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Weekword: Element

When I choose a word for Weekword, my choice is often based on what I’d like to see other people interpret; I rarely choose something because I’ve already had an idea for a post. This means I often find myself scrabbling around at the last moment trying to think of a post for my own word. But this choice was a bit different, because it came out of a thought I had on Monday.

We’ve been having pretty grotty weather here lately. It’s been chilly without that lovely autumn crispness. Drizzly rain that goes on and on, rather than downpours which fade into pale sunshine. Wet mist that doesn’t lift, just hangs around like a bad mood all day. When the weather’s like this, it’s easy to think that the outdoors is ‘nothingy’. It seems to be lacking – the temptation is to stay inside and ignore it. But sometimes that’s not possible (when one has a dog who needs walking and small people to get to school) and the outdoors must be faced.

I walked the Little Girl to the school bus on Monday, and turned to walk back to the house. My first instinct was to put my head down and get back through the grey drizzle as fast as I could, but something stopped me. Even on the greyest, most unprepossessing day, our little valley has something going for it.

The river wasn’t a low, clear trickle, singing its way over the stones as it is in summer, nor a thundering torrent as it is in winter. It flowed gently along, quietly, a thin brown like petrol station hot chocolate. The ground beneath my feet had gone to mud – in some places balletic leaps were required as I hadn’t worn wellies. There were no pleasant breezes or high winds, just a gentle buffeting which made leaves flump wetly from the trees. And the autumn leaves, without the sunshine to illuminate them, didn’t glow with that bright, joyous flame immortalised on all those photos of fall foliage. They glowed gently through the murk, like a fire banked down until the family return.

The elements – water, earth, air and fire – not in their pure, flamboyant state, but there nonetheless. Subdued and muted, perhaps, but not gone. Not nothingy.

I enjoyed the rest of my walk back to the house.

Why not go and see what the other Weekworders have come up with this week?

Margot

Natalie

Katy

Emma

John

Genskie

Aimee’s List it Tuesday prompt for this week is ‘I’m a sucker for….’

Here’s my list. I was hoping to illustrate this with photos but the camera has gone walkabout. Anyway…

Yarn. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? I’m very open about the fact that I find yarn very hard to resist. I love the colours – bright jewel colours, soft muted tones, solids and variegated colourways. I love the textures – fluffy soft angora blends, slippery silks, lovely lofty wools, sheeny bamboo mixes. I love fat squidgy yarns and tape yarns and yarns with a bit of sparkle. I find yarn shops irresistible. This is why I have so much yarn. And of course, each ball or hank or skein contains so much raw potential. It can be almost anything. Sometimes I buy yarn with a pattern in mind, but other times something sings at me and begs to be taken home, where it waits for the right project to come along. Sometimes it waits a very long time.

Colour. I suppose that conveys that I’m a sucker for colour. I love colour. I admire people who furnish their homes entirely in neutrals, and in magazines they looks so calm and restful, but I couldn’t live in them. I love putting colours together. I love playing with yarn and fabrics. I love icing and decorating cupcakes and fiddling with my colouring pastes and a load of sweeties. I love settling down with a cup of tea and some paint charts. I have dozens of nail varnishes I’ve bought because I couldn’t resist the colour.

Sparkles. At heart, I’m a magpie crossed with a seven year old girl. I love a bit of sparkle. Hence my love of sparkly pens and beads and edible cake glitter.

Books. I love books and have them in almost every room. I can’t pass by a second hand bookshop, and scan the bookshelves of charity shops. And when I need a little treat I go and have a little splurge on Amazon. I have written before about my adoration of the public library. I have piles of books I’ve yet to read or cook, sew or knit from, but I still accumulate them. (I do give books away, though – if a book isn’t going to be read again it goes to the charity shop. I have picked up so many of my own favourites from charity shops that it seems churlish to hold onto a book that might otherwise be someone else’s favourite.)

Stationery. Paper, notecards, pens and pencils. Post its, paperclips, markers and highlighters. Files and folders, subject dividers. I love it all. I adore stationery. Even boring office stationery. One of my favourite things about running my own business is doing the stationery order. My husband lets me do his stationery order too.

Shells and pebbles. I cannot go to a beach without coming back with a bag of shells or pebbles. I just can’t. There are consequently bowls of shells all over the house. I have just started collecting sea glass too.

Tea. ‘Cup of tea?’ ‘I’ve got one thanks… oh, but I’ve nearly finished it. Go on then, I’ll have another…’.

Soft furnishings. I drive my husband mad with this. I adore bedding. I have more sets of bedding than we could possibly need but I love it. I’m making the bed on a bright, crisp day? White cotton bedding. Dreary and dark? The deep red, or the cheerful floral. And cushions! God, I love cushions. My husband says we have too many and often flings them on the floor with an exclamation ‘Bloody cushions! They get everywhere!’ but we do not have too many cushions. Such a thing is not possible.

Shoes with a strap across the instep. I have high heels with straps across the instep. And flats. And slippers. I even have trainers with straps across the instep. I don’t consciously choose them, but they leap out at me. I have more than one friend who refers to shoes with straps as ‘Sally shoes’.

Baby clothes. I am a complete sucker for baby clothes. Completely. I try to keep it under control but I am so, so glad when the baby needs pyjamas or vests. Or socks. And I do sometimes weaken and buy tops or pinafores or dungarees (Dungarees! Who can resist a baby in dungarees?) because they are too cute not to.

Salted caramel. Mmmmm. I deeply regret the day I put ‘salted caramel’ into the Pinterest search box. Don’t do it, people.

New Weekword…

I was tagged for weekword this week, and the word is:

ELEMENT

Do with it as you will. Post a comment here if you’re playing and then do your elemental post on Friday.

Weekword: Smile

John chose this happy word this week – what a nice word to have as my first Weekword in a long, long time!

I am late posting this because I’ve been trying for days to get a photo to illustrate the post, but the adage about children and animals goes double for 7 month old babies. Littlest S&S is not a co-operative model.

And she’s the subject of this post because… she’s teething. Not something that instinctively leads to ‘smile’, perhaps. ‘Yowl’, maybe. ‘Bonjela?’ ‘Drool?’ ‘Aaaagh, you little bugger! No biting!?’

But the first tooth is now well through and clearly visible on her bottom gum, and as she’s quite a happy little thing, it’s when she smiles at me that I most notice it. And I am now in that bittersweet phase I have had with all my babies when their teeth start coming.

I have been with this little person nearly 24 hours a day for the last 7 months. (Longer, if you include the time she spent trampolining on my internal organs, but I digress). I know her, every inch of her. I’ve watched her unfold from a crumpled scrap of humanity who did nothing but eat, sleep, cry and poo, to a little person with strong desires and preferences and a sense of humour. I have spent ages gazing at her little sleeping face. And her face looks complete – it’s what she looks like. And then the teeth start to come and I realise that I can’t imagine what she’s going to look like with teeth. Where will they go? There doesn’t seem to be room in her face. Will her jaw change shape? Her cheeks? What will her smile look like when she’s got teeth instead of just gums?

Of course, the teeth come in and somehow they fit in the baby’s head and they still look like the baby and I realise I’ve been ridiculous. Of course she’s going to have teeth and of course they won’t look silly. She’d look much sillier without them, after all. But that little pearly bump on her gum is a milestone on her journey out of babyhood. Although it sometimes seems like it – when the nights are broken and the days are filled with nappy changes, drool and yelling – this phase doesn’t last forever. It is really ever so short, and before long she’ll be running around, and talking and doing all that stuff they do when they’re not babies any more.

It’s bittersweet, I suppose, but then, I imagine the things she’ll get up to and the curiosity overwhelms the tinge of sadness. And I smile.

Check out John’s blog to see the other Weekworders!

List it Tuesday is back!

Aimee over at Artsyville has started doing LIT again, which is good. It dwindled a bit when I hosted it, and then even I stopped doing it when Littlest S&S was on the way and I had my blogging hiatus. I thought, ‘Ah, I must join in next week’, and then I saw that today’s topic for LIT is creative things I can do in 15 minutes or less. And I decided that I just had to have a go.

So, off the top of my head, here’s a list of creative things I can do in 15 minutes… or less. I have interpreted ‘creative’ to mean anything that feeds the part of the mind and soul that wants to make and be, rather than do. The part that deals with possibilities, rather than mundanities. Here goes.

1. Make chocolate crispy cakes. I frequently have a panic when I realise a small person needs to take cakes to school, and this is what I end up doing. Quick, cheap, and endlessly customisable – the good old standard milk chocolate, or white chocolate and coloured sprinkles for girly cakes, or dark chocolate with crystallised ginger for grown ups, add eggs to make Easter nests… marvellous things. And yummy. Everyone loves them.

2. Crochet. I love crochet as it’s not row-bound, like knitting. If I’m knitting something big, or complex, a row can be a commitment – I can’t pick up the needles unless I know I can get to the end of a row. I have learned from experience that bad things happen if I do. But crochet – that’s different. One stitch on the hook, one stitch to keep track of, so it’s pick-up-and-put-downable. I’m currently making a stripy blanket and it’s lovely to take 5 – or 10 – or longer – and do a little bit.

3. Take some pictures. There are times when I want to take a break from the routine – and so I grab the camera and take some pictures. There’s always something there, if you look. And knowing you don’t have long focusses the gaze.

4. Write a word list. This is getting a bit meta; a list on a list – but sometimes when I have things in my head and no time, I’ll just write a list of single words. It is surprisingly effective at keeping the juices flowing.

5. Sing. This is a multitasking-type action. Even if I have to sort the washing or do the school run or take the bins out, I can sing at the same time. For full effect, the singing must be loud. Fortunately I have no neighbours. Although I do startle the postman, on occasion.

6. Paint my toenails. I am not a painter. I can’t draw – although that doesn’t always stop me – but painting my toenails – choosing the colour, playing with the brush, cleaning up the edges, spending the next hour looking at my feet and smiling – does seem to hit the button!

7. Colouring in. I may not be able to draw, but I do like colouring in. And having small people in the house means there’s always colouring stuff about. And they do colouring books for grown ups now, which is rather good. It’s the Little Girl’s birthday soon and I’m pondering a big box of Crayolas. I know she’ll love it – but maybe I should abandon pretence and get some for myself as well. They can sit with the Sharpies, the Triplus fineliners and the coloured pencils…

8. Blogging. Apparently, write a blog post in 15 minutes. I’ve been timing myself…

The Zoo!

We were in London a couple of weeks back, and so we decided to go to the zoo. Goodness me, the zoo is expensive! Fortunately we used some supermarket coupons, and so instead of costing us £75, it cost us £15-worth of supermarket vouchers. Excellent!

I hadn’t been to the zoo in years. It has changed a lot since I was little, mainly because the animal enclosures have been hugely improved. We didn’t see the tigers this time; they were hiding – not something that was an option for them when I was little. You’d see the poor beasts pacing up and down in front of the glass. And I remember being upset by the polar bear, as even as a child I could see that the poor creature was going mad. So, no polar bear, big tiger enclosure, huge gorilla enclosure, the old elephant enclosure now has small bearded pigs and the elephants (and rhino and hippos) are living it up at Whipsnade. There’s a new penguinarium (that’s what I call them, it’s not a proper word, although it should be) – the old one is now Grade 1 listed so they can’t demolish it, or even get rid of the sign.

Would you like to see some pictures?

The new penguinarium:

Rather huge beastie in the Butterfly house:

Pelicans at feeding time. I am fond of pelicans.

They had an enclosure with free-range squirrel monkeys. They were super cute and the kids loved them.

A lioness briefly woke from her nap to gaze disapprovingly at us.

This is Zaire, the matriarch gorilla. She’s splendid. She was lounging about, picking her teeth with a stick in a marvellously louche manner.

We love giraffes Chez S&S. So we had to go and see them.

Littlest S&S liked the aquarium best – I didn’t take any pictures but it was great. By the way, did you know that ‘aquarium’ was a word coined by London Zoo for their aquarium? Before that, the name was ‘aquatic vivarium’.

All in all, a lovely day, although I think the children will get even more from it when they’re a bit older. We’ll keep saving those supermarket vouchers.

Ray of sunshine

I do love sunflowers – they’re so happy! And they also give me an excuse to use the lovely tall jug we were given as a wedding present; long-stemmed roses not featuring prominently in my life, ahem ahem.

They’re especially nice when there isn’t much actual sun – which is the case a lot at the moment. But when sunflowers meet autumn sunshine, something lovely happens. Something so lovely that I’m sharing this picture, even though I didn’t artfully remove the tons of clutter from the background before taking it.