Friday, 16 May 2014

While in the Fog, Remember Who You Are

Today my sister sent me an email attaching a photograph I took years ago. It was a black and white close up shot of my father’s left hand. His middle finger is slightly shorter than it should be due to an accident with a router. I remember the day it happened. I found out about it while I was standing in the gymnasium at Mount Pleasant Middle School. He drove himself, and his bloody truncated finger bandaged in a rudimentary but effective way, to the hospital.

I am sitting here many years later, contemplating the passage of time and the fog of our lives. I am now a mother and my little girl will soon turn one. Now that I am a parent it seems time is of a different essence. It is much easier to stop myself wishing for the future because the now is so very precious. I can easily imagine my daughter turning 16 and I don’t want that. Not yet. I want to nibble her thighs and hold her as close as possible.

Meanwhile, I am struggling with keeping hold of me, finding my center, what made me ME before I had Sylvie. Seeing that my photograph is still precious to my sister helps me to remember. To cling. To also hold myself close.


Friday, 29 June 2012

Days like Yesterday

This morning everyone at work was talking about how they got home last night.  Each person had a story.  A storm came through Newcastle yesterday afternoon, prompting a change to the normal day’s routine.  Streets were cut off, houses and roads were flooded and the amount of water that fell in that short space of time made us all stop and look.  It was a different kind of storm for this place.

I love days like yesterday.  Days when you have no choice but to change your plans, days when nature temporarily lifts the veil of the mundane.  Of course this isn’t always positive.  In an extreme case this could mean a tsunami, but in my case, yesterday, it just meant a longer route home, driving through a new part of town, a meal in a new restaurant, and a reminder to look around.  I was grateful. 

Days like yesterday remind me of working as a waitress in Concord, North Carolina at Applebee’s.  It was my first restaurant job.  The day I recall is the day a storm came through Concord and the restaurant lost power.  It was late afternoon bleeding into early evening and the lights went out.  The restaurant was full of people in various stages of dining.  We had to do what we could, under the circumstances to help them finish their meals, pay, turn those away who came too late.  It was exciting and simple.  We did what we could with what  we had.

For a long time I’ve had reservations about affluence and too much choice.  I hate how supermarkets make you feel so miniscule, so overwhelmed. 

This morning on my walk to work I found a kittiwake chick that had fallen from its nest.  In Newcastle near the river these birds nest underneath the Tyne Bridge and on the sides of buildings, up high.  I didn’t know what was best for this little creature.  It was alive, but most likely dying.  I was frantic; I wanted to help but didn’t think I could do much.  I hoped its mother was watching me. 

I put the little one in a flower pot.  A small part of me mourned.  I continued on to work to hear the stories, and I wondered if kittiwakes made plans.     

xo Laura

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The whole hill ahead

On a recent bike ride in Umstead Park with Danny, I was in the lowest gear pedaling up a slow sloping hill.  I could see the whole thing ahead and my thighs weren’t happy.  But I kept breathing and staring long at ferns in their natural habitat, glad to be surrounded by depth & quiet.

Then, a very winded jogger passed us.  Danny and I looked at each other, pushed the pedals around again.  A regular attendee of spinning class, Danny could’ve powered past me, the jogger, and the ladies on their horses a mile ahead, but he chose to support my haggard attempts at determination.  A good man will forget his bigger muscles and go slow.

I got to thinking about the visibility of struggle—how often we don’t see the hard road laid out before us, in advance.  People read their horoscopes, pay strangers to read lines in their palm so they can have a shallow grasp on the illusory future.  In some sick way, we want to plan our worrying schedule.

But, why (pray tell) did my lungs hold tight to stale air when I saw the hill I had to climb?  Why did I want to get off the bike and sit on a patch of moss? 

This moment made me remember the wornout adage: to live in the present.  Let life feed you one piece of rope at a time.  Climb it.  Then look out the window at a new view.  The tree reaches over the road towards a leaning back pine.  See it as peacemaking— the way we get stronger.  

xx Corrie Lynn

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Stopping to See

This past weekend, I looked from Wiseman’s View into Linville Gorge.  I was high enough that I could see the cloud’s shadows coloring the tops of some trees, leaving others bright against the open sun.  It was God’s collection of green—and my standing stupor that even clouds have shadows.  Chinua Achebe said “If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place.”  There was the river and the divide in the trees where cars must’ve been braking down hills, their passengers turning down the music, stopping to see.  I could follow the path with my finger up whole mountains. 

This morning, a stack of paper has spread itself across the kitchen table—poems I’ve written over the last nine months in need of revision, while dogs beckon back doors to be opened, bowls to be refilled.  All those commas.  I pick up a poem and suddenly remember writing it—the weather, the soft bed where I sat.  How often are we in a position to make our pasts more beautiful? 

Danny brings me a salad.  Danny is my lovely man whose eyes shine when talking about the perfection of eggs, the necessity of oranges in the morning.  We push papers over for lunch and look out the windows, into the bowl where walnuts, red peppers, bean sprouts glisten in vinegar and oil, cinnamon and mustard.  So much goes into beauty: the collision of tectonic plates, the grief of not knowing the future, the bleeding finger under running water.  

Some of Danny's handiwork.  

xoxo Corrie Lynn

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Spring and I

"And the more different colours and kind of plants with their varying arrangement you can enjoy, the happier you will be in pushing out your frontiers of experience.  Never stay still or you'll slip backwards.  Never stop experimenting.  It is important not to accept received ideas automatically."
     -- Christopher Lloyd in "Proud to Be Vulgar"
         24th September 1994
         In Notes from the Garden

Gardeners face all sorts of challenges. Mine include (but are not limited to) cat poop, slugs, lack of time, shade, heavy wind and rain, stony soil, and marauding pheasants. Some of these can be cast in a different light with the right attitude and solution; others are only annoying, like damage by slugs and snails.

Early this year I was roused and begin sowing seeds. I begin wandering with the aim of finding of rebirth out in the confines of our little patch of land. I was biting my lip and deciding where and what to plant, with the undying but often dashed hope for a fruitful summer. My gardening books refuse to stay shut.

The beginning of a rock garden, saxifrage in competition.

I reckon I am a sort of vampire, because I feed on others who are passionate. I am most inspired by people who encourage you to experiment with your planting, and to employ your own combination of expert advice and intuition. One of my favourite slivers of wisdom is to learn from the land, watch nature, use your senses and observe how and where things grow.

I too have an affinity for lists, and I like to browse those lists telling what to grow where: which plants like full shade, which ones fancy a little and those who need to bask in full sunlight. So many resources are available to the curious gardener, however I do find an opposing comfort in that fact that no rules are hard and fast. You are best learning lessons on your own, from your own experience.

This year I have planted multiple containers full of salad leaves underneath towering trees. I haven’t sought advice on whether this is a good idea, and in truth I assume lettuces do require more sun than I’m going to give them. However, in this instance I am going to find out for myself. I want to see how they cope with what I give them.

My more sunlit patches are going to be filled with onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, peas, and chard, and perhaps a few other things that I throw in as and when.

My cold frame is currently housing dwarf sunflowers, spring onion "lilia", nasturtiums, borage, thyme and a sempervivum (houseleek) experiment.

In January I discovered that beets can survive the winter outside. Late last summer I planted a few and forgot about them, poor things. I found them slightly weary on top but firm on the bottom, and then earthy and sweet when boiled and eaten.

Up here on the Pennines there is no way to know what summer will bring. Four seasons can show up in one day. What better way to learn by doing, at the mercy of nature and accepting the unpredictable.

To be continued...

xxx Laura

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cheer Up January!

During the month of January I could not get away from the message that January was a miserable month. I heard it on the radio, from friends, on the tv. Is it any wonder that I felt a little uninspired and burnt out? At one point the radio commentators were arguing over which day in January was in indeed the most depressing day of the year! (a.k.a Blue Monday) Exactly what you need during the early morning commute!

So, on that bright note, I have decided to reflect on those things that I DID actually accomplish in January, to prove to myself that it was not a waste of a month. I want to give January its due.

North Carolina!

Ushering in the New Year with friends and family. Lexington BBQ. Mom's Blueberry Yum Yum. Daddy's smoked pork shoulder.

Hot Yoga

Finally! Whilst in NC Corrie Lynn and I attended a class in Charlotte at Yoga One on Central Avenue. Sore for days. The experience was invigorating, and complete with the overzealous yogi a few mats down, questioning our resolve. "Let me guess," he says. "Your New Year's resolution is to do more yoga." No, actually, it wasn't.

Committed to Running a Half Marathon

In theory, that is. David and I have entered the ballot for the Great North Run. We find out shortly whether we are officially in! I am not a runner, but here goes.

Finished a 784-page book

I still can't get enough of vampires. Complete overkill. My loved ones are starting to wonder. This time, however, my choice of vamp lit managed to incorporate an apocalyptic element as well. Thanks Justin Cronin, for The Passage.

Fish Stew

Our meals had become old hat, so whilst in search of new and relatively quick evening entrees, I stumbled on this beauty.

Two Burns’ Nights

On two Saturdays back to back we ate and drank in honor of the Scottish poet Robert or "Rabbie" Burns.

Lovely Thai, Mediocre Turkish

Definitely, and maybe.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

February, anyone?

Friday, 11 November 2011

When She Visits

Did I hear her right? I think she said the name but I’m not sure. It’s only Thursday. Two more days of being alone and then I’ve got my folks for a few days, and maybe... Just maybe... My best friend is coming. It kinda stinks in this room. Not sure why I follow Laura in every time she sits on the big white bowl but I just do. I don’t like being alone.

Actually, this time it’s not so bad. Nnhhhsnffff..snff... no, not so bad this time. Ok, let’s go downstairs. Wait she forgot her slippers. Ok go. I like to descend the stairs right beside her, my right side grazing her calves. I go on the left side – there isn’t a banister yet.

Back to the matter at paw... Lesley. Did she say her name? Only when Lesley comes do I get all my needs looked after, 85% eye contact, head constantly patted, ears silky from stroking. Laura is ok, but she’s not Lesley. She isn’t my best friend. The one that opens my cabinet whenever I ask. The one that replenishes the stock of canine chocolate and biscuits shaped like bones. Why do they do that? They don’t taste any different. They must think we’re idiots.

Then again, I do ask myself if I am an idiot after a sheep poop snack. What a horrible aftertaste! But it tastes so good at the time… I admit, I lack self control. I can’t resist the urge to chase my tail. Often it seems amusing to others, especially people I’ve just met. The urge that never dies. My oldest addiction. Perhaps a vice, but it has provided me with many hours of enjoyment. And also a way to deal with social anxiety!

I should write an autobiography like those celebrities – “My Life So Far” – except, most of the book would include details of tail chasing and attempts at copulation (several times painful) with my cushion. I think that might be good enough for chart success these days.

I’m good at swaying off subject. So. If Lesley comes, I will be happy. Simple as that. I will wait for her by the gate on Saturday, and when she arrives, I will be on her like white on rice. First I will piddle on her shoes, because I just can’t help it (she forgives me, unlike some) and then for a week my life is complete. I had her at first bark.

This dog’s best friend is on her way. I hope. I’m sure I heard her name.

I’ll just sit by the window.