Days of fog and porridge

Not “days of thunder”; swirling rafts of dank grey fog twist around me today, forcing lights and wakeful driving. Blue is peeping through the cloud edges slowly.

It’s been a week with the consistency of cold porridge.  The sort that is water and basic oats, no syrup, no milk, sets like concrete in stomach and saucepan.

A feeling word picture.  I’m on sertraline, an anti depressant, for the next few months.  I am so suprised at the back up it is giving me.  A lift sufficient that I walk to work, train in the gym and pool and am rebuilding my relationship with God who needs to be the most important person in my life.  And is the one I treat the worst sometimes!

Transparency forces me to admit that the first few weeks felt dreadful.  Dry mouth, queasy stomach, anxious, and very sleepy – with a brain feeling like scrambled egg.

It kicked in after 3 solid weeks.  Sufficient for a job interview, for smiling with, enough for me to forget that social overindulgence is my downfall still!  I need to learn to rest and slow life a little. I’d forgotten how normal it feels to wake up after a good night and not pace around in the morning to stay the ridiculous tears that are drawn like rising sap.  Not life giving just depression’s unexpected downside.  Costa coffee has probably survived without my Sunday morning attendance.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I remember being told that Christians shouldn’t need anti-depressants and well meaning folk may tell you not to take them.  I take an inhaler for asthma.  I’ve not heard anyone tell me it is a slur on my faith to want to use medicinal support for fairly inadequate lungs.  Medicated, I have walked mountain ridges even if they are what another friend calls “practice mountains”

I am happy to concur with my doctor’s advice and co-operate.  My only regret is the stubborn heart that thought I could do it by myself and was too proud to ask for help.

The city and the city

Last night I watched the first installment of BBC2’s dramatisation of China Mieville’s interesting, thought provoking and thoroughly weird book “the city and the city” We read it in bookclub and it provoked discussion!  It’s fair to say that I watched the drama and wondered what on earth I would make of it if I hadn’t read the book.  I’d really love to hear from anyone who did see it and hasn’t read it first.

A dark view of two “cities”  One shiny and modern, one seedy, heavy with some kind of political thought police.  A time warp of old phones and tech, peeling posters and cheap suits, heavy with smoke.  The background blurs and it’s not my eyes – citizens must “unsee” the other city which co-exists within their own. Great characters, interesting plot – I’m looking forward to next week.

In bookclub we reflected that we often “unsee” things. I know that applies to the homeless in society, but maybe I’m guilty of unseeing people I don’t know how to relate to as well.  People who serve? TV news – too awful?.  It’s easy to walk around in my own headspace, ignoring what is under my nose.



The other one in the book

A while ago on a sleepy morning I read through the bible book of Ruth.  At work, with a machine coffee, truly early, with the rest room quietly humming with conversation around me.  It had occurred to me that I only read the book through the lens of Ruth, the main character in the plot.  It’s a bit like the film “the other Boleyn girl” – all eyes on the famous one! So, as I thought she might have something to say to me in the depths of feeling truly grotty, I read through the filter of Naomi, (her mother in law) I read it in a snappy translation so it felt like any everyday read for me.  I made a few notes and found to my suprise that I could see God doing things for Naomi that I hoped he might do for me – provide, care, strenghten.  And then I went to work and left the notes for a while! (quotes from the “Message” version of the bible)

“Naomi left home to live in a different place.  Maybe she discussed it with her husband and sons, maybe she was just swept along in a patriarchal culture.  Gone to the place of an enemy nation, yet she settled, raised sons with or without her husband’s support following his death.  Did she start to lose her hope then, only to have it briefly revive on the boys’ marriages? Her sons die too.  That’s triple tragedy sufficient to knock anyone’s faith and spirit.  She says God “has dealt her a hard blow, a bitter pill to swallow”, yet her daughters in law see something of the God of grace and love in her – they offer to stay and accompany her.  Openly affectionate and grateful, aware of how the daughters in law have loved her sons. She’s honest and realistic about her age, marriage prospects and status in life.  Attractive enough in character that her daughters in law cling to her weeping.

She calls herself “bitter” – I think she is depressed, sad and I can see why.  Knocked sideways at all the losses. She says she “left (home) full of life and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back” “The strong one has ruined me”. Angry, yes, bitter at God, yes. So honest that she doesn’t varnish or hide her feelings.

God provides – through a devoted daughter in law’s work, provision of left over lunches, conversation, grain for bread.  Naomi perks up “God hasn’t quite walked out on us – he still loves us, in bad times as well as good” Ruth is safe and provided for; being in the “house of bread” is good for her. Naomi’s got her strength back – she’s planning and scheming for Ruth’s future happiness – and even perhaps for her own provision and care.  A good man is in the picture.  The women have an open, warm, friendly relationship.  Even so Naomi hasn’t totally run out of resources – selling land that she still owns.  Ruth and husband provided for her, produce an heir – a role, warmth, a future and a hope for Naomi, who dotes on the baby boy like every good granny should!


I’ve just read “Sealskin” a beautiful, un-put-downable book by Su Bristow.  It defies classification – “magical” is one that is useful, “fantasy” is probably a little strong.  It’s based on a Scottish tale of a seal maiden who leaves her sealskin behind to dance on land, captivating a young man into an uncharacteristic act which has life altering potential.  I’m trying hard not to give away the plot, in case you might wish to read it!  I would suggest that reading the afterword of the legend of the “selkies” or seal people is one way of ensuring the ending doesn’t come as a shocking surprise.  Then again, it does slightly spoil the tale if you do.

The writing is smooth and drew me into the world of water, sea and rocks.  And the close knit community of a scottish fishing village, suffocating, alienating, welcoming by turns.  The suspiciousness of change and the hardened perceptions of “outsiders” ring true to me as someone from a fairly small town.  Rumours and gossip, fights and feuds pepper the narrative along with detailed descriptions of nature and the hard but satisfying crofting/fishing way of life.  Weaving through is the character of Donald the young man, an outsider, an introvert, a man painfully not at home in his own itchy skin.  He’s so honest: it is difficult to watch with him in his choices and decisions.  His growth into a man of warmth and strength through the events of the book is it’s charm and attraction for me – integrated into his community, loved and well taught by his choices and the deftly drawn family and villagers who inhabit the tale.

The other main character’s strength and joy, vulnerable childlike simplicity and ability to teach the observation of heart and intent makes this just such a lovely read.  I bought it on a whim and I am so glad I have done so.

The maths of cake

I’ve struggled with maths and numbers all my life.  I remember extra maths during playtime – hundreds tens and units instead of running amok.  No way to sell the idea to an active child. And extra coaching.  A variety of maths teachers and a mum whose brain is a calculator.

Result = fear cubed

And maths avoidance.  Oh I passed my O levels due to a good teacher fortunately who taught bits of maths like matrices and vectors which are visual and made sense.

In this job I have a colleague who teaches by learning style.  So, this visual learner, with a passion for having my cake and very definitely eating it, has finally learned fractions.  By adding and subtracting “virtual” cake slices.  I have even bought a children’s visual maths book.  All proving that you are never too old to learn something new, and that trying to cut cake into 20 virtual pieces is a challenge!!!


Outside is a shaken snow dome of whirling flakes which drift by the window, like dandelion seeds blown by the wind. The flat roof opposite pools; the flakes don’t have a chance to settle down.  Sat at the laptop, I’m staring into white world, feeling a little frustrated by making applications for jobs, each interview a hope – life seems a little like waiting on hold to pay a bill: you are never quite sure when you will get through – so you drink coffee, read, do whatever you can – while listening on repeat.

An endless cycle.

Last year I planted daffodils, a promise of Spring, expecting tall golden yellow on green. But find I have tiny, resilient, jaunty ones, jutting their noses above the pinkish terracotta pots. At first I was disappointed, but their cheerful optimism seems good to me. I find a little optimism and cautious resilience returning too.

Not without medication though.

I’ve spent my life avoiding the stuff.  I have battled and fought, learning how to stay healthy. But I’m surprised – they seem to provide a scaffolding; like the cage of hoops and pins around a badly broken leg; much less visible thankfully. I’m grateful though I can’t see a way forward yet – just the green tips of new plants – a contract extension. A little more pay.

Just enough to make me feel less abandoned, a tiny bit more hopeful and secure.

Snow day

blogging on a phone is hard work. Today I tried to use the Library computer but it annoyingly crashed and lost the blog and also the plot. Snow days have meant the repair man and I haven’t managed to get the laptop sorted. However I do have a working boiler. Apparently its got electrical tape around a vital part until a new bit comes in. I’m just grateful it works as it chose to crash when outside was minus 5…swearing over toast while wearing your

jacket is not a good start to the day . But I did get a chance to play…making a snowman that looked more like an igloo. Crafted with chunky bits of ice and it served to rescue the poor daffodils. Walking to the canal first thing I watched black headed gulls in full summer chocolate hood plumage skating for the olympics on the frozen water. After about an hour and a half I found exe coffee roasters for toffee and winter treacle tasting cappuccino. And a croissant because they were fresh and filled the little shop with warm toasty smells. The other two customers and I left a wet trail of snowy prints along the worn board floor. I get out the habit of savouring things so it’s good to keep trying!! I’m reading Richard Templars the rules of life. It’s a book that feels like secular proverbs as much as self help. Kind of observations on the way the world operates and good values to treasure and practice. we had a sermon on bible wisdom and someone quoted a lady who read self help books on holiday because she wanted to keep learning. I’m finding it fascinating and a great way to start a dialogue with what I think from a bible background. That’s a bit clumsy and pretentious..i just like being made to think about life and how to do stuff well.