Sunday, 22 July 2012

The beheaded flowers

Imaginary gardening it is again.  It’s been such a strange summer.  All raining and the flowers have come out far too soon; only to be clogged down and blighted with odd dry patches, it looks like.  Then they shed all their petals under the onslaught of this rain.  Between that and the apparent (so it says on breakfast news, ever that medium of tetchy and apocalyptic information to have with your toast and cereal) invasion of Spanish slugs eating everything in sight…its astonishing I still have flowers of any kind in the garden.

I do though.  I have 2 unidentified Alpine or heathery type plants I bought on reduced from the small florist at the bottom of the hill – one deep pinkish, one white in flower, with small, tiny, perfectly shiny leaves.  This hugs close to the ground, and spreads itself out very very slowly.  I have a small pot of lavender that was decanted into the earth near the living room window.  This so that when I am walking rather dazedly up and down the living room while Fluffhead (known elsewhere, especially to Gitarist und Dichter, as Colin Baker, but this another story) plays with his alligator truck, his wheeled block trays and his combine harvester.  We are in a patch of wheeled vehicle development at the moment.  They must run over everything; and stickers must be stuck on the wheel centres, so he can watch them turn, endlessly. 

Fluffhead has become a real tyrant with the TV and radio, so we endure a more or less constant diet of CeeBeebies  or Radio 4 panel shows (which can get really annoying after a while – there’s only so much Jack Dee you can listen to…I’m not sure why radio is caught up in the 50s/60s still, in some ways, its odd).  So whilst this goes on, at a hopefully restrained volume, I pace up and down.  Trying to hold in all my stomach muscles to support my back, and stop it from pain.  I look out of the front window at the street and the trees all growing higgledy piggledy, with branches and leaves sprouting forth from the bottom of them instead of the tops.  And then out of the back window to the back garden, with the meadow (such was the state of the garden till Thursday last) now shorn.  Apart from those flowers planted near the living room window, there is nothing.  It’s barren. 

I planted a great many seeds at the beginning of Easter; but they didn’t seem to take.  This was before the rain, when we seemed to be having that drought…maybe they dried up; more than they were, I mean.  (I imagine dead sultanas nestled in the Earth.)  I am still woefully ignorant of gardening.  Lots of borage came up repeatedly…other than that…nothing.  I weeded the borage, since I have discovered giving any quarter to it is like asking houseguests to move in forever and ever rent free to eat you out of house and home.   I grew a mass of tangly nasturtiums inside the lean to conservatory, but they didn’t like being replanted outside – they had twined themselves around each other and various other pots on the large shelf to the point where they didn’t really want to leave this arrangement.  I had great trouble repotting them outside.  They fell over, they lurched about, they insisted on dragging their flowers to the bottom, grazing the ground over the edge of the large pots at the front of the house I was trying to rehome them in, to greet the sun each morning and smile at me when I was back from my walks. 

I even managed to wreck some geraniums.  I bought 8 enormously vibrantly pink ones from that small florist – in very good health, and planted 7 of them in those pots outside the front door, with some ivy round their edges, for love of that twining and soft green.  (The other sits proud and happy on the kitchen windowsill, still very vivid.)  Two days of violent rain and they were petal-less.  So I beheaded them, and now the pots are a mass of lighter and darker green, but no flowers. 

This is annoying, and a bit  sad, coupled as it is, with the fact that apart from the nasturtiums, I have only managed to coax up from seed some aubrietia (no flowers on this their first year of life – hopefully next year), and some lavender.  The lavender is interesting.  It has come up so small and gentle, not thick and strong and woody as you so often see it…But both these things (and the remains of the nasturtiums, which I sensibly left indoors, twisted up around everything as they are – and flowering madly too, with blood red, damson plum red and lemon curd yellow heads), are doing well…indoors and pest free.  We’ll see.

All this information in lieu of …what?  Life information?  My health scare is half over.  My cancer tests came back negative.  It took me about 3 days to process this information, as I had got into such a state of high peaked worry I was wound as tight (but not as pretty) as a nasturtium to a sunflower.  But I still have some worrying symptoms and the mad scientists still have little idea what is bugging my guts. So more tests ensue.   Sighs.  I wait to hear what they are and how much they will scare and annoy me.  I had two days of feeling wondrously clear of worry, it gradually fell away from me, or melted, dried like grass after rain…though not without leaving a rot, as this violent rain this summer has done.  I don’t feel quite the same.  We’ll see, we’ll see.

So in the imaginary garden of BlackberryJuniper, which I admit has been sadly neglected of late – as have the Lands in general, as I have been so focussed on this other particular part of my existence…there is a small and disjointed story waiting to be told.  I don’t think it goes anywhere, and I don’t think it has a message or moral of any kind.  It sounds sad, and rather gothy; but perhaps it isn’t.  I think it just is, and just is now, and you shall have it, for that reason alone.

Once upon a timeless place, there was a garden.  A large walled garden, full of sunlight, except toward the far end, where it was a little bit shadier sometimes, from the tree branches hanging low. 

Strewn over what was the altar, over the flat stones, was an image of desolation and beauty in endings…they shone in the noonday sun and then their essence wandered away, their lives cut off, cut short, their stems bruised and sheared.  Their colours faded, their petals curled – golden yellow to beige to tan to brown. 

But now they are graves and soon they will be earth, soon they will be chrysalises, soon they will be parents, suckling round the edges of small shoots, greenly waiting in the earth; soon they will be small shoots, earnest and free of all taint, poking upward.  They grow and sprout, a stem, a leaf, a bough in the scale of flowerkind. 

They do this, the sun moves over them, the moon shines from so high above, and it seems to take an age to get four inches tall; snails wave their antenna slowly as the earth waits and the tiny ladybirds sit on top of the leaves.  Unfurl, the palm of a hand, softly opening.  And finally, the bud, twisted and secretive; the last to allude.  It hides unripe and fresh.  Its colour takes it by surprise and then it is here, before it can control itself it knows the time to seize the worlds is now, and the maiden slowly comes to her feet and stretches wide her arms. 

She mirrors the trees around her, she salutes the sun; she opens, she receives.  She is the brilliant pinky gold of a summer’s morning.  She is innocence with no experience.  She is kissed with one dewdrop, as if we made her up just to be pretty, just to tell a tale.  No one, no one sees this, she is entirely alone but for the insects.  The birds cannot smell her, and won’t until noonday sun. 

But here comes the taller maiden, who sees her own echo in the grass at her feet and takes the scissors.  She strokes the flower, this one perfect sweetness of the whole world and she loves it to her centre, she feels the flower inside herself, and she kisses it softly.  She tastes it.  She takes its stem between the blades as she kisses it.  It knows.  It feels the coldness of the blades, it knows this one salute, this one morning – the way the light falls through the trees, she knows it.  Knows it is the last.  Her petals widen.  She feels the love of the girl.  They are innocence together, in the way different species can occasionally feel each other.  She knows no harm is meant, but that in the cause of love, harm will come.  In her innocence, in her mendedness, she knows to break is her way, is her destiny.  She flowers, she falls.  Inside her budded core, she breathes deep one last time of the sun, of the dew, of the morning and she waits, all upthrust and held out and beautiful in her life in her wondrous morning.  She waits.  She gives of herself.  She gives herself.  The blades, they touch her sides, they hold.

They cut.

She falls.

And so do her friends, further away, all around, all around her, so many colours – the palest of blues, the morning sun’s sister.  The pink of fervent love, the green wildness of a glade somewhere where the unicorn does indeed (oh yes why not) wander.  All her friends fall, with their serrated leaves, their many sided petals.   And all give of themselves, now this morning.  They feel themselves, fractured, being bled; their sad stalks facing the sun.  The sun will cauterise.  The stem will feel the fall, it will bleed out.  Next year, she will rise again, as her mother’s daughter. 

The heads they move away, carried in her white apron, in her basket, in whatever you want.  They move, they wonder, as they breathe the last, at this sensation of movement – of going past.  It is all so fast and so blurry.  They reach the altar stones, they are strewn.  The maiden sits before them on the grass.  She cries.  She cries for what she has done, and she cries for what she thinks she has lost.

(and one day a thousand years ago, my cat Blossom died in a morning, very early, and I crushed that perfect rose I saw in the street as beauty had to be sacrificed as I had Blossom no more)

The maiden cries all the full morning. She leaves.  By nightfall on the third day, the flowers are dead and gone, so far gone they have no memory of ever being there.  Only the altar knows, and has felt a thousand beheaded flowers and more.  They looked lopsided at the world one last time, from funny angles, some upside down, as they died a violent but instructive death.  They watched and they saw.  They saw her innocence being preserved by their own, they did not mind.  They screamed and felt the pain, but they didn’t mind.  It was a long time ago in the small measure that is theirs, that is everyone’s.  They closed their eyes and left their eyes behind. 

Golden yellow becomes beige becomes tan.  The maiden comes back.  He is with her.  The flowers no longer know.  Respectfully, she takes the dried petals and strews them over his head.  She kisses him.  It means something.

Now it is over.  The cycle continues.  Green presses up from below, the mother’s daughters are here again.  Flowers.

And it is possible that the maiden and her man and whatever flowers she birthed lived happily ever after, here on the Lands, at least; where the wild horses run free on the beach with sun in their tails.  It is possible.  The flowers will always bloom and come back. 

And this happens Here too.  Maybe all will be well.  For a while.

Who knows?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Something I need to get off my chest before I go on...

I’ve been struggling with what to say next for a while now.  These are my thoughts.

This health scare I have been having.  It’s not over yet.  The docs think I may have something serious.  They are testing.  Endless, invasive, nasty, scary tests.  There’s been a lot of hospital lately.  Soon there will be an answer, and lets hope it’s a good one: that they jumped to the worst case scenario, tested backwards from there and will conclude I have nothing wrong with me at all that a damn good holiday wouldn’t fix; or an injection of cash to pay the bills without worry and loss of sleep.  Several other things that would help.

In the meantime…

I have been thinking this.  You know how when people have had a near death experience, or recovered from an illness, and they say: ‘live every day as though it were your last’, ‘treasure every second’.  The treasuring I can get with, I see that.  But I think it anyway.  But you can’t live every second, every day as though it were your last.

For instance.  If I knew, rather than thought, there might be something awful wrong with me, and I had little time left – I would be quite selfish with it.  I would demand that I go and live with my mother by the seaside, because I have been craving seaside for a long while now.  That spaciousness, the call of the gulls high up, so free and speaking of blue expanse and long journeys.  I would ask for that, and I would get it, because my mother is lovely at the best of times, and would move heaven and earth to help me if she could.  I would go, Lil Fluffhead would go.  This would completely mess up mum and Fry’s living arrangements, but it would be bearable, because everyone would know it would be for an unspecified, but limited amount of time.  I would sit in the sun a lot, get loads of babysitting and generally try and ‘come to terms’ with mortality, while listening to the sea and watching it glitter.  Possibly Stanley would get some kind of leave off work and stay as much of the time as he could – ‘compassionate leave’ it’s called.  I would make him come.

But that is just a scenario.  It’s not now.  What am I supposed to do, in the hinterland, the no man’s land of I Have No Clue What Is Wrong With Me, The Symptoms Persist, But No Diagnosis Has Been Reached, Nothing Ruled Out.  ???

How do you fit that in to your life??  How do you live with any kind of joy, any kind of ability to look forward and see a momentum, see a life stretching out in front, see the point of making any plans at all…etc?

Also – life is not normal anyway, at the moment.  Roughly once a week, there is another test.  Sometimes I have to fast for the test, or be quite ill to clear things away so they have a clean slate to look at.  So the test intrudes beyond its actual time.  A half hour test can ruin three or four days of the week, as I start to feel ill-er and ill-er, weaker and more headachey.  I have to ask for help with Fluffhead; mum loses money she could have gained at work (that she badly needs) to come and help me (because Stanley has used up all the time his work will charitably give him short of a diagnosis).

That last makes me wonder:  where are my ‘friends’?  I’m the first one to admit that I was Push Away Girl after my dad died.  But its remarkable how easily people let themselves be pushed.  How easily they disappear into their own lives.  How in one case, I actually felt dismissed after I left my last job, from someone whose friendship I thought I would carry with me.  Or one woman, endlessly at sea in her own life, I had been writing to for many years, and met up with 2 or 3 times.  I felt we were sisters; she said she did too.  But we drifted.  I made one mistake, born of confusion, and lost her trust, never to be let back in.  Now I hear from her once every few months; the same light small talk.  I have apologised till I am bored of my words, but she cannot say anything to me that isn’t light and funny and meaningless – while I know from others that she still rages beneath.  I wish her well.  But I can’t be friends with people who can’t trust me with their actual selves and their actual lives, as I would wish to trust them with my thoughts on mine.  Who cannot forgive a mistake earnestly apologised for and understood.

Or the friend I have known for almost twenty years, who has disappeared into her own life since she restarted work with such a pop of totality, it’s as if she never existed.  There’s a tight vacuum of absence.  Now: she loves a crisis and always has done – indeed, I have often referred to her (privately to myself) as my Foul Weather Friend.  It took me 2 tellings of her about this little peccadillo I am experiencing for her to even connect.  Then there was a small facebook flurry, then nothing. 

Others are there at the end of email, more or less consistently.  Again though – its amazing how terrified people are of the first hint of unwellness – they do vanish…Some of my erstwhile mostly virtual friends are doing their damndest to completely avoid this issue of mine due to their own health phobias; and ignoring me as a result.

It makes me wonder what the POINT is, of having friends.  I think I may expect too much.  But that will have to be the case.  I have read words of people who say unconditional love is the way to go, expectation is always wrong.  I disagree.  I expect someone I count as friend to be here for me when I am in crisis.  I would be there for them, if I knew about it.  If I couldn’t go in person, I would be on the phone, I would be there by email; snail-mail; facebook message.  If I was late or not as consistent as I said I would be, I would explain why, as soon as I could.  But I would want the person to feel not alone when they were frightened and weakened.  I would help them stand up and face what was in their lives – if only by my words of encouragement, if that was all I could do.  I understand we all have our own lives going on – but it is an easy thing to send a morning text to someone, or a quick ‘thinking of you’ email; or a note in the post, and to keep it up.  Many things I would do, and have done, for people: are matters of moments.  But they count when you are scared and facing deep uncertainty.

The only person who has the right to laugh at all this prescriptive (and rather judgemental) sentiment is Troubadour – as he can say, as ex husbands do, that I left him in his hour of dire need.  And I will always bow my head to his interpretation of events and say: I’m sorry but I had to.  I will accept the blame, always, for what I did there.  And anyone who wants to say it’s my karma to be mostly alone in this situation now – go ahead.  I bow my head to that too.  I accept the responsibility.

But still.  One small ray of hope: I met a woman recently, quite by chance.  I won’t say much of her.  She seems as odd as me; whilst not being as insane as the last person I met as a result of the blog (one day I’ll tell you all about that, but not now – I wish that insane person well too: we both messed up, there).  From the first, conversation with her was easy, honest and real.  She doesn’t hide.  She answers questions.  She seems to take me at my word and not read between the lines and make up her own story (you can’t really deal honestly with people determined to do that).  I discussed her with Fry.  He suggested I should call her friend.  I said, ‘it’s too soon, its needy, it might scare her away’.  He shrugged, as he does, and said, ‘you women – you take everything so seriously – you talk well with her, you know how rare it is to find someone whose brain works even a bit like yours, just call her friend, honey kitten’ (which is what he calls me when he thinks I am being small and stupid and rather ignorant; but cute).  So.  So.  Alias TimeTraveller: you’re here.  Be assured, I am not expecting you to answer for the sins of anyone else.  You are you, and I am happy to have met you.  Long may our pleasant talks continue…friend.

But still.  Again.  Further.  How to live life while all this is going on?  While I have this health scare, while money worries pile up almost to intolerable levels, while trying to make a happy home for a small, innocent and blameless person.

It’s these times when you need your philosophy, your spirituality, your religion, whatever.  Existentialism helps me in moments.  Some days I bravely face the day and make my choices, looking whatever current truth there is, in the eye.  Some days I can’t.  Those days I choose distraction or spirituality.  Distraction is when I decide I am part of a story – as only stories make sense, really.  If I were Dr Who, I would be in the marooned on Earth phase, without my Tardis and my freedom, at the mercy and doing my best to cope with all the Earthbound problems; while trying to deal with my own issues at the same time.  (So apparently I’m Jon Pertwee – well, here’s to being astonishingly well dressed).  If I were in the novels of Sherrilyn Kenyon, I would be in that unlit and scary period before I am made a Dark Hunter and have my purpose; that time of cruelty and torture before the gift of vengeance and protection, and way before the redemption of love…Sometimes I am not in a story, but simply preferring to be surrounded by one: these are the times when genre fiction is what you need.  Series of romances, or science fiction epics, or fantasy quests.  Action, feeling, MOVEMENT, choices, consequences, change…Inspiration to stand up tall and deal with life from wise cracking space commanders, or detectives; from strong women with groups of supportive friends as clever and kind as they can be.  (This is where I get my ideas of friends from: and why NOT aspire to the heights of fictional loyalty, why the hell not???)

Spirituality, well…As you know, I incline toward the green earth and its smells, its wet grasses.  I feel free in the woods, tramping through dried orange leaves.  I feel clear on a hill with the wind on my forehead and blossoms blowing by me.  It is horribly hard to hold on to this when you are in a strip lit windowless room, lying on one side, with a tube up your arse in your intestines causing you the most excruciating pain.  You whimper (yes, actually whimper) as the mad scientists work away above you, occasionally opening your eyes to see what they see on the screen – never have you felt so strongly that insides should be left alone, inside, where they belong, and not interfered with.  You screw closed your eyes again.  The nurse says you are breaking her hand, and takes it away, refusing to let you hold it anymore.  You hold the side of the metal bed instead, unable to see any images in your head that will take you away from all this, because all there is is now, and now is pain.

Yes.  Well.  There was no journeying on the Lands of my mind for me that day.  And it’s difficult to not dread whatever is next, and worry over it.  Science and medicine are cold.  My Christian friends (yes, astonishingly, I have 2 of them, despite me being unkind about their God, repeatedly) are praying for me.  This is kind and I want them to carry on doing it.  I have an odd belief in Other People’s Beliefs.   Their faith may well send helpful emanations my way.  But nonetheless, I still can’t be doing with their God.  One of them suggested to me that all would be eased were I to ‘Accept Him’…but I maintain that a God that needs me to believe in Him and Worship Him or He will Send me to Hell and punish me, is not as loving as advertised, and I don’t appreciate the emotional blackmail.  I accept this responsibility too (so that Christian friend: please be assured, you did your best, you shan’t get the blame for failure). 

It would be wondrous to have a mighty God to look after me and see that this all works out ok, wouldn’t it?  But what I have in the heart area of my mind…is still the green green grass, and the call of birds, the petals of flowers and the fur of cats, the scales on fish.  Beauty.  Decay.  Destruction.  Rebirth.  My Asatru correspondent phrased my query on how to cope with this sort of thing this way:
In Heathenry our future is not known until we make it. Even divination through runes and seidh only gives guidance, not specifics. While death is accepted as inevitable when and how is not.

As I see it one can draw great courage from this uncertainty. To me it means our actions have meaning and impact no matter what happens. The simple courage of living in spite of loss, fear, and hardship is a powerful thing. It shows what you face that you will not let it rule you. 

(~ by Ryan Smith, one truly coherent thinker, in private mail; my italics)

Now…considering a good portion of the best and most famous Gods die at Ragnarok in Heathenry…they are damn good at living with uncertainty, and the death of their heroes, the dream of these larger than human yet so human creatures.  And all that about being brave in the face of the unknown, of trying to live your principles, whatever they may be, IN SPITE of not knowing, in spite of anything and EVERYTHING…this all brings me back to the existentialism I spoke of in posts past.  Personal Responsibility.  Do the best you can – even if it feels pretty poor that day.

Its cold comfort.  (Not as cold as the mad scientists, but then I am biased by their recent well intentioned meddling about with me.)

It would be less cold were I less alone…But I’ve had that rant.  If any of you reading this at any point feel like you know me in real life and I am having a go at you – you know what:  I am.  I could have been a better friend to several people; I have made bad mistakes myself in the past.  But I try to correct them, I try to repair.  If I can’t, I leave and walk away.  (It’s questionable whether the door is still open, as Troubadour would have said, as I am not good at forgiving and forgetting, though I persist in trying).  But I very rarely just abandon people. 

But anyway.  My anger, my disillusionment, they are all part of this big thing going on with me at the moment.  Stanley actually feels it too.  He wonders where his friends have gone also, since we moved away from London.  I will try to remember to NOT do this to someone else one day.  I will try and learn to support even the people who have pushed me away, because of something I knew about.  I will keep trying.  This is what I will learn.

And to life.  Well, right now, I have dyed my hair again (deep warm brown – I can’t afford a haircut, so this will have to do for a smarten up), and now I will go and plant soft pink petunias and geraniums outside.  They will carry on going despite this summer of rain, despite the masses of slugs. They will keep going even if all their petals are eaten away, or soaked to colourlessness.  They will not die and they will exist still, in a different form, as a green plant without flowers or leaves.  Their roots will be whole, and fine.

Somewhere, it is always summer.