Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The final result does not perhaps bear too close examination in its symmetry and details; it is an interesting pattern but I think I would have benefitted from a practice attempt to understand the principle of how it grows and goes together, as it is there are some wonky bits, and I hope it's not too small round the neck. I also couldn't have got another row out of the yarn I had, despite ordering more. So I doubt if dear Emma at Loch Sunart would be using it as a show sample of her beautiful product. The lining was a good idea, though time consuming; it really does help it to sit better. The Princeling will have it today; his Anglo-French family have gathered and been having a confused and confusing time eating Christmas pudding at midnight on Christmas Eve and no doubt indulging in other cross-cultural compromises to which the little mite must needs become accustomed. I daresay he'll cope.
That visit should be our last commitment for a bit, then it'll be all French hens and calling birds, leftovers, books jigsaw puzzles ( Tom's vice, not mine), and DVDs. I've the new Salley Vickers courtesy of my sister, and I've been hoarding Baraka, Chronos, Powaqqatsi and Koyaanisqatsi for this very eventuality.
Enjoy the rest of the Twelve Days.
Monday, December 24, 2007
It's always the same old story this time of year: no room, no room.
"Why mince pies? No one'll have any room for them along with everything else."
" Don't get negative. They'll make room."
" It's always so fraught..."
" I'm not a pastry cook."
" Oh, the cracklin...!" ( The butcher always needs persuading that we really ought to have it.)
" We'll have to find room in the oven."
" I need to find room for D.'s gin in the freezer." It always astonishes me it doesn't freeze solid.
" He doesn't drink martinis at lunchtime..."
" Not normally, it makes him bad tempered. But as it's Christmas he's allowed." At 84, we will permit him a little seasonal martini-induced curmudgeonliness. He won't be driving.
" She's a big woman, E. says, and likes her food." This hapless dinner guest whom we have yet to meet becomes a veritable Gargantua in our imaginations; she will swallow all our food, and there will be no room around the table, perhaps she will need two chairs... Later we hear she is of quite average size, larger than E. herself who is bringing her, but then who isn't? We are slightly disappointed.
I am busy busy busy. I buy few presents at Christmas but make a lot, I purport to keep the greed frenzy at bay by keeping out of shops, but indulge it in a reckless doubling of quantities, and how many cantucci biscuits do my friends really want to eat? I doubt I save much money. I suppose myself to be rich in time if not in money, but it doesn't feel like that today. I find room in my day to watch Carols from Kings. Tom tries to talk turkey, I shut him up.
" We haven't room for her. It's not our problem her useless spacewasting alkie son couldn't get himself here. We haven't enough starter, we haven't enough cutlery..."
Excuses. We know if we liked her more we'd find room. She will be on her own.
" If she hadn't been so obnoxious last time. If she wasn't such a bigot..."
" It doesn't mean we won't have her in the house again though. I can live with her."
" Hrrumph. I wouldn't go that far!"
In the end, and quickly too, we make room. We buy extra starter. I extend the invitation. Just prior, other friends have already asked her. Our relief is honestly earned; we had committed ourselves, done it with a good grace, yes really. We can eat extra scallops.
"This tray of flapjacks is falling out of the fridge!"
I had cleaned and emptied the fridge of non-essentials.
" How do I get the flour back in the cupboard?"
I rationalise the jars, wipe the floor of the cupboard down. I suppose Christmas at least makes me do a bit of huswifery anyway. The flour just about goes back in.
We sit head to head peeling and juicing mandarins. We go over more slowly the events of the day. I rid my language of extraneous and gabbled detail, order and enunciate the words. It is satisfying; there is more room in the sentences. As he picks over the citrus segments, Tom cracks the old one about taking the pith. I laugh more than it might seem to warrant, but for me, there's always room for an old and familiar joke.
I wanted to write something deep and crisp and even. I wanted to show you angels, coming through cloven skies with peaceful wings unfurled, if I were a wise man, I would do my part...
But my mind is cluttered with abundance and things of this world, there is no room in it for any such rarefied grace; epiphanies do not come to order. Tomorrow may be my dancing day, tonight I am thinking about sage and onion and brussels sprouts.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
The lemon was the camera, which was working fine yesterday indoors and out, was dead as a doornail for no apparent reason from the moment I tried to turn it on once we'd descended to the beach. So much for the cool photo-blogger, I had to tuck it into my jacket where it formed an unsightly and impotent protruberance, and walk along feeling a bit of a lemon myself.
Molly was not really quite rock-and-roll enough for Porridge, a dog of exalted breeding and irrepressible high spirits, winner of a shiny cup (for obedience!). Tiring eventually of attempts to incite her to play by running round her in circles, Porridge thought it would probably be more of a laugh just to bowl her across the beach with a flying tackle. Moll had the last laugh when Porridge got told off good and proper and had to walk on the lead for a bit while she skipped around and thumbed her nose. She was very eager to come pounding in when we arrived home and tell her dad what a good time she'd had, so I don't think she was much put off.
I feel most disconsolate about the camera; and slightly concerned that something as slight as the failure of a switch can deprive me of something that has become so important and leave me feeling so bereft, a feeling akin to there being something wrong with the dog or my husband... though of course I know the camera is not capable of suffering and could at a pinch be replaced.
I have 'phoned the camera shop, a place where I feel reassured and understood, and will hurry down there asap tomorrow. Naturally, it is but a few months out of guarantee.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
the sun was beginning to melt some of the frost, but in the corners where it hadn't reached, the precious crystals remained, on grasses
and leaf litter and ivy leaves.
One must admire the humble but pernicious dock,
despite ploughing and herbicide, the harrow and the frost, it stands up proud and pretty at last in etiolated translucency amidst the ice.
The road goes on, and the sun is warming,
the leafless and mistletoe-balled trees show through to blue gradations of winter landscape and frost-crisped fields, but the open field are frequented by hunters on Sundays and anyway Molly has balls of muddied ice collecting between her toes, and I find my mind keeps returning to the beef gravy I know is intensifying and reducing on in the kitchen, and fantasies of it with mince and buttered carrots and mashed potato and parsnips.
The cards await.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
In John Donne's time, this, the 13th December, St Lucy's Day, was understood to be the shortest day, the darkest time of the year. Annihilated by grief and despair at the death of his wife, the spark of his intellect confounded and nearly extinguished in conceits that go nowhere, tortuous attempts to express the inexpressible, the fire of his lust for her alien and distant to him, he saw the Day as encapsulating the utter darkness in his spirit.
I think my mother knew I was born on the eve of St Lucy's and it was in her mind when I was named. When I first encountered Donne's Nocturne, it was at a period in my young life when the darkness and the fear of it threatened to overwhelm me, at the midwinter point of my birth and the times leading up to it most of all. I liked the poem because it had my name on it, and because it looked the darkness in the face.
Now I live in a way and a place where the darkness is held at bay. The cold may be yet to come, but the days will soon lengthen, the light increase. The solstice days are short, but a few leaves still speckle the trees with colour, and where they have left, the twigs can be seen already to hold the buds for the spring's new leaves.
The winter wheat throws a haze and a striping of luminous gold-green over the shape of the land.
Donne's despair is not mine. Darkness, horror, despair, lurk beyond the threshold, but the door is closed to them. I'll cringe in the shadows no longer, but carry my light for as long as it will burn.
'The night goes great and mute.
Now one hears its wings in every silent room murmuring as if from wings.
Look at our threshold.
There she stands white-clad with lights in her hair Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia'
(Translated from a Swedish song to St Lucy, her feast day being much celebrated there)
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Molly would like to thank everyone for their kindness and concern. She really is better now, though we did notice yesterday she was holding a front paw up a bit from time to time. Here she is on the new parquet flooring, which may in fact have been the cause of all her woes, as I think she may have slipped on it while jumping about. She did have to have a lot of anaesthetic for all the surgical stuff, even taking out the last lot of stitches, because she just won't submit to such procedures otherwise. the vet kept thinking she was out and he could start, and up would come her head again.
She seems to be fine now, however, and fortunately our friend who we had to let down about the concert has dogs too, so she understands. Her dogs are Mol's friends Moose...
These are old pictures I took of them in the summer. I haven't been taking many photos lately because the weather and the light have been fairly dreadful, so a bit of dog-blogging will have to pass the time. Once again, thank you all for our concern and support.
Friday, December 07, 2007
It turns out that Rosie (under another name) is in fact something of a star in the firmament of the Cotes d'Armor music scene, whose renown had already reached me, so I felt rather trepidacious and awestruck, and feared I would have no conversation at all and would leave her with an impression of a rather pitiful person who has to blog to compensate for inadequate social skills. However, we quickly earned ourselves some impatient and supercilious looks from the serving staff by completely ignoring the menu because we were talking too much, and it was one of those times when I had to metaphorically sit on my hands to stop myself from interrupting because I was too interested, and we never found out half of what we set out to tell each other about ourselves because the digressions were too interesting. So I think perhaps we'll do it again. I took the camera but no photographs because we were talking too much. Rosie said she half expected me to get it out and start photographing the food. As this was a rather peculiar blue cheese and bacon quiche and not very photogenic I gave it a miss.
The prospect of busy days doing unfamiliar and unprecedented things, especially involving meeting new people or being out in the world often has me feeling rather not quite up to the task, then when they actually happen I'm often quite surprised at my energy and stamina. I parted from Rosie feeling very chirpy, went about my errands in town, and even did a bit of low level Christmas-ish shopping, including the material shop for a piece of écru coloured silk taffeta to line the Princeling's mithril coat, which is knitted but not made up and I thought would benefit from being lined. It has just occurred to me that his mother reads this blog sometimes so I have probably spoiled any element of surprise.
Then home to admire Tom's excellent parquet floor laying, walk the dog, stick a fillet of frozen salmon and a potato gratin in the oven, and out to hear Baroque cellos and Sephardic chant in the church in Moncontour. We often swear we will never go to these local events, which start late and where everyone claps between movements, then we usually do.
Postscript: At that point we were about to set off, when Molly, reaching her usual pitch of excitement at the prospect of going out in the car, stopped, staggered, and limped round in a confused circle. We picked her up and put her on the sofa, where she continued to look confused. So we decided we couldn't go out. Not much hope of a vet at that hour on a Friday, and within quite a short time she returned to normal, though rather quiet. I'll ring the vet tomorrow and see if she's any ideas. I feel bad about letting the friend down we were going to meet for the concert, though I was able to catch her before she left, but I wouldn't have enjoyed it worrying about M. anyway.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I have in the past experimented with black and white and colour accents, notably this one below in yellow. On looking at this again I experienced a very minor spasm of sorrow and regret when I remembered I have since broken that yellow plate, of which I was most fond. (Any of my real world acquaintance who shake their heads uncomprehendingly when I try to explain how and why I blog with the well-worn 'haven't you got anything better to do?'-type response would, on reading this, have all their assumptions confirmed.)
I invite other blogging folk with nothing better to do to share their washing up on-line. Dishwasher users need not fell excluded, simply snap a picture of your crocks in all their steaming glory as they emerge from the interior of the Miele, and post it.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It's been fun, and thanks all for faithful commenting which must have sometimes been a bit of a chore. Sorry if I haven't got around to all of yours as conscientiously, that is one of the disadvantages of it. On the whole I think I prefer to balance posting and reading a bit more evenly, and to be able to take a little more time to think about what I post. I have tended to be a bit too much oriented toward the computer, at times I've just put anything on for the sake of it, and sometimes I've felt rather like the sorry individual who hangs around work or a social club when everyone else has gone home to their proper lives. On the other hand, it's enabled me to use up things I've had in reserve or on the back burner, dare to post a few more poems, and been a bit more spontaneous. Also with disabled dog I've been out and about less, so it was a good time to use up stocks.
But Molly should, fingers crossed, be fully back in circulation next week, and we've a month or so of relative inactivity to walk off, so it's time to get out more.
Thanks again for reading.