Saturday, April 7, 2007

Long Night's Journey into Day

I have been doing the night watch. I have not slept more than perhaps a couple of hours and even then I didn’t really go under. Sleep disturbance is so much a part of the M.E. picture that it’s no surprise. One can never have it quite in the way one needs it and nights like these can leave you jet-lagged for several days. It comes at an inconvenient time this Easter weekend as there are things planned that need a measure of my strength. The sun has already lit the garden and the sky is pure powder blue. The blossoms that were in such trouble after the hail a short while back seem to have recovered themselves. It looks like a wedding out there. Sometimes details like this do not make me feel particularly cheerful. Today, though, I’m glad of them. Glad also of the home-made hot cross buns made by my vegan neighbour who lives in the cottage attached to ours.

Each Good Friday a number of us pile into her small kitchen to eat a quantity of buns and drink too much coffee and when we leave she gives us a bag of them to take home. She gets up in the small hours to make them all, criss-crossing each one with shortcrust pastry and painting them with sugar glaze when they are baked to make them shine. She has always, since I’ve known her, lived on a shoestring budget, the floors in her house are bare boards – not the posh kind – because she has never had enough for decent carpets, her kitchen and living room are furnished with things found in skips and jumble sales, and somehow everything looks beautiful. It isn’t just the flair she has with flowers, candles and crimson tulip fairy lights (a string of them on the mirror over the fireplace), although it is that too. It’s something to do with the place that everything is given, the gleaming metal teapot with the dent in its side and the oven that has never quite worked but always does when she leans over and says, come on. There is no crap, it’s all good and she has a ready and renewable source of good will which doesn’t announce itself but is allowed to move out and become peripheral. All the people who gather for buns, even the ones who usually irritate or who you discreetly avoid for much of the year, look good, grounded and merry. We like who we are. The feeling lasts long after we have left with our brown paper bags of buns.

This is just as well because today I go to see my mother who lives with her partner in the next village, not far from me. How she comes to be there is a story in itself. We have a complicated relationship and do each other no good. Her partner is not well-disposed to me or my sister and meetings are always tense, but on we go because I love her, as Cordelia might say, according to my bond. My neighbour gave me a bag of six buns of which there are three left and I am taking them round. Hoping that they might succeed where I have failed.

14 comments:

nmj said...

You know, Signs, I think we could all do with some hot cross buns to make things easier with certain people, and the way you tell of it is so magnetic... I have to tell you that I dreamt about you last night (for the second time), and I have dreamt of other bloggers too. (Does ME give you strange dreams?) My dreams are often disturbing but both times you have had a maternal role, and I felt comforted. I think you are maybe in my mind because you write and you have ME, and the maternal stuff is because you seem wise, as I have said before. And though I guess you are a little older than me, definitely not old enough to be my mother!

Reading the Signs said...

Wow, nmj, what did I look like in your dreams (a triangular Give Way sign perhaps)? I find the strangest dreams are the ones that are most like life, but usually the memory of them is brain-fogged out. I used to keep a dream journal and found I could remember if I wrote them down immediately.

Interesting you mentioning "maternal" stuff, with my particular issues. I feel so not wise. Yes, not nearly old enough to be your mum - and still sort of waiting to grow up.
Glad I was comforting!

cusp said...

There's something about Easter isn't there: even without the religious connotations this time of year seems to bring with it a kind of good intent as if people are prepared, just for a short while, to try just that little bit harder to be kind and generous. Of course, by Easter Monday it'll be gone but you do feel you can bask in the warmth of a stranger's smile or politeness just now.

Your neighbour sounds as if she may be like that a good deal of the time and maybe it's her good nature that helps people to put aside their differences for at least the time they spend enjoying her buns. I think your blog is a bit like that --- chatting over a kitchen table with a wise and thoughtful neighbour.

Yesterday I invited our neighbours over. The husband has been very poorly with a heart condition for a year and now he has other symptoms which seemm very like ME. He has felt so wretched that they havent been over for even a cupppa for weeks --- but somehow the Easter feeling and the weather meant he felt able and we sat in the sunshine in the garden over tea and some home-made banana braed and chatted. I recognised that awful shock of being hit by the car-crash of ME and I could have wept for my friend but at least we all have each other.

I think maybe ME does give us strange dreams. I went to a boot sale with my daughter today who spotted a pair of china whippets. As soon as she pointed them out I knew I'd been dreaming of whippet ornaments all night and that was why I felt so hung over today.

I hope your visit with Mama went tolerably

Reading the Signs said...

hi cusp yes, well we did the best we could, so -

Is my blog really like that? Well I suppose that's nice but it doesn't make me sound cool, does it (got a bee in my bonnet, blame ms pants)- perhaps I'd better begin practising a bit harder to be mean. On the other hand really cool people are just themselves. Ok, chatting over the kitchen table it is then. Buns gone now though.

cusp said...

Actually I think that really cool people can be quite shallow. Stylish people aren't necessarily shallow but 'cool' carries connotations of knowingness.

Personally I'd rather have a sincere tete a tete in a comfortable environment than a vapid chat in a modish and cool cafe. You can be mean if you like but it won't be endearing whcih is what seems to make you attractive to people like nmj.

Whatever floats yer boat !

Take my comments as a compliment. If you've no buns left you can always come and try some banana bread or the eggs we decortaed yesterday.

Reading the Signs said...

well I do take it as a compliment really, cusp. Because between you and me I'm sometimes seen as a bit scary and then you should hear me protest what a sweetie pie I am. Contrary, I know.

Please send banana bread, yes.

And happy Easter.

nmj said...

hey signs, i don't know what you looked like, i only know it was you, next time i'll pay more attention!

hey cusp, as far as i know vivid dreams are a well- documented symptom of ME, mine are often violent & i am always relieved to wake up, though sometimes they are funny. i write down the more bizarre ones. i'll maybe dream about china whippets too!

cusp said...

Well ain't life funny because I'm usually seen as a pussy cat but there are some people who know that I can be a rather furious sabre toothed tiger, so life is contrary. The banana bread's gluten and dairy free so is just ticketyboo for Easter celebrations for PWME ! :-) One slice or two ?

Dear NMJ (apolgies, RTS, for using your comments list for 'cross- dialogue) I do believe that vivid dreams are often a part of this jolly journey. Personally I don't often remember dreaming and when I do they are bizarre surrealist dreams; always have been. At least I don't have the ME dreams of a chum whose partner had to vacate their bed because his dreams became so violent and he was acting out.

On that happy note may I wish that both of you find a huge white rabbit at the bottom of your bed tomorrow morning, bearing a basket full of lovely choccy eggweg: or would you have been dreaming ?

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Signs, I hope the visit went well. I too did the Easter visit yesterday and it went....well, it went, I suppose is the best I can say. I am unsure as to why I still put myself through it. I cannot claim Cordelia's bond. I would love one of your neighbour's home made buns. Swap you one, for a virtual cigarette?

Reading the Signs said...

Ms M, I have tried and tried to make them but they turn out leaden and mean-looking. I do not have the right leven!

Imagine something wholemeal (but as you have never experienced it) with the taste of fresh yeast, the crispness of pastry cross and sugar glaze as you bite in, the sharpness of small currants as they burst against the dough which has the consistency of bread made in heaven.

There, I have sent you a virtual one. I don't have my neighbour's goodness, but still - worth a cigarette?

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs. Your neighbour sounds lovely. You're both lucky.

goodthomas said...

I love the idea of a warm kitchen, some hot cross buns, some coffee and some smiles.

I am sure your offering of buns warmed your mothers heart. It is a nice gesture within your bond. I am sure you have succeed there much more than you realize.

Reading the Signs said...

It's true, Ms Pants - I make a mean jug of home-made lemondade in the summer and cucumber sandwiches with real white bread.

goodthomas - may it be so. I hope you had a happy easter.

(hey cusp, about those eggs - I've been a bit of a pig. Green and Black's).

Dr. L said...

Will you come to my house please. Your neighbor's house sounds so much like where I'm afraid to live, yet you see it as beautiful. Wonder what you'd think of my house, esp after the cats have had their 'mad hour' and everything is piled up in corners. Maybe I live with too much of other people's stuff--renting furnished places gives a false sense of self...