Monday, February 23, 2015

Knitwear, eyes and thumb-twiddling

Modelling some new knitwear - hope the destined recipient doesn't look at this before it gets there.

Me: Alas my love you did not marry a beauty.
Tom: Aw, you've got character.
Me: Like Peggy the boxer has character?
Tom (dreamily): I loved her!
Me: And she was told how pretty she was several times every day.

We both go into a reverie thinking about this.

And I finished a pullover, big and sloppy as usual, maybe one day I'll manage something that fits, but I've always liked big and sloppy anyway.


Now thumb-twiddling waiting to head of for Pontivy for the second of Tom's eye-gougings, administering the barrage of drops at five minute intervals. A month of worry about worsening discomfort around the first eye done, the surgeon having buggered off on holiday, was resolved on his return when he took one look at said puffy and inflamed organ and said, oh, yes, you're allergic to the anti-inflammatory drops, stop using them for the next one, they're not that important anyway. Not macular oedema then? I asked, and he gave me that a-little-learning-is-a-dangerous-thing look that doctors do and confirmed it was not.

I'm better equipped this time anyway, with two lots of knitting, the Kindle, a three day old copy of Ouest France, an apple and a packet of Nairns cheesy oatcakes (thanks G and A). Oh and a camera, by special request. Back anon.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Peggy, Milly and Sidney come to visit

Peggy is a boxer
Peggy is a lump
when she's pleased to see you
she wags her little stump


Milly is a beauty
Milly is a dream
she'll jump in any water
the sea, a lake, a stream


Sidney is a tearaway
a feisty little chap
but you can wrap him in a blanket
and sit him on your lap


When they came to visit us
we had fun every day
and what was even better was
they came with G and A


Altogether, human and canine, the best house guests ever. I haven't seen G, he of the Gallé cat and the luminous landscape paintings, for well over twenty years, and his partner A never before, and Tom didn't know them at all, but they and their three darlings breezed into our lives with all the ease and good cheer one could hope for, bringing energy and hilarity and enormous quantities of food, we scarcely had to shop or cook at all (except that they won Tom over even more by asking him to cook them the curried mussels a second time in a week because they liked it so much), and we won't have to much for some time to come, since as well as the cold-bags of quality sausages, sacks of hard-to-get split peas and lentils, cartons of cream crackers, jars of lemon curd and sundry other things which they brought with them, and the supplies they bought here, they also made quadruple quantities of sumptuous stews, fish pies, cassoulets etc with which they filled any remaining gaps in the freezer. And there was equal generosity of laughter, conversation, reminiscing and storytelling, confidences and chitchat and generally a sense of filling in of the gaps in ways which I feel sure has done me, at least, a deep good.

They did in fact rent a gite nearby for a week out of the time they were here, concerned, of all things, that we might find the dogs too much. As if. But the gite was so horrible that they only stayed there three nights and then we prevailed on them to come back here, and we continued to eat like kings and enjoy the dogs. Peggy, Milly and Sidney are all rescue dogs, who all had difficult starts in life - Peggy, though she is already ten, only came to them two years ago and had never lived indoors before, Sidney was re-homed several times and said to be out of control. Despite their very comfortable life style, bespoke buffalo- and elk-hide collars and handmade silver medallions each with its own semi-precious cabochon setting (A's brother does silversmithing for a hobby and made them for them), they are still quite a harum-scarum pack, proper dogs. There is a sometimes a degree of tension between Sidney and Peggy, always initiated by him, she is a gentle giant but would probably make a reasonable job of squashing the life out of him if provoked beyond endurance. She in turn, though loyal and loving at home, will sometimes simply let her legs carry her off, forgetful of all else, at the risk getting lost, so she can't be off the lead too much. The beach scenes above were in fact the idyllic prelude to such episodes of fight and flight. Even Milly, who is sweetness itself, once out in a watery place especially, becomes completely absorbed and rather indifferent to any other presence, so I wasn't inclined to take them to the water mill, having horrible visions of the fast flowing river and the mill race, though G and A don't seem to worry too much, trusting her as a strong swimmer and sensible. But for all their challenges, they are marvellous dogs, because they belong to marvellous people, who have applied the same steady, patient, compassionate, robust and humorous goodness and love that they show and give in abundance in every part of their life together. 

The dogs of course return it, as well as supplying the material for an endlessly unfolding, very creative and imaginative, narrative and drama; Sidney (also known as Kidney and Pig-meat, and any other appropriate assonance) in particular is the object of many a lurid fantasy: being carried off by a buzzard while walking in the countryside, snatched by a killer whale while walking on the beach, wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued... Happily none of these things happened to him while he was here, neither were our threats to kidnap any or all of them carried out, since we could see they didn't really want to live with anyone else, and men and dogs all made their long way safely back through the winter roads up to Cherbourg, over the sea and home to South Wales, leaving us filled with good things.

 Goodbye for now, dears.


(There's a web album with even more photos of them, though many of them are nearly identical I couldn't leave any out)

Friday, February 13, 2015

three dogs, three herons
over the fields, word of joy
of a new order

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Oh blow, it's snow; chuffed, amused, tickled by blog fame; January collage

Well now, all very pretty you might say, and in normal circumstances I'd snuggle down happily and enjoy looking at it, but it's just the wrong day for it, because after a really very manageable winter, the first time it decides to chuck a load of the white stuff is the one when a very old friend I've not seen for over twenty years who has never before driven in France, his not-yet-met partner (who sensibly went out and bought European satnav a couple of weeks ago), and car-full of dogs and sausages are making a twelve hour journey to us from South Wales, and we cannot but worry about them making their wintry way down the cold backbone of the Cherbourg peninsular. But now the sun is out and the snow is melting, and when they arrive all will be rejoicing, and there will be wine and a hot meal and a wood fire and furniture the dogs will be allowed on. 


This was a nice surprise:

I could barely remember the poem in question, it was part of a longer post and rather done as a five-finger exercise at a time when I still worried if I wasn't writing poems on a regular basis, but looking back on it it wasn't so bad, and anyway there probably weren't too many out there about chrysopid flies, and I really am very chuffed indeed; it's the first time I've had a poem chosen for print in this way, and I didn't even submit it or anything, it was completely out of the blue.

So while I was idly and not very relevantly conducting a consequent google search on myself, I learned that I am also quoted and cited in the bibliography of a worthy tome published by Palgrave called The Cultural Politics of Austerity. In another downright inconsequential post from three years ago concerning assembling a new spice rack, a phrase where, with my arch, smart-alec tongue firmly in my self-mocking cheek, I swear, I refer to 'my make-do-and mend-anti-consumerism' is described as 'a meaningful descriptor of contemporary ethico-political practice'. Well who'd have thought it? And before I pretend to get too cynical and sneery about it, yes it did take quite a bit of effort to track down the exact reference and yes my vanity is tickled as well as my sense of the ridiculous; however at fifty-three quid print-on-demand it probably won't lead to any worldwide recognition of my talents, or indeed a free copy, but I will get one of the Buglife anthology which will be very nice indeed.

Oh, and then my old pal Charles Davies asked me for a copy of this photo from the plane trip I took with RR and VR when he was still Barrett Bonden, for the cover of an e-book he hopes to publish of a novel about Mont St Michel, and sent me a PDF of it, so in fact my cup of blog fame and its rewards runneth over, as it always did.


And with that and since I won't probably be around for a week or so, here's a January collage, only nine pictures rather than the usual twelve because I really haven't used the camera much this month. Quite a bit of knitting.

  1. Christmas cactus, flowering after Christmas.
  2. Blue tit and chaffinch eating breadcrumbs. Let's hope we've not fed them all our bread then get snowed in.
  3. Tom's red knits.
  4. Bunch of garlic from the market.
  5. Charlie Hebdo vigil, Lamballe.
  6. A very thick pair of sofa sock, knitted very quickly from oddments.
  7. Mackerel filliets, marinading in redcurrant vinegar, lemon, rosemary, fennel and olive oil.
  8. First attempt at a top-down in the round pullover. Looking forward to wearing it.
  9. Frozen leeks, none the worse for it.

PS - the travellers have just called in from a lay-by somewhere south of Cherbourg, it's chilly but bright and snowless and they sound in good form, despite subsisting on a Brittany Ferries breakfast and large bars of Toblerone.