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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Updated: Aug 29

Blogpost No8 August 2023

This may be a shorter post than usual this month as right now I’m coming to the end of a week of Respite care for mum. When I say "for mum" what I mean to say is ... we've had a week off! Mum’s happily ensconced at a lovely Dementia unit near Ramsey, being beautifully looked after by a wonderful team of caring, dedicated souls. I dropped her off on Monday afternoon (August 21st) and will pick her up again tomorrow (Monday 28th) once the roads open after the last of the Manx Grand Prix races.

I can’t describe the sheer pleasure and sense of freedom we feel. It’s a miracle to experience the simple joy of not having to be on call 24/7. We’ve spent time with friends and not had to end our connection by saying … “sorry we can’t stay longer but we have to get back …” and then again we’ve just done nothing at all but walk Sweep, eat lovely food and properly rest. It’s been bliss!

It all came about after losing Daycare. Mum was assigned a social worker who quickly organised the respite process. It was all confirmed a few weeks ago so we’ve had relatively little time to think about it. And now it’s here … it’s almost gone. But we feel refreshed and rested and ready for the next round, however long that may be. If this works though it will be possible to book something longer in the not too distant future. Keep your fingers firmly crossed for us. Thanks!

Apart from that … the garden has been somewhat battered by strong south westerly winds for a few weeks which has been a real challenge for some of the lovely flowers we’ve planted. While the gladioli are now starting to flower many of them were flattened to the ground. It’s amazing how generous and resilient vegetation is. The tomatoes are finally coming into their own and Bob’s done wonders with the windfall apples off the tree in the garden … I smell the sweet aromas of an apple crumble as I type.

There is news to share about The Children Of The Sea and I can see the finish line in the distance. Nicola Dixon has shared some of her progress with me and I’m thrilled. The three songs she’s creating illustrations for are “Wise Woman”, “A Mermaid’s Song” and “No Way Back” … they look fantastic! And I think … that I may have actually created the front cover image. Who knew? We’ll have to wait and see if it makes it all the way to the end but at the moment at least … I’m surprisingly pleased with what’s come into being.

Once more I have failed to produce a specially recorded Blogpost song. I know you’ll forgive me! In its place I have another demo of a song you might appreciate hearing. “No One Knows His Name” is another song I wrote for a Daphne’s Flight album, “Knows Time, Knows Change”, this is one of the the first versions I demoed in 2015. The format and some of the lyrics changed along the way. Obviously the finished version benefits greatly from being Daphnified but on this simple demo you’ll hear me playing with harmony ideas between the verses which didn’t survive but which don’t sound all that bad. Let me know what you think?

I’ll leave you here for this month and hope to see you again towards the end of September … will someone please find the brakes of Time and apply a little pressure?!

Until next month stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.

With love and endless blessings

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Updated: Aug 7

Blogpost No7 July 2023

Ola sweet Blogpost reader. It is always a pleasure to connect and expand upon each month’s trials and tribulations with you. As ever I’m batting with the Hounds of Time snapping at my heels and settling into remember the comings and goings of July. A mixed bag for sure.

I was honoured to deliver the Eulogy for Esther Margaret McLoughlin, my sister-in-law, Rachel’s, lovely mum, who passed unexpectedly the middle of June. Her service took place at Douglas Crematorium July 6th. Colin, my youngest brother and Rachel had asked me to sing Songbird at the ceremony. I was more than willing. I offered to read the eulogy, knowing they were too upset to do so themselves. I knew, having done so for dad in 2017, that a personal delivery would give them some solace.

It’s a strange and humbling experience to read someone’s life out loud, however abridged it becomes at these poignant moments. Esther was not only a kind, generous, sweet, ever-smiling, fun-loving woman (mother, granny, widow, friend, work colleague etc) but she was feisty, far seeing, funny, determined, extraordinarily supportive and kind beyond measure. She is sorely missed and will be remembered with warmth and love far into the future.

I have heard from Nicola Dixon on the progress of her 3 pieces of art for The Children Of The Sea and what she’s shared so far, is exquisite. I’m truly excited by her vision for each of the songs. She faces her own family challenges, much as I do, looking after her parents and so time is needed to be a little more elastic in terms of the finish line but she’s definitely getting there. Thanks Nicola!

We’ve had such varied weather this past month, a few sunny days which thankfully punctuate the gloom and blowy nature of the rest. All in all the garden’s coping and the greenhouse is bursting with soon-to-be ripening tomatoes. The cucumbers have been fab so far though a couple of neglectful watering opportunities on my part, had them wilting pathetically for a while. I thought I might have killed them off completely. But they’re incredibly forgiving and have bounced back brilliantly. I water more consistently now. I’ve scooped all the potatoes from their beds and will prep for more to be planted in a few weeks, maybe a month, in the hope we have new potatoes for Christmas. Sorry to even mention that word at the height of summer - how ridiculous of me! Forgive me?

I was given a beautiful thank you gift of vouchers for the Kirby Garden Centre, for singing at Mark Shimmin’s memorial service last month. A kind and generous offering from his lovely wife Barbara, which I’ve already spent. In her sweet letter explaining the connections between us via music over the decades, she gave me a view into Mark's musical enthusiasm and the concerts they'd attended over the years. It was such a warm and tender reminder how none of us truly know how or when we touch and are touched by other's lives. On Monday Bob, mum and Sweep accompanied me to the garden centre and while they enjoyed cake and coffee on the delightful patio, I browsed the plethora of plant possibilities arrayed across numerous terraces. It was a lovely experience and we came away with a bevy of beautiful flowering plants to augment the pots in front of the kitchen which now look fantastic again. Plus … seed potatoes for the aforementioned … sorry I promise I won’t mention it again.

I’ve taken the plunge and offered to do the front cover artwork for The Children Of The Sea - gulp! There I’ve written in black and white (er turquoise and black to be more accurate?). Anyway I had this vision come to me during a beautiful meditation with friends a few weeks ago. I decided to give it a go and see if I could recreate what I’d seen in my mind’s eye and … there’s a definite possibility I could make it work. I’m trying to do a version each day and using it as my daily practice (something I started January 1st this year). If nothing else I have something to focus on and I’m really enjoying the process. I’m not convinced yet that I’m getting any better with each attempt but … there are signs it might work. Your kind and positive thoughts are always welcome.

Due to mum’s ever increasing difficult and changing behaviour, we’ve finally lost Daycare at Peel. Mum’s been going there since dad died and has found great comfort and company over the last 5 and a half years she’s attended. The staff there have been wonderful and it’s a sadness for all concerned that mum’s no longer able to cope with the dynamic of a larger group of people. Her comprehension of every day situations is becoming less and her obvious frustration at this development, totally understandable, is more and more challenging. It’s taken a week or so to come to terms with the situation but we’ve been grateful for the support of those people whose job it is to bridge the gap and find possible respite care in the near future. Mum has a new Social worker who’s got the ball rolling and managed to get me filling forms (a pet hate of mine!) for the required assistance. It will be down to charitable organisations to find support during the week now but that too will be sorted … soon enough.

I actually took mum to a dementia care home this week to see how they and she might feel about a week (possibly more in the future fingers crossed!) of respite, sometime next month. Mum was firing on all cylinders that day and made a wonderful impression … with me signalling in the background when perhaps things were different to her telling. The manageress and her assistant obviously were clued in to everything going (and not) going on. Mum had been up, dressed and dolled up to the nines since 4.45am! Hey-ho. She was hilarious and had everyone laughing … always a boon. We shall see what we shall see. Thanks for listening.

Onto more musical topics and I have to confess, once again I’ve been unable to record something new for this month as promised. But there are always the “vaults” that can be exploited to share, hopefully, for your listening pleasure. Anyway this month I’m offering up (much like a sacrifice) my first demo of You Got Me Going which was beautifully Daphnefied for On Arrival. I thought you might appreciate the humble beginnings of Daphne's wonderfully dynamic vocal arrangement. It’s still a great sadness to me that we never got to perform it live when the CD came out. C’est la vie! However I think you can hear (in the demo) the inspiration for the fabulous recorded version that was finally released in 2021 and still available to buy on Daphne’s website. Enjoy!

I will leave you this month, dear reader, with a YT video of "Skin Deep", posted in 2014 (!) featured on Under Construction II way back in 2009. A song inspired by Manx artist Patrick Farrell an installation piece called "Poverty Is Only Skin Deep".

Thank you, as ever, for taking the time to stop by and see how I'm fairing. I do appreciate you! Till next time .. stay well and keep rising above the turbulence!

Much love

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No 6 June 2023

June’s come and gone too soon.

I’m really cutting it fine (again!) this month. My reminder popped up last Saturday (June 25th) to collate another Blogpost (to be posted on the 26th!) but I’d done nothing towards it at all. Hey-ho … let’s see what I can come up with. So long as I get it up and posted before Friday (June 30th!) I’m in my self-allotted space/time continuum. I think it’s time to beam me up Scotty!

When last we met dear reader the TT races were just beginning their two week reign. And what a glorious couple of weeks it was. The weather was absolutely perfect from start to finish. Bright blue skies, mild, pleasant, to scorching heat, with flowers, veg and wild life making me feel full of possibility.

I ate strawberries every day for nearly four weeks. They’ve decidedly finished their bounty now but other things are just starting to give their best. We had our first new potatoes this week and French beans have already garnered several handfuls of sweet, tender deliciousness. And though tomatoes are still a ways off they’re all flowering with promise of fruit in the next month or so.

I’ve been pulling up bunches of (sometimes very small) beetroot while the courgettes are just starting to show their gorgeous yellow flowers with fruit promised right behind. As for the red onions, they look amazing … this is my third attempt at growing them and seems this time they’re happy. I’m reliably in formed I have to wait another month before harvesting.

We celebrated mum’s 85th birthday on June 11th. The house was like a high-end florist’s for at least a week. Lots of family and friends turned up to wish her happy birthday. It was a delightful day. She was (of course) quite confused as to why so many people had arrived and each time delighted to learn it was her birthday … small consolation for the loss of short-term memory but we’ll take it if it puts a smile of her face.

There are many stories of strange or ridiculous scenarios with mum on a daily basis but it’s hard to know what’s OK to share. I in no way wish to imply her life is some sort of horrible a joke but sometimes that’s how it seems. She understands less and less and sleeps more and more. Yet there are moments of ordinariness that swell the heart or simply make us smile. These we cherish.The frustration and incomprehensible nature of the rest is best left in a quiet corner wrapped in blankets with the lights turned off. There’ll be time enough to unravel and decipher later. For now we muddle along and give thanks for the sweet moments bestowed.

I have nothing to report with regard to Children of The Sea this month though I’ve been in touch with Nicola Dixon and she is about to begin her artistic explorations. This I am thrilled and deeply grateful for. Next month perhaps there will be more to share.

Musically I have failed to record a new song for this month’s Blogpost, as promised at the beginning of the year, however I’ve searched through the archives and found something I hope you’ll appreciate. It is a demo of a song never performed or shared (perhaps you’ll hear reasons why?!) But I’ve always had a soft spot for the song … you could say it marks the beginning of my exploration in turning folklore into song? Steve Lima who I started co writing with in the early noughties created this much more arranged version of the song starting with my very basic guitar part though we never really finished it as such. I am always grateful for skilled intervention! The song’s title is “Orpheus”:

The rest of the month is a blur of dipping, dog walking, Maggie-managing and a few hours a week where Bob and I remember what it’s like to wander the world relatively care-free, together (we haven’t left the Island for over three years, so this is our world for the time being) . Life is never less than interesting and in very many ways is rich beyond imagining. The natural world holds me spellbound and uplifted. Whenever things start to feel bumpy I simply have to go outside and breathe … take in the sights and sounds of this fair Isle and the bumps somehow even themselves out.

I was unexpectedly asked to sing at someone’s Memorial service on Friday (June 23rd). I say unexpected as it was someone I didn’t know, though their presence on the Island’s community and Political landscape ranged far and wide. Mark Shimmin was a dedicated Civil Servant who rose to become Chief Financial Officer of the Isle of Man Government and was awarded an MBE for his services to the island’s government and economy. He was an honourable and well loved man who was a huge supporter of music and beer! St Ninian’s Church was packed with standing room only. It was a very moving service that included a wonderful selection of diverse music. There was a beautiful live version of Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the incomparable Sandy Denny, taken from a 1978 John Peel session. It really set the emotional tone. There were also some very funny tales told to highlight Mark’s natural, easy and delightful sense of fun. It was an honour to be there and a very powerful experience to sing for him. He specifically asked for Songbird.

From beautiful summer days throughout May and the beginning of this month we’ve definitely turned a corner as far as the weather’s concerned. Yesterday (Wednesday) was deeply grey, with buffeting winds and intermittent drizzle … but still quite warm (20C). Then today the brightness returned … I do love a bit of bright light … it has the ability to instantly change inner and outer landscapes. I love a moody day too … I’m not complaining … but we had five days in a row with greyness as its base note and it starts to effect my mood and I begin to reflect the weather. This too shall pass - and it has - and so it will again. All is well all shall be well.

To end this month’s Blogpost I thought I’d share an old song/video from a few years ago. A co-write with Rob Cross that we performed many times on our handful of UK tours 10-12 years ago. Here is the studio version featuring the wonderful Davy Knowles who has a wonderful new Single out: Broken Time (check it out!). “The Ones That Love You Best” was released on one of my numerous Demos CDs 10 or more years ago now. This was on Feminine Logic. Enjoy the bubble magic :-) x

OK good humans of Earth I catch up with you again next month when I frantically try to beat time as it races ahead of me once more!

Until then take good care of each other, stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.

Much love and endless blessings

Christine x

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