You know when, at last, you make it to the sofa for a bit of TV, and you wrap yourself in the blanket, and take a deep cleansing breath, and –
ew. What is that smell?
Yes, it was the living room blanket’s biannual wash night the other day, and I got to thinking. My sister bought me that blanket, just after I had moved out from home. At first I didn’t think I liked the colour.
But it was huge and comfy and I brought it – and four boxes of books – to Mr HB’s house. I have a photo of his daughter, now 21, asleep in it, aged about 8. My youngest two fight over it every weekend, watching cartoons.
I know it’s only a thing, not a person, but it’s a special blanket. Now and then it deserves a good clean.
It had been a long time since I had persevered with a book and then, 300 pages in, fell right in, and kept falling.
I spent three days either waiting to get back to my book, or reading my book. I updated social media to let people know I wouldn’t be around. The real world was not as vivid as the one within those 700 pages. When I finished, I was bereft.
I have a lot of ambitions as a writer, but even if I do not fulfill any (more) of them, it will be enough to have been given this gift. How to read. Of course I have always read and loved it, but before I wrote, I wasn’t pushing myself in my book choices. I read to relax.
And I wasn’t aware of what it takes to write a novel.
It was just an ordinary day.
Logs arrived while I was out, so that was good planning.
When I got home, Mr HB had gone to get the children from school, stacking half done.
So I rolled up my sleeves. Figuratively of course, it’s winter –and started moving the logs from the lane to the wood shed.
I could see the children way down the lane when they came back and they stacked the wood too, one more willingly than the other, but they were both ‘encouraged’ to help.
Then the light deepened and pinkened and I knew it was sunset even though we hadn’t seen the sun all day.
Bathed in a rose tint we stacked wood, complained about having to help, blew on our painfully frozen fingers.
An ordinary day.
Wood, sky, children, work, cold, light.
Tiny lovely things about Christmas
The Christmas Tree ornaments you’d forgotten about.
Chipolata sausages wrapped in fiddly bacon.
Falling asleep in daylight hours.
The Snowman, The Bear and The Gruffalo.
Stocking fillers (but only after you have bought and wrapped them.)
Pine needles in March.
The children trying to avoid the mistletoe at all costs.
Mulled Wine and that mulled wine juice from IKEA.
Transforming a pile of ‘things’ (gifts) into a much more pleasing pile of wrapped presents.
Christmas Songs on the radio.
Any 9 Lessons and Carols in any format.
The sense of achievement when you find the Santa Hats.
Edwin Morgan’s Poem ‘Trio.’
Carols for Choirs 1,2 and 3.
Driving home for Christmas, with ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ at full volume in the car.
And the little bits of paper on the floor, after a session of cutting out snowflakes.
Today I have been thinking about…waving.
I’m just back, and was driving through the village when I got stopped at the only set of traffic lights. As I sat and waited, my friend, her husband, their son and their dog crossed in front at the pedestrian crossing.
By the time I had managed the soft beep, rather than
the hard parp that is easier, all but the husband had disappeared through the doorway to the woods.(Yes, in our village, we have a doorway to the woods.)
But I waved, thinking, ‘I’m in the wrong car, I’ve got sunglasses on, he doesn’t know me well. Hi!’
He looked, and then waved back. And before the lights went green, my friend had reappeared, waved, and her son had popped his head back through the doorway and waved too.
Today I have been thinking about…tiredness.
I say, ‘thinking about,’ more accurately, I have been ‘being tired’. The children woke me with yelps and screams at two minutes to six (two minutes to six!). Proof of how tired I was lay with me, as I fell asleep again immediately.
Later, I had to put the radio on for fear of not waking in time. I dragged myself through breakfast and shower and church (sorry church). I’m home now and behind schedule. I’m ratty with people. I’m sooooooo tired.
However, do not for one second sympathise with me. I have been out three evenings this week. I danced for hours on Friday. I had a special day with my wee boys on Saturday. I even fell asleep on my comfy sofa at 7:30pm last night.
My lovely, busy, tiring tinylife.
My children run under the spreading tree,
rich with the fruit of swings.
Disappear for hours on end,
cousins and new friends and dogs romp
around rich grass,
look down fondly
from their great height upon
of wet footprints on their forest floor.
I look out of the window,
feel time loosening its grip.
An ending line
curves into a circle.
Today, my children inhabit part of my history.
my story and memories
their story, their memories.
A house, a garden, a cocooned day:
as children, as adults.
Across the lawn,
straggled out in age order,
the three year old last in his yellow wellies.
I can almost see another figure.
A girl treads lightly,
the last full head of dandelion clock gripped gently in her hand.
The warmth of his comfortable weight.
His hand fiddles
with my thumbnail,
his feet dangle
to my knees.
His hair as
soft and fluffy as
the inside of his favourite jumper,
a perfect mess of haywire strands,
always in need of a cut.
His breathing inhales, exhales through my body:
lift, then relax.
a view of angelic eyelashes.
He leans into my chest,
being pinned to the chair
by this sweetest of distractions,
all the other things I could be doing,
should be doing,
I stay here.
Let me savour this moment,
for those for whom the moment never comes,
for the years and years beyond this day
when he won’t sit on my knee anymore.
And 140 words is not enough,
to describe this,
of my son
sitting on my knee.
The things in my house can become part of the furniture.
Some of them are the furniture.
I see, but don’t see, that picture on the fridge every day. I certainly don’t remember the work that went into it on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Yesterday I was opening the bathroom cupboard, and for once I looked properly at the sticker.
Its back reflects neatly on the mirror-door. It’s faded: once bright colours muted.
But I can still remember the day we got it: when my husband’s daughter was in Primary school, and they had an open morning for parents. Mr HB and I both went, and we got the sticker which says ‘Good try,’ for participating in one of the games.
It was so many years ago that the sticker is part of the furniture, holding the memory in place.
Today I have been thinking…about my novel.
As if I’ve been thinking about anything else for the last two months. It feels wrong, somehow, talking about this on the blog. I’m supposed to have a tinylife, how can that include insurmountable, unbelievable, incomprehensible ideas like writing a novel? Let alone having a novel published.
And yet, this has happened to tiny me. I wrote and wrote a story I believed in, then I sent it to lots of people who publish books, and one of them said ‘Yes.’
Clearly the last 23 words do not in any way communicate what it was like.
So now there is a whole novel out there in the wide world,
doing its level best in a world full of novels.
I wrote it. I’m proud of it. I really am a writer.