Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At speed, filling up and ginger.

1. I have left late this morning, and I hurry as I used to before I learnt to slow down and really look at life slipping past. It feels good to stretch my legs.

2. I look up from my work and realise that quietly, gently, subs and reporters have crowded around our part of the office to hear the latest team brief.

3. My chicken soup carries a touch of hot ginger.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tea, past the window and warmth.

1. A cup of sweet tea in the morning.

2. Seeing a visitor walk past the window on their way to to our front door.

3. My feet are cold to the core when I come to bed after some late computer work. Nick is already settled and radiates heat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Even before breakfast, finding history and a maze.

a. Just spotted that this is going to be my 1,600th post.

b. Joe Hyam from Best of Now has a poem on qarrtsiluni.

1. I go out early to get some bread and see (1) two women sitting on a bench at the top of the street drinking tea from real mugs; (2) an older woman limping determinedly along the hill carrying a newspaper cone from which bursts a bunch of mauve michaelmas daisies and waxy orange crocosmia; (3) a fine strong-looking lady, all curves and s-shapes, wearing khaki dress, white sunhat, stout walking shoes and rucksack strides out for a day's walking.

2. We followed London Wall Walk, and spent the day spotting ceramic plaques and sections of rough Roman stonework preserved amid the glass and concrete towers.

3. In a Barbican courtyard overlooked by the City of London Girls School, the remains of a maze marked out in masking tape.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dipper, in at the window and unpacked.

1. Dipping a biscuit in my coffee so that its chocolate coating melts and shines, tide-marked with the milk froth.

2. I am getting supper ready for Nick's return. He walks round to the kitchen window so he can look in and see me at work.

3. The last moving box is empty and flattened.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reboot, charcoal and Hilary.

1. In the before dawn dark, the computer ur-ur-urs and reboots, ur-ur-urs and reboots. This isn't right. Black thoughts of data irretrievable and work due in on Monday. I switch it off, count to 30, try again. ur-ur-ur reboot. ur-ur-ur reboot. I stare at the screen, wondering stupidly why I've bothered to get up at 6am if I can't do any work. I switch off at the plug and try again. I look at the keyboard, and something in my head says: 'F9'. I hit the key and normal service is resumed. Never have I been so pleased to see the green caterpillar on the Vista start-up screen.

2. My art teacher hands me a plain cardboard box of charcoal.

3. On my way home, through the unfamiliar night streets, I run into Hilary, my old boss' wife. She is waiting to pick up one of her daughters from a night out and has plenty of news to share.

4. Nick brings me a chocolate Goddess from my favourite chocolate shop.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wet woods, hall light and a picture.

1. The rain and the work clear up, so at lunch time we take a walk in the woods to see mist, puff balls, rosehips and rain-fat blackberries.

2. As I fumble with my keys to open the door, the hall light goes on.

3. I chat on the phone to Alan about unpacking the last couple of boxes. He fills in the details, a word-picture of Nick opening a box, recoiling in horror and turning on his heel, coat tails flying.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Band, prize lemons and pink clouds.

1. The rubber band around the jam jar paper is removed. It stretches and fattens until it is impossible to believe what it was before.

2. I have a portrait picture on my page of a nice, smiley old man at a horticultural show. He is holding up and in front of himself a plate on which are two lemons that he has grown. The photographer has provided a caption: 'NICE PAIR: X___ proudly displays his fine set of lemons at Y___ show.' There's something not quite right about that. I try '... shows off his pair of lemons.' and 'with his lovely lemons' and 'shares his prize-winning lemons.' but I'm still not comfortable. Slowly the realisation dawns that I am the victim of a mischievous photographer.

3. Coming towards home after work, pink clouds ahead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Point, prints and push.

1. At the first stroke, the sharp new point on my pencil pops and crumbles into a tiny constellation, black on white.

2. Dry morning. No-one in sight. Dew wet footprints on the path get fainter step by step.

3. One last push late at night to finish my day's proofreading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn comes, off the line and chore.

1. Things have changed. In low places, there is a fresh, damp smell that makes me think of earth and mushrooms.

2. Washing coming in off the line smells of fresh air and sunlight.

3. We work briskly because we want to enjoy the last hours of our evening. Turn the mattress, lay the sheet drum tight and take a pillow each. We hunt for the corners of the duvet, shake it out and race the buttons to meet each other in the middle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For a public place, to bed and the belly button.

1. A girl lies in a deckchair, eyes closed, feet up while a woman uses two threads to shape her eyebrows. A lady in a hat spreads out tarot cards among crystals, reading for another lady in a hat. These are such intimate performances for a busy shopping street.

2. I buy myself a new night dress (the two I have are about ten years old -- I had them at university). It is mauve with plum-coloured spots; and it is cut to support and flatter a curvy figure, so I feel very beautiful when I wear it.

3. Sitting on the beach eating my lunch and watching the sea pull in and out. A phone conversation next to me and behind me describes our location: 'By the belly button. Not on the pier side, the other side.'

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Red-green, here she is and paid for.

I'm very proud today because I'm in a real lit'ry magazine, complete with sound file of me reading it -- check me out on qarrtsiluni.

1. In my lunch box, pieces of deep red tomato and emerald coriander. Katie says that for a moment she thought I was eating handfuls of sweets.

2. In the middle of tea, at 5.25pm, I tell Caroline about the lady who was supposed to come at five and pick up some boxes. 'I wonder where she is?' And the doorbell rings.

3. I am planning to whisk Nick off for a weekend away, and I am offered some editing work, which should pretty much cover the costs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Once there, space and filling paper.

1. Where ivy has been pulled off the white car park wall, there are marks like dirty handprints.

2. I unpack another three boxes and make a new empty space on the floor.

3. My pictures are a mess of lines and charcoal smudges. But I don't care -- this is Drawing for Absolute Beginners.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blue sky thinking, books away and chocolate cake.

Another wonderful 3BT-inspired book from Lauren over at All the Good Blog Names Were Taken.

1. Looking up at strandy, hazy clouds barely stretched over the sky and commenting that it's going to be a fine day.

2. The shelves are in and my books are out of boxes. Nick has put so much time and effort and thought into these (we had a carpenter in for two days) and as I stacked my books I felt very loved and important. We have another set the same on the other side of the fireplace -- these are for Nick's model planes and games and other bits, many of which are at the bottom of the wardrobe now.

3. Using my front teeth to scrape butter icing off a piece of my mother's chocolate cake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gingerbread, bundle and man about the house.

1. I buy a gingerbread man and bite his head off. He's delicious from his smartie buttons to his chocolate shoes.

2. In Tim's game, Clodius hits a giant crab with the group's only lantern. The players cry 'Nooo' and I can only reply: 'I'm sorry. Clodius is stupid. And surprised. It's what he would do.' The pay-off is that I roll 19 to split the beast's shell and set it on fire.

3. Returning home after a long day away, Nick proudly shows off the shelf brackets, the strong smell of glue, a new squeegee mop and the plastic sieve he has bought to stand over the sink to contain our green waste before it goes out to the bin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Out of my hands, mushrooms and feet.

1. I move a difficult page down my to-do list while I wait for another story to go on it. A little later, I spot it up on someone else's screen -- we're short of work, and they've grabbed it out of the pool and finished it for me.

2. I set the mushrooms cooking early. I have been looking at them, butter plump in the pan while I waited for the rest of dinner to finish. When we serve up, the first thing I try is a mushroom.

3. Putting a pair of thick socks on my cold feet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ferns, incense and Anna.

1. My parents put the tray of coffee down on the table. 'Look what they did on the foam. Ferns.'

2. We walk into the church and immediately notice the incense. On his tour, the verger returns to the theme again and again. 'When the sun comes through those windows and we've got the smoke going...' 'We light the discs with a blow torch...' 'This is the mix we use.' 'We sometimes add some of these rose petals...'

3. On our way round the church I lose Nick for a moment, but find Anna who is a dedicated 3BT fan. When Nick comes over, she wants to try his head for velvetiness.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One, two and three.

1. After one coat of paint the wall is no longer the colour of a ceiling that has sheltered a heavy smoker for 20 years.

2. After two coats of paint, the holes Nick repaired last night are no longer visible.

3. After three coats of paint, and a careful clean-up including a long time spent on the carpet with a stanley knife, the walls are bright and clean. We are satisfied and ready for the new bookshelves.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Greeting, amble and apples.

1. A small girl and her parents stand opposite me at the crossing. She waves at me, smiles and sticks her tongue out.

2. On Friday afternoons, I am an unrepentant saunterer. I spit on the idea of a brisk pace for exercise and concentrate on the scenery instead.

3. Quite quickly, bramley apples fall to pieces in the saucepan and fluff up until they look like unspun wool.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gourds, story and dinner.

1. Jane brings heavy shopping bags to work and leaves them on the surplus produce desk. 'What have you got, what have you got?' Inside the bags are heavy pieces of yellow pumpkin, slices of harvest moon.

2. Listening to reporters on the phone and trying to guess what the story is.

3. Nick comes home and we cook dinner together.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Frenchman, free fireworks and ferns.

1. Sarah asks if we don't think that her boyfriend is devastatingly handsome and classically Gallic. We can agree in all honesty, and immediately name him 'The Frenchman'.

2. A spray of sparks flies from the station clock tower late at night. Men are at work on the scaffolding that appeared earlier today. We walk up the hill looking back over our shoulders at the unexpected fireworks.

3. After washing the vegetables I empty the sink and find the water has left ferns of dirt and fragments of carrot frond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fire, living rough and staving off the inevitable.

1. Pictures of a fire in a derelict house. Carverns of lily orange flames and window frames in black silhouette draw my eye.

2. One of the reporters comes round with a sponsorship form. She's spending a week living as a homeless person in town. Her mind is whirring with ideas about surviving not so much the cold nights but the empty days.

3. Susan is wearing sandals with a large silver buckle: 'It's not autumn, because I'm wearing my sandals.'

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Back to bed, first lesson and window.

1. I write some beautiful things in the cold electric light, and then go back to bed where it is warm and dark.

2. At the crossing a mother waits with a tiny girl, nappy bulging under her leggings, who wears a large backpack.

3. The road follows the line of the hill, and all the houses have names like Long View and Outlook. Through an open porch door there is a window. The sky beyond squeezes round its red and blue glass centrepiece.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Decorating, I shouldn't have to say this and larva.

1. The sound of wallpaper coming off in long strips. Nick compares it to a lightsabre. To me, it sounds like the drawn-out rrrrrriiiiippp of an activity normally forbidden by polite society. When the work is done, the pieces bagged up and the dustsheets put away, the exposed walls make us feel as if we have moved into someone else's house.

2. A father manhandles a pushchair through the mud at the autumn flowershow. He turns to the line of children behind him and says: 'This way, and don't pick up any more worms.'

3. On the underside of a railing, a caterpillar adorned with black bristles and tan brushes.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Coffee pot, rice and haircut.

Here's something that might amuse -- Happy Topics is a news website that concentrates on happy stories.

1. There are still ten boxes unopened (not including book boxes). Nick finds my stovetop espresso maker. It's not The Coffee Pot, but its coffee tastes very good with my breakfast.

2. I find, after searching three shops, a packet of risotto rice in the supermarket (where I should probably have looked first).

3. Nick returns from town with a velvety new haircut. I keep reaching up to stroke it the wrong way.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rowan tree, bright and soup.

1. A rowan tree on the industrial estate. The berries are so red and shiny that I want to rub them with my cheeks.

2. It is raining when I leave work, but as I start to climb the hill, the sun comes out, and people shade their eyes.

3. A blue and white striped bowl of bright crimson tomato soup when I'm very hungry.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Looking out, greens and luxury.

1. A new route to work means new gardens to peer into and new pleasures to discover.

2. I am the one who washes the lettuce, so I get to eat the heart.

3. I am settled in bed among the pillows with a 1970s sci fi novel. The box of chocolates swims into view, followed by a Nick.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Moving, compliment and home.

1. Compassionate removal men who work quickly to get my boxes and bundles into the van and out of the rain.

2. My mother appears bearing treats. Later, watching Nick pack a bed into her car she comments: 'He's nice and careful, isn't he.'

3. A corner of the kitchen is well-padded with books; my bed is put back together and suddenly this strange place looks like home.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Strawberries, a pair of hands and communication.

1. I buy a pair of bags to transport my linen and bedding. They are sky blue and decorated with summery strawberries. I hope that in the dead of winter, they make me think of a hot July.

2. My mother comes to help with the packing and she brings a cake.

3. In the dark hours when everyone should be asleep, a voice beside me: 'Are you worried about tomorrow?' 'Yes. But I was trying to do it quietly.' A hand reaches for mine. 'It's going to be all right.'

Monday, September 01, 2008

Flag day, a good pair of hands and nutrition.

1. Nick's mother confides that she put out a little flag the day their junkie neighbour moved out. 'I was just putting it out and I saw her looking out of the upstairs window.'

2. I set Nick to wrapping china and I know that it's in safe hands.

3. I am very hungry and the pan of pasta is very large.

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

1. Among my birthday presents is a new book of Tove Jansson's art, featuring lots of bits I've never seen before. 2. Stopping for a ...