Being sick with a bad dose of cold or flu is not at all what I need at the moment but sick I am. While nursing my cold with hot soup and herbal tea, I am trying hard not to self-pity for there is no one to hear me complaining, although deep down in my heart there is a longing for the time past when there was one faithful person so dear and so near who would have nursed me through any illness so tenderly.
Feeling lethargic, I am content to stay indoors but too tired to even hold the paintbrush let alone thinking of what to paint yet so many images passing through my head but capturing them is quite impossible.
What to read? My head and eyes are heavy with a cold that is hard to concentrate on any book. From an old radio the music of ABC classic FM help soothing the discomfort as I sit on my worn armchair staring out through the large sliding window at my little backyard, finding my heart sings with the loving memory of when he built this garden for me: humble in size yet rich in the effort of how it tried to survive through the last few years.
*“… Power sows in the depths of my heart, and I reap and gather in the grain, bestowing it lavishly upon the starving. Spirit revives this small vine, and I crush its bunches of grapes and pour out the juice for the thirsty…….. Human beings cling to matter that is as cold as snow whereas I seek the flame of love so that I might place it in my breast, where it will devour my ribs and destroy my insides, For I have discovered that matter kills painlessly, but love revives us through torments…”
I open my eyes and wondering where I am or what time of the day it is? Oh yes, I am having a bad cold and my head is spinning…
A 2.5 acres of landscaped garden with hundreds varieties of roses that suitable for Seattle climate, and being a pesticide-free garden, the gorillas of the nearby zoo can enjoy the gourmet treats of the spent flowers.
This beautiful rose garden is within ten minutes walk from where I stayed. It is not only a sanctuary for the birds and the bees but it is a great place for me just to sit and contemplate, letting each breathing to exhale and inhale the perfume fragrance of the roses, a perfect place for daydreaming!
“All things uncomely and broken, all thing worn out and old – The cry of a child by the road way, the creak of a lumbering cart – The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould – Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deep of my heart.
The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told – I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart – With the earth, the sky and the water, re-made like a casket of gold – For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deep of my heart” W.B.Yeats
Again on the beach today when the sun appeared only briefly. Alone as always I thought of painting, the little sand dune looked inviting but the clouds that also inspired me, and I loved clouds! The day was cold and the beach looked deserted, I imagined that I was the only one standing on this shore until the seagulls landed searching for tasty morsels among the pearly shards. On this lonely margin of the sea I thought of you…
The unseasonal warm weather of late autumn added with term one school holiday seen a lot of people down on the beach, the sea is perhaps warmer than even in the middle of summer. It is good to see everyone enjoying the day. I walked along the long sandy beach thinking of you, looking for your footsteps on the lovely white sand. It’s two long years since you left me, sometimes I felt as though it was only yesterday and there wasn’t a day going by that I did not think of you and not a night that I did not miss you.
The gentle autumn’s breeze blowing gently was a relief from the full sun and warm sand, hearing the children’s laughter reminded me of our grandchildren and that last summer when they played on this beach with you, the image I saw so often in my dream.Things that were so real could no longer be real again thus in dream I dwelled only to wake with the aching pain to find you are no longer. I tried not to miss you but I missed you all over again just at the thought of it. I saw the shooting star last night on my walk after having dinner with some friends, I made your favourite dish and my friends enjoyed it.
I went to sleep dreaming it was your spirit that smiled on me. This morning the sun rises and I wake up to a future with blessings that I once had you in my life.
“This is the most controlled floral I’ve done in a while. I loved the streak of the blue-purple amethyst that’s like a butterfly in the night. And alone in the night garden I sat thinking of you. The summer evening filled with sweetness while the heat of the day turned my hydrangea all brown. Iris was also your favourite flower as with yellow rose and red cyclamen and many more. So when I happened to paint them you entered my thoughts, and I felt so alone without you. No hand to hold or even just to touch the tips of your fingers. Here in the night with the moon and the stars, I sat alone in my garden…”
Early Saturday morning checking in with Qantas at Melbourne airport, the ground staff had my wheelchair ready. Although my knee was a lot better after many physiotherapy sessions, I could not face walking at the airport with heavy bags less I should miss a step and would do more damage to it. The wheelchair was a better option and no, my knee was not totally back to normal by any mean and yes, it could stay like that for sometimes according to the therapist.
The Qantas staff who operated the wheelchair was a handsome young man. He might even be younger than my son, but I was very impressed with his politeness and courteous manner. At the X ray security check, the operator demanded that I should take my shoes off while it was okay for me to stay sitting on the wheelchair, even though I was ready to stand up and walk through the X ray portal, but she insisted that was no need, only that I had to take off my cardigan. Well, my young man had to help me pull off my cardigan, unzipped my ankle boots, took them off my feet then wheeled me through the doorway.
I felt a little embarrassed and sorry for the young man even if it was for him just a job like any others, especially when he was patiently getting down on one knee putting my feet back into my boots, gently zipped them up, then wheeled me to the Qantas lounge. Where I sat, almost crying thinking of my husband and remembered all the tender caring attentiveness he had bestowed on me for all the years we had together.
One thing I was so glad about, was that I did not have to walk through the terminal with my heavy cabin bag among an unusual crowded airport on the day, the traffic of humans and their wheeled cases was terrifying.
Boarding the A380 airbus was a long boring process and more so when the plane was full. “Champagne or orange juice?” I just wanted a glass of cold water and was ready to nod off. After a long while, the plane started to move away from the gate, only when it was about a hundred metres away, the engine stopped. For a few long second, suddenly not a sound, everyone stopped talking, a total silence that was quite strange and almost eerie until the captain’s voice announced that the plane lost power and we had to move back to the gate for some adjustment.
At the gate we were (over 300 of us) patiently staying in our seats for what it seemed an eternity for about forty minutes before the monotonous engine sound started to hum again and then we were on our way but not before our turn to wait on the runway for taking off. Altogether we were delayed for about an hour out of our schedule fortunately I did have plenty of time to connect with my flight to Seattle.
I knew it would be a long thirteen hours flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles, but trying to relax even in business class did not come easily. The novel “I Am Pilgrim” helped keeping my mind off the slowness of time from sitting in one’s restricted space. I admired the power of surrendering and acceptances from the travel discomfort demonstrated by my neighbour: After devouring small portions of three-course meal and exactly nine glasses between the French champagne, sauvignon blanc from Adelaide Hill and Penfolds shiraz, she settled down to a goodnight sleep until to wake five hours later and started all again at breakfast. I was grateful she did not snore.
It was my loss that I had no appetite because Australian chef Neil Perry put together a delicious in-flight menu, but all I could consume were a small plate of fresh fruit and a sandwich for my dinner. Sleep never came easily to me either, an hour here and there scattered throughout the night as I turned to “I Am Pilgrim” for distraction, that I must say it was great reading if you try not dwelling into the descriptions of violence. I enjoyed Terry Hayes’ style of writing very much.
Los Angeles was an enormously large and busy airport that’s beyond my comprehension, yet every little details seemed to function so effortlessly where everyone knew what each had to do. I was wheeled from Qantas airplane after landing, to US custom, collecting luggage, transiting to another terminal by shuttle bus and boarding a domestic flight to Seattle, with such ease not by one but five different people who knew exactly what to do while maintaining good humour and pleasantness, which left me such a warm feeling in believing the world is a good place to be if one cared to travel outside our comfort zone.
By the time I was in my seat on the Alaskan airline 737, another packed plane, my body and mind were ready to collapse from the tiredness that started almost a whole day ago. It seemed like hours that the plane was travelling on the runway and while I was slipping in and out between sleeping and waking I dreamt that I was on a plane travelling on a huge and very wide road to Seattle, its wings were swaying from side to side, trying to avoid hitting the trees lining on both sides… The announcement from the cockpit woke me up, and then within second I was back in oblivion until the plane landed at Tacoma International Airport.
When I was able to hug my daughter and the grandchildren and only then that I realised why I have made that long journey, there is something that one just had to do to reach the reward of being able to hold my family in my arms, smother them with kisses then all my discomfort and tiredness were eliminated…
A brilliant spring day today around Chelsea beach seemed to erase the winter blue away, but which already started to change as the day moved on with some dark clouds and may even rain. I went down to the beach for my morning walk and ended with these snapshots.Extract from a novel by Guy de Maupassant which I reread siting on (our) favourite bench, and which I’d like to share with you:
“… A free and charming life began for her. She wandered along the roads in dreaming spirit, or else frolicking down the little valleys winding paths which covered with a fleece of gorse blossoms, the strong sweet odour of which intoxicated her like a perfumed wine, while the distant sound of the waves rolling onto the shore seemed to rock her spirit…
She felt herself becoming mad with happiness. A delirious joy, an infinite tenderness at the splendour of nature that drowned her fluttering heart. It was her sun! Her dawn! The beginning of her life! The high expectation of her hopes! She reached out to the radiating space with a desire to kiss the sun, she wanted to speak, to shout some soothsayer at the outbreak of the day, but she remained paralyse in the helpless enthusiasm. So, resting her forehead in her hands, she felt her eyes filled with tears and she wept deliciously…
And this would continue forever in the serenity of an enduring affection. It seemed suddenly she felt he was there, next to her; an unusual sensation overcame her, running through from head to toes. She squeezed her arms against her chest as though hugging her dream, and on her lip offering into the unknown, some strange feeling made her feel almost faint, as if the breath of spring was given a kiss of love…”
“…Une vie charmante et libre commença pour elle. Elle errait a pas lents le long des routes, l’esprit parti dans les rêves, ou bien elle descendait en gambadant, les petites vallées tortueuses dont les deux croupes portaient, comme une chape d’or, une toison de fleurs d’ajoncs. Leur odeur forte et douce, exaspérée par la chaleur, la grisait à la façon d’un vin parfumé et au bruit lointain des vagues roulant sur une plage, une houle berçait son esprit.
Elle se sentait devenir folle de bonheur. Une joie délirante, un attendrissement infini devant la splendeur des choses noya son cœur qui défaillait. C’était son soleil! son aurore! le commencement de sa vie! le lever de son espérances. Elle tendit les bras vers l’espace rayonnant, avec une envie d’embrasser le soleil; elle voulait parler, crier quelque chose de divin comme cette éclosion du jour, mais elle demeurait paralysée dans un enthousiasme impuissant. Alors, posant son front dans ses mains, elle sentit ses yeux pleins des larmes et elle pleura délicieusement.
Et cela continuerait indéfiniment, dans la sérénité d’une affection indestructible. Et il lui sembla soudain qu’elle le sentait là, contre elle; et brusquement un vague frisson de sensualité lui courut des pieds à la tête. Elle serra ses bras contre sa poitrine, d’un mouvement inconscient, comme pour étreindre son rêve; et sur sa lèvre tendue vers l’inconnu quelque chose passa qui la fit presque défaillir, comme si l’haleine du printemps lui eut donné un baiser d’amour…”
In the morning walk on the first day of spring, gentle sunlight sparkled through branches and leaves, though the air was a little chilly still I was happy enjoying the fresh outdoor. Again I saw you in my dream that was ever so real. I would have scolded you for leaving me as I used to but instead, I thank you for being with me even just in spirit, so that I will never be lonely continuing on my journey in life, and only for you I would grow summer flowers to see another spring.
“… When winter’s cold wind and rain no more,
When the first lonely butterfly flits on the wing,
When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasing,
O then comes the bluebird, the herald of spring,
And hails with his warbling, the charms of the season.
He drags the vile grub from the corn it devours,
The worms from the webs where they riot and welter;
Words that depicted the scene of this painting or was it my painting being inspired by these words that stirred my heart and soul? Whichever, I cannot live without neither.
“…That was at that sober hour when the light of day is receding. And from surrounding things the hues wherewith day has adorned them. Fade like the hopes of youth, till the beauty of earth is departed. Pensive, thought or not in thought I stood, beholding mountain and lake and vale; the valley disrobed of its verdure. Under the woods reposed; the hills that calm and majestic, lifted their heads in the silent sky… Earth was hushed and still; all motion and sound were suspended: Neither man was heard, bird, beast, nor humming of insect. Pensive I stood, and alone: the hour and the scene had subdued me…” R. Southey
… And as I gazed in the west, where infinity seemed to be open, I felt as though this life is not a “thraldom” as felt by Mr Southey, but it is heaven on earth…