Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Downs and Ups (part two)

A post by Madame

Fawkner Park was a strange place, this morning: greyed out with mist, but humid. Not a comfortable combination, nor one conducive to tuning in to the night's memories. More annoying than that was the way my mind kept harking back to the nobody's-reading-my-stuff business. Even when I started to see what had happened overnight, that thought kept intruding. Then something I read in The Risen* came to mind. The authors (August Goforth, who's earthside, and Timothy Gray, who's in Spirit) speak at length of the ego-mind, the biological-psychological “self” distinct from what they refer to as Authentic Self (which I'd call soul), that does a fine job of messing us around. I think of ego-mind slightly differently, more like the screw-ups society imposes upon us: things like religious guilt or materialism (the idea that this physical world is all there is, and anything else is delusional). The readiness to feel put out or insulted is a large part of it, too.

Regardless of definitions, the point here was that the way to deal with ego-mind is to acknowledge it with kindness, with love, and move on. Which is essentially what I did, once I recognised the rerun thoughts for what they were.

This is you, isn't it, ego-mind? Look, I know you're upset by this. So am I. But it is, there's nothing we can do about it, and focussing on it's not going to help. We went Home last night, so let's focus on that instead.

Amazingly enough, it worked! I'm not used to telling myself to stop thinking something and getting a result, so thanks to August and Tim for that.

So, what happened at Home? Better than I would have expected. But then, I should have expected it, this being Louis involved!

The first thing I recalled (before getting ego-mind to butt out) was arriving Home, opening the front door and calling, “Sweetheart?” Louis hurried downstairs and we hugged, but instead of my usual “What's for breakfast?” type of enquiry, something else altogether came to mind. Different needs and appetites, as it were, and certainly a lingering wish for comfort. Louis swept me up, then paused, looking around trying to decide where to go - upstairs? The fur rug? Decisions, decisions! I said, “What about the couch?” and that did nicely, thank you.

Segue to drying ourselves after a shower and me asking what he wanted to do today.

“A rest from gardening, I think,” he said, towelling his hair. “Perhaps enjoying a garden instead?”

“Visiting one? That'd be fun. Any ideas where?”

“Shall we go to Sissinghurst?”

“Oh, YES! Let's see the spring planting!”

For those who haven't read it, we visited Sissinghurst-in-Spirit last year. For those who don't know what the earthly Sissinghurst is, it's one of the most famous gardens in England, created from the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, and now owned by the National Trust. My mother and I visited it in 1993. We were devilish lucky to get there at all. We found out about a day trip there and bought tickets just in time for the last day of its open season.

For our visit to the permanent Sissinghurst, Louis and I put on our glad rags; this was going to be a special day out, not one slobbing around like backpackers. I haven't mentioned it here before, but at Home I have a 1950s-style floral dress, very similar to the one in the picture, which I've worn a few times. I chose that, and asked Louis to wear one of his coloured shirts, rather than a white one. I wanted to see him as glorious in colour as I was going to be. He went for the rich purple, as you can see. Dressed, we held hands and stepped over to Sissinghurst. 

A spring day at Sissinhurst-in-Spirit, with Vita's tower, where she does her writing, in the background.
I don't remember seeing any other visitors, although Louis says there were some around. What I do remember is being greeted by Vita herself. I say “herself” because I've liked and admired her and Harold for years, and there is still, even over There, a certain feeling of meeting a celebrity (and one not just famous for being famous). I might say that Vita, who had her share of snobbishness in her earthly day – not surprising for a scion of the Sackvilles of Knole – was quite taken with having a king come to visit her garden. 
I don't remember the talk in detail, but some snippets came through: Vita calling “Hadji!” (Harold's nickname) to bring him to meet the visitors; asking if she remembered looking from her tower window last year and seeing someone in a crimson cloche hat, because it was me (she did), and talking about how Louis and I are making a knot garden partly inspired by Sissinghurst. Louis had the plan of our garden with him, and we sat looking at it and talking about what flowers might go well for the colours we want. I remember telling Vita how I have no interest in gardening on the earthly side, which surprised her somewhat. “Latent,” is all I remember her saying in response, though I know she said more than that. 

Vita and Harold in the early years of their marriage.

I didn't tell Harold we have a cat named after him (Hadji). Maybe when we know them better ... after all, they have said they will visit us when the garden is planted! It's quite bizarre to think of the two Hadjis meeting. It might not happen, of course. Our Mr Hadji is just as likely to be his usual unsociable self and hide under the bushes somewhere. He hasn't changed much since the earthly days when he would disappear under my bed at any sign of visitors, and my girlfriends dubbed him the Imaginary Cat.

Vita and Harold took us up to the roof of the tower, and we looked over the beautiful countryside. I told them about my earthly visit in '93, and how popular Sissinghurst still is. Harold seemed pleasantly surprised. “It's just as popular as in your time there, possibly more so,” I said. “It's greatly loved.” They opened the garden to the public in the 1950s, and enjoyed the visits of their “shilling people” as I think Vita called them. The garden was well known from her newspaper articles and radio talks and lectures on gardening.

So that was our day at Sissinghurst. I don't remember what else we did, or how we spent our evening, but it lifted me right up to have my darling husband think of a jaunt like that. I could say so much more, but what else is there that I haven't said so many times before?

*The Risen: Dialogues of Love, Grief and Survival Beyond Death, by August Goforth and Timothy Gray. Available from http://www.therisenbooks.com/

Downs and Ups (part one)

A post by Madame 

Monday on the earthly side wasn't the sort of day I want to repeat. It wasn't that anything serious or unpleasant happened, but a combination of smallish things left me feeling flat, verging on miserable, for most of the day. I'd slept badly the night before, with bronchial coughing waking me repeatedly. As usual, that meant I didn't get Home at all. I wouldn't call that a disappointment – disappointment to me has an element of surprise to it – but it was a pity not to have the revelation of the night's doings to look forward to. It also meant I was tired during the day, which of course makes one more prone to feeling down (it does with me, anyway).

The other element is the ongoing one of so few people reading this, or the latest posts I've done on FanStory. Time, other things to do, illness, higher priorities – I know perfectly well none of it is a slight, but when it covers almost all the people invited, it feels that way, rationally or not. And yesterday was one of those days when reminding myself of this wasn't working.

The first step up from this was Someone coming online – you know who you are, Miss! - and offering a cyber shoulder and a hug or three in understanding. So mwahs to you, again!

The second part was Louis arriving at work about thirty minutes before I was due to leave, and giving me a whole-body hug. It was like the times in reiki sessions where I've felt pressure all over me – not distinct hands, as many people feel, but an all-over, undifferentiated pressure. I knew he was standing behind my chair, his arms wrapped round me, but the feeling was more widespread. Maybe his aura was hugging mine, who knows? It's an engaging image, if nothing else. Whatever it was, I sat quite unable to type or do anything else for the moments it lasted.

I shall skip the rest of the day – walking through the Botanical Gardens on the way to the train, watching Time Team in the evening and getting a much-needed early night. What matters is what happened overnight, and the memories this morning. I shall post them separately, since they take up a bit of space.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Wall Completed

A post by Madame

Saturday 19 March 2011

Things happened all over the place – here and in Spirit. It's been a busy Saturday, one way and another!

Not a picture of us in the Fitzroy Gardens, but Louis was wearing this jumper.
These memories came while Louis and I were out. We were en route to Smith Street, a shopping strip that has a section of factory outlets I hoped would include hosiery stores. Having been pleasantly surprised by the success of a just-below-the-knee length denim skirt I bought recently (I haven't work a skirt that short in decades) I wanted to get some coloured tights or leggings for cooler weather. It's not that easy to do, since the makers' mantra seems largely to be “Colours are only for those under a certain weight and age. All other women are to wear black.”

Smith Street is in Collingwood, which meant that the routine Louis and I have followed lately on our Saturdays out wouldn't work. We've taken to stopping at the Café de la Place and Fawkner Park, just as we do on weekdays, for coffee and the chance for me to do reiki and remember what happened at Home during the earthly hours of night. But those stops lie well off the route to Collingwood and would have taken a serious chunk out of our day (a major consideration when using public transport). But the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens lie on the route, and have a coffee shop (albeit far inferior to the Café). After the unspectacular coffee and a good but expensive cheesecake, we made our way to a broad-spreading oak, and there Louis was able to trigger my memories.

Unlike most of my recent trips Home, I woke in our bed that morning. Louis was just waking, too, and we lay cuddling and comfortable, just happy to be there. The only odd thing was that I could smell scrambled eggs. Louis teased me about thinking about food, but I could actually smell them. I shrugged that off, but a few minutes later I could smell coffee. Now coffee being heated is a much more distinctive (and un-ignorable) scent than scrambled eggs.

Breakfast couldn't have cooked itself, could it?” I asked Louis, not thinking for a minute that it could, but almost wondering if he'd set it going, though he didn't seem in any hurry to get up.

Then we realised what was going on: the kits had sent up the coffee odour to entice us to come downstairs and feed them. Little wretches! Like they can't feed themselves. But then, it's like Louis observed about Katie the other day: it's just not the same as having someone serving you.

We threw on our white bathrobes and headed to the main room, where the cats were indeed all sitting around looking alertly at the staircase. I swept them a bow and we presented them with their breakfasts, and headed into the kitchen for our own. I had the scrambled eggs on toast their first scent-temptation had suggested. Louis had his usual bacon and eggs, because, as he said, he has Obligations to the queen of the house. He called to Katie to tell her breakfast was served if she cared to come and have it, and eventually she did fly up onto the table to join in. Louis cut a portion of bacon and told her plainly that part was hers and the rest was his. I doubt she took a whisker of notice of this little lecture.

After eating we had our coffee and talked about what to do during the day. I asked Louis if he had any plans or preferences; he favoured going on with our wall. That suited me; I was enjoying the work and it was coming along so well. We went back upstairs – I had one clear image of his bare legs and feet on the stairs above me – and dressed.

I don't remember word-for-word our conversation upstairs (or for any of the day, for that matter) but I do recall saying it's pleasing that our clothing seems to be self-cleaning, and that we could always do naked bricklaying, but that might be a trifle eccentric even over There. Louis agreed to that. I also said I was glad the bricks aren't of the sort that would break toes if they landed on them, since Louis was busy shoving his plimsolls on; he agreed with that, too, saying he had no wish to wear steel-capped boots.

Once again we headed outside, and the one thing I noted was that Louis stopped to remonstrate a little with one of his dogs. I haven't noted this dog before; he's a brown and white hound (one from Louis's earthly days, I think). He'd dug a hole in the lawn and Louis said, “I trust you will fill that in, sir,” or something along those lines. The dog looked somewhat shamefaced, almost like a little kid, but I gather that yes, he would fill in the hole he'd dug. I registered his name almost as “Bo,” while recalling this, though I'm sure that isn't how it would be spelt; he's not an American dog, after all. It's probably Beau, shortened from “Beau-something”. Regardless, it's nice to have a clearer glimpse of one of our canine friends.

The rest of our day only showed itself in glimpses: I know we had slices of roast meat in bread rolls for lunch, and thick soup or broth with crusty bread for dinner, after showering and changing. We'd dressed after our shower because we had the feeling someone would turn up for a visit, but I'm glad to say we were wrong. Our evening was spent on the couches, reading to each other.

The wonderful and unexpected part was that I had two days at Home, on this one earthly night. It's rare enough to get more than a day and night there, and rare to get back after I've woken on the earthly side, but to combine them is very special indeed. I remember waking that second morning, thinking I'm still here! and holding onto my sleeping husband. It wasn't long before he woke, with the same delighted reaction - “You're still here!” - and we fell into giggles, and onto each other, for a morning romp.

That's all I recall from the second day; I asked Louis what else we did, and the great news is that we have finished our wall! It's all done, and now we can turn to laying out and planting the knot garden it is to frame.

All these memories took perhaps twenty minutes to relive, and rather longer to record on my phone. Once it was all done, we continued to Smith Street as planned, searching for stockings. I had no luck there at all, so we came back through the Fitzroy Gardens (this would have taken a couple of hours altogether) and caught the tram to Bridge Road, another shopping strip. It was devoid of anything but black stockings, too (I eventually found some in the city) but it did inadvertently provide the highlight of the earthly day.

In the window of one small shop – the jewellery, bags and accessories variety – I saw a white cotton scarf, printed with flowers and leaves in dark pink and mossy green. Those colours go with pretty well everything I wear, and I liked the scarf. Five minutes later I'd bought it.

When I came out of the shop, I had the strongest impression from Louis – one of those how can you doubt this? moments. He was laughing over the fact that on a trip to look for stockings, I should buy something about as far from them as possible (only a hat would be farther than a scarf!). More than that, he knows my weakness for scarves. His laughter was of the “that's so like you” type, but just saturated with love. Yes, he was laughing at me, but in a way that – how can I describe it? – filled me with delight, with the feeling of being loved, not the feeling of being teased or put down. Not that I need say he never does that, but it's hard to describe what this moment was like. He had his arm round me and kissed me on the cheek, and raised my happiness level a notch or three, as he so often does.

The Turret Installed

A post by Madame

I've fallen behind in writing what's happened at Home lately. Time and energy don't seem to have coincided!

18 March 2011

I arrived Home in the front driveway, walking along and singing or calling out (I can't remember which) to Louis. He threw open our bedroom window, and came to greet me. I mean exactly what I say, there: this isn't one of those “writer forgets to describe character's path” moments. He didn't go downstairs and come out the front door, but stepped out the window to where I was. It was like he had a curving ramp of air, and seemed to half-walk, half-drift down. When he arrived on ground level he knelt, throwing his arms wide in a greeting that was both romantic and self-mocking; he was obviously still mentally laughing at the image of Buzz Lightyear in Spanish mode.

Once he'd stood up and greeted me with our usual hug and kiss, he said the coffee was brewing, and we linked arms to go inside. Breakfast was piles of toast and honey, this morning (I presume the Poor Little Cat had bacon prepared for her, but I don't remember it). I do remember a grey tabby rubbing around my legs, and reaching down to find it wasn't Katie but Thomas, Tomtom, who crossed over in 1993. As I said to Louis, it's confusing having so many repeats among our cats. Three grey tabbies, two all-black cats, two black-with-bikini cats … Cindy and Magnus are the only uniquely coloured ones there, and on this side, Maddie is close enough in colour to Magnus that I still think it's him when I see her from the corner of my eye.

We had our toast and coffee, and had a bit of fun trying to drink the coffee with arms linked, like a couple with champagne glasses. The consensus was that it was romantic but too complicated!

The best part of breakfast was, ah, some mutual grooming at the end. Honey is messy stuff, after all. However that had to be curtailed. I was sitting on his lap and there were hints that we might get seriously distracted from the day's gardening if we pursued this any further. I won't repeat what Louis said (it's one of our few running jokes I have kept relatively private) but it made me laugh.

From breakfast we took ourselves to the shed, and I have keyhole-glimpse clarity of seeing him pushing the wheelbarrow with our bits and pieces in it – those lovely arms and hands gripping the handles! - and his trowel shoved into his back pocket.

The first task of the day was to finish the turret-cum-garden seat. I think I've mentioned that we opted to do it together, by mind, rather than try to make it physically. It was a simple enough matter: holding hands and visualising the form we wanted, and asking the energy around us to take that form. And there it was … a circular stair-tower, open into the new garden plot and with the new walls emerging from it, with a couple of steps leading up to a seat that takes up the width of the circle. I'd asked Louis (only half jokingly) when we started if there would be room for lovemaking inside, and he said he would make sure there was …

I was jumping up and down with excitement when our turret formed. It looks so good, it's solid and looks old (it is meant to look half-ruined, like the wall) and has bonded with the brick courses we'd already laid. It has a window above the seat, and a partial roof at the top (slate, I think) to offer some shade. It's a different sort of satisfaction from physically making something as one does on this plane, but the pleasure of seeing something one created is still there.

We spent the rest of the day bricklaying, and singing. That's all I recall; I'd been standing a quarter-hour in Fawkner Park while this played out in my mind, and needed to get moving to get to work. The only other information I have is that I returned Home after being woken by a coughing fit here (the cold I had a few weeks ago is making determined efforts to return) and that we had the whole day together … and had the energy for two rounds of lovemaking during the night There. Which may explain why Louis had no plans to do anything other than sit in his rocking chair that day!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Spring Market

A post by Madame and Monsieur

I greet you, my friends. My lady and I have had a splendid day at Home. Let me tell you what we did.

This was the day when the spring market was held, of which my lady spoke some time since, when we stole food we had made for it, for our picnic upon the hills. We did not take all the food, for we had made much, but we had to make haste to replace it, when we knew the market was to be held at last! It was a simple matter to put soup on to heat, and to make new pastries, and good things to eat. My lady thought it cheating, to do so with our minds, but I told her it was but her earthly thinking that saw it so, for it is normal do make things so here. She was ready to be assured, believe me! We put our hands together, and asked of energy that it should take form, and there, et voila, we had our food again. We packed it into baskets, and made it ready to take upon our bicycles, for we wished to spend this fine mild day riding also.


I saw all this in first person, but Louis's described it all so fully (and some bits I don't remember at all, though they came through clearly while he dictated this) that I won't need to add much. I will say this, though … I'm pretty sure I caught him sampling some of the things as we put them away. Taste-testing, he called it. Quality control, no doubt.


We had help in the kitchen, for Quadrille and Juliet were most interested in the proceedings, and watched keenly. Master Quadrille sat to attention, with his pricked ears and head tilted, as if waiting to understand words, while Madame Juliet walked about, waving her tail and being underfoot. I believe she has taken lessons from the cats in that matter.

My lady had the thought to bring our bicycles to the front of the house, to our kitchen, by work of her mind, which is not something she has done alone before. She called them to herself, and there they were, but it is harder than one thinks when one is still embodied on the earthly plane, and she felt it. She sat for me, and I put energy to her, for I did not want her waking in her earthly body, because of anything happening here! She said she doubted it would be so, for her body slept deeply. That was true, and I was happy it was so.


I actually felt a little giddy after doing that. I hadn't felt like trooping out to the back yard and physically trundling the bikes and their trolleys into the house (the kitchen is in the front wing), let alone all the way around it. Making the bikes come to me – and it was a case of willing them to be here – worked, but took a bit more energy than I'd expected. Worth it, though!


We packed all within the baskets upon our bicycles. I do not know what persons call them, but they sit upon their own wheels, and are towed when we ride. It was baskets within baskets, all packed and safe, and our soup tureen keeping its heat, for all the length of the day. We cycled from our house, down our entry-way, and upon the smooth grass and lanes that are near our lands. It was a day of fresh mildness, the sky a little pale, and some breeze only of our riding; a day where we needed no hats nor scarves, but let the wind blow our hair. There was no haste, we rode at ease and talked when we would, nor hurried enough to make our dog-friends trot. They had much sniffing and circling to do of all things we passed, after all; that is a dog's business.


Louis wore his hand-knit and jeans; I wore some sort of sweater-jeans combination too, but I don't remember what. It was a pale enough day not to be squinty; no hat-with-brim required!


It was not yet the lunch hour when we reached the village where the market is held. Persons were there already, many friends we have known from previous visits, and persons we have met elsewhere, or never met at all. All were busy, with things to share or show or look at. They greeted us happily, crying, “It's Louis and Louise, with a feast!” and wishing us Happy Spring as we mingled with them. There was great pleasure in this, in the revival of friendships, and talk of things done or seen. Our stall was soon set up, and cups put our for persons to help themselves to soup, and plates put out for sandwiches and all good things to eat. We spent some time there, but more looking at other things, and admiring crafts, or things persons had made. A band played, and my lady and I took pleasure in dancing and laughing, for it brought jokes from the earthly plane to mind.


Jokes is right. It was a brass band, though not a big loud one, mercifully, playing cheerful music we were happy to dance to. I said at one point, “This is getting too much like Midsomer … I hope we don't see Tom Barnaby around.” (For anyone who hasn't seen Midsomer Murders, it's set in impossibly bucolic English countryside, populated, it seems, largely by obnoxious yuppies and serial killers. There's often a village fete going on, and it's a sure thing there'll be a murder, especially if Inspector Barnaby is there trying to enjoy a day out.)

The other joke was even better. Louis did a few steps of a flamenco-type dance, or a Spanish dance, at least: stamping on the spot and clapping his hands, all wired Spanish pride. But then he stuck his arms out wide – he was doing his Buzz Lightyear impersonation! We watched Toy Story 3 the other night, you see, and I was in fits laughing when Buzz was accidentally put onto a Spanish setting.


My lady looked much at hats, and I rolled my eyes, and spoke of them as I would were we in her earthly hat-shop, but here she heard me with her ears, not only her mind, and when she punched my ribs, I felt it, and laughed when I had breath to do so. I should not mock her hats when she is in my same flesh! But she repented enough to give me a healing kiss, so I should not complain. And in truth, the hat was fair, I say it now. We laughed much with the maker of hats, telling her of what things we do upon the earthly plane, and the jokes we have there each time we visit this shop, and how good it is to carry that joke to where we both live.


Now that part of the day I didn't remember at all – though thumping him in the ribs came clearly to mind while I typed that for him! Serves him right, him and his hat jokes.

The part of the day I do remember last was unexpected and very moving. We were packing to go home when Juliet came up, standing with her paws on the handlebars of my bike and whining ever so slightly. I asked what she wanted – she didn't seem upset, which I wouldn't expect There anyway – and crouched down. She practically pushed herself into my lap, wanting cuddles and wanting them now, and licking my face a little. Louis stood watching it, compassionately I think (can't think of a better term, anyway). It was like something had snapped, almost. Juliet wanted something she hadn't wanted before – she was my dog, my doggie. What brought this on? I haven't the slightest idea, it took me completely by surprise.


What else can I tell of our day? There is one thing of importance, which my lady has told, but which I must add to. When Juliet came to ask for closeness as she did, it was not truly known to me, but not wholly a surprise, as it was to my lady. Does this make sense? It does not, I know, and I laugh, for I cannot say it better. I shall say this, I sensed something growing in her, or opening, a natural progression, and a slow one. Things are done in the soul's own time, and none know why it may be swifter or slower for any person. But for Juliet her time has come for a person her own, a human person I mean, and for her that person is my lady. I do not know why this dear friend I have known long (she came to me within my first century in Spirit) has moved to this stage, but it gladdens me, my heart is stirred to see her like this. My lady has said she is a quiet dog, a dignified dog, but she was less so, she was wanting tightness, and the holding of the heart, this day. It surprised my lady much, as she has said. It is a good thing. Our family grows, and it grows also within itself.

Be blessed, dear friends.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sparkling Champagne?

A post by Madame, with conversational help from Monsieur

WHAT a beginning to the day! It started simply enough, with the morning breakfast routine on this side of the veil, but came close to disarray when dear, dear Metro ran its trains twenty minutes late. No, I have no idea why; they weren't deigning to make announcements until I suggested it might be a better idea than having to individually tell all the people lining up at the ticket window. Bright they are not.

If I worked in an office with an unreasonable manager, this would have been really annoying, but my boss is of the Normal Human Being variety, and when I rang to say the trains were running late he laughed at the use of the word “running” (I changed it to “trundling”) and said he'd see me when he saw me. So I cut out my coffee-stop, but didn't have to cut out time in Fawkner Park with Louis, which is what really matters. I don't much like being late for work, but I won't lose that most precious time of the day if I can help it. And how glad I am that we had our time there, this morning!

We stopped among a trio of Moreton Bay fig trees, away from the people walking to work and the schoolchildren running around. I didn't even start to do reiki or open my chakras as I usually would. Louis said not to bother, he would do it all. I had no more to do than stand still and feel the energy, and feel his fingertip upon the “third eye” chakra. Close the real eyes and see …

I arrived Home, as usual, sometime in the morning, calling hello and seeing my lovely man hurrying down the stairs, beautiful in his jeans and long-sleeved, snug-fitting burgundy tee-shirt.

“What time is it? Is it too late for breakfast?” I asked, after being caught up in a hug-kiss-and-spin.

“It is never too late or too early for breakfast,” said the master chef, and we bounced off to the kitchen. I say bounced advisedly, because it was another of those days when we were fizzing with happiness.

In the kitchen, Louis started preparing his usual bacon and eggs, while I opted for porridge with a large dollop of honey. I think it was the honey that caught Louis's attention.

“You tempt me, Madame,” he said, looking at it rather narrow-eyed.

Not being a man to resist temptations these days, he joined in the porridge making and limited the bacon to a small helping for a certain grey tabby. It wouldn't do for her to feel deprived and unloved, after all.

Our whole conversation at breakfast was full of fun and laughter. We talked fast, chattered really. It was extraordinary, standing there in Fawkner Park and half hearing, half reliving it. I only wish I could record it all at the moment, because it disappears so fast from the memory. Even earthly conversations do that, and with one recalled like this it's even worse. I'm relying on Louis to help me get this written, because while his memory may not be perfect, it is at least better than my earthly one!

“Do you want to work in the garden today?” I asked.

“I do, it is too fine a day not to, and I want to work on our wall.”

“Are you going to wear that top? I don't think it's a gardening shirt. It'll end up tragic like your purple tee.”

“My purple tee is not tragic. It bears the marks of honest toil.”

I snorted. “It may not be tragic but I don't see you wearing it to go out. Oh, I shouldn't have said that, should I!” - I laughed as I said this, because he'd got that speculative look I've seen many a time. “I can just see you wearing it to some do at the boys', just to wind them up!” I should know better than to say anything he could take as a challenge. He has centuries of unused mischief to get through.

“I should! It has the dignity of labour. Oh, I am in the mood for such folly today,” he said, which was true. I said fizzing before and it's the word that comes to mind: he was full of laughter and excitement, and I laughed just seeing him. He was also in a hurry to be outside, turning around and setting the coffee heating with a wave of his hand. He's not given to doing things “spirit-wise” mostly. He even pulled me onto his lap while we had our coffee; I squealed with laughter, just as silly as a schoolgirl, and we earned a disapproving look from Katie, who was sitting on the table eating her bacon. The disapproval seemed to be as much for the amount of food given her, as for our antics. She plainly thought she should be able to pick over Louis's plate, rather than have to make do with a cat-sized helping.

“Poor starved cat.You can have as much to eat as often as you want,” I pointed out to her. “You don't have to rely on this.”

“But it is better to eat food made for her, that someone has prepared or been put to the bother of doing,” Louis said. “It is like stolen food tasting better.”

Katie's answer to that was another dirty look aimed at both of us, before she went back to eating.

Once we'd gulped down our coffee – literally, I managed to spill some of mine – we got up and Louis stripped off his tee, revealing the purple one underneath. He'd only worn the burgundy one during the cool of the morning. I was in my usual arrival-garb of shirt and skirt, which isn't my gardening gear.

“I'm not even bothering to go upstairs to change, “ I said, and did one of the things I can do in Spirit – waved my hand and changed on the instant to my own tee and jeans. Louis pouted a bit.

“I would have liked to see the middle stage,” he said.

“I'm not letting you see me naked at this time of day. We'd get distracted and then we wouldn't get the gardening done, would we?”

“But I was thinking of the day and how warm it will be upon the earth, when the sun is high,” he said. “We must stop to rest and eat, after all.”

“Yes, and if we stop to eat and rest and other things, I know I'll need a sleep afterward even if you don't! We can't do gardening AND other things during the day!” I was laughing again. I've no idea whether he was being serious or just teasing, though I suspect that even if he was teasing, he wouldn't have let on if I'd taken him up on it!

We walked through the house to collect our trowels and other bricklaying paraphernalia. Our new garden is proceeding apace; we've laid quite a few courses. The corner turret is grey stone, and the two walls red brick, rather like Tudor bricks, narrow and flat. We've been tossing up whether to build them to a certain height and then do the rest by thought – erecting scaffolding isn't really in our plans – but it might not be necessary.

“Do you think we could just do the turret by thought, and then make the walls entirely by hand? They don't have to be terribly high. We could probably do them just standing on a stepladder once the turret's in,” I said.

“It is worth considering. Are you enjoying this work this much?” Louis answered, smiling and pushing his hair out of his eyes.

“I am, you know. I've never enjoyed work like this before.”

“You have never had perfect fitness before,” he answered.

“That's true. I doubt I'd enjoy it much earthside, though, even if I was perfectly fit and strong there. I suspect the company plays its part.”

I don't recall any more conversation from the day. I know we did sit in the earth, leaning against our new wall, to eat lunch, but rest and eat was all we did.

When all this had played through my mind's eye – or mind's cinema? - in Fawkner, I asked Louis if there was anything else from the day I needed to know. He smiled and said “One thing” - and I saw a glimpse of our evening. We had bathed, obviously; we were in our white bathrobes, sitting on the fur rug before our fireplace (spring is hurrying along, but it is still cool enough to want a fire at night). We had strawberries and champagne flutes, although I doubt we were drinking champagne; it was more likely that hybrid wine-cider drink we both like. That was all I saw, and really all I needed to. Our day plainly ended at least as well as it began.

Friday, 11 March 2011

It's nice to have help ...

A post by Madame, with help in remembering conversations by Monsieur

Another lovely, all-too-brief collection of memories, walking through a precis of my day at Home.

I arrived in the morning as I often do, walking in the front door like any visitor, or anyone coming home. Louis was on the couch, reading and obviously waiting for me, as he put the book down in haste and jumped up in welcome.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Time for breakfast!” he answered, taking my hand and heading to the kitchen. Once there, he put on bacon and eggs as usual. “No porridge today?” he asked when he saw me putting out two plates, knives and forks.

“No, I want bacon and eggs. Fuel for all our digging!”

“You are just trying to lure Katie away from me. It will not work.”

“You can keep her, and share your bacon with her. I want mine for myself.”

“She will need hers too. We will have help digging today, I think.”

“How sweet. Who else is going to lend a paw? What about Magnus?”

“He is outside already, asleep. He is in the sun.”

“Nice to know he's saving his energy. Oh, good morning, kits and pups!” A chorus of woofs from outside returned my greeting, and various hard-to-describe feline noises (“grunts” probably sums them up) from in the main room.

I put on coffee while Louis cooked – more for the scent than anything else, I think – and we sat to eat. It wasn't long before a grey tabby personage appeared, walking under the table and jumping into Louis's lap, poking her little head over the table to get her share of his breakfast. Tradition is a wonderful thing; cats invent ancient traditions all the time. My darling husband made the appropriate fuss of little Madam, giving her snippets of bacon as required.

We were also joined by Juliet and Quadrille. Juliet stood about quietly, wagging her tail and getting her head patted; Quadrille just flopped under the table. I don't know if they were begging or just saying hello.

The next thing I remembered this morning was sitting on the front step, drinking our coffee and looking down the courtyard and drive.

“What do you reckon to a fountain in the front?”

“It is something to consider. But it would be simple.”

“Oh, yes. I'm not thinking the Apollo Basin! Just something small.”

“Perhaps we could do it. But not now. We have a major project in hand. One is enough.”

“How true that is. You finished your coffee?”

“I have now. Come, Madame.” You have to see the smile and feel the little warm sunny touch to understand how that sounded; he wasn't being formal, not a bit of it.

We went back inside – I presume we took our cups back to the kitchen, though I don't remember it – and walked, holding hands, through the main room, into the ballroom (which takes up the whole back width of the house) and its streaming sun, and out the recently-installed back door. From there it was off to the shed, fill a wheelbarrow with our spades and forks and whatnot, and off to our day's digging. We're turning over the earth for our great garden feature, our brand-new ruined wall and turret. (This is what happens when you watch Time Team for years: you want to install archaeology in your garden!)

I don't recall anything else of the day, apart from twisting my hair out of the way (it seems to be self-fastening – very useful) and commenting that I'm glad I don't get sunburnt at Home. I know the digging was energising in a way it couldn't be here, even if I were fit enough to do it. And yes, that's allowing for the fact that we are tired out and ready for a long soak by the end of the day. I dare say it's the sheer pleasure of the work that makes it so … and the company of the beau jardinier. Yes, I suspect that has something to do with it, too.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sweet Spring Day

A post by Madame

Louis and I have had another beautiful day together. Spring is moving apace in Spirit, and we're moving with it.

I cheated this morning and used the pendulum to ask if I'd crossed over last night. Having been tired enough to go to bed at 9.00, and managed eight hours' uninterrupted sleep, it seemed likely. I wanted to know if Louis had finished our wardrobe (which he mentioned in Sun and Shadow). He said when he met me after work yesterday that he might forego visiting this evening, and get the 'robe finished in time for when I arrived Home.

The answer from the little amethyst pendulum was that yes, I did cross, and yes, the wardrobe is finished! I wondered what we did during the day, and an image of us on our bicycles came to me - “Did we go out?” Yes. “Did we go on a picnic?” Yes. This is the way to use the pendulum: not as a shortcut for talking to Louis, but a prompt.

I was delighted to know, even in so sketchy an outline, that we'd had a lovely day together, and could hardly wait to get to Fawkner Park and do the reiki-and-memory ritual. Even the Scotch mist drifting everywhere didn't spoil my mood, although I'm grateful we didn't have any serious rain.

We sat in the one sheltered seat Fawkner boasts – donated by, would you believe, a gentleman from Los Angeles who apparently introduced softball to Australia – and when Louis put his fingers to my “third eye”, the memories came rapidly. It was almost like being drawn into the scenes.

The first thing I recall was standing in our bedroom, admiring the new furniture. And it's well worth admiring! This picture gives a tiny hint of what it's like, or at least, its colour. It's made of some wood like ash, with an almost pinkish-grey cast to it. There are three doors on either side of a central section, which has a small cupboard above, three drawers, then another small cupboard at the base. The door handles are lever types, and they and the inlay (which is minimal) are silver.It doesn't have extravagantly curly sort of carving like the one in the photo.

What I really love about it is that it's so much an expression of Louis; it's his making, and he's done such a beautiful job. Every surface is smooth, almost polished (French polish, naturally – as he said, what other type would he do?). There are no rough edges, no tacked-on bits. Nothing creaks or sticks, everything glides and hangs as it should. When the doors are opened, they stay open; when they are closed, they stay closed.

I was so pleased with this lovely piece of furniture that I climbed into it, looking at everything, and then stood with my arms round the beau menuisier's waist and told him how clever he is, and how happy I am. I'm glad to say he's just as pleased with his work – it certainly wouldn't have been in the bedroom if he hadn't been satisfied with it. Oh, and you are doubtless wondering how he got it up there from his workshop. He did things in the “pure Spirit” way we seldom use: by thought. While roping in his sons to help move it upstairs is a very entertaining image, it's probably just as well that there are easier ways of doing things!

Once we'd finished admiring Louis's handiwork, there was a whole day to enjoy. I asked if he had any ideas for how to spend it, and he suggested a picnic. Lovely thought, our first of the season! I said we should raid the food we made a while ago (it doesn't go off at Home, remember) for the spring market.

“They don't seem to be in any hurry to hold the market,” I said. “We can always make some more when they do.”

Louis wasn't arguing with that, so we skipped (well, not literally) downstairs and filled our much-used picnic basket with goodies. No, I don't recall any particular foods, but I daresay pastries played a large role.

I remember asking the four-legs if they wanted to come along. “They will probably want to sleep,” Louis said, referring to the cats, though he knew perfectly well I didn't mean them. We were planning to take our bikes and go a fair way, further than even our most energetic kits would be likely to fancy travelling. The surprise came with the one dog who took up the offer: Juliet. 

Now, she's been in the family a long time, though not nearly as long as the dogs from Louis's own earthly time. I think she came to him sometime in the eighteenth century. Like Quadrille, Louis and I don't know much about her earthly days, or even her breed. She's a reserved sort of dog – dignified, almost – although that could just be the contrast with Quadrille, who as Louis once said, would look good in cap and bells. But Juliet came along today, running around, sniffing and doing all those doggy things, and something that really surprised me, both at the time and in memory: she rolled over to have her tummy tickled! I distinctly remembered her tan underwear and solid ribcage while I patted her. She doesn't do that when the other dogs are around. It's not an earthly sense of being threatened or having to be dominant. She's just a quiet-natured dog.

I don't remember a great deal about the picnic itself. I know we were in jeans and sweaters; Louis wore his hand-knit. I know the one in this photo doesn't look anything like it, but this picture is a good general one of us in picnic mode, so it will have to do. I do remember that we had a book of poetry with us, and read one or two poems to each other. Other than that, the impressions are very general, but the pleasure of the day, and the delight of seeing it as I did when living it, have stayed with me.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Solid as Spirit (part two)

A post by Madame

I don't remember getting ready to go outside; the next memory is more to do with what we said than any visuals. The day was going to be spent working in the vegetable garden, but we were talking about making our new feature, our ruined wall and folly. We were thinking about how we want to build it. One can make things from the mind, in Spirit. I think it may be the norm for building houses. Louis certainly didn't physically build our home; it's more like the expression of his spirit, and I don't even know how much conscious input he had.

But one can build or make things physically, much as one does here on the earthly plane, if one wants, and we talked about which way we want to do our “ruined” walls. Bricklaying needn't be the heavy job it is here (I wouldn't consider it if it were!) and there's something appealing about actually making, physically making, the wall, or at least its lower courses. The stairway turret (which is to form a sheltered seat) and the upper parts of the walls will be too high to make that way. I don't see scaffolding being part of our operations! But we can do the lower parts and then build “of the mind” from there. I said we could build physically until we got bored, but as Louis said, when do we ever get bored at Home?

We paused for lunch – just sandwiches – which we had out on the garden swing. It's the first time that's been used for a few months! Lunch gave way to a short nap, with Louis sitting up and me lying with my head on his leg. I got dumped at the end, though. Louis swung the seat back a bit and I fell out, but had instant revenge when I grabbed his leg and he fell over on top of me. Much giggling ensued, as you may imagine.

I don't remember much more of the day; we went back to our gardening and had a good soak in the bath at the end of it. And no, there were no hijinks in that bath. We had the energy to soap ourselves and flick bubbles, and that was it. The evening was spent quietly, reading in front of the fire, before we went to bed, and from there, I think, I probably drifted back to earth.

The outstanding moment of the day was a simple one, even more memorable than the silliness with Katie in the morning. We were standing, arms around each other, looking over our land, our garden. It was a joyous happiness – not laugh-out-loud, but full of excitement and anticipation and contentment combined. I had my head leaning against Louis's shoulder, and I remember so clearly the solid warmth of his arm around my waist. It was simply wonderful. Read the meanings of “simply” and “wonderful” and apply them all, here. That is how it was.

Solid as Spirit (part one)

An entry by Madame

Louis and I had such a fine day yesterday, on both sides of the veil. The day here was a classic day out together – perfect early autumn weather and not a ripple of unpleasantness on our contentment.

We had no set plans for the day, or at least, only a general idea of where to go. Of late we've taken the train on a Saturday morning to South Yarra and stopped at the Café de la Place (our weekday coffee-stop) for coffee and crepes. We did so again yesterday, idling over strawberry-and-cream crepes and the morning newspapers, before strolling oh-so-slowly up to Fawkner Park. Louis had hinted before we left that we had a lovely day at Home overnight, and I didn't want to miss the chance to do some reiki and learn what we'd done. Louis helped, with his finger to my “third eye”, as he did the other day. I felt almost like I was being pulled into the time, almost like I was experiencing it again. Maybe the memories will get stronger yet, who knows? I won't be complaining if they do!

I think I arrived at Home in bed – that is to say, the first thing I recall is waking in bed, in the morning sun. I don't think I'd spent the night there, because Louis and I started, well, you know. That doesn't necessarily mean we hadn't done so earlier, but on this occasion I think I'd just arrived.

Segue to the same morning and me pulling on my dressing gown while Louis pondered what was more tempting: having breakfast or staying upstairs and … I laughed and said I was going to make breakfast.

Talking about breakfast must have given the furries ideas, because when I got downstairs I saw all ten of them scattered around the main room, eating from little plates. Oh the novelty of making one's own food! And, perhaps, the novelty of not having to wait for the servants to bestir themselves. I laughed again and called Louis to come down and have a look at this, and remember seeing him (in his white towelling dressing gown, the same as mine) jogging down the stairs.

In the kitchen, Louis prepared his usual bacon and scrambled eggs, while I made porridge. Louis asked what brought that on, and I said I hadn't the faintest idea, unless it was because I'd been wondering about making Bircher muesli the other day. He asked why I didn't make it there and then, and I said it was because I'd never tasted it and wanted to try it on the earth-side first. (Actually I don't know if I will; preparing breakfast the night before sounds like altogether too much hassle.)

While we did this a certain tabby cat had flown onto the table in her usual mannerless fashion. More than that, she decided my shoulder was the place to be, so I had the fun of making and eating my porridge while her solid little self perched up there. I felt that weight - small, slim cat though Katie was, and is, she's no featherweight. Louis and I joked about her deserting him and not loving him any more, but I think she was really after a good vantage-point, because when she took a good look at his plate, she bounced down onto the table again. And yes, she had her own little portion of bacon, and had it, I think, from her own little plate. Spoiled, much? Louis observed that she does still love her papa … or at least, his breakfast.

to be continued