Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A strangescape, a confession and about the lion.

1. Grape hyacinths. They look like a forest of bobbly trees in the wrong colour, rising out of a bed of succulent reeds.

2. He admits that he feels like pushing us both in the pond. I climb quickly back up the bank away from the water's edge. I'm tempted to jump in myself.

3. I love hearing Virginia McKenna speak -- she is narrating a documentary about Christian the Lion. She sounds as if she has every confidence in your ability to keep her secret.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Snort, a concert and the timing.

1. I blow my nose and, for the first time in a week, it stays clear.

2. There is an afternoon concert of Bach at the Assembly Hall and elderly ladies hurry towards it from all directions. Some are driven to the doors; other drive themselves in shining red cars. Other hurry down the road with floral walking sticks that match their shoes and scarves.

3. I like getting the timing right when I roast a chicken. I tell Nick we will eat at 7pm; and at 7pm we are at the table, looking at our loaded plates.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wind bag, joy and an hour out.

1. She runs to get back to the car before the warden comes, small child and black plastic sack of helium balloons slowing her down.

2. I run into a friend who is getting married in a few weeks' time. His eyes are shining, and he looks as if he would like to shout with joy -- except that he's in a shopping centre, and it's not entirely appropriate to walk around with an ear-to-ear smile.

3. Since it is hard to navigate the flat in the dark, and we are very full and heavy from supper, we spend Earth Hour lying in bed talking about our future.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

To a tea, resting and a recovery.

1. A biscuit dipped in hot tea so its thick chocolate coating melts slightly.

2. I am too ill to do anything but play Lego Starwars, take naps and lie in the bath.

3. After supper I feel well enough to tell Nick that I'll do the washing up while he supervises.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A small sin, time well-spent and the transformation.

1. I secretly like the odd slice of white plastic bread, toasted with lots of butter.

2. I put on the TV in the waiting-for-Nick-to-come-home half hour and find an episode of the Simpsons that I've never seen before.

3. It's discouraging, brownish and lumpy before I blend it (with a lot of milkl) into silky yellow curried parsnip soup.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where's she going, a break and nursing.

Wow -- 150 followers. Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your support.

1. I've seen her before on my morning bus, travelling away from the school whose uniform she wears.

2. The recruiting expert says there are 50 people going for every job. It makes me think I am in for a long break.

3. He sits on the edge of the bed and hands me cold remedies one by one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

For your eyes only, the good kind of tired and shower.

1. Only travellers in the high seats at the back of the bus can see on the top of the hedge two red glass baubles left over from Christmas.

2. Feeling tired but successful and ready to go after a life coaching session.

3. Warming up under a hot shower.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the mat, blowing and twining.

1. I like being at home during the week and hearing the postman arrive.

2. After almost two weeks of still weather, I can hear the wind waking things up outside.

3. We make a pair of wills. After the advisor has left, we hold each other tightly -- it's a combination of understanding that our joy is transient; and feeling as if the tendrils of our futures are twisting together.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Breakfast in bed, we'll meet again and instructions.

1. I like coming in to see my mother in the morning while she has her breakfast in bed. Robert is there too. I make him move over.

2. Granny glances up from the pile of photos. 'Is my David still alive? I sometimes forget when I'm looking at pictures of him,' she says sadly. We talk about how they'll be meeting again one day, and she sings 'We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when.' Then she wonders if he's met someone else. All I can say is that this doesn't seem very likely.

3. Nick has been to see his mother today. She has given him a book called 'Your Marriage', which was given to her by her parish vicar when she was engaged.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nap, restraint and new season.

My aunt (the cake aunt) has just emailed her beautiful things, which include:
  • my taddies have all hatched, all wiggley in a nest of cast-off jelly
  • first baobab now has real leaves
1. Taking a nap because it's Saturday, and I can.

2. Granny rings again. I refrain from answering 'Hallo, Telegraph crossword hotline.'

3. The year's first new potatoes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Exercise, gas tower afternoon and school's out.

1. Walking to work on a cool bright day and arriving warm and loose-muscled.

2. I like seeing the gas tower sunk down in its lattice of girders, with the bright white sky behind.

3. A tight ring of teenagers crouches in the grass like a black mushroom. A malfunctioning lighter makes one of them leap up yelping.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nothing spent, when you put it that way and soap.

1. I take out my week's spending money; and then use some of it to get my hair cut. I take the rest into a few shops; but don't fancy any of the things I thought I wanted.

2. My drawing teacher talks about 'getting information down'. This seems a lot easier to me than 'draw that skull'. It's just like taking some notes -- which I know I can do; rather than doing art -- of which I am less certain.

3. I like using a gritty bar of soap in the shower.

PS: Some of my drawing class's work is on display in the adult ed centre in Tunbridge Wells, including my crow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The first moments, covered and a stolen child.

1. I step outside to pick up the milk and check my pots of seeds. The air is so still and cool and the day so full of possibilities.

2. A flowering shrub in the middle of this front garden has an old curtain thrown over it to keep the cold off.

3. We find frogspawn in the nature reserve pond. She tells me that when she was at junior school, she stole a single jellied egg from the class's tank and took it home in her drink bottle. Her mother was very cross and said: 'Well you'd better look after it.' So she raised a little frog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To do, early spring and a pizza.

1. I'm so glad I'm experienced and old enough to recognise stress-mongering; and that I know how to avoid it.

2. Getting out of the office for a walk in the leafless and sunny woods.

3. I've been thinking about pepperoni pizza all day, so I'm pleased to see slices in two huge dishes on the dinner table.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No coat, the black cat and meat.

Over at Daily Mammal they are discussing My Family and Other Animals.

1. I leave the house without a coat.

2. A black cat shape has been cut out of the car park.

3. He's looking covetously at my pink lamb cutlets, but he's not having any.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Breaking bread, the three and a family.

1. The red gold flakes of pain-au-chocolat falling on to our plates, the table and into the folds of our clothes were worth waiting for.

2. His three girls are as excited as spaniels. There is a laugh under his voice as he tells them to WAIT for the people getting off before boarding the train; and to WAIT for the lady who offered them her seat to get up before they try to sit down.

3. The family moves like sea currents between the dining room, the kitchen and the sitting room where we are relaxing after a feast. The sound of a glass breaking rushes them into the dining room to comfort, forgive and reassure. 'They're so nice,' I whisper to Nick. 'I want our family to be exactly like this.'

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Daffs, planting and melting.

1. Daffodils and all their cousins are so cheap just now that it seems rude not to treat myself to a cheery yellow posy in a blue glass.

2. Pushing nasturtium seeds into the earth -- I was taught how to do this when I was very little.

3. Melting chocolate over a pan of hot water.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Denied, a find and for next winter.

1. Interrupting someone's credit card spiel to say 'no'.

2. I put my hand among the sweaters in the charity shop, feeling bobbled fleece and felted wool and sparking acrylic. My fingers meet something soft and light and dense. A cashmere sweater the colour of peanut butter. I'll find a use for it.

3. An almost new winter coat -- my old one is not going to do another winter -- for just £15.

Friday, March 13, 2009

30 days, virtue and a comparison.

1. The number of unread items in my spam box is going down by itself -- the 30-day auto delete has kicked in because I haven't looked in there for a month. This is good, because one of my new year's resolutions was to stop checking the spam folder. The Google system makes mistakes so rarely that a daily wallow in mails from people who peddle filth and misery is not worth it. My other resolution -- to stop reading the depressing Have Your Say message boards on the BBC -- is going well, too.

2. I hold up my cotton bag for my purchases, and the shop man smiles and says: 'Good girl.'

3. I skim over my copy of the Watchmen graphic novel to compare it with the film I saw last night.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dressing, superhero and in the dark.

1. Having my clothes laid out ready in the morning so I don't have to think too hard about getting dressed.

2. I really like Dr Manhattan in Watchmen. He's so blue and strange and calm.

3. Coming home to find Nick already in bed. When I am washed and ready for bed, I come in. He turns on the lamp to guide me through the dark.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pass it on, not yet dark and getting better.

1. This houseplant (which was a present) has tiny roots on a runner. I think I'll pot it up, put it in an interesting container, and give it to someone else.

2. As I am leaving work, there is still some light in the sky.

3. This evening, Nick looks less poorly than he did this morning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Comfort food, cress and time to stop.

1. Passing round a box of muffins at work. Cake is popping up on desks all around. The sugar boosts morale.

2. Cutting desk cress to go in my sandwich.

3. My work for the evening is done, and I curl up on the sofa next to Nick, who smells faintly of bubble bath.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Frogs, the baker and new potatoes.

1. Following up a rumour from Anke we stroll down to a pond on the common to see the frogs doing what frogs do in the spring. One corner of the pond looks as if you could walk across it, the spawn is so thick. The water is dotted with gleaming heads and beady eyes, and we can hear them croaking above the swoosh of the traffic.

2. A smell of baking and some kitchen noises caused by Nick making muffins.

3. Potatoes boiled in their skins.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Macarons, more for your money and take a bow.

Mr London Street dropped me a line saying that his latest entry Friday Night's Alright for Fighting was three beautiful things about his weekend. It doesn't have the requisite numbering; or the x, y and z title format; but it made me laugh, so I thought some of you might appreciate it, too.

1. Two macarons from the market stall. 'Will we have them with our tea?' Nick wants to know.
'No, we're having them now,' I say.

2. I do my sums and pick out two books on life in the Arctic,* regretfully leaving a third (the diaries of a whaler's wife**). I take them to the counter and offer up my £15. The lady says: 'They're £2 each -- we've got a sale on.' I snatch up the third book and feel very lucky indeed.***

3. At the end of the baseball game, the Japanese and Korean players bow to each other.

*Don't ask -- it's one of those puzzling obsessions that sometimes grab one.
** It's a Moby Dick thing.
***There was a copy of Christian the Lion, which I would have liked, but because I know the story of the two Australian backpackers who bought a lion cub in Harrods, I left it for someone else.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Full house, caution and a short.

Aditi Sodhi emailed me recently to tell me about her blog -- it's a very simple concept: she records the high point and the low point of each day at A Journey to the Centre of Myself. The most common criticism I get of 3BT is that it is not balanced, and it's interesting to see how a person might address that.

I also really like Aditi's statement explaining that she hopes to find a balance between her highs and her lows.


1. Our heads are buzzing, and no-one feels like working so we are sent home at noon. Nick happens to have taken the day off, so I'm not going home to an empty house.

2. She is not sure about this visitor, but can't help sneaking looks over the edge the coffee table.

3. It's film night, and we decide that the main presentation (Rocketeer, a tale of air aces and German spies battling in 1930s Hollywood) should be preceded by a short (What's Opera Doc).

Friday, March 06, 2009

Early spring, not good news and concentrate.

1. Chocolate brown thicket branches are studded with silver pussy willows.

2. 80 of us sardine into editorial to hear it -- the reporters have come in from the town offices. Those on holiday come in wearing jeans. The drivers have come up from the garage. People I've never seen before are crowded round the sports desk. We hush for the story. Faces drop and pale. Tight voices come up with questions. 'Will there...' 'What about...' 'Does that include...' Finally. 'Any more questions?' Stone silence. And then the IT man's snake charmer mobile phone goes off. Our nervous laughs blow away some of the tension.

3. My mind is racing, and I can't turn my thoughts to drawing. I think about leaving the class early. But I hang on. This picture doesn't have to be great, I tell myself. It's an exercise in directional shading, hardly art at all. Gradually, my head slows down; turns its attention to the shading, becomes fascinated with how that line works. Before I know it, it's time to clear up.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Growing, looking in and how it was done.

1. On my desk, the tray of sprouting cress has put out root hairs. By home time, the leaves are turning green.

2. One of the boards has been pulled off and we are mad with curiosity. We peer in. Drifts of shattered glass bounce light around the room. Silver air con ducts hang from the ceiling like discarded pupae.

3. I like watching documentaries about the making of nature documentaries. I like hearing how the cameraman got involved with the story, and the lengths to which he had to go to get his footage.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An entrance, bathing and can't come in.

1. The rattle-click chord of Nick's key in the lock.

2. Stretching out full length in a warm bath and rubbing the soap out of my hair.

3. As we put the house and ourselves to bed, the wind in a temper throws itself against the windows.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Routine, book and pear juice.

Here's a guest post from Fiona Robyn. These beautiful things are taken from her new book, The Letters, which came out this week. You can pick up a copy from Amazon, or direct from the publisher, Snow Books.

1. They kiss cheeks at the door, and Violet is grateful for the press of his cheek on hers, warm and solid like a crust of freshly baked bread. (p124)

2. Once, when it was blowing a gale outside, she found herself wrapping herself in layers and layers of clothes and walking along the beach, just to feel the strength of the weather pushing against her body. This is what people mean by exhilarating, she thought, as she watched the sea kicked up into tatters and pushed her shoulders forwards into the wind. (p199)

3. Her son sweeps her into his arms and waltzes her around the kitchen. She wriggles a little at first but relents and relaxes into his grip. She notices a kiss-curl in his hair and is struck by a bolt of affection. Wasn't it only yesterday when she'd lift him from his bath and swaddle him in his favourite red towel, his eye-lids drooping with sleepiness? How did he get so big? (p144)

And these are my beautiful things.

1. Getting back into the routine after a week away.

2. Sneaking reads of a book while I wait for supper to cook.

3. Peeling a pear so the juice runs down my fingers.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Bread, sunset and green tea.

1. Pam sends fluffy yellow puris to the table. I sneak out to the kitchen to see her stretching and rolling the dough and frying them so they puff up like clouds.

2. It's hard to resent delays and a snarled journey when the sun is setting orange in a grey sky.

3. Finding a burnt sugar note in my green tea.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Decorations, milk tooth and the right words.

1. In confidence, I am told that her older step brother (11) has a girlfriend; and that she phoned him on Valentine's Day. She has a scattering of freckles which look as if they have been artfully pencilled across her nose.

2. Gore runs down her chin. The other little girls look on horrified. Then she puts a finger in her mouth and pulls out a tiny bloody fragment. Another one for the toothfairy.

3. She reads to us from the book we sent her for her birthday. It was one of my favourites when I was her age, and she falters on the words that puzzled me -- "What's parapet? And what's ch... ch... chas-m... chasame?"