Monday, October 31, 2022

Timing, project management and moon over Mount Sion.

1. As Alec and I are coming up the High Street, we see Nick coming towards us.

2. We tried telling Bettany that the papercraft she's set her heart on couldn't be done because the video instructions are in Korean and the printables, taken from screen-caps, are not designed for A4 paper. But she was having none of that. And so we're all sitting round the kitchen table cutting out tiny accessories for a paper kitten.

3. Bad Moon Rising shows up on our Halloween playlist. I look up and see a huge crescent coming over Mount Sion.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Ready for Halloween, syrup and unseasonable.

1. To put Bettany's carved pumpkin out at the front of the house and help her go through the dressing-up bag in search of a costume.

2. To half-supervise Alec spooning treacle and syrup into a pan -- he's making another parkin.

3. It's an unseasonably warm night and there are even a few stars peering through the haze when I put out the last of the recycling. We are surprised and delighted by this evening of soft air that makes you think you wouldn't mind sitting outside in the pub garden. But with October, you never quite know what you're going to get; and I think that we would be no less surprised and delighted by a hard frosty night with our breath shimmering in the air under brittle stars. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Massage, averages and parkin.

1. A lot of the massage therapists appear to be moonlighting physios. Today's one is happy to spend time coaching me through some pre-massage stretches; and then poking down the sides of my spine to find exactly where the stiffness is coming from.

2. It is a relief when Nick comes home: he is much better at explaining averages to Bettany than I am.

3. At supper time, we unwrap the parkin, which has been waiting in the dark for four days. This year's one is a bit wholesome and boring; but we've already given half of it away and eaten quite a lot of it, so I might make another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Walkers, cone and seasons.

1. A nursery walks down the other side of the street, hanging on to a Walkodile. One of the children has a dolly tucked into her coat; another child is clutching a train ticket. A boy near the back suddenly sits down on the pavement. 

2. Alec's pleasure in the 'perfect' ice cream cone that he has made.

3. It's autumn now, with all the joys that brings -- but the season in our book has swung round into spring, and it's reassuring to remember that the storms and the fallowing won't last forever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Not too closely, breaking up and rolling up.

1. The best approach is to supervise, but not too closely. While Bettany pours acrylic paint over pebbles, I chop swede and strip wintery greens from their woody stems.

2. The children are fighting over a blanket. I drop a heavy square of crocheted wool on Alec's legs, shove the red fleece over Bettany and sit between them on the sofa.

3. That moment when the last of the physio is done, and I can roll up the mat for the day.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Screen time, beaten and a quick outing.

1. I wake early and it's raining hard. I get on the XBox before anyone else and build an elaborate watery city in Townscaper.

2. Being beaten by your own child at a memory game.

3. After Bettany has had her afternoon bath we run down to the Pantiles in the washed autumn light to catch the tail-end of the market.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Gaming, red jumper and too tired.

1. At coffee time, Alec and I play a bit of Minecraft Dungeons. 

2. Then suddenly we remember that Bettany has a red jumper she can wear tomorrow to 'show racism the red card'. 

3. I am too tired for the thing I planned tonight -- but then I remember that I still haven't watched half the 'new' season of Futurama that I completely missed because it came out while Bettany was tiny.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Out, last day of term and new serial.

1. The fly that has been buzzing around our bedroom for the last eighteen hours finds its way out of the open window.

2. It's last day of term for Alec and I keep having to remind myself that it's not Friday.

3. A new Danny Robins serial -- The Witch Farm -- has begun, and the first episode is waiting for me on the BBC player.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Flicker, survivors and little red.

1. In the garden on the edge of my vision, the flicker of little birds, and their shadows.

2. In the antiques shop, eggshells painted with flowers.

3. To pass Bettany a blueberry-sized tomato at supper.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Girls, it's done and read again.

1. The cafe lady says, 'See you soon, girls,' which makes us both laugh, because we've been sitting there moaning about editing and menopause.

2. This has been a terrible writing session. Everything has come out ashy, and the ink on my fingers seems more meaningful than the words on my page. But I kept going; and now it's done.

3. Alec asks me to read again a few sentences from our book.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Last, launch and Ronia.

1. I pull down the fading sweetpeas. If anyone asks why I haven't gone all the way to the end of the fence, the ones on the downhill end are still flowering. I'm waiting for the first frost, in case the last of the bees have a need.

2. To join some of the local literati for a book launch -- Available Light, which is a collaboration between the poet poet Val Pargeter and the artist Marilyn Garwood. Some of Val's poems started life at the Monday night writing group I used to attend, and it's so exciting -- and hopeful -- to see creative people producing beautiful objects, and to be part of a living local arts scene. 

3. Bettany says it's her turn to choose next, and what she wants us to read is my battered copy of Ronia the Robber's Daughter, even though we've just this evening finished watching the animated series. She says she is a bit scared of this Ronia -- my Ronia, the wild, fierce, defiant, adolescent Ronia who asked child me to choose her book. She looks rather different from the BBC's cute anime girl.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Master, harvest and striped packages.

1. Our boy, after a perfect morning routine, setting off cheerfully to school.

2. The hard greenish pearls of tomatoes that probably won't ripen.

3. At the end of the summer holidays I bought new tights for Bettany. They came by post in striped paper packets and we put them away ready for colder weather. As she is putting her clothes out for the morning, she tells me that she doesn't want to open the stripy packets, that she likes having them in her drawer. But, nonetheless, she carefully tears one open and brings out, folded in a coil, a pair of grey school tights.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Short wait, reach and mango.

1. There is just time -- a couple of minutes -- to examine the variety of things stacked outside an antique shop, but not time to buy any of them.

2. Bettany is very cross with me, but still reaches for my hand when we go over the road.

3. This mango is really very good -- perfectly ripe, piney and sweet -- but the children don't want any.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Released, typing up and homework.

1. Released into a bit of open space and with no one telling them what to do, the Cubs dart around like little fishes who have just realised crumbs are being thrown on the water.

2. Sitting in the pub with a pint, I type up a scrap of a writing exercise, letting the characters reveal more about themselves, to see if I can bend it into a story. 

3. We come home to find that Nick and Alec have both done Alec's art homework.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Crimson leaves, circuits and essay.

1. A wild creeper with crimson leaves drapes the neglected trees at the back of the car park. Bettany and I raid it for vines to weave around an autumn wreath.

2. We sit playing with an electronics toy, building circuits, testing them and clicking them apart again. We both marvel at the conductivity of Bettany's wet fingers, a pencil line and a cup of salty water.

3. Nick brings the printed copy of Alec's history essay downstairs.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Coffee time, bulbs and in my notes.

1. Softening a stroopwafel over my coffee cup.

2. Burying bulbs feels like sending a message to myself in the spring.

3. We suddenly remember a phone call a while back in which we got some advice on a matter that is troubling us again. I flip back through my notebook, and there it is.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Bulbs, crimson and like her.

1. After coffee with our friends, Nick and I poke around the garden centre choosing bulbs for next spring.

2. Up the hill I can see the bright crimson leaves of a cherry tree facing the end of the growing season.

3. We are watching Ronja again. Bettany observes Lovis, tall and strong, taking charge of the robbers and her volatile husband, and says, 'I want to be like her.'

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Red/blue, roux and myths.

1. Ripe orange tomatoes have tumbled off the vine to lie on the grey-blue slate chips I used as mulch.

2. There is something a tiny bit magic about making a roux -- and it's fun to see Nick discovering that as he prepares cauliflower cheese for lunch.

3. Bettany brings me an enormous, richly illustrated book of world myths.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Mnemonic, coast bus and the list.

1. Bettany, who is really, really good at putting poems to memory, murmurs a maths mnemonic.

2. As I am walking home at 9pm, the bus from Brighton stops at the lights. It will go up town then turn round and go all the way back to Brighton this evening. The late night wash of sea on shingle under orange sodium lights and a chip shop with steamed up windows, still serving at 2am, pull at me like an undertow, then are gone.

3. To sit with Alec and hear the list of important things in his day.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Welcome, I know what that was and compost.

1. The toothy smile on the birthday boy's face when he catches sight of Alec.

2. They shout that it's cash only from now on and the woman in the queue ahead of me turns away. But she is called back and given a free pizza slice. 

As I am leaving the shop, I hear her tell her little girl, 'I know what that was. She's my godmother.'

3. I spent an hour in the sunshine on Saturday turning and sifting the compost heap; and now I have soil to pot on some languishing houseplant cuttings and to finish a number of tasks that have been -- similarly -- languishing at the bottom of my to-do list. 

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 ...