Archive for September, 2010

Autumn flarze

September 22, 2010

This blog has been so dreary lately, I feel it is time to brighten things up a bit. So here is a pic of one of my fuschia plants in flower. They are very pretty at this time of the year.

A blooming fuschia!

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Relatively lonely nest thoughts

September 22, 2010

These past few weeks since my daughter emigrated half-way across the world, have been hard. Some days I feel a little better, a little stronger. Other days are clothed in a grey, bleak mist, darker than the North sea that pounds upon the coastline only minutes from where I live.

Of course, folks who we know feel that it is a wonderful thing that has happened. It is very adventurous of our brave daughter. I can agree with all that. However, I look to the future, from my point of view. I rather imagine that I shall see my daughter at best a couple of weeks per annum (and probably a lot less than that, if truth be told, as time goes by). My ability to travel is limited by the expense that my pension can afford. The hard lesson of this is that you cannot live your life through your adult children, Letting go does mean ‘goodbye’. If they have emigrated, as opposed to living in a nearbye city, you are forced to move on, New days continue to dawn. With flare there is the possibility of creating new excitements to fill the void. It is possible to be positive.

Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Lawn scarification

September 13, 2010

The past few days I have been scarifying my lawn. I do not have a machine, just a tine rake. It provides me with lots of exercise, so in that way it serves two purposes. I intend to do a thorough job on it this year and have bought some extra grass seed, nutrients, and top dressing. It has been raining hard today but hopefully I shall be able to finish  it off later this week. Things seem to be settling down for me now. I am back into some serious music practice and I am once again playing my regular shows in Second Life. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

There is a LOT of this stuff

One chapter closes, another opens up

September 8, 2010

The last supper occurred in an Italian restaurant and there were, coincidentally, about a dozen of us present. The grown-ups sat at one end of the long table and looked, for the most part, rather glum. The younger generation, all now in their mid-20s, seemed to be enjoying themselves; it was they that provided the lively conversation and peels of laughter.

After the meal, back home, there remained some final packing and organising to be done. We were able to snatch a few hours sleep but the household woke up at around 3 a.m. in preparation for the taxi which was due to arrive at 4 a.m. The cases were finally stowed; hugs and goodbyes took place in the dark street outside, with tears hovering in the background but no longer in full flood. We watched the red lights of the taxi disappear, as it turned out of our street. And she was gone, off on her grand adventure.

I got a little more sleep but woke up fairly early. I felt driven by a compulsion. I had to tidy the house and remove the traces of her existence that lingered in our sitting room and kitchen. I threw out her cereal box and her apple juice. I put the things she had not been able to pack back into her room. Then I tidied up our sitting room which had been used as a storage depot for all her belongings while she was sorting things out. There remained four large cardboard boxes which housed stuff that might need to be shipped separately once she has a place to live. I pushed them into a line and found a large table cloth to drape over them. Later, I placed a fruit bowl in the centre. I feel that the packing cases have now become, if not an objet d’art, at least an interesting piece of furniture that can live comfortably with the rest of the room for however long it takes.

Hiding the packing cases

Fruit bowl on packing case podium

In the end, the waiting, the tiredness, the planning, the endless list of things to do, combine to ware one down. I find myself entering the Que Sera, Sera mode of being. Maybe she will permanently live abroad. Maybe she will come home again by Christmas. Maybe she will be somebody who lives in two countries, moving back and forth between them over the years. One thing is for sure: the previous chapter has now closed. It is not possible to say what will happen in the next chapter. I think that she will now develop her life on a more independent basis and that will be the case even if she does return to England. I have not yet worked out how this new chapter in my own life story will develop or will be affected by the change that has been visited upon me. I do not feel pessimistic. I always knew that the past couple of weeks would be very difficult, and I expect it will take a while for me to adjust emotionally to the new situation. Hopefully, I shall be able to share with you some of the things that I do.

I could have written up my thoughts about my daughter leaving home in a private diary. However, I feel sure that at least some parents may have to experience something similar to what I have just gone through. Obviously, for many, their offspring may get married and live happily ever after in a nearby neighbourhood or city, producing lots of grandchildren and therebye providing them with an extended family. That idyllic situation is by no means universal. I suppose I have been primarily addressing those for whom such a warm cosy image remains elusive. By doing so, I would like to think that I have perhaps been able to offer a modicum of hope for those in need of it. Farewell, for now, my dear blogophiles. I think I shall be back onto a more even keel from now on.

D-day minus one

September 7, 2010

In approximately 24 hours time, my daughter will leave home for good (at least, that is her firm intention). It will be some time around 3 a.m. when the taxi will call for her, her large suitcase and her hand luggage. She decided that she would rather have the Big Goodbye at home, so we shall not go with her to the airport.

I have recently awoken from my night sleep (it is now 4 a.m.) and I was finding it difficult to get back to sleep again. I therefore decided to do this short blog. Mind you, I do often wake up in the middle of the night. When this happens I usually make myself a cup of tea and either do a little writing or play my digital piano with the IEMs in place (In Ear Monitors). I have not made tea this time.

A busy and difficult day lies ahead. I can hear that it is raining, from the pitter-patter on my skylight window. I recently put some weed-and-feed onto my lawn and that needs washing in. Later in the week I shall rake out the dead moss and give it a little after-care. Part of my coping strategy will be not to ignore the small things in everyday life that need to be done. When my first wife left me, I made sure that I ate properly and kept my house reasonably clean and tidy. These things matter. They provide a simple and stable framework in which to adjust to new circumstances and from which to reconstitute one’s concept of self. As a response to strong advice from my doctor, I changed my physical being by losing 20 kg over the course of the past year. I achieved this by managing what and how much I ate, on a daily/weekly basis, and by virtue of will-power (old-fashioned as that term may sound). Over the past 10 months I have focussed effort on the improvement of my physical being; in months ahead I shall shift the spotlight to my psychological well-being. Massaging my self-concept or tweaking my persona is something that should provide me with a modicum of amusement, interest or even satisfaction, at the meta-level, given that I taught psychology for 30 years at my local university!

Currently, I am feeling a little better about things. It is possible that writing up this blog helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings. Bye for now, my dear blogophiles.

Boxing up a life

September 6, 2010

As the days grind on, we get closer and closer to the imminent date of her departure. The clearing of the room, the sorting out of stuff, and the throwing away of rubbish all help to mercifully blunt sensitivity. Air freight shipping will have to wait until she knows how much space she has in the room or rooms that will usurp the tag of ‘home’. We shall therefore be faced with a second wave of packing and crating some weeks or months after she has gone. For the time being, it has all been stacked into temporary cardboard boxes in order that we may get some idea of the cubic footage that will be required. The weight of the boxes is incredible. I had no idea she had so many CDs DVDs and books.

Things are vanished into boxes

This morning I went to Staples, a big office supply store in the UK, to get a replacement toner cartridge for my computer printer. At the checkout I waited while a father and his son paid for their goods. The boy looked about 18 and from all the files and folders that they were getting my guess is that he was about to go off to university. I saw the father put his credit card into the reader and this thrust me back to when I had done an almost identical thing when my daughter went off to university. The expected wave of emotion swept over me but it has been happening so much these past two weeks I had little difficulty holding back until I had paid for my stuff and got into the car for the ride home. On the way back I stopped briefly at a supermarket to get a loaf of bread. It is still the school holidays here and as I walked over to the bakery with my handbasket I passed a father doing some shopping with his teenage daughters. Of course, yet again more memories were triggered. Everywhere I turn, there are reminders of past family life together. My only hope is that eventually they will become dull and cease to stimulate sharp memories.

I am finding it very difficult to play piano, guitar, or to sing. I think the simple explanation of that must be that singing and playing music is a very emotional thing to do. Not really what I want right now.

One of my books

September 3, 2010

At present my daughter has a lot of her books, CDs, DVDs and so forth in piles on our sitting room floor, waiting to be packed into chests for shipping. I suddenly noticed a copy of one of the academic books I wrote before I retired: The Psychology of Food and Eating. I was touched by the fact that she intends to take this  with her. I had given it to her when it was first published some years ago. 

Piles of stuff for the packing chests

My book on food, on top of the pile

This morning I had the full English breakfast with my friend Tom. It is good to talk to friends in circumstances such as these. I tried to explain how sometimes I felt ok, only to be swamped seconds later by waves of sadness and helplessness. We talked about how it had some similarities with the way a bereavement can hit you. Because I have endured periods of darkness in the past, I do feel confident that at some point I will get through it all. The main problem at the moment is that I cannot predict at all when I am going to be hit by the next wave.

I had been feeling not too bad this morning and, after breakfast with Tom, I decided to risk a trip to the supermarket to get in some food items we needed. Stray thoughts kept entering my mind, unbidden. I had to really concentrate in order not to lose it, while I was waiting at the checkout. Then, walking my cart across the tarmac to my car, I kept getting images of my daughter helping to push the cart as a little girl, years ago, perhaps excited by some special treats I had bought for her. Truth be told, it was an amalgam of numerous separate occasions, not one trip, that I had manufactured in my mind’s eye. Somehow, I shall have to repress these mental images, if I am to get back onto an even keel. And that is what I am determined to do, however long it takes and however hard the task. Wish me luck, my dear blogophiles.

The whodunnit as therapeutic distractor

September 2, 2010

I went over to the Lit & Phil library at Newcastle the other day and stocked up with a pile of their excellent whodunnits. I find that I need to read easy page-turners in order to prevent my mind from wandering into what-ifs and what-has-beens that trigger bouts of emotional turmoil without doing any good whatever. I have just finished J.R.L. Anderson’s Death in the greenhouse. It was good to be taken back to an England where it was by no means certain that one would be able to find a telephone to use or whether the person who you wanted to contact would even be connected to the landline telephone exchange. This was a world devoid of much of the electronic detritus that is so typical of today’s quotidian experience.

Therapeutic distractors

Today, I shall move on to Douglas Cark’s The Monday theory.  Things, as they say, continue to be labile.

Thinking of Spring bulbs

September 1, 2010

I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning and thought I felt better than yesterday, so I spent some time doing piano practice, but by the time I was in the shower I was back to square one. I don’t think there is much I can do while I feel raw emotionally, with an upset tummy as the physiological correlate. I think that there is nothing for it but to wait until my daughter has departed on her adventures; eventually things will flatten out. Mind you, it took years, not months to get over the break up of my first marriage. Of course, this is not quite the same thing but it does provide some sort of yardstick. I was watering the flowers in my kitchen window box a little earlier. The summer bedding plants are more or less past their best by now. I think I shall clear out the box once she has left and put some spring bulbs in. That will give me a target. I shall have to get myself back on top of things one way or another by the time the bulbs come into flower. The snowdrops will be first, so I will just have a few months. Then I shall opt for a strategy of structured, if somewhat disciplined, action to fill the days. I am thinking in terms of piano, guitar, and sketching practice. This can be supplemented by other activities with my partner and friends and there will always be the garden to tend, and some walking along the coastal paths.

I am not entirely convinced of the wisdom of sharing all this, heart-on-sleeve, on the blog here. However, it seems to me that there is no point in writing a blog unless you deal with the dark times, along the joyous. Bye for now, my dear blogophiles.