Friday, 29 June 2012

Three Piece Soup

Boy leaves school. He wears a three piece suit and pocket watch, that’s the kind of Boy he is. After school, finery is returned to wardrobe, walking boots get some exercise. We explore all the way to the stirred mud of river. Clouds have a sense of lurk. Wind drives loud and fast in the narrow lanes. Dog sports some dapper mud trousers. I take her picture. I take generic hedgerow pictures, to illustrate things that I haven’t thought of writing about yet. Boy wonders why not start with the image, would that not be the easier way? Yes, possibly, I concur, but the adventure of it is important, that’s part of the exercise. That’s the difference, I opine, between making soup from a packet mix and creating soup from foraged foodstuffs. No less love in either preparation, necessarily, but the latter has more art. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chainsaw Cheer

In the eleventh day of Operation Relocate Domicile. In another 29 days it actually might be over, bar the fruit garden, but we will approach that as a separate manoeuvre. Tomorrow, new home chimneys are to be swept and the Rayburn lit. New Farmer Landlord says we can have wood from his shed, if we don’t mind cutting it down; do we have a chainsaw? Of course we do, it’s one of the few things that has set us aside from medieval peasants. We have been used to cutting down our own wood, in branches or by whole tree; chopping and dragging it by bits up the steep slippery stony thorny thistle strewn fields of Rosehill. Visceral, close to nature: also tiresome, time consuming. Mr can drive down to the shed in New Farmer Landlord’s yard, bring back all the wood on one trip.
My grin is so huge it curves off the earth like buffalo horns.
In honour of the hours spent, in celebration of the hours freed, here are eleven verses from a paused project, a poem of 1,000 ‘miracles,’ which I will be returning to and have been revising recently. The following events take place in late morning on a hot autumn day:

Enjoying the press of humidity
We choose a branch that hangs low over
The crunkled roof of the old sheep-shelter
Park up the wheelbarrow

We pause to plot, to pick out
The best angle for cleaving branch 
From tree, which spot to stack new logs
Where to stock the slim kindling twigs

Mr climbs the boundary of dry wall
Steadies himself with booted feet
Planted firmly down against granite
Stones, against ungainly trunk of tree

Chainsaw rattles. The elected angle tested
It is uncomplicated, reachable. Serrated
Blade rotates slickly through the branch
Drops it down onto the old buckled roof

Drag the cut wood clear
Admire the twist of it
Solidly muscular against soft
Textured fuzzes of field grass

Tangible overhead, a block
Of solid-blue sky. The branch
Is a compact mass, is weight
Pressed against the ground

Pushing feet into lumps of earth
Trace the strain from calf to rump 
Levering this length of beech
Out of the grappled twists of thorn

From weed-tangle the wood
Is dragged to open field, here
It will be portioned for the fire
Dreckly, Mr says, distracted

He eyes a wealth of stray branches
While in situ in the hedge here he will just
Zip the saw through a few more
I can see the sense in it

Sawdust sprays on a chainsaw wave
Scatters over leaves and lies on dirt
Whorls of flaxy tree slivers
Released, fly out, pattern down

Three more branches fall
Under the notches of sharpened
Blade. Each prize smugly heaved
From the field edge

Lines of heavy muscular
Streamlined monsters lie
Prone, like we have been
Hunting great beasts

[‘Crunkled’ is a made up word, describing crunched corrugated iron. ‘Dreckly’ is a dialect word, meaning, when I’m ready; similar to the Spanish ‘mañana.’]

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Best Kind Of Ridiculous

Another streak of day flashes past too fast for me to write. These days do happen. We have a home forming with furniture almost where it needs to be and pans on shelves and coat hooks put up in the hallway, this is my compensation for the inability to catch any writing time. Also, just as I think I might sneak off with a biro and notebook, Boy needs someone to beat at chess. I play a random game, he engages strategically, hence the inevitability of outcome. We sit at the table; it has a tablecloth. I drink coffee from a cup and saucer, from my vintage gold tea set. We are civilised. We no longer wear muddy boots in the house. Sip, chink, smug smile, checkmate: marvellous. I study the new abode, I think my mouth is gaping. Look, there’s a place to hang coats! A shelf for the muddy boots! Behold, the gold china is not lost at the back of a greasy shelf! How many times shall I count the shelves in the pantry? I will never stop!

This morning is for exploring: me and Dog forge through long grass, alongside a stream, find an oak so thickly trunked it needs two of me to circle its girth. We can only see field, trees, sky, a horizontal triptych. My waterproof trousers leak at the knee. The nettle stings are fully deflected. I’m so happy; running through thickets of nettle and dock, unstung and pitted with grass seed; it feels like my body is singing. Dog appears and disappears, her demeanour purely joyous. We are the best kind of ridiculous right now. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

World's Slowest Firework

Last night:
Rain on glass panes keeps me entertained, in pattern, in percussion. The view is dissolving in drops and the descent of darkness. An awareness flares, catches the heart of me in a healing flame: I picture it like a Christmas pudding, safe and warm under a dome of ignited rum. Maybe it is merely sleep hormones, maybe not; thoughts and feelings flicker in a balanced performance of shadow and light.

This morning:
Baby brushes my hair with the wooden hairbrush. I have a bruised temple to prove it. Reminds me of the phrase ‘that will knock some sense into you.’ We harness Dog to the pram and walk around the block of fields. Here the hedgerows are magical habitats, winding with wild rose, tumbling vetch of many colours: so many flowers I have not time to name them all. I note how the rose expands: a shoot reaches up, flails in breezes until the weight of leaves and buds arc it back to earth, to pop open flowers, circlets of sparking colour: like the world’s slowest firework. 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Return Of The Happy Cartographer, May 1994

Through most of May of this year I was on a fabulous mission to appreciate, to drink life up, to be aware of every breath. This happiness is giddy, has a sense of intoxication. I didn’t have the budget for actual intoxication, there was only coffee and a genuine joy for life. This kind of pace is unsustainable, not necessarily a bad thing. As I am still reminding myself now, transition, and all of life is a transition, happens in oscillations; there is chaos, expansive and excitable, and there is anti-chaos, stabilising and reflective. I considered splitting this month into two posts, but that cuts off the cycle and it’s more useful to see it in one go, I think. I have bleeped the naughty word, rather than overdub and lose authenticity. Anyway, here I am, aged 24 and living in a less cramped shared house with a washing machine, which also accounts for some of my heady delight.

‘17th May 1994
A morning in Wakefield watching people and patterns. If you sit for long enough they seem to repeat themes and motifs . Circulating time. Missed the bus but I’m not bored, my perceptive senses are developing too quickly. Some people are desperately invisible.

19th May 1994
Buzzing again. Creativity or coffee? When I’m on a creative roll seem more susceptible to addiction. Need something to bridge the gap between me and the world.
Writing- gives frames of reference for our experiences. When a blind adult is able to see, they have vision but can’t make sense of it. They need to build references eg: colour and shape are different. Through reading I gain new perspectives and in order to write what I perceive I should become sensitised, shouldn’t take anything for granted.
The fantastic and the everyday are not so far apart.
People are watching me write. I’m an event.

22nd May 1994
Sunday, Kitchen Table.
Spent weekend fully engaged in the moment of being. Like you do.

25th May 1994
Just read Vogue because a bit of glamour is entertaining. Today I am not going home to make tea but staying out, getting a coach to Manchester and seeing Maya Angelou. This gives me some indulgent time. I have some money as well so I’m going to have a proper dinner not just an apple and a coleslaw sandwich. College is a cloistered existence but there is freedom in this enclosure, there’s books and films and art and theatre, all giving new directions and perceptions, opening up new possibilities. Sometimes I think I spend too much time watching and not enough participating, but it does aid my positive willpower, lifting me up over difficulties to see the other side.

26th May 1994.
Sat in bed.
Maya Angelou was amazing, a goddess. As soon as I saw her I nearly cried. I’m looking at my windowsill, my own domestic altar. The icons are everyday  sacred objects – a baby sock, a lapis lazuli disc, a canteen coffee cup (unwashed) dried seaweed and juggling clubs.

30th May 1994
Skelmanthorpe Park, Bank Holiday
Daughter and friends playing on the slide- head first, who’s the fastest, all in a chain and other such initiations into their physical environment. I’m trying to let the wind blow my thoughts clear, but it’s not the same when you can’t smell the sea. We’re going for a walk in the woods now.
Our Back Garden.
Jaunt in the woods has sprung a dream memory:
I am being dragged along a stony road on my stomach. My wrists are tied. It’s a **** of a way to travel but at least I’m getting somewhere. I think I might have been captured but I realise I can easily untie the knot. I have to travel like this otherwise the destination wouldn’t appear the same, had I sat comfortably throughout. The journey is important to the frame of mind.
I’m slightly ill, how I hate being ill, so this may explain my mood. I need to rejuvenate. Asking this quality from something else only serves as a stop gap- an attitude of gathering strength is required. I used to get this from being in the sight and sound of the sea. Now I will have to gain it from myself. This is a bumpy journey but I define myself through it.’

Meeting Maya Angelou was a confirmation that venerating the ordinary stuff was an important idea, and that one should be in charge of one’s own story. In every woman, there is a kind of goddess, and here was a woman who let hers shine. A brave and inspirational presence.
I can’t remember when I had the dream that is brought to mind while I walk through the woods herding a tribe of neighbourhood children- it is weird to read this now, because it is so true. Oh dear, I say to myself, you could have untied the knot, but yes, you would not be the same person. Some children can be told the fire is hot and some children have to stick their fingers in it before they learn; I am the latter type. The point of these revisits to previous time points is to find out how my attitude shaped my ability to be happy, not to dwell on difficulties, so some drama is left out. This may or may not undermine the power of the whole story, I am not concerned with that. I don’t want to promote drama for the sake of creating a wild story, I want to show that attitude creates a wonderful life whatever may happen, there is joy to be found.

Girl gazes at a container ship- maybe it is full of exotic shoes?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Flight Path

Yesterday pen was not put to paper, nor fingerpads to keyboard. Sentences wriggled compulsively from behind distractions: I held them briefly in my mind, admired each form, let them fly into heavy rains. We aquaplaned to work and back. Thursdays are busy. We eat our evening meal in a lay-by; the hedge trees shake water all over the car, show us a picture of the world made of splodges.

Today a tide of cloud rolls in and the trees sway in wind currents. I have the picnic table set up in what will be our spare room, office and storage space. I am acclimatising to this new horizon. Some frustrations still, of what will and will not fit. 

Mr is in the kitchen teaching his drill some dreadful language. Boy is in his bedroom, keeping it tidy. Dog flops as though abandoned, waiting on a walk.
At the old place I could sit by the window while my thought process travelled along the valley out through the mountainous moorlands. Here I have not yet learnt the direction in which thoughts will flourish best, that is all. That the flight paths exist, I do not doubt. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Calm Is Around The Corner

Grouchy as an unwalked dog this morning. In the kitchen, Dog herself is stood, mournfully, by a slop of vomit. Diagnosis: unsettled. We need to a) clean the floor and b) reset our spirits.
A walk around the block is proposed.
The block is arable fields, the walking surface single track, just big enough for one moderately sized tractor, which we don’t meet, but we do find the remains of a less lucky squirrel.
I had planned a break from this house move daily update; a return to sharing my old diaries, I determined, would bring more fun to writer and readers. Which didn’t happen today as the laptop and the journals were in different houses.
And my headspace remains a 3D jigsaw puzzle of kitchen implements; of hats, of books, of towels, brewing buckets, root vegetables, houseplants; or it might be some kind of stacking game, like Jenga, like Buckaroo, but mostly there’s more things than places and not space in the poor swirly head to think of anything else that might be happening, especially not in the small time slot available to write and post.
But while I walk, sceptres of ripening grass reach twice my height in the hedgerows, the fields swell fat crops, the hills roll down to a river valley, flat squirrel has come to his last rest, wild flowers thrive and weave.
This is how transition happens, in oscillations. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Simile Of The Congruous Fish

Oh woman! Why are you flip-flapping like a fish on a dock? Kick yourself back to the water, throw yourself to the flow of it. Have you forgotten so much, with just this slight distraction?

In the back of the car, in the midst of this load of transported objects, a stack of pans strike a rhythm with every bump of the lane. In my head incessant things are shuffled round but will not make the shape of a tidy cottage. The car windows are wound down and brambles flick in. Lurch, clang, whip, we go up the rough old lane. It’s only moving from here to there, so why obsess over it: kick yourself back to the water, woman, quit flitting, you know you can swim.

‘This is an adventure,’ I observe, after a pause for consideration.
Another favourite quote of mine, so favourite I remember the source: GK Chesterton, he says, ‘An adventure is an inconvenience, rightly considered.’

At Number Three, almost our new home, the electric oven is wired in. I make poached eggs for supper. We struggle, in good humour, with plastic forks. I will bring cutlery next. We will play with this new fangled electric cookery, and when the chimneys are swept, we will play with the old Rayburn and the cast iron casserole pot. Convenient things need not remove adventure. Nor need inconvenient things smother it. It is consideration that underlies the joy. I get to choose my view.

Curious, I surmise, to begin with this simile of a fish, flip-flapping on the dock, when the change of view is life or death to it.
‘Oh, you so drama!’ Smile at myself: then think on it. The humour keeps, not so incongruous.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Mid House Moves

Last night: Sat at the picnic table in the front room. The décor is indoor camping chic. Two uncurtained windows sit opposite, brim full of twilight. They are such well appointed windows they bring on a Jane Austen fit. We do not rent, we take country lodgings. Bemused Dog scatters bits of defeated cardboard box.

Track the long extension lead to the kitchen, pull out the flex from behind the portable gas stove, the plastic plates and the sporks. Link up the stereo, here is my drawer of old vinyl. Nina Simone’s voice, pressed into plastic grooves, shaken out from the usefully shelfed alcove at the side of the fireplace, dances artfully over stuff we brought and haven’t found places for yet. Neither the old house nor the new looks convincingly inhabited. We could be going in either direction, at this point.

We are delighted to discover a bag of peanuts just as snackishness descends. Also, apple wine.

This morning: The bathroom’s brand new shower rail, curtain, rings, fresh from the shop white, reflect light so brightly we shrink before the blinding sight of it.
I need sunglasses to clean my teeth in here.
Mr plans to ship out to the supermarket in search of bread. We will have camping stove scrambled eggs. We will roll our car wheels between houses, over days, until the pivot tips.

Girl turns up, with Boyfriend and Baby and bread and bacon. We picnic. I secure a good tariff for the electric supply.

This afternoon: Sat at the pallet table, at the old house, on a break from packing, admiring the rampage of wild flora. Out at Number Three, our new country lodgings, it is still the kind of Middle Earth habitat that could spring an elf at you and not raise such surprise. But there is something about this savage prettiness, something zealously ephemeral, that I have not yet found in the new home, and will be seeking. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Song Of Number Three

I can hear my neighbours. I can hear radio tunes and a harmony of conversation. This morning one car has driven past, two tractors trundle between yard and field. Most amusing so far is the singing toilet: the cistern celebrates each refilling with a low twisting refrain. It has some kind of pipe hernia. Loudest are the birds. Multitudinous notes reverberate, make an outdoor opera of nesting rites. Silent in the blue sky vast clouds bask. Four horses at pasture blow through their noses, make Jurassic Park noises. A branch on the fat trunked ash plucks at our telephone wire. The house at Lawhitton bounces with these pleasant sounds. Lamentations for the old place are eased. We start to speak of the new dwelling now not by village name but by its name, Number Three.  

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Arrive at the pending home before the new landlord; also a farmer, but the orderly kind that has time to tidy his hedges. It is pleasant to sit before the furniture lugging begins.
Boy’s bed lies over the flattened seats in a heap of slats. Boy himself is somewhere between Rosehill and a shop, on his bicycle and a mission to obtain a bacon sandwich. Girl is travelling with Mr and a bootful of book boxes. I will hear her laughing as soon as she opens the car door. She has always loved moving furniture. It will be Girl that steers the puzzlesome chunk of our bed base down the tiny staircase. A double act of Girl and Boy hinders and helps: I will think of the time they rolled across the airport at Larnaca, engaged in a spontaneous stage fight.
In this moment, though, sat alone in my car, I hear only the soft drops of rain, set my eyes on the mottling of sky, kempt lines of fields, the fat trunked ash tree.
Later; several carloads later, back at the old house, when Girl has gone to collect Baby and Boy is digesting his two helpings of bolognaise and Mr is making espresso on the gas hobs of Rosehill; I am imagining us at Lawhitton instead. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Tide Of All Existence

Blaming Virginia Woolf for this outburst… describing the construction of the self as:
‘like a butterfly’s wing…clamped together with bolts of iron.’

wrote this first as a stream of consciousness exercise no punctuation just flow one word into the next it was a strong old tide indeed

This morning, as my world is poised at the start of another summer storm, I broached a light rewriting, just to make it readable, and although it’s all about me (diva!) I dare to hope that the feeling of transformation in a life is familiar to all. 

The urge to write comes late last night. It will not cease to pester: it fills my head with irritable fidgety creatures. 
I can’t settle and neither can they. 
I don’t know what they are, what strange party I am hosting here. 
But there’s nothing here that is not part of my own self, even though they seem uninvited, they must be part of my mosaic, my pinterest board of butterfly wings, held with iron bolts, they cannot leave. I make myself as a collage is made, cut outs, paste ons, an assembly of disparate parts reassembled into a surpassing integral picture. Each new time becoming this winged creature, each new time leaving the old skin, even as a spider leaves empty shells of itself at the edge of the web, an echo of who I was: I see that the strange and aggravating creatures are my bursts of transformation, splitting free a restrictive husk. A trail of them, these thin husked milestones, around the edge of my own picture. As the light and shadows play within I watch the actions of the years passing, observe it becoming fainter, more representational, delve to a deeper underlying thing beyond the summation of any art. 
Yet I can name it simply as being alive, as sharing the adventure. This is me, in a book of stories that has not yet ceased, that began before writing, before people, it is as big as time. 
I do not know where the ink comes from, only that I feel it beating, feel it as a venal tide: the pull of it is the tide of all existence. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Potential For Absence

(Insert drum roll of suspense here.) It may be three weeks before the internet follows us to the new address. According to the cheerful conviction of a call centre lady, we can maintain a phone line at the old address. Until the end of July we will have access to both houses: we can keep an office at Rosehill, and homely quarters at Lawhitton*. Feasibly leading to delusions of landowning grandeur, and some classic misunderstandings of who is where and why. 
Rich in comedy is the practiced silver lining detector.
Not so mired in positivism that I can’t admit life can be awkward, however. There is still a potential for absence, in the often incommunicative communications infrastructure, it may be that an absentminded data entry gets the Rosehill phone snipped off. I may appear to have disappeared from the blogosphere but, dear readers, do not fear. A technical hiccup, merely.

A picture of affectionate tolerance
 I am sat on the sofa, writing this, next to Boy, who is listening to Red Dwarf on Radio Four, when I could be upstairs, in the cloistered silence of my cupboard or, more likely, sat on the bed gaining ethereal inspirations from the cloud pressed view. 

We’re not exactly communicating, though he does ask for the occasional spelling. We’re not exactly absent either.

*pronounced L’witton

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Invisible Importance Of Hats

From dreamt adventures, retrieve one line only: ‘If I were made of fire, this is where I would sleep.’ It’s good to start a day by intriguing yourself. Shower in the company of one spindly spider, which presses its face repeatedly to the wet tile surface, also intriguing: thirsty, saying spider prayers, frustrated, or trying not to look at the naked mammalian giant? Coffee is made. It is a pot of the last of the Trung Nguyen. A fine mist makes a horizon of mountainous island shapes, with squinted eyes I can just about create the illusion of Halong Bay. From intrigue to reverie, wander down to the Mekong Delta, wearing a superb hat.

Today also (it is going well so far) brings more accolades for my Wishbone words; thank you Pins and Needles
(Who does sell some cute stuff on etsy, if you were wondering, have a peek:

The first four rules of the Versatile Blogger award are easily in my stride, the last two I can stumble through, the exercise will do me good.

‘Here are the rules:
1. Add the award to your blog
2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself
4. List the rules
5. Award to 15 bloggers
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog’

I have used the same seven randoms twice now: time to get to the next set. How to choose from a 42 year long list? Decided on a theme; having recently parted with my favourite stage dress, odd costumes won. I don’t always wear odd costumes, I just wear what I feel like wearing, whether it’s conventional stuff, or not. Costume is a way of playing.

1. I have been to the supermarket dressed as a fairy. In broad daylight.
2. I have been to the supermarket dressed as a pirate. In broad daylight.
3. I have been to the supermarket dressed in leather shorts, peasant blouse, and Easter bonnet. At night. Accompanied by a fairy and a Victorian wine seller.
4. I have stopped traffic dressed as a clown. In broad daylight.
5. I have been to the supermarket in my pyjamas and Wellington boots. By day and by night, this has been a regular occurrence.
6. I have bonnet rolled a car dressed as a soldier. About 3am on New Year’s Day.
7. My best outfit ever was the red swimsuit and Wellington boots. Aged 5.

 But this is merely a list of appearances. My truly interesting random stuff often happens internally. I once joined the Civil Service, thinking I would become the next Miss Moneypenny, which, although I did sign the Official Secrets Act, did not happen. It was an office job, 9-5, Monday to Friday. To alleviate the routine I invented Invisible Dressing Up. So I would, for example, think to myself, today I’m going to be an off duty 1950s starlet, or a gangster circa 1930. It didn’t contravene any dress codes, but it gave me a character to play with. More Walter Mitty than Miss Moneypenny, although we often had ‘dress up for charity’ days so I did get to wear my tutu to the office too. Got a boring day ahead? Try Invisible Dressing Up.

Fairy at work

Fifteen suddenly seems like an enormous number. I should wear a bowtie, which for no apparent reason at all, I associate with people who are good at maths. And a straw hat: again, no logic, merely a vague association with people who merrily engage themselves with visiting.

Here is a list of blogs not previously recommended by me, mostly positive, uplifting, honest questing, asking interesting questions types of blogs, that’s the sort of thing I like. I think there are fifteen of them, I did count. I don’t visit them as often as I should like, but we’re all busy people, and if you never let anything slide, the slide gets rusty from lack of use, regardless of what hat you are wearing. I think that’s how it works.

Fairy on holiday

Suburban soliloquy
‘Former Boston urbanite. Suburban survivor. Mother to sprite and knight. Master of neither. Managing suburban sagas. Inking sundry dreams and dramas.’

Faraway Eyes
‘Reader, writer, all around word junkie. Living on an island, having the adventure of a lifetime.’

The Death Writer
‘I blog about death, but don't let that scare you. I wrote my master's thesis on people who work with death and turned it into a memoir. I think talking about death is important. Heck, reading about it and then talking about it is cool too! Despite the scary death writer name, I'm a pretty funny gal. Like you, I put my shoes on one foot at a time. In addition, I like to knit, wash dishes,play Scrabble, travel, make art, hang out with my family, watch movies and drink coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. But, I recently read that that helps a person live longer. Something to do with happiness. In spite of all my morbid reflection, I'm a happy woman. If you like what you see on this blog, share it. And don't be afraid to join the conversation.’

Count Your Blessings
‘The purpose of this blog is very simple: to celebrate each day things in my life that I should be thankful for. Not so much the big, sweeping, but rather vague things like health, happiness, and apple pie, but specific and tangible things that catch my attention each day.’

Word Cut
‘MOV runs an avant-garde blog of words and pictures. Primary components: irony, sarcasm, folly, imagination, hyperbole, satire, cynicism, exaggeration, and self-deprecating humor. She prides herself on her originality, and she *NEVER* ever repeats herself. She prides herself on her originality, and she *NEVER* ever repeats herself.’

Wavy Lines
‘Laura loves to read. She’s a word nerd. She has a malfunctioning sense of direction. She can add, subtract, multiply, and divide small numbers and that’s the extent of her math prowess. (She apologizes to past math teachers. You tried. She tried. It is what it is.)’

Why I Wake Up Everyday
Magic, in all kinds of forms, from fantasy imps to fantastic chocolate cake!

Hookin', Knittin' & Livin'
‘I hook rugs, I knit and I have a life - not always in that order. Hooking rugs in the traditional way is a passion. Knitting is a way of keeping those idle hands busy. In my life, I am a mother, partner, sister, aunt, friend and a happy grammy. I work with volunteers and seniors when I'm not doing those other things. I enjoy being creative - and often reinvent the wheel. Above all, I value things that are not only beautiful but useful.’

The Warrior Muse
‘I started this blog to keep myself accountable while I worked to finish my first novel and seek publication. I'm now about to start my second novel while editing the first one. I aim to pass on what I learn along the way, as well as to connect people with similar interests to great resources.’

The Unibrow
‘Highbrow, lowbrow. A little bit of something about a little bit of everything.’

Study Hacks
‘I'm a 29-year-old computer scientist interested in why some people lead successful, enjoyable, meaningful lives, while so many others do not. Being a geek, I'm not satisfied with simplistic slogans (e.g., "follow your passion!") or conventional wisdom (e.g., student success requires stress). Instead, I dive deeper, looking to decode underlying patterns of success, in all their nuanced glory.’

Spirit Called
‘I never wanted to become a writer. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, the frontierswoman with chickens, milk cow, and horses. Come to think of it, she was a writer also so maybe it was fate.
Now, I am peeking in the windows of the literary world and finding the new scene fascinating. And as long as they let me, I’ll continue to feed my curiosity, at least until they call the cops and the restraining order takes effect.
Locating Middle-Earth on a dusty road in rural Missouri with one farmer and way too many cats, wasn’t difficult. All it took was a little Magic, lots of reading, and an overactive imagination.’

Positive Paradise
‘A positive thinker, futurist, and keen visionary. I'm also a serving Firefighter. The aim of the Positive Paradise Project is to explore and develop exciting new tools and techniques, with the aim of passing on my knowledge for the benefit of anyone who believes that tomorrow will be amazing. This blog documents the journey towards my ambition of helping to lead the change that is happening in the world, where old beliefs and assumptions will be turned upside down as we find new ways of harnessing and expanding the power of the subconscious mind. It's going to be incredible.’

a sort of mental squint
‘This is my attempt to mull and muddle through: my thoughts on writing, on why it's important, on my own evolving process.  Here is where I take off my glasses, rub my eyes, and start to squint into the things that matter’

Awakenings and Reflections
‘I'm in my thirties, making my dreams come true, awakening to new possibilities, and trying to live an authentic life. I am not sure where my life is headed but I know that I want to take risks, embrace uncertainty, and find beauty in everything around me.’

Posting this before making my visits: I shall be exhausted by the time I’ve got back to my hat stand.