Friday, May 27, 2016

Sick of sick.

Sick of diabetes
of worrying about food
of counting steps I've walked
of random elevated blood sugar levels
of worrying about blindness and gangrene

Sick of urinary tract infections
of the antibiotics used to treat them
of the stomach upset, bloating and diarrhea
and bleeding hemorrhoids that follow close behind
and continue for weeks and months and maybe forever

Sick of sandpaper throat
of sneezing and snotting
of harsh coughing all night
of crackling needle ear pains
and dribbling nose and eyes

Sick of trying
sick of the ten steps backwards
for every single step forwards
sick of nothing being enough
sick of the constant chipping away

Sick of loss
of family and friends
of a body that worked okay
of a mind that was briefly happy
of enthusiasm and passion

Sick of sick
and so very alone
I want a mother to hold me
and assure me that it'll be okay
but I've never had one of those

Sunday, May 22, 2016


At 9.30 on Friday night as lightning filled the sky, our power went off. It happens more out here in the country than it did when we lived in town, but is usually fixed within an hour or two. We retired to bed, and having had a long day driving to Auckland and back, promptly fell asleep. About 12.30 we were woken by banging on our bedroom window, and a voice calling, "Wake up! We need help!"

Mac's sister, Pat, and partner, Colin, (both in their 70s) had been woken by their cat wanting to go outside, and when Colin opened the door, it was to the sight of debris, including roof tiles,  all over the lawn, and an uprooted tree! We dressed hurriedly and followed them back to their place a little further down our road.  It was quickly apparent that a tornado had been through. After a quick evaluation, we decided that there was nothing we could do, and Mac went home to call 111. The local volunteer fire brigade arrived from Raglan very quickly, and so began several hours of trying to cover the worst of the damage with tarpaulins. I don't think the firemen had any better skills at doing such things than Mac, but they did have better equipment and younger bodies! Mac went back and forth to our place bringing tools and timber and a camp stove and eventually it was done and we all got back to our respective beds at about 4.00am.

I woke at 6.30 but Mac managed to sleep in until 8.00am and after feeding animals we headed back to Pat and Colin's place.

The roof as the firemen did it.

The cattle had broken through the fences during the storm as the electric fences don't hold them back without power, so Pat and Colin had been down sorting them out.

Mac rang his brother, Ray, who came out with another large tarpaulin, and so the morning was spent working to cover as much of the roof as possible, replacing some tiles, and tying the tarps down better.

An uprooted tree on the lawn

The tree was uprooted, but the fruit on the row of citrus trees behind were still hanging undisturbed on their branches.

One of Colin's sons, plus two grandsons, arrived to help. Pat and I went back to our place to make soup on our gas stove and use our toilet which uses ram pump water, so is not dependent on an electricity powered water pump. When we got back, Colin's ex-wife and her husband, had arrived with bottles of water, freshly baked scones and jam, and a couple of meals for them to heat up on the fire top. Not bad for an ex! They didn't stay for more than a cup of tea - and they had even brought their own cups so there would be fewer dishes for Pat and Colin - before leaving. Shortly afterwards Colin's daughter and family arrived to see for themselves that Colin and Pat were okay.

We too headed off and discovered that we too had a bit of damage. A pinenut tree split in half and landed on the boundary fence. Today we discovered a kahikatea tree in the bush by the driveway - I expect we will find are more when we have the time and weather to investigate.

Our pinenut tree.

On Saturday night we managed to borrow a generator from a friend of Ray's and got it set up to run the fridge, freezer and water pump.

With all the wild weather, the sick chook decided that a cardboard box with straw was not good enough, and moved into Bob's kennel, much to his distress.

The shower I had before going to sleep for ten hours was one of the best ever - after a day of working in rain and mud we really needed showers. On Sunday morning we were going to take the generator down to Pat and Colin to get their freezers and water going, but first Otis, Hannah and baby Levi came to visit to have showers - the wetback on the fire meant we had plenty of hot water once the pump was going. We were just having a cup of tea when, 36 hours after it stopped, the power came back on.

We still had to take the generator back, and tidy up some of the branches on our driveway. Pat and Colin  finally heard from their insurance company, well after dark, who told them to call a builder. The people down the road called their insurance company on Saturday and someone was sent out straight away to encase their property in proper heavy-weight tarps. I think Colin and Pat should change companies!

It's been a hell of a weekend, and despite my good sleep last night, my blood sugar level is dreadful and I am shattered.

Our neighbour's shed - there's an old red truck in there somewhere.
 Uprooted trees, and others snapped off - yet the old shed was untouched. (Colin and Pat's next door neighbour's property.) 

 The paddock where Colin's horse and foal had been until the day before the storm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Habit Learned

A small gift from a friend several years ago has grown and blossomed.
For the first time in my life that I can remember, I have deliberately formed a healthy habit! On 24 February I was told I had diabetes. A couple of days later I started walking each morning. First to the mailbox and back. 600m each way. Then to the short end of the road and back. 1k each way. I wanted to be realistic, having failed exercise goals very quickly in the past. So I'm sticking to the 2k each morning. I've only missed a few mornings since then, and only when I had to get somewhere early. So pretty much seven days a week I walk 2k after feeding the animals. I always had in mind that I'd use the treadmill instead in bad weather, but have only done that once. 
There are still pumpkins needing collecting.
Today it was cold - snow fell on Ruapehu overnight - and raining. I thought of the treadmill, which bores me rigid, especially with no radio or tv at the moment, then put on a raincoat and walked my 2k to the end of the road and back. I think being happy to walk in the cold and rain confirms that the habit is formed.

The lemons are finally ripening at a rate that means no more rationing.
A good habit! I hope it will prove to be as strongly addictive as the alcohol and cigarettes that were so hard to give up.
The crazy warm weather means my beloved wild carrot is still flowering.....
It's so great to be outside, even in the rain. By the time I got back it had reduced to just a few spits, so I went for a little wander to see what happening around the land.
and the pumpkin plants continue to live with optimism. 
 My hens do not have names, they are not pets....except that this one has been living at the back door since a couple of days after we got back, as she couldn't stand, let alone walk. Now she is Chickee, and has made peace with the Spike The Cat, and friends with Bob The Dog. She is walking again now, but shows no sign of heading down the hill to rejoin the flock. Instead she wanders / hobbles off during the day, and comes back to her box at night.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reinventing Cally

So much, too much. My mind keeps churning and I just can't seem to still it for long enough to grasp hold of the thoughts sufficiently to make sense of them. I read or see or hear something, sometimes big, sometimes small, and just as I think my ideas are quietly seated, the music starts up, the ideas leap up and run wildly around the room, haphazardly chasing each other, pushing in, wandering off, then the music stops and there's not enough chairs for them all, but those without a place to sit don't give up. They just cast themselves on the floor in the centre of the circle and throw tantrums.

My first memory of depression is the serious bout, complete with suicidal thoughts, that I landed in just before I turned 17. It followed a year of questioning beliefs I had grown up with, and the realisation that the god I had been taught about was as much a fairy tale or cautionary tale as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the characters in Struwwelpeter. Despite the obvious lesson to be learned - thinking too much makes you miserable - I continued to examine and question things, both about the world and about myself.

As a child of parents of their time, and a mother with (looking back) some serious issues, I was brought up being told I should have tried harder, could have done better, never told I'd done well. I was told I was wrong about my feelings, sent outside for being too happy, sent to my room till I cheered up when sad, and smacked and sent to my room when angry. Even into adulthood, my mother criticised my clothes, my choice of university degree, my choice of husband, my parenting choices - even the way I folded my son's nappies. My parents both died in 1988 when my children were young, before my last son was even born, but my mother's voice has always stayed in my head, criticising, constantly asking, 'what will people think?' And that same voice has battled with my other voice, that angry little girl voice that has never quite been silenced, that voice that says, 'I am hot! I do want to take my jersey off!' and 'I want to wear what's comfortable and fun for me! I don't care what people will think!' The trouble is, that mother voice has won most of the battles. Only when I was fighting for what I thought was best for my children did I stick to my guns - I breastfed my babies even though, 'You won't be able to do that - I couldn't,' and 'homeschooling is a terrible idea, you'll never cope and you don't know enough.'

And now I've reached an age where I can put in my application for NZ Superannuation next month, and there are so many things I haven't done, that I wanted to because 'what would people think?'

A friend said not long ago that she never felt she fit in, but now she has a home in a different country, she feels better about it because she isn't expected to fit in.  I loved our recent holiday in Golden Bay, and felt very tempted to just throw in my life here and go live in Collingwood or Takaka, where no one knows me, and therefore no one has expectations of me. But I do have family and friends up here and I don't want to be in a place where I wouldn't get to see them more than once every few years - at my age, 'a few years' could mean 'never again.'

The diagnosis of diabetes has shocked me through and through. In all the years of depression when I thought of suicide, I never once thought of suicide by diabetes - the possibility of a slow, debilitating condition which increases my risk of strokes with consequent physical and mental disabilities, might blind me or turn my extremities gangrenous, gradually losing fingers, toes, limbs, this possibility just didn't occur as a suicide method of choice! So I've been thinking, yet again.

I don't need to flee to Ireland or Golden Bay - I can re-invent myself right here. It probably won't be very noticeable to most people, other than I hope that as I lose more weight (in an attempt to stave off the effects of diabetes) I will replace my too-big clothes with ones that are not only smaller, but also more expressive of my inner self. I'm going to let go of a few people who are not supportive. There's a couple who never ask about me, just talk of their own problems, joys, interests - they can go. There's another who always comments on my appearance, managing to make even a compliment insulting by sounding very surprised, and one who discourages me with alternative suggestions, implying I'm not up to whatever I have planned. Enough.

Diabetes means I need to reinvent myself in terms of food and exercise and alcohol. It's hard. Two of those I love, one I hate - and they are around the wrong way! Eating is now hard work, just to make it palatable - a diabetic, wheat-free vegetarian is severely restricted, especially when eating away from home. But when I'm tempted, I close my eyes and imagine life blind. When I need to get out walking, especially on a day like today when rain means walking is on the treadmill, I imagine life in a wheelchair post amputation. Re-inventing myself isn't as simple as just new clothes and different friends, it's learning to find ways of eating and exercising that are enjoyable, and learning to live without the numbing effects and highs of whisky.

Re-inventing myself is also learning to do art like a toddler, as before that time when my desire to do it, and to dance and sing and make music was crushed by a mother who couldn't admit to poverty so told me I was too clumsy and tone deaf, so lessons were a waste of time and money. On top of those childhood messages, I built another layer of excuses - that if my writing isn't good enough to get published, my art / craft isn't good enough to sell and so on, then I shouldn't waste time doing them at all. Re-inventing myself is going to be about doing things I love anyway - and if it really isn't good enough for me, try again.

Finally, re-inventing myself means recognising that I have as much right to my time and energy as anyone else. Not only am I going to say 'no' more often, and to more people, I am also going to work really, really hard to stop feeling guilty for doing so, and for not doing more for other people.

I have been thinking about this, writing this, editing, re-writing, churning for weeks now. Enough. I have become uncomfortably aware that my life is finite, and that I am closer to the end of it than I am to the beginning. Enough. It's time to get on with my life, the life that I gave over to 'what other people think' so long ago, I can't remember a time when it wasn't the standard to judge my life by. Enough. I'm claiming my life for myself, and I'm not going to apologise for doing so.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dawn Magic

I am not adverse to science,
but when I speak of lightening skies
filled with reds, pinks and golds,
of clouds and rippling water,
of silhouetted flocks of gulls,
I do not want to be told
of Rayleigh scattering
or wavelengths of visible light

These things are irrelevant
to the universe of magic:

I have walked
on the beach
at dawn
in Golden Bay.

Dancing Around the Sun

Among the reds, oranges and bronzes,
the occasional yellow elm
splashes out a reminder:

that early daffodils
are just months away;
that in less than seven weeks
our days will begin to lengthen;

that the dark time of year
is the slow mid night waltz
of our dance around the sun
before the excessive,
exuberant cha-cha
of a new spring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quiet Times

After the music and dancing and spending time having fun with family and friends at womad, the following weekend, Easter, was very quiet. But it is good to remember that the quiet times are good too.

On Friday we - Mac, Bob and I, went for a walk at beautiful the Ruapuke beach where 'crowded' meant there were two other groups of two people, plus another dog.
There were other signs of life of course.
And one poor chap who I found half buried in a pile of plastic rubbish (which I collected in the dog poo bag - fortunately Bob didn't do anything requiring me to empty out the bag.)  This little guy seemed happier standing on the cliff, looking out to sea.
Afterwards we called in to see friends out that way, and admired their underground home which is almost at moving-in stage. They currently live in a container house.

In between the work we did around the place, we went for other walks, and coming back up our drive we came upon this cute baby:
 And on Monday I walked down the road (Mac drove) to Mac's sister's place for lunch with Pat and Colin, Ray (Mac's brother) and Sue, and Pat's granddaughter, Hayley and fiance, Kenny. It was Pat's birthday, and lunch turned into the afternoon, and we got home just in time for dinner and a surreal sunset.


 I am reminding myself that quiet and peaceful doesn't necessarily mean boring.