Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004

Sunday, May 30, 2004

London. Time seems out of itself. On hold, crudely. After closeup of family dramas in Sussex, found a degree of normality back in London...went down to Kew and was plunged deep in cooking and bouncy castles. Called being useful granny, a change from grieving daughter. After which, hats switching, I talked music with a visiting musician and music producer, both clutching babies. (Story of music much like story of books. Moneymen have taken over - only hope of oddities being taken up is new small companies.) Rain and sun. English weather. Meal eaten partly in and out, time spent between house, garden and Kew Green where local pub had set up the said bouncy castles. My two younger granddaughters who tend to like taking their clothes off at all times have discovered mooning somehow. This has to be discouraged. If funny.

Not just my dad. In the last few days have discovered that my mother's great friend had died too - appropriately for her of a heart attack, in a swimming pool. She always was outrageous - my buttoned-up but underneath wild mother's alter ego. Another person from whom my dad snatched us all way after my mother died and he fled thirty miles or so west, to dread Haslemere, cutting us off from our childhood at a stroke. My mother died 41 years ago. All this makes it seem new.

On top of this my two mad American cousins - 85 years old - both have Altzheimers.

A whole world is swept away - but isn't it always?

I am just tired tired. And at 4am tomorrow have to head for plane and Beloved in Cadiz. Can no more. I kiss the babies. They are warm and full of life. Heartbreaking.

Goodnight. Granny p

Friday, May 28, 2004

Sussex. Friday. Can a granny say she's an orphan? A frivolous question- maybe - a sideline of utter sadness. Granny no longer surveying - with wonder - the rare but few grasses of her island territory, instead awash with them in southern England, mourning dead dad. Died - at last - 1pm Wednesday - while she, surrounded by ?happy holidaymakers was on a last-minute flight to Luton. She, son, daughter, Ozzie sister, Ozzie niece foregathered then tearfully at brother's house, and surrounded themselves thereafter with old photograph albums. Sense of exile from the lengthy past represented by the aged p augmented now by immersion in it; also augmented by gratitude for the fact that what it created is - as granny's brother not usually vocal about these things told her daughter - a lovely family. It is lovely. Particularly granny's bit - but then she would think that and the others bits are, mostly, pretty nice too.

Oh that lately so sad old man my pa - obstinate, maddening - stuck in the past - turns out he was known up at his golf club as 'Stuffy' - this says as much about golf club as him - who never seemed to have a clue where grannyp or his other daughters was coming from - whom she couldn't talk to except about the past - this gut, sticky, gritty, god-help-us feeling- this bereftness - constitutes love I suppose; and loss. Nothing romantic about it; nothing breathes...'I love you, daddy..' - just exasperation; just loss. I kissed his bald head in the mortuary yesterday. It was cold. I'm beginning to cry now.

Monday I fly to Cadiz to rescue Beloved, who is being most kindly and understanding on the other end of the phone. Thursday back here for the funeral. Not much blogging for a bit,

At the registry office yesterday there was confetti on the steps and the registrar kept taking calls from people wanting to register births. My Ozzie younger aiater and I found photos in dad's desk of him with his father aged three or so, such a darling little boy. We are going to blow it up, along with pictures of him and his children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren and display them round the house on the day of the funeral...

Tourist brochure England. Chestnut blossom, hawthorn, poppies, lupins, roses, blackbirds, thrushes busting themselves. As in life and all that. xxxa mournful granny p

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

More rain! At 10.30 or so see man sitting huddled against it on his donkey cart laden with some kind of wood and food, everything wet. Need to treasure this - all the men with donkeys are old: when they've gone, no more donkeys. (Donkeys are it seems, strangely, very hard to buy here and very expensive.) Local cleaner Nieves says it never rains in May normally, and that the television is saying that in July it will be stinking hot. This will also make the sun more dangerous: she is afraid of skin cancer herself, and has a mole which she needs to get checked out. ('Nieves' means 'Snow'...either wishful thinking here or she is in the wrong latitude entirely. Or maybe it's the closest Spanish can get to'Snow White'. Why has 'Rose red' never been made a name, I wonder?)

Rain clearing now. Nieves cleaning behind me at this very moment. I have wasted half an hour looking for my Spanish chequebook - suspect Beloved may have put it with all of his.....Action Man is on the roof now it's drier, hammering away, as yesterday, and Mr and Mrs Handsome are out the front planting succulents from their garden and marvelling at the wild flowers. It has not only stopped raining, it's brightening a lot, just like yesterday - in the afternoon the light was very bright, sky very blue, shadows very dark, all of it brutal. I walked round the land 2-3 times realising how the scents change according to time of day. Lizards darting, butterflies crazily air-surfing, grasshoppers lifting, drifting, as suddenly falling, at all times. In the morning close to the rain, the land all steaming, the early-opening purple carpet flowers scenting the air. By mid afternoon, though the later-opening scentless deep blue eyes of the tiny Canarian forgetmenots are still open the purple eyes are shut and the perfumes gone. It's grass smell instead, that warm afternoon scent. Between walks, I watch the end of the Test Match against NZ on the telly - one merit of getting Channel 4 is cricket. It was pretty close and pretty exciting - English won by seven wickets and Nasser Nussein got another century. Action Man meantime hammering over my head and no doubt puzzled at my leaping around after some of the best fours. All Very pleasing - to me at least, Beloved doesn't see it, and disappears to the other house to work after an interrupted morning, and does well. So everyone is happy.

Maize field next door still not totally harvested. I saw the old man out on his own early, then in late afternoon there were five or so of them again and the boxes and the truck. The dogs have found out how to get on the wall by the compost heap and bark at them which can be embarrassing. Beloved's dog has taken to disappearing in the evenings and we think she goes to the maize field and chases rabbits. This might not be popular with the neighbour: but hard to tell.

In bed last night we discuss more differences. My 'daydreaming'. His 'thinking' - around ideas on the one hand, problems on the other. My need for music as background to this - sometimes- his only for silence. Hard to explain that in the end there is not so much difference between the thinking and the daydreaming - wasn't Einstein day dreaming rather than thinking when he looked out of the window and came up with relativity? - certainly my plot problems can be - usually are - solved liked that. Hard also to explain that knowing can be not knowing.And that fiction can address problems and ideas just as well as fact. Beloved tends to call much of my thinking in all such areas 'slippery,'- not to say self-justificatory -(solipistic is another word that comes to granny's mind at least, but I don't think he knows that one, luckily!) Maybe it is. The whole thing drowns in words in the end and we are exhausted and find it hard to sleep. Alright this morning....Grannyp

Monday, May 24, 2004

Raining - hard! This year is ODD. Means there will still be flowers when we come back in July, so good. It's also delicious watching it pelt down, just like home.

Everyone holed up in the kitchen behind me with mugs of tea, discussing doors to be made between dining-room and kitchen to shut cat in/out (in other words to keep him firmly where the mice are, so that he can do his job.) 'Everyone' means Beloved, Handsome from Blackburn and Action Man from Hamburg who's come to fix the glass room in the sittingroom which currently shakes rattles rolls at the smallest wind, and could at any particularly powerful gust send lethal spears of glass hurtling down on us or (worse?) on any litigiously minded guests....This should change when he's done his 300 euros worth of work. But of course he can't do it in the rain any more than Handsome can do what he was proposing to do. (Having spent over an hour watering this morning he's not happy either...nor is cat who yowls to go out, puts a paw fastidiously on window/door sill and withdraws it, spoiled animal.) Action man from Hamburg is actually cross between A M, Frankenstein's monster, and aging Hitler youth - is also by report a bit of a) a recluse b)a bully, regarding any form of electronic equipment and any kind of outside activity/amusement as unnecessary, imposing this on his long-suffering wife - who, who also by report - from my friend Bottle Blond M who lives in the same housing complex- got into much trouble for accepting her old mobile phone as a gift. Both, though, are geniuses at make do mend of all kinds (for his kinds see above.) She is round - if much less round than he is tall - he is a GIANT. Very obliging, she sews, makes curtains, chair covers, knows the herbal remedy for every ailment and gardens miraculously. He is a bit creepy, to my mind. She is not. But both useful/helpful. Expat society here is very various. This probably includes us.

Rain has stopped. Kitchen emptied. Sky still gloomy. Wind seems to be coming from South West, which always means rain, etc. So I guess that's it. Even though such features of an Atlantic climate don't usually figure here at this time of year. (Global warming? Or just periodic variation? Who knows?)

Have finished the White Mughal book. Have never galloped through any such dense historical stuff at such a rate. Shows how compulsive it is. Reading done despite much work yesterday, also swim, washing big load plus other domestic bit and pieces, also - at six o'clock last night- going partway up nearest but one hill with dogs. Am gradually sorting out good, if non-listed walks from here, though it's tricky alone. Shame that Beloved isn't keener. He says he only likes walks if they're interesting. When I point out that a) even the best walks have boring bits b) that it's not possible to find out if they are interesting except by doing them, he agrees: but is still not over-keen to take the risk. Impasse. Yet how can I reject for such a trivial reason one who makes me coffee every morning? (Among many other lovely things.) I don't. Kiss kiss - to him or you or whoever. Granny P

Sunday, May 23, 2004

In bed last night Beloved invites granny p to discuss philosophical implications of word 'freedom'. Despite his pointing-out that from such comes all the things she care about - women's, gay's emancipation, edicts against torture, etc, etc, granny not keen. Prefers, ie, to go on reading, which Beloved doesn't regard as living. (Yes and no.) With such discussions we entertain ourselves. Fondly. (Most of the time).

Amazingly quiet day. No wind to speak of. Sun coming out. Walk round the land in large local straw hat, inspecting newly popping-up poppies. Not even the pigmen out. Just the dogs and my cat following behind me, yowling.

Happy morning - Beloved off sorting out broken light chez attic woman. Have been downloading information on cranes for ever growing book ..... cranes self-grow too which is interesting. Also babies.

Kitchen is a disgrace... who cares?

Am reading William Dalrymple's book on the White Moghuls - those much more sympathetic eighteen century India hands, the people actually respecting - loving - India and Indians, only to be displaced by the superior - ie racist - colonisers, predatory financiers and bonkers evangelicals who defined the Victorian British Empire. It all sounds close to now. "War on terror" = denigrating any Iraqi unwilling to be exploited politically and financially (in the name of 'civilising' him - bringing the 'benefits of democracy') as a 'terrorist' and patronising the rest. Beloved says he likes the eighteenth century and nineteenth was all downhill - twenty-first century show signs of similar relationship to twentieth. Despite all those C20 wars and massacres, he might just have a point, at least if Bush and his religious nuts - and Sharon and his ditto- are not only setting the tone but will continue to. Back to Inquisitions. Christian, muslim, judaic.

Back to typing up notes. Full sun outside. Why aren't I on holiday? This time next week of course I - we - will be - am dreading it just now. Which is ridiculous given how much I want it, how much we need it. But why do I go into flying work mode just as I'm about to have to drop it? this time for more than a month? PERVERSITY....

Flies on my nose. The downside of summer.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Saturday evening. Ironman day - not that I've seen any of it; woke up late, with headache to the sound of the bulldozer on our land, come to clear stones. It was gone not long after it arrived, leaving little but a new heap. waiting for a non-arriving truck, and never re-appeared. Beloved not happy about this. By the time I'd got up he had departed to his other place, and I'd forgotten about Ironmen one way or another; not a solitary labouring cyclist, not an onlooker seen. Everything up here, though, has seemed very quiet. No campers round La Santa; nothing. I guess this is about one of the only events that puts this island on the world may so maybe they go to watch. Or maybe they don't.

Hazy, lazy day, wind north to northwesterly (I think) but minor. Sun, on and off. Spend morning struggling with website which only made headache worse. Two inspections of land - one fig tree is bursting with future fruit - the other which had more in the first fruiting as yet has none: I think this partly relates to later coming of leaves, and that there will be fruit in due course, though I may be wrong. First tree looks set to burgeon just when we're away, which is unfortunate. My tomatoes ditto. It is a feature of exile, I think, which even when unchosen, like mine (no, the Canaries are not my 'dream' retirement home, far from it, I quite like England...) means that you are permanently split. I long to go 'home' ie to England, but this time, when I'm there, and before, travelling through Spain, I'll be regretting not seeing the fruit ripen, what happens to the flowers, whether the birds go on frequenting my garden - is this a feature of the past rains or is it because of the trees and plants growing up? - regretting not seeing if the trade winds come or not. And perhaps I'll still keep smelling the fig-tree reek, so profound, so deep, not fruit exactly - certainly not that over-ripe insect ridden smell once the figs ripen, but not wholly leaf either. Inerradicable.

Poppies on my land. Our resident kestral came and sat quite close to me on a rock, during one of my circuits. On a walk with the dogs just now I saw a hoopoe, always delightful if not exactly rare here. I also saw how leggy the vines are, how green, much leggier and greener than usual - shoots in some places across the path. Some of the fruit is swollen already. Some is barely beyond clusters of seeds on a stem.

Last night Beloved said. 'You have such a memory for people and what they did; I don't remember any of that, I just remember how things are done. I can always remember all of that.'

'It's the people I'm interested in,' I said.

'Unlike me,' he said. (Well more or less.) Grannyp

Friday, May 21, 2004

Eureka!! Sudden leap forward into new part of book; its being wanted or not wanted much less important in this moment than wondrous escape from block. (Thought of developing it on paper less happy.) Peaceful morning on own apart from odd incursion by Handsome from Blackburn, once with new wine brought round by neighbour. Far more and more vocal birds than before as well of butterflies because of flowers etc; (new versions of which flowers I keep finding and marvelling over.) Figs burgeoning. Pigs gratting from across the land because of having been fed. Cat gratting because not yet fed. Mood swings up up up.

Lying in bed in the morning looking up at the skylight I can tell where the wind is by the movement of the clouds. Except when there isn't any cloud like yesterday - there were white shapes, couldn't think why they didn't move - realised at last they were reflections of my own bedding. No such problem today. Wind swung round to the north west having been west all yesterday; still not very strong. Sky clearing now - typical.

Listening as I write this to Desert Island Discs......Radio 4 - and the Archers! - helps salve the homesickness ...BBC1 and 2 and above all Radio 3 used to be here too - but damn them, they moved the satellite. So now Radio 4 and Channel 4 is all we have. The trials of exile. (Lucky us. Yes. But oh the lost, faraway, green fields of May.)

Gave up this for a while to listen - cleared up the kitchen meanwhile, wondering for how many years and - in how many kitchens - I've cleared up listening to Desert Island Discs. This time it was the explorer Pen Hadow, on the one hand a public school inarticulate, on the other much more articulate and much more interesting; a driven man, who thought one arctic expedition might satisfy him - it didn't -melancholy drives him on to more. Always will. I recognise this. No peace yet, here. Ever?

Back to blog. Realise one post - Tuesday I think - got chewed up by system. Can't remember what it reported - except that I'd made my apricot jam - six pots and kitchen was still sticky. Cleared up, grimly, feeling I'd gone backwards - two, three years ago, there it was, I had escaped to two rooms, minimal domestic round and now here I was again... an hour and a half's hard most mornings. Beloved when I complained about this, said you chose to make jam -- so I did, so I did. Not quite the point - and after all he is the man who spends hours stuffing tiny squid etc. As I pointed out. (I clear up most of this effort too. Often.)

What did I achieve in those domestically untramelled years anyway? - a book noone wants to publish because it's about the dregs, the bent, unprepossessing, dragging, crazy, ex- or still mentally ill and/or defective (sorry 'learning difficulties') and who wants to know about them? Or maybe book not just good enough? Quite possibly. George Orwell I'm not. But nor Joan Collins on the other hand, and if she'd tried to publish it? Who knows. (Memo to self, have face lift, hair dye, body sculpture, add mascara etc etc, invent lurid and successful cinematic past, then who knows...) Some hope.

Weather delicious all week. Yesterday down at the Sports Centre it was filling up with Iron Man and their acolytes. Some Iron Men all iron- not to say thuggish. One had bald head tatooed in red at back.

Do Iron Men live to ripe old ages? Or do they enlarge their hearts and drop dead young? Driven like the explorer. So uncaring? Or still too young to believe in age and death?

No fire in the sala all week. So maybe summer is arriving. (Last year we stopped lighting it at the end of the March.) A pity in some ways - it brings the room to life. But too warm now.

Handsome from Blackburn and builder have just appeared..... Handsome never tolerant of Canarian to-ing and fro-ing - but is not builder's fault he never knows when he can get boss's digger. Handsome shrugs - no he's not coming tomorrow, he's waited 4 hours other weeks,,, Builder voluble in his fairly incomprehensible Canarian Spanish as to his certainly coming this time. I assure both of them, OK, no problem, Beloved and I will be there.

Grannyp still in dressing-gown through all this, after rolling out of bed in usual catatonic morning state and failing so far to get back upstairs.

Eight years ago I was grandmother for first time. Ie this is eldest granddaughter's birthday. Card safely sent courtesy of Internet - present alas, courtesy of Amazon, has not arrived. Some problem in getting CD of excerpts from the Magic Flute which she's obsessed with. Other present Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Also requested. Nice to know she can see round the back of S Club Seven and Harry Potter. Don't care how eclectic she is if everything feeds in. (Self obsessed by Enid Blyton and Tommy Steele, in my time, Still obsessed by Elvis. Why not?)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Now then - would have called writing yet another blog "displacement activity" had I not been assured by Beloved - who as animal scientist should know - that it would be technically inaccurate. So will have to make do with u d a - ie "undisplacement activity." (Saw article recently in which Alan Sillitoe claims it was choice between life and writing; he chose writing. So what's this?)

Converation between Beloved and Self last night, following self's looking up to see if Bristol City was still heading via play-offs to First Division football, so she could congratulate or commiserate with son-in-law. 'Why should it matter?' well no, really, but hard to explain to someone who seems totally devoid of such impulse to loyalty, let alone that somehow such things do to millions - and that logic. not to say sense, doesn't come into it.

Self of course equally contaminated in Beloved's eyes by long-term commitment to Chelsea: only to be justified by mother's ditto, and self having thought - erroneously- that I was conceived just down the road. Beloved claimed - rightly I daresay - this wasn't good enough, how could I buy fair-trade goods, refuse to use peat, etc at the same time support a club owned by a long-term Russian crook who'd enslaved millions of Siberian peasants? Explain that haven't actually bought tickets, joined fan club, in any way added to wealth of crook whom I didn't like either; but that this failed entirely to eradicate atavistic connection...let alone faint surge of pleasure when team did well.... thereby, I say, echoing far from faint pleasure with which the millions similarly add joy and meaning to their lives.

Beloved unable to empathise with joy and meaning so entirely lacking logical explanation looks baffled and reverts to Russian crook. Not only does he of course think logic is all, he also believes - at times perhaps erroneously! -that he himself is not only logical but always acts that way. Discussion runs into ground as usual. Oh my Beloved! Seal departure from it with kiss, which partly assuages him.. Telly does the rest.

Melancholy morning. (My melancholy - not the world's, though god knows the world should be. No, I'm not talking about purple flour thrown over Tony Blair... that is in some respects delightful; I'm talking about the hopelessness everywhere else.Though god knows I've lived long enough to know melancholy avails little; or email protests for that matter tho' I do them, I do, I do. From this exile what else? Iraq, Israel, anti-abortion protesters, you name it. G.Bush are you listening? NO!)

Beloved off with bank etc. Handsome, Blackburn out watering in front of my window. I duck, hoping not to be noticed. Wind down, sun around. Poppies on the land. What cause for sorrow? There's the rub.

Contrast between flabby tourists and skinny whip-hard Ironmen overwhelming - and depressing - not so whip-hard, let alone skinny myself, despite swimming and walking. Yesterday we took attic woman out to lunch. (Keeping bags etc, well out of the way. She nicks and hides things, it turns out.) She said, sadly. I want to go home. When it was explained - as many times before - that she wouldn't be allowed to fly - she said 'So I'm stuck then?' This conversation was rerun throughout the meal. Which I paid for and which cost 40 euros- ludicrous: but in this shopless little tourist village, overlooking today mild sea - Very blue and white sea against black rock - they have it all their own way.

Later we went down south and swam in the sea. Cold, cold. Had to avoid floats of hopeful (over hopeful) fishermen.

Frustrating attempts to set up websites etc. No word about aged pa, who, according to brother (mine) just goes on.

Now what? Clear up kitchen? Get dressed? Make tea for handsome? Attend to far from deathless prose? (article in Guardian books complains of takeover of book business by celebs (not guilty) and ordinary stuff about ordinary lives (maybe not so guiltless.)

Cat at window. Now at last the chance to be decisive. Let him in!
Granny pxx

Monday, May 17, 2004

Just burned a batch of dried apricots ready to bottle for future guests' breakfasts. Bugger it. In middle of stoning a whole lot of fresh apricots to make jam, a tedious process so I turn to this for a break. Report of maize harvesting next door not complete - two of the men were wheeling cobs in barrows and packing them in commercial boxes, supervised by a third. Obviously old man has deal with supermarkets.

Social weekend. Birthday party for half Brazilian two year old, granddaughter of Aurora, the one whose husband gave her six children then disappeared to have six more with another woman in Gran Canaria. Mixed nationalities - two German women, one depressed and apologetic, one chirpy. Brazilian music on CDs supplied by black Brazilian dad. Much dancing by other Brazilians plus Aurora plus me, "las abuelas bailandas". Fun. Only kind of party I enjoy.... Especially when it's a barbecue with much pork which I don't/can't eat.

Beloved cooking all weekend for lunch with bottle blond M and husband. Made harissa - with hot chillis which stayed on hands a long time despite Lady Macbeth-worthy scrubbing. Not good for his mucus membranes let alone other people's...

Weather not typical trade wind stuff. More to the North, and slated to diminish over next two days. Yesterday gloomy. Better - a bit better today. Less windy. Locals say weird weather - much rain etc, erratic trade winds - occurs every 12 years or so. It's wonderful in UK. Of course. Looks like there might be some sun now. Good.

Beloved and brother-in-law actually communicating over long-term plans for attic woman. Attrition by non-communicating lawyers, English and Spanish, works wonders...

Handsome Blackburn planting peppers etc. Replanted cabbages look sorry for themselves so have clearly had it, but we avoid the contentious subjetc. Beloved off, trying to dig info out of attic woman's doctor, using letter in bad Spanish supplied by me: Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven on Radio Clasica.

Oh the riotous nature of life on the Farm. Grannyp

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Grey day; man with maize out round his walls spraying his vines. Yesterday he was harvesting his maize plants with help of 3 others and pickup truck. So plants will now wither and brown.

Off shopping; this afternoon a barbeque with locals, not my thing, but good for public relations; tomorrow my only friend here - tough, not so tough, bottle-blond M -and her husband to lunch so little free space. No pleasure in this. No more news from crisis at either end. Beloved and self at peace with each other. Good.

Off to hang out washing in the wind. Then out. Grannypxx

Friday, May 14, 2004

No sun yet. Wind blows on. Birds blow rather than fly past. (You have to take care keeping chickens here: they have been known to blow away.)

More late night dramas with attic woman - another fit - taken to hospital, we rush down to rescue dog - only to get a further phone call to say she'd been sent home. Beloved has now gone down to return dog... Amidst all this Beloved back to old story of granny's perfidious not to say sexy - but nothing likes as sexy as he chooses to think - past, a court in which every statement is one to be taken down, reworded/rewritten and used against her; ditto silence. Both eventually take sleeping pill. Granny rising inevitably late is writing this out of woolly head and accompanying gloom. Men

Land, with all the flowers gives off scent which reminds me of long past things - English haymeadow under the sun? - something like that.

Death of wife of one of aged pa's oldest friends - who happened to have been Lord Baden Powell's youngest daughter. Just read online obituary in the Indy, which goes on about all her commitments/ services etc to scouting and guiding. What they don't pass on of course, is the hopeless domestic incompetence resulting from years of living in Africa with black servants. One visit home she walks into my mother's kitchen while tea is being made, breathes in her vague way, 'Oh Peggy, I do think you're so clever to know when the kettle boils...'

BE PREPARED. Motto for today.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Wind; sound of; plus mewling cat, plus dishwasher, plus washing-machine....Life ad infinitum. Have given up on somewhat dreary choral music from Radio Clasica. Sun. At least the trade winds haven't yet brought the non-stop cloud to our windy heights.

Beloved is off sorting out dog and attic woman, followed by smoked fish. Handsome from Blackburn hasn't appeared. Suspect this may be to do with terminal offence taken over cabbages no less. Our first day back on Tuesday not a happy one. First day back never is for me, the sense of exile overwhelms me at the best of times - and here exacerbated by state of aged dad, by feeling strung between crisis phone calls - re attic woman this end, dad the other. Anyway: handsome asked if he could remove some of the remaining ground cover plant from back patio, permission for which granted; unfortunately, being tidy - obsessively tidy - man, he also removed Beloved's artistically arranged pile of wood through which he's attempting to grow things - in vain as yet - and worse, my self-planted cabbages, big blowsy, almost turquoise green, delicious to look at and even to eat now I've found an Indian recipe with coconut which even Beloved likes. (In general he hates brassicas. Claims they give him wind.Not to mention the runs.) Beloved indicated as usual understated objection to wood removal - he has now put it back. I do not understate anything: in my fragile not to say depressive state, I blew up over the cabbages, Handsome from Blackburn not happy, claimed I was rude - I was, though I apologised afterwards. I then retired to bed with book, thereby equally offending Beloved - 'Do you know how long you've been there, five hours....' - he hasn't yet learned that retreat is my way of dealing with overwhelming feelings and not at all - never - directed at him - 'You made it plain you didn't want me,' etc..so ended day fighting with him too. Marriage. (Or rather unmarriage, for us.)

Attic woman problematic too, had another seizure on Sunday. And Spanish lawyers, her brother's and ours, not communicating with anyone - they seem, permanently, to be in court. Sticking point, reason for lawyers, who forbid direct communication between the parties, is brother's desire to punish beloved for not only giving up care but living with me, thereby compounding his perfidy. Chief carer says such a moral line is common. But also suggested cutting Gordian knot by meeting between Beloved's daughter and her uncle to circumnavigate non-communicating lawyers. I talk to daughter at length - so it may happen. She meantime has broken up with boyfriend - 'We're in different places..' she says. When I tell him this Beloved asks What I mean by 'in different places'. Sighing, I explain. If daughter more communicative with me it's hardly surprising. I love them both, none the less. Both also seem to love me. Fortunately.

(Just rescued lizard from cat. Never knew lizards squeaked. They do. High, like mice.)

Took attic woman out to lunch yesterday, tho'. It was OK, if boring. She wasn't hostile like last week, though as confused. Ate more too. Apparently she's back to 'Why can't beloved (hers and mine) come back.' But still wants to see more.

No more word on aged pa. We wait. We wait. Now it seems interminable. But from past experience of long dyings it will seem as nothing once it's over.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

If Shakespeare lived in the Canaries it would have been 'Blow, blow, thou summer wind..'
Trade winds have definitely arrived. 22mph right now. Beloved has fixed window in the bathroom, fortunately, so at least it no longer emits a banshee wail day and night. It's wearing enough without that. Countryside still deliciously green, though. Field of maize next door must be ready for harvesting. Each plant rising out of its little hump, each hump raised laboriously one by one by the 73 year old man who farms it. Don't know whether he planted at the same time. Agriculture here is most mysterious. What will happen when old man dies, I wonder? No sign of any family. Maybe it'll just go to waste like so much farmland round here.

Old men. My dad looked out of the window in the dining-room of his Home (where we now have to eat lunch as he's not able to go out) said; 'it's good to be down here - I can just look at view and think' - view is stupendous indeed, right over green tree, green field to the South Downs. 'That's Chanctonbury Ring,' he says. 'I climbed it when I was at houseparty near there. Came down to find the prettiest girl in the party had got up too late to go, so I offered to go back up it with her. Didn't do me any good. I never saw her again...'

I'd heard the story bef0re. It didn't matter. Golden lads and lasses must... (it's all Shakespeare today, but then he did just about cover everything. Shame it's quoted into cliche. But that's genius for you.)

Feel split - between there and here - beloved and my family. Also incensed by his fate -given that he should have been dead long before this misery of oncontinent helplessness and depression. Even if he doesn't cost his family anything, not so wretched friend now a vegetable, virtually - the local authority has left his wife 17 pounds a week to live on. 'You can always sell your house....' Cheerfully.

I vow; 1 my children will never have to see me in this state
2. I shall not save anything but spend everything we've got - if the state and the health service insist on keeping me alive beyond my time then they can pay for it, not my beloved or my family.

Big red helicopter going round and round, very low. What are they looking for? Illegal immigrants?

Sun out at least. Island in distance benign again. Under dour cloud earlier it looked threatening.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Back on farm, in crabless kitchen. Trying to home down, not very successfully. Old dad clearly dying, don't want to be so far away - but no point in just hanging around either. Aussie sister long and much farther away says she came to terms with such things a long time ago; she's no expat just an aussie citizen; whereas I remain - will always remain - an expat in the Canaries, my roots elsewhere. Walking moodily round my land this morning realise fundamental difference between beloved and me: I have itchy feet and always long to be moving, but know, always, where home is; not 'Britain', not 'UK', 'England' - despite, often (especially when on tourist charter between here and there) hating it and everyone in it. Whereas Beloved has not got itchy feet (except around house and land where he's hyperactive...) and will stay in any place, if it's his; preferably here. Wouldn't know what homesickness was if it grabbed him by the goolies - on the other misses a person - ie me! -more than I would. (Though I can miss him.)

All this trying to avoid subject of aged dad. What to feel? Sad sad sad. Tho' longing for him to go. So strange this week; his ancientness - in a wheelchair, impossible to lift, his bed-sored bum - groaning when put back in his chair - his saying 'Come and see me soon; there won't be much more opportunity.' And then the ecstasy of the new baby, my dead sister's grandchild, holding him; his unfocussed as yet curiosity, his alertness; his newness- his dirty nappy! (My dad has dirty nappies too; not the same thing at all.) My friend Christine on Friday night, very depressed, said she'd decided people were basically horrible, life was, nothing you could do would change it (something as a doctor/psychiatrist, she's been trying to do all her life, unlike me.) I guess I'm a bit more optimistic - not a lot. She saw point in her grandchildren though - one in particular. Which is what I feel, basically, after several days round mine. Funny way of life - growing ever more weary and cynical until we die, like my dad, beyond time, seeing point only in these touching, lovely, joyful young who will in time grow as weary and cynical as we and see joy not to say point mainly in the next generation and so on ad infinitum. Have reached unthinkable stage in life when 90 years seems very short.

England burgeoning, lusting with whole ranges of soft green, beyond any colour chart.Oh how beautiful, more than anything in the world, and actually not much colder than here right now - (though today the sun is out, better than for days apparently) I even saw lambs at a distance. So that's alright. (Lambs come and grow and get the chop each year; same cycle, minimised and without cynicism - and without anyone trying to keep them alive beyond their time; lucky them.)

What I keep remembering of my dad, is lying on the grass in the summer garden, its prickliness against my arms and legs, trying to read, while he, regardless, went past, back and forth, doggedly, shirtless, his khaki shorts hanging over his then skinny back side, noisily - hideously noisily - mowing the lawn.

Beloved back with eggs. Late breakfast should cheer me up.

Monday, May 10, 2004

THE CRAB IS NO MORE!! david ate him the night before we left for London. Said he was very sweet. No sweeter I daresay than everything the crab ate (by which I MEAN everything, the greedy beast.) A fitting fate. Beloved would say all this was ridiculous amorphism - it is - but so what? granny pxx

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Painter departed yesterday; house empty except for me and beloved, first time in ages. Come across grand-daughterly Easter baskets (paper and wonky) and feel a little sad in a grandmotherly kind of way. Cloudy without, which fits melancholy. Beloved has gone to see a lawyer about the attic woman's future - means I have the house to myself, briefly, though handsome from Blackburn is due any minute.

May, of course, is not April; in my family that cruellest month of death and birth, rubbing it in. Deaths of mother and twin (5th and 11th). Birth of daughter (2nd) and now twin sister's first grandson (9th). Am off to London for 4 days tomorrow to meet the latter, with feelings of grief, uncertainty, delight - name all the contradictions they are there. At same time to see decrepit ancient, my dad, who shouldn't be alive at all, doesn't want to be, but medicine calls the shots here and medicine says pump in the anti-biotics, keep em alive. But at least they keep my dad at his own expense, on his income, which is more than can be said for many. In which case the Civil Service is the loser. (And us, come to think of it, in the end.) I love my dad - reluctantly - we have seemingly little in common, apart from obstinacy and shared histories. Awful as it is to wish him dead I do, I do. Each time he is weaker, more shrivelled, more ashen, deafer a sadder phantom. But each time, still, he lives. Lives only to watch, by choice, the young and active on TV in various sporting events..... And then, this time, the baby, just beyond, I expect, that pre-warning of the ancient look, the newborn baby.

Yesterday, our land was scented by flowers. Wind blowing - foretaste of Trade Winds perhaps. I nipped into our little local hole in the wall shop to buy onions; two other customers were in there, all three - shopkeeper, buyers - yakking away. They stopped when I came in, shopkeeper half smiled, broke off from finding bits of this and that for the first customer, asked what I wanted and produced my onions. The talk broke out again as I departed. What it is to be an outsider. Dialect Canarian Spanish doesn't help...At the same time I have this visceral knowledge of and feeling for my bit of land; more/less connection than anywhere else, ever.

The prickly pears are covered in flowers (and, on their prickly leaves, the little chalky excrements of cocnineal beetles.) Some are waxy yellow instead of waxy orange.

The shrikes continue to argue. There's clearly a nest over the wall.

Will it rain today? Or is it just gloomy.... I have a lot of washing to dry. Clean knickers needed for tomorrow..

Monday, May 03, 2004

Yesterday - Sunday - we were woken by rain dripping on our heads from a skylight. Furious wind and rain - later cleared, was sunnyish but windy windy windy. Cat caught a mouse, spectacularly, by jumping from floor to dresser and landing straight on it. Then let it go. I encourage lizards to escape; mice no. Beloved became tetchy because of my observations about what it feels to hit the limits of islands - the sea, distance, a gateway and a barrier all at once. Said I was restless. Think it's just he fears I might I want to run away. I don't. Itchy traveller's feet is something else. I've always had those. But, mostly - as now - I love coming home. That's part of the pleasure.

Mayday fiesta on Saturday, a totally clear sunny day. All the locals out.

It feels cold and windy now.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Saturday; fiesta - Mayday. Weather ecstatic. Blue gold blue gold. Have been visiting other rural houses to find places for people to stay when they come to courses here; if they do.... Both so far reassuringly tatty - we compare well, and have so far the best site by far, if the windiest. First was renovation at the back of our local town, rather lacking in vegetation but not in faded totem pole sculptures done by artist wife of voluble wind-surfer owner - both Belgians and multi-lingual. Was outspoken on subject of local politics - crooked - as if we didn't know. Politicians give large barbeques, offerings to schools, etc, disneyfied rural centres, playgrounds to get people to vote for them - they do. Even if they don't use the parks, children's playgrounds. (Even my eldest grandaughter commented on total emptiness of playgrounds. 'Parks' no different.) Present head of island council, as we know, is currently in prison - not for the first time - for bribery and corruption. Did his best to persuade judge to let him carry on his job by mobile phone from his prison cell.... Judge, fortunately, wasn't having that one. Corrupt leader's party is now trying to get him portrayed as political prisoner/of conscience. It's a joke. All any of them are interested in is building ever more tourist facilities and cramming in ever more tourists down at the resorts; are not inclined to be helpful to single places in the sticks like us, whom said politicians want to control, saying they want to keep tourist bed numbers within limits; ie, limit any tourist beds not profitable to themselves. Beloved and I, when we could get a word in edgeways commiserated with windsurfer Belgian on this. Place a bit graceless but OK. Windsurfer small, predictably lithe, tanned, blue-eyed, went on about his towels (in neat shelves in reception - he should see my jumbled heaps) -royal breakfasts - fresh fruit salads etc. (Mine now.... All those fig compotes.... They have no fig trees.)

Second place entirely old - a mill house - nicely scruffy, shaded by old trees, relaxed, run by Spanish woman. Didn't find out what her breakfasts were like. I preferred it. We talked about roof problems - common with people owning such houses as hers and ours here.

Birds have been nicking my ripe figs. Two pairs of shrike, I think, are nesting near - too close for territorial comfort. They have loud shouting matches from neighboring cactus trees. Once I found two fighting on one of our walls...

Beloved tetchy - because of delays in attic woman's arrangements, I think. Has to be soothed.

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