Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009

Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, Granny is back home, it's chilly and quite cloudy again and she has gone down with a bad cold. It's not clear who started it - both Beloved and Mr Handsome started suffering before her and each of them seems to think they caught it from the other. Well, it doesn't matter and Granny knows hers came from Beloved for sure. And this after arriving home feeling smug that she'd managed to avoid all the colds that were besetting her family in London... thinking that's it for the winter at least. But it wasn't.

She is still sad of course. Grief is like a baby that keeps waking in the night and making sure you know it's there and that you're ready to give it attention. It brings back to Granny the death of her own twin in particular - but then it brings that back to everyone, to her twin's children, especially, as all of them confront the loss of this other tiny, twin who, with her sister, was supposed to make the family feel whole again in a symbolic kind of way. But life is not that neat is it, and we shouldn't get our hopes up so ever. Serves us right. Except that hope it necessary and good and why not run with it now and then, even if you end up turning round and cursing it, more often than not? After all it does turn out to be the right feeling sometimes. Of course it does. (Granny is being hopeful again. Silly - or not so silly - her.)

Many comforts here, despite the - relative - cold. The garden is full of vegetables ready to eat; Granny picks peas, broad beans, pulls spinach, cuts artichokes, digs up fennel; all of it delicious. And today she made strawberry jam with local strawberries, some of them from her garden. And the island with its fuzz, its fur of grass these days after all the rain, and many flowers still and all the new life and re-tilled fields now that people have no work and have to grow things, is looking more beautiful - delectable - than ever. And the sea is an amazing blue and the surfers ride the waves - some much more skilfully than others - and birds are everywhere - including more than usual up here, because of all the food - so that is good.

Also Granny has been reading a perfect comfort book. One of those oddities, unlike anything else, called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. About the occupation of Guernsey during the war, terrible in parts, but also very romantic. Try it.

Also Beloved Daughter is coming to stay next Sunday for a whole week. Now that has to be alright, not to say good. It is.

Granny has a small glass of malt whisky alongside the computer, called a cold cure. That's all helping too. Skol. L'chaim. Prosit. Sante. Bottoms up. Whatever you like. (Though L'chaim might be best. It means to life. Yes. TO LIFE! She'll drink to all of you. She's drinking. Cheers.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A brief post from a partly sunny London.

Granny has seen them now, both twins, together still if only in photographs (photographs are encouraged these days and older brothers invited in; so different from when Granny's little brother died, aged one week, all those years ago. He was not shown to Granny and her twin, alive or dead. He might never have existed. Oh, but he did.) She has also seen and held the beautiful living twin; will see and hold her a lot more over the next few years. This twin was bigger at birth than her equally beautiful but no longer living sister, and looks very like Granny's twin. How, weird. scary, beautiful the passing-on of a family forehead, a family face, especially when revealed within the pathos of new born babyhood, in a child part of the world already, yet not quite part of it, gazing away, into some other place. Many tears around her. Of course. But families come together at these times which is as it should be.

Granny's lovely twenty-four hours with the other beloved baby - Beloved's granddaughter -was very comforting too.

So life is not all bad. If so so sad. So sad. Especially just now for Beloved Nephew and Niece-in-Law.

The inescapable fact of parenthood is that you cannot always protect or even save your children. A fact and a fear which lasts from moment you conceive - or at least from the first moment you feel the baby - or babies - moving and the real communication starts. And which won't end till you're dead yourself.

Back on the island the three dogs are finding ways of getting out of their run: the Tiresome Terrier climbs the fence, the Local Yokel squeezes underneath. Poor Mr Handsome scratches his head, and Beloved, on his way home now will shortly be scratching his too. Granny meantime is off to buy supplies to take back to the island; tomorrow she will be busy holding the beautiful two-in-one baby for one more time, before she has to return to the island herself.

A Japanese Yoga teacher said the very best thing of the lone twin. 'She will have the spirit of two.'

Oh yes. Of course she will.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Update: Beloved nephew rang last night. Twins have been born: one girl hale, healthy, perfect, the other not: she is not expected to survive for more than a few hours longer.

'But at least,' said Beloved nephew - of his two sons and the healthy new baby 'At least I've got three beautiful children. I have to be glad of that.'

Yes, indeed. But it isn't quite so simple. Two babies were in the womb for nine months, two babies came to feel like real people. For the surviving baby the non-survivor was her companion all those months - modern technology makes clear that twins in the womb do have a relationship that differs from pair to pair. When one of the pair dies shortly after birth, or even before it, that relationship has been prematurely swept away. Granny, a surviving twin herself belonged for a while to an organisation called "The Lone Twin Association". She did a survey of its membership once; more than a third had twins that died at birth, before it, or within a year. Many did not know till much later in life that they had been born twins, but had always felt an incompleteness in themselves. Granny herself knows of two artists - one a very dear friend - who only found out about their twinship as grown-ups but whose art, long before that, centred round objects or designs that always came in pairs.

And then there are the feelings of the parents - ready for two babies and now only tending one: loving the one, rejoicing in her, but still longing, grieving for the other. What would she have been like? Who would she have grown into? Noone will ever know.

Those who have only ever expected single babies - still more those who lost single babies and ended up with nothing- may find this strange: why should they mind? They have a baby. Isn't that enough?

But no it isn't. Not after nine months of gestating, loving, expecting two; that special thing. Granny a twin herself, may know this better than most. Of course she too is grieving, crying, as she writes this, but hers is a small grief compared to that of the parents, and, over her lifetime. of the surviving twin.

Update: the sick twin died last night as expected. Time for grief.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The goat you could say was static. Very. And after the Saturday morning efforts of Mr Handsome and one of his mates is now just one more dead animal in a site where everyone throws their dead animals and which - there is an article in the local press this very morning - everyone else complains about - that is anyone who lives nearby: you can imagine the smell. (Other dead animals just get dumped in the nearest bit of countryside for other people's dogs to find and roll in, which maybe is- it can be - worse: Granny, as you know, speaks from experience. Beautiful Wimp's latest dead goat reek has still not quite disappeared.)

So: one dead goat - what's to upset you - or her -about that? Nothing really. All animals die, after much shorter lives than their owners. Except it was Granny's - or rather her and Beloved's goat and most days she would go down to the goat pen and have a conversation of little huffs and grunts with the unexpectedly dear animal - you remember how anti-goat Granny was to begin with - the animal who is now one more smell of rot in an ever more smelly place and not conversing sweetly any more. This time last week she and Beloved were expecting to be the owners of three goats, one big, two little: now they don't own one. Nor will they until Beloved gets another goat or two in the autumn. No goat milk ricotta for breakfast, not any more.

Strange, hot times here, generally. adding to Granny's sense of unease. Apart from one chilly day when the wind blew from the north and the cloud surrounded them all day, there has been a calima, dust haze and wind from the Sahara, for over a week; unheard of. Such things never usually last more than four days. Add a two headed-goat or two and the odd comet to this disjointed season and it could really be Apocalypse Now - Granny hopes not. She really does.

Still no twins and she is still all of a twitch - 40 weeks of pregnancy today; she cannot believe the womb that encloses them will be allowed to any longer. She is off to London anyway on Thursday and since the visit is on the twins' account they'd better have arrived. (She can't leave it any longer because the fares between her island and the UK will start tripling, the nasty way they do when school holidays are in the offing. Meaning that if her family isn't feeling flush they and the grandchildren don't manage to visit: probably the twins never will, in the family of six they're going to live in. What a shame.)

Friday, March 13, 2009


No twins - not of the human kind that is. Granny's agitation while waiting has been added to by Ruby the goat's production of her twins two days ago: both still born. Now Granny is well aware that the obstetric history of a goat on a Canarian island has nothing what ever to do with the delayed child-bearing of a niece-in-law in North East London. But that's pure reason. The anxious part of her is not reasonable and she waits the news with the heart in her mouth beating more wildly than ever.

Poor Ruby, the goat, meanwhile, is not a happy animal, lying there listlessly, not wanting to eat or drink; a sad sight. Beloved is going out, buying apples, whatever, mixing sugar salt and water, trying to persuade to take some nourishment. Granny as another female aches for her. Who says an animal doesn't feel? Maybe Ruby's loss of twins cannot be articulated in words or mind, but it is certainly articulated in her body: you only have to take one look. Granny and Beloved scour veterinary websites meanwhile to try and find out why goats abort like this. Does Ruby does have some un-obvious infection? Was she insufficiently nourished - she'd been fed high-calory goat pellets all this while but she doesn't like them much. So what?

No leaping kids this year, anyway. Woe is woe. Sadness all round.

Meanwhile, another dog has joined the Tiresome Terrier and the Beautiful Wimp. Let's call this one the Local Yokel - a standard little Lanzarote dog, black, with a curly tail and very short legs, the only thing distinguishing him from all the rest of his kind a bark as deep and reverberant as the hound of the Baskervilles'. Do not ask how this acquisition came about: let's just say it couldn't be helped. Among drawbacks: this dog has not yet learned that it is forbidden to sit on sofas. He is also much less continent than the Tiresome Terrier with whom he shares a basket at night: the TT, turning motherly, yips for him to be let out then yips again for him - and her - to be let in. At three in the morning this does not please Granny -she had a sleepless night or two until Beloved sorted that one out. What with the Beautiful Wimp having rolled in yet another dead goat and stunk the place out for over a week, despite Granny having bathed him three times, what with the Tiresome Terrier having eaten Mr Handsome's lunch out of his bag for the third time in as many weeks, dogs are not anybody's favourite animals just now.

"The dog learns more quickly than you," said Beloved to Mr Handsome of his lost lunch - not a particularly diplomatic statement one might say: Mr H didn't seem to think so anyway. Nor did Granny come to that.

On top of that, the bantams have taken to eating their own eggs and beating up the one hen who does not want to eat her eggs but sit on them.

Animals really can be horrible - when they are not sad.

The calima has covered everything in dust over the last few days. To calm herself down, Granny has been sitting quietly on the land, watching lizards sun themselves - snouts out, little hands set firmly on stone surfaces -or flicker in and out of the rocks: watching lizards is a very meditative activity, particularly at the moment: the lizards are in handsome breeding mode, iridescent green patches on their sides flashing in the sun. Beloved meanwhile has been hopping between his goat and his laptop - two kind German friends and visitors have been helping him remake the house website. Granny and Beloved have been cooking lovely meals in return and sometimes in holiday mode, visiting nice places with their friends, so all is not totally negative.

But oh poor bereaved Ruby.

And oh, where oh where are those North East London twins?

5.pm. Update. Granny visited Ruby after she'd written the above - came back to the house saying 'you should get the vet,' to find Beloved already looking up the number. The vet - nice Basque woman - appeared, pronounced an infection etc etc, large amounts of anti-biotics have been given and are meantime making the goat feel much worse - as the vet promised she would. "Animals don't complain,' she said. "You only know they're ill when they're very ill.' So much for sorrow. Except maybe sorrow helped make Ruby iller. Who can tell. Poor goat.

Update 5.15pm. Still worse. Beloved and Granny just went out to administer more treatment - goat no more. Dead. Not a good week.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Walls -

Granny is in a bit of a twitch. Beloved Nephew - son of Beloved, alas dead, Twin Sister is about to produce ...twins....girls. Or rather his wife is. This can't possibly be genetic, the gene for twins - one Granny's family seems to have, alongside the breast cancer one - is passed on through females. But still. Beloved Nephew's wife is now 38 weeks pregnant, the twins weigh around 5 pounds each and they won't be left in there much longer. Granny has had her English mobile charged up for weeks, waiting for news. Well, you know. In this case she cannot but be affected. She is. Twitch, twitch. (Relieved just a little by Mozart on the radio just now, but that's not enough.)

Meantime she must amuse herself with the goings on on her island. Here is the next one, as promised.

Mr Jonah the headmaster is very proud of his school - which has its merits- and its demerits - but we won't go into all that here: enough to say that Beloved who does the odd bit of teaching there tries to be a bit subversive in a quiet way to make up for this and that.

To demonstrate just how proud he is of his school Mr Jonah has flags flying outside it - Spanish, British and EEC flags. Also on the waste ground between the in road one side and the out side on the other there sits a wide white buffer thing proclaiming - proudly - for all to see Colegio Hispanic-Britannico: Mr Jonah speaks fluent Spanish. Unfortunately, he has aroused the wrath of an 80 year old woman who thinks the land leading up to the school, including the buffer thing and the in-road and the out-road belong to her (she might even have a point - Mr Jonah was an estate agent once and who knows what went on; not that the land would have been any use to her or anyone else; it is arid and barren in the extreme, hers or Mr Jonah's, whatever. But neither would see it like that.)

Yesterday morning Granny and Beloved turned up there in their truck - Beloved runs a Saturday morning project club - to find the in-road impassable: two lines of rocks had been laid across it, while two men and a yellow bulldozer -moon-lighting it turned out from Rancho Texas, the theme park down the the road - were busy laying more. As for the proud white buffer, a rough stone wall had been built in front of it, totally concealing Colegio Hispanic-Britannico. On the rocks in the wall, and in the rocks on the road a big red N was painted. (It meant 'no' most likely unless the name of the 80 year old indignant one began with N.) Saturday was probably thought to be a non-working day: Granny suspects that the in-road might have been blocked too with N marked rocks, had the Saturday morning teachers not turned up. If so the blockade would have been complete and nothing should have been discovered till schooltime on Monday. (The men from Rancho Texas could have come on Sunday of course, but they'd have cost much more in expensive over-time.)

Mr Jonah who likes his Saturday lie-in did not get it. When Granny came back to collect Beloved, his car was outside the school, Mr J himself was on the telephone and the police had been called. She is dying to know what happened next. Was Mr J going to hire the men and the yellow bulldozer for himself to remove the rocks and restore his proud sign to sight, someone on Saturday afternoon or Sunday? - at a bigger cost in overtime? Beloved gives another class on Wednesday. Granny will find out more then.

She shouldn't laugh, she knows, but that hasn't stopped her giggling ever since. Pride you could say has come, yet again, before (behind) a ..wall.


Life on the other side

Well well: the black hen, otherwise known as Ms Black, has started crowing this morning.....looks like it's a case of mistaken gender. His/her father started out as Daphne and ended as Damian so maybe showing true sex late runs in the family. And there Granny and Beloved were assuming the little eggs came from him/her. What a good layer, they told each other, thereby belittling the likely providers the two Misses Brown.For now it looks like Ms/Master Black did not lay them- not unless he/she is a genuine hermaphrodite. But then aren't genuine hermaphrodites infertile? Granny's not up on the mysteries of gender ambiguity. You tell her.

Let's have some other island politics - sexual and otherwise, concerning the growing organic movement on this island: organic pro-creation it would seem works for all species, vegetable and animal. Granny and Beloved have lost their source of free-range lamb - the delectable milk lamb that is the only form of meat that Granny, a vegetarian at heart, has ever really liked. Turns out that the provider, originally from Spain, arriving on the island quite a while back along with the Catalan lady who now runs the local organic shop, has had two wives since, producing 5 children all of whom live with him and are educated privately, by him. Since organic produce does not provide for such things he operates as an osteopath and faith healer in Germany - much more lucrative than Lanzarote - travelling to and fro every week. Oh and he also finds time for another girlfriend, or two. Something had to go, and in the end it was the goats and sheep that went, bleating pitifully in the back of the truck all the way down the very rough track that leads from the hill. What a shame. Someone else is now rearing goats up there and making yoghurt, but this goat lady is not into rearing and slaughtering lambs. So no more fetching small bagged-up corpses from a magic valley high in the hills: Granny will miss that. And Beloved is thinking of importing a couple of ewes to provide the lambs himself. But what to feed them on? And where to find a ram? Next week, Granny and Beloved will be seeking advice from Aurora the owner of the billy goat who impregnated Ruby the goat. She keeps about five goats, two or three sheep, god knows how many chickens, pigeons and a parrot in a very small area behind and illegally close to her house. Granny is not so sure of this possible venture: she thinks that there's quite enough livestock around their land already. On the other hand those delectable lambs.... oh dear, oh dear.

The dramas that turn up here never seem to end. She'll give you another one tomorrow. (Nothing to do with sex this time, though gender comes into it.) She imagines you can bear to wait.

Click Here