Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Staff of life, tidings and shelter.

1. He who shall not be named at work has made me an excellent loaf of bread. In exchange I have to do a portrait of him.

2. The writer of one of my favourite blogs, Meggiecat, has been silent for a few weeks. I don't know her personally, but I do enjoy her generous sharing of arty links. When she suddenly stopped posting, I was worried, but not really knowing her, all I could do was wait. Yesterday, she posted explaining her absence. It was such sad news, but at least she is still out there and still hanging on. The comments box for that post was so full of love and support, which shows that good things that one does come back in spades.

3. Closing the door on a day of freakish cold that cuts right through my summer wardrobe.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shh, jolly and potatoes.

1. Daena because she trusts me with secrets and feels indignant on my behalf.

2. Paul because his laugh is so generous and unashamed.

3. While drinking beer in the pub, I find an open packet of crisps has been put next to my hand.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Complete, swiftness and pursuit.

1. The smug feeling I get from doing all the work I promised myself I would do before going out.

2. Andy's blue and silver running shoes.

3. Alfie the very large kitten running across the lawn after a golf ball, overshooting and then pretending he doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing with it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lost, guessing and hot sugar.

1. When the tops of buildings disappear in the mist.

2. Guessing at the life stories of people in the street.

3. The smell of hot sugar on the pier.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Warm card, lost and convenience food.

I've been meaning to say -- thanks to everyone who commented on 3BT's birthday, specially those who don't normally pipe up. I specially liked Girlzoot's remark about the feeling that we are all connected (it's in here somewhere).

1. Warming my hands on a cup of mocha from Javabean as I walk down to John P's for my rainy day lift.

2. It's raining at lunchtime and everyone has gone to the pub except Oli and me. He fiddles with music while I work at another Julian Opie portrait (see earlier post). The conversation is a bit choppy because neither of us are really listening to each other, being in little worlds of our own.

3. Ready prepared vegetables on a busy night.

Friday, May 26, 2006

For all, normality and night at the movies.

1. Comic books for sale in a chain bookshop.

2. The osteopath saying that we all live in a particular place on the scale that goes from so laidback you are practically horizontal to wound up like a watch spring; and that being nearer the wound up end is not necessarily a bad thing. Also that finding massage painful doesn't actually mean there is anything wrong with me.

3. We got free tickets for Prime because Anna works at the cinema. All the staff were pleased to see her, and I caught her tidying the counter while we were buying icecream. The film filled the cinema with girly giggles, which made it all the more fun, and when the twist was revealled, someone up behind us properly gasped.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wool, message and stretch.

1. I bought a few wintery clothes in the sales at the start of April. I put them away and imagined that I wouldn't see them again until autumn. But it's been so cold that I've had to dig out my new crochetted hat and wear it.

2. Getting a fiver with 'quit your job' written on it in my change.

3. My yoga teacher was showing off one of the star pupils -- a man who could get into the crab position -- body arched, hands and feet on the floor, arms and legs fully extended. As she explained how wonderful he was, he went redder and redder, though from shyness or exertion I couldn't tell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Low light, sugar high and quicker to walk.

1. I leave very early, which means the sun is at an unusual angle, throwing reflections into strange places. There are light diamonds on the front of McDonalds, and the cars on the motorway are trailed by coloured reflections.

2. One of the delegates emptied a big bag of sweets on to table. I liked seeing a grown man munching thoughtfully on dolly beads, and the training manager bagging the dip-dab.

3. Getting out of a traffic jammed car and walking.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Girl temperature, slime and shine.

1. It is so cold in the office that Sarah and I have to bring the little radiator up from the games room. We switch it on full because the boys aren't here to complain about being too hot.

2. Caroline explaining that because it was cold and dark outside she put the baby slugs she found in the kitchen in a bowl with a lid, labelled it 'slugs' and went back to bed. Her boyfriend Ian comments: 'It was lucky I didn't fancy a late night snack of liquorice allsorts.'

3. Polishing my boots until they are glossy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kalimera, greens and way.

1. At Staplehurst market, among all the hotdogs and mobile phone accessories and secondhand videos, a Greek man has set up an olive stall with a red velvet tablecloth and plastic flowers.

2. Eating sociably -- I'm thinking particularly of artichokes and asparagus.

3. A narrow and winding white path disappearing into the dark forest.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Latest, cars and glass ceiling.

1. Lingering at a market stall while picking over a tray of jewellery described as 'the latest from Paris.'

2. Lying on the floor playing with toy cars. You can line them up and pretend it's a carpark for a festival -- use a CD as the main stage, and have the police cars patrolling up and down nicking troublemakers; or you can race them by giving them a good push and sending them off across the floor; or you can put them on a collision course with Thomas the Tank Engine.

3. Sitting in a conservatory when it's raining outside.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Impossible things for breakfast, lost and found books.

1. Oli eating polenta and carrot jam for breakfast. They were part of his birthday present from us -- I put the carrot jam in to see what he would do with it... I didn't imagine that he would think of breakfast.

2. We were so deep in coversation about the person we were about to pick up that we drove straight past him.

3. Talking about books and recalling things I read years ago. My favourite recall was a Robert Silverberg book -- Gilgamesh in the Outback -- Gilgamesh is wandering hell having lost his friend Enkidu after a disagreement. He runs into Robert E. Howard (the man who wrote Conan the Barbarian) and H.P. Lovecraft. From what I remember Robert E. Howard spends the rest of the story trying to shed Lovecraft so he can hang out with Gilgamesh, who resembles Conan in lots of ways.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Big one eight, secrets and freedom.

1. For the last few days there has been a bit of secretiveness and hiding of things in envelopes at work. We celebrated Madie's 18th birthday by decorating her desk and eating cake and jelly and icecream and letting off confetti bombs and screaming balloons. Then we took her to the pub and made her buy a legal round for us all.

2. Holey cheese because of the thought that no-one has seen the shiny insides of the holes before.

3. A stream of commuters striding out of the station.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Portrait, morning head and class.

1. Ever since I saw a tutorial for Julian Opie-style pictures on Family Portrait Artists I have wanted to make one. And now I have, and I like it. I used a picture that PaulV took as the basis and played with Photoshop until I got it right.

2. A distracted mother unloading a carful of children while trying to put her daughter's school straw hat on her son's head.

3. I was very apprehensive about joining a new yoga class -- it's hard to twist yourself into odd positions in front of a crowd of strangers, and I really wanted to like this class because it's nearby and at a time I can manage. The group was so smiley and the teacher was so friendly that I felt at home.

4. I get an extra beautiful thing today because it's the second anniversary of this blog. I'm glad I've kept it going -- I know I'm happier for working on it, and I hope you are all happier for reading it. The extra bonus beautiful thing (and this is going to sound really sucky) is my readers. Thanks specially to those of you who join in. I love your comments and your beautiful things. And thanks also to those who keep quiet -- don't think I know you're there! That's what hit counters and stats are for.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Almonds, chocolate cake and RSVP.

1. The smell of amaretto coffee.

2. Having cake at work because it was Oli's birthday and because Mark was celebrating a year with the company; and managing to blag a slice of each.

3. Invitations printed on thick card because they make me feel tremendously important.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Deep blue, bakeress and small sheep.

It's Three Beautiful Things' second birthday on Thursday! Why not join the celebration by posting your own beautiful things in the comments -- doesn't have to be three; even one would be a thrill to read.

1. The mist of blue in the woods and along the hedgerows; and the smell of bluebells as we drive down the lane to work.

2. The happy lady in the bakery. Although the shop was so hot you could hardly breathe -- and set to get hotter -- she was chatty and cheerful and said she didn't care what temperature she worked at 'so long as the customers are happy.' She said her favourite part of the job was tasting the cakes as they arrived.

3. When Ellen-at-work, who grew up on farm, was little she thought that everyone kept sheep and wondered where people in flats put them. This led to thoughts of balcony washing lines strung with little sheep.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Right side, massage and The Doctor.

1. Seeing Katie work so hard to track down some information about the murder house made me think I ought to go and investigate it and report back about its state. But the idea of walking up the steep garden path and pushing through the place where the boarding has fallen off the door filled me with horror. I felt rather cowardly, and I was so glad to have my instincts confirmed when we visited the site together. 'Want to go in?' I asked nervously, peering into the hall, which is full of bits of ceiling and staircase. 'No,' said Katie.

2. Green People body butter. It melts in my hands and warms my muscles as I rub it in and it has a medicinal rosemary scent which I like very much.

3. Watching a fortnight's supply of Dr Who with Fenella -- in particular I liked Dr Who riding through a mirror on a white horse.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Squiggle, eggs is eggs and pastry mission.

1. Making squiggly patterns with black treacle on my yoghurt. My mother sometimes does the same thing over the thin white icing on her ginger cake.

2. Poaching a goose egg and eating it with toast and lettuce and rocket. I like the differences between goose and hen eggs -- goose eggs are harder to crack and the shells and rather translucent. They are also a bit big for the egg box.

3. Not eating the crust of a bakewell tart. Pastry is fatty and not very tasty. It's just there to keep the bakewell safe while it cooks. No-one should have to eat it if they don't want to.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cover a house, contrast and care.

1. Walking past a house covered in purple wisteria. I love wisteria -- its snakey branches are are fascinating in winter and spring; and the long swags of flowers arrive just as summer is coming, so they bring to mind warmth and sunshine. I also love the smell of the flowers -- it's a bit like cooked corn on the cob.

2. The way my sunglasses make clouds really stand out. Today the sky is almost too bright to look at, but with my sunnies on I can see the dramatic shapes in the clouds.

3. Seeing that someone who you always thought poured cold water on your plans is actually just making sure you avoid woes by thinking of everything before you begin.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Lick, girlies and detectives.

1. The slurpy noises you are forced to make when eating a choc ice.

2. Hearing girly giggles coming from the other office -- Ellie and Madie are probably trying to persuade the local radio station to put out a false announcement; or they're making babies out of bubblewrap; or making Sam go red; or they might be planning a joke to play on us.

3. Seeing Katie on a Famous-Five-style mission to find the owners of the murder house so she can make them sell it to her for tuppence. She has been hassling the town planners and the land registry and charming people at the electoral roll into forwarding letters.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Euargh, street flowers and back to the moon.

1. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named making me jump twice in one day -- once by sneaking up behind me with his bike horn when I was engrossed in my sewing; and once by hiding behind the kitchen door. Our boss once said that when he can hear me telling He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named off, he knows we haven't fallen out.

2. A street overhung by banks of bright pink rhododendrons at the top of a sloping wall.

3. The reflection of the full moon in a pond.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wild flowers, up you get and outdoors.

1. A lush field of grass dotted with the palest mauve maids-a-milking.

2. A little girl in pink frock on pink roller skates falling down on her bottom in the park, and her tiny brother trying to help her up.

3. The feeling that I want to be outside rather than in.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Here kitty, spring greens and Mr and Mrs.

1. John P making kissy noises at his cat to try and get it to come in out of the rain.

2. The miraculous greenness in the woods and hedges. Leaves seem to have suddenly unfurled over the weekend.

3. A pair of mallard ducks -- one male, one female -- going for a stroll in the field.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Part two, dismiss and refreshment.

1. Going into the library and finding parts two and three of a trilogy I was rather enjoying. Cecilia Dart-Thornton's Bitterbynd Trilogy is a romance set in a world where brownies live in people's kitchens and mischievous spirits steal babies and people are can be magically bound by fairytale promises. She plunders a huge range of folktales, often weaving them into the plot, and characters regularly down tools for a little storytelling. I also love the way she describes the clothes and the food and the landscapes. Everything is rich and the colours are so vivid that it's like wandering into a Preraphaelite picture.

2. Sitting in the park with a book because there is no washing up there.

3. Lou's mum's lemon and lime icecream. It is the most refreshing thing ever.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Scaffolding, substance abuse and stores.

1. Showing Fenella the true power of the corset. We tried it on with the bridesmaid's dress and decided that it would work. 'With that, you won't need a handbag,' she said. I looked down and reflected that replacement lipstick, emergency handkerchief, spare order of service and bottle of water might well go in; but getting them out would probably require some serious lace loosening.
2. There is something about a mug of coffee that makes me feel very writerly. I always imagine that the caffeine makes ideas move more efficiently through my brain.

3. Finding a box of fish fingers in the freezer and so avoiding the supermarket for another couple of days.

Brew up, set-up and critics.

1. Working from home because I can have teapot tea throughout the day, rather than teabag tea.

2. PaulV announcing that he wants to run away and open a hotel... Hmmm, sounds like a sitcom. The hook would be cosmopolitan townie moves to small southcoast seaside resort thinking that he will kickstart the liberal revolution there. But he turns out to be more prejudiced than the residents. With hilarious consequences. I imagined a busty Barbara Windsor-type receptionist; a painfully rude waiter who muttered 'vultures' at the guests; an infestation of a mystery animal in the cellar -- whenever a guest mentioned it, the response would be 'It's not rats.' And there would be asylum seekers arguing in Albanian in the lobby. And a social services family is moved in at the same time as a very stuck-up middle-class family comes to stay -- with hilarious consequences.

'I don't like the way you are talking my hotel in about episodes,' said Paul.

3. We haven't seen James for ages because he has a girlfriend. When we dropped him off, PaulV said sarcastically to him: 'See you at Christmas.'

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fifty springs are little room, augury and innocence.

1. Walking down a footpath while the white petals of wild cherry blossom fell all around me.

2. The swallows are back and I heard my first cuckoo. Summer is coming in.

3. A child's mountain bike lying on its side, right in the way, outside the newsagents.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

To do, lounge lizards and cyclist.

1. I'm enjoying 43things. You make a list of things you want to do... and then keep a public diary showing how you are achieving them. As you might imagine the community is very supportive and positive; and there are lots of inspiring goals to have a go at.

2. We now have some tables and chairs outside at work. It was warm enough to use them today for the first time: Ellen was doing sudoku in the sunshine, while Rita sat and enjoyed the view.

3. A little girl wearing a yellow and orange dress and a mauve helmet and mauve elbow and knee pads on a bicycle in the park. I pass her as she pulls determinedly up the hill; and then she passes me flying joyously down the hill.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pot, printing and comedy.

1. Our work coffee pot got broken last week; today, a colleague arrives with a new one.

2. Early in the evening Jason arrives with the service card for his aunt's funeral -- can he use my computer to lay it out; and then a bit later, Fenella turns up with her wedding order of service -- can I proofread it. There can't be many people that this happens to -- apart from vicars and printers, I suppose.

3. Black Books -- in particular, Bernard trying to get injured to avoid doing his tax return by walking up to three skinheads and asking: 'Which of you three bitches would like to dance.' And also, the scene where he sweeps the customers out of his shop with a broom so he can close early and drink wine.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Baby, crocodile and teller of tales.

1. Meeting my goddaughter Ellie for the first time. She has the most enormous blue eyes you've ever seen, and she smiles and laughs and makes bubbles and can support her own head and can follow people she knows with her eyes. All at three months -- is this not the most marvellous baby ever created?

2. My cousin Laura -- this is the one studying puppet-making -- is making a crocodile. To map out the head she has made a 3D model from paper and sticky tape -- nothing else, just paper shapes and tape. I wonder at how robust it is, and how the flat shapes fall into place. From the scribbles and marks all over it, there is obviously some cunning geometry trick to it, but I don't know how it's done, so it seems rather like magic to me.

3. They are not very fashionable -- rather Victorian, apparently -- but I like books with omniscient narrators. I have been reading Family and Friends by Anita Brookner, which uses this device. It gives the book a very dream-like feeling. The narrator is a descendent looking over old photographs, and they float through time, in and out of people's heads.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Shopping anyone, supplies and ballerina length.

1. The Mother being all excited about buying clothes for herself.

2. Having a food parcel packed up for me by my mother -- there is ham and tangerines and salad and some rhubarb pudding and a big piece of cake (this is supposed to be for work).

3. Trying on my bridesmaid dress and discovering that it still fits; and that the bride and groom approve of it; and that it makes me smile every time I catch sight of myself in the mirror.