Sadness

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Sated? Weary? Enough? Strange meanings for such a short word… and my heart is not in it anyway. The modern (if you call middle English modern) meaning is more than enough (there’s that word again) to carry wearily… ok, that’s it! I am giving up on linguistics for now, before I start agreeing with the definition. I am not in the mood to be cajoled out of what I actually feel, which is sadness.

You see, a friend is moving away for a while. That while is not forever and it is not even a very long time as these things go… what’s a season when time goes so fast I can barely recall where this year is up to?

So one puts on a brave face and talks about this and that because there is always so much to say and never enough time to actually say it and make the connections and explore your own ideas and find common ground and share oddments and tweaks. And one laughs and smiles and generally pays attention because, yes, that’s what this is all about, being present, with your friend and never mind that there are another million things you should be seen as doing.

But then the time is up.

And that while mentioned above is actually starting and it will continue to exist, encompassed in this lifetime, and you can’t really avoid it anymore.

Have you noticed how difficult it continues to be to cry? People might even ask what’s wrong and do you need a counsellor with your fries? No, no, no, better wait until you’re at home…. what? Cry in the bathroom under the shower? How very quaint! Let’s be adult about it, though, and defer all this emotional “stuff” until another time… an appropriate time for sadness… that’s sad, isn’t it?

And then, if you please, one realizes that sadness just is and won’t just go away and saving face by appearing brave serves no one. So one says “I’ll miss you” because really, why not? With whom should I banter over memories of a country I have not actually seen?

I will wait and keep busy and be an adult and all that. Distraction does work and so does social media and email and pictures. I will, as the saying goes, “deal with it” and I will not even need a counsellor.

But, my friend, there are so many things still unsaid… the strangely squat mists over the low lying fields that looked as if a faerie sea is slowly advancing towards you, and then driving through it the car lights make alien circles of pale rainbows and cattle appear like spectres out of the clearly delineated layers of earth, fog, clouds and blue sky… then there’s the realization that cloudy skies are always more interesting than the clear ones, and because of the humidity there’s a much better chance of actually finding that precise shade of blue eyes have… and then there’s that song, Piazzolla’s Oblivion, a saxophone solo you would have enjoyed…

I will need a good memory, to last me a season…

Brain

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Storms are supposed to be rare events in the year. They are not anymore. It does not seem quite so fanciful, after the 10th storm of the summer, to believe that the entire planet has decided that humans are better off kept inside, where they cannot do so much damage. It is, of course, ironic that humans can and do make more damage when they are inside and not in direct contact with nature. It is inside that we seem to forget just how small a piece of nature we actually are. It is inside our cities, our houses, our minds that we believe ourselves stronger than nature.

This is, it seems, how we grow up. It is nurture (for want of a better word) that makes us forget nature. It is our brain, our big, biased, besotted brain that makes us forget ourselves. We are against nature even when we pay it a compliment, for we separate it from ourselves.

Brains are terribly good at doing what they are supposed to do, provided we don’t try to override the rules. Which we do, children of our age as we are. Then, the brain becomes a terrible thing of beautifully articulated destruction.

I get quite passively misanthropic at this stage, usually because I tend to use the brain in the human way and of course there is no hope. Of course there is no way to return to an idealistic and idealized noble savage existence. Of course there is no hope for humanity. How can there be, when I can see and follow the news and read between the lines in serious articles about the desperate state of – insert any subject you can think of here – and it is clear to any logical brain that hope is futile. Resistance is futile. Life itself (as far as humans are concerned) is futile – pun not intended and of quite bad taste, wouldn’t you say?

And yet hope remains, quite aside from the futility that is evident. For truly we are not meant for a life of leisure, it is terrible for our health. 🙂 When all the avenues are closed (by ourselves, of course!) our brain remembers defiance. When one cannot succeed, one eventually finds out (and grumbles about) someone else has an idea that will work. When alone we despair we find that we can sing in unison.

Even more idealistic, do you think? And yet I have seen it, time and again. The best movies we watch are about this – you know the ones I am talking about. The books we read and re-read year after year all talk about this. The revolutions that sweep through nations are all about this.

The reason hope was shut within Pandora’s box (urn, whatever) is because most of the time it is a torment for the brain. It doesn’t allow it to just gorge on sugar and infer stupidity out of mere annoyance. It pushes and prods and chases away all logic. For what is logic other than a tool, and how true that once you have a hammer everything around you seems to become a nail?

The wrench, however, is just near the plier….

Efficient

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I purchased a mushroom growing kit late last year. It had been an idea I had toyed with from time to time but the price for a retail kit was pretty steep for the result indicated, so it was only when I found a cheaper one that I finally gave in. I had partial success but before I could reap the full benefits it started to dawn on me that it wasn’t a very efficient way of doing things.

Let me explain: growing mushrooms in a bag implies several times a day watering despite the fact that outside it’s raining. It is not a difficult chore, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as non-efficient, and that, more than hard work, has the power to stop me in my tracks. Just as an aside, I don’t mind hard work, as long as it’s smart and the results are visible in a reasonable amount of time… or the long term results have good ROI 🙂

I liken this to growing chicks with an incubator: hard work, good results (if not perfect) and cheaper than the other way. What other way? Get a hen, of course! Then and only then, when the hen sits on fertilized eggs, will you figure out how far away from nature (therefore inefficient) incubators are. Not bad, I repeat, but a clumsy attempt at a short cut.

I am not the type of person who advocates a complete return to nature. I like my comforts and am grateful for the era in which we live. But I do like to tweak my life to make it MORE comfortable, and that, ironically, implies getting back to more natural ways. Another personal example: most supermarket soaps, creams, detergents etc. dry and irritate my skin. I could go the standard way and get some more stuff from my doctor to soothe it, instead I chose to go more natural in my cleaning choices and it has become a way of life for me. I am also saving more money than I expected, even with the few products I do buy being more expensive that the standard ones. These choices have also led me to many, mostly happy, mostly cheap experiments: anyone fancy a nice galenical concoction of beeswax, olive oil, rose water or orange blossom water and just a tiny bit of borax to fluff it up? I garden a lot, so that has been my saviour these few years, which reminds me, I need to make another batch!

I hate waste, so re-usable nappies for the little one also struck me as an efficient choice at the time.

The thing that puts most people off doing things efficiently seems to be a higher initial investment cost as opposed to the cost being spread out otherwise. Going back to the cleaning products described above, natural soap is more expensive than the standard one (why, I ask myself sometimes?), beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, flower waters, essential oils, re-usable nappies don’t usually come cheap, instead of opening a jar you actually have to melt the wax in oil, stir in the other ingredients, then stir again until the three, usually incompatible, main ingredients actually agree to stay together. Hard work? I think I mentioned above that I am not afraid of it… and it’s not, just out of our comfort zone. Worth it for me – and it makes nice presents, too 🙂

How about the mushrooms, you might wonder? Plan: invest in some wood chips and a different sort of mushroom (one that prefers the ground as opposed to the trees), mulch a shaded area of my garden that would otherwise remain fallow; inoculate the wood chips with the mushroom; go away and do something else for a while; water the garden as usual or enjoy the rain and let nature do the hard work for me 🙂