Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A sad summer

In the last few months there has been so much sadness. I suppose, living in a retirement complex, just one step removed from an old age home I should expect it.  After all it is the period of our last years that we spend here, but it does seem that a particular angel has been unusually busy. Since September at least five inmates, (actually I should call them residents) have died. I was able to avoid some of the memorials,( I find what are called "celebrations of the life of..." particularly harrowing) but felt obliged to attend Beryl's "celebration."  Then my dear friend, Helen, died suddenly. It was hard for me to get over her loss. Just the week before she died I had been to see her. She seemed in good health only a bit frail. We had laughed and joked just as we always did, so it was a great shock to me. The very next month, I had to attend two memorials on the same day. Annette's in the afternoon and Livinia's that evening. I was very fond of Annette, but it is Livinia that I miss more. I would see her every Sunday, at Capricorn Pick n Pay, picking up Malawian congregants for church. Then battling her way from her car, up the road to the church door, a short journey which took her several minutes, the stroke she had suffered had disabled her so much. After the service, she would always had out the sandwiches that she had made to the homeless people who would be sitting by the side of the road, waiting..

In December the whole country mourned Madiba's death.  I had hoped that 2014 would be a happier year, but it is only the second week and there has been dreadful news of floods and other disasters. Yesterday, saddest of all, my dear friend, Joanne's husband died unexpectedly. All the other deaths have been of old people(in their eighties or nineties), one mourns, but quickly comes to terms with the loss. It is something one is somewhat prepared for,  but he was only fifty two. My heart goes out to her and her children. Her son is quite a young boy, the daughters still at home. I wish I could do or say something to make their burden a little lighter. I can only pray for them. My faith and my relationship with the Lord has helped me though the bad times, like Mike's illness and death and the crises with Dorothy. It must be so hard for those without faith. People always tell you that time heals, but I know from experience, that there are some losses that one never gets over. After time the pain dulls, but it never goes away.

Something Geoff and Ann told me has upset me too. Their granddaughter, Francesca, developed anorexia. Apparently her condition was so bad that she had to be hospitalised. Ann said they were afraid that her life was in danger. What a dreadful disease it is. Like being addicted to a lethal drug, or possessed by an evil spirit. It is so hard for parents, who often blame themselves and are also often blamed by others too.
Well, I think I have gloomed and doomed enough. It is time I went to bed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I am a poet myself, at least I call myself a poet, so why do I find so much poetry difficult to read. I have just down-loaded "Ariel" by Sylvia Plath onto my kindle(Kobo actually, I must be accurate about such things) and have been battling through it for the last hour or so. I don't deny that some of the lines speak to me. Some are upsetting; cause shock or even pain. Some are quite beautiful in their lyrical quality, but, on the whole, the meaning behind them eludes me. Surely this ought not be so. You would think that knowledge of the process of producing a poem would make it easier to tease out the meaning of a piece of verse. Of course it is true that I have never actually learnt to study poetry, or if I have, it was at school and so long ago that I have forgotten all about it. To the truly literary, no doubt, the meaning of Plath's lines is perfectly clear. It is rather bruising to my ego to find that to me many of her poems are quite obscure and that I have no idea what they are about at all.

A friend once told me that she likes to find something mysterious in a poem, that she enjoys puzzling out hidden meanings. I understand what she means, but I am afraid that what I write is somewhat shallow. There are no interesting hidden depths.When I write, what you see is what you get. That is why I was surprised to hear that my publisher has been asked for permission to include one of my poems in a school textbook. Of course I was pleased and flattered, but rather puzzled. What could they possibly want to do with it? -- analyse it? You might as well analyse a recipe for spaghetti.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Anti-bacterial soaps

I have just read in a post on Facebook, that antibacterial soaps have been temporarily banned in the USA. This is great news. I wish they could be banned all over the world - permanently. Bacteria, like all living creatures should be treated with kindness and respect. They may have a bad name, but actually very few of them cause us any harm.  (Probably less than 0.001%).  The rest are totally innocuous and some are even beneficial.  Of course you do often need to remove an excess of these little bugs from certain places, like the palms of your hands or the surface of your chopping board or  dinner plate. In that case, just sponge them away gently with mild soap and water, don't poison them with harsh, harmful chemicals (which do no good to your skin or to the environment,)  and then rinse them down the nearest drain so they may end their days usefully, helping to clean up effluent and make it safe enough to be discharged into streams and rivers.( Sewage works depend on bacteria to do this job.) It has been scientifically proved that plain soap and water is just as effective as most antibacterial agents and there is very little benefit in using expensive chemicals. In fact it may actually be harmful.