Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Excuses excuses!

   Just before I head out to work (!), a couple of small things to make you laugh.
  Firstly, the OH has just asked me how to operate the vacuum cleaner.  Since I'm out so much more, I don't have time to clean the house every day, and he's a bit picky about these things.  We had  - well, not exactly a blistering row, but a mildly pustular one, of which the upshot was that he agreed that while he is not working, he will do some of the vacuuming.  Hence his request.  I don't expect it to happen very often, mind you.

   And the second thing is from last night's writing group.  My villanelle (see last entry) was quite well received and was deemed to constitute a completed 'homework' (we set ourselves tasks to complete between meetings, so that we should all do at least one poem during the month or so).  Other people had done a variety of Christmas poems, family poems, free verse and sonnets.  But Andi had brought nothing. 

   "I did write a poem, honestly!  It was quite good, well, sort of, probably needed a bit of work, but..."

   So what happened to it?

   "The dog ate it.  Really!"

   Really!  And they say children come up with feeble excuses.

Monday, 16 January 2012

All Change!

In case you were wondering why I haven't written a blog for a while, it's because I've been driven out of the house.  Now I know why so many women are out jogging/shopping/volunteering at the weekends - it's because their menfolk are cluttering up the family home so they need to escape.
It may sound a little harsh, but you should know I do feel bad for my OH, who has suffered from his company's latest rif - no, not a musical production but a Reduction In Force.  Financially he's had a reasonable pay-off, but emotionally obviously he is stunned.  Which means he's spending a lot of time around the house, either bemoaning the state of the universe or grumping about how he'll never get another job ever.  This is patent rubbish as he has already had two phone-calls trying to arrange interviews, but in the meantime I have chosen to go and help out again at the local school.  One of the teachers is Felicity's sister-in-law and knows about the blog, so I have been forbidden from writing anything at all about what goes on there, under threat of the child protection act, but since there's little of interest about the children themselves (their parents are another matter!) it's not a problem.
The OH also threw Joe out.  Well, not exactly threw him out, but suggested that if he was going to use the room on a regular basis, he should pay rent.  This is completely unreasonable in my opinion as we're not using it ourselves, but when you've just been made redundant, I suppose allowances have to be made for unreasonable behaviour.
"I'd pack up for now and then, if you want to come back when he's calmed down, I'll let you know," I told Joe, who just smiled weakly without answering one way or another.  Though there was a large bouquet of flowers delivered the following day with a simple 'Thanks' written on the note, which can't have come from anyone else.
In other news, one of my presents at Christmas was from David, in the poetry group, which was very sweet of him, and was the Stephen Fry book, 'The Ode Less Travelled'.  I have been trying to follow it properly - Fry gives very specific instructions - but I was inspired by one of the comments in the introduction to write the following villanelle.  Let me know if you like it!

On Writing Poetry (with thanks to Stephen Fry!)

I have no inkling how to start,
And listen to these words in vain:
"Technique is just the Greek for art."

The moment when true lovers part,
A wartime death, a drop of rain -
I have no inkling how to start.

I seek the words to set apart
A poem sure to bring me fame,
With no technique to make it art.

An idea's there within my heart;
Thesauruses must take the strain
For I've no inkling how to start

And clogged up rhyme, and counterpart
Strict rhythm, make themselves the bane
Of technique, just the Greek for art!

Heroic couplets won't impart
Enough to fool my struggling brain.
I have no inkling how to start
And technique's all just Greek for art.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Clearing Out the Old Year

Well, thank goodness that's over!  Finally finished with Christmas, though the tree won't come down until Friday, despite its needles littering the floor already.  We're very traditional...  But at least the holiday guests have now departed and I spent most of yesterday doing the laundry they generated and re-arranging the rooms they disorganised.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas, and I enjoy entertaining, it's just rather intense when the OH's distant cousin and family (all seven of them!) more or less invite themselves on Christmas Eve eve to stay for what felt like months.  It was hard to say no when Celeste wasn't even here, and George only dropped in for a couple of days, though even he brought two friends with him.  Fortunately, they were happy to sleep on the floor of George's room with sleeping bags, otherwise I'm not sure where we would have put them.  We already had bedding in the living room for the duration.  Joe was less impressed, I'm sure, though he didn't say anything, as he had to move all his writing stuff out of Celeste's room to make way for two large loud Americans and their toddler.
"I'm really sorry, Joe, but if little Kenobi got hold of your notes, you probably wouldn't have them anymore," I said, when I told him what was going to happen.
"Really, it's no problem.  I don't think Alison's home much over the Christmas period anyway.  Family comes first, after all." 
I don't think Alison's been home much full stop since they moved in, and certainly not since the Royal Wedding fiasco, but from the little Joe has said about it, I think she spends most of her time arguing with him when she is here.  I did ask Joe if he wanted to join us for Christmas dinner, since one more would hardly make any difference once I was in double figures, but he said he'd rather have a quiet day watching old-fashioned movies and eating a microwave meal.  I'm not sure if he was joking or not as I haven't had an opportunity to ask him what he did in the end.  He gave me a beautiful bracelet for Christmas, with some matching earrings, that look far too expensive and all I gave him was some notebooks.  He seemed pleased enough with them when I saw him at in the pub when we went down to welcome in the New Year, along, it seemed, with most of the village as the place was heaving, but we didn't have much chance to talk.  I shall pop down tomorrow at coffee break time and see how he really is.
Talking of how people really are, I must mention Janet and Brian.  Janet has spent most of her waking hours at the hospital but Brian has been home a few times to pick up clothes, post, etc, and dropped in briefly to thank me for the offer.  The surviving twin is holding on for the moment but they're not taking anything for granted and they're not making plans as such.  "Later in January, maybe.  And am I right in thinking that you're the biscuit lady?"
I wondered briefly what he meant and then realised that he must have seen some of my biscuits at the deli.  "As a business idea, it didn't really work, so my New Year's resolution is to only make biscuits when someone places an order.  My hips can't take it otherwise."
"Okay, well, when I've had a chance to talk to Janet about it, perhaps you can do some chocolate cherry cookies for us? For the funeral? It'll be a pretty small affair, but we ought to have something.  And I know Janet really loved them when she tried them."
My other New Year's resolutions, for what it's worth, are to contact Chloe and try to get fit again (haven't called her yet) and to try writing a mini-poem a day, using 'A River of Stones' as an inspiration.  There has to be more to life than cleaning the house and worrying about your children!