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Showing posts from 2020

Halloween Tale 2020

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STINKGHOST
Before the smell the most remarkable thing in the room was the Lincrusta wallpaper. A hundred years had passed since it was new and the colours had only deepened. It outshone the chandelier and the gleam of the baby grand. It was richer than the teak of the table, than the velvet chair backs, than the brass candelabra, and far more interesting than the guests who were ponderously working their way through the third course. That night the regular chef had called in sick. No one was sure who the replacement was but this stand-in was burly and the room fully booked so nothing was said, not even when the menu was subject to some unauthorised alterations. Out went the... amuse-bouche egg. Out went the... tripe terrine with the onion bread. Out went the... oily fish curry. Strong flavours, soft textures, dull colours- perked with pea shoots and grated roots, all served up in the quiet room. Conversation was muted at best, barely more than the odd grunt between bouts of puckery chewi…

Squirrel Stares And Rainbow Strikes

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Grounding With Words And Details
Wednesday 7th October 2020
I have of late been in a slump, feeling stuck. Better today. Small actions help. Noticing stuff helps - today a squirrel with a mouthful of acorn stopped to stare at me and that is a definite boost. One does not always have a squirrel to summon but clouds, sunsets, the sound of rain: things the senses can appreciate, they keep a person grounded and they slowly build me back.

Sunday 11th October 2020
Sat in bed, drinking coffee. Yesterday a rainbow struck the shed, this morning there is an ice-blue sky with white cloud in solid curls. I can see the outline of the pine, hear a pair of birds cackle, hear my washing machine whirling. The usual pigeons are absent. I am thinking of having a swim before work. The sea is still warm-ish, as is the land and the general air temperature, the windchill factor is upping. I endeavour to keep a suitably packed swim kit with me at all times.
If I do swim I will be tacky from salt all day, and g…

At The End Of Chapter Three

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Words From A Work In Progress



Through the rush of lockdown (care worker, more hours, no furlough, more wages for the land fund though, pros and cons) my brain has been boggled with various challenges and writing has been done in tiny bursts, scattered about like seeds out of a himalayan balsam. Concentration is returning. This part-written book has bided time, but it is creeping back to pestering me for attention, which I pretend to be annoyed by but is a heartfelt homecoming. So here is a little share from the end of chapter 3, where Old Annish is reliving her second birthday. No context, no spoilers: the plot is mostly untangled now but it could all change yet.  *** In the first photograph she is cute, though frowning - the smiles around her are reassuring. Old Annish smiles too. She has always liked these pictures.
Early memories, she thinks, are pivot-edges, where stories you are told of yourself pitch into personal recall. It’s how you become real. Details, even if they aren’t accu…

Harvest

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Inaugural voyage of The Nancy-Doris, Tuesday 1st September 2020 [This morning in the polytunnel cabbage-white butterflies beat erratic: also many wings without bodies scattered the floor.
Early harvest for spiders: picture them in their web-hammocks, slurping from husks; like cocktails out of coconuts.
Hmm, says I, this is true: metamorphosis is beautiful not immortal; the cycle of life is also this, littered with wings, the memento mori.
Get writing, I say to myself. Write the books before your pages are blowing away and the tutting spiders of time are sampling your puree.
'Caffeine rich earthiness, layered with seaweed oil, a top note of lime blossom.']
This afternoon, task by task we achieved new things: lifting our kayak to the Dacia roof, looping straps, securing straps (quick prayer for effectiveness of anchor points), Check list: seats, paddles, dry bag, an emergency phone app for contacting coastguards, and so forth. Deciding what to wear as the weather blows cold, then…

Windfalls

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Going With The Flow Isn't Always Bumpy

After work - no swimming. Just stopped by Porthpean to breathe the wild air, to drive home to a powercut, candlelit house where a glass of wine was waiting. 

The next day more storm winds blew, rolling apples down the lawn. Fruit boules? I was in the blackberry hedge, untangling thorny whips and gathering fruit. Dots of blood on fingers, nettle-stung buzz on my shins.  Ideas swirling about plotlines adding to the happiness. Pegged towels on the rotary line which may be a mistake but maybe (definitely, overcome with the exuberant purchase of our not yet delivered kayak) I lied when I said I wouldn’t replace it. I should re-use it, obviously; grow sweet peas on it, perhaps. Sweet peas, and ivy for the evergreen. Meanwhile the line has stretched like cheap elastic and I’m hoping the towels don’t land in the gooseberry prickles. Later I am sat writing, and hiding from the mess downstairs which will turn out fine because there’s a plumber fi…

The Best Twisted Old Rotary Line In The World

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How Side Tracking Can Add Adventure To Your Life: a non cautionary tale.


We were supposed to buy a washing line, but the shopping cart contains a kayak. How did this side tracking take off? It was the wet towels that did it: but first, some recent history:
Sunday 9th August 2020 Home from work, straight home, skipping the beach in spite of the day’s heat because our garden has been populated with tents and family. Gathered at the top firepit, where tea was cooked, grabbed a sausage and a glass of house red, lay back to chat and watch for shooting stars - this being the time of the Persiad meteor showers. We forget how lucky it is to lack light pollution though we do not fail to appreciate the view. Every sparkling streak strikes wonder. It is 1am before Mr and me go to bed.
Monday 10th August 2020 A 5am thunderstorm had woken us after the 1am bedtime, and now it was stifling hot. After work the fuel light in the car sent me to a garage where I stared at the pump making sure the word I wa…

River Spa Break

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Words On Blips And Kindness On A Life Journey

The Sage Routine

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Words on Self Care in a Shifting World
[Diary extract] Continuing to feel calm with undercurrents of dread. This is the new normal.
I have had plenty of after work dips at Carlyon Bay, easily picking spots away from the gathered youths and the lone figures a-fishing for sea bass. The bar there is open now, neither busy nor empty. I can’t hear the music from the sea, only the waves.
Last time I swam a school of sand eels swarmed me, leaping out of velvety turquoise water in little flexes of silver under a sky smudged from mauve to orange. Gaudy in a good way.
I floated back and berated myself for such luck, though I have put intention and action into curating this, because this is how I honour life. It is important sometimes to chastise oneself, to shake out the demons of laziness and complacency.
But when the dread seeps in it is necessary to change this tactic, to follow the sage routine: allow it, see it, know it as part of the flow of change.
Give yourself the love you need. Small t…

Bee Bum

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Words On Facing A Leap Of Faith 
Saturday 27th June, 2020
Heat has rolled us flat for a day or so, we are glad of the wind that is whipping clouds around, glad of the sudden dense showers. When I left for work, Mr was sat picking stalks off currants, outside under the gazebo. In between showers he is constructing a tarpaulin roof that will make an outdoor dojang (Tae Kwon-Do training venue) in our garden. [UPDATE: this design is back on the drawing board.] We are making enquiries about how to get water and power to a field we saw - which is scaring both of us because it is jumping into the unknown. Not love at first sight, this bit of land, but a realisation that this could be the one. If we don’t have a reason to veto, we are going to make an offer… Have another lot of land to view, meanwhile, keeping options open. [UPDATE: that land was another faerie-world bit of impractical loveliness, to which we are currently immune.] We are afraid but we are also saying, what else is there to…

365 And Then What?

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Words On Uncertainty, Social Change, and Weird Weather

On New Years Day we started a project we are calling The 365. Poured a large bottle of vodka into a glass barrel and everyday put something into it, mostly from our garden, some foraged stuff. The idea being to make a unique spirit, a spirit of the year. We are a little afraid of it. (We keep feeding it.) 20/20 vision now means anything you didn’t imagine could happen. Fear of the unknown is pandemically viral. There’s a swell- if you don’t know the ocean maybe this word has less meaning. Can you close your eyes? Feel your skin touch the air that touches the sky that merges to space? A universal heft, dear friend.
On a Friday (June 5th) Walked round the lanes, through a gate, through a field of cut grass which curved up and open to a playful breeze, over a stile, over a stream on a trip-trap bridge flanked by old trees, wading in thigh-high grass to the tipped over oak. Dog conquered the undergrowth while I climbed as high as I dared…

Bluebottle

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Words On Patience
Yesterday afternoon when the rain had paused; it had been the kind of precipitation with bucket sized drops; the air was warm, washed, smelling of earth (petrichor, that beautiful word) I pushed a window open. A bluebottle that had been sat on the windowsill flew up into the angled glass. I put my hand out to guide it but it dodged. I meant no harm. I wanted it to be able to fly out; it’s a rare fly that finds fulfilment in captivity. To this bluebottle, the glass was sky, over and over. The sound of it, a mini-thud, made me wonder what sort of velocity and whether flies get brain damage. I wanted it to be free of the barrier it refused to comprehend. The window was pushed wide open. Thud-thud.
Was there a natural rhythm that struck, that finally changed the plan that wasn’t working?
I hope for that.
What happened to the insect after that, whatever happened, it was living as it should.
I watched it go, let my frustration go. It is the right thing to do, to open the win…

Three Letters To Grace

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Words On Love, Loss, And Grieving



21/5/2020 Dear Grace,
I have said how your legacy is the small kind things; I have been noticing them more and more. It’s almost ridiculous, in a wonderful way, to be so taken by the pattern on a plate or how clever elastic is. I can’t stop making beautiful meals. Yesterday I woke up with the bravado to debone a turkey leg. It took awhile; regret was made fleeting by success. I feel like you know. That your light and care are here in everything and that’s why I am continually tuning in. The energy to transform everything is part of this, to celebrate our ordinary splendour. This has manifested into some minor furniture renovations and uncovered a leaking pipe under the bath. (I think we can fix it, I’ve put a cloth down for now to soak it up, left it open to dry out the floor and the rotted skirting board. The bath panel is outside meanwhile… should I paint it? Probably not…)
This is the best of grief; the deep and peaceful loss, the fine example, your …