Saturday, 26 May 2018

More This and That

'There is no more ridiculous custom than the one that makes you express sympathy once and for all on a given day to a person whose sorrow will endure as long as his life. Such grief, felt in such a way is always present, it is never too late to talk about it, never repetitious to mention it again'.
Marcel Proust

My friend Sue sent me this quote. She also said it might make her want to read A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. The quote I appreciate very much, it’s utterly simple and deeply true. But read Remembrance of Things Past? Seven volumes of a total of 3,031 pages, containing more than 1,267,069 words, and more than 2,000 characters — it's a daunting read; not surprisingly, it is one of the longest novels of all time. Proust is also one of the greatest novelists of all time and this novel is his magnum opus, but starting to read it now? ‘Had we but world enough and time’ (Andrew Marvell’s ‘To his coy Mistress’) comes to mind. So Proust will remain unread by me. I had an idea after reading the quote : why not call the novels ‘Nostalgia’ for short? I thought that was rather clever of me but I don’t suppose many others do. Perhaps it’s someone else’s idea and  I just read it somewhere and I’m not really clever?

I helped bury a good friend of ours last Monday by attending his funeral, a man who’s son said of him in his eulogy :”my dad was an intellectual, to the point of possibly being a snob about it.” I like that. I like unashamed elitism, provided you keep it in the family, as it were.

Millie is becoming an ever greater worry. She tumbled down part of the stairs again. The vet said to make her stay downstairs, but how? My friend said to put a suitcase on the bottom step. Millie follows me around wherever I go in the house. She is on steroids now but really, she suffers from old age for which there is no cure. She has gone deaf too. When a vet says ‘it’s a question of quality of life now’ you know what o’clock it is. The other day we went on to the castle bailey where a lot of tourists were admiring the ruins. As she is wont to do, she went to every group for a bit of attention and to say hello and most people cuddled and stroked her. She obviously got confused by the assorted legs and hands, so she just lay down for a bit. I was down the hill by the five bar gate back into the field by now, waiting for her. I called and whistled and created quite a kerfuffle myself but she couldn’t hear me and, in the end, several people led her down the hill towards me. Clambering back up to meet them halfway I hurt my sore knee all over again; I am still limping.

Going to the gym with my sore knee is a bit of a problem too. I can’t put weight on it which means the treadmill and similar machines are out. But the rower and standbikes are fine. As are machines which I hope will reduce my flabby batwing upper arms a bit. I hate showing bare arms, I suppose anybody over fifty does. On the whole, I have quite taken to gym workouts, and Dan, my Fitness Instructor, who has measured my progress, is pleased with me. I have the suspicion that FIs are conditioned to praise all of their guinea pigs, how else are you going to go on jumping through the hoops? We all need to be praised. I genuinely like the gym because the exercise makes me feel good but I still have to force myself to go sometimes. Contrary creatures, we humans.

Old gardener comes two mornings a week at the moment. Because of the long winter and late start of the gardening year everything was delayed; with warmer days having arrived there was a sudden explosion of growth and, almost overnight, bare branches, dead plant stems and bare patches turned green, with weeds mostly. Gardener rests more often than he used to do but he still works very hard for a man of his age. I don’t mind a bit, it gives me a chance to chat. He and his missus seem to be happy in the new house, she even buys plants for the small garden, which is unheard of. They’ll have been married for fifty years in July. Gardener is already grumbling that they’ll be spending money on a tea party for the family and that he will be spending yet more when he takes her out for a celebratory meal. Like many of his background he grumbles about spending money on non-essentials when secretly he is proud that he has it to spend. Or so I read him, anyway.


20 comments:

  1. Poor Millie...elderly dogs need to know you are there - except when they are on a frolic of their own.

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  2. I suspect your reading of Gardener is spot on.
    Love that quote. Something which should be observed more often.

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  3. I feel for Millie, I know whereof she aches. And it's so good to learn that the gardener is still soldiering on. :-)

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  4. Poor Millie. Aging is fun for no one. Grief may dull and ease, but it never goes away.

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  5. I do so miss your good writing. are all still sorry for your loss and send virtual hugs. I watch and see how you handle this next stage of your life and learn. I hope you think about getting another dog in the future. Not to replace this one, but to keep you busy and give you a schedule. I lectured my fried and neighbor briefly about his complaint that the New Yorker articles were too long. I explained we need heavy articles like these...maybe for the few elitists.

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  6. My brother's dog is 18 years old, if you can believe it. She, too, is deaf & follows him around as well. Fortunately, the live in a single-storey home.

    The Proust quote is 'treffend'. I'll never read more Proust than that either.

    Grüsse aus SF! Bea

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  7. praise is what keeps us going but regular workouts at the gym do produce results. I worked out with a trainer for 7 years, going 2 or 3 times a week. I liked the strength and toned muscles. then I moved to the country and no more gym but I go to yoga twice a week which keeps me limber and strong. not as strong as the gym but more limber. it's a trade off. the important thing is that you are using your body.

    poor Millie. she was old when you got her really. and I agree, when she is gone you should get another companion. it will help keep you fit and give you company.

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  8. I'm sorry to hear Millie is showing her age. I know she wants to be with you but yes, the stair thing is a problem. Do you know anyone who had a small child or baby? They have those baby gates and my friends use them to keep the dogs out of house areas they don't want an animal. Depending on the set-up of your staircase, that might work.

    Apart from that and your knee -- and that's big -- it sounds as though your life is moving along gently and nicely with diligent workouts and time in the garden. Yes, it came fast here, too. Brutal winter and now one can't keep up. I say get the Cliff notes version of Proust and read shorter books. There are more than a few to challenge, delight and entertain that are much shorter reads!

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  9. Sad to learn about Millie. Your old gardener to me seems almost a character for a good story. I wish I was up to more excercise . My laziness is beginning to appear as health suffers. I think stress has grabbed me and I am not pushing back . I must try harder, if not for my sake then Buddy’s.

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  10. Millie is such a social creature. I thought of a child gate too, but a big suitcase might work, too. So glad the old gardener is still keeping busy and keeping you company at the same time. I don't think I ever could have handled reading a novel that long even when it was easy for my eyes to devour books. Hope you are having a glorious weekend. :)

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  11. Hi Friko - I will be back to reply properly - probably this is it! ... thanks for visiting though ... and I feel for you re Millie - I guess you never installed a chair-lift ... perhaps there isn't room or it can't be configured: might help re Millie ... and perhaps later you. It's great you're enjoying the exercise ... so pleased the gym work is encouraging you to keep going - but I certainly hope the knee improves.

    Re gardener ... delighted he's back and having tea with you ... and doing a little work - probably all adds grist to the mill, so to speak ... gosh that's one long book ... and I admire you for having some inclination towards Proust - my education didn't nearly get that far ... I'm sure you'll find some other reading matter, and poetry to read ... take care and enjoy the warmer days - cheers Hilary

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  12. Am crying about Millie, friend Friko ... She reminds me of Piwo, my trusty old black lab ... he was never allowed in the house ... not even in deep winter of -35C ... not allowed not even in the mudroom by him ... Piwo is part of the reason I left my "home" ... Son Paul and daughter in law Leanne took Piwo in for his last Winter 2 years ago ... they let him stay in their home as I was still looking for a new home ... One day, Leanne phoned me that Piwo was having bad seizures ... Leanne is an animal health assistant ... She took him to her clinic, they did tests and decided to put him down ... She asked me if I wanted to be there but I said "NO" ... She brought me his neckless and a foot print after that ... I understand your sadness so well, friend Friko ... and I love you for sharing ... Always, cat.

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  13. It is not anything close to Proust, but there is a beautiful song by Willie Nelson that is called, Something You Get Through”. I find it so touching and so true.‘Something You Get Through’ Lyrics:

    When you lose the one you love
    You think your world has ended
    You think your world will be a waste of life
    Without them in it

    You feel there’s no way to go on
    And life is just a sad, sad song
    But love is bigger than us all
    The end is not the end at all

    It’s not something you get over
    But it’s something you get through
    It’s not ours to be taken
    It’s just a thing we get to do
    Life goes on and on
    And when it’s gone
    It lives in someone new
    It’s not something you get over
    But it’s something you get through

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  14. Ah life. There is no sorrow like watching our loved ones go into decline. That is the price we pay for loving so much; we miss them so when they are gone and we hurt to see them delcline.

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  15. I remember when our dog Scout could no longer get up the stairs, and he sat at the bottom and whined and cried ... heartbreaking to see your pet decline like that. Eventually, he got used to sleeping downstairs -- as we all must accept our limitations as we age, I guess. But ... keep after that knee!

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  16. Dear Friko, right now I'm reading a book written by a New York Times feature writer. It's about six people with whom he spent much time for a year. Each was 85 years old or older and they taught him a great deal. Sort of changed his mind on being older or being in the "oldest old" set. I don't know whether you'd like the book or not, but I"m enjoying it. The author is John Leland. Peace.

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  17. I did not know that Proust quote, but it is so, so very true.
    Sorry to hear Millie is showing her age more and more, and worrying you. That is the hard and hated part about having pets.
    Speaking of the gym - I've been to mine today for the first time since before my OP! So glad I went, because it does make me feel good and I really need it to counterbalance the effects of desk work all day, all week.

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  18. You chronicle daily life, its joys, sorrows, and all in between, so wonderfully. I chuckled at “Proust will not be read by me.” At a more ambitious time in my life, I did read the whole dang thing, in the new translation (Lydia Davis, if I recall rightly, translated the first book). Though I enjoyed it at the time, including the challenge of it (as for the content, I found it a bit like the curate’s egg), what I remember of it could fill a thimble. These days, my efforts are not so lofty, to say the least.

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  19. Millie sounds a bit like me, which is why I applaud your trips to the gym, since I have to be forced at gunpoint, these days. Gardening sounds the perfect exercise, besides being much more interesting than the treadmill.

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