Thursday, 19 October 2017

Don Jose Maria did a good job.





At the hospital the charming elderly surgeon , Don Jose Maria, asked me if I needed help getting onto the operating table.
It's  a mark of respect to call a doctor in  Spain 'Don - whateverhisfirstname -is. 

'Ha,' I said.   'No thanks, with my 2 new hips I can do this easily now.'

We’d exchanged a few pleasantries before this question.

'Did you get the new hips here or in England,' he asked seriously. 

 'Here,' I said.
 'Aha. ' he replied.  'Well then, when Brexit happens, we might have to ask for them back.' 

I’m Irish I said.  'Can I keep them?'

It was so great to be in the hands of a  gentle doctor with humour. This won’t take long he reassured me.  The 6 hour wait was immediately forgotten. 




The first two waiting hours were spent in the tiny hospital chapel.  

 It’ll be quiet there I said to my friend.  It was,  and we both did some meditation.  I’d already done my 20 minutes at home by real candle light.


I was interrupted by a piercing thought. Better charge my phone.   Another friend’s coming to collect me, and she’s not sure where to come. 

There were two sockets in the chapel.  With  the phone successfully plugged, oh dear, the box of electric candles immediately  went out.

We couldn’t stop laughing.  Not loudly. Honestly.

I then showed my friend the wonderful large new cookery book called Kaucasis that I’d packed in my ‘going to hospital’ little ethnic backpack.  It matched my new sweater nicely. I felt unusually stylish.


Fab brill photos and amazing seasonal recipes delighted us on every single page.  I was not expecting to show her the book in a chapel.

 We sat side by side and revelled in the deliciousness of the  shared  excitement of the probability  of trying new recipes.  Then Marie Carmen arrived.  She  slid quietly into the chapel and  dropped her 20 cents into the 'candle box.'    The candles didn’t light up.   

AHH!!

I nipped over, yes I can nip now, and apologised for the disappointment.
My son says if you put in 50c , all the candles light up she said.  I immediately gave her 50 cents.  Two  candles lit up.
  
‘Oh’ we all said deeply disappointed.  Then followed one of those profoundly poignant and brief and beautiful encounters.  


 Marie Carmen’s  husband has been in intensive care for 10 days. She comes every morning to see him, and ligh a candle in the chaple. She’s afraid he’s going to  die.  And he may. I tell her I’m here to have the little implant in my chest removed, it was where the chemo was put into my body I explain.

She smiles and I feel such tenderness for her. Then  sliding out into the corridor, she heads for the bedside of the man who has given her children.


I think we then looked at a few more recipes before going to the day ward for people needing small operations.
I didn’t look at the cookery book anymore because it was  now 16 ours since I’d had anything to drink or eat.



My friend leaves to collect her young son from school. I'm completly fine about this.

I’m sitting enjoying observing life in the day ward, but also remembering what it was like being hooked up to chemo 29 months ago, when all of a sudden a terrible cold came over my body.  Panic.

Jezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh NO, how could this have happened?

I  don't remember blowing out the candles after  doing my ‘Jane Meditation’ this morning  in my rented farmhouse - here in Spain. The house could already have burned to the ground.Then what would I do?

 It’s very windy.  Any of the windows could have blown open and at this very moment my little  house could be smoldering in rubble. 

Ohjesusmarymitheroofgod! I don’t swear these days, so this is my strongest expletive.

This was not a nice feeling. 



The young male nurse had taken my blood pressure just five mins before. Menos mal as we say  here. That translates as...just as well.  Now it was probably sky high.
 I was a mess inside.  Brain  freeze and dollops of how cold I have been so incredibly careless surged.

I believed ( when I had this though) that  I was about to be called into the operating theatre. Oh how quickly the body chemistry can change from peace and calm and even a touch of joy, to CRAZY/HORRIBLE/FREAKY/panic.

Little did I know there was another 3 hour wait to come.  

 I called my policeman landlord, but forget to tell him where the spare set of keys are hidden.

Don’t worry he said super calm and lovley as ever.  I’ll go now, and if necessary I’ll take the screws off the back door and get in that way.
Look through the widow first I said, you'll see if the candles are still alight.



By 2.30 I know the house hasn’t burnt down and all is well, but  the day hospital is completely empty. I’m the only remaining patient, and I’m still sitting hooked up to my drip and I’m very cold. 

 I now have three blankets wrapped around my body.  It’s an extremely  odd feeling being alone in an empty ward !!  


Slightly sulky Tamara a nurse from Almeria arrives and says she’s now on duty. Then she disappears for  ten minutes, well may it was just three.
The day ward closes at 2 .30 when the surgeon go off to eat, so I’ll probably be done at about 4 she says.
I could never ever grudge a surgeon a siesta, but I got that  wrong. 

 Other  surgeons start their day at 3pm. So why did Tamara tell me they would come back and  do me after  lunch?? Malentendido ( misunderstanding) on my part.

I’m done at last. It doesn’t hurt much.  Don Jose Maria  does a good job.

 It's not as easy as he thought it would be. Remember that children's story of pulling the turnip out of the ground?   Bit like that.  The little metal implant seemed to have grown roots.

Tamara and I bond. 
My friend gets lost but eventually finds  the empty ward where I’m waiting, miraculously I'm not hungry. 

Adios I say to Tamara, and suerte ( good luck), which means I really hope you find work nearer home and a job that  you love.  She is destined for greater things  than little operations. 

 Her parting smile was unforgettable.




First 3 drawings are mine,  the photos are all thanks to Pinterest, except the last one, which is my little house that could have burnt down, if that had been my destiny!.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Gratitude

What I’m especially grateful for today:

Finding I have a 3rd cousin in the US. This means we have the same great great grandparents on my Jewish father's side.
Appearently he was one of the Tzar's bodyguards. How fascinating is that?


Love this pic, but sadly she's not any relation.

My dear friend Claire is still in a coma.  She's  peaceful in her Granada hospital bed.

My daughter in law loved her three weeks late birthday chocolates, and my grandchildren helped her eat them all.

The small white van that reversed into me yesterday in a narrow lane in the village did no more harm than give me two red bruised knees.

I finally understand 90% of my writing is just getting clear.

I'm grateful for hours spent with paint and pastels messing till the emerging stranger appears, and in a flash of recognition becomes family, and greets me. This is a real prodigal son/daughter moment. A meeting of hearts. Magical. Mysterious.Thrilling.

                                                             This happened today.









Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Bejewelled Baker

The  bejewelled baker, a fiesty blond, and a fishmonger -summer adventures in Andalucia.



My exploring today wasn’t nearly as intrepid as yesterdays with you Cathy, for many reasons.  One being - I forgot the map!

I headed for Cutar where some interesting Danish artists have an arty B&B.  I wanted to check out it out , and I'd  liked the look of their online paintings.  Missing the turning, I  found myself in Olias , miles away  in the direction of Malaga.

Olias was gearing up for their anual fiesta weekend.

Driving into the small village I immediately spotted a bar/restaurant.  It was almost lunchtime, so I pulled over and parked my car, not brilliantly I admit,  but ok.  I got out, felt hungry, smelled pork, and breathed in the hot dusty air.

At the very same moment the fish man  arrived  from the opposite  direction. He  parked abreast of me, blocking the road.  Then the bread van  arrived and parked behind me. Roadblock.



A group of local women were waiting for both vans.  They sat on a low wall , probabaly just like their mothers and grandothers had done for  decades.




Behind them,   stunning views of  rolling hillsides were dotted with ancient olive trees, the dry soil a rich terracotta colour.  To their left , the Mediterranean stretched  way up the coast into the pale distance, and  way down  passed the busy port of Malaga.  On a clear day you would be seeing  right across to Morocco. Today wasn't clear enough.


One of the village women, about 55, the alfa female, wore a  tight white mini lacy cotton dress, exposing strong shoulders.   Sexy and defiant  her short  dyed blond hair was pulled  into a small ponytail.  This  needed to grow it a tad longer to give the full youthful effect I thought.

She was a don't mess with me lady. A person with power. Funny how you can sense these things instantly.

She looked me up and down slowly.  I'd become part of the traffic jam. Part of her world for a few moments.

She scanned me. Labelled me?

Then she noticed the crutch. 
Was that  a hint of a smile?

A car came up behind mine and of course couldn’t pass.  The fish van would have to move, but nobody was in a  hurry.  There were lots of loud jokes from the ladies, and finally  the young fishmonger jumped in his van, grinned at me, and dashed off to stop again and block the road at  the next blind corner!

The ladies mooched over to the grinning middle aged weather-beaten bread man who was wearing at least 10 multi-coloured bead necklaces, each with a flimsy plastic cross dangling from the bottom of it.  His open shirt  exposed a small clump of curly grey hair.

An alfa male, sin duda (without doubt).  Full of life energy.

After buying her bread the blond lady asked  for her  toilet rolls and paper napkins.  The bread man considered bringing these important items a huge favour, and their joking reached decibels. The  goods  were sitting on his passenger seat –  he had no room for anything else I think he was saying!.

‘What d’ you want,’ he then asked me abruptly.   ‘What have you got I.’ asked.

 ‘Bread!’ he said laughing louder than ever.

The ladies didn’t laugh.

‘Jajajaja, hombre,’  I said, ‘no soy totalmente tonta !!’ (Hey pal , I’m not completely stupid!).

‘MUY BIEN,’ shouted the rubia ( the blond), she was almost clapping, her arms full of toilet rolls napkins ,bread  and fish.

‘You tell him matey,’ she said, or something like that.

I think the blond and the bread man have history.

So love my life Spain.

A painting by Picasso I've never seen called Campesinos ( country folk).

Friday, 16 June 2017

Another new day...




Today started with an 8.30 am blood test, a 9 am wasp bite, 10 am porridge, then developed into a day of long rests, lentil stew, and listening to the BBC's Radio 4 Women’s Hour for the first time in 21 years.
  


Then quiet time came,  thinking of friends who are ill, especially little Ursula in Canada whose brain tumour has come back for the 3rd time.


The hot day is slowly closing in now.  The cool air comes like a beloved friend. Carmen next door helps me  give the chickens fresh water. I can't bend yet. 4 eggs today. 'How sweet she says, pointing to the two tiny quails. They lay about one egg a month I tell her.

Now, after chocolate crepes (not quite right again, but made right with lots of vegan chocolate spread), before the light goes, some watering needs to be done.


Evening. My Spanish neighbours are siting outside under their beautiful tunnel of vines, talking. Old Louisa  sits on a  broken Van Gogh chair and swats flies, all day.


I took the following photos  in the village of  Notaez,  half an hour  away. My neighbours are carrying on the traditional ways of life here, but without the mules and donkeys .










'Lean on me.'

Hearing this song this afternoon made all the sadness and unfairness that’s happening all over the world, and especially in London - Grenfell Tower - so poignant.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiouJsnYytI.

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

Titch Nath Hann

Friday, 28 April 2017

People of the Book. Ancestors.




Brief historical note:



Between the 9th century and the 1400's, Muslims rulers in Spain not only tolerated Jews, but gave them many privileges.  They became known as 'The People of the Book.'  During many centuries great interchange of learning took place especially in Cordoba, Andalucía, until 1492 , when the  Jews were brutally expelled from the country they knew as home, unless they converted to Christianity.




Here, today in usually sunny Andalucia, it's a cold wet morning. So unusual.  The plants, the trees, and the thirsty land effortlessly absorb the colourless  rain.

I would light the fire if I had any kindling or  if I had a rain jacket, I'd go looking for wood.

 On the other side of the river, there are  lots of sticks and bark and hollow bamboo, but the only  bridge is narrow, made just for visiting sheep and goats .

Humm.

Dare I try it with one crutch, and no handrail?

Question.  How to make the best of today?

 How can I be helpful or encourageing to anybody today, and disabled at the same time ?

And what can I learn without leaving my little house?

EASY answer.   The Internet.

Organic coffee in hand, wrapped up in a purple Peruvian blanket on the magenta sofa, I feel a blog coming on !!!

As Mary Oliver invites us to:

Pay attention, be alert, tell about it.’

I will, I want to , I’m trying!

People of the book, ancestors, yours and mine?


People of the Book. Ist version.





Finished 1st version.Very hard to photgraph.  Poor colour.

2nd version beginning...

Early morning thoughts tap dance as the sky turns different shades of grey. Does the rain silence the nightingales?

10.30. More rain.  Good.
Will my chickens lay eggs in this downpour?

Thinking about - Friendship? Trust?  Patience?

Remembering to expect the best not the worst. Another operation looming close now.

Noticing how my heart closes and freezes when opening certain emails. The mind goes white.  Love this Spanish expression. Like a whiteout! Si señor!

So, how best to harvest the wisdom that surrounds us, despite the state of the world?

Creer es crear -to believe is to grow. Gracias Arbol Rojo.

I want to always believe in goodness.


Belalcazar monastery studio.




 A wonderful John O’Donohue’s poem about mornings comes via  FB.

It comes with the same joy of receiving an old-fashioned letter under the front door.
Remember the pleasure of recognising a friends handwriting?  Thank you Benita.

The poem starts:

‘May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear…’

Golden years in Spain, when Muslims, Jews, and Chrstians lived harmoniously side by side in Andalucia.


I teasure this gift which slips out easily, but I'm shy and bold to share it. !  Much more shy than bold usually.

So love that Irish expression.. she's bold !  
She's frikken bold ye know! 
Ah no.  
Not often. 
Not unless it's necessary !


The new ' Jewish ' drawings boldly communicate  in their own nonverbal way, timeless, title-less stories of  Spanish Jewish history.   Beloved ancestors. 

By way of contrast, these four images below (made between 1998-2000)  arrived long before cancer knocked on my door in 2014.

Skellig Michael Monks 1999

Inuit Elder, Newfoundland 1999.
Aids in orphanges in Bulgaria.




My unmet father.


When cancer moved into my life, the artist in me came out of the cupboard!  Big time!

The journey was  truly mysterious and truly miraculous.  It involved losing the self I used to know, losing my home , losing my identity...

It's like I don't remember  who I used to be,  and I don't know now who I'm becoming. But my soul is completely at home in these drawings,  it rests here, and it recharges.

Is that what I want to say?
Yes I believe it is !

Belalcazar Monastery 2015


Pen and ink drawing, damaged and remade.  2015.




 I’m sharing  the new  pink version of  People of the Book (below), chosing to be bold on this grey wet day. 

 Drawings numbers 2 -6 show how it began two years ago.

The theme of the  drawing is The Conviencia in Spain in the 14th century. In 2015, I spent two months painting at Belalcazar monastery  near Cordoba, exploring this period with a varity of materials.

Splashes of black ink were thrown onto thick white paper driven by intense feelings related to the brutal expulsion of the Jews in 1492.  The People of the Book were robbed of everything they possessed, their homes, their homeland , their work, the lives they had created.




Abandoned for two years, the drawing has now evolved into a pink reincarnation, thanks to the upcoming Pink Exhibition in Velez Benadaulla, Andalucia.

So it's kind of like these three characters  have finally found their new homeland, as I have, literally across the river from where my  Spanish life stared, 21 years ago.

I've found a brand new life, and a new home - with chickens - post chemo!

Two years now in remisssion.

Thank you God/Goddess /All That Is.

And so the day ends with with finding firewod, feeling warm, finishing the drawing, and sharing the story.

And your day?  Did it surprise you?







“Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”
 WASSILY KANDINSKY.  
Thank you Robyn.



Impossible to photograph well, the finished drawing, with me in the picture ! LOL!

Exhibition details to follow.