Showing posts from August, 2012

Bad Hoover

When Girl was a tiny blonde thing, she would push the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner along the carpet and say ‘hoove, hoove, hoove,’ until the game of housework was trumped by a walk to the beach. Entertaining. I have spent time without a vacuum cleaner, as I have lived without most appliances at some point. Unintentional yet educational: time spent sweeping carpets, thrashing rugs, boiling a pan for a cup of tea, cooking on an open fire, cooking in a woodburner, treading washing in the bath, making shadow puppet improvisations. (The washing machine, the internet and a hoover, if we must live with carpets, are the things I choose to keep most. In that order.) Yesterday, after viewing the front room carpet, I trundled our hoover out. It is a small machine and for reasons of compactness the hose attaches to the body of it at a 90 degree angle. This bend gets blocked. To unblock, brave fingers must venture in, unsighted, and seize a clump of, hopefully, Dog hair. Yes, disgusting. I perform …

Whale Scales

The wind is learning to whistle. It pipes through the rotary washing line while I’m putting extra pegs on the dog’s blanket. The clouds go up so high, this patch of earth seems shrunken. This scale of things in which I am barely a speck is comforting. The wind grows, from a whistle to a whale song. I followed my father along the seawall on a post stormy day and I was about six and the wind was lively but warmish. Wave spray was catching at my legs, the cheeky stuff. Gulls, more gulls than usual, spun overhead, back and forth to the odd shaped rock where my father stopped and waited for me to catch up. The air stank but it wasn’t like the sewage outflow. And there, when my eyes realised what they saw, I learnt the true magnitude of the ocean. A blubberous mountain of whale lay turned and smashed on the shore. And the scale of things opened up; I was barely a speck but I was a speck of this vast creation; and it struck a ceaseless awe in me. 

Whilst We Dream, Life Continues

In which I present to you draft 2 of verses 11-20 out of the 1,000 I am aiming for. Each verse should represent a moment worth noting, and all of these moments are to happen in one imaginary day. It was an easy idea to have, and at around 500 verses now (in first draft) I wish I had hit upon a lower number. But 1,000 Miracles In One Day is what I started, and it will thrill like a miracle when I get there. Reworking the earlier verses is helping to spring more forth.
From sleep one sigh emits, an exhaled Aspiration that will persist Until action is provoked From the haunted dreamer
Limbs shift, covers uncover, Disrupt rest, limbs tangle untangle, Cozy back, settle, the drama Resolves into contentment
Outside, tides ebb and flow over hours Over sand. Dark waves roll, bring To the shore the energy of night Endurance, catharsis
Peaceful, acquiescent sleep In this muted cotton-dressed bed The right place to be, the right time Neither too warm nor too cold
Deeper in the sea, modern Sharks rest in activ…

A Time Of Plenty

Little Grandson has more swagger than all of the Rolling Stones rolled together. Him and Buzz Lightyear strut the kitchen floor, decimating alien forces and demanding biscuits. He gets a laugh and a banana. Dog and Bouncy Beagle are in the garden, stealing each other’s sticks. ‘Grandad,’ Little Grandson enquires, ‘is Dog my cousin?’ Cousin being a word which to him, we glean, currently means ‘a living being who is in my family group but does not live in my house and has not got an obvious title such as Grandad.’ For lunch, there is leftover meat, quiche, flan, pie, profiteroles, but no cheesecake- Boy finished that at breakfast. After summer pudding and lemon meringue pie. The fridge groans like our bellies. We go to Great Grandma’s house to refuse further food. Little Grandson gets his biscuit and a bag of duck food. Down at the canal, past a hissing parade of swans, we find a good lobbing spot. Two white swans, one black swan, two ducks, three drakes, four pirate gulls squabble on t…

Time Squashed Monologue

Nearly time to get in the car and go. Not enough time to get everything done before that, but that is how it is. A small adventure of family awaits; time to stop writing! Pack a notebook and a pen, scribble in a corner, a writer is an addict of sorts, but if you neglect life, what to write about, eh, idiot? Step away from the keyboard, come back when you have reportage! Outside the rain is blown past the window, I imagine the droplets as looking surprised, being swept at gale speeds. We are going for a barbeque… What to pack, other than a notebook and pen? I don’t know what else, proof that I need to leave the house and try talking to people before I forget how. Do I not love my family? Of course, everyone loves my family, they are delightful, funny, generous, amazing people. So why still typing? Okay okay, I’m nearly done here! Barbeque in a storm; it will be fun, I know, it will be wet dogs trying to steal sausages and accidents with ketchup. Time’s up! 


Baby listens to the music of Dog running; plink plink plink; through the dry stalks in the cut field. I don’t know what she makes of this world, but she clearly attends to it. Solemn mouth imitates the sound of the wind in the trees; studious hand opens to gauge the movement of the air. Big eyes reflect the sky. Words of purposeful nonsense are addressed to us.  ‘Ogledoggle.’ ‘Dog?’ ‘Uh huh.’ I whistle Dog from her roaming: this is funny, belly laugh funny. A whistle conjures a dog. A happy dog at that. Dog’s tail wags in a circular motion, seems to propel her forwards. I listen to the music of the dry stalks, to the operatic snort of granddaughter. 

Walking The Elephant

For my birthday, Girl bought tickets. My birthday is in January, but the show I favoured wasn’t till now. And I was quite certain I would not write about it, for mostly I prefer to take something ordinary and paint it up in the glitter of my proficient vision. To start with the extraordinary seemed like cheating, like a lazy exercise. But sometimes an imaginary elephant turns up and fills you with such wonderment! I have been to the circus, ladies and gentlemen; a circus unseated, where you wander, with the crazy performers, and they swing over your head and stewards in leather kilts are busy keeping the balance between thrill and law suit. What the troupe present is inspired by the journey of a wedding gift elephant. Walking from Lisbon to Vienna, thrilling and alarming, it represents the bewildering, discomforting delight of the unfamiliar, the push to believe that things can be different, the very extraordinary wonderment that transforms what was previously regarded as mundane. Pro…

Jurassic Farm

Back walking in the stalk fields, through the sticks of cut crop, over the rain flattened wildflowers, to the edge of the field where the stony ground and the sound of a lone wind make me think of wasteland, of a contented desolation. Am amused to find a child’s toy lying by a bale, a Tyrannosaurus Rex cast in plastic, missing both forelegs and all four feet. A dinosaur in a baler accident: nope, didn’t expect that. It’s not an astonishing life defining moment, nor does it need to be. A quirky surprise serves to remind that though lives are plentiful, this one is unique to me. Maybe, in more exotic time zones, other people are uncovering utterly mind-boggling prehistoric beasts, maybe they are at home, wedged in armchairs, frowning at rain. I am here, treading out the boundary mud. 

Boy And The Day Of The Envelope

The man behind the desk asks Boy to repeat his name, scuffles through the box of indistinguishable stationery. A white A5 envelope is plucked up, is politely accepted. Boy who says he is not nervous opens the envelope. Blank faced, scans the enclosed list. He chats. How can he be chatting- is that nerves? Or a good sign? I know not to fret, but I kind of want to just to fill the time. Boy strolls over: yes, the list is the list he hoped for.  Happiness for Boy. Sympathy for the ones who need to negotiate. Character building stuff, but it is cruel work building a character. Boy keeps his sympathy for the ones who accept how it is. I say, maybe they are happy: he says, how do they know? That he questions: that to me is the best sign of a genuine education. 


‘Ma’am;’ my tiny student gleams; ‘one day;’ ah, I think, here goes a story; ‘one day, when you’re a little girl, I’m going to marry you.’ He skips off, unburdened. A kindly hilarity hits me repeatedly. I smile at the clear pendant of moon that dangles low over the curvy home road. At the turn to Lawhitton, cloud curls up over the moon’s edges. I regard this magnificent mottled sky and, maybe thinking of adornments and romantic heroes, the phrase ‘chest wig’ arises in the busy part of my brain that likes to find new ways of seeing things. 


In the cut field, stalks of bone-whitened crop line the horizon. Each is half a shinbone high, so I walk boot soles outstretched, to flat the stems, avoiding stabs and bruises. Dog charges through, unscathed. I am watching the ground; minding my steps, admiring the pattern of tractor tread. Altitude vantage point instinct halts my walk at higher ground: I can see nothing but still cloud and the rolling plain of stalks. I am planting raspberries when the cloud lets a cascade loose. As long as I dig, I’m not cold. The spade handle is slippery, Dog eats a raspberry root: that’s the worst of it. Later, however, a slice of my toe goes missing. Smears of footprint record a hobbling journey to the first aid drawer. Rich dark blood sticks like mud, flows like slow water.

Turning Earth

Turning earth for a raspberry patch uncovers two lizards and a pre-decimalised penny. First lizard scarpers under a rock pile. Second lizard runs over my hands; it has a bright orange blaze on its belly. I let it back to the earth. I love how lizards freeze on discovery. It seems that they assess the situation calmly, in a smartly proactive reptilian way. Mr rubs dirt from the coin. 1937, he reveals. George VI. The sun, unnoticed in the excitement, has simmered out, is blistering the sky. Girl arrives, takes Baby to the garden. She snaps Rabbit into a harness, takes him for a walk. Dog follows. Baby follows, wearing a sun suit and one shoe. Mr calls out that he has discovered a slow worm, I see it sss-ing across the drive, in its precious gold skin. What an extraordinary day, I comment, and quite forget to plant the raspberries. 


This morning I stand in my mother’s kitchen: from the window we watch rain burnish apples on bowed branches. She has been expecting this weather, she says. After breakfast, I ride in the back of my parents’ car. In Taiwan, my sister in law sighs, it is too hot. My brother nods. Their suitcases waggle in the boot space. I twist my head to check for Mr, driving behind us. It’s a long journey from Church Cove to Kaohsiung. We can only accompany them to the ticket barriers of Truro train station. My mother, my stepfather, my brother, my sister in law, my son, my daughter, my granddaughter, my husband and I, exchange tight hugs. We wave, we turn, we break the group. I keep thinking, my mother says, I’ll see you soon and if I can think that, it’s okay. She lifts her glasses up to smooth tears with her free hand. Hugs are trading well today. Deep breaths draw in rain freshened air. We drive eastwards on the A30: the clouds ease away from each other, the clouds regroup. Baby frets in the back…

I See Your Blackcurrant And Raise You A Bay Tree

Incidentally, I know what a pitchfork looks like. I can correctly ID a garden fork. What I don’t know is how I traversed to the shop intending to purchase a new garden fork, but returned with a pitchfork.  Oh. Um. I linger over the mistake.  Ultimately, we don’t need a new pitchfork. This embarrassment must be tackled. Nip back to the farm supplies shop. ‘I’m having one of those days.’ I speak, blithely, as though this muddle is phenomenally common. Everyone in earshot enjoys the story. (Maybe this is my till-side debut?) We need a new garden fork because the previous occupant of that position is snapped in two, whilst uprooting blackcurrant bushes from the old fruit garden. It’s not an opportune moment to move currant bushes, according to the Fruit Expert calendar. It’s a moving house dig it up or lose it moment. It’s a fruit gamble. We also pack into the car the red and white currant bushes, the raspberries, the blueberry, the loganberries, a bay tree and an azalea. And two grown ups, …

Tiny Horizontal

The first time Dog is brought to the cut field it is alien under her paws and the straw monoliths strike a fear into her dog heart. She slinks the edge of it, tail down. This second time, Dog perceives that there are birds to chase and she is gone, lost in the joy of the chase. She is a grain of rice, a tiny horizontal in the repetitive verticals of stalk. To the end of the field, full tilt, disappears into the drainage ditch. I trust in her return. I wait and the wind shakes my hair, flares my dress, breathes over my skin. There is warmth in the touch of it. The tractor treads under my feet have a pleasing solidity. When my speck of spaniel comes back, it is clear that the mud in the ditch is half a Dog in depth. We trot back up the lane; the wind hollers overhead, turns all Dog’s fur backwards. 


There’s turbulence in the chimney, and what I can see of the fat trunked ash tree is flailing; flails of branch framed by wet squares of glass. I sit at my table, sipping hot super strength coffee, hearing the rhythm of the storm. Dog sighs, curled up and towel fluffed, in her basket.
Earlier, we were stomping through the lanes, under the pelt of the rain. Mr had a futile waterproof layer. It keeps the rain out, he reports, and the sweat in. I show him the body of the fox, lying at the crux of the field entrance; what is left of it now, melting into the grass. We press on, footsteps splashing. I admire the insects still out flying: the dodge of the fingerprint sized white butterflies. 

Body Of A Light Brown Fox

Dog scuffles the lane, looking for the pale fox; the almost strawberry blonde fox; that stopped and stared at us last time we walked here. After assessing the situation fox decided to skittle up through the undergrowth. Dog gets twig-tangled trying to recreate the scene. I call her back and unpick a half metre of hawthorn from her tail. She darts into the quarry in case fox is digging an escape tunnel. She runs round and round, in constant motion like a river, the spaniel embodiment of an eddying river. 
At first I think there is a pile of fluff at the field gate. It is the body of a light brown fox. An intact forepaw reaches out, as though it had one clever line to die with, and needed to still the audience. The rest of it is a city of maggots. I’m fascinated by the commute lines that wriggle the length of an exposed rib; by the patterns of undulations as they swiftly recycle the fox flesh. We walk on; Dog keeps up the scuffling. 

Leibster II

As well as being inclined to operate swiftly, one likes to conserve energy, so now I’ve hit on the idea that when nominated for an award, I simply check out and re-nominate my fellow awardees, I shall adhere to this self established protocol. If you are seeking out new blogs, simply follow the links- there is quite a range of stuff here, as I would expect from Jacqueline at Blether, she likes to mix it up (that's her lovely dragonfly symbol picture above.) She has kindly put forward this list, and asked of us some questions, which I shall not be lazy or sneaky enough to wangle out of.
1. Renae at *simple sequins*
2. Mary at merrydotdandy
3. Starr at The Kiefer Cottage
4. Lily Tequila at Wishbone Soup Cures Everything
5. Ana at .Introverted Art.
6. Bama Trav at Bama Trav
7. Phanit at Considerations
8. Estilio Sierra at Estilio Sierra
9. Debbie at Flower Child Designs
10. Carolyn at Letters From An Urban Trench
11. Jake from A Mennonite Dreamed A Dream
(Except I probably shouldn’t have left my …

Team Work

On Saturday evening I’m stepping through guy ropes, walking towards the car with the open boot, wading through children, ears full of shrill explosions. I can smell fried potato. Fry smells and kerfuffles in a field reminds me of festivals. I very much like festivals, but this aces every awesome weekend I’ve ever spent in a field. While I’m persuading the hungry throng to reform as an orderly queue; roll my eyes, tell my fellow team leader, ‘This is like working for the UN.’ This flippancy hits some giggle points but, in the other hand, holds a confident pinch of truth. Between us here; the bold group leaders, the tireless kitchen crew, the patient site staff, the jolly trio that set up the archery contest; we have something to bring to the turbulent path from childhood to adult life. Let’s pick on the small kid for an example. Cried on Friday, afraid of being left parentless in a tent. Tent and team mates express sympathy. His team leaders tell him this is a normal reaction and he wi…

Fireside Debut

Stalking yellow corpulent machinery has hoovered up all the ripe rapeseed. Heat steams up in fabulous clouds, or fabulous cloud buildings are built on strong thermals, I’m not sure. I’m hot to a point of malfunctioning.

Washing is pegged, boldly, outside. My car is languidly crammed with expedient items. Tent. Stories. Clothes that will be unscathed when soaked in a mass water fight. Torch. Notebook. Pen. Coffee. Sat nav. Address to input to sat nav. More coffee. This weekend the tent will pop up in a field with 130 children. On Friday- today! - I need to find the field. On Saturday I am reading a fire lit story. On Sunday- I really should have read the memo. On Monday, catch up sleep. Regale tales of my fireside debut. Leaving Mr at home with a cooked chicken and a vision of attic storage. 


Yesterday the evening sky was painted on in broad strokes, so accomplished I could have stood to applaud, only I was being driven beneath it in a VW Passat. Dreaming in the passenger side, the hedge flashes past, thoughts keep speed. There’s a cloud I see so pink and fluffy you could prong it on a fork and toast it in a fire. Sleep well, after all that awe and gawping. This morning’s sky is a scene of mountainous cloud peaks. From my seat at the oak bureaux I am smiling down on lively Friesians, huddling and milling like children in a gossipy school field. I can see fingers of dead branch on the fat trunked ash tree, see the hairy ridge of hedges huffle round the fields, see the flouting billow of treetops, catch the stalking yellow top of corpulent machinery. Between a square biscuit of ripening crop and the icy cloud summits, a strip of dark moorland. On the furthest hill, patches of field are stitched together by bobbled trees. 

Philosopher's Knot

Lamb’s Tongue ferns under the thick tree cover; shadowed, warm, glossy wet. All the growth is lushly tumbled, and hints at some secret order, a living knot. Where the hedges are straight trimmed, furls of blackberries peek. Simple blossoms summon bees. Punchy green nublets dance flyweight in a bounce of breeze; cumbersome indigo globules drop, ripe, into my palm. Each taste of this year’s hedge crop is palatably pleasant. I test each one I find, expecting the sour sharp thrill of the berry that is not as ready as it looks.

Come home to a long cooling shower, two poached eggs and a coffee zing. Trek down to the old house to puzzle over what bits we should recover from the wreck of the shed; aka ‘Old Farmer Landlord’s Museum Of Agricultural Artefacts And Sundry Items;’ what we should ferry to the tip. Today’s further bounty is a boxful of compost, the old petrol mower, four tyres to stack and cram with future compost, a surfboard rack and a wheel rim, to be used as a portable fire pit. …

Circus Of The Absurdly Fortuitous

Sunday: Crunching Arthropods Finding ourselves at a loss, a literal loss of outgoings outweighing incoming expense, we harness Dog and houseguest Fat Beagle for a trawl through the lanes in hot wet tropical weather. Not quite thinking, we have put waterproofs on and drench them from the inside with perspiration. Peeling off coats attracts fly bites. Uncomfortable under the weight of humid air, under the worry of money, under the puncturing attack of binary winged malevolents, cheerless steps squish along: then over a high hedge there arrives a burly dragonfly, in hunt for a lunch of crunchy arthropods. Later this day, between downpours, we slip the sodden tent from its wrappings and resurrect it in the garden. Mr pegs it out while I boil water for pasta; chop onions, stir a can of tomatoes, think of the dragonfly, the vibrant charge of it.

Monday: Italics Even after the clever interventions of Girl’s Boyfriend; the internet works then it doesn’t work. We can’t work out which part of the …