Friday, August 29, 2008


Years ago I really enjoyed roller-coaster rides, the slow groaning ascent, and the short plateau trail, all a part of the anticipated thrill of descent. These days, when it’s my health that boards the roller-coaster, all I long for is a prolonged period of time to be spent on a somewhat lower plateau. Any descent is an unwelcome event!

Although undergoing a rather shattered tetchy phase at present, as my body screams out for rest, my sleep pattern has returned to a much more erratic state. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum really; am I unable to sleep properly because I’m so shattered or, am I shattered because I’m not getting the right kind of sleep?

Even the shutting of the washing machine door creates sufficient sound energy to send shock waves through my chest, and sets my body trembling. At least these days it’s just a passing phase whereas, a few short years ago, I underwent extended periods of time when any unexpected sound or strong light source was sufficient to send my nervous system into overdrive, my mind and body requiring periods of isolation to recover, so I’ve nothing to grumble about with the current situation!

The prospect of a long journey (5 ½ hours, arduously long by my standards), to be made in the not too distant future, does little to ease my discomfort; in fact it starts the vicious tension circle rolling. Any journey these days requires a steeling of the nerves on my part and, I only wish I had more courage to cope with the period of anticipation.

Meantime, weather permitting, the best therapy is sitting or pottering about in the garden, observing the avian and piscine activity at close range. Recent watercolour painting activity has ground to a (hopefully temporary) halt, resources of mental / emotional stamina being in rather short supply.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Of Disparity and Separation

If the overall level of discomfort was greater, the whole situation would be easier to understand. It’s a rather strange sensation, even if not at all unfamiliar, to feel totally drained and tetchy, yet not at all tired. It has been one of those fidgety days for me, eager to get on with something yet not having the stamina to perform whatever task it may be.

Perhaps I’m suffering from shell-shock, having been separated from my beloved for more than 14 hours yesterday, whilst she attended a wedding in Northumberland!

We’re a couple of softies really, with a mutual dependence on each other’s presence; in the 8 ½ years since we were married, we’ve only spent three nights apart, two occasions when I was hospitalized overnight and once when Helen’s recently bereaved sister needed her company. It’s almost as if life goes into a tortuous state of suspended animation, when such separations occur!

For someone who had remained free from marital entanglement, until I had spent nearly five and a half decades on planet earth, it’s rather unnerving to have entered such a mutually dependent relationship but, neither of us feels complete without the other.

I’ve just realized, it sounds like I’m blaming marriage for my plight. That’s far from the reality; in fact, what I was hoping to express was the deleterious effect of separation! Similarly, the disparity between my desire to be active and the available resource of physical and emotional stamina could well be responsible for today’s sense of dis-ease.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Alex(andra) Davies

I really enjoyed this audition on last nights X-Factor

Murmuring Mal paces his space

Since my posting earlier in the day, I've posted a further blog, "pacing my space", on Mal's Murmurings. It probably contains what I thought I was going to write about when starting to doodle on the keyboard this morning but,my mind quite naturally went off at a tangent.

Who Knows ... ?

Who knows where the time goes? Is it a song, is it a bird or, is it quite simply a statement of my reality? Truth be told, I love the song but, even more, I find myself wondering exactly where it does go! Strange how it sounds like either a metaphysical or a pure physics question.


Where once I regularly managed, or indeed needed to, post a blog entry every day, in these days of idleness it’s often difficult to find the space in my non-routine to fit it in. Sometimes, I’m quite amazed that I manage to get anything done; day-dreaming proves such a time consuming occupation!


My thoughts often turn to serious issues like how a military force that moves in defence of a brutally repressed separatist movement in Eastern Europe (think South Ossetia) can be considered wrong, as it thwarts the goal of an American educated and supported President with an army partly American trained, whilst the people who offer such condemnation think nothing of slaughtering innocent Iraqis in the course of perpetrating an illegal war! Issues of sovereignty suddenly loom large. Sadly, when the big boys play their self-interested games, it’s always the innocents that suffer most.


When it comes to politics, there seems to be little room for morality. There was a time when I was a truly political animal, it served to take the place of the evangelical religious faith I had recently rejected owing to its reactionary asocial outlook. Even then though, I was a creature of contradictions, a would-be pacifist longing to man the barricades in the cause of social justice, a pothead serving a puritanical Trotskyite sect, a Buddhist clinging to the material world.


This isn’t the post I sat down to write but, who knows where the words flow?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Long-tailed Delight

Just as the needle swings towards, and hovers around, the compass point of self-pity, I shift myself towards the kitchen door, take out a cigarette and inhale deeply. Not that the nicotine alleviates the symptoms but, it does serve as a temporary distraction from my calves apparently laden with heavy toxic waste and the hollow sensation in my upper limbs.


No sooner have I drawn deeply from the chemical laden coffin nail than my attention is drawn to the congregation of birds around our various feeding stations. It’s truly delightful to see more than half-a-dozen long-tailed tits amongst the other visitors. We’ve always had plenty of coal tits around and, regular if somewhat spasmodic visits from blue tits and great tits but, previous sightings of this particular variety have tended to be of one bird at a time. It’s quite strange that many of these common birds seem to give the garden a miss, no matter how well we try to cater for their needs.


Today, this sighting proved a real godsend. It’s so wonderful to revel in observing nature on ones own doorstep. The traces of self-pity swiftly dissipate, as I immerse myself in a joyous creation! For the moment, the debilitating aches and discomfort can be left to take care of themselves; at least I’ll try my darnedest to ignore them!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Elements Of Surprise

Perhaps I’m still not sufficiently in tune with the warning signals my body emits. My confidence in the ability to recognize acceptable levels of exertion is perhaps misplaced. This evening, totally unexpectedly, an onslaught of old familiar symptoms pounced upon me. A nagging, nausea provoking, bruising discomfort simultaneously attacked shoulders and upper arms, forearms and wrists, as well as a distinct sense of dis-ease in hips, thighs and right calf. These symptoms were swiftly followed by a tender discomfort in the glands of left armpit and my neck.


Such a congregation of ailments, gathered in one place at one time, have been almost unknown for the past couple of years, in spite of occasional irregular visitations in a variety of different combinations. As it proved impossible to find a comfortable position in which to relax, an attempt at exorcising these harsh discomforts by writing them down seemed a reasonable idea. To my surprise, as I force my fingers to strike the appropriate keys the symptoms themselves have abated to a less excruciating level.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Matter Of Time

Well, once again I’m rather shattered but, I didn’t get here without a fight. In the course of the past week I’ve managed to get a bit more work done in the garden. Yet another water feature is now part of our garden-scape, this time a small pre-formed pond close to the greenhouse, as home to one or two marginal plants, a water lily and hopefully, in the course of time, a multiplicity of fauna. The digging out proved remarkably easy, until I hit the clay layer, but thinking back a couple of years I wouldn’t have even been able to contemplate this kind of endeavour. I have to admit that, what would have been a couple of hours effort (before returning to other tasks) in pre-illness days, had to be spread over days rather than hours!

Our main, and deepest pond, framed with reeds, water spearmint and flag iris, is also home to a few water lilies and a selection of variegated goldfish. There’s certainly no paucity of frogs in the garden, despite the havoc wreaked on the tadpole population by the fish. To one side of the garden we have a heavily planted circular patio pond as well as other sunken water containers scattered around.

Today was heavy weeding day, closely supervised by small flotillas of tortoiseshell butterflies on adjacent buddleias but, just over one hour of effort presented my body with all the warning signals that I needed to rest.

After a little rest, I was able to get on with preparations for Sunday lunch; what I’d do without the heavy duty wok is a bit of a mystery to me now; I always prepare my casserole dishes, curries, saffron rice, stir fries etc in this utensil.

My casseroles frequently start with the same ingredients but it’s amazing the difference a random sprinkling of a few different spices and herbs make to the end result. Today’s effort began with a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper and Tabasco sauce onto the freshly diced chicken breasts, left to stand whilst I prepared a couple of onions, yellow, red and green peppers, and sliced a couple of handfuls of closed cup mushrooms.

The olive oil in the wok was generously infused with paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric and a sprinkling of mixed herbs. Firstly I browned the onions before throwing in the diced chicken then, after a few minutes stirring added the sliced peppers a short while before I added the mushrooms. A tin of plum tomatoes was next to go in, more freshly ground black pepper added at this stage. Having ensured that I’d sufficiently pulped the tomatoes, I left the lidded wok to simmer for few more minutes before adding a jar of creamy mushroom sauce.

The resulting concoction has now been decanted into a couple of casserole dishes and, par-boiling of my special herbed and spiced potatoes, which I’ll roast tomorrow, is all that remains for me to do. My beloved always sees to the accompanying greens!

I hadn’t intended to write about my cooking, just as I didn’t know I was going to write about the garden; it quite simply felt that a blog posting was overdue and, the keyboard took over!

I rejoice and give thanks for this day the Lord has made.