Could you spare a couple of minutes? He said. Actually I can’t right now, I answered I’m on my way somewhere. Could we ask for a donation then? He went on… I’m sorry, but I’m not working right now, so I don’t have any to spare. “Aye, that’s a good one” he answered.
In that moment He wrongly assumed that I did not like cats! I stopped, walked back and told him that if my partner wasn’t violently allergic to them, I’d probably work in a cattery and have a house full. I also explained that I had been out of paid work for two years now and that next time I was back in work I would be happy to donate once again as I did previously.
So I wonder if the man in the shopping centre who was collecting for the Cats Protection League, would have worded his request differently had he known just what I was going through just to get to that point walking through the shopping centre in the afternoon?
I also wondered briefly what he saw when I stood in front of him in my battered work boots, jeans and a vest, hair all messy. Dehydrated and melting in the heat, feeling stressed, exhausted and quite literally lost. He probably didn’t give it a second thought.
Yes, anxiety had well and truly kicked in, but I had chores to do that day and it was my only chance to get them done. When the car is playing up, you take your chance and do a round robin trying to get everything done before arriving back exhausted but happy that you made it.
It so often seems to be the way I feel after going out these days, Yay I made it! After I have returned home again but I had so many more tasks to complete before that point.
It had taken me three days to get up the courage to drive into town in the car which is misbehaving again and threatening to break down. At the moment the fuel is fighting to get through so it doesn’t like climbing hills and drops to a crawl. Two mechanics have been unable to fix this so far, so I really don’t know what to do about it now.
So firstly I visited the Bank in the shopping centre to try and open a new bank account. It used to be so simple. I had ID with me but I had to make an appointment for another day. They couldn’t deal with it then and there, which meant I would have to come back again. I stood in there for half an hour. Frustrating and then they decided that my ID was not enough for them I would have to have paperwork which I do not have here with me. So I would have to get Mum to send it up through the post before I could return to open one. I’d also have to make another appointment but I had already tried to call them 3 times that morning before I had even got in the car, they don’t answer the phone. I asked for directions to the Post Office and began to walk there. I felt exhausted at that point and then desperately needed the bathroom and have to walk back for 15 minutes to the toilet I had walked past on my way into a shopping centre, one of the places where I feel most anxious.
I also had to buy Birthday Cards and write and send them. Send a parcel from the Post Office. First I had to locate the Post Office which was more than a mile into the biggest shopping centre I’ve been in for years and ask three people for directions, how far away can it be and was I still going in the right direction? I finally found it after walking for another 20 minutes in the opposite direction, going into a shop and then upstairs. How bizarre!
Having come across the Cats Protection man on the way, it left me feeling rather rattled. Disbelieving so and so, I had told him the absolute truth, but why should I have to explain myself, the reasons why I cannot stand there and listen to his pitch about why I should donate money I don’t have simply because he thinks that I could. It upset me, at that point I felt that I could barely stand and I still hadn’t found the post office. I was feeling dizzy and sick and so very tired that if I had stopped, then I may not have got started again and I was about 15 miles from home too.
I still had to tank up with fuel, get some food shopping and collect Water from the camp site before returning home.
I arrived back home four hours after leaving and was totally exhausted. I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. The relief of being back safe was immense. I just about made it through dinner, my eyes heavy and I slept for 11 hours. I couldn’t move for 2 days, the pain was absolutely ridiculous. I hurt everywhere. I had lost the grip in my hands again and kept tripping over things, my co-ordination was all out of whack and I was clumsy. My nerves jumping and muscles in spasm kept me awake day and night. Sometimes people have no idea just what it takes to do the simple tasks that we once took for granted.
Although the voice inside us tells us to get up and show up and keep on fighting, achieving and we will win, sometimes we have to face it that we just wont. However On the days we do achieve we return triumphant with a sense of euphoria that one day has gone better than we thought, before the crash comes and we spend the next two days in bed, or just too exhausted to function or even do the mundane. The highs and lows of having a long term chronic illness.
Like many gardeners, I have long thought disdainfully at the Dandelions creeping through gaps in the pavement, through pots of blooms and pretty much anywhere they can get. There seems to be an endless quest to rid gardens of these bright and cheerful plants and many resort to harsh chemicals to do just that. But last summer I made a discovery about this wonderful weed. It is amazing, that something which has been considered bothersome is in fact packed with nutrition and healing properties. So I thought in my quest for better natural remedies and health, that I would give it a try. I had nothing to lose.
I made some oil which I thought might help with arthritis pain. It is also good for aching muscles as well I have found out and has a slightly warming sensation on the skin. It is olive oil infused with dandelion and smells rather nice. It is also a pretty good skin conditioner so even if it didn’t work I would still use it. But to my surprise it did. So I made some more and gave them away in bottles as Christmas gifts. As I patiently wait for more dandelions to bloom again this year I’m finding out just how useful they can be. Since the oil has only two ingredients, it would also serve as a dressing oil for salad so is multi purpose.
I rather wish I had the means to store them up on the hill and can only look forward to the day when I will be able to. I fully intend to make use of natures bounty when we spend more time there. Whatever the season there is always something I try to bring back when we return South, it makes me a little less homesick.
Meanwhile I exhausted the southern lawn of dandelions right up until the end of November and gathered a stock of them picking them every other day since the Summer. I was interested to learn that if you dry them, they continue to open and you end up with the pretty seed heads or “clocks” even when they are no longer attached to the plants. This also happens whilst they are in oil. It doesn’t matter, I dried them anyway and now have them in jars. I was also pleased to note that since the winter had been fairly mild, at least up until recently here in the South, they continued to grow and flower.
I am now looking at the many benefits of this herb both topically and it’s culinary uses. Salad leaves are popular and I did incorporate them with spinach but my partner wasn’t keen on the more bitter taste. Using the roots for tea is another use but I have not perfected the knack of drying the roots out properly yet without moisture getting in, I will however work on this again this year having just discovered that I also love the taste of a Dandelion Latte.
So as the new spring Dandelions are poking through the as yet unmown lawn, I have left these as Bee food, as it is their first readily accessible nutrition. But since the lawn is due for a mow any day now, I will have to get out there and start collecting them as it would be a shame for them to go to waste. Meanwhile I have cultivated areas of the garden, where they steadily growing undisturbed in pots for the Bees and I to share so they won’t go hungry.
To make your own Infused Dandelion Oil.
Rinse Dandelion flowers collected from a safe source (free from pesticides) in water and leave them to dry naturally in a warm place. This can take a couple of days.
Use a Clean Screw Top Jar and put the dried dandelions in, cover with Olive Oil and fill to almost the top of the jar.
Screw the lid firmly, shake gently and leave on a sunny windowsill for minimum of 2 weeks, tipping the jar to rotate daily. The mixture will be golden in colour.
After 2 weeks, (or more) drain the oil into suitable containers for intended use and discard the preserved flowers, or use them in cooking. It will last for a good six months if kept in a cool dark place.
Since this oil only contains two all natural ingredients it can be used for both topical or culinary uses.
I have realised that although I have a few small videoclips of him singing, as yet we don’t have a picture of our Roki In Song.
When he first came to live with us he didn’t talk much. Silenced by fear he made a few noises to express pleasure, barked if you asked if he wanted food. Gave a little rumble if you scratched his tummy or ears. It took some getting used to and realising that it was simply his way of expressing happiness. He makes some funny sounds.
Kato used to sing, we encouraged it from the very first and he loved to sing the song of his people sometimes at the most inopportune moments. He also loved to sing Happy Birthday and would burst into song after the first word with recognisable words throughout.
When Roki came into our lives, we decided to teach him to sing too.
The first time we all howled together he looked confused and I think so did we. He was two years old. This little puppy voice which had not been encouraged to speak came out, sounding very hoarse and croaky but his tail wagged and his face lit up when he realised that he wasn’t going to be told off.
We made it our mission to let him sing every day, so in the mornings when everyone is awake we all sit on the bed and have a Song, the family or pack (if you prefer) all joining in and I tell him that I love his singing and he is a very good boy.
His voice is getting deeper now that he is four years old, not a sudden change like when Kato became ill, but the strength from within that resonates, it comes from deep down. It is soulful yet happy and the whole bed shakes when he sings now, the paws bounce as he throws his head back, just like a wolf his neck extended to allow the depth of his voice to come out and travel through the air and the tail still wags.
He has learned to talk to us more now too, answering questions and saying Hello.
Although he was adopted by us you might think that he has been here all his life. We are very pleased and proud of the boy he has grown into. Adoring, loving and full of character and as gentle as a lamb with friends and family whilst protecting us from intruders and predators as well.
This is a 2-Part Post, the first part written in February 2017…
The Bucket List is a wonderful film starring Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson it is one of our all time favourite films and was on TV recently we watched it again. Clearly inspired my partner has been dreaming again of things that he would like to do too. I hope that he gets to do them.
So as I try to think of the ways that I will actually begin to tick things off my bucket list. My partner is thinking of ways that he can make it happen for me.
What is a little bit bizarre is that although things get mentioned from time to time. It is not written down anywhere. So he is going from memory which at times can be a bit sketchy. But it seems that he is quietly planning my bucket list for me. Making it happen. Like the trip I mentioned where I find as many Art Deco and art nouveau buildings and photograph them. Well, I as anyone reading this regularly will know I am just back from Barcelona a last month. Within a week he was already pointing out a hotel break, 2 days in Venice in a beautiful 4 star Art Nouveau hotel. Would I love to go? Yes of course I would. What worries me is that he has no intention of coming with me since travelling by air is an issue. It has been for some years, but now he is concerned about his respiratory system since he has been so ill lately. But he wants to send me. He told me at New Year that I would have to get used to travelling on my own. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I guess this was why which is so much better than the alternative since I can comeback and tell him all about it and drive him crazy looking at the photographs and now write about it too.
Of course I wouldn’t have to travel alone if a friend or family member wanted to join me, so that’s always an option. I don’t know how I’d be abroad totally on my own. I think I need a bit more confidence before I take that step. But there’s hope for me as I’m only uncertain not terrified at the thought of it. Time would be my own and I wouldn’t have to do a particular thing. There again though it wasn’t like that when Mum and I travelled, it was very relaxed. We did not have an itinerary just expressed a wish of things to see and she noticed things that I did not when we were out and about. A beautiful doorway here and there, or architectural detail. Something on the bus which I made her get off to show me so I could capture it.
We did say that it would be interesting to see how many of our photographs were of the same things since we shared a keen eye for so many of the sights.
I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, merely an enthusiast but I would love to make a living doing this.
Yes, I am an enthusiast of so many things.
So along with my growing list of things that I’d like to do this year. I’m afraid my bucket list is growing too and I don’t think that’s a bad thing really. It simply means that I have not had enough of the experiences of this world. There is more and more that I wish to see and do before I die and if I don’t get to do it all soon, then I’ll just have to live a long and happy one. I don’t know how long it will take me to get to Australia but I will get there one day and collect hugs from my extended adopted family when I do.
April 2018… Continuation
It is strange that this post has remained in my “Draft” folder for over a year untouched and incomplete but what is even stranger, for me at least is that I have just ticked another thing off my Bucket List. It was a big one of the things which I had no clue as to when it might happen, my only hope was that it would. As you will have seen from my posts recently, I got to hug my extended adopted family in Australia sooner than I thought and I travelled there alone. (Does that count as two things, I wonder?)
Of course this has not quenched my thirst for new experiences at all. If anything I am relishing the thought of what will come next. Its turning out to be an exciting journey after all. Now how IS that ever increasing Bucket List coming along?
After the event, she concluded that there is something which definitely assists in getting to know someone when meeting them for the very first time.
Yes you see, if you give them a choice you will find out whether or not they are comfortable or uncomfortable. If they are easy going or uptight, watching their weight or happy in themselves.
Turn up with Cake. Who can resist? Especially if it’s Organic, Dairy Free, Gluten Free. Then there is no reason not to partake of cake. Unless you are diabetic or really don’t like the flavour of course!
So there it was. A very pleasant first meeting, where we arrived with cake and one of us would not take No for an answer since it would be strange for two out of three of us to be eating and the other not. So out of politeness, the other one joined in and we found that we all liked the cake after all. It’s such an ice breaker too isn’t it. To be blessed with colour, texture and flavour which should there have been any break in the conversation, or awkward silences or questions (which thankfully there were not) then a mouthful of cake will always give you a moment of thinking space.
So we all sat around the table, talked endlessly about all kinds of things, our own history, travel, families, work, recipes and making cake and got to know each other better. I know, three ladies enjoying lunchtime at a cafe is not unusual in itself, but a rare thing for at least two of us and one of us was on the other side of the world. Taking the presented opportunity, we indulged ourselves chatted over coffee, hot chocolate and a rather nice Dandelion Latte and this rather lovely cake in a place called Kunara at Forest Glen, Buderim in Queensland. An organic marketplace with lots to see and a lovely café within the garden centre. We stayed for a few hours and figured that it is well worth a visit if you are ever around there and if you are up to walking it off afterwards, (the cake that is) then it is a lovely area surrounded in nature.
So as I return home after a month in the Beautiful Queensland Coast with my dear friends, I am struck by how down to earth I felt about this wonderful place. I immediately felt homely in this unknown place. As I left I knew that I would miss the family so much and that saying my Goodbyes would be difficult. But we are all happy in the knowledge that this will not be my last trip to Australia. It is just the beginning of my travels to this part of the world. I guess that hasn’t quite sunken in yet as I sit on the first leg of the flight home. I have rung my partner and heard that they are alright (as alright can be) at home and as my friends family will all be asleep now having journeyed back to Eudlo, where they all stay, part of me is wishing that I was also tucked up in a nice warm bed, but that is for tomorrow.
As I figure out in my fuzzy head a way to get my family over to Australia in one piece, if only it is his dream too, I could perhaps satisfy my wanderlust with regular trips if some of my contacts might put some work my way. Time to make a few more phone calls I think.
Today, my last day in Australia, we visited Coolum Beach, a lovely area which was absolutely littered with blue jellyfish, which apparently have a vicious sting to their rather lengthy tail.
Since I was attacked by a green ant only yesterday, I was not inclined to repeat the exercise with one of these beasties today, so we dodged rather a lot of them along the beach, but the waves were high, we wrote messages on the sand, whilst the boys played and ran up and down. The sun was shining and I looked at the iridescence of the water as the tides crossed my path. It was beautiful and for a moment, I lingered there not wanting to leave.
Swept away in the moment I was transfixed by the waves which reached the shore. Only being brought back to the present when the boys called out to us.
We went on to Coloundra, which is a favourite since my friends Mum currently lives there and it is where they began their time here, just after emigrating. There was a fish restaurant which served wet fish too, it was on a main road, not particularly inspiring as places go, but my meal was enjoyable nevertheless Calamari and Swordfish steaks served with chips and a side salad.
I was quite pleased to see a Pelican fly over the car as we arrived along the beach front and he rested upon the wall of a block of flats. I managed to get a photograph of him before we left. Another thing that I will remember of Coloundra.
There is snow back home, just a few small flurries here and there so I am told, but I hope that he brings a warm coat to the airport, despite the layers I have packed, I know that after the warmth of the Sunshine Coast I am really going to feel the cold at least for the first few days. I may even have to resort to Thermals, but lets hope not.
So what will I be taking with me from this trip?
Positivity, that there is so much that is better and that is actually available to me in this life, not having to wait until the next one to experience it all.
Do I believe in reincarnation…
Hmm, although I have long thought that we get one life and should live it. It’s one of those things that I hope that we do get some kind second chance if the odds have been against us in this life thus far. Not necessarily if we live a pure and chaste existence, but if we do good unto others, try to help people along the way and such like.
I have met up with someone who gave me some wonderful advice regarding writing. She has been an inspiration for looking for the good in things, even when I have felt really low. To meet her in person after all this time, could have gone well, or not and neither of us were sure. We arranged to meet in the last week of my trip. Over a coffee and cake. It was an absolute joy to spend an hour or so with her, chatting about all kinds of things and finding out that we got along just fine. It seems that we have indeed become friends and we will be keeping in touch.
As we drove back from the beach and I squashed all of my luggage into my cases in the hope that I didn’t have to take anything out. My beach combed shells carefully placed in the luggage so that they will not get broken. The beautiful “Blue Shell” given me by my friend, who said I should have it. We sat outside on her verandah in the sunshine and made jewellery from the Quandong stones which we had collected from the garden. Or rather, I drilled the holes, my friend strung them and made them into two rather lovely necklaces, which are enormous, almost architectural in their style. But I also learned that sacred jewellery is made from them by the Aborigines.’ The kids decided since there were so many of them left over, that they would also make some one for their mum and one for a friend and each other. We had picked up and cleaned up much more of them than we first thought from the garden and yet they still litter the floor at the back of the house, there are probably thousands of them and there will be many more when fruit season comes around. It is a shame that I did not get to see the blue fruit, but they have long gone, only the debris remains. But we have seen the jewellery made by the monks at the nearby Buddhist Temple, Chenrezig up on the hill nearby. The only difference being that they have added a bead and tassle to their ones. Ours are simpler, but hang beautifully as a double necklace, made by my own dear friend. There is one for me and one for my mother. Along with a bracelet one of the boys and I made from all of the beach shells and coral that had natural holes in.
I tasted custard apple for the first time today, it has an interesting taste, I think I am more taken with the Mangoes and also the quite amazing Fruit Salad Fruit, a strange looking fruit which as it ripens and sheds its outer skin, you are left with something which resembles a skinned banana, but you can taste so many other fruit.
We each described it differently after a taste, one thought pineapple, another melon, and another banana.
I tried Jack Fruit, which is another native one, it looks a bit like a hedgehog on the outside and has a pungent smell to it when it is ripe, but makes an awful mess and leaves a glue like substance, its sap which is difficult to remove, on everything that it touches. It was my friends’ first taste of the fruit too, she had read that you could prepare it and use it like a vegan version pulled pork, which is very popular. It had a sweet taste in its raw form, which was quite pleasant, definitely fruity. But once cooked takes on a whole new persona. It lost its appeal somewhat and then only took on the taste of the spices and sauce which it was cooked in. So isn’t something I’d be likely to try again.
I thought that I would do some things differently whilst I was away, but didn’t. Firstly I thought that I would write lots of poetry, but didn’t write any at all.
I also thought that I would meditate but although there were times when I sought peace and calm I did not, not even once! Well, not intentionally although the calm swept over me every time my toes hit the sand.
I thought that I might struggle to drive a manual car again on roads which I do not know, with the different layout and rules, but I took to it once again like a duck to water. One drive out in the car, ten minutes in and it all came flooding back to me, the first drive in an unknown place. The South of France all those years ago, it was as natural as breathing. I soon learned some of the routes to enable us to get back home. We did have the mobile sat nav, but when the signal was non existent or the batteries low, we somehow still made it back.
The fact that I was open to trying new things, experiences and directions, meant that this was the holiday that I needed it to be, filled with wonderful places, beautiful sights, friendly and welcoming people. It was a very pleasant surprise to be wished a safe journey, by the people I met around the town before I left. They had observed my arrival, as a tired unwell traveller and observed the change in me finding my feet and would all stop to talk and find out what I thought of their little town.
The nearest town Mooloolah is more like one of our villages, spread out over a greater area, but with similar facilities to a British country village. A few essential stores and a fuel station, but there is a good network of regular trains going past at the bottom of the garden. I have never seen such lengthy freight trains, but maybe next time when I return to this part of the world, I will take a journey on the train with my friend.
As I said Goodbye to the house, the area, my friends and their transport which has carried me safely on this journey, I watched the greenery whizzing by as a passenger in the car, thinking of many of the things that have captured my heart about this place and the many things I have yet to see and feeling quite emotional about leaving.
I will return one day, to my friends again and this place which has captured not just the imagination, but reignited my spirit of adventure and also a little piece of my heart. There is so much to see and I have barely scratched the surface, I simply have to see more.