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Showing posts from 2019

Yule Tale 2019

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For this year’s Yule Tale, being short on time due to obsessive novel writing and that lifestuff, I decided to grab outside inspiration from the www.plot-generator.org.uk website. What I got was delightful nonsense, most of which I have kept, with a tweak here and there which was a bit like when children decorate a xmas tree and their parents maybe move a bauble or two after they have gone to bed because aesthetically it is the right thing to do.
Presenting Yule Tale 2019:
Two Surly Uncles Laughing To The Beat

Sparkle looked at the shiny cup in her hands. It was full, which felt like mockery.
She walked to the window to reflect on her surroundings. She had always loved Yuletown’s bleak wintry fir trees; they encouraged her to indulge in feeling mournful.
Pines, pining - there was surely a connection.

Her eyes narrowed, seeing something move in the distance. Someone? That would be a rare occurrence in this unpopulated zone!  As she peered and the figure drew nearer she recognised that this …

November Stuff

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Diary Friday 1 November 2019 Might be a little hung over. Also there are boring jobs to do on computers. We get through it. Thank you coffee.
Saturday 2 November 2019 Taking the early shift, I drive on a nearly deserted road through a wild storm. Surface water is travelling, like gigantic sliver-toothed silvery flatfish. I love the mild peril of my travelling. At work we dare the storm again, visiting Trelawney Garden Centre which is draped with Christmas delights. We lark about with sparkles and elf hats. We lunch. We make it back through deep puddles to watch festive films under the whirl of disco lights.
Wednesday 6 November 2019 Another early morning, in which I drive towards a rising sun, a levitating half-circle, licking coffee from the corners of my mouth. Dog fidgets in the boot-space, keen to get to Exeter and jump in a river. She is thwarted as our routine has changed and now Granma Grace is up early too, wanting a shower, and takes a nap not a lie-in, in her chair and not …

Derek's Puddle

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I had swapped my Granma-care day, necessitating another early start. Light snores greeted my arrival so although Dog had stayed home I took some air by the river. Heavy rain had made it fierce. Droves of geese and swans made grumpy looking progress against it. Winter cold leached into a brisk wind; maybe fallen leaves had stolen the warmth to make their colours. I had put my camera away in order to not view the world always through a lense, nor composed into scenes. I let it jumble. But the lone swan that Granma Grace has named Derek sat contentedly in a sizeable puddle was an image I wanted to hold on to, and share.
'See,' Derek may have been saying, 'here is an example of using one's energy not for fighting the old river, but for allowing the universe to bring you a puddle sanctuary.'
'I was thinking more - make the most of what is available.'
Derek sifted water for snacks, unbothered by thoughts, whereas I went to pour coffee with a tumbling mind. 


Halloween Tale 2019: Ansha's Revenge

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In which I bring to you, in lieu of a specific Halloween story, another bit of my current Work In Progress. I picked this chapter because it fits as a short story too, and hopefully one that intrigues you to demand the rest. This isn't the first time that Ansha has been murdered, which she doesn't remember but she does seem to be getting the hang of it, and a chance of pay back too. Chapter 34 Scarcely aware of the chair to which she is tied Ansha is lost, lost in a cold fright that is elemental, that consumes like fire.
She has tried to hold on, to listen, perhaps for a bird call.
Sometimes she has heard birds singing, a soft wind pushing through branches.
But then the door shuts.
It smells in here, like butcher's slops.
She has also heard a hum, a refrigerator.
And a voice.

‘Tell me how that feels,’ the perpetrator asks, though they must know she cannot. ‘Isn’t this the most pain you’ve ever felt?’

A phrase swells through her, a sudden heat: I do not belong to you!
And a f…

Autumn Trundles On

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Wednesday evening, October 16, 2019 Back at home and the light says stay outside, there are berries to gather, you can wrestle the stray branches splaying from the willow arch, the birds will call, the air will be fresh cut grass and sour strimmed hedge stems. There will be thorns in your fingers, brambles will tangle your hair. You will be happy: doing, but doing nothing except that which occurs to you. I am happy. A pot of berries on the windowsill waiting to be fetched in; I will make winter medicine from them. I am balanced on a child’s chair reaching through the bendable willow as the night tide rises and all around is deepened into blue, into black. Indoors there are jobs waiting, some of which are attended to, drifted through. No more work: what says that? Heart? Soul? Something central. Every part of me except habit agrees. Habit is pulled like the arch, pliant and alive, rooted and reaching. Later I am drinking ginger tea, I am wrapped in a blanket, blithely tired from da…

Crossing Bridges, Half Asleep

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Saturday, October 12, 2019 At work and snoozy and dreaming of days off but still got time to sit and write plot notes for the mysterious WIP. Other days are walking walking walking viewing land but not finding our piece yet. Dreaming about how we would live if we did choose that bit or this but not finding the right fit, but it is fun to be dreaming, a privilege. Our entertaining limbo. And also like going on blind dates trying to pick a spouse. Sunday October 13, 2019 Awake too early because there are no days off this week, but there is coffee. Mr does the driving to avoid me grabbing a nap at the wheel. I am completing requirements for eligibility to apply for my fourth degree black belt next year. We are in Cardiff, so he goes to explore the castle. I am teasy like a toddler before finding myself in good company and one step closer to getting that fourth stripe. We drive by Exmouth on the return journey and grab some grandson time - Grandchild 4 flings at an unexpected Grandad, c…

Plots And Protagonists

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As well as hunting for land, as well as finding amusement in the circumstances of care work, as well as the half-wild garden and foraging almost hunter-gatherer existence, I write stories. Little ones that I share here (Halloween and Yule, usually) and big ones that go off into books that sometimes people read.
I was busy getting part two of my 'ordinary life' trilogy into order when another story barged in and demanded to be written.
This story, which won't even give me a clear working title, was butting at me like a cheeky goat.
At first I thought it was a return of an old theme - regrets of the dying, who then construct an afterlife that completes their life learning - and it almost is. There were no clear stakes in the story, only a learning curve, until this last week when suddenly the plot burst out, and I found that my main protagonist was not the character I thought at all, and the stakes were everything.
(Part of my childhood was spent wrestling a goat, not sure i…

Post-Equinox, A Rainbow

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Wednesday 25 September 2019
Not everything gets written down - sometimes I think I’ll have a Virginia Woolf day and scribe the way thoughts wash around here. Sometimes I think I will report on all factual happenings and it would be no less absurd. Stuff about river weed, rum shots, lost shoes and breast milk: that was Saturday night, although I, blamelessly babysitting, was introduced to these circumstances early on Sunday morning. Sunday, sans sleep: scraping strength from somewhere to view my daughter’s next home, a largish cottage with a spread of neglected garden perfect for wild children and rum-weary adults.
Monday: it is the Equinox. I am at work. Co-worker, client and me sit in the car, on Falmouth’s sea-front, letting the wind rock us, listening to the rain.
Meanwhile, most other days, Mr and I clump around bogland, farmland, overpriced land, looking for our land. Yesterday the common reeds at an edge of woods shook themselves into a young roe deer. This patch would do but we e…

Diary Of A Simple Week

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Wednesday 11th September 2019 Dog is curled by the airer where Granma Grace’s cloths and clothes are drying. Granma is gone to bed although it is not yet 7pm, having felt unwell, and afraid of becoming too unwell to get to her bed. I would say not to worry, I can carry you there, but she would hate to be a bother to anyone and would not wish to be carried for my sake and might start not getting up at all for the fear of that. There was a swan asleep in the garden - Derek, a regular guest - he has heaved himself away towards the river. Two petals have fallen from the rose in the vase. This afternoon I answered my mobile to a flow of toddlerese from Grandchild 7 who had absconded with her Daddy’s phone. ‘Hello my darling, what are you up to today?’ ‘Haha phone (+ gibberish)’ ‘Is Mummy there?’ ‘Er? Mep?’ (Meaning yes, but she doesn’t need to interfere.) My daughter’s voice: ‘Er, who are you phoning?’ Me: ‘Tell her it’s Granma.’ G7: ‘Nah.’ My daughter: ‘Hi Ma, me and S are rapping and cooking tea…

Progress Report: Love and Lists

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We nearly bought a patch of pine woodland, all prickly and sweet-smelling and blooming with potential but not quite right for practical purpose. Mr fell for the wetland meadow with the railway bridges, I for the land with a sea view, where the wind had buckled every tree. The woodland was a mutual crush.
Dog loves every bit of land we find, her purpose being that much simpler. She has minimal need of shelter or planning permission or financial forecasting. Happy Dog.
At the time of writing, happy Dog is sleeping, a light huff emitting from dreams. I am daydreaming of the life we nearly had or may have had in the weird woods, or anything other than this island of Rural Planning Law upon which I have marooned myself, and where I have become like a vintage cup, a thing of privilege with fine cracks under my glaze. I am writing this in hope of looking back and admiring. I am writing this because there was a time when we didn’t know how we would get here. Progress can be tired and confused. Dre…

Falling And Laughing

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Wipers smudge road spray from the brow of the car. Even through the last of these storm clouds a staring light necessitates dark glasses. The windows are open, finding some freshness from the warm wet ground. We are on our way to Granma Grace, Dog and I, running late, catching up time. I had put my food bag in the foot-well at a poor angle; on arrival I find blood from Dog's food has spilt and everything needs rinsing out: my breakfast strawberries smell of butchery.
We had caught up with time - Granma was sleeping, oblivious - so we took the parking pass to the car and embarked on our routine stroll by the river, walking on a shadow strewn path past the shallow water where the summer has sprung a mush of weed and iris leaves are striking up from soft mud. Where two gulls struggle for mastery of a pigeon corpse, in full view of the other pigeons; for which I criticise the victor and it flies off.

Dog is at a nonchalant trot, smelling stories out of grass.  Later we will find a dee…

The Hedgebirds And The River Jump

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It was the second time I had witnessed this death. A small bird, a hedge bird, skimming traffic, mistimed. The first time I heard the thunk, saw the bird spin. This second time I see the body, the size of my fist, hit the road's edge; I see the last breaths drawn in; breaths that seem bigger than the body.  A sadness strikes through me: for the creatures' fate, for the parallel with the plight of earth; a heavy hold of it. All day I cannot be comfortable, cannot find peace with it.
Inaction seems like inertia, seems the wrong surrender. But what action is required: how to push this weight? How to use it? To make a pendulum and keep hope? I take my sun-heated brain to the river to think. It will be different for each of us, says brain, from the willow's shade, though maybe the crux is the same: along the waterway comes a decisive breeze, trailing its weather-fingers through leaves, stirring the river's surface where beady eyed fish pop up to swallow gnats, where kingfishers d…

A Rainbow Strikes

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June is rolling by, awash, so everyone has forgotten that it's summer now.  This morning I peered into the vegetable plots, into the swaying minarets of onion buds, the splay of cabbage seed pods, not sure if the raspberries were the summer or the autumn kind.  Lovage flowers, tiny spray on tall stems; lavender in bud: summer. Wild strawberries and rose petals in the dehydrator and the windows open to better hear the thunder: summer. After an evening swim one must wrap up: always. 
I am busy writing a story that seems to be running in rings about me, I am busy wild swimming to clear my head; working to pay the bills, reading up on rural planning law to wrestle reality from a dream. Picking the roses, the strawberries, the onion flowers. Tending the cabbage bed.  Standing still when I remember: see the swallows swoop by. Or floating, bobbing up toes, while each rain drop ripples out. Or that stop on the beach, while I am looking ridiculous with a towel on my head; two lumpy layered jumpers…

Grandchild 7

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Thursday
Waiting, yes. A particular kind of waiting like a string pulled.
This week I have been looking after Granma Grace, we call it our Girlie Sleepover time.
Grace holds this tautness most of the time, close to the bones of her. If I made representative art I would play with the idea of a pulled string twined with blooms - roses, tulips, cyclamen, all colours bold and pretty.
This day the wait has a clear focus. We are waiting for baby news.
Outside it rains heavy.
We watch geese cross the lawn and leave again as though they had discovered something. We hear machinery whirr next door and workmen chattering.
I have to recharge my phone twice from looking: no news.

Friday
Granma has stirred and gone back to sleep this morning, for rest calls her more and more. While she sleeps in her bed her foot tapping stops, while she sleeps in her chair it activates. I leave her have a lie in for this reason. Eighty-nine years to process, physical decline from age and stroke damage to accept.
Last nigh…

Again

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Summation of my blog posts: - I am THIS TIRED - Weather - Birds are singing - Coffee - Look, words

Today is no great exception; wavy minded, grey glare sky, geese-clatter lost under the roll of the washing machine and the volume of royal baby coverage that Granma Grace is entertained with, empty mug number 3, novel outline on a bit of foraged paper.  It's hard to think so maybe I should take this as a sign. A bolt of sun drops through the window. There's pink blossom wobbling on a potted bush. Daisy dots across the lawn, a backdrop of swaying willow. Grace is snoozing through the adverts, tapping her feet as she does for all the things that are going or may yet go wrong for the whole of the world, everything from a stain on your shirt to the sixth mass extinction. In balance of this she also is happy for everyone. If you are feeling anything less than splendid, she is sending you a hug right now, and love, and a biscuit/piece of fruit/check the cupboard, take what you fancy. 
Later I w…

The Difference

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Ten years of talking, I think, before the camper van dream was dragged to reality. Not just talking - lots of working lots of hours, and meanwhile making other plans and working for those too until the world was swimming in front of my tired eyes and I had to sit down.  Sit and dream of living in a quiet field, planting trees, making foraged soups and syrups. We have the van, which may never be finished, being a learning project.  We have plans which if you took them out of our heads would fill a hangar. There are alterations for variables and equations of 'if this, then that, if not, then this other way' and it is tricky to keep track of where we are going. The underlying why is the desire to live in nature, and to be part of not letting the world be ruined. In April last year we collected the van. It stunk of diesel and promptly developed an electrical fault. Today it is crammed full of - I'm not actually sure. It is being a temporary shed. But it works, we make good use of …