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For those of you who knew it was going to happen, it happened. For those who didn’t: I threw a surprise party for R last week. 

Oh yes I did.

The children were in on it. It took weeks to plan. On top of everything else. I don’t know what got into me, except this: we have a tendency to be away for his birthday. In fact, we haven’t been home in years  on the actual day. So I wanted to make an effort. I  said I’d cook him dinner. He was panicking (stop laughing). We sent him outside to his shed until we were ready. He was panicking. He thought that the best he could hope for was take-away Chinese.

The children led him in the front door, eyes closed. When he walked in —

18 people were sitting on the floor of our living room.

I’d done it! We’d done it!

He was gob-smacked. The first thing he said was Who thought this would be a good idea? In fact he said this several times in the first two minutes. Which panicked me somewhat.

Then we poured him a glass of bubbly.

Friends had sent cards. Sarah and Mike had sent flowers. Nancy and Hamish had sent a strawberry tart from the Goods Shed. Everyone had brought food. So R’s fears were unfounded. And it was good food. Even better, it was great.

The children popped all the poppers and then watched loads of episodes of the Simpsons with their friends.

We ate and ate. R opened his presents (cookbooks and wine!). 

His brother called. His father called.

He had a birthday. He is Eeyore no more.

(But I hated the white lies. Shiver.)

*

We are lunging for the finish line that is called our annual holiday — hurray! So will be out of commission on these pages for a coupla weeks….Will return with photos and quite a bit fatter no doubt (though I’ve earned it: gym three times a week, yay!).

Til then: peace. Read a good book.

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I guess I don’t get to list all the people I’m so glad to know and see — again. But I do want to express one thing: welcome back Deborah! She’s moved her site. And I for one am breathing a sigh of relief. Life without Deborah’s sparkle hardly bears thinking about.

I’m hanging onto your sparkle, Deborah….

*

 

I’ve progressed from pedometer to gym. Oh yes I have. So far (okay, two days in) I absolutely love it. I know I’m behind with this. I know it. Don’t write and tell me. But being inside my own music, cycling, or doing the dreaded chin-ups…It’s not that far off my all time favourite activity, now limited by my knees. I can deal with hard work to good music, anyway.

*

I am not doing any writing. Just thought I’d make that clear. I could list everything else I’ve done — a chicken without the proverbial, in truth — but the heart of the matter is pretty simple. If I don’t make space soon, there’s not going to be much reason to carry on doing much of anything.

Any five minute a day bright ideas? I need a writing personal trainer. Embarrassingly, I’ve let myself go. To rack and ruin.

Yet again it’s been a grueling few days. If it weren’t for the fact that all of life is precious, I think I might be under a rock by now. But all of life is. And with the terrible news of a student dying, and the mother of one of M’s friends also dying, both last week, came R’s and my 20th wedding anniversary. We went away for a night, just us, eating good food and ordering a different wine with every course. The weather was blazing, and we slept on the beach. 

He also sent me flowers.

*

I’ve been looking for a poem to gather everything into one place. The fact that so much can co-exist, that indeed it must. Love and grief in the same room. Dread and longing, to paraphrase Adrienne Rich. So. An approximation via one of my all-time favourites, by Mary Oliver. Won’t have you rolling in the aisles. But goes partway toward something.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dear friend Nancy gave me this for my birthday:

Pedometer

I’ve only just set it up this morning. So far have done 405 steps (back upstairs after taking this photo). How did that happen?! I’m still in my dressing gown!

Other blogs may do thousands of words into writing a novel. That appealing accumulation. Of which I have precious little at the moment.

So. I’ll do steps. Okay? Today so far, 10 am: 405.

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.