I have just been watching the most beautiful sunset I have seen in weeks. A ferry, all lit up, came in the mouth of the harbour. I am so fortunate to have this aspect from where I write. It is perfect for the winter solstice. It is perfect in summer.
I have just read an article on medium.com. A man writes that life is not for happiness, but for being useful to others and that in being useful, happiness is found.
I have written this many times, and it is refreshing to read someone else writing it.
I have felt a great many things since the diagnosis which affects my breathing. I have felt so unattractive, helpless, frustrated, all of the negative feelings a person can feel. All these, though, resolve into knowing that I have helped a great many people during my life.
I am grateful for this. I may never be happy again, or loved, but I know I have helped people.
I am recovering well now after a nasty chest infection/pneumonia. I’m also feeling better after some insanity.
My ex was here for Christmas along with my daughter. He told me he would get me some groceries on Boxing Day. I phoned at around midday to say what I would like but he did not arrive. It was fairly ok, as I spent a long time napping and resting, and drank more milkshakes.
Today, I felt a bit hungry, so I sent a text to my ex. After a while I phoned. It gradually dawned on me that I was repeating a behaviour and expecting to get a different result. This is also known as insanity. So I phoned a friend who works near the High Street, and this led, in a roundabout way, to another friend offering to bring my groceries tomorrow as he and his family are out of town until the morning. It’s cool. I’ve eaten some cake and as my tummy has shrunk anyway, I’m not particularly hungry.
Why is my ex like this? I cannot explain. There are things I could say, but I know that there are some people who know him who read this, and it wouldn’t be fair. He is practicing a twelve step programme and failing miserably. And that causes misery to those who know him. And I should know better than to trust him, because what seems a good idea to him on one day may well be a very bad idea to him the next. This is what he has become, in one way or another, since we divorced. We used to be able to meet for a coffee. Not anymore.
Physically, I am much better to day than I was yesterday. My temperature has gone, my tummy has settled, and since arranging my groceries, I am now calm and cheerful. I will have a relatively early night. Yesterday evening, my body was achy and tired, but that has passed.
1 medium carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick half-moons (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4″ strips (about 2 cups)
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 (3″) cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 medium tomato, sliced (about 1 cup)
Green or red Somali hot sauce, such as BasBaas, coriander , lime wedges, and sliced banana (for serving)
A spice mill or mortar and pestle
Make the Xawaash Spice Mix:
Toast cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned and aromatic, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.
Grind cinnamon mixture in spice mill or with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Sift through a fine-mesh sieve back into bowl, then regrind any coarse spices. Stir in turmeric and transfer to an airtight jar.
Make the stew and rice:
Place rice in a large bowl or saucepan and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium. Add half of onion and half of garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning soften, about 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. xawaash spice mix and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add beef and tomato paste, stir to combine, then pour in 3 cups water. Cover and cook until beef is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add potatoes, carrot, and bell pepper and continue to cook, thinning with water if needed, until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through, about 15 minutes more. Season with 1 Tbsp. salt.
Meanwhile, drain soaked rice. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in another large saucepan over medium. Add remaining onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and remaining 3 garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato and cook until tomato is cooked through and begins to break down, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook until lightly fried, about 5 minutes.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add boiling water, 2 Tbsp. xawaash spice mix, and remaining 2 tsp. salt to rice mixture and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff rice gently with a fork.
Divide rice mixture among bowls. Spoon stew over, then top with hot sauce, cilantro, lime wedges for squeezing over, and bananas alongside.
Xawaash spice mix can be made 2 months ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 6 months. Stew and rice can be made 3 days ahead. Chill separately in airtight containers, or freeze up to 6 months.
Well, Christmas and my birthday are done for a year, though I celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. I used to do this by giving my daughter small gifts each day of the twelve days. I felt it was less anti-climatic.
I hope all of you have enjoyed the festivities of your faith.
A number of years ago, I posted some of my essays on Medium.com. It was just a place I could keep them, and a number of people read them. A month or so ago, a poet acquaintance mentioned that she was posting on Medium and invited people to follow her. I checked out Medium.com again and found there was a greater diversity of subjects. I made public my essays and have put a few more there.
To my amazement, a couple of my essays have been listed as ‘Recommended Reading’. I can scarcely believe this. And some of my responses to other’s essays have been well received.
I can barely take this in. Yes, I have Ph.d, but I got it a long time ago. But people are interested in my views.
I’m really sorry that I haven’t visited as many blogs as I normally do in the last couple of weeks. I have been writing essays and Christmas shopping, and getting pneumonia.
Yesterday, my daughter arranged Christmas, but was staying at her boyfriend’s place. I had run out of food for the rest of the day today, apart from dinner. Almost all my nearby friends had shipped out to their Christmas destinations, the rest of my friends are a distance that would make getting me some things very inconvenient. I could have asked the girl who lives nextdoor (the good side), but I had seen her earlier in the day, when I wished her a merry Christmas and she was in her dressing gown, probably planning a day of blobbing and pampering. So I did what I never do. I contacted my ex-husband and asked him. I got the response which is the reason I don’t contact him. No.
In times gone by, if I thought I might ask my ex to help with anything, I would lie down until the thought went away. He will not do anything unless it is his idea. So I’ve eaten the house bare, and am hungry. Because I have a chest infection, with fever, and a slightly upset tummy I could not face going out myself. I have been drinking milkshakes to keep myself feeling ‘full’.
I could kick myself for asking him. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting a different result.
We used to have a lot in common. But now we differ quite a bit. He uses the Twelve Step Program as a tool for self growth. I see him shrinking, not growing. There are parts of the program that are very open to interpretation. One is that you look after yourself first. This is not wrong, after all we cannot save a drowning person if we have cramp, or cannot swim ourselves. But another part of the program talks about gratitude. To me, expressing gratitude is sharing what I have, or doing someone a favour. I’m not certain how my ex expresses gratitude now, but I suspect it is charitable donations. But to me, what is the point of charitable donations if you can’t take a ten minute walk and get your ex-wife, who raised your daughter alone, some food?
I’m not writing this to expose how unkind he is, but to show my insanity and the different way we perceive life.
We always used to have an open house. If friends were round and it came to a meal time, we’d invite them to eat with us. We invited lots of people for meals. We offered hospitality to people we’d started talking to on a ferry or plane.
I like to do this still. In the summer I took lunch to a young guy I’d befriended who worked in a store alone. It gave me pleasure.
Tonight is the first Christmas Eve that I don’t have any traditional German biscuits and cakes. I feel a bit sad, but that isn’t what Christmas is about, and I won’t die without them.
I was really touched and overwhelmed when Maja nominated me for this award. When I started, three years ago, I only wanted to write my thoughts and discoveries with two difficult diagnoses. Now I have for new friends, people who inspire me, and a voice to reach out to others.
Thank you again Maja. I think anyone who blogs needs to be honest, saying it as it is. And bloggers need interaction with other bloggers, for comfort, inspiration, and refreshment.
I’m doing this with pneumonia and no tech know how.
We’ve all been let down, right? And it can leave us feeling all range of emotions from slight annoyance to complete devastation.
It tends to leave us feeling unworthy of someone’s time, or lonely, angry, disappointed, and low self esteem.
Don’t let it!! No, the person who let you down, let themselves down much more than you.
Last weekend, I was going to go to the next county with some friends. I arranged to go some of the way by bus, and I fixed with another friend to leave my trolley in the foyer of his flats and be picked up from there by the friends I was going with. The guy with the foyer doesn’t have a phone, so I was to message him on facebook and he would meet my bus.
On the day, I felt a bit tired and out of sorts, so I cancelled with my friends and sent a message to the foyer friend. I kept checking to see if he’d opened it as I did not want him wandering around bus stops. He read it at about 5.30pm and replied ‘OK’. I was a bit puzzled, and replied that I was relieved I had not gone as I would have been stranded with my trolley. His reply was, ‘No harm done.’
‘No? I trust you less. I highly value the trust of my friends’ was my answer.
People who let you down rob themselves. They go down in your esteem, they lose your trust, they may not get a reference. It is nothing to do with you.
In the last year, ever since my sister was dying, people have let me down. While my sister was so desperately ill, I realised how much a vicar had been imposing his will on me and manipulating me. My realisation made me feel ill. With hindsight, his control of me is frightening. I had to get him out of my life. It has been so much better. He caused me anxiety, made me feel guilty, almost like an abusive marriage.
Others have let me down and they are people I need to continue to relate to. The dynamics don’t need to change that much if you both have the emotional literacy to talk about it. If that is not there, one just has be patient and hopeful that they can realise the hurt they caused. I have someone who was supposed to come to me for a holiday. She has let me down. I am related to her and love her, but need to wait for her to realise.
My biggest disappointment this year was Mike Ebsworth. He has always known my health was poor. To tell me I had set my sights on him to be my cleaner, cook, and nurse. He let himself down for thinking that’s all I wanted him for, when I had fallen in love him when he came back to see me, and me, for not being honest with himself.
Yesterday the pain in my shoulder was really bad, so I contacted a friend and told him I wouldn’t be able to go with him to an event today. Then last night, I felt so much better I arranged to go again. This morning I woke, did some stuff and then contacted David again to say I wouldn’t be coming after all. I feel rubbish. The irritation on my face has broken out again. I can’t explain how low it makes me feel.
I always do feel blue in the weeks before Christmas, except for when my daughter was younger. I watch the sun rise and set in the same place, and the knowledge that the days will soon start getting longer comforts me.
This time last year, I was grief stricken after the death of my sister, and then my dog. And I was involved with man who would turn out to be the cause of so many negative things in my life. This year, 2019, has been an awful year on the whole.
So I haven’t done anything I had planned this weekend. I had wanted to get German food for Christmas – cakes and biscuits. Traditional at this time of year. I haven’t spoken to anyone except on the phone.
I don’t know if I will post a blog again this year. I just want to spend time with my daughter and friends, my chosen family.
I had wanted to write about my ex husband. I don’t want to name him for lots of reasons, but mainly because he has remained single and when I see him looks unkempt.
We married for love, we really did love each other a great deal. Things started to go wrong when I was expecting my daughter. He changed completely. Once he deliberately knocked me to the floor. Thankfully, I landed on my back so Lara was not harmed. Another time, he was cross with me and pushed me onto our bed and started bouncing me up and down. I was terrified.
After our baby was born, he believed everyone’s opinion about babies except mine. And my friends began noticing how he undermined me and my maternal instincts. By the time my daughter was two, I had to divorce him. I did not want my daughter with unhappy parents.
Today has been sunny and cold. Yesterday we had torrential rain and gales. Tomorrow is a full moon.
In fourteen days time we will have two more minutes of light. That is why it was chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus. It is also my birthday, and since my family stopped returning to Germany for Christmas, I so disliked my birthday until I learned this fact.
That we get two more minutes of light on my birthday makes me feel so much better about a birthday that gets lost in the Christmas celebrations. In Germany, gifts are exchanged on the 24th so my birthday was separate.
I have identified the pain in my shoulder. When I type I rest my arm on cushion, and the pain is like a repetitive strain injury, but in my shoulder. Now that it’s getting better, I can feel the muscles in my shoulder moving. Fortunately, I now only use my laptop for emails, as it is still not working. Everything else I do is on my phone.
So I can reduce the amount of emailing I do, well not really, but I can make more phone calls in reply to emails, unless I want a record of what is said.
I had intended to go to support a friend who had entered a poetry slam competition, last night. The weather was so bad that I could not go without getting drenched. This morning I asked her how it went, and she said she felt it was a popularity competition, more than a slam competition. This is exactly what I had feared. And my friend doesn’t speak with glottal stops, or ain’t andbruvver. and other slang associated with it. I do enjoy slam poetry and know a few people who do it very well. I just tend to think one is good at one type of poetry or another. One day, though, I will write a slam poem just for the exercise. It’s good for writers to move out of their comfort zone. Hang on, writers don’t have comfort zones. We are on the outside looking in.
So, in this darkness of winter, while the sun sets in almost the exact place that it rises, I shall enjoy my sleep at night, and look forward to less pain in my shoulder.