Category: Life

  • Jellyfish: as below, so above

    The ‘elusive’ Jellyfish Nebula, 5,000 light years away. Closer at hand, Claire’s Antarctic Medusa.

  • Talking of grandmothers

    I think these were my great aunts’ undergarments, hand-made, of course, with all their intricate, undisplayed detail, which I’ve lugged about for years in an old cotton flour bag, along with a couple of well-cured ferret skins and skeins of old lace. I freshened them up in Nappysan and sunshine, then Alex appropriated them for…

  • (grand) Mothers’ Day

    I was moved when my mother wrote after reading Island that a couple of the characters reminded her strongly of my two grandmothers — strong, practical, optimistic (especially after a little time alone with their feelings). And Liesel too could have been Granny Grace carrying on until the tasks were all done during the 1918…

  • Alchemical breathing

    It’s been the oddest time of late. And yet not entirely unexpectedly odd. Collectively, we on Earth have brought ourselves to a strange and delicate state. I’ve been dealing with upswells of anxiety and I mention this because I suspect I’m not alone in it. While I try to examine myself for local causes, I…

  • Out there: finding an angle

    Shot from behind: I found this dress by cacherel in Ushuaia of all places. Elena talked me into it. With the pashmina from Yaks’n’Yetis, I was all set for Sophie and Ryan’s wedding. For those of us writers slow to take a square look at the need for DIY book promotion — which can feel…

  • Snapshots

    I wished I had the camera last night: just when we think the meal well and truly over, the waiter comes out flourishing a fish to set on the lazy susan — entire, ‘crispy’, teeth bared, fins awry, standing on its plate, to all appearances freshly electrocuted. I wished I had it this morning at…

  • Who are we?

    …organic specks in the same starry broth as this dust pillar of the Carina Nebula. (Astonishing sights are posted each day on the NASA gallery.) What does it imply, that we have seen such things? Sorry, no Tuesday Poem today but do check out the others.

  • Mystery item

    Elena and I found this in the kitchen on the Atlantic coast. Does anyone know what it is? Last night a small group of us found ourselves gathered around another mysterious object. Like two large woks meeting at the rims, the burnished metal hang is somewhere between flying saucer and sorcery. Its upper surface is…

  • Tuesday Poem: ‘Well’ by Emma Neale

    Well Afterwards, I stood with my childon the river’s bridgeover the storm swollen rapids. Make your two wishes, he said,and into my hands he pressedshredded petals he’d found, fallenfrom the peach-silk hot house flowershe calls ‘the singing plant’for their glorious, open mouths. Their colour flared like tossed coinstowards the river’s turbulent surface:on contact still they…

  • Tara

    (Tara-kihi) Nevertheless, we ate her.

  • Tuesday Poem

    I haven’t heard back from the publisher whose permission I sought for the poem I wanted to share today, so, wary of infringing copyright, I go back a century or so to Rilke’s Poems from the Book of Hours. For some reason, I can’t separate it out into four-line stanzas, or separate off my comments…

  • Phew, it’s Tuesday again already

    I’m going to extort one from someone else next week. Meanwhile … Dog Attack The nor-wester howls over, trees have fallen.Two dogs, silent as stealth,shadow mine into the bush. Down in the gully, she screams.They have her rolled in leaf-litter.The black brute shakes her like moss. When I roar so hard I’m shaken,up comes his…

  • Tuesday Poem

    I was going to say no to this suggestion from Claire, from Mary; I’m not a poet. On the other hand, it looked like more fun to join in, and I’ve written a few poems I’m not entirely unhappy with. Thanks, Mary. Thanks, Claire. Firewalkers We say yes to the queueof people who look like…

  • Coming on the 3rd of May

    Back cover blurb: ‘An island in a bleak harbour; an isolated quarantine station where a group of nurses works tirelessly to care for sailors and immigrants recovering from the effects of the long sea voyage to the new land. Kahu swims ashore, searching for a woman. Young nurse Liesel, caught in a passionate triangle, is…

  • Spider

    It’s tiny, the size of half an s, in the middle of my screen. It creeps along the line of print, negotiating ‘trucks and drivers’ with slow aplomb. Little does the spider know that the creatrice of worlds is about to press the red cross in the corner of the screen. It’s flipped into a…

  • La mariposa nocturna (Sp), papillon de nuit (Fr)

    What’s to be said about moths? Quiet night messengers, moon-wed, subtly toned and always rewarding inspection. I can’t recall photographing this one although I did so recently. (Correction: I didn’t. It’s Jonathan’s handiwork. What a memory. Thanks, J.) Moths make themselves forgettable, seeking light but never lime-light. Earlier this week, another came in through the…

  • After the wedding

    It was a gorgeous day, the best of the summer, blessed by sun, friends and family, tears, delight, good food and finery, heartfelt speeches, and the dazzlingly happy couple, Sophie and Ryan, married 6th February. The photographers have hived off to the Himalayas: photos when they’re back.

  • Joy

    I wrote to a friend the other day that I didn’t think music crucial for my survival. I might have to revise the comment. A couple of times this week music has moved me to awe and tears. I think those are necessary elements in a life… The first was after a workshop with Stephen…

  • Okay enough

    I’ve started setting up Skybooks, where dynamic, literary, heartening writing will be solicited, selected, edited and turned into stunning ebooks. My confidence waxes and wanes — not in the work itself or in its writers, and not in my ability to recognise that work and present it in its finest light — but in my…

  • Our human family

    When something touches us all (a wondrous feat or a dire tragedy) we remember that we’re all of one tribe: the tribe of those living on tiny, fragile Earth early in the 21st century. These members of the 2007 Iowa International Writers family hail from Turkey/Bulgaria, Egypt, Malta, Hungary, and B from Haiti. Two years…

  • Goodbye, 2009

    The real index of civilisation is when people are kinder than they need to be. Louis de Berniere, novelist. Saying goodbye to the old year seems an apt time to ponder this quote (from Word a Day). I’ve foregone opportunities this week, this day, to be kinder than necessary (to others, to the earth, to…

  • Who’d have thought Mars…

    …could prove beautiful. Okay, perhaps I haven’t picked the most elegant image but prepare to be awed by the others at this BBC site — with thanks to Grace at Rata Weekly for pointing me in that direction. Via vast new telescopes and exploratory eyes-in-the sky, we’re seeing planets, stars and galaxies in scope and…

  • Sharing a maté …

    … is both a quotidien and a subtle experience. You don’t share with just anyone. You’re sipping from the same bombilla, after all. There’s a technique to it: filling the cup two-thirds full of the ‘tea’; jolting the woody bits to the top, trickling on the cold water, not too much and not too little;…

  • When the ‘pasta’ is flat

    At Elena’s flat in Buenos Aires, we were taking an inordinately long time to clean our teeth, and we had three tubes of toothpaste — but all at the identical stage of oversqueeze. (Thanks for the charming photo, Elena.) Is it worth cutting off the lids and scraping the aluminium lining? When is it time…

  • Coming or going?

    A few (more) of us lost jobs this week; yes, Longacre Press is moving north, to live on Random’s verandah. So, it’s Opportunity Time. I went off to ponder mine in Naseby, ‘2000 feet above worry level’. Polly was in dog heaven, sniffing and poking and rolling about wherever rabbits have been — which is…