Island Blog – Skitterlings, Venus and Mars

A skitterling of sparrows erupts from a dense thicket of rhododendrons as I wander by. I was in the harbour town this morning by 8.15 for a few errands. The sun blinds me on my drive, rising fierce and dominant into a vast expanse of blue. Earlier, like at 5 am, a wispy mist danced through the forest across the sea-loch as the tide slacked, paused and began to ebb beneath a gibbous moon and Venus. Hallo Venus, I said, even as I wondered if it was, in fact, Mars. It is a mistake to mistake Venus for Mars but the other way around just makes the heavens laugh. Venus is just fine with that mistake. She never got on well with Mars anyway and she likes to watch him huff and disappoint, as his ego flops somewhat.

The ground is hot to the tough, the air almost still but not quite. There is a quiver in the ferns, a wiggle and I feel sorry for them, the ferns. That one fat stalk holding a gay abandon of green fronds is compromised when the breeze hits it. All I can do is this rigid left to right thing whilst you fronds dance your dance, feathering the wind and sometimes I wonder if you are reaching for your freedom. The fronds chuckle. I can hear them and chuckle too. I walk to the old pier as I always do. Sandpipers call out in alarm, curlews erupt from the shore, an oystercatcher too. Herons screech at each other and I am tempted to tell them they both need counselling. The wee dog suddenly growls, turning towards the dense overgrowth behind me, up there on the rocks. If I was in Africa, I tell her, I would be very afraid. She keeps growling and heads for the dense overgrowth. She won’t go in. She’s a great big jessie after all. We sit awhile, watching the birds watching us, the oystermen at work and the tide ebbing away. Soon it will have its mind changed once again and the endless widdershins of a greater tidal flow will decide what these underlings must do, these inlets, these sea-lochs, these beaches and promontories. They are not in control but we don’t tell them that because nobody wants to hear such a truth.

Home again and music on and then an invite to dinner with my beautiful gift-daughter (Such a more truthful name than ‘daughter-in-law’ and way less of a mouthful) her sister and the three wee skitterling daughters, precious children, out future, our delight, my future, my delight. I did think of himself as I walked. I did. I thought I would never be so free if you were here. I thought, how much you are missing, even though you wouldn’t have joined me. I felt a Venus uplift, guilt at that uplift and then I laughed, not at Mars, of course not, but at the fact that still this separatist thinking lives on.

Island Blog – Listening and Turning the Cheek.

After a fairly uncomfortable day of achieving little more than just getting through it, I watched old runnings of Life On Mars whilst knocking back 2 big mugs of Pukka Nighttime Tea. I loved that series when first it came out and enjoyed it all over again, noticing things I had missed the first time around. I listened to what was said and how it was said. I saw the unspoken words on the actors faces, paid attention to any growing or disappearing flow of interaction. In short, I went deeper. Oftentimes I can not notice a lot when something or someone comes around for the first time, too busy am I on the surface level. If it is a person before me, I might be thinking more about how their words, their behaviour affects me. Once they have left I ponder. I recall the way they bobbed from foot to foot, or how short their nails are. I remember the lines of pain or worry on their faces, the way they laughed after every sentence, the way they find life just as hard at times as the rest of us do. It thinks me.

Whilst watching said re-run of Life on Mars I heard an actor say something that annoyed me. He had got it wrong again. Reference was made to a suspect who got her words muddled. She’s Alexic! he triumphed, a big daft smile on his face. I rose to clear my plate and cup and marched into the kitchen. Alexic! I snorted. You mean Dislexic you plonker. Suddenly a skin jumping voice boomed out. I am listening, she said. What did you say? My voice sounded unnerved. I was unnerved. I turned to my little blue innocuous looking speaker. Alexa, what did you say? I’m sorry, she came back, I don’t know that one. What do you mean you don’t know that one? What one? Alexa, are you listening to me #bigbrother? She flashed a rainbow at me and settled into silence, no doubt feeling a bit embarrassed.

Alexa are you listening? I asked again, clattering dishes in the sink. Your privacy is very important to me, she soothed, now trying to regain my favour and then she rattled on about going to J1 Dot. Embarrassed people always quote the rule book when they feel the ground shift beneath their feet. I decided to play a bit. Alexa, shall I tell you about my life? She flashed again and replied. My Life, a memoir written by ex president Bill Clinton. Wonderful, I said. We are on a roll, even if I don’t much like your powers of snoopery. Alexa, tell me about the memoir called Island Wife.

I’m sorry, she said. I don’t know that one. Touché! I turned her off at the wall and flounced up to bed where I slept well right up to morning. Note to self, however to turn that nosy little madam off before settling by the fire. I am listening indeed! The very cheek. And I have no plans to turn the other one.

Island Blog – Repeat Daily

The way I see things when I am tired, stressed or fed up is never how they really are. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. In certain moods or when pressure feels heavy as a truck on my head, I slip into a weird world, one full of victims with me being the biggest. I am at the mercy of whatever comes my way; my seeing becomes slanted, ditto my hearing and my poor underused brain turns into an untethered disco ball. Instead of being inside this body, I am all over the place, running here and there like a headless hen.

And then the next day comes, the next songbird dawn, the new light, and what happened yesterday seems small and insignificant, solvable in a few simple steps. Why I couldn’t see it that way yesterday beyonds me. Yes, I was tired of repeating things, gently; yes I was upset about the rain getting into my post box; yes I was lonely and wondering when life would begin and yes I was pitching for a fight. I guess the nice lady from the Council, just doing her job, is fortunate I didn’t get to speak to her. I have no idea what she called about, beyond a vague and fluffy explanation (and even that word is too long to describe what I did learn). Are we still shielding? Are we allowed to see anyone and would that be from Now or from July 31st, and are we still getting the food deliveries? I know the answer to the last question having just learned it from a friend, but the rest, himself nodding and saying No and Yes and then No again could mean he has signed us up for a pilot mission to Mars. I guess I will find out eventually, if a space suit arrives by carrier.

My point is that, in my strong and right mind, I can see all the mild irritations and the intense enfuryments as just things colliding with my just thoughts and just feelings. I can step back, breathe, observe and quantify, deconstruct and take appropriate action. When in a compromised state of being, it looks and feels as if I am under attack from a mysterious, invisible band of mercenaries, with me in their sights. Of course, it would be impossible, being an ordinary extraordinary human woman, to sustain such a peaceful equilibrium at all times and in all sets of circumstance. life isn’t like that for any of us. Tsunamis will rise and threaten to destroy; rain will seep into post boxes, mushing paper and packaging, days will feel trudgemonkey and food will go off in the humid heat, just before I go to re-heat it for dinner. Life is not plain sailing and we all know that. But, if I can set up an inner programme of self-encouragement, write down uplifting affirmations to stick on walls, seek conversation with friends and read good guide books – if I eat well, exercise, laugh a lot, show kindness, share love and think more often of others that of myself, I will have prepared myself for anything that might come my way on any given day.

Which is what I am doing this day. One day at a time.

Repeat daily.