Wednesday, 20 November 2019

November Stuff


Bare feet in fine sand.
Friday 1 November 2019 Might be a little hung over. Also there are boring jobs to do on computers. We get through it. Thank you coffee.

Saturday 2 November 2019 Taking the early shift, I drive on a nearly deserted road through a wild storm. Surface water is travelling, like gigantic sliver-toothed silvery flatfish. I love the mild peril of my travelling. At work we dare the storm again, visiting Trelawney Garden Centre which is draped with Christmas delights. We lark about with sparkles and elf hats. We lunch. We make it back through deep puddles to watch festive films under the whirl of disco lights.

Wednesday 6 November 2019 Another early morning, in which I drive towards a rising sun, a levitating half-circle, licking coffee from the corners of my mouth. Dog fidgets in the boot-space, keen to get to Exeter and jump in a river. She is thwarted as our routine has changed and now Granma Grace is up early too, wanting a shower, and takes a nap not a lie-in, in her chair and not till after breakfast. Once naptime is reached Dog’s expectations can be appeased.
We pass a lady with tangled hair, Dog wags hello, I say hello, she smiles.
We pass the man who sits by the river and always speaks. This time we say the colour of the clouds is like snow-clouds, but most likely there will be more rain. A terrier on a lead snarls at Dog, who looks all affronted (but would happily bite it back if they were unleashed).
‘Dog politics, eh,’ the man says, amused.
The terrier owner stops to talk to the man, about growing beards for Christmas.
Dog runs on, past the lady with the tangled hair, and out of sight:  the lady looks worried.
I say that dog is cheeky but won’t go far, I see there is a bag of folded cloth on the wall next to her: is she homeless? But I follow Dog. We go back to Granma Grace and her peaceful snores, we make lunch, Dog has a bit of gravy as a treat.
Later I pop across to the shops; the lady is sat in the same spot, thronged in swans. I see her from the bridge. I have a strange push to drop my bag over the railings and own nothing and sit next to her, which is a blend of compassion and tiredness. On my return journey the lady is walking, though the bag she carries affects her gait, she walks by without acknowledgement, purposeful.
Later still I drive home, feeling grateful for my car and my full tank of fuel and my warm coat. Rain falls obstructively but even that eases so I can walk from car to house without a soaking. At home the disco light I ordered under the premise of entertaining grandchildren has arrived. First I tidy: the process of ridding our house of clutter has begun; then: disco.
Dog sits on the sofa, concerned. Mr gets home, he loves the whirly lights and the clarity. Wednesday 13 November 2019 Not the usual Wednesday routine. Awake though the alarm won’t be beeping for another hour. Sat in bed with coffee and chromebook but concentration lacking. Listening to bird banter, to the whir of wings in the eaves. Today is a funeral day. We are going to Falmouth to celebrate the life of Gillian Mock, Auntie Jill to us. A lady of largesse, with a laugh you could likely hear on the moon, and fabulous bosoms, and unafraid. Find myself worried I have the wrong day or time, so I’ve checked that more than once. At the church, which is packed, the vicar does a lovely eulogy (failed typist, taxi driver/agony aunt for 28 years, first wedding cancelled as they forgot to book the registrar) and folks are wearing colours, and bold gems. I hear her big laugh in my mind.
When we are to sing I catch myself pausing because this is when I still am expecting to hear the trilling of the late great Nanny Mock.
At the church too a line of nieces and nephews who are all grown up - Chap’s beard works like a disguise for a while. There’s a ton of us. The gathering is the good part.
By the time we have filed past to hug the close family, they are all shivering in a cold wind.
The coffin will be taken to the cemetery, with the beautiful flowers and a hand written sign: ‘Jills taxi.’
(Possessional apostrophe omitted but we know there was only one Auntie Jill. She would have big-laughed: love is the important detail here.)
Wednesday 20th November 2019 We are back to regularity, except for yesterday when I became ill and stayed home from teaching but couldn’t sit still so dug into tidying up and downsizing and the office is now broaching on habitable. I find my own illness unacceptable which is pointlessly harsh. I am at Granma Grace’s place taking care not to cough on her. We have done the showering and bed changing and breakfast; Grace is snoozing in her chair, and Dog has run by the river, no swan trouble bar a little hissing. She sleeps curled by Grace’s chair, ready to wake for a compliment or any old snacks. I have my little chromebook with me, all cosy on the sofa, feet up, glass of homemade apple-blackberry cider vinegar at hand, hoping to kill a cold with kindness. On Sunday I had gone sea swimming and not warmed up quickly enough. On Monday I had indulged in a long sunny, hilly walk (pushing a wheelchair, extra points) and let myself cool down too much afterwards. Everyday I am guilty of obsessive purpose. I know that the lesson will not go away until I’ve learned it - I make a practice of calm time, I can even make it masterly for a while: maybe there are some things that are just you doing you and this will keep happening so you might as well enjoy it. The washing machine whirs and whines through its usual cycle as I type, so I imagine the noise as affectionate slurs.
Family group portrait, faces squeezed in, laughing

Friday, 15 November 2019

Derek's Puddle

Swan sits in calm puddle, background is a turbulent river

I had swapped my Granma-care day, necessitating another early start. Light snores greeted my arrival so although Dog had stayed home I took some air by the river. Heavy rain had made it fierce. Droves of geese and swans made grumpy looking progress against it. Winter cold leached into a brisk wind; maybe fallen leaves had stolen the warmth to make their colours. I had put my camera away in order to not view the world always through a lense, nor composed into scenes. I let it jumble. But the lone swan that Granma Grace has named Derek sat contentedly in a sizeable puddle was an image I wanted to hold on to, and share.
'See,' Derek may have been saying, 'here is an example of using one's energy not for fighting the old river, but for allowing the universe to bring you a puddle sanctuary.'
'I was thinking more - make the most of what is available.'
Derek sifted water for snacks, unbothered by thoughts, whereas I went to pour coffee with a tumbling mind.