Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We had a fire last night for the first time, one amaryllis has a bud, and Felix had made toffee apples- the best I have tasted. I think it is autumn.

The main room has a rather too lived in look, with my sewing and the equipment unpacked but not stowed, and this is another sign that we are not living outdoors in quite the same way. 2007 will be here before I finish my coffee.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkin Patches

We drove back from Tahoe this morning, over the High Sierras. I remembered the excitement and disbelief of passing through a real ghost town, abandoned when the gold ran out, with Will and Cissy and Stefan's mother twenty seven years ago. we got stuck in the snow then, not snowing now, though very cold and dry.

This time I was bemused by the Pumpkin Patch phenomenon. What on earth makes anyone want to go into a field to look at pumpkins? There is often an entry charge! People take little children......

Stefan was also remembering taking Cissy to Marine World some seven years ago, when the trained birds would NOT do what they were supposed to and she was transported with amusement. And now she has birds. A correlation?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mammy Bleu

My mum can't get through on my email, and I haven't had communication from many others. Internet conspiracy?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Early Friends

After a week of complex, realistic dreams, I have been lining up my earliest friends. It isn't impressive.

Gareth Henry was a neighbour. I remember him as a first class wet, maybe Colin and I terrorised him. On the other hand my cousin Brian appears in memory robed in golden glory - he was older and a natural leader, very tolerant of his cousins and sisters. Adult friends were Auntie Wilson and Uncle Jack, next door. I though Auntie Wilson very elegant, and Uncle Jack was fun in that post-war way, with word games we didn't understand.

Things went downhill in Australia. I don't remember any friends at all in Maroubra, and in Sans Souci there were lean pickings. Susan Heesh was sly and mean, but we both loved going through her mother's scrap drawer. Suzanne Bennett's grandfather exposed himself to us so I stopped going there. Tina and Penny Curry lived a little further away, in the most beautiful colonial house with huge trees and tesselated verandahs. They were fun, and gentle and I liked them, though we went to different schools. Our parents were friends, our fathers worked together. He was a little creepy, she was lovely but highly strung, like a heroine of the Deep South. Other children of my parent's friends were nice enough but distant - Diana Mulligan, the Warren boys, the Scotts.

I had no friends at Sans Souci school, none at all, especially after I fought Rory Macpherson, big red-headed bully that he was. I took refuge in the school library. Things were hardly better at Hurstville, although the Sans Souci girls, Katy English, Diane Love and I, did huddle together to some extent. Life was blighted there by two things - I never knew what was expected of me, and I got up the nose of the red-headed, moustachio-ed hedmistress, Miss Kelly. I can see now that I was very irritating, and that she was of no stature at all. I certainly didn't respect her.

Life started for me at Kambala, where I first met Paddy and Maryna (then spelt Marina), Pish Donovan, Pepita, Karine, Leanora Ceylon, Louise (Price) Allen, Louise Mitchell, Chris Harcourt and Christine Trollope, Annabel Wheeler, Helen Telford, Minty, Elaine Speigel. Human beings! Then boys at St Michael's Fellowship and dances: Alexis Mack, Karl Kitchens, Carl Harrison-Ford, Paul Foster, Philip Titterton, Robert Tobias. Some friends continued into university, plus Libby Hughes and Angela Wales from the convent, and Chris Hungerford from PLC. And then I left the country, so I am really, really lucky that I am still in contact with so many of them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Following a conversation withCaroline yesterday as we drove into San Francisco.

She was saying that Marin has changed, that the new residents don't seem to want or be able to support the way of life that attracted them in the first place. Extrapolating: seeing London so changed, feeling like a stranger when I lived there for 35 years, and having sudden guilty sympathy for the old Cockneys who were forced out by my wave of intruders. Successive waves. Is it just that everything changes, that when something is beautiful a value is placed on it which even the creator may not afford? Villagers priced out, the French priced out of the Cote d'Azur, Brits priced out of Central London. Which means we are all doing it to each other.

Thoughts of Gastronomy

It has taken a long time for blog-worthy thoughts to bubble upwards, and some bore even me.

Food. I just have to record the simple trail I follow between Scylla and Ch.......??, sweet and stodge.

Breakfast is usually cottage cheese, berries, nuts, ground flax seed, lecithin and a slurp of yoghourt. Coffee, with quarter the milk I used to have.

Mid-morning if the need arises, half a cup of unsweetened apple sauce with half a teaspoon of cinnamon (for a reason). Green tea.

Lunch, salad and chicken or sliced deli beef or such. Yesterday we also had delicious fat artichokes, with butter. I drank cider vinegar.

Afternoon, a cup of soup. Evening, leftover porc aux pruneaux with green beans. Nightcap, an apple and a bath in Epsom Salts.

Stefan ate the same, but with the addition of muffin, olive bread, biscuits and rice at appropriate places, and ice cream if he wants. He of course retains his slim figure even on that regime. I am slowly shrinking, though it isn't the primary objective.

I carry a tin of sardines and and apple with me, for emergencies. I have rediscovered how much I love sardines, especially the tiny ones in olive oil. they take me back to the beach picnic at Burton Bradstock when there was a Mackerel Tide and we just picked them off the strand, still alive.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Just discovered that Stefan accidentally carried a corkscrew right through security in his computer bag and they didn't pick it up - yet they confiscated my harmless tins of sardines.....

Almost Over-excited

It has been so wonderful over the past week, meeting up with old friends. I didn’t realize how much I miss the language until I had it again. Maryna in New York, Minty and Geoffrey in Boston, and Roger has just left with his brother Patrick to drive to Yosemite and Mono Lake in an SUV called 5UZY 320 before he goes to China.

Hopeless ex-pat, and I don’t even know which country I’m an ex-pat of.

By this you will know that we are home again, beautifully taken care of by Felix who even cleaned the stove! Is there some crime he isn’t confessing? I should be ashamed of my suspicious mind. Suscipe is calmer though her shaved side looks horrible, and I have an irresistible compulsion to pick her scabs in company. No wonder my guests leave.

Pleasures of home: a decent bath-tub. Hotel bathtubs here are horse troughs, shallow, straight and in the final, grubby Holiday Inn, dirty. Our pillowslips were unironed and bore faint traces of ancient mascara, the whole room smelt like a hotel room.

In reaction I changed my bedding here in the comfort-and-privacy to the new sheets and duvet cover I bought some time ago and left unwrapped until the shock of expenditure had worn off. Chocolate brown sheets, fine pique white cover, with two pillowslips of each. The winter look for my newly painted room, very Catherine Memmi. Let down sadly by the short-shanks valance (bed skirt in USA-speak), so I’ll have to find a way around that. Yet another demonstration of the gap between concept and realization, or concretion as Alfred would say. How useful my dissertation has proved to be in daily life.

We did enjoy ourselves on the East Coast. Brooklyn was interesting (I will Amazon “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”) and we became very fond of Vlad the Impala, even though it took three days to find the map light, concealed in the rear-view mirror. The whole car bristled with designer improvements like that. Stefan was thrilled with the second set of radio controls under his fingertips on the steering wheel, and managed to change things I was enjoying so surreptitiously I didn’t realise so didn’t protest. Hum. And the final joke on Vlad – it was beige.

It was a real hardship following my strict regime at breakfast time in the hotels, because just about everything was sugar and starch based. Hard boiled eggs wetly available sometimes, when they hadn’t been wolfed by other guests. And sugar-free Quaker oats, once. The moral is to stay in better hotels I guess.

I am much sharper than I have been of late, and have good energy too. I finished off Stefan’s ice cream in Boston and it made me feel sick and “fat blood”-ish. So, I know what was causing it.

Echo-cardiogram now booked, and so on, and so forth. I am doing it for my vigour.

Friday, October 13, 2006


It is excitingto be in New York for three days, although I hate that the water in our hotel here in Brooklyn is brown! Revolting - I don't even feel like washing in it, let alone brushing my teeth.

Inhibiting not to be able to blog freely about our subject matter this week - who knows who might read it. (and sue).

I will meet up with Maryna tomorrow, we have spoken about a Flea Market, the green market, and lunch by the Statue of Liberty. Hot Dog, I'm in New York!!!

Truly, before my life draws to a close, I would like to live for a few months at least in the Soho/Washington Square area. And in Madrid or Seville, and somewhere snowy. I would also like to have a cabin by a lake, and go fishing and live on beans.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I am honoured! Extended Thanksgiving will be here this November 23, with Will and Jessica and Aunt No and Uncle John. Will and Jessica will therefore spend Christmas and her birthday up at the cabin with her parents.

I shall have to brush up on my pies again. I don't think getting them from Costco is good enough.

I am feeling far bouncier since I saw Dan and he gave me many injections. Completely mesmerised by the dark field microscopy. It is fascinating to see my own blood, lovely plump little red cells, the disheartening fatty debris and the occasional dark, brooding Death Star. Crystals, bacteria - no fungus though. Phew. Many small clots though, hence the echo-cardiogram.

More semi-medical inspirations: the MRI made me feel like a mouse in an organ pipe. cosy and warm, then, blam! Toccata and Fugue! And oompa-loompas tapping code and singing. I think I detected the universal Om in there, while I drifted. I fixed my mind in the obscure L.M.Montgomery I picked up in St Patrick's thrift shop a few days ago, and drifted happily in spirit over Prince Edward Island. Maybe one day I will visit it.

This morning we need to shoot my account of Stefan's stem cell progress. Better put some lippy on.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Hand

Mum's Mold
Oct 3, 2006 - 6 Photos

Friday, October 06, 2006


What IS pleasure? It really bears thinking about.

I suddenly remembered that when June and I went to Winchester Cathedral two weeks ago we happened on choral evensong and sat in bliss until the sermon, which we skipped and had coffee in the cloisters instead.

Felix has reconfigured my iPod, so I'll see if I can manage better this time round. I so love listenig to music in peace, uninterrupted. I am listening to Dvorak, Song to the Moon since it is full moon. and it is like a tightrope through the heavens.

The cast of my right hand is fascinating, positively creepy and decidedly my hand, I would know it anywhere. This afternoon Carolyn said she doesn't recognise herself any more, I know exactly what she means, is it something in the times, the configuration of planets? As if individual identity is confining. My greatest joy is in observing beautiful things, and all the busyness, even creativity is muted, everything is sensation like a gift from outside myself, and I melt into it until there is no self left. Like buttah.


After the high tragic tone of thinking I was losing my mind a bit at a time comes the mundane reality: high cholesterol.

Maybe Camille had high cholesterol.

So I am clear to work, fly, drive and generally throw myself around, and my mum can stop worrying. Before all that I shall use the hand casting kit I got for my birthday, while the fingernails are still intact. Then I shall do a little gardening.

I was very touched at all the kindness and rallying round I have had, that Will drove up on Tuesday night, and Felix came home early and all the flowers and cleaning they did. I still have to call back several friends, but I can feel myself coming out of my anti-social funk with the good news. And I resolve to enjoy myself more.

There is a ruby-throated hummingbird which works the geraniums and lavender on the front deck, busy and fearless. It is things like that which make life worth while.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Brain Lesions

Back in my own bed last night, Suscipe forgave me my absence and was back purring on my chest but had a horrible gaping lesion on her side from scratching, and quite bald down her neck from excessive grooming so I think she missed me terribly. William came over and Felix came home early, and I will see Cissy today, and Stefan met me at the airpost so I feel thoroughly welcomed back. I lay in the morning just smelling the salt in the air and watching the dawn, at home and at peace.

Hospital visits and tests for the rest of the week, my confidence in myself is severely shaken and I am left wondering: is there a message? I go to Italy for a week of delicious yoga and end up in a room overlooking the bay in a hospital in San Remo. So here I am now, pounds lighter, unnaturally clean and long fingernails through inactivity, with prohibitions on carrying, lifting, hurrying, travelling, WORKING - all the things I love. I can only hope this is temporary.