A general update

Sorry I’ve been so quiet! I had hoped to blog a bit more during my social media break, but funnily enough it’s much harder to write a blog post with one thumb than it is to write an Instagram post. Annoying, posting comments also seems a bit more hit and miss on my phone – I keep posting comments that then don’t appear. 😦 Rest assured that I am enjoying reading your blogs as normal. And as a treat (ha!) here is a random update from me.

I have been doing lots of reading and very little knitting on the way to work recently. One of my Christmas presents was a 3-month subscription to Willoughby Book Club and having books posted through my letterbox just made them too irresistible. Combine that with being back in a public library 4 days a week, and my book habit was always going to be indulged. I’ve not been reading as much as you dedicated book bloggers do, but I have read a lot by my standards recently. I don’t have the wherewithal to post full reviews at the moment, but a few recent highlights include: The Dark is Rising, Provenance, and Dumplin. Do pop over to my Goodreads page if you’re interested in keeping up with my book choices.

Little Mabel is suddenly not so little! She has been moved up a group at nursery and is now starting to get upset when she doesn’t get her way, maybe because it just doesn’t happen that often yet. I definitely think it’s partly a case of seeing that kind of behavior more now that she’s in with the older toddlers, too. I am pleased she’s being stimulated more (though worrier that I am, I am now concerned I’m not doing enough with her at home) and she is coming home even happier. She is clearly on the verge of a growth spurt, too, as she is Eating. So. Much. Food. Seeing her grow up is so lovely, even if it is just exhuasting some days.

My birthday was this week. I made a cake and cookies to take into work, which was nice, and I got some really lovely cards. The day before my birthday Mabel took not one but two hour-plus naps in her crib, too! Unfortunately the rest of the day and week have been pretty rubbish as Mabel and I both came down with stonking colds. There have been some sleepless nights for the whole family, and birthday drinks were cancelled. Overall I am looking forward to next week, though, and may pretend my birthday is on another day. That’s allowed, right?

Now that Mabel is a little older, I am finally managing to have Mabel-free time. Woo-hoo! Obviously I love being with her, but it is nice to make time for myself again. One thing I did recently was attend Made By Hand Cheltenham with friends. I’ve blogged about this craft fair in previous years and hopefully will blog about this one as well. I attended a natural dyeing workshop, which was fascinating. I will definitely be putting my red cabbage juice to use after Thanksgiving this year! There was also some really beautiful work on display, though I only bought a few cards in the end (including the one in the photo; isn’t it beautiful?!). It was a relaxing and inspiring day – I really hope that eventually I will be able to get around to crafts again. I’ve got a couple of things on the go, but at the moment I have very little energy. I can’t wait until I can sleep properly again. Maybe in a few years…

So that’s my life in a nutshell. What are you up to these days?

A few favorite dance tunes

My personal life is great at the moment, but I have to say I have timed my Lenten social media break well. The world is pretty grim. I definitely don’t think I would be up for reading other people’s opinions on the world at the moment, even if they agreed with me.

In light of that, what better thing to do than get lost in upbeat music? I recently heard one of my favorite songs to dance to on the radio and it made me realize how much I miss going out and dancing. I also realized I don’t listen to much as much music anymore, and I miss it. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite songs to dance around the house to. These aren’t in any particular order, and I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten to include lots as this is very much a top-of-my-brain post. I would love to hear yours and what you think I’ve forgotten in the comments, too!

Hotel Yorba, The White Stripes

Teenage Kicks, The Undertones

Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen. (Yeah, I said it.)

Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Jumpin Jumpin, Destiny’s Child

Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Standing In The Way of Control, The Gossip

Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry

Intergalactic, Beastie Boys


Poem for a Thursday: Amy Lowell

A few weeks ago I started poem a poem each Thursday, inspired by Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness. In spite of being late one week and forgetting entirely another week, I’m enjoying having the routine of something to do each week. It’s also helped me get some other post ideas circulating (though who knows when I’ll be able to focus enough to sit down and write something!).

I have been selecting poems either by raiding my bookshelf (it’s the perfect excuse to look through my small but lovely collection) or by looking at the Academy of American Poets website, or occasionally the Scottish Poetry Library website. Both have extensive, easily searchable collections.

Amy Lowell is a well-known early 20th century poet in America, though I did recently find out she’s less well known in the UK. It’s a shame as her work is beautiful. This one is called “Dawns”. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

Belated Poem for a Thursday: Gillian K. Ferguson

Oops, it’s Friday! Having started a second, temporary, job a couple of weeks ago in addition to my normal one, life is a little bit up and down at the moment and we are still finding our feet with the new routine. Overall this is fine because I know we’ll adjust, but in the meantime I do often forget which day of the week it is.

Anyway, I thought I would still share a poem today. Better late than never, right? I found this one on the Scottish Poetry Library website. I used the browse option and browsed till I found a topic, then poem, that resonated. It’s an approach I would definitely recommend! This one by Gillian K. Ferguson is short and really very sweet. It makes me think of Mabel and her little friends, and I think it does poetry’s job of producing a very individual and yet very universal image exceptionally well.

Learning to Stand

On the earth a stretched second
you stood, balanced. Gravity

glued dolly shoes. You wore
the sky on your head, jauntily,

light blue paper hat plumed
with feather clouds, as air’s

transparent gloves cuddled
you upright. Padding paws

forgot themselves in hands.
You learn the trick of standing

as the world spins, hurtles,
turns you upside down

in darkness. Already
you’ll lean less on me.

Poem for a Thursday: Dorianne Laux

Blossom

What is a wound but a flower 
dying on its descent to the earth,
bag of scent filled with war, forest,
torches, some trouble that befell
now over and done. A wound is a fire
sinking into itself. The tinder serves
only so long, the log holds on
and still it gives up, collapses
into its bed of ashes and sand. I burned
my hand cooking over a low flame,
that flame now alive under my skin,
the smell not unpleasant, the wound
beautiful as a full-blown peony.
Say goodbye to disaster. Shake hands
with the unknown, what becomes
of us once we’ve been torn apart
and returned to our future, naked
and small, sewn back together
scar by scar.

Poem for a Thursday: D.H. Lawrence

This is just a quick post; we celebrated Valentine’s Day by staying up to watch a movie (The Shape of Water) after putting Mabel to bed, so I am very tired!

This poem by D.H. Lawrence is one we included in our wedding ceremony. The sentiment behind it is just beautiful, and the last line is a stunner. (Also, I am a sucker for our wedding memories, so the picture I’ve chosen is from our Save the Date bookmark!)

Fidelity

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.


Poem for a Thursday: Solmaz Sharif

I am trying to broaden my poetry horizons, so I borrowed The Forward Book of Poetry 2017 from my local library a couple of weeks ago. I decided this week I’d share one from it this week, hopefully something a bit different from previous weeks.

Solmaz Sharif is an award-winning Iranian-American poet, and I thought this poem by her was quite thought-provoking and timely. I hope you agree.

Force Visibility

Everywhere we went, I went
in pigtails
no one could see—

ribbon curled
by a scissor’s sharp edge,
the bumping our cars

undertook when hitting
those strips
along the interstate

meant to shake us
awake. Everywhere we went
horses bucking

their riders off,
holstered pistols
or two Frenchies

dancing in black and white
in a torn-apart
living room,

on the big screen
our polite cow faces
lit softly

by New Wave Cinema
I will never
get into. The soft whir

of CONTINUOUS STRIP IMAGERY.
What is fascism?

A student asked me

and can you believe
I couldn’t remember
the definition?

The sonnet,
I said.
I could’ve said this:

our sanctioned twoness.
My COVERT pigtails.
Driving to the cinema

you were yelling
This is not
yelling
you corrected

in the car, a tiny
amphitheater. I will
resolve this
I thought

and through that
RESOLUTION, I will be
a stronger compatriot.

This is fascism.
Dinner party
by dinner party,

waltz by waltz,
weddings ringed
by admirers, by old

couples who will rise
to touch each other
publicly.

In INTERTHEATER TRAFFIC
you were yelling
and beside us, briefly

a sheriff’s retrofitted bus.
Full or empty
was impossible to see.

From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif.