groundsel and tutsan

I’m worried.

I don’t try not to be worried because I don’t really know what to do when it descends like it does. Ride it out?

Or perhaps I need to consider groundsel, creeping buttercups, tutsan.
I was out in the garden today trying to restore order. I have been struggling with what to plant and when to plant it. I am trying to practice crop rotation. The pieces don’t fit harmoniously, there are gaps that should have vegetables. Where there are gaps there are weeds eager to fill space. It seems chaotic.

Except what is a weed?
What is order?

There is one corner that is a complete mess if you think of an orderly garden that gets mowed at least once a week.
I went to cut it a few weeks ago but stopped short. I stopped short because I’ve noticed that goldfinches like to eat the seeds of the weeds. If I sorted out those ‘weeds’ and had a lawn there I wouldn’t have goldfinches to surprise me when washing the dishes on dreary Monday mornings.

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I was hanging washing out today and heard an unfamiliar whistling noise coming from the tree. It was a female bullfinch. She took off, her partner joined her and landed on my spade. Then they both jumped on to the weed in the corner that the goldfinch liked and munched a few seeds.

I’ve not paid enough attention to flowers over the years which is a bit of a sin I suppose. I’m not sure what the weed is.
Looking for its name on a website  I stumbled across the names of a few other plants I noticed in the garden today and which I am going to try to remember:- tutsan and groundsel.
And I’m going to learn more names. I am going to consider the lilies of the fields and the weeds of the garden and look at finches feeding on the weeds and read these words again.

“…what’s the use of worrying? What good does it do? Will it add a single day to your life? Of course not! 26 And if worry can’t even do such little things as that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies! They don’t toil and spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not robed as well as they are. 28 And if God provides clothing for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, don’t you suppose that he will provide clothing for you, you doubters? 29 And don’t worry about food—what to eat and drink; don’t worry at all that God will provide it for you. 30 All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs. 31 He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.’

dry wells

I am  tired despite returning  from a holiday at the beginning of the week.
We have family that live near Almeria and I had never been out to see them and where they live. So this year (and thanks to a kind Christmas present) we flew over to the south of Spain on the new, improved, nice and caring Ryanair for a week. Which is how we ended up spending a few nights in a nice Spanish village

This time last week I was walking around the beautiful Spanish village of Mojacar on a holiday.
If that sounds lovely you should also know that a fight with your wife is still a fight with your wife no matter if it’s a lovely village and knowing that you’re spending money in something that you don’t do very often but having a fight instead of making the most of it can make you pretty miserable.

So although it was nice to be away I’m knackered and didn’t find the holiday relaxing. Heat tires me and my inner Presbyterian couldn’t get the hang of the resting in the afternoon business.  I never got the hang of when you are supposed to eat lunch and dinner. The language as well.

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That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Spain and seeing where my nephew and niece live because I like seeing new places. Some might think that the endless acres of plastic greenhouses that supply Europe with tomatoes and watermelons are an eyesore but I find them interesting:-
Where are the getting the water to grow watermelons in the driest part of Europe? Are they going to desalinate seawater and use it? How is climate change going to effect this area and how is that going to effect my sister and brother-in-law. my nephew and niece?

Then  it starts boiling over into the problems with the world:-
How do people work inside those greenhouses in what must be phenomenal heat? Are the migrant workers treated fairly? Do you realise that flying on your Ryanair flight on holidays is contributing to climate change here in Almeria? 

The one thing I really wanted to do over in Spain was to see new colours and draw new things, to feel a surge of inspiration surging and to be creative again. I feel like any wells of creativity that I had have dried up, a bit like the countryside and river beds around Almeria. But I felt uninspired and too awkward to create. No paints, no markers, no skill.

On the way home from the airport I was complaining to H about the way people act on Ryanair flights. ‘There are schoolgirls having to walk miles each day to get clean drinking water and then there are 50 yr old men who throw their dummies out of the pram when an air hostess moves their hand luggage a few metres away to section 29A’
 I said ‘People are so fortunate to be able to go on holidays, they should recognise this and stop acting like they….etc etc.’

Of course I was doing the exact same the whole holiday, moaning about the heat and my lack of ability to order a tapas without embarrassment. There a kids sleeping in refugee camps tonight and I’m having a meltdown because I have to sit under a sun shade and it’s making me sweat. Saying that out loud seems to make perfect sense. I need to get a grip.

Yet I’m tired as well. And I also think that saying things like ‘We should get a grip because we have it pretty good compared to so many in the world’ is a bit arrogant (?) in a way or perhaps untrue. It sounds as if we’re not really that sick or needy and screwed up and under the thumb of oppressive systems which as a Christian I don’t believe. ‘The World’ or Kingdom of Death or however you want to phrase the way Satan works against us is an ever present reality. Just because I don’t live in a country that persecutes or oppresses Christians by throwing them in jail doesn’t meant that we’re not oppressed. Like the sense of hopelessness that I get from absorbing the ways of the world does a pretty good job of robbing me of vitality for life or for serving.

I was thinking about this sense of hopelessness  or why we complain in the face of so much privilege while reading Jacques Ellul.

‘One can prove to the members of our modern societies that our ancestors never enjoyed this much means, freedom, happiness, well-being, available opportunities, long life, culture, pleasure, leisure, communication, and dialogue, but one will never convince the person in our modern society that he is living in a little paradise’

Also:-

‘In the most pacified and guaranteed society which has ever existed, man is living in uncertainty and growing fear. In the most scientific of societies, man is living in the irrational. In the most liberal of societies, man is living ‘repression,’ and even hyper-repression. In a society in which the means of communication are the most highly developed, man is living a sort of phantasmagoria. In a society in which everything is done to establish relationships, man is living in solitude…’

 

 

flying snow

There is sleet sliding down the living room window, wind blowing down the chimney, silence in the house. My thoughts are grim.

There is so much broken around me,broken in me.

Someone called to the house last week, a single parent . Watching him drive off with the kids I thought how black and heart-breaking to loose someone you love but have to carry on, carry on, carry on picking up the pieces carrying on for the kids.

Thinking about it some more there are many single parents in ‘our place’. Then there are those who are currently separated from children not through choice, but because of having to flee persecution in their native land.
Imagine not seeing your children for many years ? Then imagine not being able to afford bring them over when free?
Then you keep picking up other bits of sadness  from an infinite sea and adding them together. Imagine that happening? What if that happened?
Spotting some report about the threat of bird flu on the corner of a website or wondering how we will cope whenever death comes makes me feel ill. Basically it’s scary out there. Basically I wonder how we’ll cope.

I appreciated reading this  Wendell Berry poem the other night in bed and for moment thought about the seeds I plan to plant in the garden come spring.
I’m not sure why the sight of garlic appearing through the water logged soil or imagining the smell of broad beans  calms me a little, but it does.

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Wendell Berry

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‘fear of’ autocomplete

'fear of' autocomplete

Fear.
Fear of abandonment, animals, a blank planet, a black planet.
Fear of buttons, being alone, being sick, birds.
Fear of clowns, crowds, commitment, crime.

Fear.
Fear of death, dying, driving, dentist.
Fear of eating, everything, escalators.
Fear of flying, failure, falling.

Fear.
Fear of God, going outside, growing old, giving birth.
Fear of heights, holes, hospitals, Halloween.
Fear of intimacy, injections, insects.

Fear.
Fear of judgement, jewelry, jellyfish, jumping.
Fear of knees, knives, kettles, kissing.
Fear of long words, loud noises, leaving the house, love.

Fear.
Fear of men, missing out, music, mice.
Fear of needles, numbers, negative evaluation.
Fear of open spaces, open water, odd numbers, octopus.

Fear.
Fear of public speaking, people, pregnancy, pigeons.
Fear of questions, queues, quitting job, quizzes.
Fear of rejection, relationships, rats, rabbits.

Fear.
Fear of spiders, snakes, small holes, sleep.
Fear of the dark, the unknown.
Fear of unknown, underwater, uncertainty, urinating in public.

Fear.
Fear of vomiting, vegetables, veins, velvet.
Fear of water, wind, worms.
Fear of xylophones.

Fear.
Fear of yourself, yellow, youth, yogurt.
Fear of zippers, zebras, zombie apocalypse.

autocomplete anxiety

anxiety

anxiety is a living hell, all in your head, a gift, affecting my work
anxiety is back, bullshit, bad, bad for your health
anxiety is coming back, controlling my life, crippling me, considered disordered
anxiety is destroying my life, destroying my relationship, destroying me
anxiety is exhausting, eating me alive, easy to treat? excitement
anxiety is freedom, fake, fear, fear of the future
anxiety is getting worse, getting out of control, getting the best of me, good
anxiety is holding me back, harmless, horrible, hereditary
anxiety is it a mental illness? is it real? is it hereditary? is it genetic?
anxiety is just a feeling, just a state of mind, just fear? just a bad habit?
anxiety is killing me, keeping me awake at night, keeping me from working, keeping me from school
anxiety is love’s greatest killer, like a rocking chair, living in the future
anxiety is making me ill, making me feel sick, making me suicidal, making me depressed
anxiety is not real, normal, not a sign of weakness, not a mental illness
anxiety is on the rise, OK, often treated with___, out of control
anxiety is pointless, paralyzing me, painful, paralyzing
anxiety is quotes, freedom quote, quiz,questionnaire
anxiety is ruining my life, ruining my life yahoo, ruining my relationship, ruining my health
anxiety is stopping me sleeping, scaring me, stopping me from working, stupid
anxiety is taking over my life, the dizziness of freedom, the handmaiden of creativity, the only real emotion
anxiety is unbearable, uncontrollable, untreatable, unhealthy
anxiety is a vicious cycle, vs depression, vitamins, vomiting
anxiety is worse in the morning, wrecking my life, worse than depression
anxiety is xanax
anxiety is your friend, in your head, yoga, yawning
anxiety is zoloft

the war came down on us here

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The end of Nimmo’s Pier is a nice spot in Galway, you can look up the river towards the town and imagine Christopher Columbus  sailing in and going to St Nicholas’ church all those centuries ago.
Apparently it is all a good place for birdwatching, particularly gulls. Though I’m a bird watcher and admired the oystercatchers and  curlew , I don’t pay particular attention to gulls. But perhaps  now is the time to start. I’m by the sea!
The little lectern at the end of the pier reminds me of pulpit a  minister might use to preach at the city, but instead of holding  sermon notes it holds a bronze plaque dedicated to the poet Louis MacNeice with a poem he wrote on the pier at the start of World War II.

Galway

O the crossbones of Galway
The hollow grey houses,
The rubbish and sewage,
The grass-grown pier,
And the dredger grumbling
All night in the harbour:
The war came down on us here.

Salmon in the Corrib
Gently swaying
And the water combed out
Over the weir
And a hundred swans
Dreaming on the harbour:
The war came down on us here.

The night was gay
with the moon’s music
But Mars was angry
On the hills of Clare
And September dawned
Upon Willows and ruins
The war came down upon us here

don’t be scared

There is a piece of graffiti along the canal in the city that just says ‘Don’t be Scared‘. Don’t be scared is advice that I’ve always found hard to take heed of.
I’m scared of multiple things.

Men seem to either not get scared or else seem reluctant to vocalize the fact that they are fearful of things. Perhaps to admit that we are scared is to say that we don’t have a clue what to do and it puts us in a place where we have to admit that we need a miracle and that we’re not really in control of anything. We’re not sovereign, we’re not God. We don’t really like that.

Yet so many men seem to not stumble at the things that make me stumble that I sometimes wonder if  I’m a faulty model in that I don’t seem to work as reliably as the others. They don’t choke at the vital moments or go missing when needed. Or so it seems.


Perhaps that it why I’ve had this tune by Bell X1 in my head. It seems to vocalize some of the fear of living that I feel.

Will it be a fireball from the sky?
Or will we all take to the bed
Laid low by a new pox?
Or will the wrong guy get the codes?

Whose arms will I seek?
Whose eyes would I meet in the final throws
And say it was good to be human?
To be a human with you here

The world is a scary place and then end will be nigh some time. We can’t keep on running from it. Whose arms will I seek? Whose eyes would I meet in the final throws?

Why, indeed.

x ray eyes s122

The €3 I spent in Galway on an old Penguin copy of ‘How Green was My Valley‘ a few weeks back was probably the best bargain of the year so far. I normally find it hard to get through longer novels but eventually got through this one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s got themes I feel I can relate to (unlike The Great Gatsby to pick a current example).

One of the themes that crops up throughout the book is the theme of religion, especially in relation to the local chapel, deacons and minister Mr Gruffydd.  Although my experience of church going  in Co Tyrone was much less severe, I could relate to certain exchanges in the book such as this one between the narrator of the story, Huw Morgan and Mr Gruffydd. Still to this day I find it hard to shake the  image of people wearing suits or the smell of fear and Hell.

‘You have done much,’ I said, with a loud voice, to try and make up for wants of words just before. ‘Chapel, and sick, and everything, sir.’
‘And everything,’ he said, and laughed. ‘Thank you, Huw. Eh, dear. I thought when I was a young man that I would conquer the world with truth. I thought I would lead an army greater than Alexander ever dreamed of, not to conquer nations, but to liberate mankind. With truth. With the golden sound of the Word. But only a few of them heard the trumpet. Only a few understood. The rest of them put on black and sat in Chapel.’
‘Is it wrong to do that, then, Mr Gruffydd?’ I asked him, and surprised out of voice.
‘Why do you go to Chapel, Huw?’ he asked me, still going on with his work.
‘Because,’ I said, and then I stopped. Why, indeed.
‘Yes,’ he said, and smiling. ‘Because you want to come? Because you like coming? Because your mother and father come? Because your friends are there? Because it is proper to do on a Sunday? Because there is nothing else to do? Because you like the singing? To hear me preach? Or because you would fear a visitation of fire during the week if you stayed away? Are you brought by fear or love?’
‘I am a but surprised, sir,’ I said, and indeed I was dry with it.
‘The questioning of habit is fruitful of surprise, ‘Mr Gruffydd said. Would you fear a bolt of fire on your head, or some  other dire punishment if you stayed away from Chapel without permission?
‘I would a bit, sir, I think,’ I said.
‘So would most of them,’ Mr Gruffydd said. ‘So they are brought to dress in black and flock to Chapel through fear. Horrible, superstitious fear. The vengeance of the Lord. The justice of God. They forget the love of Jesus Christ. They disregard his sacrifice. Death, fear, flames, horror, and black clothes’