Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Maintenance day

Well it was going to be. I was going to find all the links I've been meaning to add or lost when I changed the template but instead of doing a tidy up I found myself installing new furniture...(clock to remind me I ought to have gone to bed already and site meter to replace stat counter which I don't understand). Well now I know I have visited my site once since installing the site meter!

I decided I'm not about to be ill and was probably just several hours shorter of sleep than usual this morning.

I've looked dubiously at The System of the World (current book) and decided it might swallow me up if I start now and I might not emerge till the small hours (the larger ones, like 4.00). I am about half way through it and it occurs to me that next wekend we are visiting Barney's Dad and I won't have a computer. I'll save it. Got blog to tidy up!

Something nice and restful about these moored boat glimpsed through the trees.

On the other hand, this tree stump looked like nothing so much as a group of frightened people. Reminded me of "Lot's Wife" (William Blake?) but turned to a statue in wood instead of a pillar of salt.
Or Orpheus and Euridice.*

*There's something very pleasing about turning from peaceful winter moorings to something that transports me mythically (or magically) to legendary Russia and ancient Greece. Especially if it all happens two minutes walk from the town centre.
*Sorry, I meant, of course, biblical Sodom...and or Gomorrah (how on earth do you spell that). Legendary Russia was in another bit of the park.

Monday, January 30, 2006

It's definitely been a weekend

We had friends for dinner on Saturday and to stay the night and as a result, not only am I still full of Saturday's dinner and wine but the house is relatively tidy (except for our bedroom which is overflowing with unhung clothes). Apart from the bedroom, this is very good as I am quite exhausted and the tidiness is peaceful.
I stopped on the way to Waitrose to admire the shadow on the wall and then stopped on the way back to see if it had changed.

Good night.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Tuesday, between swimming and work

I got lucky with birds :)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fearful Experiences

I have done a few very exciting things in my life. The ones I remember best though are the frightening ones which include taking acid (once only thankyou very much), crossing the Rhine at Cologne in a glass bottomed (sided, backed fronted and topped) cable car, walking arial walkways through the Amazon Rain forest (the tops of the forest that is) and taking violin exams. Oh and there was a fair ground ride quite recently but that could never have been anything but scary. Common sense dictated terror; the thing was dangerous.
I'm not at all good with heights but unfortunately fear doesn't seem to affect my critical faculties...I notice things like the wear on joints and rust and odd bits of string or wire. I work out how the thing is put together and where the likely failure points are. I observed all this as we crossed the Rhine (100 feet or so above it with our small son in a pushchair between us). I noticed the tininess of Cologne Cathedral and the fountain where we had dabbled our fingers the day before. I think the view was very nice, certainly it was very small and far below and there was lots of it. I spent a bit of time trying to work out which bits of the cable car would be good for hanging on to in case only some of it fell off the wire. (unlikely as this might be...well impossible actually, if it went, it would all go and I couldn't see any way to get hold of the actual wire). I also noticed the massing thunderclouds above us so I wasn't at all surprised when the last ten minutes of the half hour trip were accompanied by a really good thunderstorm, you know one of those spectacular ones. Plenty of good forked lightning flashes. They're even more spectacular I can tell you, if you're 100 feet or so nearer than you would normally be and the buffeting from gusts of wind adds a bit of dynamic tension. At least it's still dry, I thought at one point, thinking (as one does) of lightning and water and paths of least resistance. The next gust threw several buckets full of water at the cable car, some of which dribbled enthusiastically down the central connecting bit into the car and puddled underneath the push chair.
Ammazingly, ours was the last trip of the day due to unsuitable weather.
Arial walkways in the Amazon Rain forest was a piece of cake by comparison. You just climb a wooden stair up an enormous tree on top of a large hill. Then you set out along a walkway constructed of rope, wire cable and wooden slats to the next tree....on the next hill!!! Just a bit higher than present hill. I hesitate to call them mountains because the next hill top eyrie was only oh, somewhere between 150 feet and 100 miles away. Naturally the walkway swayed a bit and bounced up and down when the next person joined the merry dance. Not too close to each other the guide suggested, not to put too much strain on the walkway. Ooh no. wouldn't want to strain anything. Hands maybe, clinging white knuckled and all that.
Only three hills to go and each one was only a bit higher than the last. There was an optional side track that we couldn't take because it was in need of maintenance. Uurgh!
Well the view was spectacular and terror added a certain piquancy to the experience. and far below, the green welcoming forest. Very very beautiful. I even got up enough courage to let go of everything and take a picture or two. Only the swaying and bouncing interfered with focussing so they weren't up to much. (This was in our predigital days so no pics here).
Violin exams now. They should have been fun and exciting only I have an adrenalin problem...I get too much of it and then I get the shakes, all over. I took the thing up at age 35 and did grades 1 to 8 over the next ten years. I would get all excited about the pieces and couldn't believe it would happen again until the last week or two and then I'd go all to pieces. A week before grade 8 I wrote myself a note (still in the computer somewhere) which said, " try and remember, you really don't want to do this again".
Oh and Acid, that's what started me off on this whole thing. I tried it once with an experienced friend (it was her second try). I was so scared that it might turn out to be a 'bad trip' that I wouldn't leave the flat for quite a long time and it got a bit boring. Eventually we did go out for a walk in the park and saw some quite impressive colours and things. Walking was quite interesting too. And there seemed to be lots of everything. I'll never know if I'd have got more out of it if I hadn't been so intent on keeping it under control. I'm afraid it didn't open any doors or change my life in any noticeable way. Or perhaps I'm glad it didn't. And perhaps that was what I was scared of.
And what reminded me of my one experiment with dangerous drugs was what you can do to pictures with a computer :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trying to capture the next post

I have bits of paper scattered around my desk with notes to remind me that I was going to say something. They have things written on them like, 'my place is in the home where I keep fiddle, computer, camera etc' and 'places I have fallen over' (clearly I wrote that after reading SG's post last week) and 'lot of blogs about god recently/superstition/speak of the devil/keywords/oops'.
Trouble is I can't for the life of me remember what on earth I was rabbiting on about. I mean obviously I was going to say something cosy about it being nice at home or something about the devil in the computer and presumably I had thought up a list of places I have fallen over and thought it was funny. But what?
Oh well, I'll have to fall back on pictures again.
You wouldn't think this was about two miles away from a huge commuter dormitory would you. It starts just beyond that hedge across the field.

The Amaryllis seems to have stopped for the time being. Tonight, as I was downloading the last picture, it slowly toppled over under its own weight. Now it's propped up against the wall. On Saturday, the flowers in this picture pretty much like the buds lurking in the background.

I've never had one before you see. That's why I'm so impressed.

A mere bagatelle

I followed a van into town today. It said on the back "Target Express....driven by passion and pride"
Well I don't know if it was Passion or Pride driving today but he wasn't on target. In fact he was all over the road. I guessed it was Passion on his mobile phone, perhaps begging Pride to forgive all (except his inability to steer) and come back to him.

The Amaryllis is even bigger today but I haven't got the latest photo on the computer. I wonder if it's going to stop growing. It may yet get beyond a joke.
Oh I'm being silly now. Had a band practice tonight and I used up all my brain cell trying to remember tunes.

Have a tree instead of an Amaryllis.
I have to say there's something a bit manic about this tree.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


before I get to the masked bit, my fiddle teacher gave me an Amaryllis for Christmas...even though she knows I am a mad (brownfingered) plant murderer!
Amazingly it's grown huge and has produced two enormous stems each bearing at least two buds. Of course this may mean it's not very well. I have a vague memory of someone saying that Amaryllis.. er Amarilli? are only supposed to produce a single but even more enormous flower.
That was yesterday.

This morning it looked like this.

And tonight it looks like this. Barney swears it grew while he was at the pub this afternoon.

We went to a masked party last night. Formal dress. I found it a bit weird..I mean either you mask and dress to fit your mask or you go formal? I was a bit pissed off because I couldn't have the mask on the cover of The snow Queen(Joan Vinge) and my hastily purchased mask from Pageant looked hastily purchased to me.
Well we masked, discusssed glasses (on or off, over or under) and then wearing our longest prettiest stuff we set off to stumble around peering through small eyeholes at a company of other people peering similarly.

Me and Barney looking slightly less formal than when we arrived :)

Today I went out with the camera and took 93 pictures. I can never believe the first (2nd ,3rd, etc) will be quite good enough.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Afternoon off.

Left the car parked on the verge (but not quite in the ditch) and pranced around the countryside waving tripod and camera and dropping car keys and then stood in the middle of the lane daring the car I could hear approaching to arrive before I'd snapped. Made it....just. Winter Green

The funny thing about this view is the trees are just a fat bit of hedge really. But it looks as though there's a whole forest down there. There was a hare in the field somewhere but it came out as a tiny brown blob with pointy bits at the top. I willed him to come closer but he just upped and lolloped away a bit further.
An Edge of the Forest

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Change but no resolutions.

I gave Barney a citrus juicer for Christmas and I find I really like a nice big freshly squeezed orange or two in the morning.
And I have been managing some mornings, to get up in the morning and some nights to go to bed quite soon after the morning starts.
And today I swam with my fiddle teacher. We used to go twice a week and at one time we were averaging 30 lengths...Not marathon stuff but quite respectable for two middle aged ladies. We think we might do it regularly again.
And I've been taking a bottle of vegetable juice to work. Got to be better than not drinking anything except coffee! (And that only twice a day)
See, no resolutions, just making a bit of time to let things happen.

Fantasy Tree.

It was sunny on the way to work

So I was a bit late

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This server is curently experiencing a problem

So am I...I keep having to wait for ages for blogspot .com.
And I was just going to say how much I liked Chicklet's shoes and how I'd like a pair my size and how they looked like they'd have room for my fat bits....(the ones on my feet).
And how innit lovely when the ...lets follow in their parents footsteps and ...then I got this silly message. And they've called an engineer to investigate the problem. Sounds like drains or something.

Ooh! I just noticed

I missed my 200th post! But only by 2.
Not that I'd want to jump on any bandwagons or anything like that.
But if you wanted to drop in and say happy 200 or something like that I'd love it!
And you're quite safe, I've finished 'practising' and the cats are back and Nutmeg is whimpering thankfully in his sleep and has tucked his paws up all tidy.
Now I have to rush about a bit as I'm late again.

Which is where I started all this blogging.

Beriot, Concert No 4 for violin and piano

goes up to the topmost end of the highest string on the fiddle*, and also to the bottom of the g string. The page is covered with little black dots and squiggles.

I think my fiddle teacher believes if we start a new impossible piece after every holiday she will one day find one that I can play. Or that one day I will rise to the challenge and produce music instead of er...noises.
She's an optimist, it comes with the job.
I've got out the poor fiddle and the cats are leaving the room. Nutmeg has curled up with his paws over his ears. we're ready folks.

*for non string players, that's the far right hand end of the piano ...er, for mice it's higher than you can squeak.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I've been mostly visiting today

I really am going to try and get my life to fit into (approximately) the same hours as most other people's.
So I visited, commented a bit, enjoyed a lot and now I am going to play my violin (very very badly...really have to take some time out from blogging for it) and go to bed sensibly.
Wish me...not luck exactly...something between common sense and willpower would be best :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

All came out OK in the end

One big advantage of being a GP* instead of an HM (harassed Mum) is thinking "oh well it's only for a couple of days, she can eat what she likes this time"
We went on a shopping expedition (to get a pink quilt cover and some food) and ended up in Sainsbury's restaurant. GB said firmly she wanted the chicken curry because she likes spicy food. I got ham egg and chips on the assumption that if she didn't like the chicken curry she'd eat a few of my chips and not need to go hungry or fill up on biscuits.
In fact it worked out really well. She had two mouthfuls of her curry and very kindly offered to exchange lunches. So I had a fairly painless chicken curry and she had ham egg and chips. The ham was particularly acceptable, vanishing rather in the manner of lettuce into a rabbit's mouth. With quite impressive speed and efficiency.
When I was trying to bring up children, I used to worry about whether they'd had enough or whether they'd whinge or be hungry later. Now I find myself quite easily able to accept that enough is enough. We abandon whatever is left and go on to other things. If she says "I don't want any more " I believe her. When she says "I a bit hungry Grandma" I look at the clock instead of wondering if she ate enough last mealtime. Oh how I wish we'd known how easy this is a few years ago!
Later, Mummy came to collect her and we had the extra delight of watching them being happy together.
Worth the lack of sleep and quantities of stress. Love and trust and fitting togetherness is a lovely thing to see.

Anyway, Ruth's christmas present to me has been arriving in bits and bottles. She's been giving me bottles of very nice wine from the restaurant wine list and I must say, the latest one is quite heavenly.

This is a part of the kitchen that only Tosca can reach, and that, only (as far as you can tell) by flying. So please excuse cobwebs, dirty paw marks and other stuff.

Newbury from the roof of the multi storey car park.

*No no, Grandparent.

Rooks going to roost.

And making a hell of a noise about it too.
That's it for last year's stored pics. (not to say a few old ones won't sneak in now and then)
Goodnight rooks and 2005.

We have Gorgeous Babe staying again and last night she slept until I had gone to bed and dropped off (which took a long time as Barney was having a volcanic night...involves heaving quilt around, suddenly throwing long pointy limbs across the bed, muttering with sudden huge increases in volume, occasional snatches of song and laughter, a good deal of wind and gargantuan snores accompanied by periods of non-breathing. Also mournful groans and vast sighs).
In the middle of a quite interesting dream involving...dammit I can't remember it now...GB woke up, wanted Mummy and wept a bit. Then kept coming back at approx ten minute intervals for the next hour. Getting gradually more chatty and less sorrowful until she began to get a bit bossy. Grandma it's time for you to get up now. Now I had no idea what time it was but I'm quite sure it wasn't time for me to get up.
I'm going to bed now.

Friday, January 13, 2006

More clearing up.

In september, I mentioned how we get the benefit of next door's gorgeous garden. At the back, we swop, apples for veg.

It had been raining all weekend, on and off. when the sun came out on Saturday afternoon, everyone chered and clapped.

Just a little bit of sunshine.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Has anyone else been getting this?

Does it mean anything?
I asked blogspot but they haven't replied yet.
Oh and my computer was right at the time, it was 7th Jan.

Random leftovers from 2005

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Remember Summer?

Most probably it'll be back later this year :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Totally unsynchronicitous

No, I don't know what it means but synchronicity was a buzz word a few years ago and I always liked the sound of it.
I had one of those weird moments this evening, eating a truly delicious dinner (cooked by Barney, always the best).
While on the TV, forests were burning down in Borneo and Orang Utans were being, orphaned, beaten up, sold into slavery (roughly speaking) and having their limbs cut off. All in the name of palm oil planting, with an obvious likelihood of rare hard woods' acquisition being the true motive for this brutality and destruction.
I am a naturally dispassionate person. I continued to enjoy the meal (it really was almost perfect). The images of acres - no, miles, hundreds of miles - of blackened trees in a soft haze of smoke and the sad world weary eyes of maimed and abandoned apes did stuff to my eyes while my mouth and stomach cheerfully carried on.
It was the mothers that were being beaten up, hands and feet cut off, buried alive. So their babies could be stolen and shipped abroad...what? to zoos? I missed that bit.
It was the bit about the mothers being beaten up...I can follow the brutal logic of cutting off the hands that clung to babies. but beaten up?
Er, some of this happened in Indonesia.
Oh and the point of all this? Well they're growing palm oil trees as the new economic saviour crop. They've cleared a lot of forest already. But they're not using that space, they're applying for permission to open up new areas. Many of the burnt out areas are just being left unplanted. Naturally there's plenty of profit being made in the sale of rare hardwoods from each newly cleared area. And I suppose the export of orang utan babies is a local sideline, a bit of a sweetener for the blokes on the ground.

Oh well, every so often the sheer craziness of the way the human race behaves hits me from the side and I do briefly wonder at us.
And now I've been reading about bird flu. shit!

More of last year's pics. I was going to say I need a break from real life...but this was real life too. See!

chef of the day (Sunday, had to wait for picture)

Barney has returned from Sunday afternoon at the Pot Kiln. (you can see us patronising the opening night on Heavens Kitchen tho I'd rather you didn't, I was having a bad hair day and had drunk some very good wine...well a lot of wine!)
This used to be our local Pub but is now a TV chef's restaurant. The food's good but the pub has gone! however the old local crowd still cling to their Sunday afternoons. This means my Sunday dinner chef returns at random times to cook the roast. Today, so far, he's deafened me with some rather lovely country rock guitar by Albert Lee and has flooded the cooker by filling the top half of the steamer with water instead of the bottom half. He and the dog have had a lengthy discussion about carrots followed by a bit of dancing (dog willing but puzzled, Barney both willing and confident though only slightly competant) and now dinner is in the oven, he's gone to do some 'drunken dialling'.
This is a typical sunday evening here...I am about 1/2 a gallon* behind Barney but may catch up later when he's asleep in front of the telly. So I'm taking this opportunity to have a quick blog.
Later I will need to concentrate very hard on sorting out the monumental chaos in the kitchen....it's great to have Sunday dinner cooked for me but the clearing up is a bit daunting. However, one of the ways to my heart is cetainly through my stomach so our marriage is safe even after an hour spent clearing up floods and cooking explosions.

*That's 4 pints yes? I shall restrain myself to wine glasses.

It's a hard life for a caterpillar

I'm not sure if he was trying to go up, down or swing sideways but it took him more than long enough for this!
One of those rare things I planted and it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Every year!

Emptying the 2005 folder

I decided to post the rest of the pics I saved for possible blog posts. Regardless of season or relevance.

Barney was unwrapping a chicken carcase. These two can hear the sound of tin foil at distances of up to wherever Tosca is out in the fields and through closed doors and loud music. Also, the tin foil sound triggers their instantaneous travel mode. Wherever they have been, they arrive at once and together in the kitchen.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Before I forget

They're doing a Stephen Poliakoff season on BBC4 and they're showing 'Shooting the past' in February.
I don't watch a lot of TV (though I see quite a lot without exactly intending to) but I watched every minute of this so that's maybe one reason I remember it as being absolutely compelling. It's possible some people might find a drama about a lot of photos a bit slow and it's certainly not fast or furious.
But dreamlike, nostalgic without being sentimental, beautiful, subtle. Well that's what I thought anyway.

The truth may be in here somewhere

But I'm damned if I can see it.

Which one of these did I get right?
Sorry, no peizes for getting the right answer as I don't know which one it was any more.