Saturday, December 26, 2015

we dare not entertain

The done thing in rural Gloucestershire, where Scottish Husband had settled down before he moved to Ireland, is to have one's friends and neighbours around for Christmas or New Year. Drinks 6-8 is the formula for the invitation: a restrained occasion involving delicate canap├ęs and mutual admiration of lawns and distant royal connections.

[Jane Ray, from the Guardian]

He asks me whether we should host the same sort of event here in the Pretty Far West. Unhesitatingly, I shoot the idea down. Our friends and neighbours would have no truck with Drinks 6-8. They would arrive whenever it suited them, leave in February, if then, and wonder why we were being so glaringly parsimonious as to limit drinks to only 6 to 8 per person.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

where is the hill?

Looking up from their pot noodles, my daughters engage one another in a sudden burst of dinner-table conversation on whether their mother is over the hill.  

“Where is the hill?” the younger one asks.  

[the flowers are lasting mightily well this autumn]

Buoyed by my application of a free sample of face cream that will re-activate my youth and regenerate my radiance, I place the hill firmly and confidently at 90, aeons away from me.  “The race is not to the quick, nor the so forth to the so forth,” I tell them, “but it is up that hill.“

In the excitement of the pot noodles moving on to instant jelly, the topic is abandoned.  Later, struggling with my entry in the best Lego ninja turbo-destroyer contest, I wonder whether the face cream might have been a placebo, yielding only imagined radiance.

[experimenting with homemade chocolates]
I ask Google where the hill is.  Google is usually so definite, so helpful: Banjarmasin is the second largest city in Borneo, coconut oil is the answer to climate change, slight backache is a sure sign of smallpox. Information at our fingertips, Power to the People. But Google is not sure. 

And so I ask you: where is the hill?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Now that this is Heaven (op. 351)

Pink Daughter has gleaned notions of Heaven from her reading.  She asks me whether it is possible that we are all dead and that this is Heaven.

[We dry the lavender over the range]

This thought has never occurred to me before so I give it some consideration and reply that yes, it is highly likely.

[When we tire of the lavender fluttering down into our pans of goulash and risotto, we dry the lavender elsewhere.]

As this is now Heaven, it is important to make it seem thus. We order a four-tier box of chocolates, the fancy sort with drawers and gilding on the coffee creams, and send the rest of our money to ease poverty in Uganda.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

National Geographic (op. 350)

"Everything I know, I learned from the National Geographic magazine," I told my distant neighbour, Mary Assumpta.

I could see her taking that on board. She nodded respectfully, clearly understanding at once that here was a force to be reckoned with, a font of information, someone whom she should invite to be on her team at the next table quiz held by the Ladies of the Parish as part of their ongoing fundraising for the flat earth hypothesis.  She patted my arm and asked me to tea. Mary Assumpta is a good baker. I accepted.

A tribeswoman of the Western Atlantic Seaboard poses by her scant crop of sunflowers and cornflowers. Her land has been hit by the rains this summer and her south lawn is impassable. 

What Mary Assumpta didn't realise is that I meant just one issue of the National Geographic magazine.  Last month's, to be precise. If you want to know about the Jade Sea, Laos, taxidermy or Pope Francis, I am your woman.  Anything else: no.

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post. It is a matter of honour with me to reply effusively and individually to all commentators (or acerbically to the meanies) but occasionally my honour lets me down.



Monday, August 31, 2015

Quickly before it's September (Op. 349)

It will be time tomorrow morning to start once more on my winning ways with bread and cheese in school lunches. So this post is a marker to say that I am just about still here

as are my Nutella scones 

and my dainty pink bucket such as is suitable for a harvest of fuchsia flowers picked by small visitors -- there is no need to write censoriously in; we left thousands for the bees, who like it here where no one turns on the radio to disturb their hum with running jumps at the human condition

and my pretty bunches of flowers from the garden, emblematic of an imagined utopia in which there is no impending tax return.

Those were three (3) things. To recap: scones, fuchsia, bunches of flowers. Now that Bloglovin' is bombarding me with its top posts, I note that they are all counted items. Seven ways to exercise at your desk. Six second chances at life. Ten steps to a better you. A better me!  Four super Scandi suppers. This is my 349th post. Opus 349 if you will. Containing three things.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

after the beach

Summer in the west, sand on the floor. I watch the restful Zara Home Autumn/Winter 2015 Campaign Film; it gives a sense that everyone will be home any minute now, and that they will all be fine.

Friday, June 12, 2015

back where they belong

Lately I have gained an additional 4 letters after my name, bringing the total to 11, of which 10 are in upper case and 1 in lower case.  This excludes bracketed descriptive elements such as "(Hons)" and "(No, Really)".

Despite which, my overriding purpose and quest in life, the force that drives me and the focus of my considerable zeal, is to Put Things Back Where they Belong.

First in the room in which they belong, and then, at a finer level of detail, in the place where they belong.  Folded correctly and facing the right way.  With the blue next to the pink if they are cushions.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hope is a Strategy

We are back from our motor-tour of the East Coast of Scotland, which included a pilgrimage to the printing works of DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano. A great cry of joy rose from the back seat at the first glimpse of Bananaman, the Man of Peel, on the wall above the famous sign.  

[The Beano, Blue Daughter's Top Favourite]

The statues of Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx were duly viewed as well, and so the Culture & Heritage box received its tick.

My iPhone is like a great big hat I wear over my head when travelling: I hold it up in front of me and browse your blog and other, lesser pages (a careful comma) in the hope that people will leave me alone so that my Thoughts will catch up with me.  Not that I actually have Thoughts as such, but what I do have, in splendid abundance, is Half-Formed Reflections, that swirl about in my head and demand tranquillity so as not to churn abominably before they morph into Sensibilities.  

When I was young, the Reflections turned into Opinions, but I have conquered that now. May God stand full square between Me and the Opinions of Others.

[Wax and Wire by Loch Lomond]

I like to think that my Sensibilities, if I choose just the right set of blogs to follow and Twitter feeds to read and scholarly, percipient essays to skim hurriedly through on too small a screen, will become exquisitely honed and get me through life with no further input from the Non-Sensibilities aspect of myself.  That is my Hope for a Better Life.  

Scottish Husband tells me that Hope is Not A Strategy, but I give the matter some consideration as we drive through Fife, past the yellow fields of daffodils, back home towards our troubles and the bay window that is collapsing, and I say that It Very Certainly Is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

insufficiently acknowledged

If I weren't so busy I'd write my book. A memoir, I suppose, or an autobiography (do comment if you can tell me the difference), featuring all the famous people I know and little anecdotes that portray me in a good but modest light.  Slim (very slim), with floral endpapers.

The imperative to write has been upped lately as I note the profusion of publication: dear Britta has cornered the international market in graceful housekeeping and the redoubtable Jane and Lance Hattatt are the authors of the entire modern gardening canon.   You yourself surely have a Human Resources manual on Best Practice Redundancy Procedures under your belt, or a pamphlet of poems. I do admire your poems.

Anyway, back to me.  All I have to my name is a few academic publications, a contribution here and there to other people's books and a smattering of thanks in their acknowledgements.   The thanks are never profound enough, if you ask me, never fulsome enough.  My own acknowledgements will be lavishly sprinkled with adjectives and adverbs, pages of the things.  Every acknowledgement will have a little barcode beside it, which the acknowledged can beep with their phones to automatically post in their social media feeds:

There will be a frenzied flurry of liking and favouriting and there we are: everyone will be happy.

All I want is for everyone to be happy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

a cautionary note for all artists on the pitfalls of limited edition prints

Blue Daughter, after 7 years of passing no opinion at all on our large framed print of a painting of Brighton Pier, looked up one day from the morning kedgeree, waved her fork censoriously, and remarked that the artist had done a really poor job of the sand on the beach ...

... and that she wasn't at all surprised that the painting had scored only 27 out of 150.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

an excuse in time saves nine

I heard a rumour that I had gone, but no. It has been a season of patient waiting until the Hattatts resurface in Norwich, and never having a quiet moment to click on 'new post' nor even to pursue what is the great love of my life and, indeed, the overarching challenge of our aeon: small storage solutions, typically baskets.

This is a wonky birthday cake I baked a little while ago, depicted on my honeymoon cake-stand. I will be back soon with topics of even less significance.

Monday, February 2, 2015

the least I could do

I have stood The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying on end.  It is the least I could do.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

for the hell of it

The school filed across the road to a church service lately, so my daughters stayed behind with the few other non-Catholic children to caper and giggle. I asked Pink Daughter why they'd have Mass at such an odd time of year, as I wasn't aware that it was the feast-day of any of Ireland's A-list saints.  She thought about it, and said that no one had given them a reason, and that the school probably had Mass just for the hell of it. 

I hope you won't think this is incongruous in the midst of my trumpeted clear-out activities, but I have bought a new tea towel.  It hangs above my shelf of mugs, and, in the spirit of Kondo anthropomorphism, I feel it encourages my crockery to be picturesque.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Life in Houses

When I added My Life in Houses to my suitcase as holiday reading, I hadn't realised that one of Margaret Forster's houses was on the Algarve coast in Portugal, a few coral pink and lemon yellow towns along from the one I was staying in.

Just as she did, I missed my house, which is so much of a refuge to me that it always seems something of a betrayal to leave it, even in the chill fog of winter.  And it's not just me: I encountered Scottish Husband lounging on the sunny terrace last week, white wine by his side, browsing for a new copper saucepan, lidded, of suitable diameter, to be sent to the house in expiation for our absence.

Along the way, the book segues from being about My Life in Houses to My Life in Houses, a change of emphasis brought about by illness and a sense of retreat, accompanied by a conviction that a house is more than the sum of its parts.

Even the sum of the parts of my house is too much for me, let alone more, so now that I'm back, I'm doing a Kondo Clearout (inspired by Lucille), about which I will have much, much more to say.

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