Over Earth

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Over the storm,

Under the canopy over the earth,

That they call the ‘atmosphere’.

Surrounded,

Held up.

Riding an invisible track,

Air currents,

Under,

Over,

Racing alongside.

Heart thudding.

Gut clenching.

Opened can of coke, untouched.

Riding on trust and faith,

Please don’t let us fall down.

And the stunning beauty of the earth from the sky

Overshadowing fear.

 

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The Battle of Halloween

Trent from ‘Trent’s World‘ has treated the blogosphere with a delightful little piece about childish imagination and the magnificent world created by the human mind!

Read more here: The Battle of Halloween

Amy and Isabelle

I bought this book as an afterthought, selected out of a range of pickings offered to me on Amazon after I’d purchased a book already. It stood out because of its simple, no-nonsense title; I wanted to know more.

The New York Times Book Review daubed it “one of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place”.

Set in a baking town in the middle of an intensely hot summer, the vivid imagery of a rotting green river snaking through the heart of the town makes for a stunning metaphor of the rotting sickness underlying the relationship between mother and daughter. Not that its long-term, of course. The story explores the complicated relationship between a girl on the cusp of adulthood, and a mother who has made many sacrifices in order to lead, at least in her own mind, a ‘respectable’ life.

At the heart of this story is a tale of two minds, formed and influenced by unfortunate circumstances. It speaks of loneliness, desperation for human contact, and highlights the way your own mind can form a barrier between you and your basic human desire to be social. In a way this novel spoke to me directly, because I related on a very personal level with the loneliness felt by Isabelle, the construction of social events in her mind. I was terribly lonely when I moved to a different city, leaving all my friends behind. Gradually we lost contact, and I found it immensely difficult to make new friends. It got to a point so severe that I did something incredibly stupid – for want of human contact. It’s sad and pathetic, but so real. Elizabeth Stout painted this in such a raw, open way. It was quite tough subject matter to navigate through.

Despite loneliness being the driving force behind the main characters’ actions, there were many more complex themes driving the plot forward. Amy’s burgeoning sexuality, Isabelle’s anxious, overprotective and even jealous tendencies towards her daughter, feelings of inadequacy, lack of communication and even Amy feeling a little embarrassed of her mother, were just some aspects explored by Stout, and which made for often uncomfortable reading.

I didn’t particularly enjoy reading this book. It was difficult, at times revolting. Despite this, I couldn’t put it down. The narrative was compelling; with Strout interweaving the minds of the two protagonists, combining two very separate outlooks on the same world (which I suppose is the reality of our lives, viewing the world through a million different perspectives), and setting them amidst vivid descriptions of the town, the slow, almost zombie-like townsfolk who, as it happened, had very real, very raw lives of their own.

This book was brilliantly written, the exposition foreshadowed almost poetically, and the emergence into truth almost like a blossoming of understanding, which I felt fitted in marvellously with the subject-matter. The novel ‘came of age’ beautifully, in a way which is wistfully reminiscent of much of our growth and understanding. This novel is about learning to love, learning to let go, and learning to ‘live’.

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Twilight Terrors

It isn’t dark.

It isn’t light, either.

It is the tricky light; where the sky is clear as day, but earth is filled with shapes and shadows, which move when they shouldn’t.

They slink behind trees, and peer from the pale walls of white houses.

They watch, silently, as you go about your business.

Maybe they hide in the backseat of your car, so you turn around quickly when you get in, but they always vanish just in time.

Maybe you hear their cackle echo as they shoot round the corner, like a vanishing puff, and you aren’t sure if you saw something, or if the not-quite-darkness played a trick on your eyes.

The best weapon for this time of night is a warm jacket. Make sure the inside lining is soft, and make sure you drown in your jacket. It’s the only way to keep you safe from the Twilight Terrors.

Love Letters #39

Have you ever sailed into a horizon of clouds?

A giant mass of faded blue puff, rising in the distance like a manifestation of a nightmare storm. It’s England, though, it isn’t real. It won’t turn into a tornado; it is too benign for that. It is still, like a painting, a wall of such exquisite detail, as though some artist in the sky painted every stroke with tender love and care.

Every shadow, articulated.

The road winds in and out, up and down ahead, and the sky around the faded blue cloud is an ombre of colour, from the palest blue, to a bright and sundry pinky yellow.

The trees begin to silhouette themselves, but it isn’t quite twilight, yet.

And the clouds billow in the sky as though fuelled by some ferocious fire, only not so bitter, not so black, not so violent.

Still, like a photograph.

A still moment in time, as the sky transcends daylight and becomes that sultry, mysterious mixture of day and night. Not quite here, not quite that.

I love those clouds. Those clouds that don’t quite know what to make of themselves, that take on the hues of the ever-changing sky, shrugging on the colours and exploding in every emotion. So ominous, yet so safe. So surreal, yet so familiar. So strange, yet so reminiscent of thousands of autumnal evenings, throughout the centuries.

And always, always, a fresh wonder to the eyes.

Letter to the Season

Dear Season,

I am sitting in a heated house while I write this. I am very much aware that many people don’t have heated houses, and the cold is so biting, that I feel guilty and undeserving of such a blessing.

It crept up on us, you see. We weren’t quite expecting it. Do believe me when I assure you that I am not attacking you in any way, whatsoever. You started off quite warm. I didn’t wear a jacket for two weeks straight, and oh, last weekend you were so deliciously warm.  You daintily shed off your summer garments, when they browned and frayed on the edges. Softly dropping them to the ground as you gracefully welcomed the inevitable change in your very soul.

But today you are cold. You breathe an icy breath on my toes, you whip through lush grass, and suddenly the blades look ominous and cutting. Where did your cold come from? Am I being too ungrateful in questioning it? Is it uncouth of me to expect warmth in the season of blustery winds and rainy days? You welcomed the storm, O’ season. You opened your warm arms, welcomed the ravaging winds, and now the air outside is biting and snappy, and sends us hurrying from one indoor place to another. Does it bother you that we no longer wish to revel under your skies? Or are you glad, Season.

I send you a shrug, O’ season. I see how people are bundling up against you, I see the shelves are groaning under the weight of all the goodies we are expected to hand out to children, I see the glamorous lights twinkling in the early evenings, and I send you a shrug.

Make of that what you will.

Good day to you.

Regards,

Lenora

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Image Credit: Hazel Thomson Art

Goosey Goosey Gander

I think I have hit a creative slump. I don’t know if its because I am exhausted from working, and travelling to work, and travelling home, and cleaning up, and making tea, and reading books, and trying to be social by calling my friends so they don’t think I have abandoned them..

I don’t know. I don’t know.

Third week at work this week, and I spent the day working on a few editing assignments, reading up on my training program, and when I had completed that, I had nothing to do… So I planned my blog.

I never really had a plan for this blog, you see. I decided to write one day, at the end of 2013, never thinking this would last because none of my other blogs lasted. Last it did, however, and I am proud to say I have been blogging for nigh on four years!

In light of that, I have decided to no longer blog when the whim takes me, but to adhere to a somewhat lose schedule, which will enforce my creative processes and demand some content out of my fingers.

I figure I ought to be resourceful, and all that, and just because I now have a job, doesn’t mean I ought to let my own goals and aspirations fall into the ditches.

Real grimy those ditches are, I’ll tell you that. I had an old gentleman wade out the other day, positively shaken. He’d been accidentally thrown in there by the lady next door, she had no use for him. She claimed he wouldn’t say his prayers, and he told me the most harrowing story of how she grabbed him by the left leg, threw him down the stairs and then rolled him into a ditch! That was no accident, I assure you. The poor old fellow was convinced it was, however, so I gave him a goose to calm his ruffled feathers and sent him on his way.

I digress.

The plan for this blog is to blog the things I usually blog, but with a little more structure and, well, consistency, I suppose. So everyday for a fortnight I will blog (except for weekends, of course, weekends are for family and books and gardening and delicious homemade things made by my younger brother and my younger sister-in-law – last weekend it was apple crumble made by the brother and caramel brownies made by the sister-in-law – yum!), and each blogging day will cover certain themes and topics. For example, Wednesdays are supposed to be ‘flash fiction’ days, but because my creativity is hanging out to dry, I have decided to turn it into a ‘wherever-the-whim-takes-me’ day.

Charles Dickens was said to be paid by the word, but I am not. However, I pay the word with my eyesight, and use it I shall. Did you know my poor eyesight, according to my mother, is because of hours of reading in the dark after she turned off the lights? Streetlamps outside the window are certainly enough light when you need to know if Mr Rochester really is a cockroach or not.

How are you doing this week? Do you have a blogging schedule, or do you blog as and when the whim takes you? Also, why do you blog?

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Winter Sunflowers

My sunflowers started out as small seeds, teardrops of dark grey streaked with cream. They began to peep through the soil, hardy little shoots, two little green leaves so tiny I could crush them in a heartbeat.

My sunflowers dug their roots into the soil, spreading the delicate little underground branches so they tangled together, and curled around the edges of the plant pot.

My sunflowers began to droop; there was no more space for the roots to spread, so they begged to be placed in fresh soil. I dug holes in my flowerbed for them, in soil I’d prepared weeks before.

In the second week of October, my sunflowers, now fifteen cm tall and developing firm stalks, their leaves long and wide, found a new home in my Westerly flowerbed.

I worry about my sunflowers. I worry I planted them too late. I know they don’t get along very well with Winter, and I worry she will grasp them with her frosty fingers at their most vulnerable stage.

I am not a gardener, you see. I grew up in the desert, all our plants died. We planted carrot tops and garlic and onion bulbs, and the weak, pale shoots that managed to scrape through dry soil was cause for much celebration and excitement for us. Summers back in England were spent fascinated by frondescence. We loved weeds, that is a sure sign, if any, that we were deprived of greenery. I don’t know if I did right by my sunflowers, planting them at the end of August, like I did.

I have planted about thirty tulips and hyacinths, in preparation for spring! Here’s to hoping they explode with colour at their due time!

I used up all my sunflower seeds at the end of summer, and now it is an experiment to see if they will grow.

A race with time, and a bet against the weather.

So far it has been warm. Too warm for October, in fact. Despite ‘storm Ophelia’, Britain has been basking in plenty of sunshine.

I hope that bodes well for my sunflowers.

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New Job

I started a new job on Monday the 2nd of October. I am working as an Editorial Assistant for a medical communications company.

It is my first ever job in a corporate role. I sit at a desk, in an office where lots of other people sit at desks, and I am supposed to be in charge of editing medical journals, manuscripts, presentations, posters and other such publications, which can be found online on journal websites, in medical magazines, on leaflets and at medical congress booths!

Because it is only my first week, I have found it insufferably boring.

Well, I lie.

It has been great, except for today.

Monday was an introductory and training day, but Tuesday through to Thursday I was given several pieces of work, one of which included an 80-slide presentation! I spent a good eight hours on that, over the course of two days, and the rest of my time was divided between other pieces of work, training sessions and meetings. So it was pretty full-on, and I was enjoying myself.

But today…

Today I had a very minor task, taking me about two hours in total. It really didn’t help that I came in 45 minutes early. So I finished that, and have now been twiddling my thumbs all day because there is no other work available. All very frustrating I must say. I know it’s because I am new, and haven’t particularly been trained in a great deal of things, so can’t be given any terribly important pieces of work but for goodness’ sake I just want to get on with it! I have been trawling the internet all day, and reading other peoples’ blogs, which is great because I haven’t had the free time to do that in a while.

Work is about 45min drive from my home, but it usually takes me an hour and a half, because the traffic is horrendous. A colleague told me yesterday that during the school holidays the going is great, and now I am lamenting the minimal holidays school children get in the UK. I tried to leave twenty minutes earlier than usual today, in the hopes that I would arrive early enough that I could leave half an hour early. It took me exactly 45 minutes to get here, with absolutely no traffic on the roads! That made me very annoyed, I have to say.

It means I either have to get in very early, or exactly on time with a risk of being late!

Anyway.

That was just an update on my first proper job in my chosen career path. I am an editorial assistant! Maybe one day in the future I can be an editor of a book publishing house! Maybe! Baby steps, amiright?

To be honest I was shocked they’d hired me, considering I have had no experience in this field, except for very minimal freelance work. Shocked and pleased, emphasis on the ‘pleased’.

 

 

The East Side

There were some witches, on the East end of town. Only witches, mind. Nobody else lived there, because they simply weren’t allowed. Not that there was an outright statement saying so. It’s just that, somehow, there were never any houses for sale around there. Schools could be seen, but were never listed on national websites. Enquiries were made, but never replied to. Eventually people gave up, and realised that any regulars simply were not permitted on that side, and it was no use pursuing the matter.

If you walked down their streets, a distinct smell wafted into your nostrils.

The smell of burnt.. cake. Sharp, sweet, and slightly frustrating.

Their streets were spick and span. Neat as a pin. Not a blade of grass out of place. The flowers grew politely in their assigned beds and boxes and hanging baskets, and didn’t dare peep over the edges. The pavements were a neat, uniform colour, each tile placed evenly and with care. The cars were parked in order of colour, so a person standing at the very far end of one of the streets saw a rainbow of cars parked along the right hand side. Not the left, mind. That could get you killed.

When newcomers drove through town, they marvelled at the East side.

Be careful,’ the man who ran the newsagents would say, ‘thems the streets what those witches live on.’

Don’t go down the East end,’ mothers would caution their little ones on their way out to play, ‘that’s where the witches live.

Sometimes children would wander down to the East side. They would peep around hedges, which almost looked like they were paintings, drawn out to be mathematically correct in proportion. They would try, sometimes, to peer through windows. They never succeeded at seeing any of the goings on inside the quiet houses. A pitch blackness would greet their eager eyes.

A pitch blackness, I will assure you, which arose from some mysterious magical power, rather than a lack of electricity. The windows looked perfectly normal, and witches certainly don’t believe in blackout curtains, so only some kind of spell would allow nobody to see what went on in the drawing rooms of the witches.

Not many human children, however, got away with these nosy antics. Sometimes, if a witch became particularly irritated by bright eyes or the edge of a curious nose peeking around the corner, accompanied by the sound of terrified giggling and scuffling, a human child would rise to the sky with a look of wonder on his or her face, and be promptly and firmly set down right on the edge of the East side, next to the sign that read, in curly lettering,Welcome to the East Side of Pickletown. Please drive carefully. Do not pick any flowers or step on any lawns.’

Some of the children enjoyed being airlifted in such a fashion, and would conduct little expeditions with their other daring little friends into the East side, purposely poking their heads over hedges. They would scream with laughter whilst floating through the air, shouting that they were flying, and altogether feeling mighty smug and superior.

Then they would attempt to trawl back into the East side, for another ride.

They didn’t ever get one, however. They could never step beyond the sign. No matter how hard they tried to put their feet beyond the sign, they couldn’t It was as if some kind of invisible wall was blocking them. It was mighty frustrating for them, of course. They could plainly see the bit of pavement they couldn’t touch. Their brains were convinced they could walk there, because there was no visible obstruction. However they simply could not, so they attempted running at the wall at top speed (not a very wise idea, I assure you), only to be flung backward on to the pavement in a rather painful manner. That stopped them, alright. They would then give up and plod cheerfully back into their respective side, nattering on about who flew the highest and who was thrown back the hardest.

Not a bad day of earnest playing for the little ones, that’s for sure!