Category Archives: reading

books, quotes, things I have read etc.

Generalising July

Listening to “meet the author” on the Today programme radio four this morning, I was amused at the comment. “you can’t just write about real life, it would be too boring”. It’s true of course, the novels we read are shaped and edited, time is speeded and slowed, the focus is narrowed and widened, but repetitive routines of life are missed out to focus on action and plot.

Today in my real life the rain has fallen nearly all day, and the tomatoes I picked in the rain were muddy and wet. Not much action there.

An online course on reading novels I have been dipping into was suggesting how sometimes these routines and rhythms of life can still be described even in the best plot time line. A moment when the essence of a season, or regular event, can be captured. The description is not of a particular summer, but all summers, not just one family breakfast time, but all…

Generalising and condensing recurring moments into one description can provide the underlying rhythm of story.

So rather than try and invent some action I looked back on my July posts and photos since I started writing this online journal, to find the general themes

July skies, grey, heavy rain,

widening to cloudless blue,

July roads, stone walled in Yorkshire dales,

high mountain views in British Columbia.

July books for holiday reading,

pen meets paper healing through writing,

July fruits, red, ripe for jamming,

stirring creativity, stitching textiles.






February 2nd – a clover seed

I read these words by American poet Wendell Berry this morning, before I realised the significance of the date. 

On the second day of February forty-nine years ago, he too was feeling the chill and bleakness of the world. And yet, and yet, in the midst of news of war, violence and death, he walked the unpromising land and sowed seeds for the spring. 

A lovely metaphor of hope for this grey, dismal winter morning. 

February 2, 1968
In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,

war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,

I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

-Wendell Berry

Family history – small stone 5

I have recently been given this wonderful old book of the Jackson family genealogy. My great grandparents Thomas Jackson Greeves, and Gilbertina Newsom Jackson  were both direct descendants of the Isaac and Ann Jackson of this book. (As am I of course!)img_1082

Painting it this morning has made me appreciate the painstaking recording of family stories, together with the guiding principles and motivations of those who have gone before. Don’t let them be forgotten.

PS paper isn’t really blue…

“Compassion for our ugly” 

In the last couple of weeks words have been used and misused, to deceive, accuse, blame, hurt, malign and divide us. I have frequently felt lost for words and have felt I wanted to withdraw from conversations and hide.

One morning recently, when we as a nation seemed to be doing our murderous ugly worst to each other with words and weapons, I read this poem. Even as we shudder at our own failure, we are not abandoned, we are loved in our ugliness. And we have been entrusted with “the Word” to offer the same to others.

It is when we face for a moment
the  worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, our brother,
the Word. 

Denise Levertov “The mystery of the incarnation” The Stream and the Sapphire

The holding pages – small stone 17

“I have made an open place, a place for meditation. What if I cannot find myself inside it? I think of these pages as a way of doing that. I have written… to find out  what I think, to know where I stand.”

May Sarton – A Journal of a Solitude

 Re-reading this journal of a creative life, where her descriptions of the changing textures of her everyday life “crack open the inner world again”. 

Seeing in colour – small stone 4

A book which inspires me to look for colour, even when the day is grey. A story told in words and pictures, piecing past and present into a pattern of hope. A narrative shaped and fashioned, creating art from ordinary days like today.

Dreaming in Colour – An Autobiography by Kaffe Fassett


Pre Christmas  highlights included performing in two concerts with “Just Sing”, (raising £2,800 for a children’s bereavement charity), and watching a scintillating performance of “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens’ great, great grandson.


Christmas itself was a gentle time with a visit from my sister and her family. The “boys” played board games, and we ate lots of food, watched TV, talked and relaxed. The photo shows Anna and me in our matching new coats, bought independently and in different towns,  unbeknown to each other!

A few sales bargains bagged, and the latest Star Wars film viewed, we are now enjoying a quiet period. It is the in between time, after the “birth”and before the “epiphany”.  A liminal space, a chance to reflect on the year past,  and contemplate what might appear in 2016.  And of course a chance to catch up on reading some of my Christmas presents. Thank you everyone!