Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Looking in

Poor neglected blog, nearly a month gone by, time was I used to tell you everything. Then this morning a so kind e-mail from a dear old friend expressing concern for my absence here, which has brought home to me what I knew, that it really is important to keep up this practice, albeit not necessarily with the same intensity as I once did, and to stay connected with the people with whom blogging is still a useful and comforting form of contact.

I don't really have any good excuses at all for not posting, I have been away a couple of times, a trip to Kerbiriou in late June (where the goat was, above), and a south England trip from which I only just returned on Sunday, catching up with family members - brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, some of whom I've not seen for a very long while, fortuitously gathered from far-flung corners of the Earth, which was lovely*, so you might say I'd been a bit busy, but in truth these occasions would at one time have provided good reasons to blog, not kept me away from it. The other thing is I've an editing project for a print-on-demand book/magazine on hand for my brother which I'm taking far longer about than I ought to be. The kind of thing I like to think I'd have dashed off enthusiastically in a jiffy at one time, it's required the use of new and unfamiliar software, which by all accounts is still really at the beta stage (I believe that's the term for using the unsuspecting public as guinea pigs on an unfinished product), which, combined with the slowness of the bigger computer which I have to use, means I'm making far more of a meal of it than I should. If I were doing it for myself I'd probably have abandoned it by now, if I were doing it for a for work or some other formal commitment I'd have knuckled down and got it sorted, but as it is my brother is apologetic and appreciative and anxious not to put pressure on me, and I have allowed myself to slide into a kind of ineffective limbo about it, getting computer-shy (another invalid excuse for not blogging) and when I do come to it sidling off into idle and treacherous surfing and drifting day-dreaming on Pinterest and Ravelry (while also not keeping up my project notes or useful discussions I've entered into there either).

In fact though, I see now I am in a fairly recognisable kind of seasonal malaise; it's that kind of tipping-point time of year, flowering and fruiting and going to seed and drying out all at once and mixed together, the days dwindle perceptibly and weeds grow up around things and obscure the view of them, and clearing them seems like dusty, uninviting, pointless work; projects lie unfinished though I'm pulling out bits and pieces to embark on abortive new ones, scribbling and doodling and swatching and scratching half-heartedly at things which will mostly come to nothing and just result in more mess; distraction and displacement and lassitude hold sway.

And summer dreamed sadly for she thought all was ended
In her fullness of wealth that might not be amended

Nothing for it but to turn to, make a list (with the first thing on it being something you've already done, and can therefore cross off straight away, that's always a good one), bargain with myself for the dubious rewards of distraction, pick the peas and beans and sniff the flowers, and just DO IT!

However, before going away, and while sorting pictures for my brother's stuff, I did get as far as editing and uploading a fair number of pictures from the last month or so, here are a few:

Elderflowers. Rather than the rather laborious manufacture of heavy cordial involving large quantities of sugar, citric acid and days of standing, resulting in a product whose main aim in life seems to be to ferment dangerously, I used a much simpler recipe which involved boiling the flowers with plenty of lemons, much less sugar and smaller quantities of everything except the flowers themselves which yielded just one bottle of much lighter, fresher more stable liquid which is quite enough to give a taste of the season.

The remaining flowers and lemon I put to macerate in a Parfait jar with a bottle of vodka and one of sweet white wine, some sugar and a bag of last years white currants from the freezer by way of an experiment. White currants are rather eerily pretty things, though they still remind me a bit of frogspawn, which is quite pretty too in its own way.

A nice red nasturtium. Climbing annuals from seed doing well in the containers this year.

Finistère souvenirs:

The seaside at Carantec (where there was also a good market in the town with that rare thing in France, a really comprehensive spice stall):

A married couple were having their photos taken there, as is the vogue. It sometimes seems a bit strange, the spots they choose for this, as while they may be beautiful places in themselves, wedding dresses and suites seem rather incongruous within them. This couple had to negotiate the causeway with the seaweed and the old chaps going fishing, but all was done with good cheer.

Other sunsetty, seashorey moments in the same neck of the woods:

and rustic stuff too:

The goats are two still very young kids Paul at Kerbiriou bought for next to nothing when they were newborns from a more serious goat-raising enterprise than theirs, where even the females don't get to spend any time with their mothers, since the milk yield is the thing. They do however have a chance of life if someone like him will take them on and bottle raise them, which he did, so they are quite imprinted on and devoted to him and very affectionate and friendly with everyone. Every morning he'd bring a nanny goat or two down the road for milking, and the babies would trot alongside loose to get the special feed they're still having. They were quite mischievous and often skittered off, making winsome little caprioles and dashing off to eat the roses, Tom had to round them up a couple of times.

We came away this year with a big bag of very fresh green beans, a handful of home grown cucumbers and, special treasure, a fresh goat's cheese. With the rest of some cherry tomatoes from the market at Carentec, those we hadn't eaten like sweets, warm with the sun on them, as we were going around, and the last of the saladini and endives and some fresh oregano from the garden when we got back, and store cupboard olives, made an excellent Greek-style salad, being rather more like a good feta than a typical smelly French chèvre.

Also plenty of broad beans in the garden, these pink ones amuse me,

you can pretend to mistake them for your fingers, if you're silly,

They're usually more resistant to black fly than most varieties, but this year it's been a struggle. They go ordinary broad bean colour when you cook them.

And this was an oddity:

A light helicopter, sweeping back and forth quite low, one morning trailing this very long apparatus below it. I searched the internet for information in vain, but then spoke to a neighbour later who said he's seen it in the paper beforehand, and it was a radio-sonic device which was able to analyse the soil from above for minerals and such like. Most curious.

So, dear blog, apologies for my silence, but it's nice to talk to you again. I'll make sure to post more often ( and get round other people's too).

* apart from one of my rather too frequent attacks apparent food poisoning, the source of which was a complete mystery as I had eaten absolutely nothing that everyone else hadn't eaten, but which necessitated the total and violent expulsion from my body of all matter hitherto taken into it followed by a day lying around feeling as if my skin was on inside out, only to awake and emerge on the morning of my departure more or less as bright and chipper as if nothing had happened. I had to cry off a trip into London to meet yet another long-lost nephew and his new wife, but in fact the day of reconstitution passed surprisingly pleasantly (other than the skin-inside-out thing), since I got to hang out with my Aussie brother and sister-in-law and Zig the cat, reading, chatting a bit, not-really-watching tennis, dozing and finally enjoying a dainty little supper prepared by my brother. I've rather come to the conclusion that seeing and catching up with people consists far more of such moments than the planned events, exciting experiences and meaningful conversations, and they are often the more memorable.


Ellena said...

Lucy-Dear, the last sentence of your previous blog and 'paw prints' came to my mind on July 8th.
I'm always eager to read what you have to say and long silences of yours worry me also but then I tell myself "they are just enjoying each day to it's fullest".

Lucy said...

Ellena, you are such a dear the way you remember the dates and the details. We noted the date - it was the day I went to England - but didn't mark it in any way. We still think of and miss her, of course. I try not to be silent for too long, a month is quite exceptional for me. Thanks for your faithfulness.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Glad to see you, Lucy and anything you post is always a joy to read and to behold. That 2-dimensional kid goat! Was it really so paper-thin?

And this:
"...sidling off into idle and treacherous surfing..."
Tell me about it, as Americans say in Brooklyn accent.
I'm sooooo familiar with that syndrome!

Catalyst said...

Ah, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy,

It is so good to have you back. I love some of your stream of consciousness sentences in this post and your photographic skills remain undiminished.

Welcome back!

Now if that Gwynt fellow could do the same!

Zhoen said...

Quiet times doing nothing are sorely underrated. Nausea or no.

I think the contrast between wedding finery and raw scenery is the point. A bit silly, but well attributed in the art world.

Avus said...

Nice to read you once more, Lucy. I don't necessarily comment but always have a gander at your blog.

There ain't many of the "old" bloggers left these days. Perhaps they have emigrated to Facebook and Twitter, neither of which I use or like

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Natalie - yes, the goat really was very thin, like two boards clapped together, as my mum used to say, yet they were healthy little things with good appetites. My internet use seems very passive these days, I suppose that's what worries me, a bit.

Cat - I passed on your thoughts to Gwynt, he was quite touched! He's fine, just having a hiatus I think.

Z - The nausea had passed off, I was just still weak and feverish, which can create quite a gentle and relaxed way of being. I suppose other fashion photography is often set in odd locations, nothing to say outdoor shots need appropriate clothing or vice versa. They seemed to be enjoying themselves anyway. Thanks for stopping by, I've been remiss at yours, and elsewhere.

Avus - nice to see you. I look in at blogs without commenting more than I used to too. I think my friend's e-mail brought it home to me that people do still rely on blogs as a point of contact, even if not interaction, especially perhaps with people like ourselves who don't do Facebook and all that. Good old blogs!

Marly Youmans said...

Glad you have been having adventures--sometimes blogging gets old, doesn't it? Going away and returning is good. And hope that you are soon done with the uncongenial project. Perhaps it is already finished!

The elderberry pictures are rather magical to me. They grow on my mother's mountain, and I love the shape of the heads, the wild variety so light and airy.

Francesca said...

What a lovely gallery of sunny photographs. The broad beans are beautiful - I have never seen that colour before!

Roderick Robinson said...

I could have been that concerned caller. I was almost tempted by the backdoor but held back; as each month passes I become progressively more English, more and more anchoritic. Tendencies which were augmented when there appeared to be ominously corroborative evidence elsewhere.

Have hardly read a word of the above (Despite the helicopter. She's put it in specially for me I said. Self-centredness adding to the anchoriticism.) The post with its pix is merely a block of reassurance. For which I apologise. You shouldn't have to bear such a burden. I could say it was your own fault, becoming a necessity in others' lives. A crass, left-handed compliment.

Fire Bird said...

Good to see you back!

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Marly - I suppose it does, one feels as if one's repeating oneself, but it is important for me to keep it up in some wise I think. I understand that American elderflowers are not as fragrant as the European ones, I think Zephyr told me that.

Francesca - they are very tasty too, and the yield isn't bad. They really are a very fleshy pink!

Robbie - I'd not have minded you e-mailing of course. It might not be too much to say that you're one of the main people I stay for. I know we could correspond in other ways, but somehow it wouldn't be the same. I didn't mean to be distant, or to cause any worry, and the compliment is appreciated and not crass at all. I'm glad you liked the 'copter, it's the kind of curiosity that's worthy of note, and I was pleased to be able to snap it for the record, not least because it's rather a difficult thing to describe, and I didn't find any other pictures of such a thing anywhere. Not much idea how it works, mind you.

FB - thank you, and for the nudge, which was a kind thing when you've much on your plate yourself. It remains a way to keep tabs on one another, without the potential strain of one-to-one correspondence, and I like to think you're still looking in.

Rouchswalwe said...

Hallo Hallo, you're back! The broad beans seem to be an art project at first glance, nestled as they are in their comfy downy bed. And now I'm hungry for a Greek salad. Mmmm.

Yes, I think blogs are much nicer than the facebook/twitter thing. As one of the old bloggers, I do enjoy "visiting" (which is not at all the feeling one has on fb/twitter). I'll be checking by Tom's next.

Can't stop thinking about elderflower cordials ...