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Showing posts from April, 2012

A-Z Challenge Reflections: a quickie post!

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Taking this challenge has helped consolidate what I have to say and how I want to convey it. I write everyday so the routine wasn’t too arduous but there is something about making the public commitment that makes you stretch a bit further, faster, stronger. 
Thank you to everyone who has been part of process, it has been a positive experience and although I now, in all honesty, do follow more blogs than I have time to read, connections have been made and I hope to maintain some level of online sociability. In short: grateful for the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised. 


Z: Ziljan (and the symbols of authentic inspiration)

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.

I’m not totally against material possessions, just meaningless stuff we clutter our selves and spaces with. Some things can be the physical representations of ideals, like achieving the highest standard of musical expression (I'm merely a listener, picked Ziljan for the symbol/cymbal pun, shame on me, but then again, this is the end of the A-Z Challenge, I’m allowed to play.)
My best symbol is my dragonfly, which is tattooed on my left shoulder and therefore unlikely to get cleared out. It represents the ability to transform oneself, and since I have used it correctly (smug but true) it has become a powerful prompt in my life. I like tattoos but I only have the one, because so far it’s all I’ve needed. I have pondered other designs, such as a periwinkle shell, a tiny home for a creature that survives the fiercest storms, but my dragonfly doesn’t seem to need any company.
The biggest concen…

Sunday Under The Petal Bombs

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Cherry blossom is plucked, whirled and mostly glued to my car by clumsy rain splats. Everywhere is petal polka dots. The wind is dizzy. The sky, choked up with phlegmy cloud. Cat runs in before the door has finished opening. She looks for her food bowl like a hypoglycaemic. Dog runs out, flinging her tongue to one side. Her ears and my hair catch a blast of cold air, blow obstructively to vision. Dog is not slowed down, she leaps the gate as I am fixing my hood toggles. Under the waterproofs I am still dressed in pyjamas, I am pre-coffee, pre-breakfast, haven’t even washed my face. Some instinct has propelled me out here, into the storm of blossom. This weather is set in. For a month, Farmer Landlord says. He brought rat poison, because they won’t get in the traps. I’m not sentimental about it, exactly, but I wish they had opted for a swifter death. It came to poison last time too, and one lay dead beyond reach in the roof space over the brewing kitchen. No one forgets a smell like th…

Y: You Don't Have To Be Miserable To Be Serious!

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.
This is one of my favourite quotes, attributed to Eric Morecombe, light entertainer, who wore thick rim dark rectangular glasses just like my Dad’s. Often I have incurred displeasure for not seeming at all studiously glum, and have had cause to flaunt this piece of wisdom. E.g. ‘Sorry, that was an awfully short and self centred post, but it did have a sincere sense of fun with an important underlying message. You don’t have to be miserable to be serious!’

X: Kyocha Sogi

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.

I haven’t written much about my martial art on this blog, not for a shortness of zeal or an absence of the obsession which if you are or you know a martial artist will be excruciatingly familiar. If you do know: I practice pre-ITF Tae Kwon Do, as espoused by Major General Hoi Hung Hi’s 1983 manual. And if you don’t, don’t worry, I am not completely oblivious to the glazed eyes, there will only be a short technical description, followed by an observation of equal brevity.


Kyocha Sogi, or in English, X stance Cross one foot over or behind the other, touching the ground slightly with the ball of the foot. Body weight rests on the stationary foot. It’s a short stance, the feet being placed close, under the body.







There is something irrepressibly funky about this stance. Baby uses it whilst tackling her toy box, which suggests a fundamentally instinctive human source for it. One leg supports the oth…

W: Wishbone Soup

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.




This is a re-post of my first ever blogged communication. It is a bit cheaty to repeat; in this instance, I am not inclined to care. It relates to a time when I lived in an even wonkier, colder, damper house, but with much less agricultural clutter.
It's a real soup. It's also a state of mind, which, if by cure we mean 'make better,' does cure everything.  To explain, here's a brief autobiographical tale.
Once upon a time there was a wonky cottage with two tiny open fires and an impressive collection of cold damp draughts. There was no telephone, no internet, TV reception depended on the weather, and whether they could afford the electric bill. Living in the cottage was a growing family with a shrinking budget. When the gas bottle ran out they cooked on the fire. It was impossibly picturesque, so don't feel sorry for them, and most weeks they could buy a chicken from th…

V: Vietnamese Weasel

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.



Specific moments of deliberate enjoyment can be embodied in a scrumptiously eye popping cup of coffee. Still love a splash of Java Sumatra, and Guatemalan Elephant, but since the discovery of Vietnamese Weasel, Va Va Voom! The aroma of it sends me… back to my honeymoon (explaining the big love hit) back through history; into a place of hot fascination, a place that steps with me, out of time, into the construction of a personal mythology. Specific moments of deliberate enjoyment can perk up everything, even if you wake up too early.
My decision is to make coffee And sit, watching the colours Change, outside; the pink Underbelly of mackerel cloud
Somewhere in the fridge is a tin Of coffee. This week we are drinking Vietnamese Weasel. I picture the sacks Of beans on the quayside in a monsoon wind
Maybe this started as a practical joke But whoever ground up the beans from The weasel’s poo was on to a goo…

U: Über Ultra Everything

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.



I’m not always so secure about being bossy, but do, on this occasion, feel decidedly, hideously justified. Enthusiasm, like many things, resides on a scale. The enthusiasm gamut starts at a sustainable leisurely pursuit, ends in an explosion. Every stage has its pros and cons and, while idiot proofing can be a courteous gesture, I’m (generously) going to allow my readers to work out for themselves what is good and bad about mildly eager or maniacally passionate and all the bits in between.  My intent here is to speak up for enthusiasm as a generic element. Eagerness is sometimes perceived as desperation; people clinging to obsessions that bring meaning to an otherwise bewildering drift of existence, or taking cover behind fascination so they can ignore the blunt You Have Wasted Your Life truth. This point of view does possess a validly eponymous point. But!!! A life without enthusiasm is a li…

T: Time, the Art of

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.


‘Time is the sole capital of people whose only fortune is their intelligence.’ Honore de Balzac
I’ve put down the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue- literally, and in this house that means it might be a few days before I find it again. Meanwhile I’ve gone back to the rediscovery of a shelf of books I picked up, long, long ago, in a college, far, far away (by train.) One of these is called The Art of Time.
‘We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable,’ Jean-Louis Servan-Schrieber explains, on the front cover. I think, and my lifestyle will back me up here, that I have always been more time orientated.
Last week I pretended to eat a brick and then sick it back up again. Baby chortled so much she couldn’t sit up, like hilarity trebled gravity, it took her down flat to a horizontal whole bodied laugh. Then I think, but I …

Dog's City Sunday

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Dog takes her second urban walk around a cemetery. We let her run off the lead. Her larkish scrabblings over marble and chippings clatter incongruously as we stroll down these crowded avenues of the dead. For a moment, she pauses thoughtfully, which is my cue to fish a poo bag from my pocket. After that, the lead is reclipped. Dog does not mind.
For her first walk, we had a whole park to roam; she ran circles of discovery with her nose to the ground, inhaling information. After the park we clipped down the road, past the lady in the fit-flops pushing a trolley of cakes out of Aldi’s automatic doors. We spent some pleasant if damp time kicking about outside the building full of nervous red belts, who were inside kicking each other fervently for a chance to become black belts. Dog gives them a wag as they emerge, shiny faced and tense with hope. She is popular, which she likes. 

S: Sunshine Sequin Sparkle Shark

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.

Saturday’s short sunny scribble, scrutinising some symbolic stuff.
Sunshine is reciprocal. Once upon a time I was all squashed out like road kill, and the weather was sternly grey. I saw a sign for a sun shower booth, not something I would normally try. Just a few minutes of pretend sun put some smile shape back on my face. Effectual emergency treatment. Sequins are metallic discs that take light in, and in the process of reflecting add theatrical enchantment. Although tinsel was my first razzle-dazzler; the magical density of nativity play haloes. I was not destined for ballet, the scuffle in the changing room and my red shoes in the cluster of pale pinks were obvious retrospective proofs; but the glamour of performance gets me every time. Sparkles are anything that refract light, unsplicing colour. Rainbows are part of the universal show. Hanging a bit of cut glass in a window, the multihue…

R: Rosehill, the name of this home

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.



If I list the things I will miss about this home it will be a long list…


A hedge of daffodils. Scooping fingers of the overhanging ash tree. Broken branch oak making a tree tunnel over the lane; picturesque, impractical bumpy lane. Wild strawberries, in the walls and the central ridge of grass. Wild garlic with triangular stems and dainty stinking flowers. Shy snowdrops, cheeky crocus. Pink rhododendron growing next to the orange berberis. Lilac rhododendron that flowers months later than the pink. Orchard daffodils in lines, grading colours from bright orange to white. Two pet graves in the orchard, one for Chinchilly (I cried for three days) and one for Tyson Sparkle, beloved rabbit. Bees in beehives. Cherry trees in blossom. Fragrance of the lilac tree. How ridiculous the house is: our bedroom doorframe is too narrow to walk through holding a breakfast tray, one must go sideways or get stuck,…

Q: Good Queen Dick

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.
In the Great Britain of 1811, where I have been spending some time lately, the saying ‘In the reign of Queen Dick’ was a popular retort. There was no Queen Dick, in case you were wondering if you had misread your British throne lineage, therefore the retort clearly implies that the incident or situation referred to did not happen. If you like a challenge, use this phrase in a conversation today. I like it like this:- ‘And when did that happen- in the reign of Queen Dick, perhaps?’ With clear, archly barbed diction and a gorgeous smile.
 Most of my fiction is based on incidents and situations that did happen, because I like to take what is right in front of people and surprise them with it. This is not to say that other ways of doing things are wrong- in fact, taking the everyday out of the ordinary setting is at the very least an equally splendid way to polish jaded attentions. But for me, taski…

P sounds like S

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My parents bestowed on me the first name Lisa (considered, they protested, unusual at the time.) My husband handed me the last name Southard (pronounced Sutherd, ideally, but South-hard will do.) Most of the world; this includes many close friends; know me as Lily Tequila, or Silverbetty Sequin… it’s nothing more complicated than fun. They aren’t alter egos. Silverbetty was a dancing days stage name, borrowed from my daughter’s teddy, Lily is a derivative of Lilith, an autobiographical-ish character from a novel I claim to be writing (have written, but not to my satisfaction yet.) Both pseudonyms are exactly me. 
Having suffered this at school- ‘Which Lisa are you?’ (Think I was Number 5-) it is easy to realise why I might want to distinguish my existence with some flashy nom de plumes. Also why my Girl and Boy have slightly odd real names, and have preferred simplification. Plus ça change, plus ça même change…
If I ever had an alter ego alias it was The Bad Girl Who Lives In My Head. I c…

O is a Soft Recognition

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.



I had a post all ready to ping, including this from the 1811 dictionary, which I could visualise so clearly I think it’s fair to say I hooted with laughter: ‘Owl in an ivy bush’ Frequently said of a person in a frazzled wig.
It is a marvellous thing to elicit laughter, and to share it with someone you love is ecstatic. I think of this, wandering along with Dog, past the cherry tree. This is the short time each year that the blossoms shimmy out of bud, open up to the sky and breathe the spring air. One sprig has caught the wind, it shivers at the edge of a large puddle. The water also shivers with the breeze. This morning the rainwater reflected sunlight into our front room, dabbling on the ceiling. A string of dusty spider web bridged over it. Outside, the honeysuckle and the bindweed are wiggling into life, the ivy has been here all winter. Now I see the ivy, the deep green wreaths of ivy, and …

N: Is For Nudie!

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The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.


This morning, I woke up with the question ‘Are dogs naked?’ Which is a random way to awake, and I have no idea what dreams prompted that. I looked at the list for N. Nudie, there’s the word. Jolly connotations. From the Latin, nudus, meaning ‘to bare.’ From running after freshly bathed progeny, waving pyjamas.

Odd fact I learned today; having rediscovered my 1811 Dictionary Of The Vulgar Tongue; hemp, being used for making ropes, was once known by the common name ‘Neck Weed.’ Of all the textures to be brought to bare skin, rope on a neck is not one I wish to sample.
Sand underfoot is one of the best, any time of year. In winter, it is best to keep warm socks waiting in the car. So, in celebration of the random, odd-but-jolly feel of my Monday, here are the notes from my latest beach barefoot romp:
‘A walk on the beach freezes my feet. Moving up out of the water's edge wind chill we find a …

Sunday Driver

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Today was planned. It did not stick to the plan. On Friday, I left Boy on the moors, in a t-shirt and a hailstorm. It’s okay, he was expecting it, and it was a superior t-shirt. We live in a damp cold place, we consider fast wicking windproof thermal waterproofs everyday wear. Sunday pick up time was prearranged, then changed. Twice. I thought I would have finished everything from pesky housework to painstaking artwork, but I didn’t even quaff a coffee till 2pm. It almost got dangerous.

Driving out the second time, I took Dog, as her enthusiasm for life is contagious. There was plenty of life there, including one weary Boy and an ice cream van. ‘Sorry about that,’ he says. ‘If everything goes according to plan,’ I realise, verbally and deep inside, ‘you always know what is going to happen. That would get boring, wouldn’t it?’

Boy points out a wild foal snoozing by a granite boulder. Dog jumps in the river, disturbing a duck.

We go home, and I say to myself, maybe the work will get done,…

M Revisited: More Show, Less Tell

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Re-reading the previous post, I’m not quite comfortable with it. All very well telling people how they should be appreciating their lives, when the point is, the clever writer should be showing them. Especially at the weekend when most folks are inclined towards relaxation, not lectures… this topic is riddled with the risk of ‘holier than thou’ syndrome: I am a real, therefore flawed person, always a work in progress. I get unmanageable, cantankerous, irrational, flabby, washed out, ineffective, dense, bad hair days. Still human! First challenge is to realise it is one of those days, second is to wrestle my bad self with brutal honesty until it tells me what’s wrong (pre-menstrual, tired, sick of being poor, angry with myself for doing something unaccountably dumb, those are the usual candidates.) Third challenge is to apologise. No one likes apologising, it reminds you of how you did something wrong, but it’s necessary. So, I apologise for the sermonising. Here is a more show, less t…