Monthly Archives: December 2016

Making mucks



Yesterday’s sunshine gave way to dense fog which today gave way to a heavy dimness, paralysing even for these parts.  Although the light was so poor, the sea in this bay held its colour – the colour of salted clarity.


Of course I am the one to pretend that 2017 isn’t happening soon.  So I decided to make some little mucks, though in the event the muck has spread, rather.  So that’s all right.


An hour


Lucky, lucky, we said.   (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)

The night before Christmas


So there’s food in the kitchen, clean sheets on the beds, fairy lights at the windows, snowflakes on the ceiling, a tree awaiting its apotheosis, and a few nearests-and-dearests wandering about, bringing bottles and pinching the wrapping paper and scissors.  Yes, I’m one of the lucky ones, and intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

Also a time for ghost stories, which I don’t usually like, but there was an exception last night.  It took a little thought to work out why.

sensingOf course:  most people over a certain age will be counting the missing at this time of year, and mine are beginning to gather; not so much ghosts, as holes in the air.  Tomorrow the not-being will be casually interspersed among the official guests at the dinner table.  As a social occasion, I’m quite looking forward to it.

The sistren


suffrageWatching Suffragette gave me time to contemplate how my own feminism is getting on, how male interpretations sneak into everything (yes still), and how small girls are indoctrinated with pink and dollies and make-up (the pages of any toy catalogue are a perfect horror show).

One seasonal example:  Mary is the only woman appearing in the vast majority of Nativity scenes displayed at this time of year.  And I don’t believe it.  Quite apart from female solidarity, women buzz round new babies like wasps round jam.  So when I knitted up Jean Greenhowe’s crib scene a few years back, it acquired an improvised figure:  the innkeeper’s wife, who has looked out a  blanket left over from her own babies, and is about to give it to the infant Jesus.

with-blanketMaybe this year I could knit the bossy WRVS lady who lives in Bethlehem and has just heard about Mary.  I can practically hear her rushing up the road, full of good advice for a first time mother (possibly rather more advice than Mary actually wants), and bringing a pot full of nourishing stew, which will, of course, be incubating efficiently in a hay box.

Dark days


Managing the diminishing days requires the exercise of moral courage.  Some possible approaches:

1-caesars1.  Tackle the Caesars.  I could feel Suetonius chuntering at one shoulder, and Robert Graves smiling ironically at the other.  Tom Holland has the same problem as historians writing about mediaeval England: once we have read their stuff, Graves and Shakespeare will always compel our view of Augustus and Richard III (and the rest), whatever the historical evidence.  Lots of goodies in the book though, and very good contextual stuff to help one understand the familiar-yet-totally-alien principles of Romans as they negotiated the huge changes of their times.

2-snowflakes2.  Tackle the snowflakes.  Up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ….

3-theological3.  Tackle theology.  Sitting in the window ‘like the picture of somebody reading’, I frequently found myself sleeping like a baby.  This was due not so much to boredom as to the physical relaxation caused by heavy duty thinking.  Must have something to be said for it – the book is now full of pink notes-to-self.

4-peacock4.  Tackle some gardening, even if it is December.  The peacock orchid bulbs wanted to come out of their horrible cold soggy sluggy compost, and I’ll give them a nice warm indoor start after Christmas.

5-window5.  Tackle some window cleaning, to get the best from what little daylight there is, and any adventitious sparkle humanly supplied.   Eeeee when spiders abseiled crossly out of the corners.

6-exo6.  Tackle astrobiology.  Actually, after McIntosh this was a bit of a stroll,  and I wished it had been updated in view of all the Kepler exoplanet discoveries and new data on Europa and Titan.

7-no7.  Tackle a prejudice.  Mashed swede…

Actually don’t bother with this one.  It’s just as bad as I thought, even with lashings of butter and seasoning.  Should you have the facilities to do so, just give Fluffers some exercise by throwing breadcrumbs up and down the kitchen floor, and put Bagpuss on the television.  The Bony King of Nowhere comes up as fresh as paint.


Pattern seeking


The human mind seeks patterns, but at present I am unable to resolve the last couple of days into a coherent post.  The content would have to include:



the gasping experience of finding a large stock of hydrogen sulphide at the bottom of an innocent-looking bucket

attempts to grasp fine distinctions between the soteriologies of several early fathers

slowly removing what seems to be half a pound of scabs from the enraged guinea-pig afflicted with them

sleeping a lot.

Besides being unable to integrate these events, I am also unable to think how to photograph them.  Except for the large pile of scabs of course.

(I’ll let you off.)