Friday, 29 April 2016

What Caught Her Eye #9

Continuing my new series for Fridays: 
the contents of that Smythson notebook,
one page at a time.
"If you think back and replay
your year and it doesn't bring
out tears of joy or sadness,
consider it wasted."
John Cage

{Usually, I don't add any comment to this series of posts.
I let Mum's choice of words speak for themselves.
This one however gave me a start. 
 She saw it here:
    a scrap cut from an Ally McBeal calendar 
and stuck to the chalkboard on my office wall.
  I know for fact that she never watched the TV program.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Autism and the Everyday #9

There are some things about autism that are hard to live with.
  It's all relative, because, let's be honest, autism is hard to live with.
Full stop. 
Let's talk having an eye test.
It's not about reading the letters off the chart.
That he can do ... or can't, as it happens.
It's about understanding all the instructions.
It's about being in a semi-darkened room.
It's about strange looking contraptions.
It's about a referral to the specialist eye clinic,
 because the optician is concerned he's made a mistake
 in his interpretation of the required prescription.
It's about a process that takes four and a half months 
and involves three separate additional appointments.    
It's about a process that somehow needs to be refined and speeded up.
But in the end, it's about the final result.
And that's what matters. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spring in the Suburbs | Photos

Spring in our bit of West London is currently looking her best.
The daffodils may have finished, but the blossom is out in force.
The temperature may still be a little on the low side,
but the blue skies and sunshine more than make up for it.

This post also links to Helena's Snap theme: three or more linked images. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Eleven Digits

Last week, when telephoning my aunt and uncle, I found myself dialling Mum's number.
It was an automatic action, an unconscious action.
I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found that later on, after I'd made the call
(using the correct number), I felt very emotional.
Those eleven digits have been our 'home' number for over 40 years.
By my reckoning, those eleven digits became ours in 1974, when Dad left the RAF
and we settled in the area where my parents had grown up.
Those eleven digits moved when we did: from a council house to the house I think of as our family home and onto the house where Mum lived by herself for over 17 years.
Those eleven digits became the first telephone number I learned as a 6-year-old.  When any of us answered the 'phone, the first thing we did was to recite seven of those eleven digits (we didn't say the area code) before we said hello.
I was teased over sounding as though I sang the number when I said it.
Those eleven digits are in my DNA.   

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Eyes Have It

We collected The Boy Child's new glasses on Friday after school.
 Not quite designer, but approved by Liverpool Football Club.
Just look at him.
I mean, he suited the old ones, but my, he's so handsome in these!
(And he's now a walking mini-me version of his cousin, Teenager E.)

Friday, 22 April 2016

What Caught Her Eye #8

Continuing my new series for Fridays: 
the contents of that Smythson notebook,
one page at a time.
"In times of darkness, loves sees,
In times of silence, love hears,
In times of doubt, love hopes,
In times of sorrow, love heals
And at all times
love remembers."

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Modern School Atlas

If you asked me to sum up my childhood in a book,
Modern School Atlas would be the one I choose. 
When I found it recently on the bookshelf in Mum's dining room,
I actually exclaimed out loud, picked it up and hugged it.
Yep, I hugged a book.
The address label inside lists our last RAF home, which we left in 1974.
The spine, as you can see, has been repaired many times over the years.
It shows countries as they once were: the Soviet Union, East Germany and Rhodesia.
We followed the travels of friends.
We tried to find where Kay lived in semi-rural Australia.
We used it for Primary School Geography projects.
Sometimes, I looked through it for no other reason than I could.
Which book would you choose to sum up your childhood?  

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

London Through My Lens | Barbican

The Barbican is a little like Marmite; 
you either love it or hate it.
I fall somewhere between the two.   
The architecture is often described as brutal,
which, when compared to other areas of London, is a fair assessment.
The Brainy One has a friend from university days who lives here.
In the penthouse of one of the tower blocks, no less.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity for a good look around the apartment.
There were visible gaps around the window frames, I swear,
 where the concrete was crumbling away.
The Barbican isn't for me, but it has its devotees.

This post ties in with Helena's Snap theme for 2016:
three or more linked images.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

On How A Book Became Part Of Shared History

The Thorn Birds was first published in Australia in 1977 and quickly became a bestseller.
Mum's penfriend Kay read it and then sent her a copy.
That parcel arrived at our house the same day as the book was published in the UK.  
The gift tag is still inside the front cover.
Scottie dogs were Kay's favourite.
When I was packing up Mum's clothes, I found the book tucked up with Kay's letters
in the bottom of a wardrobe.  Even though I have long had my own copy of The Thorn Birds,
I decided to re-read the Australian one.
 I found the paragraph about unconscious healing on page 105. 
 And then disaster struck. 
 Because of the book's age, the glue in the binding has dried out
and the book is now slowly but surely falling apart. 
So I switched to my own copy and finished the story.
The Australian one?
It's now on the bookshelf
and purely for decorative purposes only. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

On Blogging, Commenting and the General Lack of the Latter

Yesterday, after around an hour in front of my PC, I gave up.
The number of unread blog posts in my reader
 had reached four figures and was rising.
There was no way I'd be able to read them all and stay sane.  
I did what any sensible person did and marked the lot as read.
It was such a relief.
I'm the first to admit that I've been terrible at commenting on the few blogs
 I have read during the first quarter of 2016, but I'm claiming extenuating circumstances.
Comments on this blog are noticeably down, even though the blog traffic is reasonable.
Is is a quid pro quo?  Because my reading and commenting have dropped off, 
others aren't bothering to read and comment on what I write?
Do you think blog reading in general is in decline?
Are we pointing potential readers to other forms of social media,
because those platforms are quicker to use and launch as 'live'?
Thoughts welcome. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

What Caught Her Eye #7

Continuing my new series for Fridays: 
the contents of that Smythson notebook,
one page at a time.
"There is no despair so absolute as
that which comes with the first
moments of out first great sorrow,
when we have not yet known 
what it is to have suffered and
be healed, to have despaired and
recovered hope."
George Eliot

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Original Happy Mail

Once upon a time, Mum wrote a letter.
Actually, scrub that.
Mum wrote lots of letters.
She began her life-long habit of writing to penfriends in the late 1950s.
There was Janice in South Wales, Bobby in America, Mariette in Belgium.
And then there was Kay.
Which brings me back to my opening line ... once upon a time, Mum wrote a letter.
It was 1974.  She was 30 years old with three small children 
and a husband preparing to leave the Royal Air Force. 
In Kay, Mum found a kindred spirit. 
 A married lady of the same age who had two young children.
There the similarities ended, as Kay lived in semi-rural Australia.
Somehow, these two young women, living a world away from each other,
became the best of friends. 
Kay's family became our family and vice versa.
Even though they never met, they loved each other dearly.
Her final letter arrived on 11 December, 1995.
Kay passed away in February 1996, just six months after Dad.
I have Kay's letters now, each and every one.
I can't bring myself to read them.  Somehow it seems wrong.
We were raised to never read other people's mail and I don't think I can start now.  
Kay's daughter has all of Mum's letters, boxed and in a wardrobe.
Before she died, Mum reflected on how much she had loved Kay
and expressed a wish that something could be done with all the letters.
One day, I hope to make that happen.
To find a publisher and a willing editor.

Kay's husband travelled to the UK in 1997 and stayed with us for three weeks. 
 He was, as I believe the Aussies might say, a bonza bloke.
The Brainy One and I went to Australia in 2005 and spent a week with Kay's husband,
 daughter, son-in-law and grand daughters.
   We are still in touch and I still think of them as extended family.
From little acorns, mighty oaks grow.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Her Final Request

Last Thursday, we interred Mum's ashes.
She'd requested that they go in Dad's grave.
  We arrived early and I was able to fill the flower pot
with beautiful yellow tulips. 
The day before Mum's funeral, The Brainy One and I had visited Dad's grave
and found that the headstone had fallen over.  I was able to arrange with the stonemasons
for it to be cleaned, an inscription added and for it to be replaced safely and securely
before the day of the interment. They did a marvellous job.
Interments are strange things, because they are over in five minutes
 and then no-one knows what to do with themselves.
We took family to lunch.
Later that afternoon, we took The Boy Child for ice-cream at one of my favourite places.
Once the rain cleared, the sky was fantastic.
If I were poetic, I might muse that the 'God Light' {sun beams} was a sign.    

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

London Through My Lens | Kensington

Kensington: home to the Gardens, junior royals and an infamous High Street.
But as with other areas of London, step away from the main roads   
 and you find solitude, calm and emptiness.
 I wouldn't mind a local that looks as pretty as this one.
 The house with pink door got me my second highest 
number of likes on Instagram.  
 A cute mews house with an even cuter stable door. 
 Mellow yellow sitting happily alongside pretty in pink.
 Some of these terraces are coming up on 200 years old.
There's evidence that the planting is also a good few years old.
My friend-who-is-like-my-brother asked whether I was bothered about 
upsetting the residents during my London in Spring walks.
I take care never to trespass and act quickly.
So far, no complaints.  

Monday, 11 April 2016

One Photo | Twenty Words

Around thirty years of her life are here.
Organised by date and occasion.
What do I do with them now? 

Friday, 8 April 2016

What Caught Her Eye #6

Continuing my new series for Fridays: 
the contents of that Smythson notebook,
one page at a time.
"Better by far that you should
forget and smile,
than you should remember
and be sad."
Christina Rossetti

Thursday, 7 April 2016

An Unconscious Healing Process

There have been times over the last eight and a half weeks
where I have temporarily forgotten that Mum has died.
I hear my 'phone beep and think it's a text message from her.
I hear the thud of post on the door mat and look for her oh-so-familiar handwriting.
I know that forgetting is a part of the healing process, but that doesn't make it any less weird.   
I read something recently in a favourite novel.  
A story that I've read several times and yet have never
 fully absorbed this piece of narrative before ...
"And gradually ... memory slipped a little, as memories do, 
even those with so much love attached to them; 
as if there is an unconscious healing process within the mind
 which mends us in spite of our desperate determination never to forget."

That short passage is just about perfect.
That's how it's been.
An unconscious healing process.   

{I have a post scheduled about which particular novel I'm referencing}  

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

London Through My Lens | Mayfair

The weather on Good Friday was magnificent, 
so I bundled The Boy Child into his coat and stilled his moans 
with the promise of a hot chocolate and a biscuit or three.
Destination: Mayfair. 
Specifically the roads off Berkeley Square.
I love the architecture and general planning in this part of town; 
beautiful red brick mansion blocks and 
hidden away public gardens.
 It's an area tourists seem to miss,
even though it's sandwiched in between Green Park,
Bond Street and Oxford Street. 
 Which is all to the good for those of us who are happy just to wander around.
I might not to able to afford to live here,
 but I can certainly sit in the hidden away garden squares
and watch the world go by.
Until, that is, The Boy Child reminds me that I promised hot chocolate
and a biscuit or three.  

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