Does a person forget the face of a loved one? His smell? Her touch?
I have been selecting photos from the many boxes in my cupboard stuffed with prints from past years for a family event that is taking place this summer. There are images of those no longer on this earth and the site of those familiar faces cause my heart to swell as I yearn for a chance to hug them just one more time.
The sense of achievement of my toddler’s face when she walked a few steps and the excited face of my child as she opened her chocolate advent calendar at the age of four cause memories to come hurtling back.
Soon she will wear a fabulous dress and pose for many other photographs and I know that these images, like those in my boxes, will have the power to move me like no other form of art.
How did I become hooked on a programme about baking? The Great British Bake Off commanded my attention every week and woe betide anyone who dared to telephone during that special hour. I watched the contestants whip, stir, pound, and stretch their creations with single minded attention. The crazy thing is that the last cake I made was about 20 years ago and the Prince Charming was so heavy that he ended up with his head buried in the blue icing (supposed to be the sea but a rather sick looking cross between a muddy pond and a cloudy sky). Anyway, since then my constant battle with the scales has forbidden indulgences such as chocolate cakes and iced buns.
So I am making a plea; why not get the contestants to tackle some recipes for watchers of weight and the growing population who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, etc? It would give a different meaning to carrot cake and banana breads and orange muffins.
Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday which seemed to prompt my loved ones into a competition amongst them of who could purchase me the most wayout present. When I first read this one I thought that I would be jumping out of an airplane for a skydive and my heart fell as my daughter reminded me of my fear of heights. However, this was not the situation and instead I was lifted up into the air in a wind tunnel. The instructor had me down as a troublemaker when he was unable to exit the room at the end of the briefing due to my many questions and concerns. He sounded quite shocked when he passed me my certificate at the end with a number of achieved levels ticked off and an evaluation that I was awesome. The video soundtrack is overpowered by the laughter of my family as they observed my experience and so I have settled for a still picture to show you what it was like.
A word of advice – do it if you can. What fun it was and we can’t wait to book the next trip so that the entire family can try it out.
A man had a vision in the early 1900’s to build a dam.
This gorge narrows in a valley in the beautiful Costa Blanca area of Spain; a country where the value of water is high and rights of possession are fought over. Throughout the country’s history, powerful men have controlled the allocation of water from impressive buildings in city centres.
The dreamer hoped to create his own pool of liquid riches. High up the sides of the gorge the visitor can still see the abandoned path which accommodated the men, their donkeys and their equipment. In the tunnel walls it is still possible to see the impression of the sharp ends of the chisels which chipped out a passage through the rock face. Years of hard toil went in to creating the dam and it has stood the test of time. However, when the first water fell, rather than collect behind the stone wall the precious fluid seeped into the ground. Nature was not ready to be harnessed and another of man’s follies remain on the earth to remind us.
Stephanie at http://bekindrewrite.com asked for suggestions of ‘what would be the last thing you would say to the world?’ Mine thought was ‘That was a great ride!’
What would be your last words? I would love to know. Post them here or on Stephanie’s bekindrewrite site.
I was speaking to someone last night who had planned for her night’s entertainment – plucking a duck. The unfortunate creature was one of ‘the girls’ as her little boy named them and had been producing eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner in copious amounts. However for several reasons she was destined for the table. The acceptance of this woman and her son for the fate of one of their farmyard beings was along the lines of ‘this is the natural order of things’.
For me however, it is a different story. I go to whichever local shop is in favour and purchase my food, already killed, plucked, gutted and hung. I was an adult before I realised that cows had to have been pregnant to produce milk (and I was a midwife at that point). My city type of life had not really educated or indeed prepared me for the reality of how our foods arrive in our home. So I became a big softy, cringing at the death of the goldfish and crying for a year when I lost my beloved McCafferty, an grumpy old cat.
That young boy however reacted to my expression of sympathy about his duck with a comment about how good his dinner would be and a lick of his salivating lips.
In a time when there is so much waste because of our shopping practices, I was hit hard by how poorly I had been prepared by my own education to survive. I had never been taught how to grow things or to know what was natural to my own environment. Most of my food arrived wrapped in cling film and polystyrene, contributing to the disturbing fact that man’s pollution is overrunning our world.
This little boy and his mother have reminded me of some of the valuable lessons we need to teach our children. The practice of them and not just the theory. So that our descendants are able to survive, no matter what their income.
I have been truly humbled today by someone’s generosity of spirit. As I grumbled about my difficulties getting a small piece of work right this woman was undergoing radical changes to her life as a result of a health issue. Yet she still found the time and humanity to give me a pat on the back.
Now, doesn’t that put things in perspective. As we sit at our computers typing away and creating our pretend worlds somewhere someone will be facing real life dangers, issues or adventures. While my heroine is struggling with her love issues, a real life heroine will be dealing with real life dangers. We are told as writers that we should write from our own experiences; as we all know we should write about what we know. I am certain that everyone of us knows someone who has used their writing as a therapeutic exercise, whether it has been to express grief, anger or joy.
A few years ago, I sailed across the Atlantic on a smallish yacht in a rally of a number of boats. Every single person on that adventure had their own story to tell at the end of the passage. Some of the stories were of self discovery, some were of unexpected adventures. One man, who suffered from dyslexia, wrote his own book and others wrote diaries. Some people discovered that their relationships grew stronger whereas others jumped ship before their boats were tied up at their journey’s end. One man became critically ill, leaving his wife to sail a large yacht single handed and another man spent over 24 hours in the sea when he was knocked overboard.
My own story was not that dramatic; we left one harbour and sixteen days later arrived at another. Mid ocean we swam behind our becalmed boat and a day or so later lost all of our electric power leaving us with some interesting challenges of navigating by the stars and how to manage food storage, sails, communications and all of the other things which are supported by power.
In writing my novel I am drawing from some of those experiences to develop the character of my heroine. On paper she does not live on the sea or sail a boat however it is observing how someone reacts to adversity or indeed any given situation which is how I am writing about what I know. My life as a nurse, midwife, wife, mother, sailor, daughter, friend, success, failure, and more informs my writing but in particular it is my observations of the wonderful human spirit which inspires me.