Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bothered from abroad. Then back to ickle pretty flowers, cute doggy paws, stick figures and other miscellanea.

A cloud of dark and troubling thoughts about the US elections, and I've had little heart for posting here whilst under it. Leaving supportive messages in many people's comments boxes, abandoning others, yet not saying much for myself. Feeling outraged and appalled and powerless.

A little tired of hearts and flowers and being sensitive and poetic and caring about pleasing anyone and everyone and not giving offence. Other people don't seem to worry about this, they wear their political hearts on their sleeves on their blogs from the outset, and express themselves as they wish.

I don't do politics here, I've said before. I loathe blogs and forums full of acrimonious so-called debate, and heaven knows there are enough of them. They bore, depress and irritate me. I don't have the will or the head for that. I have always been frustrated by my own inarticulacy in these matters, the need to be fair and balanced, the fear of being browbeaten. I hate conflict. I want to feel safe and I want to be liked; I want to be able to share the trivia of all our comings and goings and troubles and joys with nice sympathetic readers. I hate the idea of losing friends, I'd like to think one could maintain friendships across divisions of political opinion, but...

This worldwide poll says nearly five to one of the Rest of the World want Obama for president. We know who we are.

This even larger number of American women, aged from 18 to 89, responded and offered their views voluntarily. I didn't read them all; even the fairly small selection of the 100,000 letters more or less of one accord became a little bit samey after a while, though in a good way. Nevertheless, it's heartening, I only hope they represent enough.

Enough, I'm not picking fights. I've got too much and too little to say. As I said, I leave sympathetic messages where I've sympathy, and leave the rest alone. It seems a good policy.

And now for more hearts and flowers, and cheery nonsense, on the basis that that's what I'm good at, and I need cheering up.

On the way to Rosie's, a field of flowers to lift the heart. Perhaps half an acre of them, all blooming riotously. I just couldn't stop clicking.


I finally took the plunge and took Molly to a poodle parlour. I was tired of the hideous knots in her fur, especially the paws, and of the battles involved in trying to groom or trim them out myself. I expected a terrible scene, but, up on the table with a restraining leash at each end, a muzzle and me holding her, she acknowledged herself beat and gave in with a fairly good grace.
The trouble is she now looks like a poodle. A very peculiar one, especially at the back end.

When she rolls around on her back Tom says she looks like a stranded beetle. But I have to say it is lovely to see her paws so clean and neat, and her shiny black toe-nails, which she even allowed them to cut.


My latest favourite photo groups on Flickr are 'Stick Figures in Peril', and the smaller but equally important 'Stick Figures who have the Situation Under Control'. This was my contribution to the latter, which I noticed on a walk at the water mill.

I hadn't so far found any stick figures in peril, but while lying awake at 3 in the morning worrying about everything from the usual Tom's-and-Molly's-health to female genital mutilation via how we were going to wallpaper the ceiling over the stairs, the apparent impossibility of a post-oil economy, and Sarah Palin, I resolved to make myself feel better in the morning with some swift and wholesome action. I would take the Karcher first to my car, which had sweet little mossy Zen gardens growing in the corners of the windows and mudguards (Joe tells me his Morris Traveller grew so much greenery on the woodwork that it became invisible when parked under a tree...), and then to the bathroom extension wall, which I painted about ten years ago and had since turned from beige rose to mucky green.

The Karcher, and ours isn't, any more than our vacuum cleaner is a Hoover, is a high pressure water cleaner and de rigueur accessory for French households, where it is usually wielded by the man of the house. Something to do with the public peeing thing, I think ( 'a good Frenchman' our friend Jean-Jacques told us 'never pisses alone'). It also gained some notoriety as the tool with which Sarkozy claimed he was going to cleanse the racaille from the banlieux, which shows something of the extent of its assimilation into the cultural context.

Applying it to the BX, I was led to observe the resilience of spiders' webs; a jet capable of stripping the paint from the bumper left strands of them still hanging on in there.

Having rendered both car and extension free of moss, I noticed an example of Stick Figures in Peril on the body of the Karcher. One should on no account, it seems, aim one's Karcher at people walking dogs and carrying document wallets.


I've been playing with the colouring sticks again. This was from a photo I took of some greengages last year. I was going to use the photo to illustrate an extract from Rumer Godden's book 'The Greengage Summer', but then I got a little bothered about copyright, contacted her estate website, but then rather lost interest in the whole project.

I'm getting some Derwent Inktense pencils; Tom's bought them already ( I'm not really supposed to know this) but I might have to wait till my birthday. They're deeper and more translucent than these ordinary ones.


Blogger told me the other day I had a 'follower'. A little bonhomme in green showed up on my dashboard. This is evidently some new Blogger thing. It turned out to be Avus, ahead of the game as ever. Avus is Herhimnbryn's real life dad who rides Rudge bicycles, with which I have a family connection, so I'm very happy to have him as a follower, though he might overtake me on the Rudge. I doubt that he's a camp follower, probably more like a caravan one...


My lovely sister is coming to stay for a week or so, as ever cause for great rejoicing, and making up somewhat for the trips I've had to cancel this year. So I'll likely be a bit absent hereabouts. I'll try to take some pictures.


Catalyst said...

When one becomes so irritated by a political blog, one should just avoid it. I did that for several months this year and feel the better for it.

I would love to live next to that field of wildflowers. Absolutely beautiful.

Zhoen said...

I so agree, I don't want a political argument blog, it all gets so angry and counterproductive. But I will cast your vote for you, if that helps.

My aunt clipped poodles in her home. Something about the people who handle animals a lot, the animals know them, and trust them as a rule.

I'm off to learn about "followers."

Anonymous said...

Oh Lucy, you've been voicing my thoughts and feelings about US politics and those blogs! Now we are suddenly in our own election here in Canada, another worry, as this current PM admires the neighbours' Prez. So, I loved the virtual wander in the amazing field of wildflowers, thank you! Lovely drawing too.
Not sure what you mean by 'follower', a Blogger thing as it is. Have a wonderful visit with your sister and stop worrying about the world ( I have to remind myself too).

katydidnot said...

that meadow is all kinds of fabulous.

Julia said...

I've avoided talking about it on my blog too, though it is the number one topic of conversation with our expat friends here. It's a scary moment, really.

Love those flowers, are they wild or do you think they were seeded?

Rosie said...

It is awful to feel so helpless isnt it? (electorally speaking...)

jzr said...

In my attempt to keep sending out bright positive light concerning our election, I have not been expressing my pain and my fears much on my blog. It's not that I'm in denial, it's that the more I talk about it and listen to our news, the more afraid I get. But we must all try to be positive and not fall into the McCain/Palin crucible. Thank you for all of your support, Lucy, I appreciate your words.

Pam said...

Yes, indeed, frightening times.

Love the flowers though. And the stick figures.

Have fun with your sister. I wish I had one of those.

vicki johnson said...

Lucy...lots of amazing thoughts and images here and, of course, the political ones snagged me. Living here in the states as i do the thing that disheartens me the most--even more than "drill, baby, drill" and the whole icky Republican thing is that the Dems seem to still not get it...still don't seem to know how to campaign against the darkness. Unbelievably, they have not--yet (i still have hope)--launched a clear and inspiring rally cry after the side show created by the R's. It is, i'm afraid, why we got saddled with a second Bush term...the Dems couldn't put together a rallying message and campaign to inspire.

When people are scared, they almost always chose the devil they know rather than risk the new and unknown. So...please, cross your fingers for us, send up as many smoke signals as you can, that Obama and team will get their act together and communicate and inspire those who see themselves in the two mavericks who could steal the show and lead us even deeper into darkness.'s that for boldness and risking the loss of people's good opinion of me?

i don't do it on my blog because it is a difficult thing to talk about...but i've been thinking about posting some links to some excellent editorials that i wish my friends and family would read ...those who i fear are getting sucked in by the lies.

My favorite bumper stickers:

"Replant a Bush in Texas"
"January 20, 09: The End of An Error"

it pray it is so!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing about your Inktense pencils.
You've made me yearn intensely for greengages. I love your drawing.

Anonymous said...

An abundance of things here, Lucy. Beautiful flowers. I like the way they creep closer through the series. US politics. My ex-wife (what a graceless form of identification!) and her partner are currently driving across the States. From encounters with motel clerks, shop assistants, ordinary joes generally, they report support for McCain and they confirm that it's the Palin ticket that's turned the hitherto 'don't knows'. Hardly scientific research, but unsettling.

Love the sensual fruit.

Enjoy the visit!

Lucy said...

Thanks all. The flowers are not wild, but seeded. They are perhaps mostly cultivars of native wildflowers, the dark purple cornflowers were especially exciting. This kind of planting is often done on verges and roundabouts here, but I have never seen it so successful or extensive; often the flowers bloom successively so one species dominates at any one moment, or sometimes they are invaded with weeds such as escaped oilseed rape, which spoils the effect.

Cat - I don't read any actual political blogs systematically - I lurk on a few sometimes, on both sides. It's really more a few bloggers I've come to know and like in other ways, where it's becoming clear that their politics are really totally antipathetic to me. I felt I needed to show whose side I was on, or wasn't. I like you on politics very much; you're level-headed and knowlegeable without being know-it-all, you're firm that it's your country's leadership you're against not your country. (I really like you on cats too!)

Z - thanks, that's appreciated, as was the alternative Palin - McCain picture! Molly and the groomer were both pretty brilliant really, the latter firm without being harsh; it helped I was allowed to stay and not instructed to abandon her to the torture!

ML thanks, you too.

Julia - thanks, no, the flowers were seeded, it would be good if they grew like that naturally! Saw your frineds asking if they could come and sleep on your floor in the event...!

Rosie - yes, it's basically about who's running the western world, but much of the western world gets no say in it. And as expats we don't get much say anywhere anyway...

JZR - but you've always been clear where your sympathies lie, or where they don't! It's fair enough to avoid politics because we aren't very interested or find it depressing, but I was a bit fed up of lacking the courage to stick my neck out at all...

Isabelle - glad somebody responded to my stick figures! I've really only quite recently 'reacquired' my sister, which is great.

Zephyr - thanks, I appreciate all you say. I'd certainly like to see those links. I don't know about the inspirational thing, it seems to me Obama's done plenty of crowd-pleasing, but I'm not not sure what he could do against the forces that are working on the other side without unacceptable compromise. And I don't know that intelligent people should want to blindly swept along on a tide of demagogic enthusiasm/hysteria, but rather want the least worse option in terms of practical, responsible, calm and intelligent leadership. But I'm rooting for you anyway, and for the rest of us...

Tori - thanks, I didn't really see so many greengages this year. I think it was a bad year for plums generally, nothing much on the mirabel trees either.

Dick - that's what you don't want to hear, isn't it? I think perhaps he did make a mistake not keeping Hilary as VP, not so much to hang on to the women's so much as the blue collar - working class vote. But I don't know. I think quite a lot of women find it pretty insulting that it's assumed all he has to do is rope in a 'hockey mom' with little experience or education for the job, a Christian right-wing agenda and a bad record on abusing the little power she's had already, and they'll all fall in line and vote for him and her just because she's female. But perhaps I'm overestimating my own gender...

Laura Frankstone said...

I'm with you a thousand per cent, Lucy. I despair how my country has become full of 'low information voters' (I can think of plenty of more accurate, less diplomatic names) who will likely catapult us and the world over the brink. Sarah Palin is a very bad joke.
That said, I love your multi-colors and am glad to see you've taken up your Inktenses and are drawing away! This time next year perhaps we'll be drawing together!

Unknown said...

What you say about politics, political blogs and opinions, entirely coincides with my views. One fears for Obama though. It would be a beautiful thing indeed if he were elected. But oh how terrrible if there were a vice president, who, apart from turning Alaska into an oil field, appears to believe in "intelligent design" and might possibly even believe that the world was created 6000 years ago.

Julia said...

I'd guess the less informed are going for McCain Palin not because she is a woman and thus appeals to Hillary Clinton fans but because they can imagine running into her in the grocery store - a rotten way to choose a President, but one that seems to have worked for Bush already. That and the Republicans are amazingly good at lying and getting away with it.

vicki johnson said...

Lucy, i don't know how to put links into comments, so i'll tell you this way:
My hope is bolstered and i get great comfort from reading editorials by Thomas L. Friedman at (his current one is "Making America Stupid"--this guy is brilliant, by the way, on many topics) Also on NYT, Maureen Dowd's tough humor/viewpoint and even caustic humor i find bolstering.

And...crazy like a fox is Jon Stewart who can be found on YouTube...boy does he nail it on the head...again, with humor...which i desperately need so i don't go throw myself off a cliff in despair.

Oh yes, The Huffington Report is a website that keeps us informed of politicians shenanigans. Anyway, those are the "links" i would share with you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I avoid overly political blogs...

The flower meadows are beautiful...

Jean said...

Much empathy, Lucy.
But gosh, the worse it gets, the more I need to see your flowers, your dog, your art, your poetry...

Lucy said...

Thanks dears, I clearly don't have to worry about most of my readers even if we all have to worry about the one remaining superpower... This is one of those posts when I feel I've had a lot more and more worthwhile back in response than I've put in initially, and they are my favourites.

I'll follow up Zephyr's leads, and I do really believe it's worth loving flowers and dogs and poems and each other, and will go on doing so. I suppose I just don't want to be some precious effete dilettante who feigns to be above worldly things as a blind for laziness, ignorance and lack of courage...

Thanks again, you are very wonderful.

Bee said...

I feel like I don't have anything to add to what you and the others have expressed so well -- except my show of hands.

I've been finding it quite difficult to express my inner, personal world -- my search for moments of beauty and purpose and meaning and thankfulness -- when I feel so submerged/oppressed by the news. Sometimes it is so difficult to swim in the current of events larger than the self and yet not get submerged. I've really been sputtering for air recently. Thank you so much for everything you say here -- and for those very beautiful pictures of wildflowers. It makes me think that I tend too much to a pastel palette -- both in flowers and life.

herhimnbryn said...

Lucy, what an amazing post. Like you I won't be 'political' in my blogs, but I am concerned like all your readers.

The meadow is stunning. What a grand idea to plant such a mixture on a wide scale.

On a lighter note, you have taken me back to being 13 and reading The Greengage Summer. I read it straight after Jane Eyre and felt very grown up indeed.

Last night I wanted to email you something, but have no contact for you. I think after reading your post, you would enjoy it. You can contact me via my blog, but no worries if you'd rather not.

Bryn (the Bold cattle dog) howls in sympathy for Mol. He does not like having his paw hair clipped.

Avus said...

Those meadow flowers are superb, Lucy - sod the politics!
As to being a "follower" this just means that I am using the new blogger facility to show the latest comments on all the blogs I link to.
(No sinister "stalking", I assure you!)

Fire Bird said...

A bit late here to say 'what a lovely post'. Reminds me of one of your letters of yore.
Those flowers are positively edible!

Sheila said...

Thank you for the stunning flower photos! It encourages me to think that however elections turn out (here or in any country), flowers will still bloom, people will still love, dogs will still be our friends.

I think my experience of living through the Croatian war, and the political craziness related to it, has caused me to care more about politics but to fear less. There is no ideal person to govern others, and life does go on, even when those ruling are much less than ideal. (Unless of course you get into tyrannical dictators, but I don't think we're facing that in the US at this point....)

Thanks again for the photos! Like joy made material!

meggie said...

That field of flowers... so real, compared to politics.
I try to avoid it all, but the sad reality is, it will impact on all our lives. We have no say...

Dave King said...

I am with you all the way on this one. I don't want arguments designed to change my (or anyone's) views, but discussions to explore my own. There is far too much of the wrong sort of talk and not enough looking and seeing.

Anonymous said...

I love love love the wildflowers. I always have a little corner of the garden for them - mostly cornflowers and poppies. The blue of cornflowers is one of my favourites.

I don't generally talk about politics either on my blog - actually I don't think I ever have. But yes, the current situation in the US is very scary indeed. It amazes me how this can have arisen and I worry that it could happen here. Surely not?

I hope you have a lovely time with your sister. Well, I am sure you will.

Take care, Lucy

Gina x

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hello Lucy! Visited your site via another one and I must say - I have been reading about the US elections and find it all very depressing. But then to come across those absolutely wonderful flowers in the meadow - I have never seen such colour and variety - it did my heart good.

meggie said...

Those beautiful flowers in the field are wonderful.

The sad reality is, we have to care to some extent about USA politics, because of the consequences to the whole world.

We are going to have to take Leo to be groomed. He is very naughty & wont let me trim his feet at all, nor brush him. He looks rather like a poodle anyway, so the poodle look wont matter.

Anonymous said...

Lovely saturated colors, Lucy...

Our blue persian has been shaved and resembles an extremely odd poodle. (Never let somebody give you a blue persian. Unless you are then 80 and have nothing to do but comb and bathe.)

Clinton-Obama is a ticket that could run and win. Obama-Biden, inexperience yoked to goofy remarks, may not be.

Anil P said...

What joy the field offlowers must bring when passing by. It is as if spring has taken shelter in the riot of colours.

I've never seen such diverse colours in a single field before.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Fantastic post and I agree with your political comments... being such a close neighbor to the States, Canada is greatly influenced.. whether we wish it or not.. pretty dicey!!

These flowers are just what I need... the intensity is splendid..

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful flowers, want to plant in my garden.