Friday, 30 January 2015

Morning Vignette



Rain falls in blue grey thick twists. It falls so loud there are no other sounds.
The water-ropes fray, let loose the gold sun, the birdsong. One tractor rolls, sprays mud.
It had rained all night. Drop-thud on the lean-to roof was our lullaby.
Clouds smudge the sun to a silver light.
Cold invokes weariness.
Steam from a kettle, smell of coffee brewing.
Pressing hands around warm mugs.
Rain falls in blue grey thick twists. It falls so loud there are no other sounds.





Thursday, 29 January 2015

Dead Things




Walking brings on thinking.
Why do I stop to observe dead things?
Because of curiosity, foremost. What is this, what was this, how came it here?
Claw scrabble, infirmity? Questions, clues.
Curiosity, foremost.
But under that, imbued into that, a tenderness.
Here is a relic of a life story all told.
‘The End.’
No more breaths, and yet?
Yet more: that thing is not devoid of energy.
It exists, physically. The physical world is made of energy.
That connection holds. 



Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Feeling Of Freeness Pervades




Went for a run, slow paced, post cough, pre-snowmageddon. Clouds huddled, gave no weather clues. Dog’s fur flared, silky waves over a clippy trot. Snowdrops shook their stooped heads, stems quivering like laughing shoulders do. Two miles, hilly, then home. Mr feels better, he makes fried egg sandwiches and coffee. We are in the office, then, attendant on paperwork.
From the window, cattle are viewed, they stand, seemingly morose, hooves sunk in mud.
One robin hops a branch length on the old ash, plucks out midmorning snacks.
One bullock turns his chunk of head up to the open field. He follows his line of sight, invigorated. 






Monday, 26 January 2015

Birdland, Early Morning





The moon, the sun’s mirror, keeps slivery watch. Eery eyed Dog starts up, glares at the torchlight. Trees of starlings clatter, burst into shoal. Pheasants set off clockwork whirs of wing. Over an arterial river geese call, ducks call. Cows are bleary in the shadowed fields. Boots scoot through thin mud. Ice is forecast. It seems warm for the hour, for the season. All those feathers, holding in some heat.




Battle Chess



All the brave tryouts and the selected 'West Of Exeter' team
for the 40th Anniversary SW TKD competition


Things to note about sparring:

Sparring is not fighting because there are rules: but it can seem like a fight, especially with strikes to the face. It is hard to be struck in the face and not find it overly confrontational. Anyone who has experienced confrontation and particularly violent confrontation may experience a resurgence of negative emotions. A good instructor knows this and will support their students in learning through this barrier. The primary opponent in martial arts training is your own self: your doubts and fears. If you want to get those under control, learning to spar can be excellent therapy. I have seen students progress from quivering wreck to fierce competitor. It does happen! Trust the faith that your instructor has in you. 

There is more to sparring than the bravery. There is the deployment of good techniques. A clever fighter sees the fight as a series of techniques and is looking for patterns that may show up a weakness in the opponents guard: like a physical version of chess. Assertiveness can trounce aggression.

Another point to sparring is that it can beat your ego up. It is tough to lose when you’ve trained hard. The less you focus on that though, the more you will learn. Analyse the bout, be brutally honest with yourself. Sometimes the referee might be wrong because they are human (they are) but what positive thing can you learn from blaming others? In life, not all will be fair. Consider what the definition of a loser is: someone who stood up in the ring or someone who wanted to but was afraid of losing? With the right attitude there is no losing, only win or learn. That way you can out into the world without any trophies at all and be a strong and wonderful person. That, to me, is the better outcome.
 


Christmas Blindfold Bop pictured here:
sparring related and nurturing  :-) 


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Find Me On Facebook






Busy, busy, building a platform: the strong hot hob on which to simmer wild flavoured soups. Please join me. I should like a queue. Bring your own bowl and spoon, maybe some bread, some butter. Add pictures, add words - soup, art, love, curiosities, writing, jam, sunsets, all the little incredible overlooked things framed beautifully - we will hang them on the walls of the virtual soup hall. 


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Restorative




Anointed with rest. Slow, succulent: the dark of each eye widens, tidal; in pours precious light. All senses connect, recline, spill joyous as a hot tub with too many people in it.
Heat in the dust of the throat, where the cough tugs through.
Honeyed and spiced, fruits and milks pour solace.
Solitude; everyone else is at work but not me.
There is me and the dog and this sofa and a book. In the afternoon we felt the sun on our faces. A white gold welt all the way from the centre of our universe.
Somewhere in the Rayburn potatoes bake. Salted, oiled, affordable.
Steam from green leaves whispers under a pan lid.
Cobwebs have gathered dust: Hausfrau Spiders live here.
Sleep gathers, is caught in blinks. 





Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mindfulness Has A Cough



Poorliness bustles in, tells you to rest.
Just like that!
Naturally you are annoyed. This is not the space for interruptions.
There is no space for interruptions!
What, dear stupid, is another word you could use? Poorliness runs a hot hand over your brow, it makes the rest of you feel cold.
What?
What is an interruption, dear stupid?
Can you hit a cough with a thesaurus? This is not helping at all! Interruption is intrusion, obstruction, is discontinuation… is interlude, a pause, hiatus…
Like a chrysalis, perhaps? Now drink up your turmeric and cough up some wings.
And you think about the cough. There is no regret in the early dark walk, where you saw the moon float in a field puddle. It didn’t matter then that you had forgotten your scarf, you were so rapt.
Why does it matter now?
This is how the story flows: allow it.




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Speaking Elvish


Bloonbloon: plural of balloon.


Grandchild 3, hands in the peg box, regards her Granma with elf like composure. She runs and trips into a wet clump of grass. Her hair is rivulets. Rain, frost, thaw and Dog have conspired to make the garden ploppy. Granma retrieves child and pegs.*
Sheets fat-belly from the line.
Nothing between clouds but blue and sun.
‘Beach?’
‘Beach!’
‘Are you a parrot or an elf?’
‘Yes.’
‘Aha! An elf.’

Grandchild 3 sets her feet on the sand. She runs at the sea with no sense of stop. The sand is paved with footprints. Dog digs them up, looking for her favourite stone.
‘Splash!’ Granma stomps a puddle.
‘Splash splash!’ Little feet are distracted from the surf.
Clouds pull in, the wind comes in briny.
‘Do you want to share some soup?’ Granma lures.
‘Share.’ Grandchild 3 holds up her hands for a carry.

She eats no soup. Granma has no warm roll nor melted butter.
Dog lies under the table, waiting.

In the car the little one sings, words and sounds, a work of wonder.

* To elevate an ordinary task, approach with a toddler in tow. Hanging up the washing, for example: simply by innocently scattering pegs into the rockery this chore becomes an event. 








Friday, 16 January 2015

Numbers, Monsters And A Samurai Strawberry


Polytunnel In Winter. Limes to the right, sprouts to the left.

Mr and me read the sum of our achievements from last year’s signed off accounts.
‘Hmmm…’ (A phrase that should not be translated politely and thus is left as is.)
One of us fills the kettle.

Monsters stick with you, they are not just for childhood.
They slick along the sidelines, breathing warmth into doubtful blooms.

No escape is found in the winter garden.
Under perspex shelter the lime has dropped its fruit.
A wall of rain compounds the isolation.

Why are we here? In this sad and beautiful place?
One finger reaches out to trace the shape of a leaf. Imagines, gently, that this is the colour, perhaps the same curve, as a monster’s head?

Smiles, then.

Are they as you wish them, these slinking fears?
Three times, four times? We have lost a home, made a new place for ourselves. It has been close. This feels close: teeth at heels.

A sprout is pinched from a stem and crunched.
There was a samurai, the story says, a tiger chased him to the edge of a cliff. He climbed down and saw a bear pacing hungry at the foot of this cliff. His perch was precarious. Wild strawberries grew within reach: not in enough abundance to placate a bear. He ate one. It was the best strawberry he had ever had.

Rain crumbles, and the starlings sing.

Indoors, left by the kettle, the sum remains the same. Imaginary monsters snooze by the Rayburn.


If you look hard enough, you can clearly imagine  strawberries.




Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Weather Channel





Between the window and the bright sun is a heavy curtain of rain. Each drop falls shining. The ground becomes unstable, feet unable to direct, everything askance.
Snow settles, makes mountain peaks out of  high moorland.
Darkness snuggles down; unsettled snow flies under it, throws itself into adventures.
What is best about cars in heavy weather: the view, un-squinted.
As the moors pass, snow frequency lulls. Swirls in fine polkadots dance.
Beyond this the sky whites with lightening, strikes awe.

This morning hail stones, part melt, gather frogspawn-ish on a windscreen. They have a particular coldly weighted slump as the wipers clear.
The view is grey-blue, ice-smeared, flat as a screen.





Monday, 12 January 2015

House Share At Lawhitton



As winter moved in, so too the spiders.
They had favoured the bathroom, redecorating corners with grey trails of silk. Little beady black species was superseded by the leggy danglers, the ones that swing in close proximity, as though trading gossip. Possibly about the mysterious slump in the population of the little beady black spiders?
Do arachnids burp?

House-spiders are shy this year, they blush behind furniture until we sleep: then who knows? Perhaps they make themselves tea and toast, switch on the lamp, perch up spectacles and read, crossing a few legs, passing opinion on local events.
(Just because they’re cannibals does not mean that they are uncivilised.)

Moths had called by and eaten part of Mr’s most comfortable trousers. Perhaps we do not understand their fashions: perhaps they had tried to make lace?
Was it them that woke the butterfly?

It is perplexing, yes, this inability to pursue understanding, yet in the margin for error is room to spin.
I ask the bathroom slugs, two dainty invertebrates, rhetorically; what to spin?
Without shoulders they do well to mimic shrugging.
(They are not pleased by rhetoric. They much prefer something green, with a broad leaf and soft rolled shoots. So I spin what I see; this story.)

In the eaves, birds line nests.
In the rafters, mice will be chewing something.
Lizards sleep.
The bees are long gone from the chimney pot. 





Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Pebble Drops, And Will Always Drop



For a moment, a wrong thing happens: a brow furrows up, a mind goes looking for a subject.
Ha!
Stillness arrives, like a round stone on a flat surface will pivot to stillness. Like a surprised pond will absorb ripple.
This is how.
Not immobile.
Receptive.
Not pursuant.
An absorber.
Not malcontent, rather there is something to learn, always. To practice.
While the everyday occurs; a beer bottle left on a windowsill, a curious dog looks in a mirror; it occurs, it reoccurs. Not every day.
This day.





Friday, 9 January 2015

I Got The Words Like Yoda




An awareness of time, of where we pinpoint ourselves, this is the river stepped into, the daily scenery of our selves, the constant-same-old, ever-changing-flux.
The scenic route, I have lived. Backdrop, it is not.
Down by the Tamar, the real river adds umph to the metaphysics. It pounds like a muddy headache, thrills by speed, shoulders its boundaries aside.
Ever newer waters, the old philosopher said? Flow on those who step in to their rivers.
Heraclitus, who died of misanthropy, if the tales are true. He survives in fragments.
I observe the river. Recall the rain cycle.
This river, that cloud.
This river, my blood. Your blood.
Our stars, crossed or co-existent.
Impermanent, always.
The universe is us.






Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A Showgirl Goes On




Silver shoes, as rehearsed, tread upon the boards.
The audience are hush: she is a shade to them but they know to expect.
Sole by sole she goes to the centre of the stage, puts one hand towards the limelight-
She is afraid.
The wings are full of doubts, of bills unpaid. Piles of darning in the dressing room.
The flex of the kettle worn through.
Reality is threadbare, and she has worked so hard to be this, to give this.
She has so much less and so much more than the people out there in their chairs. They do not know. They are here for the performance. But what is her role?
What happens next? She whispers it.
But you know this, the prompt squints at her, this is your script. And you wrote it all pictures and moods, there are no words to be repeated. You would not be told, you said. You glued sequins all over the paper.
Why yes! What happens next is of no consequence. No right, no wrong. Only be as you are. Dare to.
She has her trademark smile.
The light is citrus green. 






Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Luna Lupa





It was the morning of the first full moon. 
The sky was growling as we stepped our boots along the lane, padding in shallow muds, poking puddles with toes to play with dark refections.
At the foot of the hill we paused, though no-one could remember why: the sound of the stream running fast, how the rains had swelled it, perhaps; after the heron flew up before us, the blue grey wings, the beak-spear, the dangle of legs, that is all we could think of.
Silver and blue, shoals of colour.
How clear the moving water was, and the puddles, rain-refreshed, shone back in amber slices.

It was the evening of the first full moon. Strange tides were calling us.
(Even Dog kicked her legs in active sleep.)
On the black river the moon would put a mark, a lit fingerprint.
Like an intake of breath the waters had expanded.






Saturday, 3 January 2015

Look To The Sea




‘Look at me, Granma!’
Grandchild 1 teeters at the surf edge. It’s shallow water, but lively. Every third set or so rushes in deeper. Pebbles smoothed and oval, large as ostrich eggs, are settled in the fine sand. The water brings out their warm colours.
‘Don’t you be looking at me my lovely- look to the sea!’ Granma shouts, as they have been playing pirates and some of the linguistic idiosyncrasies have stuck. It is good advice unless interpreted as ‘keep facing the sea and run backwards without taking any account of terrain.’

Grandchild 4 is wedged on a hip, gazing seaward.

Granma squats to pick up Dog’s ball, thus missing the vital ‘but don’t run away without looking either, you might trip on a rock’ intervention point.
Grandchild 1 finds himself sat, arse on sand, sea awash in his armpits. As instructed, he remains facing the swell, the surging white foam of it, wild as dragon spit. Granma has his arm grabbed. Dog runs past, carries her ball into the sea herself.

Grandchild 4 gazes seaward, under the rise and fall spell.

The trio trek back towards the car.
‘Are you a bit shook up?’ Granma asks, for the older lad is not usually this quiet.
He nods. His eyes water.
‘People who don’t fall in the sea just don’t understand,’ Granma tells him, ‘but adventures are important and you can’t have adventures without falling in the sea sometimes.’
‘I can ice skate, Granma,’ he articulates, ‘and once I was ice skating and a big boy fell over.’
‘Indeed.’ Granma nods.

Grandchild 3 is asleep in the car, curled on the comfort of Grandad. Her tooth-bothered cheeks shine like beach pebbles.
‘We had an adventure, Grandad,’ Granma reports, ‘so let’s set sails for home.’

Grandchild 1 sits in a dinosaur onesie eating crisps, while the young ‘uns, safely buckled, sing from their respective car seats: shanties we think. Wordless, hypnotic.
Wet clothes are in the boot-space, lumped in a plastic bag.



'Boys and teeth have driven me to drink.'



Thursday, 1 January 2015

Chalk Kisses And The Zen Of Sticks




Rain nestles on the window pane.
Grandchild 2 sits on the other office chair, eating peanut butter from a small jar.
She laughs at the waggle in birds’ tails as starlings hop on the ash branches. They are silhouette puppets to her.
Steampunk cloud sails in on a quickening squall. Starlings are sprung to flight.
We watch.
On the storm scale from eye-opening to life-threatening, this measures at come-to-the-beach.

Weary faces in the town, a hard night spent midwifing the New Year.
Without their ritualising, perhaps it would breech, fail to arrive.
We had watched Lilo and Stitch, drunk up some vodka with coconut milk, called to our year all our love for it. An easy beginning.

A mother, her daughter, her daughter’s daughter, they blink in the sanded wind, shut the car doors. Dog gets underfoot, too impatient.

On the sand Dog squats, too excited. Everyone is happy now for the gale to blow, salt scented.
Granma carries the bag up to the bin. Mess is not a surprise: but right there, interrupting the flow of people where they stream up and down the beach steps: Dog is comedic.

Waves splurge bold lines of foam. Three generations and one Dog stomp; some of the bubbles have rainbows trapped. Fluffed blobs take flight: alien, adorable, ocean snow.

Granma throws a stick, it arcs into a moving mass. Dog zigzags wave breaks, to retrieve, to start again. It’s the same game, but the waves vary. Dog practices stick Zen. Dog is happy.

Granma hears her title; the word finds a thermal and slides over the cold air; she turns.
Grandchild 2 has been given the knowledge of how one stone can make marks on another.
She chalks kisses and they must be shared.