Schoolward bound.

We seem to be hurtling headlong down a slide to Ida starting school in September.

She literally CANNOT wait. We scope out the reception classes on a regular basis – we’ve already bought and name-tagged most of her uniform – my mum has given her a lunchbox that looks like a ladybird – she has a book bag.

We’re ready.

Except I’m not. I feel terribly anxious about the whole thing. Sometime I have a little cry. (This isn’t as momentous as I’m making it sound – I’m a woman in touch with my feelings – those pedigree chum adverts make me cry…)

I cannot believe how fast time is passing. She suddenly seems to have shot up, she’s so tall – when I pick her up I put her on my hip and her legs hang down. Last week she fell out of bed and sleepily mistook me for an orc. I scooped her up to lay her over my shoulder to comfort and, it’s hard to describe, but it’s as though my body was memory moulded to her baby toddler physical imprint and she didn’t quite fit. I was jarred, suddenly more awake from my four am walking doze.

I’m also really looking forward to a bit of regular time alone. It’s pretty full on this SAH ing. I am worried about the fact she hasn’t had the nursery grounding Zeph had when he started school. She doesn’t go to pre-school or anything. We hang out a lot together.

I’m not particularly worried about her being clingy. Most of the time she can’t wait to be rid of me. I do worry about her conforming to someone else’s rules. Following a groups schedule. About playing games where she doesn’t make the rules. About co-operating.

About social skills. But in my mind – primary school is where this stuff goes down. We just have to hold on for the bumpy learning curve.

This is how Ida prefers to wear socks

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Every morning we have a dispute about it. She points out they’re ON her feet. I point out she can’t get her shoes over them. On very bad days she’ll ram her feet into her wellies like this.

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I fear the learning curve will be steep.

I worry it is my fault.

Paved with good intentions…

It may have been me that inadvertently put paid to the sunshine by purchasing barbecue charcoal. I genuinely cannot remember lighting a grill at this house in sunshine. Sorry.

It really was a lovely splash of pre-summer at the weekend. We spent most of it at the park watching Zeph cycle laps and Ida try to bully strangers in the playground into playing her games.

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The garden is starting to respond to the warmth. Once again I’m marvelling in my overblown peony, and can anyone tell me why it’s always covered in ants? They march up and down the bud – busy and officious. I can’t see any aphids to milk…maybe they’re expected. I have blown Ida’s mind describing ants milking aphids and she is scouring the place with her magnifying glass for evidence.

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The clematis that has scrambled up my alarmingly tall eucalyptus tree is covered in pink flowers all following the sun through the sky. I love it and a passer-by knocked on the door last week intrigued by what she thought was an unknown exotic species.

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I have to avert my eyes during strong winds. I keep waking up sweating from nightmares about it crashing through the roof of the Ukrainian church next door. Amiable as they are I don’t think they’ll be pleased.  A tree surgeon is on my list of things to save up for. Along with the desperately needed rewire. In my blogging interlude our electrics have been condemned as dangerous and a fire risk.

Gulp.

On the bright side the ever-present damp may slow most sparks…  We’ve been doing our best to save but a recent redundancy development hanging over us means a finance rethink. Bah.

Always something to spend not-enough-money on. I have been slowly chipping out my studio space by the kitchen by removing cupboards and mouldy plaster and smothering everything with cheap white paint. Soon I will be able to leave my sewing machine out and not have to keep heaving it off the table for meals. I lull myself off to sleep at night imagining arranging all my fabric, buttons and jam jars of bits and bobs on walls of empty shelves.

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This is us barbecuing our tea. We’re not the sort to be put off by rain. Good thing too in this climate. I’m particularly loving the happy happy joy joy on the kids face. Also the fact my mum spotted a bit of blue sky

Everybody says it’s a small world now.

 

Everybody says it’s a smallworld now

But sometimes-

The hourlong journey yawns between us.

Awkwardly jarring between school bells and bedtime.

 

No quick half hours hereandthere

No justacuppas

Don’t doubt my constancy dearheart.

 

When I check the weather - I always click to see

If the sun shines or the rain rains on thee.

 

How to make lemoncurd

There’s just something so comforting about lemoncurd. Creamy yet sharp it cheers up even the most basic toasted cheap bread. I have quite clear early- childhood memories of my mum whipping up a batch at weekends for Sunday teas in the winter. Lemon curd on crumpets in front of the Muppets. Bliss.

I’ve always thought it might be a bit hard. Because of the egg curdling possibilities but with the aid of my beautiful shiny new double boiler my dad bought me it is easy. Even easy peasy.

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You’ll need;

Zest and juice of 4 un-waxed lemons

200g sugar

100g cubed butter

3 eggs and one egg yolk

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Put lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter into a double boiler and stir with a whisk from time to time until the butter has melted.

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Stir the eggs together with a fork and add to the pan cautiously. Whisk regularly over medium heat for about ten minutes until the mixture is thick and custardy.

Remove from the heat and whisk a little every now and again as it cools. Spoon while still warm into sterilized jars.

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It will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge. Although chance would be a fine thing around here…

It tastes amazing on anything toasted. Also stirred into whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed meringue (perfect to use up those extra whites) for a citrusy Eton mess. Or if you mix that up then freeze for a parfait. We like it a lot in little pastry cases as lemon curd tarts. Or as a filling in a split lemon cake with mascarpone instead of cream.

The very, very best way is on a teaspoon straight from the jar, hidden behind the fridge door at fraught moments.

May

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How amazing is the sunshine? Admittedly I’m quite enjoying sitting in the cool of my house after a hard hour smashing china under the rays.

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Don’t get me wrong I love, LOVE the bright glorious light. I genuinely sprang out of bed this morning with an appropriately cheery song on my lips.

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I just like looking at it from the shade. With an icy clinking drink in my hand.

This weekend Zeph learnt to ride a bike. At 10 I feel bad for letting it get so late before enabling this ritual but we’re not really bike riders. He’s wanted one for ages so when passing the Raleigh shop on Barton street we amazed him by actually going in and purchasing a second hand bike and a brand new helmet.

Of course his joy was short-lived when he got on and couldn’t ride it instantly but he’s a stoic optimist my boy which fills me with pride and half an hours googling and some remedial first aid led to us getting up at six on Sunday morning. We made our way to a very quiet park with a small hill to put in a bit of coasting practise before graduating to pedalling then turning and finally, by the end of the day cycling from a standing start. Brilliant.

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Saturday night after a shower we counted sixty one distinct bruises, three big grazes and a fine set of hand blisters but one incredibly content boy. I feel swollen with pride at his perseverance.

It turns out cycling, balancing on a bicycle, is one of those things that is near impossible to explain. You just kind of do it I offered feebly, realising how unhelpful it was.  Your body makes thousands of miniscule adjustments to keep you upright and all you need is the time and space to let it get on with it. With lashings of patience and encouragement – balancing the “that’s amazing!” cheering with the book reading indifference is a parenting tightrope I’m getting better at. I will take a leaf from someone else’s book and persevere.

Also – take that Homer Simpson mug…

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Hello

 

The sun is shining today. For once I’m sat here with my fingers on the keys and actually feel as though it may be possible to say something.

Anyone who reads this – and I am astonished/abashed/amazed/gratified at how many of you still seem to despite my perfidy - may have noticed the poems. Sorry if it was all a bit much and thank you to those who read and commented.

I bleedin’ love poetry in a very joyful, uneducated way. In that I read a lot and write a lot but have studied very little. NaPoWriMo seemed, in the early hours, a wonderful way to structure some of the free writing I do and attempt to break my sick-stomach aversion to my blog.

I know its been too long – and I don’t want to do all that justifying apologising stuff which I know is tiresome but I am sorry for not coming on and saying I was taking a break. So if you wondered - I am, wholeheartedly, sorry.

I’m hardly shy of spilling all on here and have given ample evidence of that in the past but this one isn’t really all my story so suffice to say; I am older  -hard to deny given our attachment to the linear nature of time – and wiser – I can now make custard without curdling it and in equal measures,  disillusioned with our legal system and still glad for it being there.

Some real world shenanigans left me mute here. I hated it – I couldn’t even bear to look at the site. The fracturing of my old hard disc gave me ample excuse to truant indefinitely but it was a constant small ache behind my ribs. An insistant sharp corner that wouldn’t let me rest easy and I hoped a bit of exposure could clean the place out for me.

Which it must have - because here I sit.

 

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The kids are, as always, amazing. There have been festivals, celebrations, cooking, days out, new experiences, tantrums, daydreaming, quite a lot of cake and change- embraced change - between a gazillion beautiful things.

I’d really like to start sharing some of them again.

Day THIRTY

Look – LOOK! – thirty poems in thirty days. (Admittedly, not every day…) It still feels like a very small, personal miracle. Personally – I take my wonders where I find them. I have so enjoyed NaPoWriMo and loved the prompts set every day.

The last prompt is to take a short poem and invert each word to turn it inside out. I’ve chosen;

The Taxi

Amy Lowell  

From Sword Blades and Poppy Seeds By Amy Lowell

 

If you come towards me

Space lifts silent life

Unlike a taut string.

You whisper against me away from inverted dark matter

Or murmur out of the furrows little calm.

Fields leaving slowly,

Many before included,

 

Press me closer to you,

Shadows of the country smother my ears

Now you can be blind to the back of my head.

Than shouldn’t you come to me?

to heal yourself beneath the soft centres of the day.

 

Day Twenty-nine

 

Colour prompt.

 

Red

 

Red is for fire engines

And tomatoes.

For all those poems

Written according to the rules

chalked up on the blackboard.

 

Now red is the blood on my thighs.

Red is the mist over my eyes.

The ink in the pen that marks me.

The smell of the wind that howls-

meanly- in the space inside me.

 

Now I know colour is all in the bend of the light.

The mystery behind my eyes.

We are all motes dancing.

I guess the rules are broken.

 

 

Day Twenty Eight

 

Golden sunshine dripping lemon curd.

Whip butter, egg and acid juice into dutiful place

See – watch my hand capable of this domestic miracle.

I deserve sweetness spread on bread.

Clever hands bonding the disparate.

 

Don’t think I can’t see you there

lined up and ghostly - applauding

my small miracle.

Gravely we nod womanly heads

I set my lever – flex my whisking muscles to move the world.

 

 

Day Twenty Seven

Prompt: Ten things found at an auction house

 

Drowsy, heat drenched day in the dusty rooms.

What sent my idle hand aloft – to bid – on a whim?

Seeded by some drifting dandelion prompt blown

by the sly goat eyed stranger dressed head

to toe in good tweed. Smart cane, hat tilted over horn.

 

Lot sixty three, Splintered, stencilled – bound with steel

heaved home. Breathlessly.

 

Now sat cross-legged – tea in hand, fragrant brew.

to prise it open. Impatiently.

 

First a cacophony of jumbled shapes snarled about with wools and string

Odd screws, unknown coins and here,

a key. Rusted, curlicue and heavy.

 

Next a strata of wooden edges. A cup bound with gold

Black bog wood – blood wine stains – reeking of holy

wooden teeth, satin smooth – scented with apple.

Here; Mahogany – ship in a  bottle. Beneath this haul

A knot that needs unpicking. Thick lustrous rope. Like

holding seaweed – or some semiprecious pearl umbilical twisted in the propeller

of a tin model plane. Golden B clanking, I trace the AE on the cockpit before

Swooping to land it.

 

Rolling on the bottom – a stoppered test-tube wrapped in an envelope

postmarked Porlock. Inside- the middle of a poem, strangely haunting.

Snagged in a corner a flagscrap of vibrant yellow silk -sewn to the edge a list of

secret runes – a chemical shopping list.

 

Late afternoon light slides in like syrup – slipping to the bottom

of the chest as I tilt it out of place

to check I have lifted every listed secret up to my face

to be inspected.

 

With tender shock I see a ragged edged moth pinned to the wooden slats.

Silver headed stabbers. Demanding relentless things.

She turns her furry head. Hope she sings.