Red roses for love, 19 years on


Today marks 19 years since my first husband Gary died in Sydney, Australia. As has become tradition, I scattered petals from two red roses in remembrance of Gary, one rose from our son and one from me.

Today the wind gusted off the North Sea, so as happened last year, the rose petals blew right back at me. Gary loved ferns, but the wind wouldn’t even let the petals reach the ferns just over the hillside fence. I found a white fern-y bush instead, and managed to drop the petals among its flowers.

Today I believed Gary already knew our son became a father little more than 5 weeks ago, but I whispered to him all about it anyway, knowing he would adore his first granddaughter and she would adore him, and that although I will never see this with my earthly eyes, I feel it every day in my heart.

Today I Skyped with my son, unable to imagine how much he misses his father, always and especially now that he’s become a lather himself.

Today, as is also part of this tradition, I brought red roses home for Clive, and wondered at the mystery that is life and loss and love. Red roses for love, for all we love and have loved, who will always be a part of us.

Red Roses for Love, for 18 Years, for Gary and Clive

My first husband, Gary, whom I’ve written much about on this blog, died 18 years ago today in Sydney, Australia.

Today, as I’ve done on this date every year since then, I scattered rose petals in remembrance – petals from two red roses, one from our son and one from me.

My mother unknowingly started this tradition, when she, in New Jersey, lovingly composed a prayer a few days after Gary’s death and suggested we also could take red roses to Shelly Beach, Manly, Australia on the day Gary’s brother, older son, our son and I scattered Gary’s ashes there. My son and I have returned together as often as possible. Though we’re often geographically apart, we Skype and call and remember his father on this day, as we do most every day.

Gary loved his sons, his family, nature, animals and all growing things, above ground and beneath the sea. He had an artist’s eye for beauty, evidenced by his photographs, his gardens and the homes he created and tended. He loved ferns, among many other things, and showed me how to pause and stand in awe of this world’s breathtaking beauty and tiny, tender gifts.

Last year (day 132 of our lockdown posts), I was recovering from a broken kneecap (it’s much better now, thankfully) and scattered rose petals just outside, beneath our tree by the sea. Today I walked along the top of the Felixstowe Spa Gardens, looking for a patch of ferns. No ferns in sight … until one petite, perfect fern emerged before me. I’m sure it was Gary’s doing, his presence.

I tried tossing the rose petals over the fence so they’d land around my little fern, but the breeze off the sea kept blowing them back to my feet.

The other part of this tradition involves Clive. I met the second great love of my life between the 2-year and 3-year mark of Gary’s death. Clive has understood everything. Since meeting him, I buy three red roses on this day. The third rose comes home with me, to be placed on Clive’s desk.

My mom always told me I was lucky to have two such great men in my life. I couldn’t agree more.

Red roses for love, for Gary and for Clive.

Wishing you all a blessed summer/winter and covid-free times with loved ones.

Happy Birthday, Mr Original

Mr Original’s bday Skype with most of his Aussies

Happy birthday to Mr Original!

The birthday guy has had a full day of lovely birthday calls, messages, cards, gifts, a ‘full English’ brunch, afternoon tea with cake and champagne and a relaxed binge-watching of the Aussie drama ‘Mystery Road’ which we both enjoyed.

Thanks to all who sent greetings to my hero and role model for living life to the fullest with a positive attitude every day. He’s doing OK with his health issues; my knee has recovered well (I’m still doing daily walkabouts and a ‘maintenance’ level of indoor exercises); and we find ourselves busy with various projects and plenty to do each day despite England’s current lockdown #2. We’re pleased to say our Christmas tree is up and twinkling away as an early treat which will brighten the season for some extra time during this lockdown year.

We send greetings from sunny Suffolk and hope everyone is enjoying autumn or spring, depending on your hemisphere.

Stay safe and well and tickety-boo,

xxxx with love from us to you

A Short Walk and a Long Ship

Tree by the sea and container ship Evergreen Ever Goods (by Clive) Monday 31 August 2020

Monday hello from Felixstowe.

In recent weeks and months, Monday — or more precisely, Monday evening – has not been my favourite time of the week. Two weeks ago, as most of you know, Clive was taken by ambulance to A&E (he was actually wheeled out of our building at 2am Tuesday, but the drama began several hours before that). I broke my kneecap on a Monday evening in May, and am still working on its recovery. I try not to think about those two Mondays but instead focus on the positives, like today’s good news that Clive is now off all of his recent antibiotics and he’s feeling much better.

For a happy Monday evening activity, he joined me for a short physio walkabout around the public parking lot. This was his third short walk since he’s been home from the hospital. Yay! He came back inside and I continued strolling for another 30 minutes or so to give my knee its necessary exercise.

And earlier today, after a time of resting and reading on the balcony, Mr Ship Tracker informed me he’d snapped a photo of a large ship passing by. He reports: ‘Arriving in Felixstowe from Hamburg, Germany on a calm sunny day is the Container Ship Evergreen Ever Goods. She was built in 2018 and is 400 metres in length. Her container capacity is 20,000 which just qualifies her as an ultra-large container ship.’

Wednesday is the September full moon, known as Corn Moon or Harvest Moon, and timed for 6:22am in England. Somehow I don’t think we’ll catch it this time.

In any case, happy end of August and first of September, and happy first day of spring Down Under.

Moon path 31 aug

Tonight’s almost-full moon path on the North Sea, Felixstowe

Take care everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo,
xxxx with love from us to you

A Post-Hospital Shipping Report

Tree by the sea (noticeably more autumnal) and container ship Vaga Maersk (by Clive) Wednesday 26 August 2020

Midweek greetings from Felixstowe.

Mr Ship Tracker is slowly recovering from last week’s hospital stay. He’s had a few difficult days but is gradually regaining his strength, and we’re thankful he’s able to recover at home.

This evening, for the first time since Mr ST was discharged, he said he spotted a ship and was going to photograph it. I felt this warranted a special, good-news post.

He reports: After a few wild and windy days, at 7:30pm tonight, the weather situation in Felixstowe could be best described as ‘calm’. I decided to stand on the balcony for a few minutes to gulp in some sea air. Unexpectedly, I was greeted by an incoming ship which was too difficult to ignore. Container Ship Vaga Maersk is arriving from Bremerhaven, Germany. She is a modest 200 metres in length and was built just a year ago in 2019. Over and out.

Thank you, Mr ST and thank you, friends near and far for your kind comments and support. We will keep you informed about Mr ST’s progress.

Take care everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo,
xxxx with love from us to you

Mr Ship Tracker’s Discharge Day

Cloudy but the sun’s coming out: Tree by the sea Friday 21 August 2020

Happy Friday from Felixstowe.

Mr Ship Tracker has had a challenging week in hospital, but as always he maintained his strong, positive attitude. I had a good visit with him yesterday, and this morning we received the happy news that later today, he will be discharged. He’ll need to take it easy for a while and have a follow-up test or two in due course. We’re both over the moon he’ll be home before the weekend.

Who knows, he may even spot a ship or two from the balcony – though probably not this evening because gale-force winds are swirling around today.

We both thank you for your many kind comments, messages and prayers and are indebted to our local friends for their loving support. More to follow.

Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo,
xxxx with love from us to you

Isolating in England: Day 148, My Last ‘Isolating’ Post and a Prayer for Clive

Tree by the sea, missing a ship and Mr Ship Tracker (by me), Tuesday 18 August 2020

Today is my last ‘Isolating in England’ post, instead of day 150.

Last night, Clive was taken to A&E and admitted to hospital with a fever and infection. He’s receiving antibiotics (some via IV), having a number of tests and being cared for by NHS angels. I’ve been able to talk with him on the phone and he says he’s ready to come home, which is right where I want him to be. After 48 hours, he’s allowed one visitor per day, for 45 minutes. I can hardly wait until Thursday, unless we’re blessed with an earlier homecoming.

From my first call to 111, to the Suffolk out-of-hours doctor who then talked directly with Clive when she rang us, to the heroic ambulance team Fiona and Chris, to the senior ward nurse I spoke with midday today and another sweet nurse since then, I am once again thankful beyond measure for the angels of the NHS, and for knowing Clive is in the best hands.

My biggest blessing during lockdown was Clive and our time together, which we agreed was precious. His attentive care after I broke my kneecap is why I was able to recover. Now I want to give him the same attention and loving care as he gave me. We just commented over the weekend that I’m able to do so much more now, and I’m ready and eager to become Mrs Juggler, or perhaps Mrs J without any fancy footwork until a little more time passes.

We continue to be so thankful for our families – my daily Skype call with my son and Clive’s calls with his family in Australia have lifted us throughout this time — and for treasured family and friends near and far who have supported us along the way. Thank you for so many kind offers of help I’ve already received today, and to dear David for taking Clive’s eye drops and phone charger to hospital reception this afternoon. And if I may ask now, thank you in advance for your positive thoughts and, for those who pray, a prayer for Clive. I won’t be posting every day but will be sure to share news of how he’s doing.

We both thank you for a fun (most of the time) 148 days and your many wonderful comments. Take care everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo,

xxxx with love from us to you

Isolating in England: Day 147, Two for the Price of One Together with Same Day Delivery

Tree by the sea and container ships MSC Regulus and Maersk Kotka (by Clive), Monday 17 August 2020

Happy Monday from Suffolk. We hope everyone’s week is off to a good start.

Today the sun shone, beachgoers and walkers returned to the seafront and Mr Ship Tracker caught a lovely moment from the balcony.

Mr ST reports: ‘After a relatively quiet weekend for shipping movements in and out of Felixstowe Port, the pace picked up this morning. The morning provided a rare event for us and for the tree by the sea. I nicknamed it a ‘Two for the Price of One Together with Same Day Delivery’ meeting almost opposite the Tree by the Sea. As Carolyn watched the vessels getting closer, she uttered an ‘Eek’ as she was waiting for what looked like a collision [note from me: I know it’s an optical illusion but the ships’ two front points really did look like they were going to touch]. The ships safely avoided each other.

‘On the left of the photo (top of post) is Container Ship MSC Regulus heading to Felixstowe from Sines, Portugal. She was built in 2012 and her length is 366 metres. On the right is Container Ship Maersk Kotka heading to Antwerp, Belgium. As I write this, she has already arrived at her destination. She was built in 1996 and is 318 Metres long.’

After enjoying the criss-crossing ships, we had a rather quiet day. An afternoon Iceland delivery – in bags, yay — took about one minute, thanks to the competent (and friendly) delivery woman. She noticed we had an amazon package waiting and brought that up, too. Wow! The day’s activity concluded with my 41-minute physio walkabout. Mr ST is still resting at home, bless him.

Whatever season you’re in, we wish you a happy and sunny week ahead.

Monday beach and blooms (photo Visit Felixstowe)

Take care everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo,
xxxx with love from us to you

Isolating in England: Day 146, All Quiet on the Felixstowe Coast

Felixstowe’s old police station on High Road West (photo Ipswich Star/Gregg Brown)

Sunday greetings from Felixstowe, where we seem to be waiting in vain for rain, or for more than five minutes of it.

We apologise for the lack of shipping news, but the weather’s been murky and Mr Ship Tracker and I both had another quiet day. I managed an evening parking-lot physio stroll but encouraged Mr ST not to worry about monitoring container ships when he needed to rest. Tomorrow’s another day, and the weather forecast is better, too.

In today’s local news, two of the main stories centred on conversion of Felixstowe’s old police station (top photo) to a new restaurant/café, shop and flats, and construction by national UK/Ireland chain JD Wetherspoon of a new, two-storey pub in the town centre.

The police station, built in the 1930s, has been vacant for several years, since the officers moved across the street to join the fire service in a new base. The building has a lot of character, and we hope the new plans reflect that.

Meanwhile, after rejecting previous submissions and addressing various community concerns, the Felixstowe Town Council approved Wetherspoon’s plan. They’ll build their pub with a terrace and a beer garden in Great Eastern Square, next to the town’s Victorian-era rail station which now houses an East of England Coop and other shops. Apparently one of the reasons the new design was approved is that the arched windows reflect the character of the station.

Approved design for new pub in Felixstowe on Hamilton Road (photo Ipswich Star/JD Wetherspoon/KDPA)

A local councillor said the investments ‘signal a forward-looking confidence in the Felixstowe economy, providing employment opportunities … at a time of significant economic uncertainty.’ Whether, or when, the plans come to fruition, it’s nice to see indications people are looking beyond these challenging coronavirus times to a more positive future.

May we keep our optimism and our faith, and may everyone stay safe and well and tickety-boo.

Take care everyone,
xxxx with love from us to you

Isolating in England: Day 145, Happy Birthday, Princess Anne

Tree by the sea summer silhouette, 15 August 2020

Saturday hello from Felixstowe.

Today’s post is short, due to Mr Juggler and me both feeling a bit ‘under the weather’ (thankfully not connected with coronavirus) when we awoke this morning. A quiet day, a sadly-missed writing workshop and a rare skipping of our evening physio walk seem to have been the healing medicine.

Today the UK, with other countries, celebrated VJ Day, the day World War Two ended with Japan’s surrender. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and he laid a wreath on the Kwai Railway Memorial. He said of all who served, ‘Let us affirm, they and serving veterans are not forgotten, rather you are respected, thanked and cherished with all our hearts and for all time.’

Prince Charles at Kwai Railway Memorial, VJ Day ceremony (photo BBC/Reuters)

To conclude on a happy note, today Charles’ younger sister, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, celebrates her 70th birthday. She’s one of the most dedicated royals, who performs hundreds of public duties every year. We admire her very much and saw her in person (from a distance) several years ago at the Suffolk Show. Happy birthday and many more, Princess Royal!

Happy 70th, Princess Anne (photo BBC/John Swannell/Camera Press)

Take care everyone and stay safe and well and tickety-boo, and we will too,
xxxx with love from us to you