts and fears, well I sincerely hope that, by the time I descend the stairs, it has flown out the window.  Go pray on someone else you horrid negative space.  I’m fine now, with my pinny on and not long till lunch and the aftermath of dishes and cups to wash and dry.  When I focus on the tasks ahead of me, I can feel the calm.  There is always something to be done, after all, something that demands straightening, or mending, or wiping down, and once collected in an orderly fashion inside my mind, I am happy again. I am safe.  this life is just fine.

However, this is a life out of balance.  It must be, because the negative space is still there and it still bugs me. I don’t ask for it but it has something of import to show me.  Drawing the space in between two jugs, I began to notice the distance.  It wasn’t empty at all.  Behind the jugs I could see someone’s hand as they drew their own negative space, a corner of a cupboard, a snatch of white-scuffed blackboard, and even further back, the branch of a tree through the murky window.  It made me realize that I could look for ever into negative space and find positives, but distant positives, not too close, not mine to fix or mend or rearrange.  They were simply there.  I could fill in the gaps, complete the cupboard, the hand or the tree in my mind, but, somehow, I didn’t need to.

In order to control my mind, my thoughts, thoughts that fuel my choices of action and thoughts that will always have consequences, I need discipline, but discipline and I have never enjoyed each other’s company. I didn’t ever complete the drawing (no discipline!) because I was so pulled into the space.  I may have been given  poor marks, but what I learned about negative space back then has become a life-long fascination.  The trick is to be able to inhabit it, just as it is.  Those times of discomfort and self-doubt will still come to me.  I can fill them with stuff and noise and self pity; I can beat myself up, tear myself to shreds with my hyena teeth, or I can simply let them wash over me and move on.  I doubt that I will ever learn my way around them, never ‘complete’ my drawing, but if I just sit and let them come to me, surround me, without fear……. if I can find the courage to do that, I believe I will, at last, be able to say this is Me.

No apology.

 

Island Blog from Africa

sausage tree

 

 

They tell me the sausage tree hasn’t flowered for years.  It is now.  Two fat crimson blooms, deep as trumpets, hang down and waggle in the hot wind.  A sugar bird dips its beak into the nectar, then throws back its head to swallow.  Only two blooms as yet, but tomorrow rain is promised.  I sit in the dappled shade of a jacaranda and over there a coral tree waves fire blooms at the sky.  It’s super hot today and the sky is wide and blue with just faint brushstrokes of cloud. I look up and all I see is colour, bright primaries, nothing muted or almost there, but loud in my eyes, almost blinding.

I woke early this morning, around 5 am and opened my curtains slowly.  There she is, Shiloh the Peaceful, a heavily pregnant Nyala, a deer in a land of many different species of deer.  Her body is light tan, softly streaked with white and she has chosen the safety of this small reserve to give birth.  Her herd could be anywhere but she needs solitude for the task ahead.  I could reach out and touch her, she is so close to my window.  She looks at me.  I look back but she isn’t alarmed and soon her head returns to the ground, to pick the watered grass, her nourishment.  Keep safe, I whisper.  She would make a fine breakfast for a hungry leopard and there is a big male that walks this place at night.  Many other deer have made this place their home.  Little hunched Bush Buck, jumpy Impala and, now, Shiloh the Peaceful.

Swifts cut through the blue above my head whilst petrol blue blackbirds scuttle along the ground.  On a walk through the bush yesterday I saw grasshoppers as long as a Scottish housemouse, green at first until they spread their crimson wings.  When the rains come so will the spiders, the scorpions, and the snakes.  When the new arrivals gathered this morning for a power point induction, we learned the guidelines for a safe and happy stay here.  Some have come for a few weeks, some a few months, a few for longer, but the rules around wildlife are always the same.  How to behave in the wild is not a matter of choice, but of survival.  All of us gave our full attention, needless to say.

When encountering anything with venom, claws, teeth or trunks, don’t change shape.  That’s the nutshell of it.  No flapping of arms, no running, just very slowly back away, or, in some cases, stand absolutely still like in musical statues.  One guide, whilst out in the bush came face to face with a cheetah.  Although raw terror shot through him and every natural instinct was to run, he knew better.  Standing completely still and in silence, he waited as the cheetah came towards him brushing the skin of his leg and moving on down the dust track.  Easily advised, this standing still thing, but the truth is that any movement, any attempt to run would have been disastrous.  However, not one single wild animal has the slightest interest in humans, beyond curiosity.  They don’t fancy a human for lunch, nor do they carry ill intent towards us, nor do they think and reason as we do.  They run entirely on instinct and will not harm any of us unless we do something foolish, like flap or run.

We are all wise to remember that this land is their land, not ours.

Phenominal

phenomenal woman

As the temperature drops here, I consider my packing for 35 degrees within a few days.  It is immensely hard to think ‘frocks and sandals’ whilst similarly pulling on a second cosy jumper. My swimming costumes was understandably quite forgot till just this morning when it yelled at me from deep inside my knicker drawer.  Sunglasses, malaria tablets, small but powerful binoculars, flimsy this and even more flimsy that.  Don’t forget the shoes with covered toes for safaris into the bush.  I never did ask why I needed them but I am guessing it’s to do with snakes and spiders, both at ground level and horribly silent in their approach.  I remember a safari years ago when I watched a big web hurtle towards me with no ducking options as the jeep bounced and jiggled through a dried up river bed.  As it wrapped itself around my face I did wonder if I would make it home in one piece.  I obviously did.

Another time, in among a different set of wildlife, with a big ass river flowing through it, I asked the very tall guide where his rifle was.  He shook his head.  No rifle.  I had been told he was the very best guide in the Kruger area but his ‘no rifle’ thing still bothered me.  When we stopped beside said fast flowing river, he told us to stay put.  No arguments with that!  He got out and looked around with his shaven black head all full of experience and wisdom and knowledge, and in his hand he held a spear.  Lordy, are we in the Dark Ages here?  But he told me his spear was faster than a rifle bullet and I believed him.  He had such a presence, such calm, such strength.  When we did clamber out onto the dried up dust bowl of an earth, he led us to the river bank.  Hippos.  The most lethal of all.  You don’t mess with hippos and they are surprisingly quick on their feet if they don’t like the look of you.  We think they just yawn a lot and then fix on tutus and dance in cartoons, but don’t fall for that one.

The skill these guides have is way beyond the most of us.  I’ve met one who lost an arm to a lion.  He could still boogie with the rest of us.  But, my safely organised ventures into the wild animal kingdom will be, well, safely organised, and on a daily basis I will wander around the camp, read, write, sew and laugh with the black women, who always laugh, by the way, and they have not much to laugh about by western standards.  Their attitude to life is one of thankfulness and of anticipation and of hope and it makes us over here look like right twits with all our ‘things’ and all our ‘worries’.  Finding a snake in a handbag is just what happens.  Monkeys wrecking the kitchen are just monkeys wrecking the kitchen and they are swiftly dispatched with a menacing cucumber or a broom and a great deal of shouting.  Then, they laugh again.

And then, they begin to sing.

I remember going into town to stock up on supplies for the kitchen.  We had our list and our list included 4 barrels of water.  I’m talking BARRELS.  We loaded up with crates of fresh avocados, greens, salads, cucumbers (for the monkeys), a whole box of beef and chicken and pork and something I didn’t recognise at all, plus the water.  When we arrived back and began to unload, the laughing black women came out to help.  ‘I’ll take one end of this barrel’ I said to one of them.  ‘No, Ma, she said, and hoisted one onto each shoulder as if they were bags of cotton wool.  My mouth took a while to shut.

Over the past day or two I have fretted with lists and with tasks to make everything just so for my time of absence.  I have left phone numbers for the carers, the nurses, the doctor, the neighbours, the stair lift fitters and the lady who sorts personal alarms.  My head is mince.  But, when I consider how the other half lives and the way they live it, I want to learn from them.  Everything is fixable.  And, if it isn’t, then it isn’t.

There is, however, a daunting loneliness in this journey.  Before, there were two of us to discuss, plan, work things through.  Now, it is just me, and will always be ‘just me.’ If I hover over that feeling, I confound myself.  Sitting here, looking at the jobs still to be done, jobs that won’t be done when Mrs Perfect is thousands of miles away, jobs that matter not one jot in the grand scheme of things, I find a smile. Not least as I consider these African women who have walked and hitched across miles of dangerous land to find work.

Everything, you big twit, will be ok.  And if it isn’t, it isn’t.

I am ready, and then some, for those big black women to boogie-hug me and to welcome back Mama Bear, as I will welcome them, back into my arms.

Peace

peace

It’s what we all want.  Peace around us and within us, and it is the most elusive gift of all, if we’re honest.  I may run a tight ship, endeavour to maintain a tidy home, make it warm and cosy, bright and welcoming, but it doesn’t bring me lasting peace, for, one day, I will be overwhelmed with all this tidying and welcoming stuff and the effort will just feel like work.

I can walk in the wild and breathe in the soft rain (ever near);  I can learn each bird sound, recognise each species, learn which tree is which and why it grows well here, but not over there.  I can see new deer tracks, find otter spore, listen to the song of each wind and really engage with each seasonal change.  I can read well-written books, listen to glorious music and walk myself into the warp and weft of a symphony, then go deeper into it to hear the flow of each individual instrument. I can boogie around the kitchen just because I feel like it.  I can write an encouraging letter, send a kindly message to someone who needs to hear one.  I can cook something delicious and share it.  But all these bring to me is a short term peace, nothing lasting, for it would be inhuman of me to manage all of the above every single day.

To learn to live inside this world without expecting anything from it is the key.  So where is this lasting Peace?  Not in the world, not on TV, not in the papers or on the news;  not in this life, my life, and not in anyone else’s either, except in part, when things trundle along like Thomas the Tank Engine beneath a sunny sky.  I have those times too and I am very thankful for them because they tell me all is well in my world.  Okay, that was Monday.  But now, it’s Tuesday and everything feels like double pants.  It’s raining, which didn’t bother me at all on Monday, but which has now turned into a personal attack.  What happened?  Was it me, something I’d done, or not done?  If I believe, as many do, that something, fate, karma, bad luck, controls my life, that I obviously didn’t rack up enough gold stars yesterday, then what on earth is life about?  Am I, as I was in the schoolroom, doomed to a gold star hamster wheel life for however long I get to live it?   I thought we were supposed to love our lives.  Ask anyone that question and see what they say.  ‘Do you love your life?’

Hmmm, well I’ll have to think about that.  At times, I guess……

In other words, No.

So, I must look higher.  Way beyond my grasp there is a force for good.  I can access it, but only if I acknowledge it.  If I can keep my feet on this ground, on my ground, the ground allotted to my walk for life, and my head in the clouds, then I will find Peace.

Someone asked me, once, knowing I am a believer, why I never mentioned God in my blogs.  It was a good and fair question and it thinked me a lot and for a long time.  Am I embarrassed to write his/her name?  Am I #notquitesure of the power of a loving deity? I don’t have answers to either of those but I do know that it is super easy to be pigeon-holed for believing in anything bigger than that which a human can achieve all on his own.

It is more than enough for me to hold my beliefs quietly to myself, for I am no evangelist, and would run a mile if I thought one was heading for me.  I just know when I am having a Thomas the Tank Engine day, beneath a sunny sky, that that is all it is.  Just one day.  On other days, cold days, unhappy days, it isn’t to do with gold stars, or me.  It’s just another day in an inconsistent life.  Just like everyone else’s. And, on those days, I can still believe that my inconsistent life is in the hands of a higher power and, through that belief, gain Peace regardless of the inner or outer storms.

And thank God for that.

Tatty Fandango

Tatty Fandango

 

In just over a week, I fly to Africa, heading for the bush.  Not for the fainthearted, the whole bush thing.  Lions, leopards (outside the door) snakes, spiders, bad tempered buffalo and rhinos, sweet long=lashed giraffes and oh, oh, elephants, also with long lashes but not always sweet tempered.  However, everyone with a modicum of sense is absolutely polite-without-question around elephants and, as I will so not be on foot when we meet, but in a Buckie, with a guide, I am confident there will no opportunity for disrespect. One flap of those ears, one growl and we are solid gone.

The forward planning, prior to said trip to Africa, for one whole glorious month, is most definitely a fandango.  I’ve checked the gas supply, the oil supply, the wood for the fire.  I’ve emptied the inside paper bin into the outside paper bin a few times and yet, I am here for another ten days.  I have stocked up with tissues, kitchen roll, loo paper, washed the cloths, bought in extra bin liners, cotton wool, washing powder.  If I were to leave right now, this minute, all would be perfect, but how much of anything is a muchness in my absence?

I write and write and add to the list of NOTES FOR THE CARERS.  It doesn’t come easy because I do it all, and without listing any of it.  How to explain, for example, the workings of our old, but reliable, built in oven and grill, with all the relevant stop points eradicated over time.  I just know that I need to flick to 6 o’clock to get the lower oven working and the grill settings…….well, they went long ago, but I just know!  All those little tasks that make up my day, any day in the life of a housekeeper, dog feeder and walker, washerwoman, floor sweeper, bed changer, encourager and sorter are legion and extremely hard to list.  I have to notice, stop, write down, and, as I do, I consider what a marvel a woman is.  I always knew it, but somehow this noticing and writing down thingy elevates womanhood to angel level.  The carers are my support team.  They are also women who run, not only their own domestic lives but mine, in part, and that is the part I need to translate for them, as all homes and situations have their own quirks.

Teaching is a gift.  There used to be a ridiculous saying, ‘if you cant do, then teach’.  Well what nonsense!  If you can’t do, you so can’t teach because to be a good teacher is most definitely because you can do what you plan to teach.  It isn’t about book learning but about experiential learning and that knowing is knowing indeed.  When my kids met a good teacher in their lives, this teacher changed everything for them.  The rest, well, say no more.  To interpret things we know into a language that others can accept and understand is skilled work.  As my list gets longer and l o n g e r, I wonder if it makes sense at all.  And, in my need to over-say, I forget they all have a deal of common sense and will work everything out for the best.  Bullet points are enough, even if my pen hovers over the paper, as I fight the urge to detail every tiny thing, a result that would cause their eyes to roll, for sure.

So, it comes down to letting go.  I’m not good at that and how would I be?  I’ve been the main carer for many years now and the one who notices, thinks things through, solves all problems, either via email, or phone, or with my own abilities to fix broken parts.  Letting go sounds lovely and feels like pants.  But, soon enough, it will be me, heading off with E ticket and my kit, and there will be no popping back to check that everything is done the way I would have it done.

In the days prior to going anywhere, even for two nights, the to-do list frazzles me, leaves me a bit shaky and brim full of doubt.  I know that anything forgotten will be my fault, even if I also know that’s a load of unfair dinkum and not the truth at all.  I have often wished that I cared less, like some other sensible women who have no problem in letting go, but this is not me.  I even fretted over the kid’s packed lunches, so there is no hope for me now.  But, and but again, I can learn new ropes, even now, even as an oap.  Or so I tell myself.  And, just think, you crazy old coot, you will be thousands of miles away in the sunshine soon enough.

So, I made a rag doll.  I had always wanted a rag doll and never did have one that I can remember.  She is badly sewn together, filled with old bandages instead of the right stuffing, and dressed in what could never be called an outfit.  She is not colour, nor pattern, co-ordinated and her lippy is smudged.  She is a fandango.  But she is smiling and I love her.  I had to split a cork to fix behind her floppy neck and one arm is longer than the other.  I followed no pattern, but guessed my way through the making of her which is evident on closer inspection.  She is sitting in front me right now.  My Tatty.  And smiling still.  She reminds me of myself a while back, sassy and smiling and multi-coloured, before caring took its toll, which it does, and let it be said, and heard.  Of course I am changed.  Who wouldn’t be?  But, despite a retrograde flow, not just for me, but for everyone involved, there are times of laughter and fun and it is these times that hold the line and keep it strong.  I can see my children holding it too.  When one of us falters, others tighten their grip.

And, for now, Tatty Fandango smiles on.

The Stag and the Swan

 

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Last night the stags kept me awake.  I can’t see them, way over there across the sea-loch in the darkness, but I can take myself there in my mind.  There’s an old boy, calling through ragged throat, his call raspy as sandpaper, his message clear.  This is my territory, my harem, my life on the line!  Defiance is in his tone and many years of experience and fight in his urgent delivery.  The night is as startled as I am when he lifts his head and shatters the dark.  She stops, holds till he is quiet, and moves on.  I wait for the response and here it comes – a youngster, brimming with fire and testosterone and moving in.

Yesterday I heard shots, rifle shots, big rifle shots.  I wondered, then, if tonight will come without the old stag; if his days are done, if he is bloodied and broken in a way he never saw coming.  I tell myself this way might be kinder but it still catches my breath, the thought of that sudden death.  Somehow the last fight seems more natural, although it surely would take a whole lot longer to come to a conclusion.  And the wounded, limping away of it makes me want to run up the hill with a bandage.

As I almost drifted off to sleep, I heard swans.  Now, swans at night will always bring me to my window in the vain hope that there will be a full moon, clear skies and a grand sighting of those almost silent wings of grace.  No such luck, but I still stood and watched the night and listened to that soft and gentle piping sound until it faded into someone else’s sky.  I wondered how they fly at night.  I wondered where they go and how long it will take.  I wondered many things but one thing I knew.  They communicate in ways we could all learn by and nobody ever gets left behind.  Like geese, if the lead swan tires, he will tell them and another from further back will take his place.  I have watched it happen and it smiled me for the rest of the day, that team spirit, that respect for each individual, that lack of judgement.

There are days when I wake barely able to say good morning.  There are days when I am filled with beans and good mornings.  Sometimes the weight of caring feels like a mountain on my back, my blood cooling fudge in my veins, and then there are times when I feel light as a kite with an equal sense of fun and laughter.  Some days the thought of what lies ahead, the washing and cleaning, the picking up of dropped things, the mopping of spills, or mud shuffled in twist my stomach into a reef knot.  Others, I sing my way through it all and feel no angst at all.  Cooking soft foods every single day can be a living nightmare or just cooking soft foods.  Encouraging a shower or a change of clothing can be just too much, or just too easy.  Reminding, repeating, reassuring is an irritating chore or a dance with compassion. And all of these states of mind are down to me.  I know this, but when the body is weary, so is the mind, as it appears they work together, like swans.  I can decide to choose my attitude but fail through lack of sleep.  And then guilt moves in.  I know nothing can be done to change things and that the only thing I can control is myself.  I know I need to keep myself healthy and exercised and fed well, but half the time, yes, half the time, I can’t be bothered.  That is when guilt trembles in the wings, glitter-eyed, rubbing her hands together in glee, for here it comes…….that sharp word, that unfair remark, that look, that sigh, that refusal to go here or collect that.  Now she is centre-stage and I am on my knees with remorse.

Accepting the pendulum swing of life as a carer is not easy.  I want to do this the right way, the perfect way, but there is no such thing as perfect, however much we may aspire to it.  Besides, ‘perfect’ is rigid, glossy, immovable, unbendable, finite.  Not human at all. The others in a similar role to mine tell me that I encourage them by writing my truth.  Although this will never be a private blog where all the sharps and all the messes are revealed in safety, I do believe that there is far too much whispering around dementia, too much hidden from a world that really ought to know, because dementia is racing into our lives at an alarming speed.

So I’m going to stand firm on my hillside, and roar my aging roar, whilst also flying with the swans and learning, on a daily basis, from both.