Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Monday, Markets and Gardens (and the teeniest smidgen of Melancholia)


 Double birthdays in our family today -- our oldest daughter and our son (the last-born) have shared a birthday since she was nine. Neither of them are available to hugs, and texting doesn't quite cut it. I'm "feeling some feels" about that, but at least it will add some fodder to the post I'm working on about communication technology and its changes. And one of our families flew back home today from a two-week vacation with the other grandparents way across the country, so there are cuddles to be had in town again. All will be well. . .
Garlic scapes: these are wonderful if you can find them. The sweetest, gentlest garlic taste -- we had them in a pasta last night along with fava beans. Mmmmm!
 And we're halfway through this in-between stage of our big move, with only five weeks before we move into our new home.  As busy as I've been lately exploring and enjoying the city's possibilities, filling my days determinedly (sometimes a bit too) with activities I deem worthwhile, I often wake up with an amorphous, elusive emotional queasiness that I lie quietly with, trying to identify. Something like homesickness, as I remember that sensation from visiting my uncle, a Jesuit priest, in Glasgow when I was 14, traveling on my own so very far from home, being settled in with a family he knew whose daughter I'd become penpals with. . . .
 Now, of course, I have my husband lying asleep beside me, two of my adult children and their families an hour away by foot, and so I chivvy myself out of bed and into the kitchen to make tea and stop being silly. . . . By the time the pot has steeped my Irish Breakfast tea leaves to adequate strength, I'm online and distracted from the feeling by whatever news is on offer.
 But in case anyone out there is similarly going through a move, big or little, I want to acknowledge that dawn homesickness, for want of a better word. Quickly, I also acknowledge that mine is a very fortunate position, that I have security and love and citizenship and financial stability, all the good things. I have the physical and emotional and intellectual and social wherewithal to get past any fleeting unhappiness and even the occasional more persistent sadnesses. All is going very well, truly, but part of "going very well" includes reality, and reality includes, well, you know  . .
 Saturday morning's chivvying got me past the cup of tea, though, and up the road to the Farmer's Market again, this time with Pater along to carry our finds. I left him there to stand in a few line-ups and went walkabout with my camera, among the market stalls and then around the neighbourhood. I'd forgotten how lovely this is, with the restored heritage homes so effectively complemented by infill architecture, with charming pathways connecting streets. Easy to forget that just a block away are apartment buildings of various vintages, but even those higher-density blocks are softened by so much foliage and the cheery colours of street gardens.
 Today I'm meeting one of my sisters to treat her to a (belated) birthday lunch. Pater has a significant birthday at the end of the week. Another daughter had hers a couple of weeks ago. And end-of-July, on the island, always coincided with a weekend of festivities around the Bathtub Races (yes, really!), so we usually had the kids and their families back for at least one of those events, often every bed in the place full and a tent set up for overflow. I loved it! And I guess this spate of summer birthdays is reminding me of all that, and I guess that despite my determination to move forward, I'm looking back just a bit.
 There's so much that is absolutely right about this move, and I know we made the right decision. No regrets, and I've not got much patience with indulging any tendency to be nostalgic right now.  I do get ambushed, of course, wondering about "my" garden, remembering the very precise feeling of the rounded cap of newel post at the bottom of the staircase, the finish worn off the oak in spots by 20+ years of family hands going up and down.
 But that's not safe territory to visit, at the moment, since it's a land of no return. Better to look forward on the path, and I generally do without huge effort. I suspect, though, that it's just enough effort, cumulatively, to fuel those early-morning moments.
 A wise friend pointed out to me on a walk together recently that it's barely a year since I retired, and that much of that year was taken up by real estate planning and listing and then by moving.  Her contention was that many would find the retirement alone enough to adjust to, without the addition of a big move and change in lifestyle.
 The logical extension of her observation, of course, is that I continue being patient with myself. It's absolutely okay to feel a bit out-of-sorts, a little unsettled, first thing in the morning. And then to get out there and see what good I can find and do.
 On Saturday, that was a walk in the neighbourhood, all this joy and beauty within a 15-minute walk.
And if that weren't enough, Melanie mentioned me AND included a photo of the outfit I wore to Absolutely Fabulous the other evening. Check out BagandaBeret for some Fabulously Glamourous outfits -- at best, mine might nudge Casual Glamour but honestly, in that amazing company, I did feel rather as a wren might in the company of peacocks. . . . Melanie also included that photo in the most recent post of her Vancouver Street Style blog, Culture Serf.  I'm tickled to be featured there as it's where I first discovered Melanie's great eye quite a few years ago.

No question for you today, but thanks for your response to last posts question about questions. It seems that overall you appreciate this practice, and if it helps facilitate the conversation here, then I will happily keep it up. But for now, I'll just tiptoe away and leave you to say what you want on this Monday morning. May it be a week well begun for you!


28 comments:

  1. Happy Monday! I'll throw joyous birthday wishes into the soup simply because I know you are simultaneously celebrating and longing. Your thoughtful words and lovely pictures have brightened my Monday, not that it was bad, just a little stressed and in transitional in its own small way. You reminded me to get out of my head and enjoy the path. Hope yours is gentle.

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    1. Thanks Mardel, I'll pass those wishes along. May your path be joyous all week long. . .

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  2. I think that you are managing the transition very well and the feelings you describe are totally understandable. Very nice photo of you on Melanie's blog. I have never heard of garlic scrapes. Sound like an interesting ingredient. Mary

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    1. Thanks, Mary. The scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant, and they get removed so that all the energy goes to the developing bulb -- I've only ever seen them in farmers' markets and they're only available for a short, specific period. They make a wonderful pesto!

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  3. I love reading your thought processes Frances. You somehow know what the answer is deep down. I guess the half way stage of your move is a difficult point. Some weeks to go and not yet there. You really are making the most of your new home. It's all looks great. Walks, cycle paths, lakes and gorgeous markets. The regime you set yourself would exhaust me! Once you are in your new home, new patterns will emerge for birthdays and special days but at the moment you are bound to reminisce about past ones. They sound wonderful. Families often do have birthdays around the same month I've noticed. March is our special month. Have a good week. B xx

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    1. The regime exhausts me some days as well, B, and then I just take a completely quiet day (or two). The busy-ness seems to be what I want at the moment, probably because our current abode is not as comfortable as I was lucky enough to be used to. Funny phenomenon re the birthday clusters, isn't it?

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  4. Lovely photos. There are flowers everywhere right now and my median garden hollyhock seems like Jack's beanstalk. Transitions are always challenging even when they are chosen ones and we are fortunate. Emotional queasiness comes and goes. July has flown by and my AF course is almost finished for now but I will resume in October. My knowledge of European politics and culture has increased along with opportunities for discussion at a more challenging level of French. Lucky me put in 8 reserves at the library (a Tana French among them) and picked up 4 books yesterday. The days do take on a rhythm in retirement. Your style suits you.

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    1. I love hollyhock! Lovely that you can grow it in your street garden. I'm impressed by your continued commitment to studying French. We're currently waiting for a tutor to return from holiday. . . Uh-oh, with the books! I've been finding the same thing, with two of the holds I placed becoming available this week . . .

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  5. So your oldest and youngest children are nine years apart and have birthdays on the same day? Just like my mum's oldest and youngest children. I'm nine years younger than my brother, and was born on his ninth birthday. NOT the B-day present he was expecting!
    About mornings, and melancholia, teensy or otherwise. I'm always at my lowest emotional ebb when I first wake up. Not sure why. And more frequently feel this as I get older. Then like you... I'm ...up! ...making the tea...also usually English Breakfast... and then I give myself a shake and drag my lazy butt (not like you) ... into the day. Reading blog comments while I sip my first cup of tea is alwyas a mood lifter. Lovely that the market is so close to you. That's definitely a mood lifter too.

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    1. Really?! That's such a coincidence -- there are three girls and a boy in your family as well, right? Just the genders reversed re oldest and youngest. My daughter was similarly not impressed by her 9th birthday gift, although she did her oldest-child's best to pretend. . . Somehow, good to know I'm not alone in my early-morning melancholy Luckily, we have techniques for getting past it, and it's fairly fleeting, right?

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  6. A land with no return......
    Your friend is very wise and I agree with eveything said by Coastal Ripples-the in-between land is a very tough one indeed,but you are doing fine
    Photos are beautiful
    My Monday started with a swimm in the sea-best place to be for me!
    In our family almost everyone has a birthday in summer :-)
    Dottoressa

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  7. I'm the opposite: annoyingly cheery in the morning but my spirits can plummet by 8pm. As today, a nameless, formless and probably pointless melancholy. Well done with being patient...I may need to practice that. Also, I repeat the words of Julian of Norwich. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Strangely, it helps. Getting older is an interesting time.

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    1. Oh, I think I'm annoyingly cheery in the morning as well -- hard to tell most days, as there's no one around to annoy -- and I'm ready for bed pretty early most evenings. And the feeling I'm trying to describe is not prolonged, not particularly sadness or depression and I think I've overstated the case to write "melancholy" -- all of those I can do, have done. This one is fleetingly visible and then gets submerged again quite quickly . . . Good luck with yours, and then besides the luck, the wisdom of Julian (I've heard these words of the familiar quotation quite a bit recently, particularly post-Brexit). Yes re the getting older. That's definitely part of what's going on here. . .

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  8. "I often wake up with an amorphous, elusive emotional queasiness" - this is exactly how I feel at times, even though I have so much to be grateful for and so much to celebrate in my life. I remind myself to just be with that sadness - to "just observe and not judge" as my yoga teacher often instructs. Then it goes away on its own as I get up and start my day with a cup of comforting tea. Thank you for expressing so well what apparently many of us experience.

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    1. I'm glad the articulation helps, slf.
      Do you sometimes think that knowing how much we have to be grateful for and to celebrate actually exacerbates that queasiness, might be part of what something inside us is queasy about, mistrusts? I know that in itself is a goofily privileged, too precious thing to say, but the discomfort of having in a world where so many don't. . . . and giving it up doesn't seem viable either, wouldn't address much. . . Way too large a topic for a comment response. . . .

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  9. It does depend , to a certain extent , on how fit one is or the size of one's pension but I think everyone finds the first year weird .
    I love not having to battle through a hailstorm to get into work on time and I really love having time to eat lunch in peace . And no more meetings . But I miss the work itself .
    I really liked building towers with Lego ...

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    1. Oh, there's so much I love about the new freedom, just as you describe, the logistics of commuting, those pockets of time when my circadian rhythm is allowed to dictate. Meetings I don't miss, nor marking papers. But I do miss the interaction with my students, the excitement of building a syllabus. . . .lots of Lego towers in my life, though, thanks to the grands. . . ;-)

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  10. As so often happens as I read blogs that I love to visit, a commenter has said what I was going to say - nohatnogloves quoted what came to my mind to write, giving me a little shock of recognition and something else I'll have to think about for a bit.
    All WILL be well, but it will take time......big change in a year of change. I deal with melancholia by sitting with it for a bit and then doing as you did - moving. Walking always helps me to refocus and re-frame. Of course, I am not one to be giving advice as after nearly two years I still can't drive past Pondside House, and photos of family celebrations there can send me off walking fast! I sometimes hear Merle Streep's voice and Karen Blixen's words "I had a farm in Africa......" because I had a farm in Highlands and it will always be part of me. You spent a big part of your life on an island. You will probably always be someone in tune with and missing the rhythm of the tide - the garden with the salt tang.

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    1. It's funny how reassuring Julian's certainty is, so very different from the arguably quiet-ist approach of "It is what it is," with the implicit shrug. . . I think there's something about how Julien's mixes in a possibility of personal agency with a faith that something transcendent cares. . . . or something like that. . .
      I so relate to your inability to drive by your "farm" -- of course my island friends and community assume that I'll be back soon to visit, some offer me places to stay, but I can't see myself doing that for years, if ever. . . my "garden with the salt tang" (lovely, thanks!) will stay just as it is, in my memory . . .

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  11. I imagine I will be ready to leave this house and these suburbs, and then, reading your post, maybe I won't. It was 30 years in May, my tenure here. Ah who knows. Melancholy is the salt of life. I've passed melancholy and am fairly far into cranky;0.

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    1. It's like the kids' hide-n-seek call: Ready or not, here I come. . . Life has a way, right? 30 years is a long time -- lucky you!
      But melancholy? I'm sorry, but I think you'd have to be an idiot not to feel it regularly, given the existential realities. I don't think it precludes joy, though, in fact I often experience both on the same day, even the same hour. I can do cranky on a dime, too! so much sympathy to you for that. xoxo

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  12. Oh that free-form feeling of homesickness, that can strike even at home! I know it well. This transition business isn't all joy! I am finding this a strange, confused summer, with no work routines for the first time, children away and busy with their lives, Brexit, daily horror on the news...Like you, I am filling up with busy-ness and then get tired, but can't find my tempo. It will settle. Your year of transition has packed in the life events, and new sights and sensation coming at you all the time (including your utilities fandango outside your building). So much to process. Courage!

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  13. Oh and PS - what has gone wrong with the Instagram widgets on Blogger??

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    1. I've wondered exactly this, Linda! I've deleted my IG widget here because it wasn't working anymore, and I'm pretty sure IG changes are the cause. If you find a fix, I'd love to know what it is.
      I found last summer very odd indeed, with everyone wanting to congratulate me on being retired, and myself wondering why I couldn't quite gear up to celebrating the freedom (which, for me, seemed much the same as my normal summer, except without fall looming). From this perspective, though, I can assure you that it will pass, as you already now. So much depends on patience. . . .

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  14. Land of no return....
    I've found the word betweenity (Walpole), the period having a lot of gloomth (also his word!) and waiting. I am not good at it as well :-).....
    You had to much of everything during this las year,a rollercoaster of feelings,it needs some time.... One said that you need a year for sorrow (when you lost someone or something),so.....
    Beautiful photos!
    Beautiful conversation!
    As my comments disappear all the time(third here)- I'm here,reading the post,thinking about you all,will comment again in a week or so
    D.

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    1. I'm so annoyed that your comments are disappearing -- we get so dependent on technology to facilitate these wonderful international friendships and conversations. What a shame when something goes wrong.
      I've never read Walpole, but what very good neologisms -- and I must say, your erudition continues to astonish me, especially as I see it through a language that's not your first.

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  15. Frances, please don't think that because you are intellegent, financially secure, in a loving relationship, and have a pleasant roof over your head, that you are not allowed to feel 'dawn homesickness'. I know that feeling so well, and your sentance about the remembered feel of the newel post actually brought a lump to my throat. I have moved lots of times, and each time, felt those feeling for a longer or shorter time. Not so much the moves with my now husband (a mere three moves in 26 years) but all my childhood/family moves were painful. I know that feeling so well, wakening in your new place, realising where you are, and facing another day of Being Brave. It's like you have to be on your best behaviour with yourself, you daren't fully relax, because you know you'll cry, which you just Can't Do (because where will it stop). It's just trying to find new 'patterns of being' in a new place that is so hard. I wish I could say something to make it easier (and I know you are fine, and rationalising it all), but it's just time, and an eventual realsiation, when you are in your new place, that you feel truly At Home. I hope this ramble makes sense. I have decided, incidentally, that I am not going to read all your other commentators remarks before I leave mine, as they are usually so intellegent and insightful that I feel quite overwhelmed and don't know where to start with mine! So my policy now is write from the heart, then go back and read what everyone else has said! X

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    1. Thanks for this reassurance and understanding, Penny. Not "a ramble" at all, and yes, it makes sense, and it helps to know others have experienced it as well.
      I appreciate your decision to comment first, read other commenters later. I often wonder whether to do something similar on blogs I read, especially if there is a long and daunting roll of comments. Your approach makes sense. (sometimes, I must admit, I don't find time to read all the comments left on some blogs, but want to leave my two cents anyway. . . .)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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