Slow reincarnation, making book shelves with lengths of rough wood, harvesting seventy-one heads of garlic planted last October, drinking green or red tea. See where I got in those long years: a long road, I must have had a clear plan from the word go, and sometimes these days I allow myself a glimpse at it, 6B pencil in hand.
I have by now touched all the edges so that fear will probably never again be able to take hold of me or my life. My life that could, I’m sure, be described as a list of tragic failures has in fact succeeded in bringing me into complete peace with myself. What else could I have been striving for ? I am now ready for more chapters, endeavouring to sing and dance with the soil, with time to sit and read, and time to sit and write, and time to sit and listen. I am here and I won’t forget to breathe. Don’t either.
The miracle : finding somewhere for us to live, somewhere for us.
We moved into our new house just over a month ago but I’m not sure whether all of me has arrived yet nor where the light switches are when it’s dark and I can’t see. Is it a dream or have I simply not quite landed yet after months of trying not to panic ? So I am hovering a few millimetres above my life but I like the space I am slowly landing into : a lot of shelves and a couple of beds to build, all our pictures to hang, hundreds of our things mislaid that we may have learned to do without by the time they resurface. It’s a new adventure, a new life, a house we can afford and where we will stay as long as we need/want/like to. On my terms for perhaps the first time in my life.
A miracle, and the best part of it is : I feel we deserve our luck, a new start, a good life, a lot of hugs.
See me herewith trying with difficulty to follow my own advice… Not to worry as worrying does not help (“not going to add a day to [my] life”), and furthermore ask myself : what is this shit-we’re-in actually good for ?
We have just one month left to have moved out of the house we have been living in for the last 4,5 years and so far have found nowhere else to go. We need : salubrious (comfortable even—we survived 11 years of designed squalor in a badly built jumped-up shed and we now actively love ourselves more), affordable, and in the vicinity of the children’s school. I am looking forward to the change that the universe has in store for us, what we will learn about ourselves in the process but in this in-between-waiting/hoping-stage I might as well admit that I am battling with fear. Existential fear sits in the kidneys. Bringing this to my awareness helps the energy to flow and not bring trouble/disease. What do I learn : I go for a brisk walk with my two children and I realize, we three are alive together, healthy, we can jump fences, go through windows, walk around obstacles, we’ll be all right. The shit we’re in has a taste of freedom if we can stop running with the fear. What do I learn : our roots, like those of the bare-root trees one can buy and plant in the colder months, can survive temporarily in a bag tied at the base to ensure the wind does not dry them, or else “trenched temporarily into any spare piece of ground until you can move them to their permanent site.”* What do I learn ? there is no permanence and it is a good thing, learning keeps you alive and in motion. What do I learn ? my life is with me, even when all its earthly components are shaken, questioned or on hold.
Truth be told, moving is not a joyous perspective for the hoarder in me. I am an immigrant, my books (52 m of bookshelves made out of rough wood), my things are my memories, the memories I knit for myself and my children. It is a particularly cruel time when I have to cast a cold eye on the strange and potentially valueless stuff I lovingly collect and keep and wonder if it will really deserve to be packed and moved (mental issue ? art !). A jar housing the stalks of most pears I have eaten in the last 7 years or so ? Cut out plastic windows from the business envelopes I receive ? Bones ? Carefully collected circular things ? I used to joke that I, a lover of rusty metal, may have been brought onto this earth to house discarded objects, but these days I decide that I—and my two young people—deserve to be safely housed too (safe from the whim of those who own houses in a country that does not protect… value… respect… tenants in the least), and I’d like to bestow this as a basic right to all humans if I may…
There is a postcard on my fridge that says that women “earn just 10% of the world’s income and own less that 1% of the world’s property” and I, a woman, “own” 4.8 acres of land that I farm, and where many bare rooted trees have been planted and will not have to move (although there are a couple of hazels I will dig up and transplant soon, for their own benefit). Perhaps in the soil is where our symbolic roots are kept moist and alive even when we’re not sure where our next bed will be. Perhaps in the soil, even when you don’t “own” land or even a spade is where all of our human roots are kept moist and alive until you find somewhere to welcome you, it needn’t necessarily be a “permanent site” for us moveable bideps but it sure needs to be secure in some way.
- advice sent at delivery by my favourite supplier of the most lovingly packaged trees, future forests.
p.s. something I just found on Poor as Folk, echoing a rant of mine earlier today…
via Community Tenants Union. The general idea here is that housing is a basic human right and people NEED housing (… ) Renters are highly exploited to benefit others and that shouldn’t happen. Community Tenants Union explains in the comments, too : “I think the point is that people shouldn’t have to rent. Creating a market for housing means that people get rich off what should be provided as a basic need.”
Chilling statistics in this video (English spoken, French subtitles) produced by the FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights, such as—for those who reassure themselves that dreadful things happen in the “developing world” and that All is Well and Good in the West :
in France a woman dies of domestic violence every 2.7 days
I do hope that everyone who swings by here will have 1 minute and 52 seconds to watch this. On 8 March I heard a number of people asking on the radio what International Women’s Day was for exactly and the male presenter wondered about that too. It may well be that human rights are not quite universal yet, and it has been shown that unequal societies actually benefit no one.
In the meanwhile but never too far away, I am reading Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender (How our minds, society and neurosexism create difference) a truly great read, “brilliantly researched and wickedly funny”, exciting and enlightening, opening my mind and clearing some cobwebs from narrow corners in the process wishing as I do that everyone would take the time to read it. I stumbled upon Emma Cookson who in 2013 felt the same way I now do : she went on to produce a précis (a series of slides presenting the book’s main findings in a concise manner) for those who will not have/take the time to read it themselves!
The study was conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL, and the full report is available here: https://www.coop.se/organiceffect.
There is snow on the ground as I wake up this morning, I postpone some outside jobs planned in the balmy weather of yesterday. Once children are delivered to school with a full tummy and the intent to make the most of their day, animals are fed and spoken to, there is related indoor work to be done : ordering—dreaming—stuff for the growing season and some useful trees too. I have saved seeds, leftover seeds, and am ordering some more, some from near and some from beyond the seas : the West Strictly Medicinals Seeds, or the South Le Biau Germe and I am glad that seed-saver extraordinaire Will Bonsall crosses my path here :
And I am grateful to Nomzi Kumalo for her poem and post today : made me feel strong and inspired for my life, despite the cold cold cold wind and some current uncertainties.
Another day of being alive and grateful (and also for worrying before 9 that the radiator in the car was dead and being told around 2 that I just needed to add water, great for a Monday).
Until a couple of years ago we had seven cats, we are now cleverly down to three. I say ‘we’ but I am their main—often their sole—carer. I love my goats, I am planning to keep poultry again soon, but I am not really a pet person. Having seven cats happened as a result of lacking the resistance to the charm of kittens. One—Mouli, the Mother Cat—died of old age, another, Soap, befriended neighbours and got herself adopted and turned into a house cat, two—Am Stram Gram and Couscous—went away with L (the wild Am Stram Gram escaped and may reappear back at the farm any day now, we hope she is ok). I slow cook the same stew every week : one heart and marrow bones and the dwindling number of eaters may go a long way towards explaining their soft cuddliness.
Those farm cats insist on mistaking my beds for litter trays and I often feel like strangling them, even Pumpkin, the most wonderful cat of them all. As a young male kitten he let the newcomers, who had been separated from their mother too early, suck on the fur of his tummy to comfort them. Some males make truly great mothers.
He is now very very sick and may not survive. His appetite is good but he has problems eating and needs to be hand fed which takes time. I have to push away the other two from the morsels I select for his dinner. They act a little envious but the way I see it is that it is reassuring for them to see that particular care is given to the sick weakened one. Suddenly the world they live in is a place where they do not need to dread being old or sick.
How many man-made places/societies/nation states/countries reassure humans in that way ? Not really the trend these days, days of übercapitalism where the welfare (?) of corporations or banks are put before that of the majority of humans by governments supposed to look after the citizens that elected them. So we protect ourselves from the fear of becoming the rejected by acting tough and superior and thus reassuring ourselves that it will never happen to us. What ? lose our job ? succumb to depression ? lose our home ? need substances to just feel normal ? lose the use of our limbs and become wheelchair bound ? Stashing money aside, driving the big car, does not seem to work at removing the anxiety…
The image I have for you is this : Step into a toilet designed for wheelchair users. What luxury ! There is room to swing a cat in—even a large one like Pumpkin but he does not feel like being swung, so we won’t—there is a wash-hand basin, the toilet is lower making it more comfortable for short and tall people alike to sit or hover above (lift the seat first, though), there is a mirror where one can look at oneself in the comfort of one’s own company. This is a good starting point to realize that a place that provides for the needs of the challenged, the weaker or temporarily weakened people is a better—more human—place for everyone to—pee and—be, as, without the use of some popular expensive substances, it is not really possible to feel strong every day.
The NGO France terre d’asile did a census in the Calais camp ‘la jungle’ between 9 and 12 February and counted 326 unaccompanied children aiming to cross over to the UK, a quarter of which are under 15, the youngest 7 years of age—humans all, having survived—unlike so many more—the harrowing trip from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt or Eritrea. This brings me to useless tears, I wish I knew of something I could do to help this nightmare come to an end. In truth by caring for those who need it we care for ourselves. Let us be humans together, but how do we start ? There is life, there is light, there is hope everywhere.