Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Theatre of the not absurd

I would like a posh one , but at present am not able to wield a saw , a plane  or even a hammer really. My theatre will do for me , cobbled in a corner of my backyard using bricks, bits of bricks and sitting resplendent atop an ageing coal bunker.

My start of the day  has an updated routine now
  • feel if I'm alive
  • take life prolonging meds 
  • do Lectio 365 
  • see if spouse is alive
  • make us both a cup of tea
  • do ablutions
  • collect daily washing ,start washing machine
  •  peg washing on line
  • make porridge for spouse
  • prepare breakfast for self
  • go to Wydale  or Filey Parish on Zoom (weekdays except Tuesdays)
Daughter no1, son in law, friend Liz  and I have been discussing the collecting and displaying of Primula auriculas.  Though recorded in Elizabethan times, and popular in the 19th C when specialist Flower Societies were formed , son in law tells me Geoff Hamilton popularised them , but for me Chelsea Physic Garden first brought a Theatre to my attention. 

An aside
Spouse and I love the Chelsea Physic Garden, we went every time we were in town , and in the days when members got in at the front door and had to sign a book, and the gardens were more or less free from the hoy palloy. Now its open most days, and spouse knows he might not be able to visit again. We will have to put the membership in my name. I think being there  without  spouse might be one of the hardest visits I will ever have to do.

I can appreciate why P. auriculas were popular with the working classes in Victorian times. They are easy to cultivate,  tolerant of afternoon shade and take up very little space , are mostly kept in pots and are just displayed once a year when they flower, April and May . 

In our last holiday together in 2019, and with family who are seasoned navigators and bargees, on the Staffordshire and Worcester canal  we passed a famous garden centre, Ashwood Nurseries, which I unashamedly recommend  for Primula Auriculas. I am going to buy only 4 new varieties a year, on the phone  of course, so that my delight doesn't become an obsession or I a frightful bore.
This year my favourite is called SVR. I had to ask the salesperson what that meant . Guess it !   *see bottom of post
When daughter No 2 next visits from East Sussex she is bringing me some more P. a's from the nursery she works in. They are all different again, not doubles but more 'edges'.

My readers will know that I love Echiums, as I have written about them several times.You may not know I also too love to grow Coleus from seed, just so that you know I have an eclectic taste. Daughter no 1 loves to grow onions. She has 82 on her allotment , and counts them every day. I grew Loofahs  last year,  but have decided I don't love them. I am growing lots of sweetcorn this year, of the coloured  heritage variety.  I'll let you know what I think in October.
Meanwhile enjoy my Coleus....

*SVR Severn Valley Railway

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Little Gidding, Pete Greig , and Mental Health


My friends all know that I love Poetry. 

We had a huge cull of books when we moved back into the cottage 10 years ago , and left a room which was furnished from floor to ceiling with bespoke  bookshelves made by the craftsman  Malcolm Johnson .Colin loaded up Mother's sholley with books several times a day and walked to the Charity Shops with the load until we were advised they could not receive any more. I kept all my Poetry books, most shelf space now after my Botany books.

Little Gidding is my Adlesdrop place, as I did pass through it unwontedly on the way to Yorkshire from London avoiding motorways. I always knew it had been  a religious community of the strict High Anglican sort , but not having ever read the Four Quartets  that pleasure was  to come.  Pete Greig always surprises me with his rhetoric , his writings and his vision,and I value his contribution to the stability of my mental health. He writes on 4th Jan


 Reading today's headlines, I'm reminded of a line from T.S. Eliot, who died on this day in 1965: ‘Christ is the still point of the turning world' .....

it has become my necessary daily practice simply to sit in silence and stillness each morning for a few minutes,......

But I believe that God’s quiet invitation to each one of us at the start of this year is this: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10). We know ‘of’ God through the bible but we actually know him through the practice of silence, stillness and solitude. Good doctrine is dead without doxology. This was something I experienced deeply and cumulatively during my three week solitary pilgrimage from Iona to Lindisfarne in October. ..............

in 'Little Gidding' - a poem named after a small monastic community - T.S. Eliot captures and conveys the spirit of precisely this kind of silent praying;
'You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid.
And prayer is more
Than an order of words,
the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind,
or the sound of the voice praying'

For two years now I have been doing LECTIO 365 , a free app on my mobile . I don't read it, I sit quietly after my initial quiet sit , and I listen. Since Colin has been more himself and able to listen , we have done the evening Lectio too , and listen together , like doing the Compline of the Daily Office.My friend Tara first told me of it, and my friend Pam further up my road, and I have told many friends of it.
Throughout lockdown and to this dayI have also been in a parallel world as reluctant carer to infirm beloved. THIS life is dominated by the truly boring tasks in life , and may be accompanied sometimes by the temptation to run away, to cry, to moan, to cook and eat ready meals, to wear the same clothes for a week, and to feel sorry for myself. I want to .. I want to.... and even if all the Art Galleries and days of sunshine, and Beautiful music and meals out were possible , I would still be completely out of my comfort zone , my head space would still be in need of still ness, balm and thankfulness. I now appreciate that Brother Lawrence worshipped during the washing of pots, and just how saintly are those who can truly live and not count the cost. For me I am with Pete Greig, and find stillness does wonders.The busiest of days need the stillness first for me.

I Wrote in a previous post, the one that has had the most hits [ from the data] that Gardening had kept me sane. Five years on I still cling on to my sanctuary that is my allotment, but things have changed there too, as the fast daily walks to the mile away plot are no longer practical as my HIP is paining and I cant walk fast at all , so my cardio work out is missing from my routine. I cant be bothered to do sit ups or any other exercise, its as much as I can do to walk to the chemist for beloveds prescriptions. BUT I can take the car and I can still do my no dig gardening with joy and satisfaction and am planning my rotations and my potato order.
Last year I grew LOOFAHS and got seeds for the whole of Filey for this year seemingly. Our Christmas lunch at Kiaora included Red Cabbage from the plot cooked with apples and onions also from the plot. I am still picking Broccoli and Chard and my rare Echiums are still alive , just.

It warms my heart that I am not the only person to have heard of and employ 'no dig' and my joy will be complete when Mike and the rest of the Allotment association buy NO Peat compost for the site SHOP.

Some Sunshine please now O Creator of it!
May you all enjoy GOOD MENTAL HEALTH this year.