Friday 10 December 2010

International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day

For me this means teamwork. Life isn't a competition. It isn't about the survival of the fittest. It's about all of us: weak and strong. Shoulder to shoulder. Living Together.

Speaking and being Heard.
Listening and Empathising.
Going forwards through Education, Information, Understanding and Choice.

I'm not a politician. I'm an average approachable human being that bobs along on the fringe observing - and who likes people. I do. In all shapes and sizes. I like manners too. And humour.

I also need space for silence and reflection. Dignity and respect. Safety and a place to thrive. And be Me.

Looking at the bigger picture of life, aged 46: knowing birth, a life span and death - As I see (I think blindingly) what matters to me: inclusion, listening, information, education - I wonder - hey, what matters to you? In the bigger picture?

It's all about having a voice. And being heard. Isn't it?

Here's to Freedom. Here's to Living the Life we're all Entitled to. Here's to Us...

Sunday 14 November 2010

Onwards and Upwards

It's too wet to garden at home today. This is a shame as I am not working, have no kids here and have - hmm - approx 40 new plants to plant! My workplace has a half-price sale you see.

Apart from the bargain aspect and the cheering self up aspect - it's hard not to indulge your natural plant-collecting urges when you are surrounded by respectable people of a certain age darting past you clutching armloads of azaleas and mumbling: Ooh, and look over there, I've always wanted a daphne odora...

It's Swoop and Swipe Time!

As a result of my spree on Friday, my van, has developed its own micro-climate, it's misted up on the inside as the plants breathe and grow within it. It's a jungle in there, complete with snails and spiders...!

Raining raining - I mean I don't mind getting wet, naturally, but the ground is very muddy. And I have just had a bath and sparkled myself up. An unusual enough occurence these days, ahem...

Anyway, I've a nice mug of tomato soup! The week's washing is done and drying. I'm snuggled up with a book and awaiting the return of the kids. Tomorrow's another day. Love to all.

Monday 8 November 2010


I look at my blog this evening and I think - Kate, what are you trying to say? That you live in a comical cheerful yellow world? That everything is light and easy and daft. Hello, what? What bloody nonsense is this?
Well of course I don't. None of us live in our blog worlds do we - most of us live in mundane reality. Blogging is merely a projection of ourselves - an image we can tinker with - airbrush and edit -

My reality is a fair bit dimmer and darker. It has great bits, sure, full of kids, family and friends. There's work, there's chatter. And then there's great long spells like now - spent in a chair in the kitchen, silent, alone and trying to figure it all out. Trying to reconfigure my life.

My man's gone. I'm facing imminent redundancy. I have a lot of stamina but no energy anymore, am generally easily baffled and confused - and I have 3 kids. Who need me. To be strong and ever present.

I've divorced, I've moved - set up a new home from scratch. Found a change of career and full time work after 13 years at home. Found Rob, lost him. All in three years.

I can't keep going I think. I know. It's time to stop.

Then I see my eldest son, who lives with his dad mostly, has sent me this poem. Which he's come across at school and he likes.
It comes out of the blue in an email.
And I remember my reasons to be.
And I send a copy to my own ever present and beloved mum.
And I press on.

(It is Untitled):

Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
the acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors.

You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
years between us. Anchor. Kite.

I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
the ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something
has to give;
two floors below your fingertips still pinch
the last one-hundredth of an inch...I reach
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.

Simon Armitage

Saturday 28 August 2010

Something to Look Forward to at last!!

But firstly I must mention age. My own -

You see, when I was young, people thought I was older than I was. When I grew older, people took me for younger than I am. Handy that. It's to do with having a calm exterior and a steady face I think. Hmm. Lately, since Rob died, I have unfortunately undergone accelerated ageing. Without and within. Recently in fact a dear little old lady asked me how many grandchildren I had.. Gosh!

Anyway, accelerated ageing has made me very slow, possibly calmer too. I no longer worry much, I no longer bellow at the kids (as much!), I prioritise. I face life on a does it really matter? basis. Good things are small things. Being together. Laughing. Getting organised. Being in the sunlight - enjoying a book. The list is endless...

So, what is there to look forward to though, in my increasingly older age?

Well, at last, I've found something.





My three wheeled epiphany follows a great laugh at work, discussing the best present you ever received as a child. Trikes came top of the list for 40 somethings!

Well, I suggested, why not revert to trikes post 50? Forget bikes and lycra and road rage - Look at all these wide empty cycle lanes on the roads now. Think trike! greater stability, room for a devil-may-care passenger perched on the back, scope for customisation - I was planning winged mudguards for starters - and oh boy, what beats the thrill of cornering on two wheels...


Yes, I know. Big Ears had a trike.

And I know my kids are going to explode with laughter when they read this...

Ah well. I still want one ;-)

Thursday 12 August 2010


Searching, through books for meaning - as ever. Have a problem? There'll be the answer in a book.
I'm in a dark and lonely place in life. Feeling old.
Anyway. Bibliophile me. Read this first on a Christmas card, heard it in my head lately, pinned it down just now.
This letter was written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo. An Italian priest. He was 80 when he wrote this almost 500 years ago. Imparting a lifetime's wisdom to a friend to give them comfort and inspiration. It's timeless and universal advice. And a pep talk!
I like it very much -

(Typing interrupted by small son asking: "Mum, mum - what are moths afraid of?" Me answering vaguely: " Oh, sunshine?"... Small son doing bored face, me inspired: "Farts?" He chortles. I type on :-)

Written on Christmas Eve in 1513.

A Letter to a Friend

“I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.”

Fra Giovanni Giocondo

Saturday 10 July 2010

36 hours of Peace and Quiet

I've finished work for the day. I am quite dirty and very brown - in key areas only though. My legs for example are snow-white. And frankly they are going to stay that way. I am not doing shorts, nope :-)

My kids are at their dad's for the weekend. The older two have just emailed me a cheap but complicated Amazon order for plugs and wires. I believe they are in the middle of an adventurous XBox/laptop project. I'm not too sure, but I'm tremendously proud of them for doing it.

I've been reading a lot about grief this last week. (I did contact Cruse but they were Not Helpful - I spoke to a lady who appeared to have bereavement fatigue. Well, it's lucky I have a sense of humour still! It was almost comical! And in fact, I'm not really very good at opening up anyway, especially about something so painful. So it's probably just as well.)
So, what I read - There are no rules in grief. It is different for everyone, but there is common ground. I expect that is blindingly obvious really but because I'm mixed up and confused it's validating to see it spelt out.
There is commonly:
  • Pain
  • Pining
  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Anger
  • Fear of losing anyone else you love
  • A sense of futility
  • Craziness - irrational thinking
  • The need to talk to your lost one
  • A sense of their presence
On that last one, I see Rob everywhere, for a split second, in the distance. Feel him nearby, in the same room, but without seeing him. When I'm happy it's a nice feeling. When I'm down, it bloody hurts. Tricks of the mind.

But, but I remember - Rob had the same experience after his dog (the actual one and only Mutley) died last year. He looked for him, thought he saw him, felt him nearby too. And he cried sometimes when that happened. (I really loved him for that.)

I've also learned :
  1. over time you change - significant personal growth occurs -
  2. It is recommended to express your feelings, be it verbally, creatively or in writing - a journal, letters to your dead loved person
Well I do write a lot. When I can, but, privately. And it isn't all sad, a lot of it is happy and funny. I like to think he can read it. No forget the 'like to think' - I think he can. (See, irrational thinking/craziness) Somehow, somewhere he can read it.
He always read everything I wrote - and I read everything he wrote. He wrote a lot! It was one of our things - writing. Listening to people and collecting their stories came first. There are great tales of discovery and courage and joy in everyone I think, if you're patient. Then there was absorbing facts, history and weaving new tales. Then fantasy, pure imagination - and a lot of laughs.

I miss him so, terribly. I am less than half of what I was. I get these mental exercises going - stop over-thinking - one day at a time - be happy for what you had - And then, I forget and I just want to tell him something, think I see him and all the exercises fold into a small flat heap. He's not here. He's gone.

Right, enough, I'm going out into the garden. Pruning. Big-time :-) There's a jungle down the left-hand side and today is the day...

Love to all family and friends that read this. X

Thursday 1 July 2010


I found a book of poems Rob gave me ages ago - he used to read a poem a day. Every day. For fun.

'101 Poems To Keep You Sane' by Daisy Goodwin turned up at just the right time. Excellent - A ray of light -

(I wasn't looking for solace - I was actually looking for a Peppa Pig DVD - small son has been sick all night, we are both very tired today although he is chirpy enough to have just eaten a small bowl of pasta and done a little dance along to a song on the radio. After a mere three hours sleep I am beyond dancing unfortunately. My eyes seem to be moving in different directions though...)

'Hope' is the Thing with Feathers

Emily Dickinson

'Hope' is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of Me.

That's very moving. It actually makes me smile too.

But what am I hoping for? To keep on, I guess. Not get lost.

I am grieving - that is as it should be. Grief is painful, it makes me slow and confused. But I keep busy - I work physically hard in the day on a farm, 45 hours a week. I listen to an iPod, I chatter, I join in socially - Yet, truthfully, there is this pervading sense of futility - I spend a lot of time fighting that one.

I just want him to come back. I want this whole time of emptiness and devastation and crap since 21st May 2010 to have been a giant error.

And he can't come back and it isn't an error. He is gone.

Hello futility.

I'm not signalling distress in saying that. No. I have family and friends who are strong, kind and lovely , I'm very fortunate. And most importantly I have my boys to bring up.

Hope. A little feathered thing. Yes, this poem brings me light. If I can't feel hopeful now I'll just hold onto this poem. Pin it up on the wall. Learn the words of 'Hope' by heart until hope itself is in my heart.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Love and Respect

Robert Chambers - Mutley the Dog

I have put the eulogy I wrote for Rob, that was read out at his funeral, online here:
Mutley the Dog
(the blogspot cheeky monkey chatters is a place where I left him a valentine this year)

Sadly, his blogs have been removed from the net.
Shockingly, I received an email from him last week, stating this.
It was written by his ex-wife. She has also removed him from our shared private blog - In my Dreams - a place where I'd been pouring out grief. Privately.
(Part of sudden death I've discovered is an inability to accept someone's departure. We were still talking, still listening, still joking, still cuddling.)

Rob lived alone these last three years. He died but a few days from Divorce Absolute.

Words fail me entirely.

Well, I will say this - She has done much good for him, there are children involved and I understand that she grieves too.

I do not think that blogging should be controlled. I think that what we write, what we feel, how we connect with each other should remain forever available. Rob was a lifelong champion of human rights and freedom of speech. He reached out to many people here on blogger at dark times as you know and in life he worked for justice and equality, most recently supporting victims of crime. I am certain he'd have disapproved - of anyone being silenced in such a fashion.

Perhaps though, perhaps - he would have understood..

I've nothing more to say, nor will, to his ex-wife. I wish her well. Sincerely.
I have my health and sanity to maintain now. Grief is complex. And I've a family to bring up. Three lively boys. My youngest is 5.

Rob was wonderful, funny, kind and clever. Even better in real life than on the net. In my experience of him these last two years :-
  • he was not in alcoholic decline,
  • he did not die on the brink of organ failure
  • and - he most certainly does not have boring brothers!

He was a cheerful, independent man who liked his beer (real ale only!) and who, as is now known but too damn late, had a bad heart. Sometimes he was very low, aren't we all - "I'm sad about a sad thing" he'd insist. And then, he'd become distracted by something interesting, something worthwhile and his spirits would return to their usual setting of - Happy! - His cause of death is yet to be pinpointed but I comfort myself entirely with this knowledge - having laid on his bed the next morning - he passed on peacefully in his sleep with no suffering, just dignity.

His brothers are much like him, kind, clever and private. I'm kind and private too, but not as clever though! I would have been very proud to have been an honorary member of their family.


Rob - I would like you to be remembered with smiles and affection by all you encountered here on the net, may your mischievous spirit live on forever. Love and respect darling - that's all that matters. And maybe now, like so many creatives before, you may be discovered and published. Posthumously damnit! But published perhaps - who knows.

Grief I'm finding is the most debilitating thing. Confusing, numbing and extremely painful. In brighter moments I imagine Rob making his usual daft comments beside me, pulling faces, cheering me up, spurring me on. At other times I feel that the future is entirely pointless. Futile. Because simply, unbearably, he isn't here.

I have my three beautiful boys thank God.

I press on.

With many thanks to all who have helped me, commented and emailed. And much love to Wife in the North, Ubermouth, Miss Smack and Electro-Kev - who were all true friends to Rob when it mattered most

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Rob (mutley the dog)

2nd January 1964 - 21st May 2010

My best friend and soulmate died last Friday. Tributes have flooded in from blogland. He would have been so touched. He said he loved to make people laugh. Give them a smile. And when they replied with "Thanks Rob, that cheered me up!" he was pleased no end.

I wanted to write him a celebration post. But you know what, I think you guys have already done that, many times over! ( I'm smiling!)

His funeral details are at
All family and friends know they are very welcome. If any one has any requests, please contact the funeral director and I'll be happy to do whatever is necessary.

I have to say that now, today, after visiting the funeral director, I'm stepping back. It's been a long journey travelled in what, five days, a tour right through Rob's world. (If you thought he was a man of many mysteries, well, yes, he was!) (Smiling again!) I'm basically a kind and sensitive soul and now, unsurprisingly, I'm pretty much overwhelmed.

I've to pick up my life and restructure it.
There won't be a bright red car pulling up outside my house anymore, there won't be a key in the door, a step on the stairs and a big hug and a bag chock full of little goodies - anymore.

I miss him more than I can bear.

Oh don't be so sentimental! he'd say, what, miss an old fart like me?!

Being with Rob gave me a spring in my step, an easy smile and a sense of purpose, of life well-lived. We had a great laugh. And a great love.

Till the next time darling...


Sunday 14 March 2010

Mother's Day

Today I am celebrating my Mum -

and all the warm hugs from the one who taught us to be kind, not to judge, to look past the broken bits and find the best. Who could always see the new shoots...

The spider catcher!!

The mighty bonfire digger, foot resting on fork, content in the dusk.

Who has always loved our kids dearly. And saved us from insanity, by giving them her full and patient attention - books shared, games played, headaches soothed, tempers calmed, smiles and easy laughter restored - reminding us gently that they were only ever simply being... kids.

Who has sent out a hundred and one timely parcels of books and chocolate, toys and crayons, ski socks and gardening gloves; with a little note in a beautiful card saying - well done, keep going....

Who has always listened thoughtfully to long-winded news of our latest developments, and never judged (but occasionally adopted a special mumsy perplexed expression which is followed by: "So..... what have you actually done?" Eyebrows only slightly betraying alarm).

Who has accepted so much. Who has worn her knees out in church praying some days. Who grows plants, family and serenity.. With grace..

Much love to you Mum, today and all days, from all four of us.

Celebrating our Mum!