Archive for June, 2010

Father’s Day Weekend

You know, Father’s day for me over the years has always been a difficult time. You see I never had my father around as I was growing up.  Father’s Day didn’t really exist when I was young. Not worked out why yet, whether it was because I didn’t have my Dad around, because we were too poor to consider such commercial extravagance or because when I was young such commercialism didn’t exist.  Whatever the reason, it wasn’t until my own children were old enough to understand this ritual was it an issue.

Year after year I sent my father a card, year after year I had no acknowledgement. It’s been the same with Mother’s Day, but that’s another story. I grew up without my father but like most things that happen when we are children, it didn’t seem to matter and it just was. I never held a grudge against my father, indeed I loved him. I used to go and see him after I was married, he had a new family and although I didn’t see much of them, it was the norm and completely acceptable. You see because there were five of us and we were such a close family, us siblings I mean, we didn’t need our Dad. I have to add, none of us were jealous or envious, we just weren’t like that and never even considered such things. I guess you had to grow up with nothing to appreciate the little things in life. We played and shared, fought and argued, but we loved each other.

I was sad when having met my sister from my Dad’s second marriage at his funeral and our relationship ended abruptly over a misunderstanding.  I had been so delighted to find her after looking for her for so many years, I looked forward to a relationship with her. After all, we shared the one common factor in my father.  My Dad was never a part in my informative years and my life evolved as I guess it had to and other people took his place, so I had no reason to feel jealous or upset with my sister in any way. Our paths in life took the way they had to and I am so glad for mine, it has led me to be the person I am today.

I am ok with who I am. I am sorry it wasn’t to be that my sister and I were to share a relationship. I would have liked that despite our different outlooks on life, but heyho, that’s life! Who I am is the person who has had a long and interesting journey into maturity and almost retirement.

This weekend has been wonderfully busy. Harry’s daughter’s have both come up and spent time with him/us. His older daughter came and spent Friday evening/ night with us. We all had breakfast together and talked and talked, had a few laughs and shared what had been going on in our lives. Then on Sunday his younger daughter came in time for our late lunch and spent the afternoon with us. Once more lots of talking and laughter. Now because of my background it might be expected that I would be jealous of his relationship with his daughters but that assumption would be so wrong.

You see over the years I have looked after many of other people’s children. I have learned a lot about people and each of our journeys through this life.  learned a long time ago that we are all on our own journeys of learning. Each one of us has our own lessons to learn, our paths cross to help us or to teach each other something we need to know. I also learned after 42 years of being a mother to eight children, that our children do not belong to us, we bring new people as babies into this world and merely nurture them, teach them and love them until it time for them to choose their own paths. We only borrow them for a short while. It is how we develop that relationship that patterns how we feature in each child’s journey in their future life. I am blessed to have a good relationship with Harry’s daughters as well as each of my own children.

My father only featured a short while in my life and I seemed to know then that was all the time we had to spend together. I had a good but distant relationship with him over the years and I knew he loved me. In fact he was the only one of my two parents that told me that. The last words I shared with him in this world were, ‘Take care of yourself, I love you’ Having spent an hour or so of my 56th birthday just sitting side by side and holding hands. Did I know this was to be our last meeting? I don’t know but even though he never acknowledged my greetings for Father’s Day, I feel sad that I no longer have him in this world to wish a Happy Father’s Day to but I am blessed with seeing the day evolve for Harry. It is all this that makes it so very precious when H has his daughter’s over and I love them as I love my own birth, and adopted, children.

Life has told me that I have missed out on so many things and if I think about the way things should have been, I do feel a little sad. But then I look at what I have today with both mine and Harry’s children and I am blessed. My own youngest daughter, recently left home, sent a card to ‘my stepdad’ and I could have cried. I am really blessed with a whole family, from different parents and families, that are absolutely fabulous people.

Oh dear, this has rambled on but  have one last thing to say… Thanks Dad! I love you…. I have just contacted my sister on-line and asked if we could start again… I am so glad that I have started another journey and I am sure our Dad had something to do with that from the other side…. I believe he is watching over us anyway… Here’s to the future!

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A perfectly wonderful day!

If a day can be any perfect, I would love to experience it. Seriously though, today has been the best for ages. It was Emily’s christening ( number three son’s daughter)  which means a family gathering. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it really is wonderful. Most of my children live in different towns. Ed lives in Bristol, Scott in Midhurst, Sam in Hastings and are in Gosport along with Suzi and Tabby. To get five of my children together in one place is brilliant, four is more often the case . We all thought of those that couldn’t be there and sent loving thoughts to Laura in Florida, David in Switzerland and Simon also in Hastings but unable to get here.

One of the best things apart from catching up on all the little snippets of news from everyone is meeting new partners for the first time. I know, because there are so many of us, it must be daunting for a new girl or boyfriend to meet everyone for the first time. This event met a boyfriend for Hannah, my eldest grand daughter. A confident young man completely un-phased by us all. How scary that must be to meet everyone at once, but he took it all in his stride. Also meeting us for the first time was my youngest son’s girlfriend, Sue. What a lovely girl! My children have all picked such lovely partners. I could have sat talking and listening to Sue’s wonderful soft Irish accent for ages. So easy to speak to. How often is it difficult to make conversation with someone who is shy. Sue is confident, intelligent and so easy to get on with I wish the two of them loads of happy times for a long, long time.

While we miss those that couldn’t be with us we are hoping for a BIG get together somewhere in the next couple of years. My sixtieth birthday is in a couple of years and I have never had a real birthday party, also at the same time, it is Laura and Chris’ 10th wedding anniversary. What would be wonderful is for us all to meet in UK for a huge celebration and we have time to plan and save up for that if we start now.

My one disappointment was that I took photos with the cam corder and they turned out really grainy, gggrrrrr. A lovely day and not one good picture to show for it. Still I got some good shots of them on a video. My family

Here is the best I could get after a bit of editing, of the five – Samantha, Ed, Scott, Tabby (sitting) and Suzi. I am so proud of them all.

The next picture is of Ed and Sue… he is such a character and a brilliant performer. He had a wonderful full head of hair yet has decided to go bald since we last saw him. Not seen Sue perform yet but shall look forward to it next time we meet. Good luck with getting a place in Circus school, Sue.

Youngest son and his girlfriendThis is not so much a blog but more a proud Mummy reliving a wonderful day and showing off some rather poor quality pictures. I am so, so blessed.

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Just today…

Today has been one of those days, much like another. For me I spend every day alone in our little house. I have got to like being alone, it means I can please myself what I do. I can meditate, I can do the housework, the laundry, the gardening, you know , all those boring house things that we have to do. I have my routine; get up, make the bed,  make myself a hot lemon drink, a cup of tea, take a shower, have breakfast. Then the day is mine.. today I painted. A hobby of mine that gives me so much freedom.

I love to paint seascapes, countryside or anything to do with the natural world. The picture I am doing at the moment is one that takes me back to our holiday a couple of years ago when Harry took me to his home country, Cookstown in N. Ireland. I have only seen such wonderful coastline once before, in Scotland. Last year we went to Cornwall, which was beautiful and where I would love to live one day, and although the coastlines there were beautiful, I never saw anything as wonderful as Ireland. My painting transported me back to a wonderful place with wonderful people.

When I paint I am no longer in my little house, no longer trapped by pain or inability to do the things I want to do. My mind is free to go anywhere I choose. I visit each rocky shore again and again. I notice things I missed when I was walking there and I can put them in my picture. I can smell the sea and fly with the birds, swim in the water, fly through the air, squelch my toes in wet sand and lay with warm sun on my skin. Painting transforms my world like a mini holiday.

I have little to say about today apart from the fact that I painted. I painted the sea, the bay and countryside across the water. I painted the rocks. Today it was the rocks that took me a long time away, back to when I was much younger. My two eldest children were very small when I used to take them to the beach when the tide was out. We used to gather tiny shell from the rocks, pebbles and bits of driftwood from the beach. We lived very close to the beach , a few minutes walk in fact, so it was always a lovely place to go, especially off season when the shores were nearly empty. Anyway, these tiny shells would be taken home, mine in my boxes and the children’s in their buckets. The boys would wash and play with theirs but mine were carefully boiled to remove any creatures or debris and placed in my collection to be made into something another day.

In those days we had no money so I had to make do for my amusement. The little shells and pebbles were transformed into paperweights and ornaments. Little men fishing from a rock, animals, people walking on a stony beach or maybe tiny shell houses. I never did anything  with them apart from give them to friends but each time I made one it took me away from the lonely, boring world I was in. Thinking of these little models reminds me of the time I spent painting plaster models to be sold in the little shop in the caves on the West Hill, also at Hastings. I spent hours painting pirates with treasure chests, parrots, pirate ships and all for a few pennies.

Well, like I said, today I did nothing much to see but in my little world of colour and memory I travelled a long way.

A holiday walk

This painting is the last coastline I finished before doing a sunset , just for a change. I imagine standing at the edge of the cliff where the picture was taken. If I were a bird I could fly way out over the cliffs. I could lay on the grass and dream as I watched the changing sky. I can hear the sea birds shrieking and squalling as they dive into the sea for fish. I can feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my skin and know who I am in this big old beautiful world.

So you see, when I say I am just painting, I really escaping to the wonderful world of nature where I can be and do anything I want. So today.. I just painted, I painted a dream or two.

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After the Rain.

How lovely to get a bit of rain. I can say that on my blog but if I say it to many people I get a grumble. Ok, I agree, if the rain spirit or whoever controls the weather is listening, it would be great if it rained all night and was sunny again in the morning, Oh and not till after at least 11pm in case I go out. Wouldn’t that be good?

I hate going out in the rain, there’s nothing worse than walking round in wet clothes. I remember one day at uni, I had walked the mile or so from the station and the skies were giving their all. Everyone was absolutely drenched, it took only seconds to be soaked to the skin. We loyally attended our lecture feeling miserable and uncomfortable until the lecturer walked in. ‘What is it about today’s weather… everyone smells like wet dog!’ Somehow it didn’t matter after that. I try and think nice thoughts and look for something nice about the rain.

Sometimes I take my camera and photograph raindrops as they run down the window. Do you know, when you look through a raindrop at the world beyond it is so clean and pure. The colours are vibrant, the world is fresh. I sometimes thought about writing a story about stepping into the world through a raindrop… I think it might be too boring for most people. What a great meditation though. I can smell the freshness in the cool air. The leaf mould, grass, trees and flowers all release their own unique perfume once the dust of the dry weather has been washed from them. The air is cleaner for a wash too and the blackbird’s song is purer and sweeter after the rain, each note travelling with ease through the freshness instead of fighting an atmosphere filled with exhaust fumes and dust.

So that is what I try to think about when it is raining and I look forward to stepping out into my little garden to see what has happened out there once the rain has stopped. I won’t even mention my garden enemy number one, he with the slime trial silvering the pathways… OOps I did, ah well enough of such talk. Thinking of silver, have you ever taken a look at raindrops on cabbage or nasturtium leaves. Captured in every available crevice is a tiny globule of silver, as pure as a diamond. When you tremble the leaf slightly the droplet moves like quicksilver as it can find nothing to hold onto that might capture it. Like a shy fairy, it speeds to the end of the leaf and disappears before it can be captured. So beautiful a sight; a raindrop in a cabbage leaf.

In the damp misty rain my world is decorated with jewel laden webs. I know I make fun of my spider problem but their webs draped in miniature  misted raindrops that have been captured in the trellis or a plant reminds me of  the fairy stories I used to tell my two youngest girls as we walked the mile to school down country roads on damp or frosted mornings. Isn’t it true that each web has surely captured a diamond laden piece of fabric that has been spun especially for the fairy queen’s dress as it was hung in the wind to dry?

I know, you think I’ve lost it! Maybe I have but who cares? Bet none of you were thinking of getting wet and miserable for the few seconds it took you to read my ramblings and now you are smiling!

Here’s a picture of one of my cobwebs:

You have to agree they do look so magical. I hope that maybe, just maybe, I might have got you to look at the rain from a different point of view – after the sun comes out anyway!

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Just a lazy day.

Sunday was a really lovely day. As always, I try to fit so much into each day, not always with any success I might add. We had a bit of shopping to do and the usual daily chores but in the afternoon my little grand daughter, Maica, had a party to go to in Locks Heath. It was a little drive away and so we volunteered. Well Harry did, but my idea was that I got everything done, including lunch and be there to pick them up at 1pm. I know it was Sunday but it is too hot for a roast anyway so I made Fajitas. Yummy, lots of salad and salsa with wonderful spicy pork, onions and peppers. It takes all of 15/20 minutes to prepare and cook and is a dish we love. We still had a bit of a rush round though so I sent H off with a shopping list whilst I carried on with the little indoor bits and lunch. We managed it quite well, but time creeps up on us and by 12.50, I still had to change and gather some bits together and we were supposed to be at Suzi’s by 1pm. We left the dishes in the sink and everything where it was and left in a rush.

The party was for an hour and a half so I figured we could drive somewhere near and take some pictures to paint at a later date. We sat on a bench beside the river mouth at Warsash and watched the world go by. People watching is a wonderful pastime. As we watched all the yachty people with their boats and yatchs struggling with boating gear and children, snippets of conversations slipped through the air and made us smile. ‘But Daddy, I am really too hot!’ A small boy around 3 to 4 years old stood in front of where we were sitting refusing to walk another step. I smiled as his father gave in. We at this point were sweltering, trying to eat an ice cream before it ran out of the cone, melting in the heat. The father bent over and began to remove the little, fully inflated life jacket the boy was wearing which covered the whole of his upper body and was strapped round his legs… followed by a light wind jacket, a tee shirt and a vest. No wonder the poor lad was hot. Dad was dressed in short sleeved shirt and shorts needless to say.

A short time later another father, fresh from a bit of sailing, walked by with three lads jostling and jumping around him. They spotted the ice cream van and began their pleading, using every tactic they could to persuade him. Eventually, he gave in to whoops of delight from the boys. ‘There’s one condition though,’ says he, ‘you must promise never to tell your mother I bought you ice cream.’ Wonderful!

Families were enjoying the sun and walking round the harbour. Brothers walking nicely until their little sister distracted Mum and Dad when the older one does his best to push his younger and much smaller sibling off the board walk. Another clever lad wanted his mother to ask him mental maths questions and while she was concentrating on keeping up with his constant demands, his little sister, a tiny tot around three, was climbing the wire and hanging over the edge of the walk, having been extricated from there she begins to march up and down. After several passes and no one is listening to her she decides to do a couple more walks up and down then keep walking quite happily, right to the end of the board walk before Mum realised she wasn’t there.

We watched the boats come in and out of the harbour and finished our ice-creams before having a little walk round. I was only able to manage a little way before we had to go back to the car so a little drive round was the next idea. It was brilliant to just drive with nowhere to go. It reminded of all the times over the years when a Sunday afternoon drive was a treat. Just after three we returned to the centre where we were to pick Suzi and Maica up, and parked in the shade. I love to just sit and relax, listening to the birds and the breeze in the trees and doing nothing! I don’t do it very often and I wasn’t disappointed but Harry found it difficult. He contented himself wih splatting and removing the bugs that flew or crawled into the car. At one point he had several bugs partying on his arm much to his disgust and my amusement at his antics to rid himself of them.

We waited and waited until eventually Suz came out, she hadn’t realised we were there so was nearly twenty minutes late out, but I didn’t mind. 3/4 of an hour sitting in the car in the midst of the woods and just ‘being’ was wonderful. Having gathered Maica up strapped her in the car seat we drove off. She wanted to paint some ladybirds like they had in the garden so we drove via Lee on the Solent to pick up  few pebbles followed by a trip round Stokes Bay before dropping them off at home. My younger daughter, Tabby was there so we thought we could pop in to see her instead of going down to her flat later on. By the time we left we realised it was too late to go to church so we just went home.

It has been a long time since I had an afternoon at the weekend doing absolutely nothing. I seem to have so much to do all the time and what started out as a favour to my daughter ended up a really wonderful and relaxing afternoon leaving me feeling completely refreshed. I am so glad we offered to help.

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Battle in the garden!

Bugs! not the sneaky electronic kind, though I suspect they might be much easier to deal with. Actually I reckon they could be quite fun but that’s another story. My battle is with the six or eight legged kind… no, what am I talking about? Snails have only one foot and caterpillars considerable more so forget I said that. What I mean is those with more legs than my cat are the ones I am particularly un-partial to. Horrible things that lurk inside every flower pot just waiting for me to come across them. I am certain it is a deliberate conspiracy, I mean no matter how many times I clear the webs, and hopefully the spiders too, I find myself walking into them as I go down the path… Urgh! But that is just my problem, the ones that attack my effort at growing stuff are the ones that really bug me.

This year I have decided against vegetables, the bugs outnumber me! Instead I thought I would plant flowers. Last week I had an angel visit me, no silly, not the winged kind. I have a friend who I have been friends with since Uni five or six years ago and he is truly one of life’s angels. Every time I speak to him or he sends me some of his writings and musings, he uplifts me. I am transported to wherever he has been. I adore the colourful people he has met and his description of them and I suppose I envy a bit all the travelling he does. Yet, I hate myself for this envy because Bobby has FM and he is so often in dreadful pain, walking eases him and he backpacks all over the UK. I am blessed because I get to share his wanderings but more than that I am blessed with his positivity. When I am in pain and feeling sorry for myself, I just read some of my friend’s writing. He has a magic way of healing self pity, I haven’t worked it out yet but that’s why I call him my angel.

Going back to the visit last week I will give an example of his kindness and generosity. Bobby knows I love my garden and he took me out and bought me some trays of bedding plants. What better reminder to be positive, every time I walk into my garden. That’s what he does. I have planted so many pots with flowers, every little corner of the garden has a little plant growing and because I got back into the garden, I gave in and planted some vegetable seeds, just for fun. I have nowhere to put anything but well, it’s a challenge.

I planted trays of radishes and salad leaves, pots of beetroot, so I grow one to a pot!! kohlrabi – the same one to a pot. I haven’t gone for the big plants apart from two tomato plants a friends husband gave me and  – my pride and joy- a cauliflower!

I hear you laugh and I know it’s not really a flower, honest, but well this is a real challenge. I used to have two, I still do. Well two young plants were given to me and I duly planted them, one is one of last years potato sacks and another in a large pot, so why is one absolutely magnificent while the other a small weedy little thing? I just don’t understand. every day I go out and check the leaves for butterfly eggs and bugs, I water and feed  them carefully, I even talk to them. Even Harry is getting excited about the one cauliflower that is really thriving. It is this cauliflower that also encouraged me to plant more veggies. But this time in small pots singly, more to see what happens than anything.

Going back to the bugs… monkey peas rule ok in my garden, that’s woodlice to everyone else, grubs, caterpillars, flying bugs of every kind, weevils, ants, greenfly… I could go on. I sprayed some ant powder round a pot the other day and I swear I could hear a spluttering coming from beneath it. I moved the pot cautiously to find a tiny frog about the size of an elongated 50p piece. He allowed me to pick him up and just looked at me as if to say, ‘What the heck do you think you are doing?’  I felt guilty as he looked at me, this tiny amphibian sitting perfectly still in my hand who would normally need to be held by his leg to keep him still. The sun was beating down and I was afraid he would dry out so I placed him carefully on a cool rock underneath the ferns beside the shed, apologising profusely. He had disappeared a little later so I hope he suffered no ill effects.

I started to look at all the other creatures in my garden. Tiny ants carrying huge white eggs, spiders making a meal of some fly that might have eaten my plants, monkey peas bustling about trying to keep out of the glaring sun, minding their own business, centipedes scurrying out of sight, tiny red spider mites, so red against the green of the leaves.. Oh so many just doing what come naturally, well until I come along with my sprays and powders. Trouble is I feel sorry for them. I think they call it personification. I imagine the little ant carrying its precious load so carefully, a baby in its arms, the caterpillar just wanting to become a butterfly, snails with their rows of teeth just looking for a place to dine… ooh. I walk away and leave them in peace, my mind torn in two. Do I leave them to run as they please in their busy tiny… destructive ways, or do I kill them and give my poor plants a chance. I do battle with myself. Don’t the plants deserve a chance too?

As I sat and pondered beside the pond I noticed some beautiful damsel flies laying their eggs on the surface plants in the water, others were mating with their beautiful little heart shapes, red ones, blue ones. I watched for a while and I put my insecticides away until I feel stronger… Then as I sat watching again a tiny blue butterfly fluttered past me and sat on the mint. An insect angel saying thank you? Grrr… they won the battle – again… but just for today!

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Can we help to stop these things?

The news this last few days has been horrendous to say the least. Like everyone who reads or hears about the terrible cutting short of twelve lives and the further trauma suffered by those involved in the shooting in Cumbria, I am shocked and saddened at these crimes. Such stories in the recent past were previously mainly attributed to American news. Other stories over the years are also becoming more and more common. Body parts found was something I only ever considered as television entertainment from the likes of CSI, the kidnapping of children is now far more common.

Kidnapping is not as much a connection in this entry as an example I can think of to demonstrate what I want to say. I remember in 1978, the day when Genette Tate went missing and to this day there is no evidence on what happened. The Daily Mail online has published an article on Genette’s friend, Maggie, and what she has gone through because she and another friend were the last to have seen Genette alive. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-562233

In that article Maggie not only describes the constant harassment by police questioning her but she also talks about the bullying from classmates who called her murderer and other similar names. The stress on her pushed her to breaking point when one day she exploded at the taunts and kicked one of the girls in the face. In those days, violence like that would not have been common place, it would have been dealt with, probably in the school. Today we read of youths kicking innocent people to death on an all too regular basis! So was Maggie really an aggressive person? In my mind I find it easy to see that she was pushed to that moment that she was unable to control her anger. In that moment, she wasn’t just kicking a girl who called her a name, she was kicking every single thing, person and trial she had been through since that day, including her own hurt.

The connection between events and the explosion in Maggie’s case was understandable but how many people go through life carrying pain and hurt and anger, just like she has? How many carry it hidden deep within themselves and become lonely and introverted and stay that way? Slipping through this so called ‘informed’ society as alcoholics, drop-outs, recluses or simply just lonely people who have trouble with simple communication skills.

What I am trying to say is that inside me there is a person who knows what it is like to be bullied, a person who can’t help thinking that if we all took the time to stop and think of the negative things, hurtful words, derogatory names that come from our mouths, how much nicer would our world be?

Going back to the terrible event in Cumbria, I ask the question – what happened in this man’s life to cause this explosion? I do not condone such behaviour but I wonder if the world had been kinder to him, in whatever the trigger was for him, would this have happened? We hold him responsible for these deaths and his own suicide but should those that have been connected to him throughout his life not take some responsibility for his behaviour? How many have called him names over his life? Was he known as a ‘loser’ at school? Did he not do well and so was labelled stupid or made to feel stupid in front of classmates? Did he not get on with women because a significant female in his life robbed him of any confidence? There are so many questions and so few answers. Instead today we see time and time again the end results, results that cause such terrifying devastation in others lives.

We laugh at ‘kick the cat’ syndrome jokes but this case makes it all too real an event at the furthest extreme. So what about the youths who find it amusing to kick another person or an animal to death? Once again I would like to look through that person’s life and ask what have they been through to lead them to these events. What makes them become so  amoral to the point of disregard for anything or anyone, including life? Somewhere, something has made them this way. I don’t believe babies are born bad.

I think of the hurtful things we might all say… you’re stupid – thick/ don’t be so stupid –  these are little things but as with bringing up children, if you tell a child often enough he is naughty, the label will stick! They could become ‘victims’. Unknown to themselves their demeanour gives a silent message to others.. this person is weak. Primal instinct in animal is to bully the weak. The sad thing is maybe it was us that made them weak in the first place.

I challenge those around me, including myself, to think before we criticise. Positive criticism can be so uplifting, it can connect two people – the giver and the taker- in a such way that makes both feel fulfilled. Better to say ‘I don’t like, or I am not comfortable with, maybe -I am not sure that’s right let’s look at it another way’ than to say you pratt/idiot or whatever other names that are used regularly today. Using the ‘I’word is a great way of making sure the other person isn’t crushed at the point when he can take no more to such devastating results or have his suppression added to.

I am not saying the Cumbrian shooting is anyone’s fault but the perpetrator’s because we all have free will, but in future I shall make even more of an effort to watch what comes out of my mouth, before I open it, in case I add a possible final straw to someone else’s already heavy load. Love, light and prayers to all those involved in Cumbria.

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