Friday, February 15, 2019

Tea and oranges

It's a quarter to two and I am sick and I find myself craving tea and oranges, which I have cut into wedges and am eating out of a Chinese bowl, in my bed. It's quiet. But there is moonlight. The dogs are surprised by this nocturnal activity. They see a window which would allow them into the bed and they sit by my side waiting expectantly. 

Something about being sick gives you an opportunity to see another side of your life. You are too sick too work so you contemplate the other things. I am blunt from ibuprofen yet surprisingly open and optimistic and seeing a different future. Sometimes the door opens and you see just exactly what you have to do. It's a unexpected upside of being a miserable git. 

Can we talk about the beauty of oranges? Sweet and sour and refreshing and juicy and the goodness just drips down inside of you. It reminds me of Christmas and my father and the large box he would buy for that season, keeping in the cellar. They were wrapped in purple paper, each one of them. Large, shiny-skinned navel oranges, with babies. 

Tomorrow is the birthday of my youngest child. She will be 24. I can't even wrap my head around this age Twenty four years since she appeared. My sweet, sickly child, always ill as a little girl. I feel my current ibuprofen/acetaminophen diet is a kind of homage to her and her high temperatures when she was little. Sweet, sweet thing. 


Thursday, February 14, 2019


I got very sick today. The sort of sick where you know you shouldn't be driving. Shaking and aching and high fever and all you want is your bed. It came on like a hurricane, unexpectedly, annoyingly, ferociously. My mamma, whom I took to lunch for Valentine's Day, asked me to come
home with her so she could look after me. It made me melt. She is 84 and finds it hard to walk and there she is offering me cups of tea in proper cups and my cozy childhood bed with the flowery pink Laura Ashley cover. It's days like this — children are the other side of the world, Charlie is in Berlin for another few days — when you appreciate your mama. It's not lost on me that it's Valentine's Day and last year I was sunk in a depression in a house with no electricity and no heating and she showed up with a flask of hot water, some milk, some tea bags. She is pretty amazing. And now I lie here stuffed with acetaminophen, sweating through the fever in my pajamas, with the dogs on the newly laundered linen sheets, and I feel grateful. So, so grateful. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends and all the people that kindly keep up with this sporadic blog. Thank you. Every day I wake up and consider changing the world. And every day I don't. I believe the Truth will reveal itself when we are ready. But most of all let's think about love and what that is and what it means. It's kindness and cups of tea and trying to understand the other. 

It really is all that matters. 

Take care. ❤️


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Go Fourth

It must be said that yesterday, the fourth of February was the day that everything changed. The sun, due to set at 4.57pm in Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, left an orange and pink blaze across the horizon until at least six o'clock, and the accompanying haze was also melon-tinted, as if someone had applied a gauzy filter. It's the kind of weather that can change a heart, or even a stubborn mind, because God (or Goddess or Energy or Love) was saying "Your shitty cold winter is nearly over. The dark days are diminishing. There's a horse and there's a sunset and life is good." Or at least that's what I read into it. Time to leave winter and your ego behind. Time to march into the future and to Regard Life's Bigger Purpose. Or something like that.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Is there anything more dull?

Is there anything more dull than a blog post that begins "I am nine days in to dry January"?

Strangely, it's quite revelatory. Here I am at eleven o'clock, sitting on the sofa by the embers of the fire, listening the washing machine run and writing. Even the dogs have gone to sleep. I am quite alone, having written my thank you letters and cleaned out my email inbox. Usually I'd be asleep. Even after one glass of wine, I'd find my eyelids heavy. This new world is rather exciting and yes, I suppose a little smug.

We got home yesterday from Los Angeles and it's cold and beautiful here. Eliot's evening sky is spread out. Gloves are required. My kitchen is more chilly than I'd like because it has windows on two sides. Windows I wouldn't swap for the world because it gives immediate access to sunset and peacocks and horses riding by, to the naked oak in the field, and far in the distance Didcot and the two humps which I presume are ancient earthworks.

I have succeeded, it seems, in stretching time. If only someone had told me this sooner.

Do you think we drink to get through life, to cut us off from the ugliness or do we drink because wine is delicious, or do we drink because it's a habit, and it was our parents' habit and our grandparents' habit before them. I'm full on The Cocktail Party meets Ice Storm. It seemed uncivilized not to have a drink in my parents' heyday. Champagne before lunch on Sundays. Gin & Tonics at night. Wine with supper without fail. And yet, this clarity you get nine days in...wowzas.

I promise I will try not to be dull. I will try to remain silly and outrageous and weird, but I like this state. I really do.

I thanked Tej for her prayers for the little baby who was having trouble after it was born and she seemed unimpressed, or rather, she took it in her stride. Guru Ram Das, she said, he makes miracles happen. I think he did. I'm always slightly suspicious when I go to her class that she has cast a white witch spell on me. I didn't know one could feel this good without divine intervention...

Don't be ashamed of who you are.
Own it.
Don't listen to other people trying to make you more like everyone else.
Be kind. (I try). Be patient. Be optimistic.
I do think that good things will come to those with a fierce heart.

Satnam good folk of Bloggerville.

I will try to be less smug tomorrow. Much love xo

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Between Years

Maybe it's the jet lag, the lack of sleep, the discombobulating effect of being in your city but somewhat rootless (staying in other people's houses) but I find the time between Christmas and New Year difficult. I am out of my routine, in Los Angeles, trying to juggle seeing friends and spending as much time as possible with my children, and it feels, well, odd. It could be that we miss the dogs, or getting up early to feed the horse breakfast, or maybe as a Cancer, I don't do well unless I am in my own house...there is a tiny piece missing.

Los Angeles could not be more beautiful. Bright, cold, sunny days, chilly desert nights. Blown out blue skies with perfectly formed tiny melon pink clouds floating on the horizon. Those tall palms that shimmer in the sunlight. It's full of warm friends and old memories and favorite spots. My children are here - bright and warm and amusing and erudite. My love is here, sleeping beside me in a cozy bed in a friend's adorable guest house. All is well. 

But let's face it - 2018 wasn't a great year. Most of us suffered anxiety at the hands of the Fool-In-Chief, and I suppose we look towards the new year with trepidation. None of us want a repeat of the nasty surprises, bad decisions, and general ugliness we have experienced this year. 

This is a period of reflection. We want to be better people. We want to find new and creative ways to live. We aspire to be more empathetic human beings. We want to find more meaning in our lives. I suppose these few days which are neither work nor really play force us to look at our lives and to reflect on how to be nicer people, more attentive friends, give back more to the world, be less selfish and ego-driven. 

This morning we head out to the desert. A place where reflection is easier because there are fewer distractions. ("Jesus Wandered Here"). I have books I want to read, things I want to write, complicated life problems to sort out. Meditations to focus on. Perhaps it's ok to feel confused and thoughtful for a few days a year. Perhaps it is healthy. 

This is one thing I have fully ignored and au regret it. Somehow a daily depository for the thoughts and worries that accumulate in your brain is healthy. And once the silt and dregs have been deposited it allows a clear path for creativity and art. And I believe that one should practice art in whatever form it works for you every single day. Every Single Day. 

And it wouldn't be me if I didn't say this:  Let's all try to Vibrate Love. Even through the difficult times. 



Sunday, November 04, 2018

Speak Love Into The Universe

Hello, everyone, from your erstwhile blogger friend, who is hanging her head in shame at the infrequency of her contributions. I haven't written for so long that I fear I may have forgotten how to write, so be prepared for this to be laden with cliché.

I had to drive today for about four hours, to and from an extremely good lunch at my sister's house (which made the drive completely worthwhile) and in so doing, managed to catch up on BBC World Service and its excellent programming (click here for a link to a man who travels on Greyhound buses and interviews people he finds there and then writes songs about them in the style of Woodie Guthrie) and NPR's essential Weekend Edition which introduced me to a young Syrian-American rapper and singer,  Monica Haydar. A muslim woman with a masters degree in Christian ethics, she explores what it is to be other in modern-day American. "If there was ever a moment to speak love into the universe, it was here," she says.

The thing about driving is that you're focused, and for once, off the dreaded social media, and trying to forget about the mid-terms (Tuesday). I just can't anymore.  I like to be alone in the car, with the evening spread against the sky, listening to good American journalism.

I met people at lunch who asked me why I didn't have an American accent, whether I liked America, and what I thought of #metoo. I say what I always say, that I sounds English because I never chose to indulge a mid-Atlantic accent, but I still write color instead of colour, and that my little beating heart is American, despite all the English trappings, despite my triple string of pearls, my silk scarf, my love of old Colefax & Fowler curtains. My heart beats for NPR and apple pie and Laurel Canyon and Joni Mitchell and dusty paths off of Mulholland and my beautiful American children, strong, and brave, and doing what they love. And the way you get chills when they sing the national anthem badly at horse shows. And "you can anything you want to do." How I love that my children grew up in a country and a time when that was their reality.

It's been nearly two years. Earlier this week I panicked a little at that and wondered if might if I might lose some more friends in Los Angeles because I'm here and apparently I'm a bit of a crap friend. Isn't it funny how we run through life, packing our days with busy-ness, with stress, with too much work which we gladly embrace, and hardly take a moment to breathe and think and look at the fact that life is just whizzing by? I wrote to my girlfriends, as I do when I panic. I told them I missed them. I awaited their responses like a teenage girl by a telephone. They come in slowly, words of encouragement and love, news of children, bits of gossip, the whole panoply of life going on as I remembered it but different, filling a whole sky with news and color. It's lovely.

A few things have happened that make me pause a little: my darling man's daughter has had a sweet little baby girl who had a very difficult birth. She is a beauty and a survivor and she's tough and all will be well. And my friend who lives close by fell from her horse and is massively concussed with brain swelling. It isn't completely clear what happened, but it was a wet morning and she was on a steep hill in the woods and the horse fell. She was found unconscious. She will be fine. She too is a survivor in her pink nighty with her plate of hospital brussels sprouts, but look how we take these things for granted. I send her videos and promise pirate jokes, and wonder at her awesome ability to worry more about everyone else than herself.

We are looking I think at a fight for democracy. That's how it feels. We're actually testing whether or not we deserve a democracy.  I love Dan Rather who said yesterday:
"Imagine a national consciousness shaped by empathy, and seen through the lens of "there but for the grace of God go I." Solving tough problems is helped when approached with humility. Many of our national leaders may fail, but we can try to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
God bless America. No, really.

So, it's Sunday night, and I'm sitting by the fire, trying to do some work, and the dogs are here, and there is some tea, and I shall pick Charlie up from the station soon, but I'm thinking of those I love, my magnificent children, my brilliant girlfriends, the family and friends left behind, and the family here that I'm beginning to know and I feel both incredibly rich and incredibly humbled, embarrassed at how much I have squandered and how many hours and days and years have been wasted with stuff that doesn't matter. People who aren't worth it. Tasks that are unimportant.Things that mean nothing.

And then this beautiful Syrian-American Muslim woman is telling us, like an angel, to speak love into the universe. Strip it all away and remember this, I think. We must speak love into the universe. Love is all there is.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Song of the Builders

Song of the Builders

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God -

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

- Mary Oliver on #NationalPoetryDay