Blog & Photo Journal Archive

April 5th

Well,  I really shouldn’t eat or drink again for quite some time… Two birthday lunches,  one on Saturday here with J&R, one on Sunday with Chita and Len, and then a wonderful zoom session with my mostly NY homies (plus Joan in CA, Dino in Arizona?) – sooo much fun to see everyone – I feel very well celebrated!   Can’t wrap my mind around the actual milestone –  it truly doesn’t compute… But there it is… Starting another chapter…

I must say that the very thought of planting the huerto this year makes me feel tired, which is not a good sign, and afternoon bike rides are not as tantalising… Perhaps it’s just the end of a long and hard winter – not weather wise, just the constant state of being The Responsible One – responsible for everything… I would so dearly love a vacation, where someone looked after me for a change and I could just sleep for a week and not think about “things that need to be done”… in another life…

Sis is trying very hard to help however she can, which is heartening – every little bit helps.  She is getting dressed every day now – not constantly seeing her in her nightie and dressing gown is a big improvement. And we actually had an early birthday meal at Txoko the week before – her first outing, other than hospital and/or physio, in over a year. And I got her down to the sea on her birthday – all good forward motion…

Speaking of weather, the island is bone dry, the earth cracked already – so little rain has fallen this winter, it’s really scary.  It looks like late May, not early April.  I fear that there will be a fair amount of attrition in the garden this year – time to let things go if they can’t survive on their own, or at least with only minimal help…

Still no sign of the vaccine, but now I’m in the next group up, perhaps it will come soon. I just need to be good to go July 1st… please…

March 17th, 2021, Menorca

March 17th, 2021, Menorca

Happy anniversary. Exactly a year ago today I stepped off the last plane into Menorca to begin quarantine and lockdown on the island… A whole year… In my whole life, I don’t think I have ever, ever spent a whole year in one place… mind you, if you’re going to have to stay put for a year, I can’t think of a better place to do it. I’ve alsways said I wanted to spend a whole year here… not exactly the circumstances I would have chosen (Covid, sis) but in fact, without Covid I’m sure I would have up stakes and left at some point, and inspite of all the drawbacks inherent in living with my sister, without her I would have been very lonely at times… And the benison of the land, the sea, the beautiful old house and gardens (tho’ SO much work), fresh air, nature in general, and of course, most important, the cat – what’s to complain about?  I can’t call myself a musician anymore, I don’t think, or a composer, I spend so little time doing either – I am a caretaker (giver?), housekeeper, gardener, farmer – or as the song goes, “Maid, cook, gardener, poolboy and nurse, Painter, cleaner, tour guide, nanny and worse, Shopper and chauffeur, translator, oh for a flash back to days of yore, with Servants.”  I do have a little help. Twice a week a lady from Social Services comes for an hour –  she gets sis dressed (so I can take her to her rehab/physio at the hospital). and also does some vaccuming and cleaning in the time left, bless her.  And once a week a wonderful girl comes to give sis a shower, change her bedding etc – S.S’s. would do it, but sis loves Sandra, it’s worth paying for…. so 3 days a week I have a little help, which is wonderful.  And actually sis is definitely getting better, slowly – today we went mattress hunting and actually bought her one, so next week when it arrives we can get rid of the hospital-style articulated single bed and she will be back in a regular double bed – with a fabulous new mattress. Very expensive, but half what it would have been had it not been on sale.  She deserves a good bed – she spends so much time in it! And we had lubina for lunch in celebration.

Chris and Catherine are in residence in my apartment in Westbeth –  he transferred his job to NYC (so lucky he could do  that),  and she works from home at the moment, so it’s a chance to have a few months with their own home together, and for him to save his pennies so he can come back out here again at some point and take care of his mom so I can finally go back for a bit… we video chat and it is so weird seeing my apartment…. great for the place to have some TLC – the piano has been tuned, all the mail finally gone through, and Catherine has done a deep clean on both kitchen and bathroom, which was much needed, I’m sure. What AM I going to do about it all??? Living day by day at the moment, the only way possible at present, but it. cannot continue indefinitely…

It’s been a pretty gentle winter, overall, apart from a couple of really cold snaps – dire shortage of rain, tho’… we’re headed into another cold spell this week – march, the crazy month – the sun is actually really hot already, but the air is still cold  – I love it, but it drives sis crazy. I’ve gone down to the sea a couple of afternoons and napped by the water –  once at the rocks (with my yoga mat!). and once at Binidali.  Sweet…

We are facing another major repair, that of sis’s patio, which has been completely destroyed by pine roots – it’s like the Himalayas back there and extremely dangerous for sis, so it’s going to have be dug up, the roots cut out (sure hope we don’t lose the trees) and the stones re-layed.  How we pay for it heaven knows, but like the bathroom renovation, it. has to be done, so we will just find a way.   It is  also the only cool place in the hottest part of the summer, so important for all…

And then there’s the fact that I’m about to turn 70. Jesus me beads… I think my body has definitely taken the idea on board –  gippy left hip and knee, right shoulder, aches and pains all over, creaking like an old sailing ship, and seem to be tired all the time –  less interested in biking etc in the. afternoon, would. rather take a nap – let’s hope it’s just the end of winter… roll on spring…

And then there’s the Aztra Zeneca scare – still no vaccine for me here… just play it one day at a time, Gina…

New Year’s Eve, Menorca

Finally, the end of 2020… my fervent prayer is that this time next year we don’t find ourselves looking back on 2020 with nostalgia. ….

Sis is home (she came home Dec. 1st, and has been making slow but steady progress ever since). Chris has gone. We are bereft. Two and a half months of the most buoyant company and support – Saint Christopher indeed… Now comes the hard part… but we will manage… and we have so much to be thankful for…


Dec.2nd

The Queen is home, finally… yesterday, on our third attempt… first try was Nov.18th, but the bathroom renovation wasn’t finished; then Thanksgiving, but there was a knock-on problem with the kitchen plumbing; and finally Dec. 1st – and a beautiful day it was, she even took a slow (assisted) walk around the garden and sat out on the patio for a while, before retiring to her new “cama articulada”… And now it’s raining – but we’re all home and snug… Sis even took a short walk outside this morning in the cold and damp (with the aid of the walker, and Chris) – after two and a half months of recycled air, she has a new appreciation of fresh air!

I had a bit of a ghastly morning: we got home to find there was only one oxycodona pill left, so I got up early and went to the farmacia for more, only to be told that the prescription had run out, no more refills – what? How could they not have told me?? So I walked over to the hospital (in the rain) where luckily the doctor who had taken care of sis had just come in. She said it was a controlled substance and I’d have to take it up with Diana’s personal doctor. I explained that it took 3 or 4 days to get an appointment, and meanwhile what were we to do? After a lengthy to-and-fro, she finally wrote me a prescription. I walked back (in the rain) to the farmacia, only to be told that the doctor had made a mistake in the precise wording of the prescription, so back I walked to the hospital (in the rain)  to. find that luckily, again, the doc had still not started her rounds. She amended the scrip and I walked back (in the rain) to the farmacia. Third time’s a charm… But really… And I hadn’t even had breakfast…

On a more optimistic note, the “new” bathroom is a great improvement – really quite good. The shower is fabulous, tho’ it does make you want to take a lovely LONG one, which is so against the rules here… But it was definitely worth the trouble (I haven’t seen the bill yet –  I dread to think…). In reality all ‘we’ (Sebastian and Chris) did was take out the bathtub and replace it with a walk-in shower, but this ended up taking FOUR WEEKS – Jesus me beads, as my mother used to say… old houses… you disturb one thing and that leads to another and another and another…. the whole waste pipe had to be replaced which involved digging through a 6-foot-thick stone wall into the pozo negro, aomngst other things… then there was a knock-on problem with the kitchen plumbing, after an old metal pipe in the back of the house was accidentally punctured during the bathroom work (nephew Chris finally solved the kitchen problem with a little extra piece of rubber washer – after Sebastian spent TWO DAYS trying to figure it out…). But meanwhile, much other necessary work has been done: Chris bleached out all the mould in various bits of ceiling, and we have taken care of a lot of the noisy outdoor work – cutting wood, weed whacking all the tancas (and little bits of the gardens – the oxalis is really taking over), getting rid of all the porqueria in the lane from the bathroom excavation, also all the old irrigation tubing lying about in various fields, and a few of the smaller bathtubs that used to provide water for sheep and horses, etc…) – so that all might be quiet and peaceful for the Queen’s return… On Monday, the day before she came back, the cleaner bailed, so I had the joy of cleaning the house as best I could, plus doing. a massive shop, while Chris got hold of Sebastian’s hedge-trimmer and went to town on the plumbago, setos, and many other things – if we had our own (hedge clippers), there would probably be no vegetation left on the finca! But the place looks really spiffy and cleaned up – thank you St. Christopher…

We finally had a half day of rain last Saturday, and another today, with more on the way – the garden is sooo happy, after almost two months without… The bad news is that the potato plants have the blight – damn! It seems the best thing to do is just cut them down, burn them so as to not pass the blight onto the soil, and dig up what potatoes there are – wah! it’s way too soon… but I took out the last plant on each row a few days ago as an experiment, and some more this afternoon, and garnered a pretty good crop of decent sized tatties – so the blight hasn’t reached the roots yet, only the leaves… the Menorcan reds, which came up much later than the rest, are still not too bad, so perhaps I will try the organic “fungicide” – a solution of bicarbonate of soda and water, with a little oil to make it stick to the leaves and a little washing up liquid to emulsify it… if it stops raining for a few days…

Thank heavens for Chris – not only is he great muscle to have around. for a myriad jobs, but he is such a sweetheart, so kind and considerate and loving, and good company, and gets on better with his mom than anyone else in the world – me included! I’m atually writing this in my studio – where I’ve not been in months – safe in the knowledge that he is in the house cooking up a big batch of pesto lasagna, while sis is tucked up in her room, and the fire is blazing in the sitting room. All is momentarily good with the world – tho I know things can change in a heartbeat – kenahora, kenahora – surrounded by white light etc etc…. I must take a short walk before it gets dark… Saludos to one and all…


Oct. 10th

Dear friends,

I may have spoken to some of you, maybe not, it’s all a bit of a blur…

It’s hard to believe it was only 3 wee,ks ago… The day after I posted the video of me singing contentedly under the olive trees (sept. 20th), my sister had a bad fall and has been in hospital ever since, flat on her back, with 2 fractured vertebrae in her upper back. Added to the broken lower back of 15 years ago, it’s extraordinarily bad luck… she was frail before this, but now… I don’t know… She spent 2 weeks in the local hospital, flat on her back, waiting for a medieval torture device that she has to wear for 3 months – it runs from her ears (the top of her spine) to her sternum, and she has to wear it anytime she is not flat on her back – and I mean flat… they call it a corset – if only it were just what that word conjures up… She is drugged up to the eyeballs, which is good on the one hand, not so good on the other…

Last Monday they transferred her to a private “hospital”/clinic (blessedly free for the first few weeks) where they will try to get her accustomed to the corset (sort of) and hopefully strong enough to be able to walk again, at least a little, so she can come home. This place is not designed for the infirm… Meanwhile I am researching the purchase of an orthopedic hospital bed, and all the bathroom trimmings, plus spending 6 or 7 hours a day with her at the hospital – the spanish system expects the family to do 90% of the nursing… and trying to figure out how to run this place single-handedly as well as take care of her.  I am of course looking for help, I will not manage alone (just getting the corset on her in order to get her up to pee takes two people), but the social system is stretched very thin and it will be very expensive…

My wonderful nephew Chris is trying to figure out how to get here to help, but of course US citizens are persona non grata, so he has to apply for special permission through the Spanish bureaucracy, which is endless – with the ultimate decision being made by the border police – so I don’t hold out much hope… Meanwhile friends here are doing my food shopping, feeding me lunch a couple times a week – I am not comletely alone!

If I think too far ahead I grind to a halt, so I am just trying to get through this day by day…  Every day brings fresh and unique challenges –  just when I think I’ve figured things out for a little while, something else crashes. – I’m told Mercury is in retrograde and will be for the next two months – fuck Mercury, and fuck 2020!

Forgive me if I don’t write too often, but I will try to give you updates whenever possible… I know that I need to take care of myself if I am to manage this, so if anyone has any bright ideas of how to teach me to compartmentalise? The few hours of down time I get each day are still torpedoed by the ever-churning brain….

Hoping you are all safe and well…


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