Wednesday, 10 November 2010

1,2,3 excuses

My silence can be explained by the following things:

1) I have been writing a novel.

This is an illustration of a main character.

2) I've been making jelly.

This is spiced apple jelly and it tastes like sweet christmas and delcious boiled sweets. Good set, good clarity, good taste. Full marks.

3) I have been helping Mr Kite spruce up our cabin. I have essentially moved into the cabin and now only return home every few weeks or so. Pictures to follow.

Winter came yesterday. I am going to go and walk in it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sour Grapes

This song describes almost everything that I think about spiritually. I'd recommend reading the lyrics rather than watch the video. The lyrics are written below, (though not every word is certain.)
As with all Puscifer, Tool or APC songs the lyrics are very open to interpretation and are definitely tongue-in-cheek. I have interpreted them in my own way.

Mary, if you have time to look at this song and the lyrics I wonder what your thoughts are on the matter and whether any of this links to the teachings at the Zendo? The same goes out to any interested readers.

And the angel of the lord led me
Into the belly of the holy mother
A chamber black as pitch
But I felt no fear, only comfort,

For I was as a child in the womb
And she begged me
"Hear through yonder portal
Which looked upon the heavens,
And behold! a morning angel"

She ascended slowly from far beyond the horizon,
Her light like a heavenly finger pointing the way
And on yonder wall she traced for me a path
Which led me five directions, eight winters to east,

And behold!
As my feet landed firmly
Upon the final winter of the second storm
There appeared before me a heavenly star

A holy virgin, the bringer of life and breath
And she spoke unto me saying
"Fear not the movement of the heavens above or the earth below
For change is what we are, my child.

Righteous are those
Who look up and sway with the wind,
Who look down and dance with the shifting of the soil,
Who swim with the movement of the tides

Who seek the truth around them
And discover that we are
And have always been in paradise.
The reflections of heaven on earth. Amen!'

And she spoke again saying
"Know, my child, that there is no devil seeking to conquer the hearts of men.

No evil, save blind faith, ignorance,
And the desire for the unprepared
To blame others for the devastation
Left in the wake of change

Change, my child
Change is in the heavens
Change is on this earth
Change is all around us

And we are reflections of the divine,
We must roll with these changes,
For we are these changes.

Eyes wide open,
We must look upon
The heavens as a mirror.
Wide awake, aware, deeply breathing

And when the shit comes down, my child,
You will be there,
A true and holy survivor
To inherit the kingdom of god.

You will rise above the crumbles of the unprepared
To greet the new day,
To drink from the sweet fruit of the vine,
The water of life, the blood of the risen Christ, my child.'

'Go now, son,
Tell them all.
The ignorant, the blind paw by dogma,
Blinded by faith, the doubters, the nay sayers.

Tell them all, child,
They can not see
The kingdom of God,
They can not see paradise
Unfold before them

They can not drink
From the chalice
Which holds the blood of Christ,
The water of life,
Until they get right with Jesus.

Until they get right with Jesus.
It's always gonna be
Sour grapes with you, boy,
Until you get right with Jesus. Amen!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Welcome, Mary of the woods.

Regular readers of this blog might recall the mention of a girl called Mary, who crops up in the occasional post here and there. Her first appearance is in this old post from last year:

Mary has just finished a 6 month stint living in a yurt and cooking in the woods for students of greenwood working. As I might have previously mentioned, I occasionally help her, or whoever happens to be cooking in the woods.

Mary has left the woods for the streets of Southampton. Yes, a very stark difference there. For the next three years she will be studying for a degree in Environmental Sciences. She is wary about this, as she knows this is time spent away from learning crafty country things. But she will be learning in depth, important and interesting things that will go on to help her understand more about the world that surrounds us and our place and duty within it. While she studies into these things, I will continue to make jam, spin wool, weave baskets, sew quilts and knit ponchos. Plus all the other literary stuff I am working on. We will share our thoughts and what we have learnt and experienced here. Together we will learn the best of both worlds and stay in contact while she lives in the city and I live in the country.

Mary and I are both interested in things of a spiritual nature. She was in regular attendance of a weekly meditation group before leaving for Uni. I was not because I am stubborn. But we share many of the same ideas, and perhaps we will continue to discuss these things via this blog.

Mary likes to read weird self-help books recommended to her by her weird older brother. I hope she will continue to tell me about them, because in general they are hilarious or insightful or a bit of the both. I will endeavour to occasionally review any particularly good or particularly bad fiction or non-fiction I come across. In many ways this blog will not be changing much, but I hope it will change a little for the better.

There is no guarantee we will both update very often, and maybe not at all. Mary will be very busy, and I am working very hard on the aforementioned novel But if we manage to post anything, it’ll be good. So keep your specs peeled for interesting, insightful and immature dual blog posts.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Recipe for a cold

Recipe to make you feel nice when you have a cold:

2 tbsps elderberry syrup

A generous splash of brandy (or 2)

Hot water (mug of)

A splash of lemon juice

A sprinkle of sweet spices such as Cinnamon

A tiny amount of honey

Put it all in a mug. Taste it, if it’s weak tasting, add more elderberry. Add more honey if you like it sweeter.

And some good music

Thursday, 16 September 2010


So I'm writing a new novel, this time adapted from a comic book script I wrote a while ago and did nothing with. The novel will be illustrated. I will enter it into a contest, though don't expect to win. Having a deadline (31st December) is something I have never had to be strict about. So this is a chance to try and write to a real deadline.

Here is a visual taster.

This is Linc, a wannabe Knight too lazy to earn his place on the roundtable. He quickly finds himself thrown in the deep end when his path crosses with vengeful Tarmigan Fae, a girl who cares only about finding the mysterious mage who murdered her family seven years prior. With nothing much else on, Linc joins her quest.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The garden wasn't very productive this year due to a general lack of nutrients. We need to fertilize the soil before next season. We did however get some produce. Our new fruit bushes were great. Shame that the birds thought so too. We hardly ate a blueberry between us.

Blueberry flowers in the springtime

Ripened in the summer

The two we managed to eat (after having put some netting up around them)

Courguette's were in glut, and still are. Here's the first couple along with a cake I made using some of our chickens' eggs, wild strawberries growing in the garden and last year's strawberry jam.

All our berries went into a delicious summer tart

To make a summer tart:

Simmer the berries for a while, then add a little sugar. Make some pastry, blind bake it and then pour in the cooked berries and put into the oven until the pastry is cooked.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Dorset Bear

I made a new bear for Mary's birthday: Dorset Bear! She's wearing the flag of dorset, on a ribbon around her neck is a mammalian skull found on a walk, as well as a beaded necklace that can double as a bracelet for Mary.

Happy Birthday Mary!

Saturday, 31 July 2010


When I was little I played around in a gymnasium. I was an amateur gymnast. Ten years on and I still like to play around in gymnasiums. A mixture of injury, apathy and the summer holiday gym closure has meant that I’ve not been to gymnastics for over three months. Until the gym opens again I’m having to satisfy my need to watch guys do crazy stuff via the medium of youtube:

Also, some drawings I have made of parkour:

I am writing a novel for teenagers that incorporates parkour. The last drawing is of a main character in that novel; Scott. Watch this space for further info.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Scott Heim

I’ve now read two of the three books written by Scott Heim. I watched the film Mysterious Skin before I read the book, simply because I did not know it was a book until after having watched the film. Brady Corbet spoke about the book in the dvd extras section. The film had really got to me. Not only the amazing performances of Joseph Gordon Levitt (my favourite actor) and Brady Corbet, but for the way it was filmed, the subject, everything about it.

So I read Mysterious Skin. The film is very close to the book. The book is more in depth, and in some ways I think the film is more successful than the book because it holds things back that the book delves right into. The film is certainly the subtler of the two. However, I found Mysterious Skin to be an awesome read. The way the vantage points flick between characters really worked, in my opinion. Heim’s style is cool. It’s rare for me to find novels that are actually cool, that can contend with films, TV, music. Don’t give teenagers shit like Twilight to read, give them stuff like Mysterious Skin.

We Disappear is just as good. I couldn’t put it down, and like with Mysterious Skin, the style was cool. Obviously it was less harrowing than Mysterious Skin. I did feel that We Disappear went deeper than Mysterious Skin, and Heim had got a little better at writing, his style more honed. I felt We Disappear outwitted me at times, kept me on my toes, whereas Mysterious Skin didn’t, perhaps partly because I already knew how it ended, having seen the film first.

Both these novels are examples of fresh writing, vibrant/ interesting characters, gritty subject matters. For this reason I think they are good for young people to read (17+). Heim’s style is flawed. It is by no means perfect. The characters in Mysterious Skin alternate the narration, but each chapter has the same narrative voice, despite the fact that different characters are narrating from chapter to chapter. This didn’t bother me, because their different personalities were crisp and obvious enough from their actions, rather than their narrative voices. Heim tends to over explain some parts, gives the reader too much detail sometimes. But again, I think this is part of what makes the books cool. They are not perfect, they are rough around the edges and that suits the subject matter and the audience.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Basket and Book Fair

In May I made another willow basket, this time using a different weave that I forgot the name of already. It came out better and larger than my first basket and now stores my knitting. The first basket has become a rollag container. (Wool spinners will know what I'm talking about.)

I've recently attended a third basket making course, this time making a frame basket. That was a lot harder and the willow dried out in the hot sun by the end of the day, loosing pliability. I managed to finish it and will post photos up as soon as I take some.

Today I cycled to Stourhead because there was an antiquarian book fair on there. I bought three books:

Man and the Land. Part of the New Natrualist series. #31

I just bought a rug loom from a local old lady. I have no idea how to use it. Perhaps this book will tell me how.

Hopefully this will help in the coming months!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I was in the bookshop a few weeks ago and spotted a book about Trotsky. On the cover was a photograph of Trotsky as a young man. Like so:

I know next to nothing about Trotsky, but the photograph of him as a young man grabbed my attention. I suppose you could say that I got the female equivalent of a hard on. What I especially liked about his appearance was the pince nez glasses.
I couldn’t get that photo out of my head. I bought the book and wrote a story about a young Trotsky impersonator.
(You can read the story here.)

A week or so ago Mr Kite and I were in Shaftesbury and he spotted a couple of pairs of pince nez glasses in the window of a charity shop. They were beautiful objects. I really, really wanted them. So I bought them. And now I officially collect pince-nez glasses. Here are photos of the first two in my collection.

These fold up.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Marathon runner
Doing well
Loses the path
Another strays too
They're both confused
But make friends
A friendship that lasts
Even better than
Finishing a marathon

London Philharmonic Orchestra: Shankar, Glass, Adams

Last week I went to London to see David Murphy conducting three pieces, Shaker Loops (John Adams), Violin Concerto 1 (Philip Glass), Ravi Shankar’s Symphony world premiere.

It was incredible stuff. I can’t really put it into words. Listening to it live is very different from a recording. Firstly, it was quieter than I had thought it would be. When I listen to Philip Glass in my headphones it really drills into me (in a good way). But live it’s different, it is more distanced and therefore refined. The emotion of the piece is a lot more prevalent live. It’s like watching a film or reading a book where you really relate to the main character and that character is going through all sorts of stuff that really gets to you, so you can really feel how that character feels. The solo violinist was Robert McDuffie. The passion in his performance was intense. I can’t explain. I’d love to be his next door neighbour, listening to that every night as he practices.
As I was listening to the concert I was thinking about life and humanity. Now, I really don’t think humans are all that. We’re a plague upon this earth. When I listen to music like this I think about how it could be performed three hundred years from now, when electricity is no longer feeding our collective habit. I can hear the beauty in humanity when I listen to this. I don’t often hear it. There is craft here. This music is the product of human hands and minds. I feel this is different from electric-fed music where the sound has been taken through wires and into machines that have not been built by people, but other machines.
This sound comes through the musicians, the composer, the conductor, the instrument makers. No wires. Nothing but human hands and minds and hearts.

Ravi Shankar’s symphony was his first and a world premiere performance. It had never been listened to before. Anoushka Shankar played the Sitar. She spent the better part of an hour sat on the floor in what would have been an impossibly painful position for me. The sounds were a marriage of the east and west. I loved to hear such classical Western instruments making such a vibrant Eastern sound. The Sitar is an instrument that holds an intense power, far more powerful than western instruments. It’s like hearing the voice of the gods. To me the sound is a lot more refined and spiritual than western instruments, even western instruments making eastern sounds. The piece sounded like freedom, connected into a lighter sort of realm than Glass or Adams. Anoushka spent her time bopping to the rhythm, something that doesn’t really happen in other symphonies. There was clapping, the use of human voice (but not really singing) both of which really added a level to the music that broke through the mind/ body barrier that I think western composers have. By this I mean, you could feel a rhythm that makes your body feel connected, want to dance, want to move in time with the sound. That is not really present in Glass or Adam’s, at least not as obviously.
I can’t really relate what I mean. This music moves beyond the realm of written language.

I think I am hooked. I think I will go again to see classical performances of this kind whenever possible. The tickets were a hell of a lot cheaper than any other music gig I have ever been to (£16 for a fairly good seat. You can get them as cheap as £9. Compare this with Audioslave, who I saw years ago at a cost in excess of £30 and it made me semi-deaf for a week).
I love that what you hear at the concert is unique. It will never be played in that exact same way again. It is transient. Transience is beautiful because life is transient.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Confessions of a Young Trotsky Impersonator

He had the appearance of a young Trotsky, the same square jaw, dimpled chin, piercing wolf eyes, thick lips. He wore his hair in a mess of waves above his forehead, an almost-bouffant. He even wore pince-nez glasses. It was the glasses and the hairstyle that I found attractive. I knew next to nothing of Trotsky, let alone his appearance as a young man.

It was my colleague, Ruben, who first approached him and commented upon the likeness. As we sauntered towards the counter at the back of the café, Ruben paused by the table, cocking his head and sliding his eyes down to meet the young man's . 'Is there much call for a Trotsky impersonator around these parts?

'Enough,' said Trotsky's likeness.

Ruben slipped his hands into the pockets of his brown corduroy trousers and arched his back. 'Well yes, I suppose this is a fairly likely place, you being in a pokey academic café in Cambridge and all that. I suppose the University employ you to add a certain realism to their lectures, or something like that?'

The man neatly placed the book he was reading down upon the tabletop. He flicked his eyes from Ruben across to me. I was fascinated by his pince-nez glasses. Light grey pupils dilated a little behind the lenses. He prized his eyes from mine, slowly as if it took him great effort to do so. 'Something like that,' he confirmed to Ruben and then peered back at me.

The intensity of his stare quickly became oppressive. I blinked and stammered, 'I like your glasses.'

The pause was long enough to be obvious, but too short to enable a new line of conversation. 'Thanks,' he replied, totally deadpan.

'They're not a fashion statement, Julie,' Ruben scoffed. 'They are a tool of this man's trade.' He left no room for a comment. He swooped his attention back to the young man, chin raised. 'You do a good impression, even in your lunch hour.' He was using his patronising "I am very impressed" voice. 'The sobriety of your gestures, the cool indifference, the aura of intelligent vanity. Very good. ...I wonder... how much would it cost me to hire you for a lecture?'

His wolf eyes slipped between us, back and forth. Finally they rested on me. 'I will give you a discount,' he said. 'If you agree to go on a date with me.'

I dropped my gaze to the dark polished tabletop. There was a dog-eared copy of a Kurt Vonnegut novel placed in front of him. Breakfast of Champions. I thought this was someway off-kilter. It didn't seem to fit.

As I said, I found him attractive on the basis of his funky hairdo and those pince-nez glasses. Perhaps that was why I agreed. It certainly had nothing to do with wanting to hire a Trotsky impersonator.

We arranged a time and place, then exchanged numbers. Ruben teased me everyday between then and the arranged date.

As the date grew closer I became less confident that this was a good idea. The guy seemed totally dull, devoid of humour or soul. We probably had nothing at all in common. Agreeing to a date with a stranger purely on the basis of liking his hair and glasses (neither of which reflect a personal style) suddenly seemed like a rather stupid idea.

We met at a small eatery in central Cambridge. He was still wearing his pince-nez glasses and his hair was wild and wavy above his forehead, the same as before.

'Do you always dress as a young Trotsky?' I asked as I took my seat.

He answered with an immediate roughness, 'Yes.' He shuffled in his seat and cleared his throat. This time he spoke with a softer, less abrasive tone of voice. 'It's just a habit. I'll wear something more normal on our next date.'

I raised a single brow high. 'Assuming we have a next date.'

He shrugged and realigned his cutlery.

'So you must really love Trotsky then. I must admit, I don't know all that much about Trotsky. You'll have to fill me in.'

He seemed to sag in his chair. I assumed that I must have majorly disappointed him. The prospect of a second date slipped into obscurity, thank God.

At this point a waitress came to take our orders.

Selections made, the two of us sat in splintered silence, only background restaurant noises saving us from total awkwardness.

He gulped some table water, thumped the glass down and then leaned back nonchalantly. 'I too have a confession to make regarding Trotsky.'

I waited for him to go on, gliding the wetted tip of my index finger around the rim of an empty wine glass. I counted four rotations before he spoke.

'I am not a Trotsky impersonator. I am an English Lit postgrad student.'

I paused in trailing my finger around the glass, eyes flicking across the table.

He put his hands behind his head. 'I dress like this in order to impress professors and score with intelligent girls. So far so good as far as professors go.' He gave an impish cocked smile and put his thumb up, then returned his hand behind his head. 'As for scoring with clever chicks, they are only interested in Trotsky.' He rolled his eyes and turned up his lip. 'Soviet history absolutely bores me.'

I squinted at him, surveyed him for a moment, and then cracked a wide grin. 'Me too,' I said.

His lips curved into an echo of mine. 'But the pince-nez and the crazy hairdo get a double thumbs up. And death by ice-pick sounds like a spectacular way to go. It's not all boring.'