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Welcome to the Blog for April, 2020

News and Views on Ageing
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“These are the good old days”

Day Thirtythree of Solitude April 25th, 2020

sunset, Totnes, 2019

 “These are the good old days”. This line from the  Carly Simon song “Anticipation” has been going  through my head these past few days and, although  the context in her song is rather different, the line  does speak to how I feel about this time we are in.  And about the reality of human experience generally.  Where we live is right here, right now, not yesterday  or tomorrow. Currently, there is not much point in  looking forward to that summer holiday in Spain or  Cornwall as there is a good chance the winter will be  here before we have the opportunity to travel.

 That is not to say that looking back or looking ahead  is not useful, memories and plans are very valuable, it's just that they are not reality. The past is as much a fantasy as any future we might imagine. The corona C-19 virus is teaching us how arbitrary our view of time is and in reality time stretches and contracts, it moves in step with our awareness.

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"Breathing All Creatures Are Brighter Then Than Brightest Star" *

Day Twentynine of Solitude April 21st, 2020

hens resting on lawn

 Sitting in the garden with my book when four of the  hens decided to pay a visit. After poking around on  the newly dug herb bed they came and scratched  the grass a few feet from me and then decided to sit  and relax in the warm sunshine.

 I put my book down and watched the hens as they  adjusted their position in relation to each other and  then settled, they all had a wing extended and the  nearest hen had a leg sticking out a bizarre angle.  They looked as content as I was feeling.

 I watched the nearest one, her body rising and  lowering with large slow regular movements as the  she exchanged oxygen and carbon dioxide. Just like me, just like many of the earth’s breathing creatures.

* The Incredible String Band, Wee Tam and the Big Huge, 1968

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Nature Can be Overwelming at Times

Day Twentyseven of Solitude April 19th, 2020

Speedwell, small blue wild flower

 I have just come in from the garden after sitting in the  sun with a book and a cup of tea. After a while I put  my book down in order to attend to the bird song, to  watch the insects as they flew above me and the  sheep standing on the hill. Then I began to look at  the herb garden in front of me and hedges around  me bringing the thought of nature on a mission,  so much rampant growth! Nettles, bramble and grass  interspersed with dandelions and speedwell and in  the hedge the sycamore is becoming unruly.

 So much to do, mowing, shearing, rakeing, tidying, it  could be overwhelming! Or maybe we can re-wild the  hedges and let the flowers be by default.

Be that as it may, after preparing my lunch, I intend to go back to my bench in the herb garden and watch mother nature tend her ever growing family, I may even read another page of my book. I will certainly have another cup of tea.

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Hooked on technology

Day Twentyfour of Solitude April 16th, 2020

Dart Valley over Zoom, screen capture

 Before the viral emergency I was gradually weaning  myself off technology, which after a lifetime in the  electronics industry was not so easy. Over a couple  of years or more out went various computers, radios  and test equipment.

 When I came to the Barn Retreat Centre as a  residential volunteer coordinator I was down to one laptop, one tablet, a cheap point and shoot camera and a £50 smartphone. Plus a small toolbox.

Just over three weeks into the shut down I have added a camera tripod, a decent webcam, digital voltmeter, a Huawei data dongle and speakers for my laptop. And all, well nearly all, because of Zoom. I’m zooming all over the place: daily meditation and meeting here at the Barn, meditation sitting groups in Totnes and Truro, Awakening the Sage Within course and weekly international meditation group. Oh, and a number of virtual social gatherings.

I think that I need to fess up, I really love technology, I love what we can do with it more but I also feel at home with the nuts and bolts. So, to the picture above: It's a screen shot of a view of the River Dart and valley transmitted from my mobile phone into a Zoom meeting and recorded by one of the meeting participants.

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Easter Saturday

Day Eighteen of Solitude April 11th, 2020

Dart Valley from Sharpham

 It's a beautiful morning, a little haze over the valley.  Just to sit on the side of the hill, watching bumble  bees wizz zigzagingly by and birdsong all around me,  is some sort of heaven. Aware of my contact with  earth, of being alive, there's not much more to be  asked for.

 The hill on the far side of the river looks like a David  Inshaw painting, a tree in the middle of a field casts a  shadow in the direction of Totnes and a group of  cows make their way down the hill to drink at the river  edge.

 On a hill above the Dart a ruined farmhouse that,  even on this beautiful spring morning, has all the  melancholy and desolation that a hundred years of  emptiness brings.

Below on the river a single yacht makes it slow way downstream to Dartmouth.

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Day Seven of Solitude April 2nd, 2020


 Must of us grow up loaded with shoulds and  shouldn'ts and it can be illuminating to see how we  are when we stop judging ourselves or at least  develop the ability to see when we are listening to  that internalised voice of judgement. Perhaps seeing  the expectations we have of ourselves and how they  can contrast with what we actually feel. Yesterday I  felt a strong connection with the life all around me,  the flowers, the birds, the trees and the animals.  Today not so much, there was a need to be quiet and  to be inside myself, to be with the awareness of the  blood pumping, the warmth in my belly and the edge-  of-tears sadness there at times.

 Quietly watering the poly tunnels, then sowing up a tray of Kelvin Wonder peas and later measuring up to make a couple of barriers to stop the hens coming into the poly tunnels and snaffling our salad leaves. Why spend all day scratching around the woodland when some kind humans created an enormous salad bowl that keeps on giving!

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