Alone and Existential in Palermo – What to do?

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Ken is gone, and I have 24 hours alone in Palermo. What to do? What to do?

Can you guess what I did yet?

After a solid week of walking the alleyways, closes and vennels of the old town of Palermo I decided to head over to the Botanical Gardens. Partly to make Ken jealous, but mainly because I knew I needed to pass some time before flying and I always like a garden. In fact, not a lot of people know this, but I used to have a membership to Kew and would go there at least four times a year. I had to check out from the hotel, and although they let me leave my bag with them for the day I don’t think they’d have let me have a lie down between excursions, so I had to do something that was both time consuming and in some way restful. Enter stage left (the direction of the goodies, as we now know from the visit to the Puppet Museum) your friend and mine…

Your friend and mine, Carl Linnaeus, inventor of the binomial nomenclature we use for the naming of plants today.

He’s like – Check out the crazy good garlic. I’m going to take some home with me and give it two names. (It is possible this is not garlic, but bear with me, I am no plantsman, I just like eating).

Like the museums we visited, the botanical garden was quite small by UK standards, but probably not because they have less stuff, more probably because they don’t hand over acres and acres to lawn. Also, the plants we need hothouses for they don’t. There’s only one greenhouse in the whole place.

There was also a LOT of potting going on. Presumably they are potting things that don’t need a lot of water, or else they’d have to employ everyone in Palermo just to keep the container plants alive.

Here’s the naughty Ficus Macrophylla again;

Ficus Macrophylla. Famously shit at lining up to create an avenue.

So good they named it thrice.

I had a bit of a sit down in the shade IT WAS SO HOT and took a few snaps from there.

Super sunny nice day.

Pretty.

It was really nice to get the overpowering petrol smell out of my nostrils. The sooner Palermans get into electric cars and bikes the better for everyone. The orange grove smelled lovely.

Oranges may not be the only fruit, but they are *A* fruit.

I still had time to be ridiculously early for my flight, and the rest of the day was rather wearing, so the trip to the Botanics was a good call. It’s hard to imagine that I arrived back in freezing cold London at the end of this splendid day.

Not that I wasn’t pleased to see Ten and Poppet, because I was. But, you know. Palermo! I miss you!

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ETA – Turns out there is another greenhouse, but I missed it. The one I went into had some cactus going on, but there was also cactuses outside. It really just isn’t that cold.

More Blogs about Buildings and Food

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In which Ken and I spend a week looking at buildings and eating food. Yeah, we went into museums, but that’s really not why we came.

Ken has won at blogging this holiday, and that’s a fact. Over the week he’s blogged about our first encounter with an arancino in Oranges aren’t the only meat, about how we have fabricated an entire cultural history of Palermo based only on talking to each other in A backstory for all of Palermo and our eventual sit down encounter with cake in Winding streets and churches and finally cake. I, on the other hand have posted a couple of photos on friendface and have saved up so many photos I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN.

These students didn’t know that I was from the home of rioting since 1982, but they did a little welcome protest for me. Bless them.

The people from the internet were very keen that we should have cake, but it took us a few days to get around to it.

Ken giving ‘our’ dog some sausage skin.

We watched this dog from our window. He seems to spend his day herding traffic. After enjoying the sausage skin and saying hello to us some guys were pushing a van to get it started and he hared off to ‘help’.

This morning’s weather.

We slept like nuns in our little skinny beds.

The room was nice. And the people looking after us were kind but not in our faces. It was an easygoing scenario.

There was some sort of cooking going on behind this scruffy exterior.

The guy saw me taking a photo and waved and got his friend/brother to get in for another shot, but this one was better, so.. sorry friend/brother, you didn’t make the cut.

These trees are not good for making tree lined avenues. Rogue trees.

I think I read about these trees in Kew magazine years ago. Some city, not Palermo, I think, since they don’t seem to go in for avenues here, decided to use these to line a street. The thing is those ropey tendrils come down from the branches and then take root and grow into trees, so the trees just colonize the space over time. Not good municipal planting.

The puppet museum had a full set of Punch and Judy puppets.

It was the least tempting museum for me, but actually I liked it the best. I don’t suppose anyone comes to Palermo to go to museums, but we felt we should.

A couple of holy fellas.

Ken’s last day we stopped in a tailor’s and had an impromptu jam.

I would have walked past here, but Ken saw the instruments and went in. They made us welcome and we had the best time. And the most interaction we’d had all week with local people. Here’s a piece of advice for you – musicians make good travelling companions. Ken brought his uke out a lot, and played to various people, but even without it, music brought us together.

The guy eating biscotti taught Ken a choon.

Simon, the guy in the red jacket, said it was a ‘magic moment’ which it was. He asked if we had an electronic address, which we did. Hopefully he emails and I can send him the link to this post.

Ken leaves in a couple of hours, then I will have 24 hours on my own before my flight home.

Violence, Sleep, and Cake

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It has been some time since my last confession, but let me tell you now, there’s no news like no news, and I’ve got no news. Not really.

I made a tumblr this morning elaine4queen.tumblr.com/day/2013/11/25 in which I, possibly rather redundantly, reblogged every post I’ve put in the End Of. tumblr so far. Weeeelll… it’s World Day Against Violence Against Women so why not?

It’s a small man…

It is the flimsiest of coincidences that I post an Italian poster here… but here’s a segue – BECAUSE IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW ALREADY IT’S THREE SLEEPS TO PALERMO! And by sheer magic, kismet, what have you, I have already put my foot in it by announcing on facebook that I am going to Italy. NO! I am going to Sicily! Quite different, apparently. Also, by sheer spooky coincidence, apparently Palermo is the city of CAKE. This is not entirely good news, but I’ll take it. And I will also take yoga pants in order to forgive what may occur to my waist.

In the meantime I have become a fan of and facebook friend of one Phil Lucas who, it turns out doesn’t just make amusing internetty things and daft fake council notifications around Brighton but does some sort of stand up/spoken word. So he is MY PEOPLE even though we have no fb friends in common and I probably came across as a crazy stalker lady when I friended him. This is modern life. Or postmodern life, if you prefer. I don’t because I think postmodernism is a massive hoax.

From the webbery of Phil Lucas

So, I’m quite the schmoozer, considering how seldom I leave the house. I’ve also friended up one Graham Duff, who I do have fb friends in common with, which makes me feel slightly less like a mad fawning fan, although, of course, I am, and that’s not how we met (we haven’t met IRL yet). He wrote Ideal, starring Johnny Vegas, about a small time drug dealer in Salford. Forget Breaking Bad, this is the real deal.

And how I ended up facebook friending the writer of this is that I met the person Tanya is based on! She IS called Tanya, but she stresses she DOES NOT do shoplifting. Even more amazing is that we met at all, since she is possibly even more hermitty than I am, but that’s the UNIVERSE and it’s mysterious ways, yo!

Foam Slippers Redux

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I am not good at anniversaries. Even my 21st birthday was spent in the cab of a lorry in France. My friend Helen had got me a bottle of Orangina. Orangina was GREAT. We didn’t have anything as nice in the UK. As a kid I thought the war was AGES ago, but as the years went by I realized that even in the 80’s we were still very post war in lots of ways.

i was given these to wear in hospital. i kept them and brought them home to photograph

Anyway, last year I took an overdose of pills and ended up in the local mental hospital. Via the general hospital, I am told, I don’t remember it. My memories of that time are vague and very partial.

I’d had a hard year. Every year since I got ill has been a hard year, and I thought I knew hard years. I don’t suppose I was ever entirely at home with myself, but I had some good times, and with health comes the promise of future. Without health, well, not so much. I’d moved house in the early autumn. Ten had done all the stuff I couldn’t, and the difficult summer seemed to hold that seed of hope that moving might improve things. What I didn’t expect was a flare up of every single thing that fibro had ever brought me. Weeks of being bed bound with cystitis, constant running migraines, all sorts of everything. What had happened on top of this was that this time the previous year, going into the hardest part of the year I had started having a lot of suicidal thoughts and had gone to the doctor’s in a panic. I needed some support and was given it, and then had it taken away again. This played out over a few months, and in the early summer I saw a psychiatrist who said that I was taking too many different medications, so I started coming off them – unsupervised. The psych was on a ‘rotation’ I was supposed to see another one but that never happened. I moved without medication, knowing I was spiraling and since I was moving boroughs not only did I have to sign up with a new GP but would have to start from scratch with psych services.

It was hard to get appointments. I had rising panic. I felt like I was shouting for help – who knows, maybe it was just a whisper? Or maybe my shouting is someone else’s whisper. At any rate, eventually I had a home visit from *someone* – I forget who. I told her I needed a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) to supervise me going on meds, since I was afraid of becoming manic. She told me that I wouldn’t get one unless I was hospitalized. By this time I heard ‘hospitalized’ not as  ‘turn up at hospital and tell them you need in’ but as ‘take an overdose and you’ll either die or get help’ which sounded like a win/win scenario to me.

This time last year, or, to be more specific, a bit later than that… I wrote this post and made light of it, rather. I was ready to show but not to tell.

I wanted to write this for two reasons. One, in a show of solidarity with all the other people in the UK who are currently literally being hounded to death by the current government’s sickness and disability ‘reforms’ and another to say thank you to everyone who helped me through that very dark time.

Ten, Hazel & Che, BJ, Lottie, Ian, Al, Lucy J, St Ann’s Home Team, my lovely friends on the interwebs, everyone who came to my birthday, Steven next door, my dad who wasn’t told at the time, but who takes me as I am whatever state I am in, my mum, my brother, Julie, who gave me holiday time in Brighton, and my darling little Poppet, this one’s for you:

This year has been so much better. Many difficult days, but better, always better than last year.

Poppet my Pet, a Painting and a Philosopher

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Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tell us about your favourite pet.

Sorry all cats, but Poppet is the best in class. And it’s not just me, either, the INTERNET loves her too! One time I was walking her in London Fields and someone came up to me and asked “Is that Poppet?” because he’d seen her on the internet!

i love you – feel my tongue

Here she is loving up Lahikmajoe during his recent visit from Germany. If you click through you’ll see the blog post where he admits his infidelity to his own dogs. It’s just how it is. Poppet = ALL THE LOVING.

All Dogs Matter, the charity where I adopted Poppet from are co-hosting a photo competition here.

The Kirsty who shall remain mysterious suggested I put this photo in;

I am not entirely convinced it’s her cutest photo though. Not as such.

I must say, though, it always makes me happy.

***

Yesterday I broke two habits – first of all I painted without tidying up first, and secondly I did two of these small pieces in a day!

It’s not that they are so very labour intensive, it’s just that doing any kind of art making is really new for me. I have been a good 6 or 7 years away from doing anything of the sort, and I am rather Bambi about it all. You know, that bit where he is just born and is shaky on his pins.

I am working in a sketch book which I wrote in in 2003. I am using a limited palette, and I think I am being rather influenced by the colours that surround me this autumn on the River Lea.

I expect I will graduate to larger works at some point, but for just now making marks is quite enough to be getting on with.

***

Just listening to an In Our Time about Simone Weil. It seems that a huge part of her philosophy was to do with ‘affliction’ which was partly influenced by her chronic migraines. Not what I expected when I started listening to the show.

NaBloPoMo, Where to Live, an Award, and Apples

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Right! Day Two in the Gone Mad Trying to Sign Up for NaBloPoMo House

WordPress doesn’t do it’s prompt until it’s the afternoon here in That London, but the NaBloPoMo prompts are all written out in advance. EXCEPT WEEKENDS! when they expect you to fend for yourself! I’m already having a nervous breakdown after having to fill in the longest ever form for Blog Her who are running this shebang. It took me back to when I signed up for livejournal a hundred million years ago. I was quite ill and the internet was quite new, and I’d only been ‘elaine’ on citynoise.org and I was horrified at having to make up a whole new individualized INTERNET NAME! I think I was quite lucky to get the elaine4queen thing right off the bat. I could have been stuck with something much worse.

So, here is day two’s prompt from NaBloPoMo;

Friday, November 2, 2012

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

This is quite an interesting question to me. I chose a long time ago to live in London, and I am quite a fond Londonist. I moved to the East End 20 years ago and watched it change over that time. It was very exciting. It went from being a bit of a dead on it’s feet dump to being the most effervescent hip and happening place. First Spitalfield Market reopened, that slowly grew until money people came in and land grabbed it. Meanwhile the area attracted more and more artists, Hoxton went from being a total black hole with only a popular ‘wrong side of the tracks’ gay bar to being a centre of art, fashion and night life. The surrounding residential areas began to ‘go up’ and without losing the creative vibe.

However… I got ill and became rather housebound. I couldn’t really enjoy what the neighbourhood had to offer, so last year I moved to Tottenham – a flat right on the river Lea. With a garden. Now my life is all about walks with my dog and pottering about. It’s super quiet here – the main noise nuisance is geese and seagulls rather than drunk shouting angry people. But I certainly got the cultural bends moving out here.

a rainy view from my window.

So what about now? I am not the person I was half a lifetime ago when I moved here. Has London lost it’s shine? Well, I certainly don’t *do* London. I don’t see plays or go to exhibitions, but I still feel comfortable here. And you see that grey block between my garden and the trees opposite? That’s the Lea. I could hardly live somewhere more secluded even if I moved to the countryside. I used to travel often, and wherever I went I imagined living in the place. Sometimes I got quite excited. I had this conversation with Ken when he was here. He asked if I really would move elsewhere if money wasn’t an issue, and I really just thought I’d like a bit more space where I am. I know there are fancier neighbourhoods and there are certainly prettier cities and I do like the seaside… but maybe now, whatever happens, I am contented to be where I am. Not to say I couldn’t use some time off. If money really wasn’t an issue then I would spend January-March somewhere else, but I can’t really imagine wanting to move from here.

***

Lori from dearmsmigraine nominated me for this award;

As is my habit, now, I will warmly accept the award and then pick and choose about what to do about the rules.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award Rules

1.Display the award logo on your blog.
2.Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.State 7 things about yourself.
4.Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5.Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

So, no matter HOW inspired I may be by 15 bloggers, that sounds like WORK. What I will do is to link to a couple of blogs I am enjoying right now or think you might want to click through to. A COUPLE, I said. Not 15, that’s overkill.

I don’t mind saying 7 things. And it’s not a bad thing to do at the beginning of a time when there are some new readers on the radar YOO HOO!!! NEW READERS!

1. I am 50. It’s been three months and a week or so, and I am getting used to it now. But it feels much more like a big one than 40 did. I could still pass for early 30s in my 40s AND it wasn’t technically too late to have a baby. Which I didn’t do and now it actually is too late. How do I feel about that?

2. I don’t massively mind not having children. I do really like having a dog, though. Much as I loved my cats when I had them, dogs win, they just do. I like other people’s babies though, they smell nice. But then, so does Poppet, though she smells of grass and mud and biscuits, whereas babies smell of something like a light vanilla and parma violet. Turkish delight, maybe?

3. I am a bit worried about my composting situation. I’ve got a home made bin which is now full, and has tiger worms living in it. I believe I will have usable stuff by the springtime from that. Meanwhile I have started a compost heap, which is really not an ideal thing to have in a small garden. I am thinking about buying a proper bin for a second helping. Usually you need three piles, but with the worms things should be a lot quicker. I am still festering about whether to buy a standard bin and adapt it or whether to buy a proper one, which presumably comes at a proper price, too. I stupidly asked the previous occupier to get rid of the bin he had. DAMMIT.

4. I have been internet campaigning for the badgers. Our government wanted to kill them ALL because of bovine TB. They have a stay of execution because of SCIENCE and lobbying, and the issue will be looked at again next year. Poor badgers. They never bother anyone. Badly named, I guessed.

5. I have started painting a bit again lately. I dare say proof of these exploits will be forthcoming on this blog. I’d like to think I will do a few little somethings over the course of a month.

6. My neighbour Stephen gave me some apples.

One went to brown mush almost immediately, so I washed the rest in cider vinegar and water. Should give them a stay of execution til they get eaten.

7. I am in great need of a tea or a coffee. I am going to go to the kitchen to consider my options.

NOW. Seona at pieces of me tends to keep her blog on the down low. But this month she has decided to join in with the posting every day hoo ha, so pop on over and give her some encouragement! I hereby offer her this award!

SECONDLY, my friend Helen has been a painter for a long time, and has started a couple of painting blogs… but now she has ‘come out’ as a passionate knitter! So much so that she has opened a shop. She also cooks, and she is also interesting. Here’s her blog knitonemorerow pretty, isn’t it? An award for her, too.

See? Two is enough. You should always believe me, I am always right. You’re welcome.