Not Waving but Drowning (just kidding)

I have to begin with a confession. After boasting about going for a bike ride in my last post, I haven’t done it again. Too scared. Too wobbly. Too much traffic. Frightened of falling off. Static bike in the Wash House yes, out on the road, no. It’s a U-turn. I know…….

I thought I’d get that out of the way first.

Tarot card for September (selected at random from the Major Arcana) is The Hanged Man. This is about sudden reversal, powerlessness, a trial of endurance. Waiting for change. We want to turn the hanging man the right way up and fix him. It is worth noting that he doesn’t seem too upset. He is smiling and even appears to be dancing. With 314 new Covid cases in Scotland in the last 48 hours, there seems no likelihood of life returning to normal any time soon. With his head near the ground, close to nature, our hanged man may acquire new understanding. We will certainly need patience.

Some things have cheered me recently. Lunch with friends in our favourite cafe. Staff in snazzy black masks. Greeter with clipboard. We wear masks, give mobile number and surname, use QR code for menu. Paper cups and plates. Tables rearranged. New cakes. The food and the atmosphere feel familiar and comforting. I was excited about heading to Glasgow where Cannyrob and I have two nights booked in a city centre hotel. We had planned dinner with Sister on Friday, afternoon tea with Oldest (in years of friendship) Friend on Saturday and a visit to Very Good Friends on Sunday but the news today about new restrictions means we may have to change our plans. It will be the first time we have seen any of them since last year.

Wearing a mask has inspired me to change my make up. My favourite orangey red lipstick leaves traces on my mask and can’t be seen anyway. I love my MAC eye palette (Art Library) and have had fun trying out different looks. All fairly extravagant. With lots of black mascara. I think it works, and even lasts through a swim.

Which takes me to a rediscovered pleasure – outdoor swimming! Our indoor pool may open again later this month, but in the meantime I’ve bought a wetsuit. The unused harbour is a good place to go when the tide is fairly high. Water temperature here is usually between 6° and 13°. I just love launching myself into the water, tasting the salt on my lips, floating on my back and looking at the sky, then turning over to watch the underwater scene of sand, plants and sea-life as I swim crawl or breaststroke with my face in the water. Daughter is coming to swim with me in two weeks time and I’m looking forward to swimming in the sea at Gairloch when we go up in the campervan later in the month. (Covid permitting)

A real joy over the last ten days has been the online Edinburgh Book Festival, free, available to all. Having been a faithful patron of the festival for a long time I was sceptical about how the virtual version would work, but I loved the intimacy of the interviews in my own living room! So many writers, such variety. My own favourites: Maggie O’Farrell, Hilary Mantel, Sebastian Barry, Ali Smith and Bernadine Evaristo (interviewed by Nicola Sturgeon).

Cannyrob and I have both been reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy, ‘proper’ science fiction, demanding and absorbing. In contrast, I’m now enjoying Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. With its text messages and lively dialogue it reminds me a little of Michaela Coel’s BBC drama I May Destroy You. Its initially light-hearted tone gives way to a realistic portrayal of a young woman’s breakdown and the healing properties of family and friendship.

In Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty we see the world through the eyes of an autistic teenager. It helped me understand how his experience of life is different and special. Acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay’s book My name is Why tells a very different story of childhood and adolescence. Through his resilience and creativity he has overcome some of the hurt and rejection of his early years.

I have other books lined up, including Janice Galloway’s autobiographies, on order from Blackwells. Wee Boy has become a Dr Seuss fan, having discovered Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks in our house. He now has some of his own including Son’s favourite Green Eggs and Ham. He can read these funny, crazy books himself: I remember so well the thrill of finding I could read!

I’m glad that the children are back at school, but it brings another level of anxiety. The inevitable colds and tummy bugs are around, but so is Covid. Knowing when to keep them off is a tricky task for parents. Some children are happy to be back, others are struggling with leaving the security of home.

A friend’s grandson came home after his first day at secondary school

What did you do today?

Heavy sigh Double Covid

I feel good about finally 
completing my second Venice 
painting/collage.  
It's taken a while to put 
it all together but it is done.  
I've bought some new oil pastels 
so am planning to do some drawing, 
maybe portraits, next.  

Thanks for reading and for all your messages. How you are doing? Is life getting easier or just more complicated? Are we ready to move from Zoom back to real life?

Remember you can email me privately (about anything really) at timewithelinor@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

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