Thursday, February 26, 2009

Saltaire # 2.

I hadn't realised quite how good the Salt's Mill website was when posted the link. The Hockneys are very largely quite modestly displayed among other articles of curiosity,

and attractive merchandise, stationery, art materials and the like.

So although I did look at them, it wasn't with the same concentration that one would in a gallery solely dedicated to them. There were windows to look out of too.

And yes, Bee and RB, the food in the diner was very good! My disappointment at there being no steak and kidney pie left was almost non-existent, as I was hovering between that and the sausage and mash with onion gravy and chutney anyway. There were probably some rather more exotic things on offer, but you must understand how much I crave this kind of BritNosh. (On which subject, the liquorice allsorts were Tom's present; I don't care for them, and Molly's not allowed. Oddly, Tom doesn't really care much for liquorice per se either, but they are nevertheless among his favourite sweets for the coconutty and fondanty outside bits. You can get something resembling them here, but they are often a horribly lurid imitation, or very expensive or both, not good old Bertie Bassett, Britain's greatest asset. Non-British readers talk amongst yourselves.)
On the way home to Tall Girl's and L's, I took pictures out of the car window. It's very wuthering up there, don't you know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A walk in the arboretum.

Tête-à-tête. How is it that looking at sunlight through yellow flowers can actually give you energy?

Zing up the fruit bowl like a traffic light. But don't forget to eat the stuff. If it goes off uneaten it's just plain disheartening. The pomegranate is a bowl of rubies in the fridge already, dipped into to bejewel a salad. The lime was dressing.

Get a jar of Moroccan preserved lemons from your friend as a thank you for watering her plants while she hiked in the desert. Even though it was your husband that did the good deed, and he probably isn't interested in preserved lemons, though he'll get fed them anyway. Somewhat surprisingly, since they are one of the exotic ingredients that are available here, I've never cooked with these, and am eager to do so. There's an interesting recipe here. ( In fact I rather like Gastronomy Domine's blog, I might link to it, after all, I need yet another talented person's beautiful, mouthwatering envy-inspiring blog to keep up with... ).

Listen to more music. Get some stuff on Flickr. Do some yoga occasionally without having to get together with E. to make me. Think about Sunday morning swimming if the Monday evening before work on Tuesday just seems too much.

A chat with said friend E, led me to the realisation that, while feeling much happier here and now, I still quail at making any firm plans about anything, as I feel I have some generalised sword of Damocles hanging over me, and any such decisions will be bound to bring it crashing down. We concluded one simply had to make plans, or become a prisoner to fear, and the best thing to do was pay the minimum in deposits, and the worst thing that could happen would be having to cancel them. If I dither about booking the trip we were planning in May to Chartres, until perhaps the end of a month to see if Molly's antibiotics have worked or not, the chances are the accommodation won't be available, Molly could be well then but get ill later anyway, or anything. As a wise person said, it never does any harm to hope for the best. So I'll get on and arrange it. Tomorrow.

The vet's (barely) 7 year old son is my new pupil. I had forgotten quite how very lacking in concentration even the brightest children of that age are, and wonder how well equipped I am to impart any English to him. Also how it is that the nicer specimens of very small boys only really want to construct things out of any given object or material (the nastier ones only want to break and inflict damage with them), so the chief potential and attraction of the box of coloured felt pens I took with me was as rods to build pyramids with. Little girls, I am convinced, would be far more likely to seize upon pens and pretty colours and want to make pictures and write things, like the words for the colours in English. Tom tells me I am quite wrong in this crass gender stereotyping, but I'm not so sure, and I suspect the child may be colourblind, as he's fumbling over the reds and greens. But most males of the species can go through life totally without a sense of colour without even noticing anyway, with exceptions like Matisse and Kaffe Fassett, and maybe one or two more. Actually, I find many small boys are fab, and I think this one and I will get on all right.

As you may have gathered, this is a quite formless, unpremeditated and undrafted blog post, so I'd best bring it to a halt. I'll get back to pictures and chat about my trip tomorrow, and do the blog rounds too.

Be seeing you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saltaire #1

Saltaire is quite as good as Tall Girl's always said it was.
It is full of the sheen of majolica, and the scent of white lilies.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Essex idyll; things in Thaxted; Molly's reprieve; Saved Nut 6.

In my sister's house, many things, not only the cats, are pale and shining with loveliness. Except of course the things which are deep and lustrous with loveliness, or bright and vivid with loveliness. Sigh. Oh that my life were so lambently lovely. Still, she deserves it.

I shall not waste my energy on envy, however, but simply luxuriate in such delights being open to me. And I did, drinking tea of a morning from a pale turquoise mug in pale turquoise sheets. Though my watch says 8, my body clock was still considering it to be 9, so this felt especially sybaritic.

My sister has been good enough to set up this luxury billet close to Stansted airport. I didn't really know Essex at all before. Growing up in west Hertfordshire, we knew Dorset well from holidays, Cornwall and Wales likewise, visited Yorkshire and the Pennines, Herefordshire and Shropshire, London and Brighton were popular and frequent daytrip destinations, but we never ventured into the next county, nor even really to the east side of our own.
It's something of a revelation. There's more thatch and clay-tile and half-timbering and pargetting and generally pleasant vernacular architecture than you can shake a stick at, and from what I've seen the people seem rather fun, sleek and cheerful, somewhat cheeky and chatty and gregarious.
I took plenty of photos of houses and other buildings, but more for Tom to use for drawing from; alas, the ubiquitous cars, electricity cables, roadsigns and wheely bins, which the eye often edits out of real life, squat as ugly eyesores once they appear in photos. Plus they were generally unremarkable photos. (I am aware I can't really complain about the presence of cars in pretty places when that's how I came to be in them myself.)
One day we went to Thaxted, which has a king-sized windmill, and an enormous, cathedral-like parish church which feels all threadbare and lacy and delicate with age and atmosphere. And a lot of pink buildings, and a lot of aircraft flying over. Rather than postcard shots, which others do much better, for instance here, a collage of some odd bits and pieces.

Molly just went for her check-up with the surgical vet after 28 days of injections. He thinks it should be OK to stop now, thank goodness. Even her no-nonsense Dutch lady vet was finding it hard; as she said, she's in it to relieve suffering, not inflict it. Both she and the surgeon vet are inclined to think that the gastric virus she picked up about six weeks ago might have weakened her immune system so that she then wasn't able to hold at bay the infection that attacked her ear. So they've prescribed some homeopathic stuff that might help to boost her immunities. Both vets and doctors regularly use homeopathy alongside conventional treatment here. It can't do any harm and it doesn't cost much, so must be worth a try. Then the surgeon vet roped me in to give him English conversation lessons for an exam he's got at the end of the week.
We said how painful and stressful the injections were, and he said she might become aggressive if she had to put up with much more, which made me realise -even more - how bloody marvellous she's been about it; though she's told them off and barked at them, she's never growled and certainly never snapped or had to be muzzled, and she's always stayed cheerful and jumped in and out of the car with vigour, never skulked or cowered. I feel I want to give her something for a reward, but the best reward is our love and company, and not having to have more injections. I just hope and hope it stays away this time.
Saved nut # 6.
Two posts, one mostly photos, one writing, Gear and tackle and trim 1, and GTT 2, which explain the tag. It strikes me how I always used to upload photos only medium sized. I'm more in yer face about them now. Somewhat edited and tidied up, it's a bit of fairly low-key, intellectually unpretentious I hope, commentary on an aspect of a poem that interested me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Faces to love.

Overwhelmed with happiness, to have been away and to have returned. And with gratitude and delight at all your wonderful comments, thank you so much.

So much to enjoy, review, share, where to start. So, to be going on with, a collage of faces, shuffled until an arrangement came up I was vaguely happy with. Left to right from top left, and of course it will blow up bigger.

1. Tall Girl and L. 'You always do that funny thing thing with your chin in photographs, don't you Polly?' said L, helpfully. I don't think she's doing it here though. First time I've seen them at home in Yorkshire. Marvellous. More to come on that I think.

2. Kiwi nephew, otherwise known as Elf and Cherub to his indulgent aunties, he doesn't seem to mind. Currently en route from India to Spanish Galicia, doing his doctorate in hippy studies. 'Tis a pretty sprig.

3. Carved wooden green mannish ornament on a house wall, Thaxted.

4. Lovely Sister and Zig.

5. Blue, Cat of Mystery.

6. Statuary, Somerset House, London. Wandering about trying not to be too early to meet Joe, who was also wandering about somewhere in the vicinity.

7. Ziggy, Cat of Very Little Mystery.

8. Roof boss, Thaxted church.

9. Lovely Sister and Kiwi Nephew, former wearing false ears belonging to the latter. He carries them about while doing travelling, as an aid to communication.

10. Darling Tall Girl. I've known her since I was just a little bitty thing, and she was quite a tall bitty thing. I really love her.

11. Lovely Sister being mugged by Zig.

12. L, thriving on retirement. I really love her too.

13. Joe. He said he'd frankly rather visit the dentist than have his photo taken, so I made it quick while he wasn't looking. I said I thought if I'd seen him in the street outside (while we were both wandering about separately trying not to be too early) I probably wouldn't have known him. But then there was that feeling of 'well, of course it's you.' Now his appearance, even with the photo, is breaking up in my memory again, yet there are aspects of our meeting, moments, which are still very much there on a quite other level. He's said it better here.

14. Angel, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, more on which later too. I met quite a few angelic beings, but this one wasn't flesh and blood.

15. Statuary, Somerset House. Looks a bit like I felt before I went away.

16. As 4 and 11.

I stocked up on liquorice allsorts, Harvey's Bristol Cream in the blue bottle and paperbacks at the airport. Molly gave me a good slurp at when she saw me again then stuck her nose straight in the bag with the liquorice allsorts. Her ordeal is, we hope, nearly over now. Tom took me out to dinner in Lamballe on the way home, and, nearly as good, had cleaned the fridge and taken the recyclables to the Ecopoint.

My cup runneth over. It quite often does.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day of departure

I'm on my way to England for a week. I shall see my lovely sister, and my lovely niece and her partner, and I shall see Tall Girl and L., whose wedding I missed last year because of a Molly health crisis, and when I postponed the visit to TG's birthday I had to cancel that because of a Tom health crisis, so this really has to be the third strike or I'm out. And I shall meet up with Lady Penelope, and Plutarch (historic moment never before seen...), and doubtless the company of these bright, strong, brave souls will make my spirit thrive. (Though Lady P. will not have time to teach me how to turn a heel, so my education in this regard will still be incomplete...)

However, as we all know, brothers and sisters, no joy is unalloyed. I travel rarely on my own these days, and get anxious about it at the best of times, and this isn't the best of times. I am aware I am leaving them to cope alone during this fairly gruelling period, while Mol's still having to have painful injections every day, and we don't really know how it's going to be longer term. Tom endured every kind of piqûre, injections, blood tests drips, to say nothing of oher invasive, uncomfortable and undignified procedures during his own treatment with stoicism and equanimity, but Molly having jabs is nothing but a horror for him. But they are both being so brave, and so without reproach, it wrings my heart.

So please, if you've the time, leave them encouraging words, and hold them in your thought, prayers, whatever you believe in. It all helps.

The video is a bit of shameless uxorious soppiness, so if displays of such things offend you, look away now. It's jumpy and scratchy again; Picasa don't seem to have this programme very well sorted yet. If, when I come back, the creative juices and energies are flowing better, I'll try to get to grips with the proper Movie Maker for better results.

See you all soon.

(Tom - don't forget to have the mute off and the volume turned up.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wheel at the watermill. Sometimes. Q. Saved Nut # 5

Unlike the millwheel, still turning.
I am not unfortunate. I am not broken, not beaten, not worn out, not depressed nor depressive. I am blessed and I know it and I count the ways. Sometimes things hurt, sometimes they strain and crack and fray, but they can be repaired, put back together. Being, in general, one of the stupid spoiled and happy ones, I pull myself together. Just sometimes, the effort of doing so leaves me tired, is all.
Process notes for the poems are up at Qarrtsiluni. Rather long, but we enjoyed ourselves.
Saved Nut #5
Waldo. The kind of rather confessional, from-the-heart narrative I have ended up not doing much of, mostly because I quickly realised I didn't have that much of interest to confess. But it was one of those times when I felt I had said just what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it, without being too long about it. Only edited for a bit of punctuation and grammar. Cutting this old stuff is harder than I thought, largely because it's difficult for the person writing now to intervene with the person writing then. The act of writing in itself changes one. Sometimes.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Another possibly unintelligible abstract image, something to be very pleased about, Molly in pink.

The collection of pictures of the watermill in various guises of snow, ice and flood is growing, but I am struggling to find an original and appealing way of presenting them, and as my other half has found compelling reasons to be on the computer a lot of the time (which, overall, as he was quick to out point out, amounts to probably a blink of the eye in comparison with the hogging of it on my part over its lifetime), I decided to add to the series of, I hope, puzzling abstract images instead.

Further, lest it seem that I have been rather drearily miserable of late, here is something that is causing me to dance a little dance of joy. Over at Qarrtsiluni, a collaboration with marvellous, talented, inspired and inspiring Anna the Apprentice. Trouble was, we got so carried away with our enthusiasm that we wrote extensive, digressive and even illustrated process notes, which the editors, rather than telling us not to be daft and go away and cut them right down, decided to publish separately. So the poems and pics are over there now, but if you want to know how we did it, you'll have to wait till Monday. But you can hear Anna's lovely melodious Scottish tones, and myself sounding like a petulant five-year-old, reading the poems aloud.

And finally, specially for darling Hliza, Molly in pink lampshade, which actually looks rather more red, but matches quite nicely the pompoms on the shawl in which she was luxuriating. We've been doing quite a lot of that lately. Not quite as photogenically gorgeous as Hliza's own sleeping cherub, but rather cute...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Despite and Still. Style guru dog. Saved Nut # 4

The dressing gown floorshow was a more elaborate affair than the usual often rather perfunctory twirl of the cord.

"Is that the morris dancing version?" I asked.
"It was supposed" he replied "to be the can-can."

I hugged him hard. The edge of tears,the toppling from ordinariness or laughter over it, is now more like turning one's foot on the kerbside than plummeting into any worse abyss.

"I wish we were tougher people."
"I know."

A Robert Graves poem came to mind, which I looked up.

Have you not read
The words in my head,
And I made part
Of your own heart?
We have been such as draw
The losing straw -
You of your gentleness,
I of my rashness,
Both of despair -
Yet still might share
This happy will:
To love despite and still...

The last lines

But, O, refuse
To choose
Where chance may seem to give
Loves in alternative.

are satisfyingly irrelevant. A post and some comments over at Dave King's a while back, about Anna Akhmatova, made me ponder a bit about growing out of love poetry. The stuff that drew me in isn't what I stay for. That poetry about sedate, spousal, well-worn love, washing one's clean linen in public, as it were, runs the risk of being smug and uninteresting, but the other kind often now seems overwrought and self-indulgent. Another post another time, perhaps, but probably not. Love poems for grown-ups, anyone?


Molly has a very stylish translucent royal blue lampshade. She seemed genuinely pleased with it, but then she quite likes any new thing pertaining to herself which involves fuss and making much of. She also has a pink one, but I think she looks better in blue, not being a very girlie girl.
Yesterday's jab, that we had to do ourselves, could have been worse. For Molly and for me anyway. We're very touched by all your kindness about her, especially from those who I know are not really 'dog people', but who take our affection for her and concerns about her seriously nevertheless.
Saved Nut # 4
Joe writing about the profligacy of digital photography reminded me of it, and when I read back over it, I had that pleasant sense of unfamiliarity - did I write this? - which I think is often a good sign. At the time, in the comments, I was asked 'But how do you know?' The answer should have been, for I am ever someone who never thinks of the bon mot at the moment it is called for, even in writing when I've time to think about it, is 'I just gno!'