Thursday, 19 September 2013

Ghosts and broken water mains

What mimics a torrent of rain, sounds like ball-bearings falling onto a snare drum, makes Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins rush barking out of the house and creates a river that runs down the road?

Littlest spent ages watching this water spout - like a spectator at a tennis match in which the player on the right is stronger than the one on the left, head turning left to right, fast flick back to left, then left to right again, and again. She was 'watching the water drops' - "They start all frothy like bubbles, then go round like balls at the top, before going splat and disappearing like mini-ghosts hitting the ground."

Mini-ghosts! Really?

I wish that I could see things again through the eyes of a child. To me it was beautiful, noisy, something that I had to do something about. To Littlest it was an excuse to get wet ... mainly. And something unexpected to wonder at.

'Mini-ghosts' is inspired and poetic and stunningly accurate. I can picture exactly what she means. It would be hard to catch on film, harder still in a drawing, but in the imagination her description sings.

If only I could pluck images like that out of the air ... or out of a water spout for that matter.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A whiff of vinegar

The house stinks.
Our clothes WILL smell tomorrow.
Come too close and you will discover that our hair smells too.

Evaporating vinegar pervades every corner of the house - every open drawer, both dog beds, the exposed strings of the piano, the clean stack of washing, our books, even my mug of coffee. Our eyes water on entering the kitchen, we sneeze, we breathe in and taste the vinegar in the air.

This is balsamic apple cider vinegar (no common malt vinegar in this house, as not strictly gluten free). And it's organic! It is mixed with apples, red onions and brambles, with cinnamon, salt, ginger and mace added for flavour. It bubbles angrily, a deep dark red of simmering, fruity fury.

Bertie Baggins and Four-legged-friend however sleep through anything  Especially when their bellies are stuffed full of apple-peelings and brambles. Bubbles and strong smells simply seep into the backgrounds of their dreams.

Rather depressingly, only an eighth of the apples-that-were-saved-from-the-always-ravenous-thief-that is-Bertie Baggins went into the 2013 version of Bramble and Apple Chutney. This is what we have left

In 2010, Littlest and I used the same recipe...

What's a recipe book without added personal touch? The pages are falling out, there are strange brown stains on the recipes my mother used and by writing in it now, I make it my own. One day Littlest can have it, And cry when she finds a scribble of family history beneath a recipe.

Ho hum - we sleep bathed in vinegar, dreaming of apples and wasps and brambles. And quietly plot more vinegar-evaporating, human-pickling experiments tomorrow...


Inspiration is a fickle beast.

What inspires me - lighting the fuse that sets off fireworks in my brain; rippling a song through my heart and setting my toes off on the tip-tapping rhythm of a dance - may send you sploshing into a stagnant puddle of despair and crippling boredom.

I think what inspires us depends on who we are. Who we really are. It encompasses self, place and time. And is probably touched by our economic, political and religious beliefs. It is significantly influenced by media pressure - that pressure to be complicit in the admiration for a subject of populist awe - although whether such collective inspiration is inspiration at all or merely a need to fit in and not be perceived of as that weird person who thinks differently from the rest of us, is debatable.

We should be free to take inspiration where we find it and respect that others may be inspired by things that we either dislike or do not understand. Before my wittering gets completely out of hand, my point is (... I have finally got to it, trust me!) that I enjoy being inspired. Inspiration is the library shelf of  my ideas. It forces imagination to change tack. It begats creativity, drives our futures and is fun!

Has anything inspired me this week? Well ... yes and no.

No! - for the parts of the week when I was at work.Which was too many parts. Far too many! Enough said!
Actually, that is a little unfair. Work sometimes introduces me to people who are indeed an inspiration. I usually stumble upon this in much the same way as you would find yourself suddenly enjoying a book that you had forced yourself to read ...'just three more pages and then if it's still awful I will put it down.' Sometimes a person walks through my door and my heart sinks only to rise again and soar sun-wards by the time they depart. It's always a surprise and frequently more a revelation about me and my character rather than theirs - I am too quick to conclude all the wrong assumptions about a person. Being proved wrong is inspirational. Usually ...

Yes! - for the touching gentleness of a young man who spent unbroken hours being a friend to a chronically sick child as they both sat engrossed in a computer game.

Yes! - for the wonderful Tate Britain Lowry exhibition.

Yes! - for the leap Bertie Baggins made to snatch the last apple off the apple tree!

Yes! - for my children, repeatedy and always.

Yes! - for the Constable-like expanse of hedge-row criss-crossed countryside bathed in the glowing embers of a setting sun.

Yes! - for the incredible wild-rice, garlic, lemon, broad bean and avocado salad made by a friend.

Yes! - for the abundance of apples destined to become chutney (crumble and apple cake made already).