...with love all things are possible

Believe ...

Believe ...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Joy ... in Uruguay

Summer evenings and fireflies,
Bare feet and sun burnt faces
Cicadas winding-down
High up in towering           
Eucalyptus trees.
Sudden summer showers
Running barefoot together
Under a huge
Oversized red umbrella.
Chasing, racing, screaming,
Ice cream.
We all scream for ice cream.
And then
Warm egg sandwiches
Made by my Mummy
In fresh white bread
Bread that smells like only
Fresh bread can smell
In Uruguay.
Because it’s feather-white bread.
She knows best
About bread, and
Sandwiches, and
Sandwiches in warm breads
Like driving past a bakery
With bread growing in the oven
Bury your nose in the bread
And smell the warm taste.
Egg sandwiches that always
Come together with
Paper-thin cucumber
They smell like only summer
Can smell in Uruguay;
Summers of cucumbers.
Cucumbers as thin as
Bible pages,
See-throughable cucumbers
Like frosty bathroom windows
Or bubbly kitchen doors
What can you see
Through your cucumber?
Shadows and shapes
Made by looking through
Vegetables like frosted glass.
Frosted like ice.
Holiday on Ice!
Front-row seats.
Always front-row seats
Tickets bought by Daddy
For the front row.
It’s in the front row
Where the candy-floss
Floats by your hair
Followed by the cry
Of “Coooo-ca Coooo-la!”
And hot dogs.
But the cold of the ice
In the rink
In your face
Is the best.
Because Daddy knows this
Is a place at the front
Where the clowns tumble
Out of the rink.
And sit on my knee.
And make me dream
Of being part of the show.
Holiday on Ice.
Holidays by the sea.
And hot pine needles
On sand near the sea.
Long hot days of sun and sand.
Sand in your hair
Sand in your shoes,
Castles and moats
Gobbled up by the sea.
Frothy white waves
Salty blue waves
Crashing down on your head
Again and again;
They don’t care,
They don’t wait,
And it’s salty cold water
Till you sneeze and you cough
And jump right back in again
For more.
Long hot days by the sea,
Sticky hot nights when you toss
And you sweat in your bed.
No fans no breeze
So you sweat and you wriggle
Till you lie on the floor.
To be cool in Uruguay.
Be cool, then be cold when
Cool turns cold in winter.
Dark mornings, cold clothes,
Hot porridge and soup,
Soup bowls filled with letters
A whole steaming alphabet
Swimming and billowing,
The hot that turns cold, all
Cold round the sides while
You played making
Names-on-the side-of-your
And you’re scolded a little
So you pick up your things
And trudge glumly to bed
And then trip on the
Red rubber boots
Full of mud.
So you’re sad but
You think of a
Furry warm coat and
Two Grandmothers.
The furry warm coat that’s
Lita’s “pussycat” coat
So silky and warm.  Brown,
Warm, and snuggly.
Snuggly to rub a cold cheek in
And feel better.
“You like my ‘pussycat’ coat,
Don’t you?”  Lita asks
With a twinkle in the
Cornflower blue of her eyes.
You do.
Then there’s
Mizzy’s “pussycat” corner too.
Where no one can sit but she.
“Who’s sitting in my
‘pussycat’ corner?” Not me
Cos I’ve already jumped
To the floor to look at
The moon in the sky
Through the window at night
And the flames in the
Grate by the clock.
Crack and tock.
Flames and huge
With great tongues of
Fire rushing up
To the sky.
In Uruguay.
Snaky plumes of smoke
Sucking air dreedily
Puffing up and getting
Snatched by wind.
Swishing into your
Eyes and your nose
Till you tear
With the sting of
The smoke in the walls
Of your nose;
So you turn to the wind
And it blows in
Your face.
It’s a whipping wind
Whipping twisters of leaves,
Red, yellow, and brown
Leaves in a wild dance
Whooshing up and
Tumbling down.
Blowing and blowing
As you scream and you
Run.  Run away from the
Wind ‘cause it’s
Clutching your hair
Hair filling with knots
Those “birds’ nests”
Impossible to deal with
Without tears.
Silly tears that mean nothing –
Just tired contentment
And suddenly
I’m really quite
Ready for bed and
And headful of
And kisses,
Hugs and laughter,
Warmth and care.
A lifetime of
A lifetime of
A childhood of
And love
In Uruguay.
Pure Joy.

Choices made

Choices made

Sitting here in the semi darkness
I wonder if I’ve made the right choice. 
There are times in life when things
Should somehow remain
The same.

Is it because I always want so much more?
Is it because I always want instant gratification? 
The final question demands brutally
What is it that you

I press my cheek to the cool metal 
Then feel myself slip into a senseless void
An empty place which only contains

I can’t feel if my belly is touching it or not
Numb remnants of a recent surgery
That left another place

And silence can only crush against my ears
When I chose to pay attention
But I’m busy focusing on

On death and daffodils

Newspapers litter the table.  Breakfast is over but the crumbs remain, the chairs pulled out, the kitchen counter unwiped.  It’s a sign of a slow morning.  There’s a little rain wafting down from the battleship grey sky and yet, it’s beautiful.
I can totally understand this idea of “Oh to be in England now that spring is here...”  There’s an absolute majesty about spring busting out on this island.  I’ve never been here in March and the colors are a painter’s paradise.
Everywhere I look, not only are the trees and bushes filled will pregnant buds, but roundabouts and swales explode with bobbing yellow daffodils.  On and on they come, after the snowdrops which were like a gentle prelude of things to come.
Yes, the snowdrops, pushing out of the hard ground, almost tender, frightened ... White as the snow they sometimes have to work through, with little tender green dots on their upper side, shy and delicate, holding their precious treasure under a bowed head.  They’re amazing.
And like any great prelude or overture, they gracefully give way to the major movement, the star of the show, the daffodil.  My goodness and what a show they put on.  Daffodils like I’ve never seen them.  In groups.  In clusters.  In herds.  Tall and short.  Mostly dazzling yellows.  They pop up in the most unexpected places and can’t help but bring a smile to my face.  It’s such a tonic for this tough time.
Under benches, in front of swings, between gnarled old tree roots and stumps, in the middle of pristine lawns - these precursors of spring push out without regard for borders, places or constraints.  It’s funny sometimes, especially when they’re on a roundabout, I’m approaching at 50 mph and suddenly there’s a pool of yellow - swaying, bobbing, hypnotically in front of me - calling me.  And I gaze over my right shoulder .... I watch them, mesmerized as I go round and then I realize I’m going round the roundabout again.  Just looking at them and I’ve missed my exit, again.  Who cares?
What’s so hypnotic about puddles of yellow daffodils?  I think it has something to do with the vibrancy of the color itself.  Also I remember being told that in a child’s drawing, the sun represents the child's father.  The sun is yellow.  Bright yellow and it calls me.
My Dad is dying, the daffodils are like pools of sunlight fallen down to earth.  My Dad is dying and everywhere there is life in the color of vivid sunshine and all I want to do is throw myself into the arms of yellow.
My Dad is dying and there is nothing I can do to help him, nothing I can do to stop it happening, and nothing I can do about these daffodils that hypnotize me in spring in England.
It's a slow morning and all I want to do is press the pause button, for Dad, for us, for me ... for daffodils.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Witness

Walking down the lawns of the cemetery on that scorching hot Labor-day afternoon felt all wrong and it was because of that, that I knew it was the right thing to do.
I was just a witness, an onlooker wondering inside just what I was going to observe. I had so many reservations but kept them to myself, he was keen to be there, to get it done – jockeying in the car making light conversation, playing hard to get, but under the shallow shield there was a layer of fear and determination in his eyes, a thin veil of perspiration on his upper lip.  Nevertheless, he didn’t smoke.
“I feel like this is a new beginning” he’d said. 
He carried the plant with pride and when we arrived at the tombstone I sat to one side and watched for a moment as he dug a shallow hole with his bare hands.  Those hands that from the first had meant so much, those same hands which had so timidly started this love affair without words in June of 2007, had ended it with crushing force barely a year later.  
Those big hands with tobacco stained fingers: strong working hands, rough hands that had handled life and daily matters of living but which in conversation were articulate and soft.  Those hands dug the hole with proud determination and then, in that oxymoronic way, tenderly placed the pretty pink plant in it, tamping down the soil with care, with love.  Then he stroked the headstone as he kneeled and silently mouthing the name as he traced the familiar letters “John Christopher … Non Noubis Solum
I had been there before.  Same place, same heat, different day; Memorial Day 2008 when the place had been overrun with buses and cars, families and soldiers, laughter and tears, flowers, pomp and ceremony.  Today the place was empty and the wind chased through the grey sea of headstones, tickling the green grass and shaking tree fronds.  It felt refreshing there today – like we had stumbled into it without a warning and caught the Cemetery off guard: rejoicing, not mourning; laughing, not weeping; living, not dying.  It felt good. Maybe there was a beginning in the making.
 In the wild wooded area at the bottom of the hill everything was ripe in late summer bloom – small willows, dogwoods, peppers, bushes and tall grasses bending and swaying to the tune of the capricious wind.  Yet in the center of all that life and abundance stood death, stark, naked and blackened the dead tree’s angular limbs jutted outwards and upwards, cutting sharp lines through the softness of the neighboring fronds.  The topmost branch stood higher than any other and on it sat the crow.   A single black crow.
The silence was broken as he started to pray, his voice catching on the simple but heartfelt words.  I closed my eyes and allowed the sensations to waft over me, joining his words with my own internal prayer.  The wind blew gently, caressing and playing, darting and stopping adding a dimension of God’s presence all round.
He prayed for forgiveness, he prayed for restoration, he prayed for love and for growth.  He poured out resentments and gave them to God and as he turned over his life to Him thus ending 50 years of discord.  As he paused and breathed deeply the peaceful silence was broken by the harsh staccato “Caw! Caw! Caw!” of that single black crow.
He prayed now for life, for endurance and faith.  He prayed for his family, his father, his mother and sisters.  He prayed for his children, their children and friends.  He prayed and acknowledged that the family curse was done.  Done. Finished.  He prayed for a new beginning and paused once more.  Again the silence was broken by a chilling “Caw! Caw! Caw!” of that single black crow.
He cried and continued to pray with a new rhythm in his voice, no longer broken but tear-filled and proud.  Now he welcomed his new life and voiced his new resolve.  As he finished the last words of that last prayer, overhead that single black crow fled, flapping, frantic, then vanishing into the distance with a mournful final wail.
I looked up and followed the last of its flight – I knew now why I was there.  I was the witness to God’s presence, I was the testimony that it was done. 
“Did you hear that?” I asked.
“Hear what? I was waiting for the canon boom,” he said looking around, his soft brown eyes damp with tears, expecting what had confirmed his first prayers on that Memorial Day afternoon.
I was able to testify. A new beginning had been forged. Yeah – I knew why I was there, it was done. 
God’s will was done. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

First day of "school"

He's ready for school.

I've run out of words.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Coming up roses?

Not everything is coming up roses in my newfound baking bonanza.
It was a dark and stormy night last night and the Captain (Carlos) said to the Mate (me), “Mate, shall we bake a pizza?”
And the Mate began …
She got out the bowl, the ingredients and book, turned on the oven and made the “dog”.
The wind was blowing and the rain was lashing against the window and the night was getting darker and darker.  We just didn’t know how dark it was going to get.
The Mate was hungry.
The Captain was famished.
We tossed the pizza onto the pizza stone and into the oven, then quickly turned on “Grey’s Anatomy” to distract our hunger.
It was a terrible episode.
After the third resuscitation, the Mate got up.
“You’re getting up?”
“Yeah, I’m going to see how it’s doing.”
The Mate checked the pizza.   It looked terrible.
Outside the weather was … well, you know and cold, like 44 F (8 C) at a day of 81 F (27 C) day.  Shutup!  That’s cold wherever you are.
The Mate poured the Captain another drink.  She plied him with almonds, because she knew, like Old Mother Hubbard, what the state of the cupboard was.
Just when MacDreamy said something steamy, something went “POP” in the oven.  Or was it more like “THUD?” 
“Was that thunder or the oven?” said the Captain.
“The oven,” said the Mate.
“The oven, eh?  I’m not getting up.”  It was technically the Captain’s turn to get up and check.  But the Mate got up.
“You’re getting up?”
“No, it’s the TV, it’s a hologram.  Relax.  Have a blanket.”
“You’re getting up.”
“Yep, I’m going to check the pizza.”
“It’s just the cheese,” mumbled the Captain snuggling up under the blanket.
The mate threw open the oven.
“It’s exploded Captain, it wasn't thunder!” shouted the Mate, “All hands on deck!”
The pizza stone had blown apart.
It was a dark and stormy night, and the Captain said to the Mate, “Mate?  What’s for dinner?”
And the mate dialed, “I’d like to order a medium cheese pizza please.”

Monday, 5 December 2011


What’s up with this new house, I ask myself over and over.  It’s giving me this desire to bake.  Bake? I haven’t baked for years, probably since my kids lived at home.
Yet again and again, I find myself considering what to bake next.  In fact, Carlos decided he wanted to have fish yesterday for lunch and I immediately volunteered to bake fish pie.  Listen, I’ve never baked a fish pie in my life but I was excited to roll that sucker up in pastry.  What’s up with me?  Relax, though, I didn’t do it. 
Why?  Because I’d baked shortbread that afternoon.  Enough is enough, right?  I’d been invited to a cookie-swap party (another first) and right away I pictured baking either Janet’s McKay’s Millionaire Shortbread (her South African recipe called for crushed biscuits, stiff caramel and hardening chocolate) or Alfajorcitos de Maicena (an Uruguayan recipe from the makers of Royal Baking Powder, little lemon biscuits filled with dulce de leche and rolled in grated coconut.)  Then I realized too much time would be involved, too many ingredients I didn’t have, way over the budget.
That’s when Dave’s delightful story about Mizzy triggered the memory.  Mizzy, our mother’s mother, lived alone for thirty years after her husband of forty years passed away.  She expected us every Sunday and she baked shortbread for tea.
Mizzy wasn’t a cook, she was a free spirit and a gardener.  She didn’t like being in the kitchen, definitely an advocate for “less is more” in that department.  Plus her pantry was never stocked with things like chocolate or ginger or rare spices.  However, there were three glass jars with rounded cone-shaped tops on her tiny kitchen counter.  They were never empty of flour, sugar and salt.
That’s when the idea of shortbread popped into my head.  Duh! Less is more!  She had shortbread for our tea every Sunday and while I’d never baked shortbread before I guessed it wouldn’t take too long to prepare.
It didn’t.  What took time was the part where I started to be fancy by trying to make cute little heart shapes that fell apart when I attempted to transfer them onto the baking tray.  Although the recipe called for wax paper, I buttered the bottom of the pan instead.  That's what I always do. The shapes that finally made it onto the pan, ended up breaking when I tried to unstick them after baking.
It took me three frustrating trays of broken hearts to realize perhaps I needed to change strategy.
Enter the 50 pence-sized circles and wax paper.  Ahhh.  Idiot! Success at last.  I baked the five dozen plus cookies I needed for the cookie-swap.  Perhaps I should pay more attention to recipes and not be quite so pig-headed. Perhaps...
Mizzy, on the other hand, had no desire whatsoever to bother with shapes or rolling pins or anything of the sort.  She mashed the dough into the pan with her fingers, sprinkled the top with sugar and popped it into the oven.  Back to the garden.  Her shortbread squares were memorable.
And my broken hearts?  Carlos came in from working in the garage and sniffed the air, “Smells so good,” he said, making a beeline for the kitchen counter.
“Yeah, well they’re all broken and burned” I grumbled.
“Really?  Let me taste.  Mmmm, they’re delicious,” he sighed, taking two more and with that and a hug he took care of all my broken hearts.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Bonfire with Dad-Dad

                 “Shall I throw more moss on the bond-fire?” Nicky asks, his little face serious, intent on the job he’s doing.
                  “OK, just do it carefully,” says Dad-Dad, sighing; this has to be the 20th time Nicky’s asked the same question.
                  Nicky pushes his sleeves back, takes a deep and serious breath which he releases through his teeth as he chooses the piece he wants from the pile.  Solemnly he carries it over to the bonfire in outstretched arms, taking sturdy steps.
                  “I’m helping keep the flames back, aren’t I?” he looks over his shoulder, nodding and making the curls on his head bounce. “This is important work.” With respect he stares at the fire whilst he throws in his handful of moss, careful to keep his feet on the invisible mark Dad-Dad has pointed out.
                  “Dad-Dad, can I stand a little closer?”
                  “Should I watch from here?”
                  “Yes, don’t go any nearer than that.”
                  “Why not?”
                  “Because the fire’s hot, Nicky.”
                  “Why is the fire hot?”
                  “Because it’s burning the dead leaves and branches.”
                  “Is that why it crackles, Dad-Dad?” Nicky bends down and selects a twig from the ground.
                  “I guess so.”
                  “What makes the crackles?”
                  “I think it’s the branches when they snap in the flames, Nicky.”
                  “Why aren’t you sure?” Nicky asks, inspecting the details on his twig, without losing a moment of the bonfire or the conversation.
                  “Because … um let me see … because, I don’t really know.”
                  “Why don’t you know?”
                  Dad-Dad is losing his patience.  As Dad-Dad turns, Nicky flings his twig into the fire, poker-faced.  He is stands watching the flames hands on hips, his chubby little feet slightly apart.  The silence seems to startle him and Nicky turns to meet Dad-Dad’s baffled gaze with a sharp questioning look.  A little furrow begins to form in his brow where his annoyance always shows first.
                  “But, why don’t you know Dad-Dad?”
                  “I – er, I just don’t know Nicky.”
                  “But why?
                  “Look Nicky, I have no more answers in my head right now, can we have a little break?”
                  “Why? Did your head get empty?” Worried, Nicky glances around the area where Dad-Dad has been working.
                  “Yes, that’s right.  It got empty.  Maybe in ten minutes or so something will pop back in again.  Who knows.”
                  “Oh.” Nicky’s shoulders sag a little and he stares at the ground shoving his hands in his pockets.
                  “Run along now Nicky, go inside and find Mum-Mum.”
                  Nicky’s eyes light up, he pulls his hands from his pockets and looks hopefully at his grandfather. “Do you think she’ll have some answers in her head, Dad-Dad?”
                  “Yes, Nicky, I’m sure she will,” grins Dad-Dad, a naughty twinkle in his blue eyes.
                  Without a backward glance, Nicky kicks open the garden gate and runs off to find his grandmother.