Archive for August, 2009

Writer’s workshop

What a wonderful day I had yesterday! I was invited to go along to a workshop in Titchfield where Katherine King was speaking on writing a synopsis and opening chapters. It was so very informing and I have so much information. Although I have a novel length book written I was not happy with it. After yesterday I know why. We learned about the structure of the story, about the emotional state of our characters and how to keep the story strong by using our main character rather than what is going on around her. I realised that my book was too complicatedand needs to be tightened up considerably. I am still happy with my storyline but the whole flow needs to be re written. Such a useful day. I also met a lovely lady who offered me a lift to the monthly meetings even though she will come out of her way to pick me up and she is going to come to the group I belong to in Gosport so yes, I am a very happy bunny.

Today we went to visit Olivia, dear, dear Olivia, also a published author and she ran me through what was the opening chapter of my novel and I learned even more. It is interesting how different writers have different ideas and to some extent the information I was given is so different that it does tend to confuse me somewhat but as they have both published several books I guess I must glean what I can and try and follow my own instinct with that extra knowledge. I find this all terribly exciting even though it has me on a bit of a roller coaster at times. I also want to do some painting and try and get some work together for a) exhibition and b) to try and sell as card illustrations. Another hard world to get into but if I don’t earn some money somehow, I don’t know what I shall do. I suppose though I should be happy enjoying the work I do whether it sells or not, and I am but I won’t stop trying.

While we were visiting Olivia, who lives in the farm village where I came from, I spotted some robin’s pincushion in the hedgerow on a dog rose and much to Harry’s amusement, asked him to stop so I could photograph it. I don’t find it very often and now I can put together a compostition for another watercolour picture.

Robin's Pincushion on a dog rose.

Robin's Pincushion on a dog rose.

I know it is quite silly to get excited about such things but I love wild flowers and plants and I feel that I am being called to do a lot more art work. Time to restock my art equipment methinks  and see what comes off the end of my brush.

I long to get out and take some more pictures to paint, the camera H bought me is just brilliant for close up shots that give me all the detail I need to paint and with computer images that can be enlarged to have a clear image to work from I can’t really go wrong. After the set back of yesterday I need something to take my mind off a few things so this will do the trick. I am also looking forward to seeing Edward, Lin and Edward’s mum on Sunday. I am planning to cook the main part of the meal on Saturday so I can relax on Sunday. I plan a Hungarian goulasch with a selection of vegetables, the goulasch can be made in advance, and for dessert a nice and easy, and economical, special fragrant bread and butter pudding and custard. Comfort food which can also be made the day before. It will be nice to relax and enjoy the day for the change instead of rushing around and being busy all the time. Talking of relaxing, time for me to go and vegetate with a book. I have bought some Mills and Boon novels to read, not because I like that sort of book but because I always say it isn’t my sort of thing and how do I know if I have never read one… I read the first chapter and I just know it isn’t my kind of book. It is what I call a trashy romance novel but…. I shall reserve any more judgement until I have read them. There must be something I can glean from them. But I am not looking forward to them so it could be hard work.

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Man in a million!

The odds are probably greater than that, so who am I writing about today? It’s Harry, my Harry. The one that everyone – well me really –  takes the mickey out of because he is hopeless at Diy and has terrible phobias about creeping things with four legs, twitchy noses and tails, or slimy things in the garden. Having said that he was amazing the other day when a tiny frog hopped onto his foot and he just stood and watched it. Mind you he did say had it been its mother or father he would have been over the wall, but that’s beside the point. We all laugh at Harry’s jokes and little comments, he is a great entertainer on every occasion and few of us take him seriously. Oh it’s only Harry…. He loves acting the fool and he is amazingly funny and has a huge repertoire of funny tales that he has gathered from all the years of his life. But there is another side of Harry that not many people are allowed to see and I am one of the priviledged to have got to really know Harry, the man with the biggest heart in the world and the most selfless person I shall ever meet. I am not sure he will be happy about me writing in a public blog about him but he is my unsung hero and I think he deserves some accolade for the wonderful person he really is. So forgive me Harry.

Few people see past the funny exterior of Harry and he is happy to hide behind this front. Whether it was all those years in the Navy being among the lads that made him hide his feelings for fear of looking weak, I don’t know but he has always been deep and it has taken me six years to build up his trust enough to show them to me. Or maybe he feels comfortable and safe enough to let them come to the fore more. Maybe I was the facilitator, I hope so but then I just feel honoured that he is sharing them with me.

Now I can hear you saying so come on, tell the blooming story! Ok, here goes. I have been married before and recently my ex husband came back from Spain after ten months trying to make a living over there. He followed our eldest daughter and her Spanish hubby out there after his parents said there would be plenty of work. Sadly there wasn’t so reluctantly he came back, homeless, jobless and almost broke. I have always got on with everyone including my ex’s, I have more than one, so when I told Harry about it the first thing he said was he could stay here for a week or so to help him out. I wasn’t sure but said ok. Then he said he hates to see a bloke on his uppers so he could stay till he found somewhere to live and work. What a wonderful gesture! It all seems to work and Che has applied for so many jobs and today he went on a pre interview, interview so fingers crossed for him. Anyway to make sure he got there on time and without stress, Harry lent him his car too. The one thing that really shows just how big a heart Harry has? Che pressed his interview suit and shirt… he is living out of a suitcase …. and Harry noticed he only had his trainers to wear with it. Yes, you got it, he gave him the pair of shoes he bought for himself a couple of weeks ago.

Now I know quite a bit about human nature and how men react in different situations but Harry is like I said, one in a million. He knows what it feels like to be down on your luck, he knows just how much it is appreciated to have someone to give you that hand when you need it most and, unlike many people I know, he isn’t afraid to be the one to offer that support. The fact that Che is my ex husband just shows what a wonderful person Harry really is and it makes me feel humble and so gloriously proud of him. I suppose I have said often enough to him about doing for others, thinking about other before self and not judging people when I have been trying to explain my philosophy to him, I never thought for a moment that he listened. Now here he was fulfilling it! Maybe that was what drew us together, maybe he could see something in me that he liked and it allowed him to finally be the person he wanted to be, I don’t know. I can say that he is definitely a man in a million to give to others in this way. He is generous to everyone I must add. One of my sayings is ‘what goes around comes around’ or these days ‘karma’, I think Harry understands that so well and I can only wish every good thing he can have. He is truly a wonderful, wonderful man. I love him dearly and am proud to be with him, even when he does act the fool because I know that this surface front is nothing to the depths this man has in his heart. God bless you Harry.

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Some days just run themselves.

When I got up this morning I had plans, I was going to meet a friend for coffee then come back and get the writing done I needed to do for a workshop on Thursday, then do some work for the Writers Group. If I had time I was going to do some painting. Well, plans changed for meeting the friend, which was ok because I made new ones for Friday, then I decided I would just do a quick tidy up. Bearing in mind I really need to do a major clean which is a good day’s work  for me being so slow and all, but also knowing I really needed to get some art work finished and the stuff I had to get done for other people was a must for today or at least tomorrow. The decision to just do a quick tidy up was a silly one. It started up clearing the kitchen from breakfast, then well the bathroom needed a clean, oh and while I am at it I might as well just empty the bins ready for dustbin day tomorrow and … you get the picture? By the time I got round to sitting down to write it was nearly lunchtime. But then on reflection it must be about the time I would have got back from my meeting with my friend had I gone so maybe it wasn’t so bad. After all I had done all the clearing up ready for cleaning tomorrow or Friday. My mind drifts off, as long as I get it done, it says, by Sunday when we have visitors for dinner what does it matter? My writing is done as far as I can do it and I might get to do some painting, well as long as the ironing doesn’t weigh too heavy on my conscience. Is that procrastination? I think it is. Am I an expert or what… Hmmm that reminds me of Harry’s definition of an expert, ex being something that has passed and spurt a short jet of water, so does that mean I don’t exist? Nothing but a puddle on the floor? Ah well….

So at the end of the day I have achieved quite a lot really which leaves me a lot more time tomorrow to do a clean and some painting. Oh I have a long list of things to do, bake some bread, make some cakes, start making the gifts I am planning for Christmas but well, there is still time for those and if I don’t make the cakes I am not the cause of making them eat unhealthy food… easy for me to say when I am not really a cake lover… give me crackers and cheese any day. I think I know the answer… lists! I will make little lists and cross them off as I go… Does that make me old if I have got to the stage of making lists? My wonderful children tell me I can’t be old, I’m their Mummy. Isn’t that so sweet, they forget they have children that are already telling them that they are old. Where does the time go?

Tomorrow my main aim will be to finish a painting I have been working on for a couple of years. Unfortunately, even though I am amazed at the pictures that drip from the end of my brush I cannot paint a straight line so I have no idea what possessed me to paint a scene through a window which is a lot of straight lines. I have friends telling me it looks good, others telling me I am too much a perfectionist and they are right, paintings are the artists interpretation… no wonder I am no good at abstract. Anyway I am determined to get it finished so I can work on the third in the set for a friend. Today has run itself and I have acheived much more than I thought I would and left tomorrow comparatively free… hey! the housework will always be there, if I do it tomorrow it will still need doing again the next day… maybe it is time to take some for me..

The picture below is the second in the set of three and although I am not entirely happy with it I stopped painting and added my signature. end of!  Time for the next one.

Splash point!

Splash point!

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Birthday blessings.

At my age birthdays are probably best forgotten and whilst I look forward to getting my bus pass in three years time I don’t relish the thought of being that old… I have many reminders of my age, I have grandchildren taller that me, my eldest children are now middle aged and worse, my youngest daughter thinks that modern music is just a noise!!! Oh help! she is only nineteen, still it is nice that she likes music from the old films, musical songs and Frank Sinatra but I begin to wonder what peforming arts taught her when she croons along with ‘Clementine’, anyway, it all serves to make me feel old.

I have to say I have been thoroughly spoiled this birthday, having brought up a very large family my birthdays were just another day, money was always tight and I adored the wonderful home made cards and gifts that my children made,( I kept every card)I remember birthdays when my absolute treat was not having to clear the kitchen after our meal and the little things they did for me, the bunches of wild flowers, the hugs, Oh so many sweet little pleasures. It never bothered me that I never went out or really celebrated because there was enough of us to make a party of our own. Even though, for me those were wonderful days and I miss the home made cards and poems, bless, forgive me my wonderful daughter, I won’t embarrass you by saying who you are but you will know, I still have a little blue card, carefully and lovingly painted with flowers and a bee. The very best of all are the words you wrote… ‘You’re as cuddly as a bumble bee’. How wonderful is that when I know all my children were brought up to love and appreciate nature. That is one I have never forgotten and is very treasured.

This birthday I had so many cards and wishes from friends and family. I had over twenty birthday messages on facebook and phone calls and emails too. I can tell you, it made me feel so special. Especially my youngest son, Ed, who called this morning with the cheeky message… see I remembered all by myself… lovely, he is in his mid twenties and relies on his older brother to remind him, brilliant! This year I had such wonderful gifts that I would never have allowed anyone to buy for me and I have had to stop myself from saying you should’nt have. You see, it’s not that I don’t feel worthy or appreciative of such gifts but I have always treasured the little things and never expected anything more, the gifts I had are way beyond what I have ever had before and they do make me feel so special. I still ask myself, am I really worth that much? especially when I appreciate the little things so much.

Harry, Tabby and Marie

Harry, Tabby and Marie

 I had a meeting at the library with the lady who runs the writing group I belong to this morning and I wore Coco Chanel, just to go into town. Oh I wore clothes, don’t fret, maybe getting old and enjoying being a little eccentric but not that eccentric yet. I have never had a ‘real’ perfume before and it made me feel decidedly extravagent and a little self conscious. Now is that silly or what? Harry is a happy man because he has actually bought something I don’t need for a change. He never understands that when I say I would love a set of non stick frying pans I really would love to have them. He wails ‘but they are for the house’ and who, says I, do you think is the only one using them in the house? And if I have my super wonderful non stick wok, my life is not only easier, cooking more pleasurable but they also get the benefit of tasty and healthy stir fried dishes. He cannot see that I am happy with those sorts of gifts. Now my daughter does understand and this is the first year that she has been working and able to go and buy me something that we haven’t had to sub. When she knew I wanted to try healthy juice drinks like celery, carrot and cabbage – don’t ask! – she goes out and buys me a really super powerful juicer. How good is that! I just want to go and buy lots of nice organic fruit and vegetables and make loads and loads of juices. My sister came up with such an original gift and one which I am also really delighted with. Now I have so many birthdays to remember because not only do I have a large family of eight children –  and their partners – and fourteen grandchildren, but I also come from a large family too. Her gift was perfect. A box of mixed children’s birthday cards to which she had added a huge selection of adult cards, birthdays male and female, retirement, wedding, anniversaries, new home, good luck, baby boy, baby girl… so so many that I have everything I need for a long time. Best of all she had included a little diary for next year in which she had written all the birthdays in for me and added a pen. She knows me so well but what a really thoughtful and useful gift, I have to make sure I don’t let the side down by missing anyone now don’t I!

Recently I met a second cousin who I had no idea existed until I found relatives of my grandfather’s brother, who I knew nothing about, it was so wonderful to make that connection with my dear grandfather and he and his wife came down for a weekend. We had a great time and have kept in touch since. My passion is also angels and faeries and they bought me a beautiful delicate blue poppy faerie. She is so pretty. I have also become the proud owner of a little camera which is another such wonderful gift because mine has just stopped working, so I am hoping to put some pictures at the end of this post.

So today has been a birthday like no other I have ever had and I thank everyone, especially Harry, for treating me to gifts that I would never have dreamed of asking for. Thank you too for all the cards I have received, the phone calls , e-cards and birthday wishes on FB, you have all made me feel very, very special today.

A faerie friend   
A faerie friend

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Coping with wildlife….

I say coping but at the end of the day I have no problem with the little creatures of our world. I look back in amusement and remember Beatrix Potter, Roly Poly Pudding and Samuel Whiskers. How can anyone refuse a poor wee creature that has probably just come in search of a free meal?   Well I bow down to those that don’t think as I do and the recollection that one tiny rat might well breed a hundred in such a short while…. So where the hell are my cats when you need them? For goodness sake they cost us a fortune in insurance, vet’s bills and food yet when you need them close to assist with a rodent problem, where the heck are they?

That besides and knowing that our Harry, bless him, will do anything for us, I needed to sort this for his sake… Today we moved out every appliance… from past country experience they like to nest in the warm packaging at the back of electrical goods… but on removing the freezer and washing machine from the conservatory we found nothing, just a few droppings. I cleaned and vaccumed behind these places and then looked to the kitchen where I had seen one scurry and disappear behind the dishwasher. You know I was quite happy to have a conversation with it and warn it of the impending doom if he stayed in our house. Indeed, I warned it of the cats and the threat of poison but obviously it decided to ignore me and go about its business leaving me to look silly talking to … well nothing ….

I pulled the dishwasher out and the fridge and vacuumed, once again with our industrial brute, but we saw no signs of our wee visitor. I cleaned everything with anti bacterial spray, including the toaster, and hoped we had seen the last of it. To all intents and purposes we had, until that is it came to making sandwhiches for lunches. I keep my bread in the fridge often and tonight I took the new loaf from my fridge in order to do the packed lunches for H and Tabby. I opened the pack and took out the end four slices… Something was not right! The crust had a hole right through it…. eeek! In my mind I immediately thought that somehow a problem with the packaging and  supermarket end was at fault… How would I word the letter to tell them? Then I remembered, I left the bread on the freezer out in the conservatory , to defrost. On further investigation the plastic wrapping had been chewed through, it was our little friend again. So he must have been in for a couple of days.

Now as I said my memories of B.P. endeared such creatures to me and I found it hard to think that we might have to do unspeakable things to encourage it to go….needless to say the major moving of appliances and cleaning made sure there was no more food to be had and tonight there had been no sign of any tiny friend. No food? no reason to come indoors! Or so I hoped, for Harry’s sake as much as anything. So far so good and absolutely no sign so far but I don’t think I will hold my breath… after all so far we have poisonous spiders, frogs and now rats –   be it only baby rats, in the kitchen, whatever else can the town offer us? … It must be that our house has the most favourable food in the neighbourhood but then the creek is a few hundred yards away and I do have this soft spot for such creatures.

I know I laugh but I also know the seriousness of a rat problem, frogs are a different matter, they offer no threat apart  to the slug population and I think they are pretty, so many different colours we have here..ordinary spiders are ok at a distance but the widow type spiders I do not intend to sympathise with… The ivy in the garden now having gone I look out for other places they might hide and if they have the same shape and look, no matter what its family genus. I have no sympathy, I have no need to be bitten…. by them or any bug so they have to go….

Till next post… M xxx

On the other hand, if there is anyone who would like to try kissing a frog or talking to a rat then this is the place to be so until I find another job/home etc. I will do my best to make sure there is no limition to any wild things that might like to visit our domain… M xxx

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Wild things!

Oh dear, Oh dear. I know it is summer and the doors are open to let in the fresh air, I know too that since the ivy was removed to try and get rid of some of the more undesirable spiders there have been many more things discovered about my little garden, like the amazing wildlife, but today I was not even thinking about the garden because I had a day to myself. I had two tasks one to write a short story for my writer’s group tomorrow and two to finish the second painting. I decided to write first as this was more important because my friend was off camping for a week and it gave me so much more time to get his paintings finished. Anyway, I thought I would have toast for breakfast and cut myself a couple of slices of the bread I had made the day before to have with home made marmalade and a decaff coffee. Wonderful!

Well, it might have been but my morning had started badly. Harry gets up at 4:40am – middle of the night as far as I am concerned – and I got up to go to the loo having been woken up, no problem but I like my curtain open slightly and as I walked back to bed I thought I saw something flutter up past the window. Ignoring it because it was 5am I climbed back into bed hoping if there was anything it wasn’t going to decide to sit on me as I slept. I saw it again, a large moth was trying to get to the early dawn light through the curtain. There was nothing for it but to open the window wide and the curtain and hope it flew out. Which I duly did, could I go back to sleep? knowing it was flying about somewhere I had to watch until finally it flew out of the window at 5:45, just when the traffic starts urgh! Very little sleep for me after that, especially knowing I had to get up early for a friend to pop by.

My toast was delicious and I got my laptop out to begin my story as I finished my coffee deciding to clear up the kitchen later, including the crumbs from the toaster which I keep out the back on my freezer. The toaster that is, not the crumbs, silly. As I stretched my legs getting up to make another drink I noticed that the crumbs from the toaster were gone…curious! But I thought no more of it and decided that maybe I had wiped them up earlier. Then I went back to my computer and began typing away I saw another movement from the corner of my eye. Now, I thought to myself, I have got to stop seeing things, the trouble is my peripheral vision is probably better than my ordinary vision and sure enough a few moments later a small creature ran across the tiles on the kitchen floor making toward the cat biscuits. I stood up and the little thing disappeared. Obviously I could find no sign of it until, that is , a while later when once again I heard something and caught a movement outside my dining room window. When I looked into the little conservatory where my freezer and washing machine are, there hanging from the clothes airer beside the freezer was my little rat thing having a gnaw at the rubber seal on the freezer. Not a mouse as I had first suspected but a young rat. I spoke to it rather firmly this time and explained that I was giving him a chance because if the cats came home he would be in serious trouble and if Harry knew there would be poison down for him. Again it had disappeared only to reappear a little while later climbing over the laundry basket onto the freezer and on top of my toaster. Of course! that’s where the crumbs had gone and sure enough when I examined the toaster in more detail there were no crumbs even inside it, instead just a couple of droppings that definitely identified my little visitor as a rat… Funny how you can suddenly go off toast. It shot off down the back of the freezer again and I closed the kitchen door to stop it coming into the house once more giving it a verbal warning. Knowing I wasn’t able to move the freezer without help I went back to my writing hoping someone would come to help me try and remove the little thing. Well, either he is a very clever rat or there are more than one because a little while later I saw it shoot across the kitchen floor again to dive under the dishwasher as it caught sight of me. Do I have a wandering rat indoors or a colony? Oh help, the rats I can probably deal with but Harry? Any ideas any one?

Dilemma, dilemma! I am not bothered by such things apart from the health hazard. All my food is kept in containers and nothing is ever left out so although I shall check carefully, I feel confident that my food is ok but where has it walked? Is my anti bacterial spray etc enough to get rid of little paw prints that I can’t see? Where could it have walked? This isn’t actually my dilemma, it’s Harry. Not that he is a phobia but he has a major one for such things. Ok he dealt with the frogs in the kitchen knowing they had been caught an put out, handles spiders, ok,  but rats and mice will find him standing on a chair. I thought I left this kind of thing behind when I left the country! I wonder what there will be next, I mean we’ve had just about everything now. Maybe this was why the previous owner sold the house. That and the little ghost we appear to have and the strange marks that appear on the walls upstairs. Wild things indeed, and that’s just me!

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Shooting stars

Tonight we are going down to Stokes Bay to look for shooting stars. We missed the peak of the Perseud meteor shower which was yesterday because of the clouds but who knows maybe tonight will be a good night….

Just got back and sad to say I was disappointed. I thought I saw two but like most shooting stars, once you think you have seen them they are gone and you start wondering whether you imagined the whole thing. The sad thing is that the sky was still a little cloudy but the light pollution prevented a good clear view of that dark ultramarine sky that is so full of stars that it is impossible to spot a space in between them. Orange lights shone across the Bay from the mainland, fireworks illuminated the skies from the Isle of Wight, car headlights brightened the area until the glare was blinding before they shrank away into the darkness in a glowing red tail light chasing white cones of light along the road. The evening sky had still not released her hold on the light of day and at 9.45 a large part of the sky clung onto the fingers of light, illminating the clouds that scudded onto the darkest piece of sky, mocking the darkness, laughing in the face of the impending night. Soon winter will have her say and the skies will be lit with fires so amazing that daylight will bow away gracefully as soon as their dying embers fade.

It all reminds me of a wonderful time in the country, where television was an obsolete piece of equipment because outside of the window there was such beauty and excitement. The air excited my senses as it changed throughout the day. Hot summer air where the smell of road driven cows left the air heavy with  farmyard perfume,rich and somehow  comforting, cooler evening breezes carrying honeysuckle and roses to mingle with woodland forest pine and dusk air as it chilled, freshening the atmosphere as the day released her hold to the chorus of crickets in the undergrowth. The night with its busyness, the smell of cool earth, the sound of the night creatures busying themselves with digging and foraging for food. Snuffling hedgehogs, barking foxes, deer clattering through the trees and many owls screeching loudly and harshly while others hooted softly throught the night. And then the stars were so bright and so many, it took a whole evening just to watch the night sky enthralling as each different set of stars shone their patterns, or floaters, we called them, tiny objects of jetsom that floated high through space reflecting the sun, now far round the other side of our world, following an oddly patterned path here and there until finally disappearing from sight.

‘Maybe its an alien spacecraft.’ Imaginations are activated by looking at the night sky, there is a kind of peace and sense of our place in the world very similar to the feeling of being among mountains or the bottom of a gorge, standing before a thrashing ocean in the wind or sitting in a forest where no one can see you. Feelings that give us some perspective to our smallness and insignificance in the world yet being part of it, an important part. Feeling an awe whilst standing in such magnificent creation and realising, ‘there is a God’.

This world is a beautiful place, a very beautiful place and we need to take the time to stop and look at it. Get rid of those negative thoughts and see, I mean really see what we do have. Ok I might have been disappointed tonight but when I stopped and thought about it, I spent a few precious moments with Harry, just us, no family, visitors, just the two of us and we were standing there on the shore looking up at the sky together. A while ago H might have laughed at me but tonight he said nothing, he just watched the sky, looked across the Bay and we shared these moments listening to the waves lapping gently on the shingle and feeling the warm summer air on our skin. We connected with the world, with each other and it was just great. Maybe next year when the meteor showers come we can arrange to be somewhere out in the country away from the light, sitting in the night and maybe making a wish together.

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