Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Josh Ritter


Colin's told me Heart Notes will be ready by the end of the week. I can't wait to see it after all the work we've put into it.

The other Calder Wood Press publications are going to be a hard act to follow.

There's going to be a stall at our town festival soon, so hopefully copies can be sold there. I already have a woman asking me for a printed copy of the National Galleries' poem, as a friend in Edinburgh went to the event and would like a written copy prior to the anthology coming out next year.

Monday, April 28, 2008


You'll be sorely missed

More Sweetness

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The temperature finally felt like late Spring, and when we got a thunder storm in the early evening the rain was warm and the after-smell it left was of summer.

If ever there was a day when a year tipped over into summer it was yesterday.

I planted out leeks and the odd S American tubers I've blogged about before. I also planted squash seedlings in big bags of homemade compost in the greenhouse, and I could almost see them growing in the heat in there.

At night I drove into to the Shore Poets to see Colin Will read. His choice of poems showed the range and diversity of his interests and experiences. We had poems on the wing, on landscape, debunking poems and spiritual poems. And all well delivered despite a sore throat.

Also reading were Andy Philip and Julie Sheridan. I enjoyed their sets too, especially Julie's who had some poems about the West coast. I liked her use of language, the internal rhymes she creates, and her sense of humour.

photo is of a backlight tulip in my garden late yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Lucy was blogging recently about worrying that the sky fall will fall on your head the minute you start to feel good/confident/happy about life.

I was in Edinburgh on Wednesday seeing the other D' wives and treated myself to Bloodaxe's Staying Alive, "real poems for unreal times" edited by Neil Astely. It is a fantastic anthology of 500 life affirming poems, some well loved, others new, well to me at least.

I read this one, Sweetness by Stephen Dunn. It is out there in blogland already so I hope it is alright to post it here. It is very much how I feel about the world lately.

Sweetness by Stephen Dunn

Just when it has seemed I couldn't bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumble through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn't leave a stain,
no sweetness that's ever sufficiently sweet . . .

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don't care

where it's been, or what bitter road
it's traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'm back. Sorry I've not been around but it has been a really busy week.

The reading at the National Galleries was fun. Your chosen painting was projected up onto a screen in one of the lecture theatres, and you were invited up to the mike/lectern to read your poem/piece. I think I read well, Lord knows I practised enough!

The variety in the chosen pieces of art and people's take on them was amazing, though the recent Joan Eardley exhibition pictures featured well.

It was good to see Rob Mackenzie there too, and Alan Gay travelled in with me.
The organisation was good and I enjoyed the post-match chat and met some new and interesting people.

The wedding went well too, although my arms and legs ached all Sunday from stooping and firing off shots. I took the lensbaby lens mounted on my second camera back, and once all the set-piece groups were done I had lots of fun with it, catching quirky, cameo shots. I just hope the bride is pleased with what I got. I'm doing test prints today.

The post editing has been really tiring on the eyes, hundreds of shots taken from RAW format to Tiff, colour checked, some air brushing and tweaking, then sharpening and filtering for odd shot with digital noise in the shadows - very few of these, but still worth running them through the Neat software package - then conversion from Tiff to Jpeg and a change of colour space from RGB to sblahblah the generic photographic printing profile.

So I don't think I'll be rushing to volunteer to do another one in a hurry.
Although I have enjoyed seeing the different way people react and interact in groups and with relatives and friends as I've worked through the shots.

I also have work to do for the big garden - writing up the last trustees meeting, organising a sub group planting meeting and sourcing three new laburnum alpinum, as three in our arch are looking decidedly dead. They are short lived trees, about 35/40years and ours are reaching that point now, and being trained and regularly pruned must add additioal stress. So RHS Plant Finder here I come!

I hope to call in on fellow bloggers tomorrow, once I've cleared my feet a bit.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Well I've emerged from my fug of the last few days. I've had two great nights of sleep and that has helped - don't think I knew how tired I was.

I've caught up with the house after all my visitors and dealt with the house painter arriving to paint all the front windows - no mean feat when you have a Jack Russell cross dog who threatens to give the poor guy a heart attack by appearing unexpectedly on the inside of each window to complain loudly at his presence.

Weather is still poor, cold and wet, the opposite of last April. So I have lots of seedlings that are boarding in the greenhouse hoping for better days.
(I have a notion to by a meteorological diary to record the weather each day so I can do year to year comparisons.)

The coming week is busy as the wedding I agreed to do is next Saturday - just hope the weather improves - and I see the bride on Tuesday at her step-mother's, whose is a friend of mine. And Thursday is the National Galleries event, which I'm looking forward to in a terrified sort of way. Alan tells me they place a big blow up of your chosen picture beside you as you read the poem.

I also had a nice e-mail from a Spanish musician Roger Subirana who used one of my stock photos as part of the inspiration for a piece of music. You can hear it here He describes his music as "world and new age" I think it is very calming and soothing and his piano playing is wonderful.
Another nice link the net has brought me!

(photo is a hosta in heavy rain)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back trouble

I think my back is improving, though it is to backs what a glass chin is to a boxer, as I still feel like it could "pop" again at any moment, but the pain is now just intermittent. I always feel reassured when pain fluctuates as my surgeon said that anything bad would hurt continuously.

I'm also brooding about a disagreement with a female acquaintance. I caught her lash indirectly, but I feel bad on few counts, 1) I've let it bother me when I don't think it really merits it, 2) I feel I've let myself down as since the illness I've worked hard at rising above this sort of rubbish and 3) I realise I really don't respect this person opinion and somehow now I've acknowledged that fact anything she says just rubs me up the wrong way. Perhaps putting it down in black and white here will allow me to work my way through it.

There is good news though, the bid I helped put together for the Edinburgh charity I work with has been successful and they can now work full steam ahead to deliver it.
I'm quite proud of this as I did a lot of research on it, and I think made a good reasoned argument for the funding. It was work akin to my old job and it feels good that I can still pull this stuff off, this time from the other side of the fence and at a time of my choosing!

And N is doing a creative writing course at the Maggie's Centre. (She wanted me to do it too, but I decided I'd just be taking a place someone currently in treatment could probably use and at the moment I don't feel like I've the resources to get to know new people going through what I did.) But she took a copy of Peeling Onions with her, and the course tutor wants to buy more copies for their library. She also has a friend on the course dealing with late stage ovarian cancer, and she's asked for a copy too, and I've given her a copy as a gift. This really pleases me as it is being read by folk in the who know and they think it is worthwhile.

And finally my MIL's house sale now has a closing date and we can start to think/look at more suitable accommodation for her nearer all of us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fleet Foxes

This band have a great wee EP on i-tunes called Sun Giant. They're from Seattle and they remind me of the fabulous hairy 70s and seeing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young live with 72,000 other folk at Wembley.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Surviving the relatives

It has been an exhausting week. I had my MIL to stay and there has been a real change in her dementia since Christmas. At times this week I've felt like I was Parkinson interviewing Robert Mitchum, "Would you like a bath?" "No". "Would you like me to put some washing through for you?" "No". "Would you like to change your clothes?" "No". I think her carers have more success, or perhaps just better strategies than me for getting her co-operation.

On top of that I lifted something that was too heavy and really hurt my back, so I've been popping pain killers and anti-inflammatories for days now.

And my son invited his girlfriend to stay another week, so I've had teenage angst combined with elderly confusion. Talk about being the meat in the sandwich!

So I intend to have a really quiet, uneventful weekend. I love seeing people, but if truth be told I also quite enjoy spending time on my own. I hope to catch up on personal projects next week.

And congratulation to Colin and his wife Jane, they've been married 42 years today. A wonderful achievement!

Photo is of Spring birches, I long for that fresh green, hopefully it's not far away now.