What a luxury it is to hop into a warm bed on a cold, wintry night. I confess I am a little addicted to my electric blanket, and often stay up later than I should while waiting for my bed to heat up. Is there an app that lets you turn it on as you’re driving home from a night out?
Good lyrics are hard to write, and it’s twice as tricky to make them appear at the same time as a good tune. The masters could do it, and threw in some curved balls, just to keep us on our toes. Unless you’re a singer, most people will remember the words to the first verse and chorus of a song, but no more. When you have to learn lyrics properly though, there are all kinds of delightful surprises in store. Burt Bacharach’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” is one such song. Over that refined 60s arrangements, the second verse floats:
What do you get when you kiss a girl?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
And when you do she’ll never phone you
I’ll never fall in love again.
I got a message from an old friend this morning. We’ve known each other for nearly twenty years, but only manage to catch up every few years. We met in his home town of Dinan, a little village in Brittany in the west of France. I was there teaching English and met three fabulous young pilots – Christophe, Maël and Bertrand – in a bar one night. We spent many an evening together drinking beers at Le Saut de la Puce, helped along by the fact that none of us were really working. We flipped in and out of French and English as the mood struck, and I still have a remarkably well-developed vocabulary of aviation terms in French. Despite only crossing paths a couple of times a decade, these boys are some of my favourite people in the world. Christophe’s message this morning prompted me to fish out my photo album – it was pre-digital so there aren’t many photos – but each one opens the door to hundreds of tiny stories. These ones were taken late one night at a my spartan apartment, and I seem to recall there was some whisky involved.
I can’t remember why I bought that Julie London album when I was 21, but it’s still gets a regular spin in the player. A velvet voice, plenty of sass, and excellent choice of songs. I love this clip where she appears as a man’s drunken hallucination in the 1956 film “The Girl Can’t Help It”.
There’s something so incredibly satisfying about ripping little plants out by their roots. My front yard has been a weedy mess due to neglect for a while, but since the rains have arrived I’ve been out there quietly ripping, yanking and pulling those weeds out with a vengeance. My muscles are sore, partly from pulling weeds, partly from walking up and down my hill to collect loads of fallen oak leaves to use as mulch. (No point in weeding if you don’t cover it up with something.) I’m gradually making my way from south to north in the garden bed, and very pleased that I can survey my toils from my kitchen window. On top of the joy of tidy garden beds, today I uncovered a plant I thought long since disappeared. It’s still there, looking quite healthy, and hopefully happier now that it doesn’t have to compete with all the grass.
Winter days may often be chilly, rainy and windy, but they can also be still, sunny and beautiful. I went for a stroll in the gully this afternoon with my daughter to look at toadstools. I wasn’t going to go, but she convinced to me to put my gumboots on and wander down the hill. The toadstools are fabulous, and we have the changeable weather to thank for their existence, as they need some rain, some chill and some sunshine to appear. It’s easy to forget how good it is to wander slowly, simply observing the world.
I could look at clouds all day everyday and not get bored. This afternoon I was sitting in my lounge-room and glanced out to the window to see a spectacular afternoon sky. Boots on and camera in hand, I went cloud chasing in the neighbourhood. Strange things were a-happening – clouds like balls of fire, giant bubbles of darkness, and classic golden puffs were all up there, jostling for space.
Sometimes the little joys sneak up me from behind, tap me on the shoulder and sprinkle some fairy dust on my toes. It happened today as I sat in the car coming home from a work trip. Living in the country I spend a bit of time in the car and 98% of the time, I’m driving. How delightful it was to sit in the back seat, cruising the country roads of north central Victoria looking out the window. The sunset was stunning – dark clouds, slashes of gold, and grand old trees standing vibrant green paddocks. A feast for the eyes and I even took a few photos as we beetled down the road. Another luxury of the back seat is that one has the choice of joining the conversation and or drifting off into thoughts.
I caught this one halfway between Heathcote and Kyneton, just before we descended the valley to cross the Campaspe River on the old wooden bridge.
Learning new things always puts a spring in my step. Getting a chance to practice that new thing does the same. I’m on the road for work for a couple for a couple of days and someone else is driving, which means I get to sit in the back seat and make my crochet grow. I’m new to crochet, but I really like it. There’s something so satisfying about the repetitive action that makes it get bigger before my eyes. This one is a blanket I’m making for my small girl. It’s much easier than the crocheted breast I made for a friend last year. (It was trophy for surviving a very difficult breast-feeding journey.)
I’m not going to lie to you – this parenting thing is hard work. My two small people (11 & 13) are great, but they have their moments. Even though they’ve outgrown picture books, I still love them. In fact, I think I love them more now that I don’t get to read them every night at bedtime, and especially when the small people are being beastly. I have my favourites, which are mostly feel-good philosophical tales about relationships. Pearl Barley & Charlie Parsley is up there near the top of the list with The Little Prince and That’s Mean. Other favourites are on the list because they’re so much fun to read out loud – rhythm and rhymes and silly voices – like The Thirsty Flowers.
I just discovered a new picture to a hunt down – Big Wolf & Little Wolf – courtesy of Brainpickings, a fabulous webpage with wonderful reviews and summaries of interesting literature. Originally in French, Big Wolf & Little Wolf (Grand Loup & Petit Loup) is a tale of slow, creepy-uppy kind of love (to quote Tim Minchin). I won’t try to describe the book as I haven’t read it yet and because the brainpickings review is so well written, with relevant quotes from other authors and philosophical bits and bobs.
Big Wolf & Little Wolf, by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Published by Enchanted Lion Books, New York, 2009.