The pain of earthquakes in life

Fortnum 2013-05-09

It doesn’t take much for the vivid memories of the Christchurch earthquake to come flooding back. Four years on, my body still floods with adrenalin when I least expect. The heavy rumbling of a bus passing a bookshop last week momentarily set me looking for somewhere to hide. Strange really, because when it comes to real earthquakes that we do get from time to time, I feel strong and confident in the knowledge of what to expect.

Aside from the lingering sense of nervousness, the after effects of the Christchurch earthquake only show up in my outlook on life. Facing a life threatening situation does wonders for your sense of perspective of what’s important and what’s not. Although there is a big wide world to experience and embrace, ultimately it is only those you love and care about that really matter most.

Ten days ago our world was shook up and thrown down in the most brutal way. The aftershocks are painful and I need more strength than I have within me now to write much about it yet. But, the painful fact is that on 12 February we said farewell to our Big Basset, Fortnum. Yes, our larger than life hound is gone from our lives. It was fast from a cancer we didn’t know he had.

Fortnum 2013-05-09

I am mad as hell about what’s happened and bereft at the enormous gap that can never be filled. Fortnum’s life was full but too short, he was 7 and a half.

It’s not like you can ever prepare yourself for the loss of a loved one but the nature of Big Basset’s passing has deepened the shock and grief. Our daily routines that seemed so important before have fallen away, partly because they are a constant reminder of Fortnum but mostly because they just don’t seem to matter any more.

Our bassets arrived as a pair. A big one and a little one. A noisy one and a quiet one. One that runs and another that trots. They were a perfect balance, each with their own personalities and foibles but as a package they couldn’t be better matched. Even their names only really make sense when spoken together.

Little basset is doing well but he’s never had to be a solo basset. Emotionally and practically we have massive challenges ahead. We’re taking it one day at a time. People tell me it will get easier but so far the pain just dulls until a little aftershock arrives and the grief rolls over in overwhelming waves.

Mason says it all with big deep sighs. It’s like an expulsion of air to take the edge of the hurt. A safety valve for the pressure that builds inside.

Intellectually I know that over time things will get better. It’s good to focus on practical things and professional work. Distracting the mind fools you thinking that life is OK. But it’s a fool’s game you can’t sustain.

Counting my blessings helps. Hugging Mason helps. Talking about Fortnum to all our dog loving friends helps. Crying helps. Receiving love and support from my husband, friends and family helps. The brutal truth is part of our family is gone and we just need to let grief play its gruesome game.

And when that’s done, we’ll be able to celebrate, remember and give thanks for all Fortnum brought into our lives.

Very Berry Weather

Berries 2015-01-06 (3)

The sun has been blowing it’s own trumpet for weeks now. To the point we really could do with nature turning its thermostat down a notch or two and turn on the rainclouds for some meaningful rain to quench the thirst of the garden. Thankfully though the wet weather we had in late Spring forced a massive currant harvest this year.

The raspberries and red/blackcurrants have been going great guns. Not so much the strawberries and what little gooseberries we had disappeared one day, one assumes along with a gorged bird that must have snuck in and out the fruit caging. Kitchen gardening can be a frustrating adventure at times.

Needless to say we’ve enjoyed our haul – naked, compoted, juiced and accompanied some rather delicious ice cream. The freezer is filling up too so we can enjoy them at a later date. Whilst the supermarkets are full of the usual seasonal fare; strawberries, blueberries, stone fruit you hardly ever see currants and the raspberries are eye-wateringly expensive making what we grow at home seem all the more precious.

Just as I was settling into lazy routines the holidays are over and it’s back to work. Needless to say it’s been a shock to the system even though I do have a rather slower and more flexible return to the office than most.

It’s all well and good having time to kick-back and enjoy the break but I end up dreaming up all sorts of projects that sets my mind into overdrive and ambitions way beyond my capacity to deliver. Each day the to do list gets longer with seemingly little progress although those little ticks in the notebook indicate stuff does indeed get done.

The one place I can go for some calm is down to the garden. Watering the veges on an evening is the perfect time to allow the mind to settle, pull up a few stray weeds, curse the cat that seems to have moved into the greenhouse and dream up more ideas of what we can do with the tayberries, loganberries, boysenberries and blackberries springing into life for a few weeks time.

After a successful experiment for sugar free jam, I’m bringing the preserving pan out of retirement to conjure up a small stash for the freezer to enjoy in the darker days that will inevitably come. For now though I’m going to enjoy the evening sun with plans for a sundowner and some berry grazing straight from the bush. It’s the stuff of the good life.

Berries 2015-01-03 (1)

Berries 2015-01-03

Berries 2015-01-06 (2)