A haary morning

A haary morning

but the loneliness

that often weights

a day like this

comes not this time.

The fog, its hospitality

like the spider webs

about my feet–

at once host to a myriad

of dewdrops and

a killing field–

cloaks these trees,

these rocks, these birds,

and, for all I know,

every living thing

I’ve never met.

 

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Three things: ‘Me time’, felted stones, and marinated courgettes

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Hello! I am in another of those periods where it is hard for me to find the brain space to make minor decisions between cheese or peanut butter on toast for a snack, let alone find time for writing something that doesn’t read like a bowl of mush. I have such mixed thoughts on the concept of ‘me time’, especially when I find myself in this sort of a space. Don’t we all need time to recharge? But I have never, ever heard a man (with or with out kids) say he was just off to the beauty salon for some ‘me time’. Or going to his fulfilling job saving people’s lives for some ‘me time’. Yet, I often have people telling me how my extremely part-time, minimum-wage waitressing job must feel like ‘me time’. Uh, no. Although I do get to eat a lunch that is made not by me. And I eat it by myself. That’s nice, I guess. But a diversion from the usual routine is not ‘me time’. I don’t consider using the loo or taking a shower by myself ‘me time’ either. These are things that need to get done, and I am past taking it for granted as a solitary pursuit… that said, there is nothing more divine than not having to share the shower with someone intent on drinking from the drain cup. I get the sense that ‘me time’ is supposed to be spent sitting in a spa having my nails done. Something to distract me from the reality of my life, but also something to distract me from the reality of the universe. You know, that old concept: ‘keep the women busy with their self-image and they won’t have time to save the world’. In church the other evening someone suggested that I was having some ‘me time’. And they (he, to be specific) were, in a sense, right. I was there sans-family and I had no role to play to make things happen. But why does this consitute ‘me time’? Isn’t what is good for my well-being, good for everyone else too? Why do women (with or without kids) have to carve out this time and label it? This is essentially labelling the rest of our time as ‘time in our lives that everyone else has more claim to than we do’–for me, this is really where the problem is. Men don’t have to do this because men don’t have the claims upon their time in the same way. And what is worse, is that the further down the economic ladder a person is, the more entrenched in care-work a person is, the more need there is to designate ‘me time’. The more one is seen as an entity within capitalism, the more important it is to make a break from this system in order to have a sense of self. We are whole people who work and sleep and eat and shower and care and so on, and we take all parts of ourselves (and all our connections and relationships come along too) into those activities and recognising that even in those dehumanizing of activities is one way start our own personal revolution. I could keep on going, but… well… I will head into unreadable bowl of mush territory very soon if I haven’t already. What are your thoughts?

I went away a couple of weekends ago… for some ‘me time’ ;^p  I am continuing the course I started last year on Ignatian spirituality but this time I was able to be there in person. It was hard work but rewarding. One of the nice things was the opportunity to go for walks around where we stayed. Check out those views! I found a lot of wool on fence posts on one walk and managed to gather enough to felt a wee stone I got on another walk down on the beach. It had some seeds and gorse and even a strand of black wool embedded in it.

I recently ate this courgette salad from a table of lovely vegetably salads… I am going to make it tomorrow but will attempt to make it with raw (rather than steamed) courgette. Partly because I’m lazy, and partly because it will be slightly more nutritious. But mostly the laziness thing.

Resurrection Sunday

With dusty wings, surely it’s a moth, this creature fluttering through the sanctuary.

It dances about the priest who speaks of Mary and the empty tomb in the new garden.

Speaking of Mary and the empty tomb, she thought the man outside was the gardener.

 

I can’t take my eyes off this moth flicking from window to wall and back again,

and I wonder if it’s come from that cupboard under the organ, and why

it won’t return to its darkness. And about that gardener, were his hands dirty?

 

Things could all just stop with the thought that all has gone to hell in a handcart

–and back–that all has been lost–and gained again. But then what? We just rest in a cave

or a cupboard until it all passes for good? This life, this world, this garden, gone.

 

Behind me, they murmur about a butterfly. Of course! A butterfly–not a moth–

now flits its way around the stone walls to the door. An arrow of light

directing the way, flickering with each passing pedestrian, is the world’s welcome dance.

 

Out there–and in here too–the gardeners are bringing about the world again.

And out there–and in my heart too–are the men placing stone upon hostile stone.

But all I can do is follow that butterfly through the narrow gap. Out to help the gardener.

 

 

 

 

Three things: Birthday, borders, and games for walkers

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L. turned 6 recently and we had a family celebration on the day, getting up very early and heading to a local park for hot cross buns and bacon as well as a go on the flying fox (which is a much cooler name for what is known around here as a zip line). We also experimented with making giant bubbles, which you can kind of see in the middle picture. We had to postpone L.’s party with his friends because of very chilly weather. This is the hazard of committing to outdoor parties, I’m afraid, but I guess it gives us something to look forward to again! He wanted a Star Wars themed party in some beach-side woods, so I am looking forward to the sight of a few costumed children running through trees training to be jedis and searching for kyber crystals. Yeah, don’t ask me what they are.

I have just pulled an old writing project out of hibernation recently which I started pre-Brexit, pre-Trump era, and remarkably it features a lethal city border. Since studying post-structuralism at architecture school (and maybe even earlier, if I think about it) I have been interested in the idea of who is in and who is out, and how this is maintained or subverted. So I was stoked to listen to an interview with Kapka Kassabova whose book ‘Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe’ was published last year. Another excellent border thing from this last week is This American Life’s ‘The Walls’.

I also listened to a great interview with an Orcadian poet based in Edinburgh who is in New Zealand for the Writers and Readers Festival. I loved the poetry Harry Josephine Giles recited, and also their fantastic little book Casual Games for City Walkers.  I especially like the idea of the game ‘Sandwich’ which bought to mind this guy I heard about, Ben, who, in a last ditch effort to take care of his health, he took up walking through his city, hoping to cover 2015 km in the year 2015. After not too many months he realised he could easily do more, and found there were so many more benefits to city walking than personal physical health ones. He started to notice hungry people on the streets and would distribute sandwiches. Walking softens the heart and builds community! That’s what I like about these walking games… Giles already knows the personal and political movement that walking through a city could be.

All the living things

Where has it come from, this conker?

How have I only noticed it now, with its

halo glow, on my carpet?

I find conkers in the washing machine

after a walk in the woods. Or on the university campus

where I wipe them on my trousers and turn them

around and around in my pocket–

an inconsequential secret as I talk

with acquaintances in the street.

But this Springtime conker by my shopping bag,

it’s a surprise. A real surprise.

And it’s sprouting.

How long has it been there, growing like that?

 

It has me thinking of all the living things in my home;

plants, yes, children, yes. But there’s also

the mold by our freezer, and the sourdough starter.

Potatoes. Spiders. Flies.

It has me remembering the Autumn I suspended

redbud pods around our dining room ceiling light;

a chandelier of wide, ribbony pods

swaying above our heads each time the back door opened.

A chandelier harbouring hundreds of seed beetles

that scratch scratched their way out above our heads one Spring evening.

That, too, was a real surprise.

But these unexpected things are really not so unexpected

–things must make their homes somewhere after all, and they must one day move.

And are we not dead if we do not move nor change?

So I consider the bread that has risen once more;

the mold that spreads further behind the freezer;

the plants multiplying themselves without assistance;

the children who have again put holes in their trouser knees.

And myself–still unfolding like a tendril or a beetle searching for light.

Three things: Snow food, Tending The Wild, and The Lieutenant

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Is Spring here? I don’t know. I just know that last week Aberdeen was covered with enough snow that we were able to sledge across town (seriously) and everyone around me looked 10-days-of grey-skies glum, and that this week the sun was shining on my coat-less back and I noticed my rhubarb had punched its first leaf up through the soil. So exciting! The rhubarb crown was from a lovely friend who gave it before she left the country to move back to her homeland.  :^(  It will be nice to have a seasonal reminder of her family on our porridge and in our puddings. On on particularly snowy day, L. and I invented a delicious dessert: we cooked up the last of our frozen brambles, strained the juice (eating the fleshy seedy bits separately), added a little honey, and waited until it was cool before pouring it onto fresh snow. Yum!

I just saw this documentary about traditional environmental knowledge of the indigenous peoples of California. Highly recommended!

I finished my first Kate Grenville novel–The Lieutenant–this morning. I’ve been meaning to read one of her books for years, and just found this one at my local community centre second-hand book shelf last week. I shall be reading more! I loved the subtle development of the main character through his (platonic) relationship with a young girl who teaches him her land’s indigenous language. At the end of his time in New South Wales, he looks back from the ship to where his friend, Tagaran, is standing, and the image of her starting to blur into the landscape has a beautiful symmetry with this observation of learning her language:

“What he had not learned from Latin or Greek he was learning from the people of New South Wales. It was this: you did not learn a language without entering into a relationship with the people who spoke it with you. His friendship with Tagaran was not a list of objects, or the words for things eaten or not eaten, thrown or not thrown. It was the slow constructing of the map of a relationship. […] Learning a language was not a matter of joining any two points with a line. It was a leap into the other. […] Until you could put yourself at some point beyond your own world, looking back at it, you would never see how everything worked together” 

Naming things

‘Fuck!’ he shouted when we were at the end of the dairy aisle,

pointing somewhere beyond the checkout counters and queues.

Again a definitive, high-pitched ‘fuck! Fuck!’ and

the gentleman beside me, choosing between alternative milk yoghurts, gave me a look–

a look I interpreted as an exasperated ‘ugh.

Parents these days… let their kids say anything. Mind you,

the language coming from the parents is no better’ look,

but was probably just a ‘I know what he is trying to say

and it isn’t that hard to understand

if you’re an attentive parent’ look.

I guess it’s possible he might have just had a face that looked like that,

one that wasn’t actually saying any of that.

 

 

It’s the pet food aisle we glide back through, always having forgotten

eggs or oats or some other staple.

He squawked, ‘do’! Do’!’ at a Labrador on tins

(at least, I think it was a Labrador,

but as I come to describe it to you now,

all I can describe is a creature that looked like a dog, any dog:

fur, droopy tongue, soft brown eyes

full of desire for affirmation),

and ‘ca! Ca!’ at a cat.

I’ve no idea what kind of cat.

There are kinds of cats, right? Oh yeah,

for example, the ones without tails: Manx.

It wasn’t a Manx.

 

My groceries chugged along the conveyor belt and, while he grasped

at names for vegetables and fruit, I replayed

in my head the conversation I had last week

with an acquaintance in which I said

things that were stupid

but so did she

and I hated myself every time I thought about it for five days after that.

Day eight today, and I hate myself less. Because when she said,

‘you should keep an eye on that. What if it gets worse?’ and

all I heard was ‘blah blah–stupid stupid–you’re a stupid person–

do you really trust your own stupid intuition?’, she didn’t know,

and she didn’t know that it was for herself that she worried.

And I didn’t know it at the time, but I do now,

and I did at the supermarket yesterday.

So I said it to myself at the checkout,

and grasped at names of thoughts and feelings,

thoughts and feelings as big as categories of ‘dog’ or ‘cat’.

 

‘Fuuuuuck!’ My son toddled

over to get inside one of those… what would you call them? Trucks.

You know, for toddlers. The ones that take a pound and are always by the checkouts.