Firenze on the Arno.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 8 March 2019

So all the friends dropped in envelopes filled with money and birthday cards. Even though it's not my birthday till after we leave the European Union, that's if we do leave the European Union, whether we ought to leave the European Union is another question, whether we should leave the European union, and all the other permutations of Euro frenzy is yet another debate. But please do not talk to me about democracy, we are about as democratic as a pack of hyenas at the watering hole of a confusion of wildebeest. However, when the shit hits the fan lessons will be learned. Whose shit and which fan, I wouldn't venture to say.

Having got that off me chest here's the thing, we Easyjetted off to Florence, really easy given that we are all euro citizens at the mo, on the back of a stash off money from friends and family. Better to have that kind of memory than presents that will gather dust on the mantlepiece, and I'm not interested in shoes, bags, jewellery or tickets to go and see a coming back, comeback tour of four hairless men singing songs from their youth in an arena the size of the Duomo's dome - see what I did there? - better that everybody chipped in for our very own Grand tour....

And grand it was. There was David in his naked glory. A synagogue worth its weight in copper. A science museum full of astrolabes and scientific children from Sweden. There were feasts under arches, dinners under glass, breakfast in caffs, lunches in trattorias, ice creams, bridges, walking and a good deal of coffee. There were tram rides, Japanese tourists, warm weather, there were train rides and Chinese tourists, there was free entry for Culture week and murmurations of children from Italian high schools. There was a lot of noise, chiming bells, beggars and walking.

We walked so far my right big toe turned the colour of a red cabbage and hurt so bad I had to take off my trainers and bathe it in Epsom salts.

We didn't 'do' Florence in any way at all. We went for three days cramming in as much as is humanly possible given that I am 70 and he is older. We followed the suggestions from The Rough Guide to get us to recommended restaurants which made homemade pasta and cubes of focaccia with home cured meat and bottles of organic local wine.

We stayed in an apartment that was dark, cool, with a broken Jacuzzi and a plug less bath. We slept in a bed, up ten steps, that were so noisy I ended up sleeping on the down stairs sofa bed. I wrapped meself in bath towels to keep off the Tuscan cold, whilst the old git snored in the eaves.

We're home now, after three days in Florence, which felt like ten. I have medical Manuka honey on my big toe which is no longer as red as cabbage more a dull purple like a wizened radish. It's good to know that the old git is as good company as he's ever been. It's nice to say that we have actually been to Florence. It's terrific that we saw a bit of the River Arno a lot of pizzas, a fantastic amount of leather ware, a delight that we could talk to each other without interruption, it's so nice to go travelling to Florence, Pisa or Rome, it's so nice to go travelling but it's oh so nicerer to be home.

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And the Emmy goes too.....

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 13 February 2019

So we drove our American friend to our local train station at 7.55 this morning. The ticket office was open, and the man in it could not have been more helpful.

Told her to get out at London Bridge, then take the Heathrow express from Paddington.

18.50 quid and she'll be back in time for tiffin.

Yesterday she saw Emmy, our 17 year old cat, ruin into the opposite garden. That was the last we saw of her.

All night I could swear I heard the cat flap open and close.

Jim printed up posters of a lost ancient cat who was blind in one eye, deaf as a post, and very, very skinny.

We parked up, took a look around, to the woods, the neighbouring gardens. Down by the road. Under the cars.

We were heading out to the trees, drawing pins in hand, when I had a final peek underneath the trees in front of the kitchen window, and there she was.

As stiff as a board, eyes slightly open.

Our lovely Emmy had taken herself off to die, conveniently, without any fuss.

I cried.

She's awaiting her burial, in the back garden, up behind the shed alongside.

Willy.

Dinah.

Oscar.

Solly.

Sadie.

Kipper

And next door to my others ashes and her thorn free blackberry bush.

It will be the first time this cottage has been animal free, since 1984 when we moved in.

Cat biscuits gone to the birds, cat food, for the foxes, hedgehogs and squirrels.

Cat mat, dishes, fork have been washed and put away, and an array of Emmy type sleeping clothes, from a pair of grey tack suit bottoms, a salmon pink top that she used and various cushions.

In the last few weeks she took to sleeping on anything that was on the floor; The Sunday Papers, abandoned socks and Jim's royal blue fleece.

She had taken to following the old git everywhere and eating his left overs like a baby bird being fed from the beaks of mum and dad.

I shall miss her. She was very vocal and delicious to look at, until she got skinnier than Naomi Campbell.

We shall miss you.

Rest In Peace Emmy.

2002 - 2019

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Lessons from a Tit.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 29 January 2019

We have one peanut feeder and two fat ball feeders hanging outaside our bedroom window.

The birds land on the fat balls. And peck away.

The squirrels jump onto the feeder and steal the birds nuts.

The feeder bangs against the window, frightens off the birds, leaving the feeders up for grabs. For the squirrels its a win-win situation.

Bit like Brazil, Yemen, Syria, Brexit. The insanely greedy squirrels are picking away at our Democracy, at our gold reserves, oil reserves, at our forests, trees, oceans, and like the tits that we are we fly off.

When the peanuts have all gone the little flying rats leave the fat balls alone.

When the coast is clear, all the tits organise. Blue tits, Cold tits and Long tail tits, gather round and feed amiably, letting each little Tit have a nibble.

I'm telling you when we all remember that we are nothing but a band of Great Tits things will change.

We must not let the Rodents grind us down.

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Year of the Pig

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 January 2019

I'm bewitched by the birds on the feeder outside my bedroom window.

I'm bothered by Donald Fartypants, and his dismantling of the United States of America.

I'm bewildered by the antics of the British First Lady, who appears to be so out of touch with everything, that words literally fail me

My lawn is covered in leaves. The moles have decimated the end of the garden, I saw one magpie on my way through Ashdown Forest - an omen I thought - One for sorrow, two for joy. I'm still looking for the second one.

And now I'm hatching a cold.

I've got cashmere sox on, a Christmas present. The old git's lit the stove, so the house is toasty warm. It is smokeless fuel I hasten to add.

I've had acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, meditated, chanted, sung with an Indian Guru, and have looked at flights to Florence. I'm joining a choir and starting Tai Chi. I've given up coffee but nibble on Granny Beevers Christmas cake which is infused with brandy and the Yorkshire Dales.

I'm enjoying Les Mis, and tolerating Sheryl Smith's cleaner, I'm reading and writing and watching films.

I'm holding the 'oosbinds hand in bed and sleeping in the soft dent in my pillow.

2019 has begun, but I am Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, by the ahh! Souls in charge.

Happy new Year.

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March 24th.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 4 January 2019

In 79 days I will be 70.

Florence maybe?

Or Bali?

Or Tunbridge Wells for tea.

Three dawters and an artist are making a surprise for me.

Will it be in London?

In Brighton?

Or Tunbridge Wells for tea?

I'm not renewing my vows.

Or having Botox.

I'm not going away on a spa day.

But I am considering Tunbridge Wells for tea.

When I was born in 1949

Who'd have thought that 2019 would rock up so soon.

My mother can't come.

My father can't come.

Too many of my friends can't come.

They're all busying themselves in the ether.

Had I known I'd have organised a farewell tea in Tunbridge Wells.

They say that Tunbridge Wells is the ninth best place to live in the UK

BUT Come on

I think a coffee break in La Loggia degli Albizi, in Florence is slightly more frivolous

For 4 score years and ten.

And then?

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2018 Baubles

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 25 December 2018

Lucky I am to have a full calendar.

Lucky to have a fridge full of food.

Lucky to have a clean cooker to cook it in.

Lucky to have family and friends.

Grateful for it all.

Grateful for the cat, who's lying on the table next to me.

Grateful for the Irises given to me by one of B's friends.

Grateful for hot water and a flushing lavatorio.

Grateful for my life, and humbled by the needs of so many people. From Anna our Big Issue seller outside the supermarket, to the Donkeys in our local rescue centre.

Christmas feels different this year. Trump buffooning, Brexit Looming, conversations always turning to the dark side.

So with a huge hurrumph I kiss goodbye to another year. I'm not daft enough to think all our troubles will be out of sight, but lets hope in 2019 it's WE not ME and that the change that is coming finally arrives.

I wish all my FB friends a peaceful, calm, warm and fuzzy Christmas Night. And may your crackers be full of fortune.

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Quantum Fizzicks

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 8 December 2018

It's cold innit?

About which I'm delighted - too warm and I'm reminded there's warming issues on this ball of earth we call home..

We've raked the leaves so many times not one single forest fire will beset us until 2022.

I've bought misshapen apples, cos they were cheaper.

So after my yoga, which was mostly spent on my back trying to figure out how to push my left leg through my right arm and balancing my body whilst attempting to watch the teacher, who speaks so softly it was impossible to hear her instructions over the crashing dumbbells above us in the newly refurbished gym. This Yogarini has body issues, pain issues, hearing issues and issue issues. The class ended with most of us saying Namaste ( not me though ) but I did give the instructor, with her toe ring, a tiny little clap. Slid into my car and drove the long way round so the heater would warm up. I went to the flower shop where the farmer breeds chickens that lay double yoked eggs every time. They are so obese, the eggs not the hens, that they just fit into my fancy egg cup.If they could they would spill over the edge rather like my muffin top. I've just finished two of them, boiled for 3 and a half minutes, with two slices of some kind of healthy toasted bread, loadsabutta, and a smattering of green stems from some giant spring onions alongside a cafetier of coffee.

Last night I could not quiet my mind, having watched Spike Lees' Blackkklansman' so I climbed out of bed, leaving my husbands Afro on the pillow, and ended up watching 'Dumplin' Jennifer Aniston's vanity project. She both produced it and stars in it. The perfect antidote to insomnia. Cant help but compare Jen to her younger self. What am I like? The film was cliche ridden, unnecessary but quite the best sleeping draft. I fell asleep right in the middle of a deeply irritating story line that was so obvious my 117 year old cat could have meowed the outcome.

Now I've got to do the Christmas Tree. I say got to, actually I don't have to do anything I don't want because I AM OLD. There are no demands on my time except organising treats, doing the occasional professional job, attend a party here and a mosh up there. A train ride there and a drive to the coast with my patient husband, who has such healthy blood pressure that he puts all the butchers dogs in Leeds to shame.

So how does he deal with the onslaught of seniority? Well he chops wood, lays the fire, lights the fire, sits in front of the fire, sweeps up the ashes when the fire is done, empties the grate, then does it all over again the following morning; You may say what's the 'effin point? And indeed it is a philosophical conundrum that philosophers have been grappling with since before the first dinosaurs grunted there way into Jurrasic park.

If everything we do is temporary why do it in the first place? If we're gonna die anyway what's the 'effin point in living? If Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy was to be believed, given the inevitability of death, there is no rational justification for saying that life is meaningful.

So how meaningful is meaningful, you may ask? If everything is temporary, like that lovely toffee chocolate hanging on the tree that can be scoffed in 11 seconds, what was the point of eating it in the first place. Eleven seconds of pleasure on the lips, a fortnight of aggravation on the hips, was it worth it?. And when you can see the light glimpsing at the end of the tunnel, and Paris is falling, and Brexit is ailing and Trump is lying, what the BeJeesus do we do, and how do we do it? Watch it crumble or exclaim loudly 'Damn it all' and treasure every second of exquisite living. Be grateful for every crumb of food, every beat of the heart, every sensory pleasure that makes us human, is that how to do it?

50 years ago I was working on a theatre show in Israel. Early in the morning I would sit on the beach and contemplate my pippick ( Yiddish for navel) and breathe in the Mediterranean Sea air whilst the sand of time ran through my fingers. As the sun rose I felt a light tap on my arm, I looked up at a beautiful young man who told me I had Yemenite shoulders. He could have been right, he could have been wrong but given what's happening to 'my' people - your people - everybody's people - It's time to take stock and rattle the cage of inhumanity and selfishness that is trolling the world, whether or not my shoulders are Yemenite or not.

Everything is and everything isn't, and since everything is, and everything isn't we might just as well indulge the IS as opposed to the ISN'T. And if we're all just molecules bouncing around along with porridge, soup and the occasional oyster, what the bleep does it matter? Cos when the inevitable happens, we'll know what it was all about and then it will all make sense won't it? Not that I'm suggesting we should all jump off a cliff, to find out the answer, but whilst we're all bobbing around until doomsday perhaps we should have something of a good time whilst we're doing it. Shouldn't we?

I'm going to ask the old git what he thinks because, whilst he's still alive he'll have an answer. I'm off to the woodshed.

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Strange Times

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 22 November 2018

Brazil has voted in a heartless Devil, Sri Lankans are throwing chairs at each other in Parliament. Trump is a noxious shitty stain. China is burning coal around the world. Brexit is back firing like a monumental fart. Davide Attenborough does his best, young folk are 'woke', but there is an exhaustion with the magnitude of it all.

Who do we turn to for leadership?

Whilst we all know that the end of cycles can be brutal, somehow I have to remind myself that endings are also beginnings.

When the late night news tells us that scientists are calling for a radical repositioning otherwise in 30 years our little earth will be scorched and dead, just what do we do?

I went to the gym today and ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes listening to 'Snarky Puppy.' Walked, ran, walked, ran. I wore my swimsuit underneath a long black sweatshirt, so that after the cardio I could just slip into the pool. Fifteen minutes of affirmations and spluttering water out of my mouth.

Then the jacuzzi and a series of sitting positions so that the jets of warm water pummelled me bits. Then the steam room, and finally the sauna. In the middle of all that it came to me that women could be our salvation.

I had to read Aristophanes' 'Lysistrata' when I was at Drama School.

It is the comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War, as Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate a peace. She had them swear an oath that they would withhold sex from their husbands until both sides signed a treaty of peace.

As I swum my lengths I wondered whether it could work now. It's a possibility that is not so far fetched. I imagined women of all faiths, races, continents, seducing their men, then tying their hands together, and gently taking over the world. Not with guns and bulldozers, but with quiet female rationality.

'You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one' - thank you JOHN LENNON - Men sure as Hell have mismanaged our little planet. 'But what of Theresa May and Hilary Clinton?' said the woman sitting in clouds of steam in the steam room, 'We have to start somewhere' I said.

What is the way forward?

Climate change, plastic, deforestation, animal cruelty, austerity, greed, we've been here before with knobs on.

My tree in the avenue tells me not to worry, that good will out. The old git says it's a purging. But I worry for the dawters generation and the ones after her.

I have a warm little cottage, food in the fridge, a roof that doesn't leak, all the material trappings of the 21st Century, I have friends and family. I wish that for every soul on earth. The first step is to get everyone reading 'Lysistrata', or as Mr. Lennon also said "Give Peace a Chance.

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