The garden thrives
Close friendships incubated
Acquaintances fade away
Stalkers try harder
The garden thrives
Close friendships incubated
Acquaintances fade away
Stalkers try harder
She slurred “Oh, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, it’s so good to hear from you, I’ve missed you, I love you”
Instantly I remembered why I had stopped calling and visiting
“Dad’s in a home” She dominated the conversation with the force of rapids escaping a snow capped mountain
“Dad’s in a home” Occasionally she acknowledged my presence
“You’ve lost your dad, my dad’s in a home” the last time I visited her, I’d drunk a glass of wine as she’d necked two bottles, via a glass.
Sober she is capable, beautiful, engaging. I haven’t spent much time with her since returning to the UK in 2007. I’d been living on the memory of our friendship from the last millennium when she only noticeably drank on a Saturday night
“Dad’s in a home”
Deciding to let the relationship die from neglect, I remembered making that decision several times before. In between, I forget, only remembering the good times we’ve spent together. Then I start to wonder why we’re not still having those good times and I phone her….
Some good reading for my long flight home from Minneapolis, courtesy of the talented Peggy Pearl who gave me an exciting tour of the snow-bound city.
I’m now full and cultured.
The cars develop their own icicles while they’re waiting for the owners to return. These icicles took about 2hrs to form on a warm day. Things happen fast and frostily here in Minneapolis.
Finally getting over my jet lag, with a little help from my friends we worked out how to get the top down on the convertible. Not a trivial problem!
A day with pumpkins and corn mazes, Mexican food and wonderful home made gifts – 3 useful bags decorated with route 66 icons. I’m feeling homesick for the USA
Day 1: October 21st
Route 66 runs alongside a major Interstate, the I55. To the left are traintracks and telephone wires. To the right is the Interstate. The road is flat, and on Sunday afternoon near deserted, unlike the Interstate.
I left home at 4am UK time, I’m on the road in a (Chevy Camaro convertible) hire-car by 4pm enjoying the Illinois sunshine and autumn colours. Too tired to really take time to explore I drive to my friends home stopping only at the small town of O’Dell that calls itself a “Small town with a big heart”. It was beautiful and strangely deserted…where have all the people gone…?
On to my friends home in Morton where there was some serious barbeque preparation underway, I learned that BBQ is very complicated and time consuming.
The local cicadas were serenading the early evening. Some PG tips welcomed me and they found a shredded skin of a cicada for me to see what they looked like:
First touch, your skin meets mine.
It’s electric, creating a warm fizz throughout my body. A beautiful thing amongst new friends, memorable and fizzy. If there’s something more than friendship on my mind it can be like the 4th of July, a full fireworks display ignited by a silent, fleeting touch. It’s an effective way of silencing me. I can’t pull a sentence together with all those noisy fireworks filling my mind. There’s silence while they fade and the moment is left behind. There can only ever be one first touch. But there can be so many other ‘firsts’ that ignite many a firework display.
A wendy wearing her favourite, only, Askatrán wool hat inspires local Apple fan-boy onlookers with thoughts of Cruella de Ville.
Meanwhile a svelte local Polish girl ran her fingers through my hair as she effervesced:
Never dye your hair! it’s beautiful, grow it really long, it’s so witchy with the silky white and dark. You look so witchy, in a good way
I’ve added “Dalmation fur kilt” to my Christmas present wish list.
I learned that I am more comfortable with silence than my friend. It felt like my friend talked almost non-stop. They didn’t, but it felt like it. As if they needed to fill every silence with words.
At first, I listened to all the words, then gradually my mind wandered away. Their words like a radio programme chattering in the background as my thoughts wandered around the fabulous autumn Devon views. My friend didn’t appear to need my listening, no input from me needed.
Normally living alone, with much silence, I found this stream of talking most strange. On the occasions when my friend was silent they were tapping away into their phone, or computer, presumably social networking. They would read, with verbal annotation and explanation, the text’s they’d received. This total sharing is not something I’m used to. Unsolicited, it felt somehow inappropriate. I suspect it was actually some kind of generous gift of openness, non-exclusion. A sweet generous friend.
If I said something, made a statement, it would be followed by my friend’s analysis of the topic of my statement. I learned a lot about my friend. They learned about my silences and way of being, little more. They didn’t ask. I wonder if they felt short-changed.
Would you trust this lady with ensuring you got 5 a day? Exactly. Quite so. You can spot a dangerously subversive smile on a beautiful person…
Because I’ve got some friends. Really! They are real people. They have never commented on my blog – but they do read it! They don’t seek re-affirmation for their own blog and it’s content – but they do have one. I know they have a blog because I’m now an official guest blogger on it!
This means I’m
On the Flitwick Mill blog. Here’s the bit I’ve written so far…. http://flitwickmill.wordpress.com/tag/wendys-visits/
Now they’ll have to invite me back to visit. Well, probably, if I bring chocolate….
How did Tiger get that particular online psuedonym?
From a ‘pet’ name I gave him at high school and this William Blake poem which sings of his mysterious, creative and beautiful being
Smoking and drinking alone outside a pub
Grey overcast skies and a chilling September breeze
Between taking long drags on her cigarette, she talks
As-if to another person
Her brow furrows, she leans towards her imaginary friend
It doesn’t look like a happy conversation
Luckily, I can be very selective with my imaginary friends, they’re a fabulous crew who are more likely to draw laughter than a frown
In 2004, when I first started blogging, the people I followed (Jenn, Lacroix, Raymond, Jen) posted* between 1 and 3 times a day. Over the years, I’ve seen novice bloggers start with the enthusiasm of daily posting then watched that proliferation fade with one or more of these symptoms:
Raymond is the only blogger that I followed in 2004 who persistently, reliably, posts once a day. Most bloggers seemed to stop posting within 3 or 4 years of starting. Sunday afternoon posting won’t be a reality for me while I keep recieving encouraging personal emails
We’ve already established that I have a healthy interest in the design, reference to, and use of Toilets.
So you can imagine my excitement when Ms. Scarlet recently introduced a series of blog posts called the “Friday Flush. Scarlet will be the ‘mystery shopper’ in loos all over the South West and beyond. Excellent! As part of this investigative journalism Scarlet has invited commenters to suggest assessment criteria for the loos being investigated. I was having so much fun with thinking of criteria I think I’ve probably gone a little over the top, what do you think?
Aroma intensity (none <-> faint-inducing)
Aroma type (pleasant <-> acrid)
Discoverability (hidden with no signs – entrance embarressingly visible)
Drafts (Gale force 9 <-> still)
Drying technology (bring your own <-> fresh fluffy towels provided)
Functionality (incomplete <-> swish)
Mould factor (none <-> suspicious stuff growing all over the show)
Price (free <-> entry turn style requires exact cash)
Privacy (airtight and sound-proofed <-> ankles and feet exposed and splashes clearly audible)
Resources (bring your own <->plush)
Space ( breath in <-> synchronised wheel-chair choreography is a realistic possibility)
Sociability (one at a time please <-> sofa’s and social games provided)
Sparkle (matt <-> bum-fluff refelction)
Splash factor (dry <-> soaked)
Style (dead rat <-> yummy)
Temperature (Ice on the water <-> Oven)
Washing (taps/fawcetts dont work <-> they even have a b-day!)
Wit (no smiles <-> laughed my pants-off)
This summer, October (I have a flexible definition of summer)
I’m off to Barcelona with a blogging friend, LaCroix, from Seattle
As the excitement ramps up to amber risk level I’ve been gathering advice from people who know Barcelona. Here’s some awesome suggestions from a London friend who’s in love with a person that lives in Barcelona:
- Day trip – Montserrat: Things to do: wander around and admire the shapes that inspired Gaudi, listen to boys’ choir, see the Saint, take the funicular to the top and check out some of the walks once at the top
- Day trip if you’re renting a car – Cadaques and Port Lligat, book well in advance to visit Salvador Dali’s house. Drive all the way up to the most Eastern point of the Iberian peninsula (Cap de Creus) and have a coffee/beer/snack at the top enjoying the amazing views.
- Montjuic – check out the Olympic Village during the day, pop in to Poble Espanyol, an open air museum and enjoy the distinct style of the Spanish regions. An absolute must are the ‘magic’ fountains (Thurs-Sun 2100-2330, buy some beers or cava beforehand to enjoy the show!) between the National Palace and Placa Espanya.
- Eating at the market. Les Cuines de Santa Caterina – this is a general google search. Looks like your Lonely Planet guide should have the details. I’ve only ever eaten at the ‘bar’, not the restaurant part. Quite a trendy place, definitely a step up from the traditional tapas bars, yet located under the market roof. If you want to experience the basic market eating check and love fresh seafood out La Paradeta located in Born. Check out opening hours if you decide to go.
- Things you should eat/drink: I am not talking your usual tortilla/paella stuff (btw sangria is widely regarded a tourist drink, try it if you wish but don’t be deceived – in my 4 years or so I maybe drank it….1 time with the locals).
- Cruasanes de crema (mini croissants with custard filling), at one of the bakeries around town. I get mine from Moli Vell, perfect with your afternoon ‘cortado’ – a popular afternoon coffee (cortado means coffee cut with milk).
- Another thing to try at the bakery is Ensaimadas. It’s a Mallorcan thing, when I first tried it I thought nothing special, but if you find good quality ones they’re divine
- Pintxos – Basque thing. Get a few on your plate and then pay by the number of ‘toothpicks’ left from the pintxos (also known as montaditos). The fun is in hiding a few toothpicks and paying less
- Pulpo a la gallega – from what I’ve seen the locals eat pulpo as if it was chicken in the UK
- Pebrots de padron – one of the tapas – tiny green peppers. The fun starts when you get a spicy one!!!
- Ensalada rusa – this is a mediterranean version of the typical Russian dish (Russians have it for every big occasion, so I was surprised to find it made its way into Spanish cuising), one of the tapas
- Jamon – ranging from industrially fed to acorn fed pigs, make sure you’re ready to appreciate the highest jamon category
- Pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato) – typical fresh Catalan bread ‘rubbed’ with tomato (sometimes garlic) and olive oil, probably the most Catalan thing you can find, they use tomato and olive oil like non-Catalans would use mayo or butter
- Paella – OK so you should of course try paella, but make sure it’s good. Don’t go for the €10 per person type restaurants. We investigated over the weekend and for quite a central location Kaiku seemed good. Silvia’s relatives have been coming here for years (when Barceloneta was still a fishing village) and it’s got sea views and it’s close to the beach and everywhere else. There’s another restaurant close to Barceloneta bearch – Can Costa but the reviews are not as good. Apparently quality paella is freshly made, on charcoal or wood, uses fresh ingredients and good stock, for that be prepared to pay €25 and up. The cheaper ones are often re-heated from frozen. If you’re sharing a paella between two you probably won’t need starters (unless very hungry)
- Go up Las Arenas a bull ring refurbished into a shopping mall (lots of Catalans are against bull fighting, as a. they see it as cruelty b. bulls are a symbol of Spanishness). The facade was lifted up several meters (quite incredible) and you’ll get great views of Barcelona (L’Eixample and Montjuic)
- Spice up your Gaudi day by popping into Vincon a designy shop two steps from La Pedrera – great for window shopping experience or buying stuff for Wendy House
- Read The Shadow of the Wind and visit some of the landmarks mentioned in the book. They even do the shadow of the wind tours. You’ll find lots of historic drinking/eating places mentioned in the book like Els Cuatre Gats (the four cats).
- Have a drink in hotel Barcelo Raval to chilled jazz music and then go up to the roof terrace to enjoy the night views
Interestingly, barrios (neighbourhoods) like Raval and Barceloneta close to the sea tend to be the poorer ones, as they used to be fishing villages, old buildings with no lifts. The further up ‘the mountain’ you go in Barcelona, the posher. Watch your bags at all times when on the beach and in crowds of people. On the Barceloneta beach literally attach your bag to yourself as thieves can grab it and run. Take minimum cash and documents when you’re out. If you’re vigilant chances are nothing will happen, but I’ve had all my documents, cards, mobile and money stolen once
How fabulous to be given such thorough and thoughtful advice from a friend. Excitement levels have definitely reached amber!
A friendly chap from the Reading counci Planning and Building Control department visited the wendy house today. He took photo’s of my sample PhotoVoltaic tile, copies of the installation drawings and photographs of my roof where I’d like the tiles placed. They will generate electricity for my home with enough left-over to sell back to the national grid.
He sucked his teeth and said that he wasn’t going to recommend that the tiles could be installed. He said it’s possible that someone higher-up the chain might value the ecological benefit over maintaining the look and feel of the local conservation area, but he didn’t think it was likely.
He will be putting this in writting after discussing it with colleagues. He gave me advice on how to re-attach crumbling ancient tiles without calling a roofer with a ladder and health and safety insurance. He didn’t look at my staircase of doom. He didnt put his head into the attic and see the crawl-space. His advice was well-meaning but impractical.
I used facebook to voice my disappointment. A heated little thread arose that included Dr. friend, who works as a government consultant specialist on environmental issues. Dr friend drafted a couple of letters for me to send to key MPs. Here’s one he drafted for the in-credible UK State secratary for Energy and Climate change:
Dear Mr Huhne,
I am writing to let you know about a problem I am having trying to reduce my carbon footprint and help increase the supply of renewable energy. Basically I am trying to get permission to install solar tiles on my roof (http://www.solarcentury.co.uk/homes/about-solar/c21e-solar-tiles-and-slates/). Everything I hear both the government and my local council say about the urgency of the climate change issue makes me think that I should be being actively encouraged in doing this sort of thing. However, because I live in a conservation area (i.e. one where almost all of the houses are old and therefore very energy inefficient) my local council is saying that that they will not let me have these fitted. How is it that the government can all a minor issue such as the aesthetics of roofing tiles prevent people from making important upgrades to their homes in order to reduce both their carbon footprint and their reliance on an extremely volatile energy market.
Can you provide me with any details of what your Department is doing in order to ensure that the Department for Communities and Local Government are taking this issue on board. As far as I can tell, the current localism agenda is going to make it even harder for the government to encourage and support householders like me to do my bit.
Quality stuff, for free, because of facebook chatter. Excellent!
I’ll be adapting it to provide details of my location and council and copying it to the local council so they know what i’m up to. Feel free to use this yourselves if you have similar challenges
Our correspondent from Barcelona recently provided this little tid-bit:
Most modern English place names have their origins in Old English, the Anglo-Saxon language; most of the other contributions are either oddities or window dressing. Recurring elements that help us to do our own detective work include the endings “-ham” and “-ton“, ancestors of “home” and “town“; Hampton is a combination of the two and Hampstead means, more or less, “homestead“. The “-ing” generally means a place was founded by the followers of a certain chieftain: Reading is called after an otherwise forgotten man, Reada, whose name suggests that he had red hair, and Hastings after Haesta, who was probably quick-tempered.
Using rigourous (Scottish) field research techniques Dr. Alan has been working on identifying some sociological correlates of human behaviour. Recently he’s been able to state conclusively that
it is fallacious to attribute causality to Sunshine, also we are not convinced of the role of Moonlight; furthermore, we have not proven any kind of causal connection as regards to the Good Times. We conclude, on reflection, and having eliminated all other factors, that, as well as there being a strong correlation, there is strong support for the hypothesis positing causation to the Boogie.
Gina, lotta bridge hit her
While I’m contemplating learning how to write properly with my new ink pen, I realise that it actually takes a lot of practice and dedication to build that kind of physical skill. Darn. You have to practice and get it wrong and try again and again and again, gradually getting better each time.
Apparantly, writing properly is called calligraphy. Fancy that! I do fancy that! But I suspect I’ll never get around to dedicated practice and improvement. There are possible short-cuts for people who want to have hand crafted beautiful writing without lots of practice. Heres’ one way – Scarlet Blue’s Calligraphy!
Peter Rabbit lives in The hole in Bunny lane!
For all my emergency calligraphy needs I’ll be calling on Scarlet Blue. Is this shameless promotion of a friends business? Yes of course it is! Telling the world about my talented friends is FUN! I’m hoping some talent will rub-off onto me with minimal practice, maybe not…Hahahahaaa!
you’ve gone all susie quatro!
Being compared to a talented rock goddess who doesn’t conform to narrowly defined, socially constructed descriptions of femininity is an excellent gift! Especially since my nose is not THAT cute
Susie Quatro sang If you can’t give me love
I like this haircut, it suits you
Hooray! All the comments about my hair to date have been observations and not value judgements. This was a cheering moment because my scatty memory has mislaid the source files to the last time that someone told me that my hair looked good. Of course, Spotty dog might have been refering to my Holly Golightly glasses without realising it. Either way, our day together turned into a right rollicking festival of mutal appreciation. Hoorah!
Will you have forgotten me? Our first kiss was a surprise, not in the script or rehearsals. You’d planned it without knowing how I would’ve reacted. Your move wasn’t blocked, your instincts were right. A perfect, if tense, moment.
We didn’t know then, that I would’ve stayed with you forever. After you’d left, I expected to find someone else, or that someone else would’ve found me. Decades later, my spontaneous phonecall bought four hours of laughter. Briefly, centre stage again before returning to my place in the wings.
My future will have been littered with walk-on parts, as an optional-extra.
From the orangerie, she looked around the garden “it reminds me of Derek Jarman’s garden‘. She described pebbles, driftwood, wilderness holding-up brave plants. A pleasing story, as if she could see potential in my newly planted garden. As if she had a vision that flowed with my own anticipation
Later, I placed felled tree-stumps in the borders and a few big pebbles between the about-to-overgrow plants
This christmas she gave me a book, so I can see Derek’s garden for myself. As with his films and life, it continues to inspire
Inspiration is one of the best presents ever
For example, the kitchen was full of vegetarian Tapas dishes that included Potato. Potatos in cheese, Potatos in Tomatoes, Potatos in garlic, Potatoes in Omelette. A veritable council of potatos. Eventually I escaped from the kitchen… and discovered even more of the best parts including
The bestest best bit is unpublishable, though I’m reliably informed it smells lovely within a 6 inch range
Thank you for your Christmas card, there’s no need to apologise, I still love you. You are special, I hardly notice my birthday nowadays anyway. Seem’s like you think your mind has been mush for years now, I don’t see or hear the mush, you are still as bright and beautiful as the Monday night in the alternative disco. Do you remember? The two prats who had made a big killing on the horses and thought we’d be impressed by money? You whacked me so hard on my new tattoo that my squeals of pain quickly reduced us to piles of mutual laughter and baffled the bullshit out of the guys! Forgive yourself, laugh again.
I know you love your step daughter, two sons and husband. You don’t tell me so, but I know you love them, it shows in the all-engulfing way that you support the smooth running of their lives. The meals you cook, the shopping you do, the events you attend, the cleaning, the taxi-driving, the advice. I hear how your life is all about making their lives easier. The girl I knew was always passionate about organising things, how else could you graduate with such a good degree in Library studies. You, engulfed in stories and classification. You were in ecstacy! I remember the stories of how you sorted out the Munich Siemens office, then in the 1990’s the local Berlin Government ‘lost and found’ office by pairing people separated by the wall using just a card system, then arranging Premier entertainment for visiting Warner Brothers stars. You are so good at sorting things and entertaining people.
Somehow you reserve the pain for me, you talk of your disappointments and burden. I wonder where is the happiness hiding, bring it out, I miss it, I love you
Sheepwash is a strange and quiet village. There are 3 roads, ways to approach Sheepwash. No approaches wider than one car. All of them guarded by cunningly placed, seemingly innocent, wildlife. On my last visit three potentially blind sheep raised the alarm to notify the Sheepwash inhabitants they should hide their ancient secrets from an approaching stranger. This time a herd of flight-recalcitrant pheasants, or silent thunderbirds, ran along the road ahead of Thomas until they finally, reluctantly, decided to fly.
When we arrived Thomas parked in the pub car park and I mentioned that I had never been into the local pub ‘the half moon’. Happy frog and I was clearly suprised by this revelation and asked why. It’s suspiciously cosey in the retreat, once you’ve gone in through that door, its very, very difficult to get out again until you have to leave. Happy frog and I wisely suggested that we try going into the pub BEFORE going into the retreat, to sidestep the known problem. Clever. I like the company of solution oriented people.
Unfortunately we couldn’t work out the entry code that was displayed in the guise of an ‘opening times’ sign. We gave up and were drawn inexorably into the retreat, not to emerge again until it was time to leave Sheepwash.
Once inside the retreat Happy Frog and I supplied the fox stories and some large outdoor sparkers together with a huge open firepalce provided the fire. Fire and fox. Now the cupboard is featuring firefox, the browser. Scarlet dropped in to check that everything that needed to be in hand was indeed being handled. When the smoke cleared it left behind the ashes of conversations about motorbikes, trees, CEOs, PMTs and other significant three letter acronyms.
Early evening In Paris, in the company of a recently married couple, leaving our hotel in search of the Tour Eiffel. Will we walk? Will we ride bus 63 then 24? Will we take the metro? Do we want to get there quickly or have a beer first?
The map with the metro and bus routes rustles she checks routes and numbers. The map never leaves her hands yet the decision making is clearly mutual. I chip in ‘Hoorah’ when having a beer is thrown into the mix then comment that I don’t mind how or when we get there.
The discussion takes minutes, it’s like an elegant dance. If alone I would already be sat in that bar drinking a beer, watching the world go by, listening to people and relaxing. In their company I am happiest to be stood on the street corner listening to the uncovering of each others values, finding out what works best for both of them, together. It’s sensible, practical, sometimes funny, time consuming. It’s love. I am watching love happen and glad to be temporarily touched by it’s closeness.
My understanding of a couples’ love has been changed by not having lived in it for over a decade. I’m not speaking of the love of family, friends, my recently departed Matrix or her remaining companion. I’m speaking of the sharing and merging of selves. In my last decade there was the too-sluggish death of a rejected love, skirmishes into sexual relationships, the love of close friends and cats. My view on the love between a couple is now mainly drawn from strong memories of my 4 very different loves from the last century, watching and listening to others, and the stories told in books, films, blogs and newspapers.
The loves that I see shining brightest is in sharing the detail of living. Things like shopping for food, preparing a meal, deciding how to spend the evening. All show love. Maybe those of you who are living in love find this odd when the passion and joy in the laughter, warmth, smiles, praise, sex, and scents can be so wonderfully intense and engulfing. I can find laughter, warmth, smiles, praise, sex and scents in my life. When I’m with friends and family there is also the mutual knowledge of sharing the detail of life with someone who has gradually built an understanding of what works. When the passion and the detail meet with another single person, this is the couples love. Not part of my life.
We stopped for some golden beers before taking the Metro to the Tour Eiffel. We danced through the park basking in the glory of the tower’s golden night-time plumage.
This post is dedicated to Paris, the traveler, her first love, her husband, and the memory of Matrix.
the first and only text message waiting on my phone when I woke that morning read
my position has been eliminated
It didnt read
No words of anger, no tremors of fear, no tissue of tears. Just the 2 words which feel like they are being pretentious because they have 3 or more syllables.
position = job
eliminated = cut
excerpt from an email:
When’s your first novel? Bet you could combine the intellectual challenge of a Will Self novel with the creative wackiness of Terry Prachett!
this qualifies the sender as a friend for life.