It has been a good afternoon. I’m sitting in my room looking out at the pine trees that surround our small house on three sides, like wall paper or green fencing. The wind has been churning through the pines for days blowing the birds off the window ledge when they venture across – small green birds with a gold stripe on the wing, purple-topped blue tits and a territorial rouge gorge – robin.
It has been some time since I sat down to write but today I have been inspired by a number of things, threads that started with Maitreyabhandu’s new pamphlet that arrived in the post yesterday. ‘A Cezanne Haibun’ (Smith Doorstep Books). Its a beautiful object – square, pale green cover, lovely font and numbers. It is a reflection on the work of Cezanne, undertaken on a month’s retreat in a primitive, isolated hut with a walk to a ruined cottage. A Haibun is a text of alternative prose and haiku or ‘haiku-like poems’. Maitreyabhandu writes about Basho – whose Narrow Road to the Deep North was a route that I started to follow in Japan. I didn’t get very far but some of the poems I wrote I rediscovered as a result of reading this today.
Looking on the net for more information about Basho I came across a beautiful blog – ‘Waterblogged: Dry thoughts on Damp Books’. As well as different writing on Basho I found in the side bar an earlier blog about The Little Prince by Sainte Exupery which is a gentle reflection on the story while relating it to the terror attacks in Paris. I have been reading Le Petit Prince in French and in an English translation on my Kindle. My French is still not as good as it should be after seven years living here but my reading is better than speaking or listening. I loved the story and the blog about it too.
I am still working on the long sequence of poems about Robert Knox and have also re-read Katherine Frank’s book about Daniel Defoe and Knox. I have a lot of time because I am not very mobile. and haven’t been for some time but I am not yet utilising this ‘leisure’ in a very productive way.
As a very boring aside, and for the information of people who know the situation, I have finished investigations of my knees and trying to find a solution to the problems I have been having. Basically they don’t work! I have replacement knee joints in both knees but after three years I have a lot of pain and increasingly very little mobility. I was sent for investigation in Caen – something called a scintigraphy – I had an injection of nuclear something that shows up areas of problem. It showed plenty of places where I had arthritis but nothing showed on the knees leaving us all with no idea really what should happen next. The situation is that we will re-investigate in 6 months time but to my relief there is no immediate revision operation – this is long, painful and not guaranteed to be successful. In view of my age and how many prosthetics I have acquired the surgeon is hesitant in view of the lack of definite evidence of failure of the joints.
I am left with the need to ‘manage’ my condition. Phil is starting a course of acupuncture which is helping to move the energy round my legs and tomorrow we are going to look at a second hand automatic chair which is a help to rising and standing. I am trying to pace myself and to change from walking, sitting and standing activities regularly. There are a range of ‘aids’ on line that also will help. I need to lose a substantial amount of weight and to eat sensibly! Ha!
Sorry for this very boring ‘let me tell you about my operation’ but now seems a good time to update people and also to celebrate in writing the fact that I am feeling optimistic and much less stressed than I have been for quite a long time.
I have been so happy to read the new ‘A Cezanne Haibun’. In lots of ways it is very relevant. Maitreyabhandu is one of my favourite poets and critics and I also have an on-going reading of his Bhuddist book ‘The Journey and the Guide’. One of those books that is down-to -earth and yet uplifting – in the sense of Kei Miller’s upfullness. It is a guide to Buddhism but it uses poems, anecdote and metaphor to lay out the journey. I am very into journey at the moment – as some lines from my recent pamphlet length poems indicate;
I need to find the heart of things; wood
through mud walls, structures holding up the house.
The road is short now, corners more extreme.
I would have liked this blog to have been more lyrical and poetic but that is not how it has come out! It has been good though to share with everyone what is happening after the anxiety of the last three months since I had my knee collapse on Christmas Eve. I feel I am in a good space now and that I can concentrate on my writing, enjoy ‘managing’ my condition and express the gratitude I feel for the richness of my life in spite of its physical limitations.
Our super new red car is an automatic and I can drive it for limited distances and hope to increase my range over time. I have a wonderful kinetherapist who is also my friend and counsellor – she is a gifted physiotherapist and also a musician and a very creative person. I am blessed in my friends – my French teacher Eliane is a painter and teaches me with enthusiasm and creative approaches and our little Quaker group is a source of energy and blessing. As always close friends who write are my source of both inspiration and support.
Phil is endlessly patient and supportive – I couldn’t manage without him and we have lots of good times together. His vegetables, and this year fruit, and the beginning of an orchard are brilliant and we have nodding – at the moment thrashing- daffodils, tulips and wallflowers in lots of pots all up the garden path.
How lovely it is to live in silence and space, to be able to look out at the night sky and enjoy the birds and trees. I feel a very blessed person. My next blog will be rigorously reasoned, intellectual and poetic but I have really enjoyed this opportunity to express my gratitudes – as Jo Bell would put it. I hope you will enjoy reading them.