Its struck me recently how frequently I use the word "stuff".
what a handy little word - it can mean almost anything, and the sibilance of the 't' and the 'ff' are so satisfying. Maybe they subconsciously provide a kind of finality - like a full stop - reassuring that theres no need to bother thinking of a better, more specific word.
Its funny though, that I enjoy such a lazy and cover-all short-hand sort of word, when I'm also quite appreciative of "proper" vocabulary. Words with specific, complex, nuanced meanings.
Suggestive words - evocative, ambiguous, interesting. Alliterative. Onomatopoeic. (yes, i admit it. just checked the dictionary for spelling of onomatopoeic. Had got it nearly but not quite right)
Synonyms, antonyms and ... other kinds of words ending in 'nym'.
One of my best friends particularly shares my love of words and we have been known, in the past, to find entertainment reading aloud from the thesaurus.
In fact, last time I saw this particular friend we were reduced to tears of hysteria over some silliness about possible names for a cattery.
I had a wonderful weekend away, a week ago, in Suffolk which is in the middle of the big bulgy nose-like bit on the East coast of England.
Lucy and I took long walks with ziggy the dog - mostly country walks, with lots of stops for photographs (Luce was very patient with me), and pauses to watch the skylarks and listen to the birdsong
and pauses for other dog-silliness.
On the Sunday we took a long long walk - through and around Ipswich itself, through modern and old, derelict and developed, around the marina and along the docks; we found a vast and lovely park and walked through a rather beautiful cemetary just as the shadows were at their longest.
We walked for about four and a half hours. We were ready for a large G & T. We thought the dog might be just a little tired...
sorry this vid is a bit dark, but i hope you get the idea...
whenever i walk in a london street i'm ever so careful to watch my feet and i keep in the squares and the masses of bears who wait at the corners just ready to eat the sillies who walk on the lines of the squares go back to their lairs, and i say to them "bears! Just look how i'm walking in all the squares!"
and the little bears growl to each other "he's mine, as soon as he's silly and treads on a line." and some of the bigger bears try to pretend that they came round the corner to look for a friend and they try to pretend that nobody cares whether you walk on the lines or the squares but only the sillies believe their talk its ever so 'portant how you walk its ever so jolly to call out "Bears! Just look how i'm walking in all the squares!"
when we were very young EP Dutton & Co. 1924 Illustrations by EH Shepard
This is a road under a Victorian railway bridge - they often have these little doorways between one arch and the next and i don't know why...
often the little doorways are bricked up... and i don't know why...
Under the arches - especially in London - you will often see workshops, storage spaces, lock-ups.
Such as these:
and see all the orange? do I get extra points for echoing last Thursday's theme?
These pictures were all taken in Deptford, South East London - far more run down, urban and altogether skanky than its historic and rather lovely neighbour Greenwich and therefore just as appealing photographically.
Deptford also has the Laban Dance centre, seen here again under the railway bridge:
Under the arches of London Bridge is Borough Market - a wholesalers fruit and veg. market during the week and retail foodie heaven on Fridays and at the weekend.
Right on the south bank of the Thames, not far from the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern, this is somewhere I would take any bloggers who might happen to visit me in London ..... one day ..... maybe ....
Oh, and P.S. sorry i'm not visiting blogs v. much at the mo, lots of (nasty) work busy-ness - and i'm away for a few days tomorrow (lovely) friend visiting...
my garden has been one important area of my life needing some attention lately
and why I didn't get out there earlier in this particular "down" cycle I don't know, given that i know how much better the process always makes me feel
it is so therapeutic
not just the mud and effort and sweat and dirty fingernails not just the colours and greens and textures and smells and buzzings and birdsongs and petals and leafy shoots
it soothes my spirit and speaks to me in unexpected ways.
Part of the therapy is unthinking absorption in the green and the growing and the dirt
- like being in another world. or just being out of the world for a while. or maybe out of myself, inThe world... hmmm...
Part of the therapy is a sort of earth wisdom which oozes its way gently in through some kind of osmosis.
- think about these aspects of my recent gardening as metaphors for living:
* my garden has been awash with forget-me-nots. They are finished now, needed to be cleared and if not cleared they tend get mildew. It is almost impossible (if thats what one wanted, which i don't) to remove them without their seed scattering, ready for next year's tidal wave of little blue loveliness. While other plants grow, flower and fruit during the summer, they'll be there dormant waiting for autumn and next spring.
* Taking out the forget-me-nots always creates so much space for other plants, and in the process I always discover some I had forgotten, and some I'd thought might not survive the winter. If I was a more regular and thorough gardener, I might sacrifice some of these unexpected (re-)discoveries. (my salvia uliginosa has survived the winter. I am very happy)
* Some plants are flourishing because I moved them to locations and next to other plants with which they are happier. Some plants hate to be moved and might never recover. On the other hand, some (such as larkspur) are happiest in recently disturbed ground. Go figure.
* I think I have given up on growing helenium in my garden. Much as I love it, it seems that my soil and situation just don't give it what it needs :o( Sometimes nature can't be persuaded.
* the crambe which I was given years ago - and which has been stamped on (repeatedly) (not by me) during fence-repairs, eaten by slugs and snails, neglected and forgotten about - is finally doing well, producing its massive umbrella leaves and might even flower this year. It had the persistence - just needed time to get going :o)
* I have no tadpoles this year. This makes me sad but my source of last year's frogspawn also has none this year. So I can't import any more, I will just have to wait for them to arrive as part of the natural cycle. Where there is water, there will be frogs - I just need to be patient.
* pruning. Some plants really wont flourish without it, they get leggy and ungainly and feeble and may even become bare, woody and dead on the inside, despite their leafy facade. Sometimes ruthlessness is needed.
* the all-engulfing too-vociferous tree ivy which was constantly threatening to engulf the fence at the end of my garden - the fence and my girl-shed and some cherished plants - is finally close to being defeated. This is because new neighbours on the other side of the fence are also trying to control or uproot it. It was a problem which really needed to be addressed on both sides.
Sometimes its just too much bloody wisdom all at once and then I have to come and sit at my computer for a while, surrounded by technology....
I never really got beyond NYC in my travelogue - but the sticker art I included in the post-before-last was from the second part of my visit which was in Pennsylvania.
I spent one day in Philadelphia. It rained.
The rain started out gently and as it got more persistent and I decided I should, after all, fish out the umbrella from the bottom of my bag I discovered that I had brought my sun glasses. But not my umbrella.
I got thoroughly drippy wet - and therefore used my little compact camera, not the lost camera - and so I have some pictures.
So, here are my Philly street art pics:
The rain didn't really matter, I was meeting up with an old friend and we had a good time. I also ate my first philly cheese steak, which was good. It was also large. But I ate most of it.
My Pennsylvania stay also involved ribs
seen here on the plate top left of the picture - an adjunct to the hash browns and humongous omlette containing ham, cheese, crab and lots of other things I can't remember...
I was introduced to scrapple as "even better than black pudding". It wasn't. It was... okay.
So I didn't eat grits, but i did eat scrapple. So there.
But Pennsylvania wasn't all about food (not quite).
It was wonderfully lush and rural, spring woodlands full of blossom and cornus
and farmland with, here and there, the most beautiful old barns (some of the pics I'm saddest to have lost).
We drove through and around Amish country where I learned that Amish houses can be recognised by the absence of power cables and the presence of washing lines. The dark coloured clothing - black, dark blues and purples - is a sign of an Amish family, whereas more varied and brighter washing would probably be mennonites rather than Amish. Which was kind of interesting. Washing on a line in Britain just means.... washing to be dried!
We stopped at a yard sale across the fronts of a few Amish houses. My friend noticed that some of the women were wearing crocs, which seemed a bit incongruous. Albeit black crocs. But she said that some Amish families do have telephones - maybe in an outhouse, to be available but not allowed to dominate - or maybe even also computers. Sometimes they borrow farming equipment from mennonite neighbours - though I did see a lot of horse-drawn ploughs out in the fields. But the point is to be self-sufficient without technology rather than luddite, - maybe to use it as a matter of choice but without being dependent on or dominated by it.
We visited a couple of shops full of the most amazing amish quilting:
I also visited: * Ghettisburg, which was beautiful and sobering
* a huge and very shiny Harley Davidson dealership where I bought a top for LG (top as in clothing rather than anything vehicular)
* Efrata cloister - home of a community founded in the C18th, who lived an extraordinarily ascetic and strict life in the most lovely setting, in buildings which were very photogenic but probably not terribly comfortable as homes, driven by the expectation of the return of Christ for whom they sat and waited at particular hours in the daytime and also in the middle of the night. They only slept 3 hours on either side of the midnight waiting, ate only one meal a day (a very frugal meal), worked extraordinarily hard and lived rather longer than average for their era.
The women made intricate and skilfully creative woven cloth - its amazing how creativity expresses itself even where there just doesn't seem to be room for it.
* the Brandywine museum/gallery. I was so delighted with this trip - I've loved Andrew Wyeth's work since being taken to a London exhibition by a college friend, way way back in the mists of the late 70's/early 80's. Wyeth's father was a painter/illustrator, his son is also a painter - the last exhibition I saw in England featured all 3 generations, and the Brandywine museum has the major collection work from all three. We also took a tour of a local farm - Andrew Wyeth painted the building, landscapes, family over and over again. I saw this very room and window:
So - thats highlights and a few pics. from Pennsylvania.