Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sit down to write this - first moment of empty kitchen and desk - I think - in walks beloved not due for another half hour. Not used to people who are always earlier than they say....Growl.... Is now pottering around behind me. Sooner we get a wireless setup so I can work upstairs unmolested the better. I know that many a work of literature has been written at the kitchen table, but not, I think, round a retired husband.

Very quiet this morning, no wind. I prowl round the land, then come up to inspect garden, and wonder, as usual, why my geraniums are the only ones on this island not ablaze with colour. Have tried everything; watering, not watering, pruning, not pruning, but nothing avails. Down the road, up a track, towards yet another extinct volcano, is a semi-ruined cabin; round it petunias, geraniums of all sorts, colours, including scented, hardly a leaf to be seen for flower, and not a sign they are ever tended. So why???

Yesterday was the woman in the attic's birthday. This time last year Beloved was still attempting to look after her - nearly killing himelf and her in the process; hence his evacuation up here, by me and (his) Daughter. Thereby incurring utter opprobrium of her (the wife's family) who seems to take the view that duty should have called him to go on killing them both....according to the carers this is common with families when care situations breakdown. Am not the least worried, myself, about being the scarlet woman out to get the family cash, but such slander of previously half-dead Beloved does irk me. As does the obstruction of all attempts to sort the situation out by those who have taken on themselves powers of attorney. Head on clashes between two people who like to feel in control (Beloved, on the one hand, attic woman's brother on the other) not fun to be around. Even at second remove.

Anyway. Attic woman resides not in attic but nice house owned by Beloved down the road in seaside village. We take her out to birthday lunch. Bring champagne not usually allowed because of previous alcoholism plus vascular problems. Beautiful day, if windy. Sea bright blue, turquoise, waves breaking nicely frothy and white. I sit with my back to it and take photographs of the happy pair; kind of heartbreaking. Beloved is very sweet to her. She is not hostile at all, as once, but melancholy; even her presents only half stir her; her face is ever more cloudy. Eventually I see tears rolling down from closed eyes and alert beloved who hugs her. 'I don't want to die,' she says. Her mother died at the age she now is - she's always said she would do the same, so maybe that's it. Beloved tries to reassure her 'You're getting better - you're much better than you were.' (true in certain respects, thanks to the carers. Not true in others - her understanding and memory ever fades - or seems so, though she's always worse with Beloved and/or me.) I quote recent statistic of people coming to live in such climates living much longer. We comfort her through the rest of the meal - I go off and leave them alone for a while. Later Beloved asks how you should respond to people who say they're dying; should you reassure them, say it's not true, or what. I don't know. If people are right about this - they can be - do you give them permission to suffer the fear? Or what. Attic wife is obsessional anyway; is this her present obsession? In which case you can only have the same conversation over and over again, suggesting what might or might not be truer than she thinks.

Later chief carer rings to say she's had yet another epileptic seizure. Could be alcohol; could be birthday excitement; could be fear of death, who knows. Could be move to impending death. Beloved is upset and needs comforting. Probably needs comforting now, padding round the kitchen behind me, so I had better get on and do it. Chief carer is supposed to be reporting back, but hasn't yet.

Off to ring Telefonica. A frustrating process. Grannypxxx

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Creation Date: Tue Apr 27, 12:00:14 PM

Try again; yesterday I wrote this offline - broadband not yet available in rural Canaries, or at least Telefonica is not turning up to sort it out - in attempting to go back on line to edit and publish it, lost the whole thing.

A west wind today; predictable pattern for this - early it's clear, as sun rises it picks up moisture from sea which condenses into heavy cloud - there's even a drop or two of rain; the sun rising higher burns it off and now there's sun and cloud mixed. It's warmer. No sign of trade winds yet, for which thanks. Wonder whether weird weather of winter and spring will continue, disrupting usual patterns. The flowers are miraculous, carpets of purple, white, yellow all over. I've seen three different kinds of grass - one like wild oats, one barley ditto. Over in the fields now I can see a man with a yellow canister on his back spraying his vines. Organic here we are not.

Beloved and painter off fishing again; ructions of past few days are smoothed over; beloved wound up about family matters which does tend to explode in my direction. Family matters relate to - well let's say he's a Mr Rochester, though I'm a little old I think to be Jane Eyre. Also I don't think the woman in the attic had an obstructive not to say slightly vengeful brother; but that's another story. Ructions between Beloved and me tend to home in on our home in our different modes of being and thinking - his logical, scientific, mine intuitive, literary. Different planets, let alone different epistemes - to use the fancy word. Actually that what's interesting, given that as characters we are pretty alike. Painter listened in amazement one night last week over argument which sums it up. I'd told the story of a dying woman in rural New Zealand, a farmer's wife, who'd barely been as far as Auckland and to whom I'd been talking about Australia, it's immense distances, it's conversely crowded cities. Looking across at her husband's grazing stock, towards the bush-covered ridge which bounded her world, she said: "I can't imagine crowds. I can't imagine distance." A statement which haunted and continues to haunt me. Painter understood this at once and nodded. Beloved said: "but New Zealand's not that small - what did she mean, she couldn't imagine distance?" I tried and failed to explain the symbolic, metaphorical implications. He couldn't see it. It's always like this, though in his own field he's the cleverest person I've ever met, almost a genius. My ignorance, lack of understanding in his world baffles him equally.

He also regards most fiction - ie about emotions, relationships - as concerning what he calls 'the commonplace; cliches.' Hard to explain that if you took the simple plots of Shakespeare, say, it comes to much the same... he's not interested in narrative, only in finding out things he doesn't know (ie he knows, he thinks, all about human emotional interactions...) He likes documentaries, films, plays, around issues, places, histories. Two nights ago we tried to watch a film, a small precise, lovely film called 'You can count on me', about a single mother and her brother. He watched half an hour of this, muttering about cliches etc, finally went off in a huff that I could want to watch such stuff myself, let alone inflict it on him. I had difficulty in stopping him getting into the truck and driving off in the dark, full of liquor to his other house for the night. Succeeded; but still have difficulty in persuading him that this view of fiction in any media totally rubbishes what I spend my life doing, trying to make new fresh sense of little - but immense - human lives and feelings. All the odder with him stuck in such a big human drama as he has been for years. And which is the reason, of course - as I realised then - that he was feeling so touchy.

A lovely, not to say beloved man. I sort him. But oh dear......

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I hate technology - pre-tech woman, me. Attempt this morning to set up comment possibility for this blog failed dismally. Ditto to put links. Also for one link I need RSS and you can't get this except by being blogger pro, and right now they've stopped taking on new upgrades, so it's all catch22.

Beloved and painter are off a'fishing, so I'm typing this, crossly, and listening to Geoffrey Hill on Private Passions on Radio 3. He has one of those slow, turgid, professorial voices - currently intoning a line as if it's poetry. Worcestershire born and bred - which makes me sigh nostalgically for Birmingham. Elgar followed by Coventry Carol. That's so far.

Will beloved catch fish? Don't know. We have a rock pool in our kitchen. In it various bloodthirsty marine creatures have come and gone. Longest living is large crab which dines off anything it can get - mostly hermit crabs and snails which it cracks and scoops out. It also grabs up sea urchins - sea anenomes, even, lately, fish. Previous crab got eaten by an octopus - octopus did not survive powercut - airline went and it suffocated. Same thing happened to equally large and carnivorous starfish that pinned a fish against the glass, and proceed to eat it; not eating as you and I do; it was more as if the fish, slowly, evaporated before our eyes. Anenomes engulf what they catch and swallow. Hermits, before the crab gets them scuttle about at bottom of tank eating anything there.

The crab changed shells once. The old one lay entire on the sand and cracked remains of shells at the bottom of the tank.

How had it got out?

People walk into our kitchen and stand staring, mesmerised, slightly horrified that we live, benignly. in view of all this carnage. Frail creatures, people

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Two in a day - shows how functional I've been. And how solipsistical. Looked up to see if this site had got into Google - it hadn't of course - but came across a version of grannyp that hadn't occurred to this older? innocent....grannyporn only the beginning of it. Looked up some of the free offers - um, um, not appalled - not shocked - just bored - endless genital insertions into any orifice pretty soon palls. I mean after all these years I know all about my own and quite a lot about other people's. Topped by grey hair so what. Fun it doesn't look. It isn;t. Have had to cleanse the computer in case beloved got more info/stroke messages than he wanted.

No hot tub. Hit the wrong buttons and it stayed cold. Beloved and painter wrestling with fishing-rods out front. Definitely a man thing; not like the above except in the obvious figurative sense. But I am no fish. Cold or otherwise. Slogit.

Saturday: free radio 3 on internet, sex and coffee in bed. (not simultaneously.) Skylight above bed; I look at clouds moving, clearing. What are you thinking asks beloved? Nothing much... Afterwards finish Penelope Lively book, The Photograph, skilful, perceptive - even compulsive - but too neat, too bland compared to Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theatre, finished yesterday. (After departure of family have taken a day or two off. Why not? At my age- which will seem vast if you're twenty, less so as times goes on, and you realise that twenty is a minuscule space of time -what's wrong with being idle? Do I ask that because I am still of generation taught that the devil finds work for idle hands to do? If so, hurrah for the devil.) Roth is furious, obscene, excessive, over the top and entirely exhilirating. A great writer. Both books though about the after effects pf death, loss (as indeed is current Russian liturgical music on radio, boomy Russian bass, de profundis). P Lively's characters politely shattered by a suicide, Roth's hero anything but politely, scatalogically, pornographically shattered by the death of his brother in World War Two. This is I realise the theme of most lives, sooner or later, whether or not recognised.

Look at the past war-filled century. Even you young are children of the twentieth century to some extent, could, may have had lost grandparents at least. My ninety -odd year old father, child of almost all of it, weeps still for brothers killed in the first war, friends in the second, tears rolling down his cheeks. Weeps too, as I do, for women lost to our family lurgy - breast cancer - my mother aged fifty three when I was twenty three, my twin sister aged fifty one when I was.. oh work it out. Almost every month now too someone known about, if only at far far distance, by repute, is suddenly there no more. And someone else fades, in a bed, tended 24 hours, at vast expense, because doctors are supposed to keep people alive if at all possible. (Is that because no matter how much we are all driven by loss - or not - contemplating our own deaths, in advance, cannot be allowed to creep into consciousness, no matter how much it pervades our imagery, our dreams? I heard of one doctor, to my horror, saying 'but there's no such thing as a good death? Oh no? How about the bad ones? If you - I - did fruitfully contemplate it, you'd make a living will. But who does? I propose to; haven't yet. No matter how much I remember, applaud, Montaigne. 'To philosophize is to learn how to die.) At twenty of course it's the death of a yesterday, a love affair, a project, a drunken evening that counts. Death is a horror movie; scare yourself and scream it out of sight. Well, I remember that, all those years ago, till suddenly my mother got sick and then it all became all too real, so real I almost succeeded in doing away with myself out of the dreary depths of it - lucky me, I didn't succeed. What does my Frida Kalho obsessed
granddaughter see of death in all that blood, those skulls, I wonder? I wonder.

The sun is shining. My cat caught a mouse last night so is doing his job. Down on the land generations of large lizards succeed each other. The prickly pears sprout waxy flowers, worthy of Philip Roth - some yellow, some orange. Oh and visiting painter has taken off sometimes high-maintenance though lovely beloved so I have the house and this machine and radio 3 to myself. And maybe, shortly, the hot-tub too. Shades of California here. Whoopee. Granny pxxx

Friday, April 23, 2004

Daughter and granddaughter on plane last night. I hate them going as much as I welcome the prospect of time to myself.....You look white says beloved on return from airport; I'm in mourning I say, which is true, sort of. Anyway we all go out to dinner at a German restaurant. OK for this island, London it isn't. And today the cheerful builder turns up and agrees happily to leave the remaining heaps of rock and clear up the rest. So Mr Blackburn is happier too. And the undisturbed animalitos are happier too or would be if they knew anything about it. (I have salamanders that big, the biggest on the island, Mr Blackburn informs me while I feed him consolatory juice.) Sun is kind of coming out. Beloved and visiting painter are off on escorted walk in national park and will come back better informed. I hope. And any minute the trade winds start and it's no rain till October. Merrily, merrily, merrily. (Mrs Blackburn is currently clearing up my kitchen, unasked. But why should I object?) In due course I move beds, again, last time till October. So that's OK. Life is back to normal. And I can write. I hope. grannypxxx

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A melancholy day in the Canary Islands. Weatherwise. Today my daughter and eldest granddaughter leave which augments it for me. Seven almost eight year olds are beasts looking two ways - on the one hand this child has developed a kind of gravitas since I saw her last - denoting growing up... she draws a lot, as always but is now obsessed by the painter Frieda Kahlo, seeming not a wit disturbed by the blood and piercings therein; she says she likes all the self-portraits and has taken to making her own, tho' not looking in a mirror to do it. On the other hand the small child still lurks - she weeps when my animals are too forward and has terrified herself with the boggarts and ghouls of the Penguin Dictionary of Fairies which she found one day and insisted on investigating. Yesterday we went to watch cycling parrots - oh yes, really - and this much cheered her. Actually I guess we're all a bit like this if much less transparently; terrifying ourselves with what others take for granted or are merely amused by; and vice versa.

The land is green green green. Not so the other island where we went - which looked as if the Sahara had decided to take a seaside holiday. At a high point we found a crazy Irish woman offering cheese toasties, leapt on of course by said child - in fact all of us opted for cheese and onion toasties as a change from gambas al ajillo..... why not, why not. Meanwhile serenaded by music from the Andes and garlanded above our heads by lengths of magenta Christmas tinsel. Afterwards we leapt up and rolled down white dunes down by the sea.

Meantime, back at the ranch, our attempt to shift stones off the land has caused deep melancholy in our landman from Blackburn, who likes things ordered and organised and expects people to do what they say, whereas all the canarian builders/bulldozer drivers want is a) stones, which are valuable and b) to work at their convenience. Beloved disclaims all responsibility. I pour oil on troubled water - or try to: thinking MEN. Actually I don't care a fuck as long I get a sheltered place and can plant the odd citrus and almond tree; up here they get unhappy in the wind. Even so now, I'm off to water them. xxxgrannyp

Monday, April 19, 2004

Early early - for me. Raining again. Woke up thinking of writing my memoirs - silly thought - but up came a story. Good. I'm alive again. Doesn't matter if life seems short - it is. In those moments it goes on for ever...Off to another island today. Literally and figuratively.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Grannyp's been doing what grannies do....cooking, writing, entertaining grandchildren and equally her beloved - oh yes grannies have beloveds and do with them what 20 -30-40-50 year olds do with theirs. Whoopee. Except that in Canarian house made of lava stone with coming and going families we have to keep moving beds. I walked up a volcanic crater one fine day and got sore feet. Today it rained - very cosy in a warm place, we lit fires and sat round them and read, just like England. Then I picked flowers from our land with eldest grand-daughter (others now home, alas) and sat trying to identify them while she pressed some of them in a encyclopedia - on top of which we both sat to help the process along. Am reading most unsuitable book, Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theater - a kind of porno King Lear, all love and aging and death. Wonderful. Getting old is more interesting than youth I decide, if much less comfortable. Beloved is behind me - I work in the kitchen - making saffron chicken - (selecting a beloved for cooking skills has its points - not that he hasn't many others.. see above) Old men get hairs in their noses - old women don't but have other drawbacks. But desire remains. And all that experience enlivens.

My orange cat sat among the daisies and then went mad. My granddaughter gloried in the waxy indecently large and orange flowers on the prickly pear - so did her grandmother. Life in moments can seem good.

Back to filling in insurance forms. Good evening. Good night. xxxx

Saturday, April 10, 2004

I had my purse stolen today in a supermarket in the Canary Islands. Bag containing purse well hidden under heaps of healthy vegetables, etc, etc in my trolley. Thief removed entire trolley while I was bent over ice-cream cabinet, looking, reluctantly for unhealthy lollies for visiting grand-daughters - he/she then decamped with to wine section, rummaged underneath and removed my equally unhealthy but more valuable lolly. Trolley veggies etc and bag found there between red wine and white - but no money, no cards. Bugger bugger bugger. (Grannies can swear like anyone else.) Anyway: this triggered this: a blog. Plus statistic in last Sundays Observer that 91% of bloggers under 31. (Obviously I'm not.) Plus birth of my dead twin sister's first grandchild. An emotional moment. Plus April plus burgeoning of midget figs on enthusiastic fig trees on our land, plus depredations of large crab currently residing in large fish tank in the kitchen. (More of this another time. Warnings to hermit crabs, included....) PLus Icy wind today. Sun. And a bulldozer on our land all day shifting stones. It's all go here. Sign off. Hullo, goodbye, goodnight. Bedtime reading lies ahead. (The junior sort.) love to everyone. Granny P. ( xxxx

Click Here