Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Future Me

Under the blurred waxing of a blood moon, we are frowning, getting pestered with details, nothing so vital, just needing attention, but there’s not enough sleep for this nonsense.
Metaphorically one cannot step without finding a splinter in a sole, a bee in one’s hair, and the phone ringing and the hob on fire, and there’s no coffee.

There will be peace and quiet though, under that mess. I will find it. 
Might need help.

So I will meditate, I will take a guided meditation - I have a list and choose this one: Guidance From A Future Self. She will know about the mess and the peace.

So I am walking barefoot without splinters or thistles in an imaginary, familiar place, smelling warm salt air, fresh cut grass, to a bench where Future Me sits. I can’t see her clearly, she’s hazy, I like her presence, it seems wise.
How will I get to where you are? Is my question.
I don’t exist, she says, I only exist depending on what you do. I can’t help, it’s on you.

Never mind, I wake up and there is coffee, treacle thick, and I take Dog to the real beach.

In come the waves, wild, strong.
Are you coming in or out? Is my question.
Stand still, says the froth, you’ll not see anything unless you still yourself.
Yes, I say, soothed, and go home to make soup.

Of course Future Me is hazy. I’m building her from sea foam.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Book Review January

Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade

Firstly - sorry for the late posting. Undertook 5 hours of sparring to raise money for a UK charity that helps prevent young suicide, we think we’ve raised over £2000 which is ten times what we expected, and I also entirely underestimated the toll on my arms. Made it through the week but not much typing happened! And if that wasn’t a good enough excuse, my care shifts have changed to waking nights. Good for your creativity, to be tired, apparently, as it unhitches your mind and lets things connect freely. It is not good for sentence structure or attention to punctuation so I’ll stick a secondary apology here in case none of the following makes sense.

The book I am reviewing is Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade by Susan Flett Swiderski. It’s a first novel, self published, but not an entirely wild gamble. I have been reading Susan’s blog for eons, it’s a welcoming, humorous place to go, pretty sure every comment gets a response, and I really appreciate the work it must take to write and host.

Hot Flashes is a light toned novel, which I was expecting, given the hospitable bubbliness of the blog. The main protagonist, Pearl Bryzinski, has hit menopause, and her beloved Daddy has taken off (with that blue haired floory in the flashy brown Pinto). This throws a challenge to her usual positive demeanour, so everyday life has an immediate conflict. The plot uses this, along with a car crash, a heart attack, a trip to Atlantic City and some other things I don’t want to spoil, to highlight Pearl’s journey into seeing things as they really are, and being able to value what she really has.

The characters are layered, believable, and able to drive the plot: this is the right way round for me. There’s some grittiness to the subject matter too - I was reading it thinking, this author has more to give. If I nitpick, I would say the incontinent friend, while a fabulous thing to be putting in a book, was a bit distracting, and the eldest son maybe needed a pinch more charm to really make sense of his success.

There’s talk of a next novel, totally different, which I’m really looking forward to. It’s a good thing, to see a talent developing. 

2nd Purple t-shirt from left = me, v. tired!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Laughing In The Morning

Our matriarch, the impish Granma Grace, has not had the best of times, of late.
A succession of hospital stays, a succession of strokes and falls - it has taken its toll on us all.
My sister-in-law has given up her job to care for her mother, and keep her cosy in her own home where she wants to stay. Mr takes over once a week to ease his sister’s work, and to spend time with the lady who has done so much for her children and her grandchildren and still won’t stop apologising that she can’t cook us all a feast these days.

‘I’d give up,’ she sighs, ‘but I’m too nosy, I want to see how everyone turns out!’
This is a good sentence.

She gets her words muddled, especially when tired, and some of them come out unintentionally inappropriate, some fantastically creative, burbling like a hillside brook, clear in meaning to us - because we know this scenery, this beautiful bonkers place of Grace.
We even pick up words. Paramacetameter is good for headaches, did you know?
Or Cerebatolamol.

It frustrates her, of course, but she also says that she knows big words, big fancy words, and nods smug, and then her grin turns into laughing.
Laughing is a human duty to her.

Her home is in a fine location for walking. Wide flat pathways edge river and canal, the water hosts swans, geese, ducks, gulls, cormorants, and kingfishers. 

Post storms, flood defences are churning.
A ladder floats by, torn from a mooring. Swans turn their bottoms up, where the water runs dark and flat. This morning there is a moon, a waning gibbous moon, keeping company with the sun.
Light skims the deep, makes a continuum of crystals in the overflow.

Down the path we walk, Dog jumps to swim alongside, the sun makes us squint.
Other people walk towards us.
Grace says, ‘Good morning,’ to them all.
And if they don’t respond she says, so clearly, ‘Well I think it is!’
There’s no duty in our laughing then. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Sparkly Ice Magic

A peek back at the void between Christmas and New Year. 
We filled it with grandchildren (and work, which is sort of cheating). 
Managed to corral four of the little Gs for Granma’s instantly regretted plan. 

‘Let’s go ice skating,’ she says, ‘at the Eden Project!’ 
It’s sparkly magic there and that has made Granma overlook her mortal fear of ice.
(Once there was an accident: head… crunch… she still hears the echo.)
But sparkly magic is strong, she tells herself.
Grandad rubs his knees to comfort them. 
Oh, but look at those four sparkly magic faces! 
Pretending altruism, Granma also pays for Uncle E to attend - Uncle E who can actually skate. 
(He isn’t fooled. He is bribed.)

‘You don’t have to skate, if you don’t want to.’ Granma says 1000 times, to each little G, forgetting that a lack of pressure will compel.
So she has to queue for skates, give up the welly boots, mince onto the ice.
Grandchild 1 is eight years minus one week; skating and smirking, he’s off. He fears looking foolish: he’s a blend of brave and ego-tastic right now.
Grandchild 4 gets first whirl with Uncle E, eyes wonder-wide, like a life size puppet.
Grandchildren 2 and 3 edge the rink, holding the rail, finding and losing balance, bursting with giggle-shrieks. 
Grandparents also edge, also giggle.
What on earth is happening?!
The music is fun, the lights do sparkle.

And look:
G1, sailing in bliss. Skill of a nearly eight year old. Nearly. Eight. 
G2 stays close to the rail, trials moves. Earthy chuckle when she slips. Starts again, somewhere between experimental and methodical.
G3 is fourandahalf. She flings herself, being surprised each time by a gap between expectation and reality. It does not undermine her recklessness at all. 
G4 is justfour. He has great determination to master a skill, interspersed with a great desire to be noticed, which he expresses through the medium of sudden dancing.
G3 and G4 account for most of Grandad’s shin bruises. And the delayed onset muscle soreness awaiting Uncle E. And Granma’s sore ribs from laughing. 
‘Were you scared, Granma?’ Mocks Uncle.
And she laughs again, because she had forgotten about the fear.
Magic Ice!

The little Gs are cold though, queuing in their wet socks to regain boots.
So - everyone runs to the top of the rain forest (biome) (looking out for dinosaurs) until they are too hot.
So - everyone runs to the ice cream kiosk - and outside to watch the laser show - bearded with melty chocolate, until they are too cold again, and tired, and being mean to each other and making up.

It’s past midnight before they are all asleep.

Grandad pours two brandies.
Granma says she might have ice with hers.
But only if it’s sparkly.