Life’s Like That

My life, like many, is not so much a drama as a tale of tiny things. But in the end they add up to a life. This is the tale of a few days of this week.

Tuesday          When I walked through the cemetery to the marble bench to sit in the sun, the grass seemed to be sprinkled with flowers like pink confetti. They were bright pink with yellow centres, the size of primroses, but only growing half an inch from the ground. I sat on the warm bench and looked over the turquoise harbour.

A monarch butterfly floated across and came to rest on the purply-blue flower of a creeper in the tangle of shrubs leading down to the water. I watched the orange and black wings spreading over the amethyst flower, and watched it lift off again, and swoop and flutter in a wide circle before coming back to the same flower. It then drifted to another flower head, before settling on the grass, presumably to digest its meal.

When it rose again in the air, it dropped down to a shrub where another monarch was already feasting. The two rose in the air, fluttering and dodging around each other, until my butterfly was driven away, and did a wide arc halfway round the cemetery, before coming back and settling on another bush.

I drifted back home, missing Cara the cat, and realising that when she had stopped coming with me but sat by the gate, and then, didn’t even cross the road, but sat by our path, waiting for me to return, she wasn’t being cussed – she was obviously too weak or weary in those last months to come springing across the grass with me, her tail held high, and perfectly straight.

Wednesday          Went for a walk to get away from the problems besetting me in the house. I passed a monarch butterfly fluttering on the pavement. It’s wings were almost completely chewed away, presumably while still in the chrysalis by a voracious praying mantis, but its head and body were intact. It lay there, fluttering the fragments of its ragged wings. I put it in the grass, and went for an illegal wander round Liz and Richard’s empty beautiful garden looking over the harbour.

On my way back I looked, and the butterfly was still struggling. I nerved myself to carry it to the pavement so I could stamp on it and put it out of its misery. I laid it down, and it spread its pathetic little rags in the sun, and I had the sense that it was enjoying the sunshine. I just couldn’t bring myself to stamp the life and the consciousness out of it. So I carried it gently back to the grass, and laid it in the sun.

The colours today are like summer, aquamarine sea, and snowy white foam as the waves dash onto the rocks below. The sun shines, and a bitter wind blows. It seems to have been cold for weeks, so we’re chomping through the walls of logs piled up in the garage.

It was hard to go out tonight, but I’m glad I did. Our monthly meeting when people talk about their life. Journeys, we call them. A woman who lives nearby told us how she had dissolved her three generation family business in fashion, and looked for somewhere in the world to serve. She ended up teaching in a Thai monastery, where her experiences there and at various healing sanctuaries were life- changing. She was glowing.

Thursday          Another bitterly cold day with the sun shining brightly. But the oak tree is shimmering with its new spring green, the crab apple has pink buds peeping out, and nasturtium and arctotis are beginning to spring up in their lovely untidy sprawl through the other greenery. A clutch of tuis are sucking the honey in the golden kowhai trees across the road. They are all covered thickly in their hanging yellow flowers along the roadside, and always seem like the heralds of spring.

Yesterday I got my sweet cleaning lady to help me rip down the white sheets which serve as a canopy on the veranda in summer. Have n’t had the strength in my arthritic hands to do it myself. I’ll wash them and use them to cover things in the garage – not sure what, but there’s bound to be something that will benefit. She told me the four ducklings she’d rescued sit cuddled up to each other at night and cheep for ages. “ I’d love to know what they’re saying to each other”….

Before going to Tai Chi, I rang Friend to thank her for lunch on Sunday, and found her devastated. They’d taken Smudge the cat to the vet because he’s dribbling blood and saliva. He has cancer of the jaw, and they’ve brought him home to try to eke out a few more weeks with him….

Tai Chi was freezing in the scouts hall. Coldest night for a long time. I noticed how pinched all our frozen old faces were by the end – and even the few young ones!

Friday           I rang Friend, she was struggling to get the cushion covers off the sofa, where Smudge had taken refuge from the icy night. They were covered in blood and saliva, so I promised to get my sheets from the veranda washed and dried by tonight so that she can drape them over the two sofas. Then took her for a consolatory coffee at the Market, where we gorged ourselves on good coffee and delicious lemon cake well blanketed in whipped cream… so much for diabetes and arthritis!

As I was writing this, I heard the noise of many children all chattering at onceGot up to look out of the window to see why, and saw two little girls making their way down the steps. I got to the door as they did, and was assailed by both of them talking at once as loud as they could. They were collecting for an animal charity, and the commotion was simply two seven year olds talking at once, and neither listening to the other. I emptied my purse of change and they went on their way well pleased.

So this is life, what happens between getting up to make a cup of tea to take back to bed in the morning, checking the e-mails and reading blogs, keeping the fire piled high with dry logs, and going back to that warm bed at night, with the electric blanket on high, a tray of tea for last thing, and a good book!

This is the raw material, and whether we make a silk purse out of it, or see it as a sow’s ear, it’s up to us. It can be satisfying or it can be boring, but the choice is ours. But as I go through my gratitude list at night before slipping into sleep, there seems much to thank the God of Small Things for.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Friends dropped in for glass of wine, and apart from a tin of olives stuffed with anchovies, which is a waste of good olives and anchovies to me, I had nothing for the wine to soak into. (I’ve taken to heart the advice to always have a few bites of something first, so the sugar in the wine doesn’t go straight into the blood stream. I also find the wine tastes much nicer if it isn’t sipped on an empty stomach). A dash to the village shop, and I came home with a little pack of the cheapest blue vein cheese, and a carton of cream cheese. Mixed together they make a lovely spread on little chunks of crusty roll, or any good water biscuit. It was enough.

Food for Thought

We thank God then, for the pleasures, joys and triumphs of marriage; for the cups of tea we bring each other, and the seedlings in the garden frame; for the domestic drama of meetings and partings, sickness and recovery; for the grace of occasional extravagance, flowers on birthdays and unexpected presents; for talk at evenings of events of the day…

From Christian Faith and Practise in the Experience of the Society of Friends.

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47 Comments

Filed under animals/pets, cookery/recipes, culture, family, food, great days, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, village life

47 responses to “Life’s Like That

  1. Anonymous

    Wonderful sentiments, I loved the descriptions of your walks, a very satisfying read that left me also feeling grateful for my life’s daily little pleasures

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  2. Much to be thankful for indeed, your observations remind me of the wonderful W.H.Davies poem ‘Leisure’ and I love the input of the over excitable 7 year olds.

    After 5 days away in London, I returned to two children who were much the same, both trying to share their ‘back to school’ news at the same, faces full of enthusiasm and brightness, small joys that put a smile on the face and wonder in our hearts.

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    • How lovely to still have your children little! Even the last of my grandchildren is now in his late teens, I loved being a mother, and loved even more being a grandmother… wish one could pull time back. I can tell you’re making the most of yours….

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  3. wonderful post i really love the way you write, thank you for sharing this with us i hope you have a lovely day i hope poor cat was not in pain for long 😦 (one of my dogs is 18 and she worries me every morning but she just springs about like she is a pup! i cant bear to think of the day when it all gets to much for her though,) take care xx

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    • Kizzylee, thank you for your encouragement, it’s really lovely that you find this interesting. No, don’t worry about my darling pussy cat. She just ran down quietly, without me realising until the end…as soon as we felt the steroids weren’;t working I took her in…. still grieving!
      I wrote about her for my first blog!

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  4. A wonderful dialogue that brings clarity and meaning to our existence! I especially identify with:”This is the raw material, and whether we make a silk purse out of it, or see it as a sow’s ear, it’s up to us.” What a great thought to start the weekend – thank you!!!

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  5. Another enjoyable read, Valerie! I connected to the poor butterfly, perhaps because I have felt that way and still do –having chopped up my own wings of freedom throughout my life through fear and incorrect beliefs about myself. Now that I’m older, heavier, and less attractive (my broken wings) I’m struggling to continue to live but realize that I have to accept that things change. Gravity has had its way with my chin, breasts, and stomach. My mind isn’t so sharp, as I watch evening games shows where we test our trivial knowledge. (I couldn’t remember who wrote “Gone With the Wind” and only Vivian Leigh came to mind until I woke up at 3 a.m. shouting to no one, “Who is Margaret Mitchell?”) My wings are broken but I’m still trying to fly and I am wondering if that means I need to learn to crawl again or if I should continue to flap as if they’re still working. In any case, I appreciate you providing the thought provoking moment.

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    • Thank you so much for your comments, Carol. Loved the idea of you waking up with your Eureka moment!’ Broken wings makes me sad. Putting on my counselling hat, I’d say that every time you feel like that you should comfort that little inner child who feels so fragile, and could do with love and reassurance. The more we can comfort and strengthen the inner child who, as I know in your case, didn’t feel safe and happy, the stronger that child can become. Then we can enjoy her sense of fun and wonder. I do think trying to fly if we’re feeling our wings are broken is asking an awful lot of that inner child. Would you expect a fragile child to do the same things that a strong powerful confident one can do? No, the little one needs time, love and re-assurance to nurture herself, so that when she wants to fly, she feels strong enough… I wouldn’t normally launch into counselling mode, but your comments seemed to need a response. I do hope some of this may make sense to you Thinking of you, brave soul, warm wishes, valerie

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  6. I love you, This touched my heart in so many ways…

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  7. Pat

    Very nice, very visual.
    Just you, on a page. What more could anyone want in a blog post?
    🙂

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  8. I’ve said before, I’ll say again… I love how you write. It draws me right in. I was “with” you on your walk, I felt the pain (and the inconvenience) in my hands, as well, and I suffer with your friend. The coffee and lemon cake at the market was delicious. Thank you for sharing your day.

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    • To have such a response to my post was very precious. thank you so much for your warm and loving comments. It’s wonderful to write and then to receive such appreciation. It’s the other half of the writing! warm wishes

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  9. Your tale of tiny things in your life are significant in the reminders they convey…friends helping each other, the loss of pets and even the slow death of butterflies, the beauty of our natural surroundings that many take for granted (but you describe like a true naturalist) but each day is like you say about choosing to see it as a silk purse or sow’s ear. You bring such meaning to your writing. Lovely post,Valerie.

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    • Lynne, thank you for such a perceptive response to my story. Comments like yours are such a joy, to know that others have understood. You and some others have given me a sense of writing being a partnership, that we are two halves of the act of creation, and one without the other is incomplete. So thank you again.

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  10. enjoyed this post – a little respite from the rest of my day – thank you and thank you for the prayer

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    • Good to know that it made a little difference to your day! thank you so much for taking the time to tell me

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      • This may sound like a silly answer.But i read it in a maigazne once.You can treat yourself to a movie and relax. Do some excercises. It makes you feel good and then you feel tired from excercising. Listen to music. Give yourself a facial. It makes you feel fresh and clean. Read a book. Drink hot chocolate and lay in bed and you drift of to sleep.

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  11. Alice

    The fidelity of small things–yes!

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  12. Valerie, I feel privileged that you have shared increments of your week here and very touched by your heart. Les xx

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  13. Wonderful to enjoy the days with you! So much going on. . .c’est la vie! And some people think life is boring! What a pity:>)

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  14. Amy

    “… in the end they add up to a life.”, beautifully said. Thank you for letting us to walk with you through part of your week to feel and sense what you have. Hope your are having a nice weekend.

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    • Amy, thank you for commenting, lovely to hear from you. Yes, I had a good weekend thank you, which included more Tai Chi, and ironing and starching all my lace tablecloths and napkins! life’s like that!
      Hope you did the things that you enjoy for your weekend….

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      • Amy

        Tai Chi is effective in enhancing our health physically and mentally because of its unique movements. Lace tablecolths and napkins can add so much beauty and elegance to the table and bring joys to culinary experience as well. To maintain them is another story :).
        I spent part of my Saturday walking a nature preserve park…

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      • Yes, I remember someone called Drummond saying that the moral value of a clean tablecloth cannot be under-estimated – or words to that effect!

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  15. What a week, Valerie. I agonized with you over the butterfly. I’m so glad you gave it another round of sunshine. I see the irony in our gallant efforts to protect the tyranny and violence of nature!

    On our walk yesterday, my walk buddy and I found a snake that had been run over by a car. It had one small, but life threatening puncture. We moved it off the road, but, oh the agony of not knowing if that was the kindest thing to do.

    I occasionally have moments of wanting to fly off to parts unknown to find new adventures and build a new life. When I come to my senses, I realize I have that very opportunity right here on an island of naturalness and long friendships. In an energy balancing treatment today (free from a friend), I remembered I’ve been forgetting gratitude. Thanks for the reminder -perhaps twice means penetration.

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    • Amy , how lovely to hear from you… yes, you would understand about the butterfly! And I know how you felt about the snake. I just comfort myself that they must have felt your love and caring, knowing how sensitive all creatures are.

      Yes, other people’s lives so often seem more glamorous or interesting than our own don’t they? I often wish I could have another dozen, just to experience living in Tuscany, or on the edge of a Canadian lake or a village in the mountains in Bali!

      And then I remember that I don’t really want anything different! I think remembering is one of the challenges of being Present!

      So lovely to hear from you Amy

      Have you been writing posts that i have missed, or have you just not been writing lately? Still not sure I’m whether I’m following you…
      ,

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  16. Such a beautiful post, definitely a silk purse. I love the way it is so poignant yet so simple. Thank you 🙂

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    • Dory, Thank you so much for your appreciative and perceptive comments. It’s really lovely when other writers value what one has to say, and how one’s said it. I have n’t found anywhere to comment on your posts recently. l am obviously not seeing it, but I too want to say how much I appreciate your direct unadorned writing and accurate grammar,- to me the best sort of writing.

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  17. Wonderful reading, just like your book. I adore the bit where you state we can make of it a silk’s purse or sow’s ear. It is just choice isn’t it and if we dare to see life as this moment by moment chance for glorious unitive consciousness thru mindfulness (as you showed all the way thru the piece but particularly with the butterfly) then it’s just joyous moment after joyous moment and when we fail to do this, it’s just our humanity and that is a chance to love ourselves through our brokeness. God bless. Leanne

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    • Lovely comment Leanne, thank you – I knew you would understand… When I fail to be present, I don’t so much feel ‘broken’, but simply that in those times I was unaware, and I know that I am the poorer for it! So it’s worth what one teacher once called :’constant vigilance’…to reach the goal of resting in constant awareness…
      I don’t think I’ve put that very well, but am feeling tired – too much ironing yesterday and today!

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  18. This is a truly lovely and loveing post! Thank you much for a wonderful start to my morning!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

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  19. Valerie, I love reading your posts. I have just come back from a three day Sufi meditation retreat feeling refreshed and so calm; I am now sitting by a log fire , happy to be home and really enjoying following you going about your life.
    Light, wisdom and a great sense of peace emanates from your writing.

    With Love and Gratitude

    Véronique

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    • Veronique, what beautiful comments thank you. I envy you your Sufi retreat, it sounds wonderful, and no wonder you see light and wisdom and peace in my post – you must be filled with all those things. Look forward to our next connection, with love, Valerie

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  20. Kana Tyler

    This is beautiful. I’m particularly smiling over “food for the threadbare gourmet” as a segue to “food for thought”… It’s the simple things—logs on the fire, tea, a book, electric blanket, friends and cheap cheese. 🙂

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  21. It’s such a pleasure to read your post! It is soothing and relaxing. Keep it up!

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