Thursday, April 30, 2009


Having posted the post on posts really quite flippantly, on reflection, and reading your comments, I find I have quite a lot more to say, on posts, and on the idea of typology, and the connections between those two things, as wellas quite a lot more photos of posts. This in turn lent itself to another punning title, which clinched the matter. (Though I think I'll resist Dave's clever idea of a blog entirely dedicated to pictures of posts, a post a day...)

In fact, one of the first photos I ever put on the internet was of a fence post! It was before ever I had a blog, but I heard through a friend's of the Festival of the Trees, and asked if she'd publish some pictures I'd recently taken on a trip to New Zealand. They were of the great forest god, Tane Mahuta, whose avatar is in the mighty kauri tree in the north of the North Island.

It is very difficult to photograph these trees and give any sense of scale which demonstrates their enormity, but in the shot below, the tree fern directly to the right of the trunk is perhaps the size of an ordinary sycamore or somesuch in an English park, and only half of Tane Mahuta's trunk is visible.

A day or two later, I was scrambling about on a headland, where the wild white freesias filled the air with perfume, above a beach of radiantly silver sand, when I encountered a more humble, but nevertheless imposing, incarnation of the forest god, in the shape of an old fence post.

My friend agreed to put the pictures on her blog, but suggested that I could always get a blog of my own, if only to post about trees once a month. So I did, and named it after a tree I was fond of, though I rarely post about trees now.

I've even been known to draw fence posts. For the Flickr group pool, 'Drawing Close to Nature', which I love but unfortunately don't contribute to as often as I'd like.

Back in the winter, over Christmas, when we had those amazing crystalline air frosts and ethereal morning mists followed by cerulean blue skies, I also collected a number of photos of fences and posts, with a view to a post that never happened. I tend to think blogging, especially of photos, shoud be seasonal, topical, immediate; once the moment is past it's too late, but why? It is often quite interesting to be suddenly taken back to another season.

The posts and wires, outlined solarised by the frost, introduced a graphic element, markers in a landscape whose form had become uncertain,

and this function became further enhanced with the more overt meaning of the finger post,

and the weightier one of the old stone cross on the corner.

So what is a post? It is a node and and a nexus, a support and a pin, it helps to define, delimit and enclose - and if you are a cow with a persistent itch, you can scratch your back on it...

Which provides one connection point to the subject of photographic typologies (there are others, stay with me if you will ...). It's to do with rhythm and pattern and markers, of containing things within fields, and with finding what you're looking for, to scratch an itch.

Cara Phillips' criticism about typologies giving work 'the illusion of cohesion and intellectual rigor', which I think I was not alone in thinking initially sounded somewhat intimidating and snobbish, does perhaps have a point, (though I'd be the first to admit to being one of those 'people who have no real conceptual thinking in their work'; I'm a blogger who does it for fun for goodness sake, not a conceptual artist or documentary social commentator...).

I suppose the possibly spurious sense of meaning would derive from the sense of order, of pattern and rhythm, qualities which, as a species, we are constantly seeking to give a sense of meaning in a world that sometimes threatens not to have any. The appeal of the typology is the appeal of the stamp album, the bird book, the wallchart of flags of the world, of the collection of whatever, variations on a theme, things the same but differing, and of things labelled and marked. And, as Phillips also points out, it's quite difficult to avoid reference to typology in photography, the medium lends itself to it, that's what it's always been used for, often without any artistic or aesthetic motive, simply as a utilitarian record, or sometimes for more sinister purposes. But it satisfies us aesthetically because, I suppose, we like order.

A collection of things, too, often contains an implicit narrative. I remember years ago seeing and being fascinated by pictures of different kinds of barbed wire, which, apparently is much prized by certain collectors , who understand its history, often military, and its associations. The electric fencing many of these posts support has replaced barbed wire - though some of those I've shown pertain to large square wire mesh, to enclose a small and unusual paddock of sheep, or chain link, to seal off someone's residential property, hence the red 'Propriété privé' sign in the previous collection. To contain and restrain cattle, one strand of electric wire is enough, sheep, agile and heavy fleeced, are less easily discouraged from wandering, and human's who wish to keep other humans off their patch resort to the more forbidding chain link. Electric fencing is, on the whole, a gentler and more environmentally friendly solution than barbs; it can be powered by a small solar panel -though it rarely is, more often a portable rechargeable battery - smaller animals, and people, can pass freely and safely under or over it, and though Molly has occasionally fallen foul of a stray strand, and great has been the screaming and shuddering that ensues, it is nevertheless less damaging than the torn skin and blood poisoning that barbed wire can cause. Now, she seems to hear the tell-tale electric pulse, and give it a wide berth. In some of the pictures, the posts are wound about not with wire but with blue bailer twine. This product, ubiquitous in the agrarian landscape, is often used as a makeshift boundary for the cattle, for example along the tracks where they are driven from place to place; they seem to see the electric blue line as real electric wire, and, at least for a short time, can be fooled into not pushing against it. Sometimes, on a foggy, monochrome Brittany day, a line or squiggle of the turquoise twine is the brightest thing in the landscape.

Electric fancing has also replaced the child labour that, within living memory, was used to keep watch over the animals.

Typologies often deal with man-made objects, in isolation ( check out Germans Bernd and Hilla Becher, I tried to work them into this but couldn't really without unacceptable digression, that's a Wiki link, and there's also a good article here, from an exhibition of their work at the Tate Modern). But I find what appeals about the fence posts is that they seem to provide a transition, a conciliation, between the natural, organic forms and textures of the wood, and of the lichens and fungi that grow on them, and the human intervention in the landscape which uses them to demarcate, contain and enclose. Often the timber around here is chestnut, split along the grain rather than sawn, like the chestnut rail fencing that the young Abraham Lincoln is said to have spent his youth making, and the random roughness and irregularities of the wood, the grain and lines and knots, the peeling bark left on it, are offset by the geometry, the lines and circles, of the wires and the ceramic resistors attached to them.

So, there you are, from looking closer at something as banal and unremarkable as the humble fence post, I seem to have learned quite a lot, and some previously neglected photos have seen the light of day. Thanks to everyone who left thoughtful comments and observations, and got me reflecting and looking. Perhaps my conceptual thinking has even come on a bit! I'll keep you posted if I have any more insights...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Last post...

Self-doubt, self-hate, nasty, nattering, grubby, gnawing,

Keep away from me! If I should wake, cowardly like Napoleon,

At 2, or 3 or 4 o'clock, I'll tell you now

Begone, piss off, get stuffed!

I've better things to do than fight with you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A post on posts

Wondering what I could photograph that was new under the sun, or how I could present it, I decided to focus on a frequently occurring item in these parts: fence posts. And to succumb to the lure of the photographic typology.

In searching for a link to reference this particular photographic genre, I found this at a serious photographer's blog;

'While there are many great bodies of work employing this method, there is also a lot of crap. Let’s be honest, for people who have no real conceptual thinking in their work, the typology can become an easy trick. It gives work the illusion of cohesion and intellectual rigor.'

Well, that's me stuffed then.

In fact it was a very interesting post, I loved the year on year series of photos by Nicholas Nixon of his wife and her sisters that she drew my attention to.
(PS - As Fantastic Forrest pointed out in comments, the above link is to a general overview of Nixon's work, including the portrayals of AIDS sufferers. '25 years of the Brown sisters' his photos of his wife and her sisters, is shown here.)

I seem to be linking a lot lately. There's so much good stuff to be found...

(The posts might be worth enlarging...)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Crane, St Brieuc, April.

A mighty wonder, the demolition crane stands, vermilion, against a spring blue sky.

The man in the cab at its axis is a small figure. If the crane were a toy, you would have to get him out of there, to open the little hinged perspex door of the cab, and take him between finger and thumb, plastic and smiling, bent in the middle, his backside flattened to the seat. Then you would probably lose him in the random chaos of the toybox.

But that man up there, tiny and remote, is a figure of power and mystery, a distant godhead enthroned. His face is ineffable, veiled by the glassy darkness of the cab, only his orange hat and scarlet knee-pads are made visible. He has dominion, wields power on many planes.

He reaches out his hand, and swings the crane's great arm wide, over the rooftops, the lead and the slate, over the skylights and wrought iron balconies and belle époque dormers, over the men below labouring with hands and hammers, over the car parks and kerbsides, the weedy grass and waste ground blossoming with beer cans and sweet wrappers, over the plane trees' and sycamores' translucent fluttering, over the black redstart whistling from the chimney pot, over the estate agent, the photocopiers', the school and the clinic and the sex shop, swings it through a wide arc while all the time pulling and lifting its load, with its sharp, hard edges and its terrible gravity.

Slow and measured its shadow passes over us, like an angel of death, leaving us below, miraculously safe and whole, craning our necks, gazing upward in awe and thankfulness.

What a wonder it is, the structure, the mechanism; we may well marvel at its unerring gentleness, at our trust in it, that it holds, sustains, moves with mysterious grace, and at the mercy with which it does not come down in noisy, murderous cataclysm about our heads.

Look at it there, rising, its planes and angles and diagonals, its ascending order of vivid flaming struts and shining bolts against the impossible blue - an oratorio in tempered steel!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another plug...

This is such a good book! Also, it's part of one of those trains of internet serendipity that I like so much when they happen.

I went to an expat website that's fairly useful and helpful but which I don't usually frequent very much, with a thought to suggest it as a place to promote Barry's exhibition (which was good, and, I think, successful for him. The pasties were also great...), and saw on their bookpage a new history of Brittany in English, so I went over to Amazon to see about it there, and in the 'people who bought that also bought this' bit, I saw this book, 'Bumping about Brittany'. It looked interesting, and had a couple of good reviews, so I ordered it. With the spring and all, I'm in something of a phase of wanting to get out more, and find out more about my surroundings.

It's 'a guide book with a difference,' according to the blurb ' a series of excursions into the cultural, physical and emotional heartland of Brittany' which is about right. Each chapter is a properly described and referenced walk, but that's just a starting point for a great wealth of history, folklore, geography, all leavened with hilarious, genuinely laugh-out-loud anecdote and humour. There are chapters on Roscoff pink onions, foraging for lunch on beaches, cider and other potions, Celtic saints, and much more besides.

It contains a lot of observations which we've ourselves made, but have never quite had confirmed, but beyond that, the author's knowledge of and insights into the region make me realise how barely I've scratched the surface when it comes to the place where I live.

Charles Davis is a walker and writer of walking guides who lives in Brittany; many of the places he covers are a in the western, Breton-speaking part of the region, rather than the Gallic bit where we live. His knowledge of the area clearly comes from both reading and speaking with people - his partner, Jeannette, is from Brittany, though they've lived all over the world. He clearly has a great curiosity and eye for detail, as well as a capacity to retain and organise it.

There's some concern that the print was too small, and it is a bit, but not enough to be distracting as far as I'm concerned. The photos look good but are too small and poorly presented to do them justice, which is a shame, and an index and a bibliography would have been good, but I gather authors don't have a lot of say in these things...

So, having obtained the book, I was annoying Tom by bursting out laughing at it at regular intervals, and thought I'd just google its author out of curiosity. This led me to his page on The Red Room, which invited me to 'contact this author', so I thought why not? To do so it turned out one needed to sign up to The Red Room, which turns out to be very interesting in itself, a centre on the web for writers both well- and lesser-known, including their blogs. Charles Davis' blog is as witty and self-deprecatingly ironic as his writing in the book, I'd recommend it(you don't need to sign up to the site to read).

For example, on the matter of the financial crisis, and how he always felt stupid about not understanding what it was exactly his acquaintances in finance were doing, or quite how money was being 'made' -

Be honest now. How many of you had the foggiest idea what these brokers and bankers and financiers and consultants and executives have been doing all these years to ‘make’ all this imaginary money? You didn’t have a clue, did you? You thought you were too stupid to understand. I bet you’re feeling better already. You weren’t stupid. It was all those utterly preposterous people with overdeveloped greed glands who were stupid. Admittedly, they’re a little less preposterous, possibly even less stupid, for having a few million quid secreted in the back pocket (kindly given to them by the government after they lost all their imaginary money), but they’re barely coherent as human beings otherwise. You and I may be getting poorer by the day thanks to their overactive imaginations, but it is deeply satisfying to know that we were right all along and ‘they’ were wrong. Got to look on the bright side.

Or on why he's a writer: among other things because

It takes me absolutely bloody dark ages to work out what I really think about something, and, often as not, I need to tell myself a story about a given subject before I know precisely what my values are and how they accord with the topic to hand. It’s sad, really, several hundred pages and I’ve produced what a pundit would toss off in a couple of pithy soundbites, but there you go.

He replied to my e-mail very promptly, and we had a bit of a chat. 'Bumping about Brittany', was written to order, he said, but he clearly warmed to the task. He had feared he might be required to write a ' a smug-brits-abroad-sniggering-at-the-funny-foreigners book', but it really isn't that. Though Breton culture is often the subject of his humour, so are British attitudes, (and also himself!). And it's the kind of amusement that comes from close familiarity and real affection, not ridicule. I'd like to quote some examples, but I fear I'm overrunning, and also, much of the appeal of it is how he builds up a picture and refers back. For that reason it's as good, if not better, an armchair read as it is a guidebook. And he can be more serious, lyrical and reflective too.

He has written two fiction books, 'Walking the Dog' and 'Walk on, Bright Boy'. I'm looking forward to reading them too, particularly the latter, with its themes of mediaeval Spanish history and Gnosticism, which are right up my street. It got a seriously rave review from the Independent too...

I like finding new things, hidden treasure, and it seems to me that when really good stuff is produced by clever people who aren't particularly well-known in the mainstream media, it's worthwhile giving them as much word of mouth as possible.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Binic is a pretty seaside satellite of St Brieuc, about 40 minutes from us. It used to be a significant fishing port, especially in the 19th century, when the fishing boats regualrly sailed from here to Iceland and Newfoundland, to catch cod to be made into salt cod - morue.
Now it's mostly a pleasure port, the last major fishing activity, for scallops - coquille st Jacques, having relocated to nearby Saint Quay.

Yet , despite the prettiness of the place, the boat traffic is pleasantly low-key, no floating gin-palaces here, mostly just simple sailing boats,

often quite old, wooden ones.

with their jolly hotchpotch of mostly plastic little tenders,

one of which looked to have been painted by Jackson Pollack.

We smiled at the name of this rather large and utilitarian looking boat, la Fée de l'Aulne; not very fairylike, we thought. She had charm though, not least in the spick-and-span, shipshape domesticity, the clothes horse of yellow oilskins airing on the foredeck,

the motley shapes and colours of her functional details,

and, perhaps most of all, in her very thoughtful looking ship's dog.

Later research showed that la Fée is in fact a very special vessel indeed. Last of the wooden barges built in the region, some fifty years ago, and still capable of being propelled by sail, she is officially classed as a Historic Monument. She was decommisioned in the year 2000, prior to which she was still being used to carry cargo, bought by passionate enthusiasts, and restored with the help of grants. She was used to haul building materials between the western islands off Britanny, and her draft was so wondrously shallow, that she frequently carried the maerle, the limey mix of shell and sand from the coast used to sweeten the fields and market gardens of the interior, a long way up the river Aulne, which flows into the sea at Brest, and along the Nantes-Brest Canal. Hence her name, she could pass as if by sorcery where no other could!

We sometimes daydream about one day taking our final retirement here, in a tiny shipshape appartment, all passion, for gardening, house renovation and large green spaces, spent. Conceivably, by that time, four bedrooms, three acres, a view of dozens of kilometres into Ile-et-Vilaine, and twenty-plus years of hard graft might buy us two rooms and a window-box in Binic. Then we think about just what, and who, we will have lost, given up and let go to reach that point, and it's too heartbreaking to bear thinking about.

So we come here occasionally, usually to have lunch at the Nord-Sud (I love restaurant websites, and this one's got their cute puffin logo, go on, have a look!), which must really include coquillages farcies, succulent bivalves - clams, scallops, and mussels - smothered in slightly alarmingly green garlic and parsley butter and grilled very hot. This is the first time Tom has ventured to eat shellfish since his operation, indeed, since the bout of illness which preceded it, which seemed to be precipitated by a meal of moules marinières. Though he will probably not eat that particular dish again, the grilled ones were a resounding success, and had no ill effects.
Then, while he digests his lunch with a book, Molly and I and the camera take a stroll around the harbour.

Though the place is prosperous and quite chic, the sea and the salt and the weather takes their toll, in rusted surfaces,

and algal bloom and residue,

and cracked and porous masonry.

As I stood fingering the camera, and wondering about the window boxes of this shabby appartment, with their yellowing prickly pears and straggling hottentot fig, a woman passed behind me, larger, older, more imposing than myself. I held off framing the shot, feeling self-conscious, and moved on, passing her again, and quickly photographed the great rusty mooring ring in its lichenous granite bed.

When I looked behind me, she had taken out a DSLR, also larger and more imposing than my camera, and was photographing the same object. Momentarily, I felt an impulse to make contact, even to ask if she blogged or Flickred her pictures, but decided against the intrusion. She stood looking at it, occasionally lifting the camera to shoot, but mostly just looking, for several minutes. I admired her contemplative discipline, or perhaps she was wondering whether to scramble down the rock and remove the ugly piece of orange plastic tat that was adhering to the ring, or to include it in the picture, or to edge it out of the frame as I have, which, on reflection was by far the least courageous option.

The harbour wall is of pink and grey granite, and orange sandstone, an architectural sampler of the geology of the region. It is presumably 19th century, a larger, more modern and rectilinear cousin to the Cobb at Lyme Regis, which endears it to me.

I am taken with its various patterns and geometries.

and on the beach below, turnstones, caught between summer and winter plumage, do as their name suggests, busy and fairly unconcerned by our attentions.

Looking out to the wilder beach beyond, there are, as there always are on any seashore, solitary, contemplative women. I always wanted to become one of these, still do. Perhaps I have done, some of the time. The one below, on examination of the photo, however, appeared to be less contemplative than foraging, she has a bag and is picking over the mussel-strewn rocks and pools.

Foraging, contemplating. To everything a season...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sensory: muguet, and more.

Our lily of the valley is still just brandy-snap curls of green leaf pushing through the earth, but Victor's is in a sunny spot by the concrete wall of his barn, and is flowering already, there'll be plenty for Fête de Travail.

I nipped off a sprig and threaded it through the eyelet at the neck of my t-shirt; the perfume accompanied my walk, and grew headier as it wilted. I still have the dry brown remains, and they still smell beautiful. How can something so small generate so much scent?

How can you describe scent? How can you write about the wonder, the shock of spring flowers, without triteness? What about

'why is it that the Spring flowers seem
like bits of the world refocusing
when the brain wakes from an anaesthetic?'

('From-here-to-there Portal', from Lucas - brother of Plutarch).

And while we're on sensory, nay, sensual, delights, I can't get over this one from Michelle at Peony Moon. There's all manner of wondrous verse to be found all over, I know, but every now and then something really hits the spot, and this is a feast. I challenge you to read it without your mouth watering. (Tarantella, just before it, is marvellous too.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A couple of announcements.

I don't normally do this sort of thing, and I don't know whether I actually have many local readers, with the exception of Rosie/Gillian, who usually knows much more about everything that's going on round here than I do anyway, but in case there are any of you lurking out there, can I give a plug to an event in our local town, Moncontour(-de-Bretagne), the theme of which is celebrating said town in pictorial form?

I haven't yet met Barry Herniman, but he's a friend of some good friends of ours here, and he's spent getting on for a couple of years preparing an exhibition of what promise to be truly gorgeous watercolours, which will take place over the next three days - Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April. In fact even if you're nowhere near this neck of the woods or ever likely to be, I would still recommend visiting his website , or his blog, even, (which I didn't know he had...), and spend some time just basking in his luminous and evocative paintings, land- and seascapes, which seem to me to do everything that watercolours should do.

Moncontour is an unfeasibly picturesque place, which I've never really posted about because I don't quite know how to photograph it without producing a series of picture postcards, and then I might be tempted to completely debase myself by rendering them in sepia or something. I keep saying to myself that I will park the car at the top of the hill and risk my neck walking down the narrow and vergeless hairpin bend to take the shot of the ramparts which Barry has shown in the poster, since just at this moment the big magnolia tree is in bloom up there, but the period of flowering is short, and I probably won't get around to it. His dedication to his art is very clearly much greater than mine.

There's also going on at the same moment a tasting of Cornish pasties and curry at the Frog and Rosbeef, the town's amusingly named Anglo-French culinary establishment (she's English, he's French), which I understand has been well taken-up by hungry expats suffering from gastronomic nostalgie de pays (yes, it does happen... I wonder if they'll have any ginger beer?), so if you're there for that, don't hesitate to go along to the expo during the morning too.

Blowing my own trumpet now, I've posted my response to Joe's question 'Qui custodiet ipsos custodes? ' which is to say, who will police the policemen? over at Compasses.
We have been talking about how we have both expressed a degree of unease, a sense of fear or constraint, about merriment, smiling laughter. Joe has a gaoler in his head, I find a figure pops up in my mind who seems to represent something murderous and diabolic, if entertaining. Yet we are not like this, are we? I ask. It's rather interesting what comes up. To put it a little glibly, the human condition being what it is, joy cannot be unbridled. 'Smile,' says Joe 'but not without the reflex of a distant sadness.'

In response to one or two queries. The 'who said what?' element, is we think, adequately supplied by the 'posted by' label at the bottom of each post. Can we show the workings? Nah, probably not. Joe thinks it's like letting your guests into the kitchen when you're cooking. I have an open plan kitchen diner arrangement; it's nice, but sometimes I wish I didn't. Also, in the Google document we use, unless one makes an effort to keep everything, it's fugitive; we simply erase and overwrite. The rest of the collaboration is by e-mail, and we'd have to sift out anything that might be of interest from the inevitable chitchat about planting lettuce seeds and what we had for lunch. But thanks, so much, for the interest and support. It would have been worth doing if no one had read it, but there's nothing like a bit of positive interest and praise to lift one up!

Sensory - Sun

Wearing black
Sun on your back...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Questions and Answers

Joe's just put up his response to the question 'Are you smiling?' at the Compasses blog; I'll post my response to the question he finshes with in the next day or so...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sensory: tastables.

(Those are peppercorns that were his eyes...)

He's happy now, but his futile attempts at vegetative propagation, in a net under the stairs, will not save him from his fate, which is to be peeled, boiled, rolled in dry semolina flour, and roasted in duck fat. As an accompaniment to the Easter Day roast, chicken with...

... yellow peppers and yellow cherry tomatoes, well stuffed with garlic and sprinkled with parsley and paprika. I came across the idea of using yellow peppers for Easter years ago, as a healthy way of introducing the yellow of egg-yolk, butter, daffodils and general springiness into the dish. I like roasting chicken on a bed of soft vegetables; anything goes: peppers, aubergine, celery or celeriac, salsify (the stuff in tins or jars that tastes of nothing but absorbs the chicken flavours wonderfully), whatever. I also added onion - Roscoff pinks, of course - and courgettes. The potatoes have to roast separately, however, to be crisp.

And finally, how wonderful is the new toaster, here glowing in delicious promissory action. Three small white slices - grand Brié coupé - for Tom, two large malted brown ones for me, all ready at once. There's luxury!

Many thanks to Zhoen, for suggesting a sensory theme to help cure my slight photographer's block! This is going to be fun...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Three poems from a virus-struck time, and self-portraits in the new toaster. There doesn't have to be a point...

Feeling much better, thanks.

Three bits and pieces from the time.


Thresheld, standing between the mist
and the brown, unleavened content
of the house, when a bird comes,
circles, its wings lapping slowly,
then resolves into the haze.

Morning myopic, blurred, its shape,
movement, nature, all slip
between my vision's fingers.

Grudgingly grateful, I accept
the gift of unknowing.

[Too many drafts, can't tell which is best. The curse of needing to know what birds are...]


Cutting nails by the bedroom window, dropping
the ragged crescents into the mauve plastic bin,
I enumerate my fingerprints: left,
three right loops, one to the left,
with an egregious whorl on the wedding ring finger;
right, four leftward loops and a double one right on the index.

My sight hops, skips and jumps out of the window,
to dug earth, tree and cloud shapes.

Honey and water

Honey and water, simple, a simple,
hotter and sweeter than blood.
Makes no claims, no demands
to heal, raise, restore, drive out the invader,
or furnish with riches, just offers

The old toaster summarily threw the trip switch twice and was equally summarily dispatched to the waiting room for the déchetterie. The hot-cross buns for Friday's breakfast had to be grilled on the stovetop. It's replacement is twice the size, which means no more juggling keeping one batch hot while preparing the next.

However, when divested of its packaging, it proved to have a dent in its otherwise flawless stainless steel surface. Mild gnashing of teeth, but toast for the weekend was more important than driving all the way back to the supermarket to grumble about it.
And I became beguiled by the interesting distortions the dent produced, and tried to capture them.

I have dreamed a couple of times lately that I have forgotten the camera, left it behind somewhere. Absent minded and inclined to forget my head as I am, I never, touchwood, have been known to forget the camera, I take good care of it.

But I am forgetting to use it, or just not bothering with it as much. I am beset with the sense that either the pictures are pointless, or I've already taken them, there's nothing new. I toy with the idea of upgrading, getting something fancier, in the belief it will renew my motivation, which is probably a mistake.

I think the dreams may be saying I need to redress this, and take the pictures anyway, that I and the camera are missing one another. Hence daft pictures of dented toasters, and maybe other equally inconsequential things to come...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

May as well be hanged...

...for a whole bunch of narcissus as a daffodil.
These are some which delight every year, but I haven't mentioned before. They are from an old bulb, from some that the old lady who owned this house before us had growing here and there in the vegetable patch beside the house. It's found a purchase in a patch of leaf-mould and run-off in a corner between a low kerb and the corrugated iron door of the garage we haven't yet got around to demolishing (the one I walk on to point the gable end of the house). Tom keeps saying he's going to dig them up and put them in the garden proper, but that hasn't yet happened, and in truth, I think the bulb is probably well lodged under the metal and wouldn't be easy to remove. In addition, there's the root system of a foxglove which flowers later in the year - you can see its leaves below the daffy, and the brown stalk coming up through the middle is last year's flower stem - and various things like herb robert and dandelion and sow thistle which join the party later.

It has grown and flourished over the years, and now always produces at least six flowers. With their tangerine trumpets and creamy petals, they are luminously pretty. Some years I just admire them where they are, and sometimes I cut them and bring them in, though I always leave the plant one of its own, to cherish and focus on, so as not to grieve, and also because cut flowers should always come in odd numbers

This year, seeing as how I'm not getting out to sample the joys of spring quite as much just at the moment, I cut them and put them on the table, with some of the others from the garden, some pink zebra grass and other bits and pieces, and some forget-me-nots which the Serious Gardener also considers to be misbehaving and misplaced upstarts, but for which, again, I plead mercy and a stay of execution.

Jocund company to be sure, and as Lucas pointed out, Narcissus has two faces; their wind-denying obverse side is almost as lovely as their open front face.


I have posted my reply to Joe's question over at Compasses.