Tag Archives: flowers

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

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Wild garden

 Well all this lying around and being sorry for myself has had quite serious garden consequences…

It’s hard to mind too much when it looks so very lovely and the jungliness makes the kids so very happy. Still I feel  there is a happier balance to be achieved though possibly I’ve missed the window this year…

I can’t get over how fecund the plum-tree is

 

Can you say fecund about trees? Bearing in mind last year we had ONE solitary plum. I realise they’ll be a drop but even so we should get into double figures at least.

My valiant little apple tree is covered in fruit as well. Ida and I spent half an hour crouched in the waist-high couch grass surrounding  it yesterday. The amount of humming, buzzing hoverfly and bee life was astounding.

I am particularly fond of the vividly striped hoverflies who vibrate pugnaciously just in front of your face then dart off, satisfied you’ve been suitably quelled. There are so many different kinds we try to count them and Zeph’s collins gem proves utterly inadequate.

Lying on our backs we see bumble bees with white and red bottoms as well as a huge yellow, black and gingery striped one. Watching it ponderously investigate the opening foxgloves I genuinely wonder how it is flying. This is exactly the kind of bee Arrietty dreamed about flying on with plenty of bristly fur to hold onto. Ida amuses herself mightily by saying “No teeth Mrs Tittlemouse, no teeth!” and making spitting sounds holding her sides as she dissolves into mirthful chuckles. She is in just knickers with grass seeds in her hair. We’re trying not to attract the attention of the nice Ukrainians in the churchyard next door who have spent more than the usual amount of time leaning between their immaculate manicured conifers and shaking their heads at the chaos over here. It’s taken me half an hour to persuade her to keep her knickers on and I have no strength for anything else.

When she heaves with laughter I can still see all her ribs but she has a definite tummy now and her legs don’t go out at the knees anymore so I feel better. Down here we have a perfect view of ants and ladybirds going about their business. A tiny yellow spotted beauty sits on the end of her finger for at least a minute before shaking out crumpled silk wings from under it’s spotty overcoat and circling up into the sky.

There are sparrows nesting in our eaves and their fledglings hop all over the rubbish stacked up in the courtyard. Brash and noisy they skim over our heads and tumble from fence to rosebush. I have triple belled the cat and she sits on a branch of the laurel tree pretending their high jinks are of no interest to her whatsoever. She punishes me with a taloned paw unexpectedly in my face as I run up the stairs at bedtime. Thrumming with malicious triumph from behind the banister she stalks off tail lashing meaningfully.  

When we venture down to the compost heap there are three gleaming slow worms twined lordlike on the top of the heap. Fat and gleaming their black unforked tongues taste the air and they blink placidly at us. None of them have tails. They are surviving victims of Mittens joyful tossing of them into the air. Here they are safe from her juggling endeavors and supplied by a never-ending all you can eat smorgasboard of insect delight.

They must be breeding as we constantly find little elver like baby ones, squirming their golden way over the path and through the grass. Bare foot and delighted Ida makes an early joke -” They should be called fast worms!” Delighted she chortles and repeats it  until it descends into a squabble with her exasperated brother.

There is a tiny frog in the washbowl pond. Smooth skinned and lightning fast he crouches under the watermint which has vastly outgrown the space. It needs thinning. I add it to the list.

Here is a bud on the peony. There were more but they rotted in the wet and neglect. This one is at the top of the bush and I feel hopeful.  My wisteria is not dead as I feared, just a little overwhelmed. I clear it some space and add some compost to the base. As well as some volcanic ash my mum assures me will make a big difference. I suspect her of muttering a desperate blessing over it. The plants need all the help they can get…

Death, distraction and dandelions

When Ida sleeps she usually flings her arms up above her head – It’s hard to describe but she has the air of a very relaxed hipster sprawled over a heap of stuffed animals like a Shoreditch dragon stretched over her hoard.

And yes – she’s back in the cot although happy enough in the lower bunk – that’s a whole other post.

I know quite a bit about her sleeping habits as I’ve taken to spending  time next to her whilst she’s sleeping. This is partly to remind myself how much I love her, easier to remember when she’s not trampling over me in her bid for world domination. Also it’s because I’m in a quite a reflective mood recently.

Steve’s dad, stepdad, passed away recently. He had Alzheimer’s and was quite frail but it happened unexpectedly after a fall and a bad reaction to general anesthetic –  and very, very – as anyone who’s sat by a similar bedside will recognise, quickly.

The death certificate says pneumonia but as we said to Zeph whilst stroking the back of his head – he was just tired and the springs had wound down.

Now I’m no stranger to the complexities of dealing with death, many of my ponderings I’ve shared here before; here and here but once again I find myself wrestling with big questions from my lovely boy.

In  a recent early morning he raged at me, pummeling and kicking in frustrated anger – demanding I promise the cancer will never come back. Which of course I can’t, especially since my particular, highly treatable, flavour is high recurrence.

I have to bear it, shoulder the anger – cup the punches and stroke his back keeping up the murmur. The I love you, it’ll be okay, even when it isn’t murmur.

I know exactly where he’s coming from. Don’t we all? The sudden overwhelming urge to gather up all the people we love and hold them still. To freeze them in this moment so they come to no harm.

So they come to nothing at all. No change, no  danger, no growth. No living – no life. Hard as it is you have to unclench that fist. Because death is not waiting for us at the end of a line – it’s traveling along with us. Being alive is moving through your days with death right next to you. The other side of the coin.

Still, it’s a big life event and as such is rippling my pond. Watching Steve dealing sensitively with Zeph while struggling with the legacy of losing his biological father at a similar age. Recognising his sadness at the loss of someone from his life and a piece of his childhood gone. Sadness for his mum and family and sadness at certain gulfs that line difficult relationships.

Remembering that his default position is to retreat and not talk and mine, after serious therapy, is to talk talk talk it out. That neither way is the right way although an ocassional meet in the middle is good for both our souls.

The funeral was last week and Zeph was very sure he wanted to go and so he came. It was a lovely service – fitting for a very quiet gentle man. At one point we listened to a recording of him singing a solo at a past christmas concert.

The poignancy of listing to his sure voice while he lay in his coffin at the front of the church was very nearly unbearable. At the end of the service Zeph and I went to sit in the churchyard to collect ourselves.

“It was my favourite bit and the worse bit” he said. I just nodded, feeling, as I do now, as I write about it, my eyes prickling painfully. Sometimes our digital age seems crudely cruel. Like magnets pushing at each other it seemed indecent to have hearing him and to never yet hear him brushing shoulders in almost physical collusion.

I try hard not to avert my eyes and talk openly to Zeph. He seems hyperaware of the frailty of life. Every day seems a balancing act of talking about it yet not obsessing about it. Making allowances and setting boundaries.

Mostly I feel not up to the task. Never has the mantra of being good enough is good enough been muttered more fervently as I spread myself ever thinner.

I also have taken to watching him in his sleep as well. Parenting sleeping children is a piece of cake. We’ve also been reading this picture book.

Death, Duck and the Tulip which I’d whole heartedly recommend.

As always most hours are filled with Beautiful Things. This weekend particularly has been lit by the most glorious sunshine. An afternoon of constructing a cardboard robot costume with Ida is hugely satisfying and baking brownies with Zeph soothing with a satisfying end result.

My peony is covered with fat buds and the garden is full of forget me nots and dandelions.

I am very fond of dandelions.

Drops in the desert and depression awareness week *waves pom-poms*

I really, really must break my blogging drought.

I’d like to break it with something pithy, witty or maybe a useful tute or recipe.

I fear this is unlikely…

I would like to share this link the wonderful Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things left in a comment. I genuinely think watching Henri has got me through recently – I regard it as medicinal. We’ve all started soundtracking any gloomy moments, I caught Zeph doing it while regarding his toothbrush this morning. Brilliant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M

It was  a brilliant week away – new foods were tried, museums and galleries visited. Plenty of bus and tube travel racked up – a fair amount of mooching. Nitro ice-cream was eaten. Zeph and I saw this;

http://www.auroraorchestra.com/event/peter-and-the-wolf-live-2/

Steve, J and Ida got to hang around on the Southbank in the rain waiting for us. Ida and Zeph threw tantrums. Ida sat down a lot.

I had some amazing cakes made for my birthday;

Lemon,strawberry and peppermint. Together – fantabulous. Honestly – you’re going to hear Heston chatting about them pretty soon I think…

In other news – did you know it’s depression week? – well more accurately, depression awareness week. For once I’m way ahead of the game. In case you’re not and you’d like to be more so this is a great link:

http://www.depressionalliance.org/

Depression touches all of us, I mean – you know more than five people right? – it is serious yet not the end of the world. There is help if you need it, as usual there could be more. Worst of all is the shame associated with all mental illness.

Speaking out and sharing is what scares the shame spectre away.

I live with depression, I suspect I will all my life. I am capable, strong and resourceful, my life has moments of immense joy and frequent flashes of happiness which I treasure.

I medicate and apply structures and routines that help me. I am grateful to still have my life, I value it. Depression is one part of me, it is not all that I am but I see no reason to be ashamed of it or hide that aspect of me.

The garden is looking beautiful, lots of fresh green and blossom. The showers mean everything is gleaming. The clematis that has clambered up the eucalyptus is turning its palest pink flowers to face the brief shards of sunshine. It twines serenely through the wind thrashed branches. My washed out bunting flaps wildly, we’re all waiting for sunnier days.

I’m sure they’ll be here soon.

 

 

Packing mayhem

Oh my life, I’m taking a break from packing.

Things should get easier now Ida’s gone to bed as I won’t have to keep fishing her additions out of the bags. So far this evening I’ve retrieved a rollerskate, a wooden spoon, the box of paints and Zeph’s wetsuit that no longer fits him. All useful items in some other scenario I’m sure but unwanted for five days in London with Julianne.

We’re all highly excited and I’m sure there’ll be tears at some point. I’ve tried not to over think stuff which is something I do a little. Maybe I went too far the other way as today has felt a little hectic.

Hectic but full of brilliant stuff and so many Beautiful Things it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Mum and Dad came for pickled fish lunch today to plant out the potatoes and distribute easter and birthday presents like very Boho easter bunnies. It was a hugely happy afternoon and the sun shone bountifully on some very focused potato planting.

The potato race between the kids is becoming an established ritual. They each get a bag and the same amount of chitted treasure. When the plants are ready we harvest each bag with forensic carefulness and count up the bounty. The bag with the most tubers (regardless of size) wins.

We have ready, set and gone – only a few months to wait. Zeph believes he has this years edge with a sprinkle of ground volcanic rock mixed in with the compost. I reserve all judgement.

My mum dressed up in the gardening apron with the string pocket I made her last year and Ida spent a long while eyeing it up covetously. I’m thinking of running some up for the summer craft stalls.  String dispensing pockets are actually very useful.

Our lizard has been unwell so we’re glad to see him looking a bit more sprightly and eating more. I feel happier about leaving him for a while and Zeph has stopped checking he’s still breathing every hour or so. He shot into the bedroom earlier in the week at about 6.30 am shrieking he thought Sticky was dead. I leapt to my feet, raced downstairs half asleep, missed the last few steps and knocked my arm out of its socket on the door jamb. I was sick on the floor from the pain and Steve had to come down, avoid the sick, push it back into its socket, ice me up and clear up. All under the watchful gaze of a bemused lizard who’d been enjoying a nice nap.

I’ve been on full strength drugs all week and quite enjoyed the cotton wool cloud feeling. I know I can’t let it go on too long though so have brought my dosages down which has resulted in a bit of evening snappiness.

I think the kids were quite glad to go to bed tonight and I’m sure Steve would’ve liked to have joined them. Too bad beardie – we’ve got rucksacks to fill…

I think the blossom will be over by the time we’re home again. The plum-tree was frothy with white flower frills today but the liquid green leaves are overtaking it. There’s very little on the apple tree this year but the crab apple is covered in deep pink buds. I hope there’s some left on Thursday these crimson lake edged petals are thrilling.

The peony’s first bud is showing as well – I can NOT wait! I do love my  blowsy ephemeral peonies so much.

I’ve bought a phone to go away with as well. The cheapest I can find which is ten pounds.

TEN POUNDS. Honestly – I feel ludicrously old. How can a mobile phone – okay it’s hardly flashy – but it’s perfectly functional – be £10 and a stamp  is now 60p. Or a Snickers bar which is, in my mind, about 27p be 89p!! I nearly drop my purse everytime I’m conned into chocolate bar purchasing in our corner shop BUT a phone – a mobile, walking around, put it in my pocket, startrek future, phone is TEN POUNDS.

It all seems wrong. Is this because I’m old?

Anyway I’ve finally mastered how to answer it and we’ve uncovered our oyster cards. I’ve tracked down enough clean socks and hole less pants in case of road accidents for us all. We have toothbrushes and new paste. I’m having a minty fresh break from the salty stuff. Ida is over her horror at being presented with a tube of Hungry Caterpillar stuff. I thought she’d be pleased, she thought I was a monsterous, caterpillar grinding ogre. Surely this is all we need?

Look out Big City…

Gardeny goodness

If I was selecting a reflective word-of-the-day style sum up for today I think it may be… vehement. Or strident perhaps – I could stretch to emphatic, rabid or voracious.

Just another day with a toddler.

We didn’t actually do much today, perhaps that was the problem. I need to plan something exhausting first thing. We had  a packed weekend with a family birthday celebration and we’re Weston-super-mare bound at an ungodly hour on Thursday. High tide is quite early so if we want to see the muddy sea at all it’s an early train for us. Those of you familiar with the brown waves of Weston know what I mean I’m sure. So I thought a pottering day would be pleasant. We did manage to complete a mosaic coaster for G’mas birthday gift tomorrow. Bit worried she’ll not be able to identify the dolphin on the front, might have to give her a heads up on the gift tag.

It’s a little grouty but for a joint effort between an excited two-year old and her exasperated brother I consider it a huge success.

I had to keep slipping out for a drop of soothing garden time today. With cups of mint tea made from my very conveniently positioned clump;

Literally outside the back door, I can even reach out in the rain for a few sprigs for my mug. I make it the way my Granny did – in the mug, soused with just boiled water then three ice cubes. You can drink it right way then.. and I do while checking out these beauties;

There’s a reason children’s seed packs always include sunflowers. They’re so reliable and impressive. Ida is beside herself with excitement about these and Zeph is pretty pleased with himself as well, gardener extraordinaire.

 Although there aren’t as many apples on our little tree as last year they are all big beautiful ones. The hollyhocks are drooping and fading but still covered in insects and gorgeous. I’m tickled by something other than bindweed creeping through the bench at the end of the garden.

One of the winter squashes making a break for it. Looking at the very weedy bit today it struck me what a lovely fresh green chickweed is. Still, should probably remove some… Ida is very keen on pulling stuff up, if only she was  little more reliable as to what she pulls.

I’m going to end with two beautiful things from Sundays party;

 Ida’s new party shoes of which she is foot hoppingly happy and proud. Luckily the way her feet are growing they shouldn’t fit her for long.

And Zeph unearthed these Fuzzyfelts at G’mas in the lazy afternoon. Alice and I played exhaustively with these as children and just touching them filled me with the happiest nostalgia. So much better than the revamped modern version – we spent a satisfying hour laying out scenes.

Hollyhocks

It was Zeph’s parents evening tonight. It is ridiculous to still feel uncomfortable sitting outside a classroom at my age. It’s also really hard not to assume your children are like you. I mean – I know they are their own people – just some things strike such resonant chords with me that I instantly award him the rest of my remembered woes. Clearly not the case as he already has better social skills at eight than I do.

Never mind all that – my hollyhocks have finally unfurled;

 Ignore the rusty leaves. In fact this clump is so rusty that most of the leaves have fallen off and there are just spikes of promising buds. 

 Ignore the poor savaged conifer in the background, it was not me. It belongs to the ukrainian catholic church next door who are very tidy and lean on my fence and sigh at the weeds.

 These are the sherbert lemon ones. Not the best photo known to man but things conspire against me you know. I prefer the more open flower and so do the bees, this clump is covered in humming loveliness.

Also very rusty. Oh well. These two clumps are towering over my little garden and I love it. If you lie on the ground they soar up into the sky like church towers and you can hear the vibrating bees. So worth the enormous clumps of leaves which shelter masses of snails. I hanker after delphiniums as well but they never seem to survive my rapacious mollusc population whereas the spiky leaved hollyhocks do quite well. I never seem to succeed with seedlings – maybe I should beg a well established clump from someone instead.

I finish my flowery interlude with a shot of the last lily which is doing its wholehearted best to compensate for the other sad, lost, beetle-gobbled stumps.  

 The scent this sunny evening from just one bloom made me feel all giddy. You can’t ask more than that.

Ennui and rage

Ida and I went on to the park after we had dropped Zeph at school today. We had nothing on our to do list except make tea so thought we’d take advantage of the early sun.

We had the entire park to ourselves except for a very serious muscle man doing pull ups on the climbing frame and grunting a lot. He didn’t stay that long as Ida decided to stand at his knees and grunt back at him.

Clearly not accustomed to children he fled.

I’m quite fond of the playground at the park. Possibly because I’m comparing it with the playground we sometimes cross on the way home. The one Z calls the broken glass playground. I’m sure you can form your own inner city mental picture.

At least there’s grass and trees here although also the usual quota of disaffected yoof. Breaking all the baby swings – damn them.

Ida is really independent at the playground – way more than Z was. Although she’s quite happy for you to come along on the car trip she’d rather play on stuff by herself – woe betide the adult who tries to lend a hand so the playground experience is pretty relaxing. You can even read a paper..

I love this picture – it really captures that crazy sunny light just before the storm. For once I actually managed to time it so we were stepping back through our front door as the heavens open.

Also I’m enjoying Ida’s glee at unimpeded access to the highly coveted teenager roost area.

 Okay – I actually wrote this post a couple of days ago, and halfway through writing it was submerged under a tidal wave of ennui and had to save and GET OUT! Now the obvious thing would be to delete and start again with something a bit more gripping but where’s the authentic self in that?  Often my life seems nails-in-the-eyes tedious. I’m sure we’re all in the same boat.

Of course I’m blogging about mine. *cough*

Today was more eventful – my lovely friend Erika dropped by in the morning to find the keys in the door and the house empty. I arrived back with Ida and a load of shopping to find a gentle note in the door. We waited, abashed, in the garden for her to call back after her work appointment.

I am very white queenishly chaotic at the moment. When I’m particularly clumsy I always suspect my subconscious of trying to sabotage me.  A bit of introspection doesn’t reveal much out of the ordinary – all the usual angst present and correct. Possibly that’s the problem as I’m sick to the back teeth of them all. Gah, double gah.

Anyway my lovely angel of mercy arrived on her bike with the most amazing dress she’s crocheted for Ida – she took some beautiful photo’s in the garden for Ravelry. I’ve taken some after dinner. So you’ve got extra yoghurt, felt tipped cats whiskers and Idas careful choice of red welly boot which gives her the air of a deranged gogo dancer.

 

How great are those sleeves? I love it. She originally suggested I might be up to it but I’m sooooooo glad she couldn’t resist making it herself as I’m pretty sure mine wouldn’t have looked like this.

Almost as lovely as the dress are my marigolds. They are gloriously ruffled which is odd as I’m pretty sure last years weren’t.. The cornflowers coming up in the path are staunchly blue;

After that soothing flower interlude I’m ending on something else griping my soul. Does the fact a woman lives amongst extreme poverty and crime (and is this surprising as chambermaiding is some of the most poorly paid and demeaning work around?) mean she is unlikely to be raped or sexually assaulted?

I am especially charmed by the comment made by a previous colleague comparing the foolishness of this situation to ludicrous cases where sex worker women claim they have been ‘raped’ or ‘assaulted’. Impossible no?

It was rhetorical. I’m off the garden to find some BT’s as I feel deeply in need.

June garden wandering

Once again my garden is being swallowed by the implacable advance of bindweed. This year I feel surprisingly relaxed about that. My gardening vigour moves in cycles. I have periods of vigilance and enthusiasm which wanes and then waxes. I’m moving up into a wax now but have still enjoyed the recent waning.

What slow meandering with cups of tea in the brief dry moments has revealed is how much small busy wildlife there is among the weeds. We are very abundant in small glistening beetles, wolf spiders hefting around their eggsacks, ladybirds, grasshoppers, leaf beetles pretending to be vogon spaceships, ants casting out new trails and milking the aphids on the tips of my tree branches. There are plenty of toads and slow worms avoiding the cat and sheltering under the piece of corrugated metal we found in a skip down the road and rescued for them. Snails, grey ones and the fancy yellow kind weave silvery trails and hang like baubles from their daytime resting places. There is a pearly white crab spider on the poppies by the swing, we tease it with a blade of grass and it rears up and waves its front legs menacingly. The only thing I actively crunch are the red lily beetles. They’ve decimated my lily clumps. I took this picture of my only lily buds (I had about thirty flowers last year…)

 Look, I’ve missed two in the photo I took. They are cocking a snook for sure. Beautifully scarlet – they don’t have any natural predators in the garden, except for me and my heartless crushing foot. As you can see I’m actually pretty slack in the slaughter…

This fabulously alien lurker is a very welcome ladybird larvae. The bindweed at the end of the garden is covered in them. Another reason to appreciate it.The fleeting field poppies arch between and over all the garden debris. Even though the petals are whisked quickly away the seed heads are things of sculptural beauty.  

As well as the poppy seed heads Ida and I admire the foxglove seed whorls. Their purple spikes are pretty much over but my hollyhock clumps are gathering themselves for blooming;

Marigolds are on the brink of opening up their burning orange petals;

My unpromising patch of lambs ear is surprisingly pretty when it flowers;

 I’m going to do a bit of bindweed unsmothering tomorrow and plant the rest of the pumpkin seedlings. If I have the will after early morning swimming with the kids I’m going to try sawing down the ash sucker sapling growing out of the side of the conservatory. I’m pretty sure it’s bad for the house… although I do like the leaves… after all weeds are just plants in the wrong place.

Poppies, petals, pearls and pyjamas

I keep missing the poppies in my garden. There are plenty of fat buds but the emerging petals are whisked away in a moment by the wind and rain. I go out with a cup of tea and there are new buds and silk petals littered on the wet earth.

There are masses of beautiful scarlet poppies in front of Z’s school where the gardening club have scattered wildflower seed. They’ve left a triangle of unmown grass and last week we stood for five minutes watching the five gleaming goldfinches hanging off the thistle heads. So much loveliness for such a little effort. Today, sat on my bindweed adorned bench, I consoled myself with how properly wild the garden is. I’m going to get some photo’s and show you in the next dry moment. The grasses are up to my knee and topped with feathery seedhead plumes and my hollyhocks are gathering their strength for their breathtaking flower spikes.

I’ve finished my first baby hat, it seems veeeeery small and I am doubtful that an august baby will want a knitted hat… I’m trying to knit some boot things to match. It is very hard (for me) I don’t really understand what I’m doing – just struggling to complete each row according to the instructions and hoping the shape will make sense eventually. It’s a fine metaphor for life (but sure it tis no barn english) (this is a Simpsons quote and I am ashamed but Steve says it so often that, for me, it is a Steve quote.)

All my big hope projects lie pretty much where I left them when I last described them. They’ve been slightly abandoned as I slog through a grey period but I can feel a lifting in spirits and the feeling I could, maybe, accomplish something tingles in my fingers. I must fit more in this up period – a bit of DIY crowbar – ing could be good for the soul. Mum and Dad are coming on Wednesday for our postponed mussels and sardines feast. I need to pay more attention to the sweetness as life rolls on.

Today my heart caught at how big my girl seems. She has suddenly done one of those development jumps. In Asda last week she really wanted some new pyjamas but they didn’t have her size. Crouched down beside her defiant toddler self clutching the next size up to her chest I point out the trousers will be too long for her legs. “my legs get bigger mummy – they get longer in one week, two week.” It feels such a sophisticated new grasp of time passing, legs growing and long string of words threaded together and presented to me like glittering diamonds and lustrous pearls. She is her own person with busy secret thoughts behind her eyes. People ask if she looks like me or Steve but she is her own distinct shape.

In PJ’s that are much too big for her.