Sunday, 31 March 2013

Siesta Fiesta






Hot fat meat fizzing in the high heat oven: all the house has the smell of it. Bellies rumble.
Dog, damp and sandy, sleeps in her basket.
Mr Grandad has two eyes half open: less than half open: shut.
Little Grandson has a Grandad for a pillow.
Outside, where the wind has a chill and fine rain now falls, tide-lined boots stand untidy.
Inside, there's a timer set, to remind us to peel up potatoes. 




Saturday, 30 March 2013

Concept And Construct



Little Grandson helps his Uncle Boy to build an aeroplane.
Boy says 'These are the tail wings.'
Little Grandson says: 'Tail wings?!' Laughs. Observes askance. Hands over a spanner.
Boy flies the aeroplane. 'Do you want a go?'
Little Grandson considers the options. 'No.'
He knows how to use a spanner now, tucks into the deconstruction.
'Shall we build a car?' Boy asks.
'Yes!'
They flick through the manual.
A serious little face studies each picture, points out a ship.
'That one?' Boy checks.
They build a jeep.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Ticking Over



Yesterday if I was stilled, everything was calmed, peaceful, as it should be. By the day's end I had almost the hang of it.
Today if I am still, a cold draught stings at comfort. When this happens, it is time to go walking in the woods.
Warmth blossoms in layers as we stride in that direction. The wind must approve, for it moves clouds and lets the sunlight keep some heat.
Down at the base of the river valley trees, it is sheltered and full of history: tunnels and ditches and collapsed stone. Trunks of wood float ominous in the dark quarry pools: light and breeze sweep the surface, make a net of polished glass, a mosaic of sky.
Back at the table in the living room of our little cottage, I sit to write. Mr puts bread and cheese under the grill. I hear the grill pan clatter. The wind moans as it catches on wires, it blows a black cloud of starlings out of an oak. I hear the frantic arm of the lucky waving cat, ticking like an over wound clock.



Thursday, 28 March 2013

Rest And Protest




In the last stretch of morning run, I push legs to a sprint. Tiredness catches up with inconvenient ease.
Stomach hurts and brain only thinks in blinks, it can't concentrate at all.
Lie on the sofa, sleep light.
Get up to drink some tea.
Marvel at the dog hair stuck to my clothes. I look like a feather.
Washing goes in machine, washing up goes under the tap…
I have too much enmity for inactivity.
My stomach hurts.
This evening I do not go to work. I may even watch some television.
For the last push of this lap, oomph must be revived.



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lights In The Dark




Another whirl of a day: Lawhitton, Exeter, Weston-Super-Mare, Launceston, Plymouth, Home. I have made notes, or I would not recall the half of it. Messages and emails ping through my phone and oh the lovely feeling when I say, 'Excuse me, I must just show how brilliant my life is by returning this query from my printer. You know, because I am a publisher as well as all those other talents I have lying around here.' Which is an accurate paraphrasing, I assure you. On the way Home Eventually it is dark, the moon is big and the headlights frequently dazzle.


Nothing expresses childish delight like a delighted child.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Invoice


Found a new tunnel! 

Sun streams down barely warm in the glacial sky. In hope, washing is pegged to line. The woodpile is low so coal chugs on a damped down fire: enough to keep out ice, not quite enough for comfort.
Dog lies on the sofa, watches everything from one bored eye.
Cat drifts in, to sleep in a corner.
Outside the wind is sharp, light, quiet.
The printer's invoice arrives, and is paid.
Dog is right, it is time to go to the woods and wander off the path.
It cold, I think, as I first leave the house steps, but I do have gloves, two pairs of socks, a sense of adventure.


Path or ditch...?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Wake Up Laughing


Could not help but be amused on receiving this email today:
'100% Genuine Reviews. What was great? What wasn't so great? What really stood out? Our genuine guest reviews help fellow travellers choose the right hotel - and your expert opinion counts! So go free...'

I bought a new diary but, being tired, unfairly pick fault with the year planner layout. It was picked from a small selection of leftovers held behind the counter of the stationers in a cardboard box. I tell the assistant about the hotel burglary, but I don't much care for spreading bad news. A handbag, a diary, a notebook, even the handmade for Mum key ring, they are but things. This new diary with which I have yet to bond was the cheapest nearest thing to what I wanted, and it will do perfectly well after the restoration of sleep.


I will dream of the delight of the hotel management when they view my genuine guest expert opinion on the Late Rooms site.





Sunday, 24 March 2013

Welfare


One Heath-Robinson inspired burglar alarm

Yesterday was unusual in that it was the first day this year I didn't post a blog entry, plus a few other things. Today I was very tired, and as I recount backwards, it will be shown to be unsurprising. Today I wore a yellow shirt, signifying the role of Welfare Officer at a TAGB tournament. Should a child or vulnerable adult be in need of assistance, for reasons of paperwork errors or emotional meltdowns or the physical shock of being hit by a determined opponent or a mysterious case of lost sparring equipment, then the Welfare Officer steps in. The resilience of the children was impressive. It speaks well of the standard of training. Most of my conversations went like this:
'Did you get hit?'
'Yes.' (Wipes tears from cheek.) 'I'm okay though.'
Outside it is snowing.
The car park was slithering with eager competitors as we arrived. The breakfast; digesting noisily in my stomach; was free, and the cost of my hotel room had been refunded. I had to untie my door before getting to breakfast. I had hardly slept. Too many passers by…
Next to my bed, in which I lay fully clothed, which now seems hilarious, was a sharp pencil, a hard plastic comb and a china mug. My phone was poised to dial an emergency (police for me, ambulance for intruders) and that's why the battery ran flat. Before bed, I had rigged the door with a scarf, a chair, a metal waste bin and the other coffee cup. I didn't want to stay there but home was too far away for a return that evening.
The policeman was so nice, and I hadn't expected so much support. I watched his flashlight scour the hedges from the warmth of the reception building.
The trainee receptionist had called the police: the fully trained receptionist scoured the car park and returned to me my pencil case, found ditched on the path.
Shame the newly offered room was next door but one to where the door had been kicked in and my bag stolen. I thought it was odd that the light was left on, since I rarely leave a light lit without cause. Odder that the door seemed unlocked: and I had definitely not left bits of doorframe and lock on the floor, nor had I chucked my clothes around and there was decided one bag less on the bed than when I left for a perfectly lovely inexpensive steak at the pub over the road.
Before leaving for the celebratory meal, I had put into my pocket my new phone and my wallet. I didn't think I would need my diary, my notebook, my house key or the beautifully sentimental key ring that my son made for me. I left them in my handbag, the leather and goatskin extravagance I have been inseparable from recently.
On arrival at the hotel, it was more of a motel, each room so independent, and I liked this.
It was snowing. Vanessa drove, Gerry navigated. We talked of many things, and most of all I was mediating between YES and I Could Have Done Better If Nerves Had Not Undermined.
I passed! I passed my Second Dan pre-grading.
In Bristol, Saturday afternoon, feeling very very sick. But thinking to self: 'Did I get hit? Yes, but I'm okay.'

One Coventry souvenir


Friday, 22 March 2013

Three Tiny Harmonies



The last of the haiku challenge set by Suze.
The three themes are:
quench
the real
loam
(which make an oddly pleasant sentence.)

This day has sped and the next two are fully booked, so these haiku, though neatly written in order of topic, are rushed out and my return visits to participants will be late, for which I apologise. This morning I took off early and fast for a hospital appointment (some faulty toes, uncomfortable not life threatening) and left my coffee at home. So this first effort is from the heart:


In such rush
Coffee left cooling
Is longed for


The pharmacy queue was groaning so I left my paperwork and sought out a hot cup at the ground floor café. Sat facing the corridor, am struck by the contrast of the casual snacks and the life and death stories passing by. And what could be in those green plastic bins, wheeling by my table? So the next effort has a gruesome shade to it:


Surgical waste
Wheels past pastries:
Hospital café


Before I fling back out to work I think of what I need to re-grow my calm:


Candles lit
Bath steam scented
Soul unfurls



Thursday, 21 March 2013

Vernal Hike



In the hedges, regardless of the wind howl and the punchy rain, daffodils and primrose hold their petals.

We go down by the river and slide in mud where the banks overhang.
Dog is in the water, swimming after sticks.

Here is a fallen tree. Here are wood anemones, thriving in shade, with stems so slender the flower heads seem to float. Here is Dog, leaping in a wake of squawks and there goes pheasant, ruffled.
From the river we follow the path, steeply up, holding whips of sapling for balance. From here the river turns are observed, only a few shades lighter than the earth that flanks it.
Between the trees we walk and talk of which will fall next and where will be best to forge that river.

From this day, the light draws out, winter must decline: regardless of the wind howl and the punchy rain.




Wednesday, 20 March 2013

This New Chapter Repeats A Theme



Final proofs for the Tae Kwon-Do book are received today by email, just as I'm heading out of the door to get to work. Override the urge to stay home and press home-printer ink to paper and tremble over the responsibility of using up all my savings.
I should be used to this by now. I always use up all of my savings. I don't remember having any regrets over this habit, not afterwards: the nerves clang before and during.
I said to myself: but I won't write about this or it will get boring, I will turn egoist. I won't write about the book or how I feel about the money: I will write about the washing that got rained off the line, how the blue morning grew sombre.
And see what has happened?




Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Snapshots



Not everyone has the opportunity to be photographed at work. One of the parents of a junior class student has a new camera, and with permission from us and the other parents, has been whiling away the wait with shutter clicks.

In my desk based day jobs some daydreaming was inevitable. They were moments of retrieval: self-preservation. I would view my desk as a still life, see how all the greys of the table tops and old fat boxed computer screens were patterned in the shade of the office foliage, how futile the chain of coloured paperclips as perceived against the weight of in-tray contents. I would think up electronic responses that could never be writ, in case I pressed the irresistible Send. Inevitable, too, the gaze that drifted through the window out into blue or cloud or glare or stars or one's own reflection. In those in-trays lay so much that was nonsense and so much that was pitiful, regardless of the job. Generics and specifics, absorbed in my pauses, part of my experience, not part of me: not the vital core of me. No job should ask for your soul and neither should you give it. A vocation is a different thing: it is in your soul all ready, and merely needs to channel out. There are moments still when my mind is conjuring or capturing: when the scene is all art: I see concentration, uncomfortable effort: see the effort blossom towards mastery: observe the smile of achievement. In the midst of this, I am a portrait, a true image.





Monday, 18 March 2013

The Hit




Only one alteration on the Tae Kwon-Do book proofs today: so the signing off for printing is very close.

Brain cannot compute. Brain says: this has been spoken of for so long, it has built an invincible association with being far away.
But like exams and giving birth, the day will appear, the real day, out of daydreams and practice some real testing, happening, hyper-real hours will hit my life… Then the aftershock questions: did that happen, has everything changed, why hasn't everything changed, is it good enough, have I wasted my time, did that really happen?

Size: Finished: 297 x 210mm. (portrait)
Pre-press: preflight: 40 page(s)
PDF Proof: 40 Page(s)
Printed: Cover printed full colour both sides on 250 gsm. silk
36 pages printed 4 colours both sides on 170 gsm. Inaset Offset
Finished: Fold, saddle stitch and trim to size
Packed: 13kg packed in boxes
Delivered: One address local delivery

Preflight, the specs say, silk, saddle stitch: 13 kilos of book




Sunday, 17 March 2013

What's In The Box?





The new phone is not deep to look at, though it is full of mystery to me.
The protective case for it is still travelling by post, so I carry the object around in its black and red cardboard casket: expensive, dramatic, surreal.
There's a whole world in that slab.
Fingers wind, puzzled, in hair: scratch head.
Why have I such a device?
Why am I here, peering at a tiny manual, learning this new language? Is this the black box of my future flights?
One cannot know the success of any plan that is not put to action.
More instinct than organized strategy, yet the truism holds.



Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Climate Of Surprise



Mr was attacking the pampas grass. It must go, lovely as it shakes under a night wind and brings to mind tropical storms and thoughts of white sanded island beaches. The whip of those leaves cut like paper edges.
I had a plan to dig up the bushy tree that grows nothing edible, to make room for cherry and plum. Before my hand can touch a spade, the rain comes cold and wet.
It's a commonly held belief here that if one is to be cold and wet one might as well be at the seaside.
From the damp earth to Widemouth Bay we travel, by rusty car. One 50 pence piece, and one 10, drop into the ticket machine to buy one hour of car park time.
Dog runs, the rocks are sculptural, the pools clear, the sun visible, warmth discernable, my feet jump out of their boots. Mr looks at bends of rock and sighs over forces.
We run back to the car under pelts of hail: stop halfway home to buy hot pasties, gobble them up, giggle at the steam on windows.



Friday, 15 March 2013

The Haiku Challenge II


Here's this week's haiku dabbling, as provoked by Suze:
'For the second week of Tiny Harmonies, grab the cat and start ruminating on adaptability. All haiku for week two will air Friday, 15 March… It's weird, last Friday as I read the offerings of participants, it was like having salt thrown on the tongue -- instead of satisfying, it left me thirsty for more.'

First I ruminated on the limits of adaptability:


Supple branch
Through solid trunk
Keeps root


Rotted at core
The supplest branch
Simply snaps


I don't much care for the second try, it seems too obvious: true, but obvious. The third try was more spontaneous and relaxed, so it turned out best, I think:


Sun shining
Into my boot tops
Pyjamas tuck


Also I am glad this is how I spent yesterday, for today it has mostly rained.




Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sofa Throw Finale




Dog announces her recovery from a bout of fatigue by sneaking next door to scent herself with chicken poop. The day is all crisp blue and white like a toothpaste commercial. This morning the washing is clipped to lines that sparkle ice and each garment emits a cloud of steam. Yesterday we thought that the sky had found a store of winter at the back of an old snow cloud, and we had no expectations for this brewing warmth. In celebration, windows are opened, carpets swept. Washing is hung out wet and brought in near dry: it only needs an evening of airing out. For a finale, out goes a fresh washed sofa throw. It is not fetched in till after dark. The faux fur has an ice crunch to it and tiny beads twinkle under electric light.




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Who Is The Nemesis Of A Hero Duck?



As a way of having a light to follow, a future project that dangles brightly past the draining check-check-check on spellings and spacings of the book which waits and waits to go to press: and because the cold is bitter and Dog is poorly and my car needs work and all our pockets are empty: here I am, jotting jolly lists. Good villains are essential, so that's my first list: The Evil Spectrum.
I have traditional monsters, representing the dark side of human nature, including the Evil Genius, the dark side of the hero/heroine. On this branch of list are vampires, werewolves, trolls and dragons. I subtitle this list 'Chaos,' adding a note about parasitic possession and how magic possessions can be a metaphor for drug abuse but more widely any kind of illness.
Under 'Anti-chaos,' the things that have logical plans but cannot be reasoned with: robots, despotic rulers, fundamentalists, insects, spiders, aliens, sharks, snakes. My notes refer to 'otherness,' to a lack of emotive social bonding, as experienced by psycho and sociopaths.
Underwater monsters float between chaos and anti-chaos: but I draw a mental line to chaos eventually. They represent emotions, uncontrolled.
Next, a biro line trundles down to 'People,' which takes into account man's inhumanity to man, and cruelty to animals. It also encompasses mobs, riots, opportunists and the ill mannered: social evils, lack of boundaries, the negative side of the collective unconscious.
In a new segment Poverty, Disease, Famine and War are stacked against words that read 'Trials to make us stronger.' The last brainstormed piece is one line of 'Lies and Deception.'
All this is fairly impressive, I consider, for a tale about a duck, even if he isn't quite like the other ducks.





Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Trees On The River Slopes


Stride out, into the bite of the wind.
One dot of snow for every ten steps.
On this dry ground the ice is limited: it finds some puddles and makes crystals out of mud. Sun beams over all of it, but the wind has blown the warmth away. Over the stream, over the stile, over the field where the old barn crumbles out the last of its days and the white peaks of Dartmoor edge the view. Dog and me and the sun and the wind and the rare snow make tracks all the way to the river and through the woods.
On the slopes of the Tamar, encroached by the growth of the woods that once fed furnaces, there are the remnants of industry: a post for a chain bridge, dug back areas of rock, two old quarries, drainage tunnels, cart tracks, lime kilns. Across the river is the straight wall where a train ran on a broad gauge track.
We follow a drainage ditch down to the bank where the beached tree has been partly cleared. It is cut exactly right for me to sit on, a pile of sticks at my side, to throw for Dog, who has healthy bracing swims to fetch them back. Sunlight rides on the water surface. Snow falls erratic as butterfly flight paths. I dangle my legs from the cut tree until cold prompts movement.
Climb up to the top of the woods: a good warming angle on that slope.
Under my boot soles, old trunks crumble. Something about these laid down leviathans: walking on them is like trespassing, is like treading in an elephants' graveyard. They hold some kind of sentience, these old trunks, even as they crumble, since they are always part of the earth, they lose less for changing function.
The wind lifts itself into a howl. I think I hear an animal cry, but I am mistaken. It is the low groan of a wavering tree. Snowfall thickens: fractals of ice catch on my coat, and the trees sing.




Monday, 11 March 2013

Sleepy In Cold Weather




Aerial ice, pretty as it is sharp.
So sleepy, I am glad of the cold jabs.
Freeze dried flakes of air flutter over tarmac like shook out feathers.
I have a mindful of blizzarding alphabet, a limitless thirst for coffee.
Could swallow an ocean of coffee, hot and awake.
All the letters just wash, in waves of tired, and wild polka dots of snow fly the night sky, over my sinking eyes.





Sunday, 10 March 2013

Grief


This was a poem that seemed to jump into existence. What I write is not gloomy stuff, although I fully acknowledge and even appreciate the role of gloom in a life, so it's not too surprising a topic. I didn't write it for any particular occasion or for any particular relationship between people, it is quite generic. I decided to post it today mainly as in the UK it is Mother's Day and the sort of day that can highlight a loss. (My own mother is entirely well and full of news regarding loft insulation, and, of course, the vagaries of weather.)



This Beast

What is it, that I am being told?
You are here, I know you are.

This beast, my grief
At my heels anytime
Shifts weight, changes shape

I will not acknowledge it

Why should I acknowledge it:
I can carry on as usual, nothing
Can change, if we do not look

If we do not look or speak of it

Roll into intolerance
Roll, rage, and the more
It makes no difference: rage

Why is this story to be told?
It is wrong: too heavy, awkward
All this red eyed swollen exhaustion

The real story, isn't like this
I could write it different
I will, I will make it perfect

I should, I should have
Made it better, not perfect
But so much sweeter

Left too late: gone over
Memory in mould, in useless
Bloom, foul hot-breathed blooms

You are not here: the shape
Of you, a negative, a shadow
Cliché: you are not here, not here

In the dark room, sit
Holding memories, unlit
Until the light lifts

Memory, rolls into use
Can be held: a memory can be held
I remember: from darkness: the light lifts




Saturday, 9 March 2013

Birthday Table



Girl says: 'Whoever thought of putting Crispy Duck on a pizza is a genius.'
Mr says: 'Whoever thought of putting Crispy Duck on a pizza is a genius.'
Mr Thorn orders a burger. He's not a pizza man.
Granma Grace likes the Hawaiian best. We sit at the table's end, loving the view and the clatter and the state of the grandchildren after the cake.
Our next grandchild is growing in a neat bump: this time next year, another high chair pulled to the table.
The coffee is late.
There's a little box on the table, it has a pair of cufflinks in it. Gold on silver, a present for Mr, handed from Granma, with a note that made him quietly cry. They were his father's, once.
Mr's daughters made the cake. It is light and sweet with perfect crumb.