Pleasantries#8: Many hands make light work

Oh my Granddad’s old mixing bowls! a sharp knife or two! a few vintage plates, countless pretty 1960s cutlery, some Tupperware and all of the unknown things I didn’t notice…lost children of my little orange themed kitchen. Yes, life is too short to sweat the little things, so why does a missing plate rile me so?

my kitchen

my kitchen

 I like our lodger Alice, but I’m hopping about from foot to foot whenever I see her. This is my usual state of mind and body (literally) when I’ve got that old malady ‘lodger anxiety’ building up inside me, and I have to try very hard not to blurt out what’s on my mind, just in case it’s unreasonable.

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Taking me to the cleaners: Chris sings the blues

As a landlady, the issues of housekeeping and harmony are never far from my mind. Most of these posts are about one or the other. Remember Chris our cleaner? I wrote about him here. He’s very good (at cleaning) but his visits are always tinted with an element of drama (queenness).

I can tell how much of a good mood he’s in by how loudly he sings whilst he works.

At first I said “Sing away, I love to hear people singing”.

I don’t know why I said that. Occasionally it makes me wince and I had no idea it would be constant. Two whole hours of Chris in a good mood is like being trapped in a shower with an X-factor contestant. I can’t even hear what he is singing most of the time, but I recognise some Lion King and Aladdin tracks…

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calm reflection of a big sea; and gleefully we carry on

I’ve won many times.

A fancy dress costume competition as ‘Noddy’ aged four, a podium place in ‘the world’s toughest yacht race‘ (Global Challenge 2004-2005), a scratch card for £1000, a scholarship at school for pretending I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, and recently a place on the Masters degree at Falmouth that may change the course of my life, again.

On Saturday I was not on a winning team. It’s strange to be on any team when you are not someone who craves to be in a ‘club’ clique. I’ve always loved swimming in a lane with my goggles on as a lone wolf. It’s difficult to be one of many, pleasing everyone and not being distracted by the odd gossip or moan. But I like being on the gig rowing team. I like it because I get to train hard, push myself, and remember what its like to be humble and make mistakes and be told what to do and take it without saying…’but’. I like the training and the exercise, and I love being out on the small stretch of water in the Bristol docks that transports me spiritually and mentally far from the city, though it is only a metre away from us. It’s as close as I get to the sea as often as I can, and I’m home in time for tea.

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Sea air and hot trainers

Since returning from a week camping in North Devon, I’ve been acting strangely towards our lodger, Ben. I bump into him in the kitchen each night and have been casually saying “Hello Ben, how was your day? you’ve been to tennis? I’ve just been to the gym and then I had a wonderful shower” and “Hi Ben, been to yoga? Oh I bet you can’t wait to eat and then jump in the shower to get freshened up” and such like.

wilderness and fresh air on Lundy Island

wilderness and fresh air on Lundy Island

I appreciate that this is not great conversation, and Ben has looked more scarred of me than usual at these times, and confused. I have been repeating myself, and these random statements seem inappropriate even to me, but I couldn’t seem to help myself.

I’ve carried on and on “Oh Ben, I do love rowing, but it’s so good to come home and get cleaned off in a nice long hot shower, you know I get so sweaty and that shower really does the trick, just the thing”.

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I’m Moby Dick the whale; reflection on obsession and compulsion to tweet

Rockwell Kent’s Moby Dick

It’s hard not to write about Moby Dick.

“Avast” Leviathan, Hval, the great whale….Moby Dick.

I’m reading Moby Dick for the first time, currently lingering on Chapter 54 of 135. This book was written for me, by a man who died 122 years ago.

Musing on this long epic that speaks to me from Melville’s grave and Davy’s Locker, along side my other reading material, tweets, I wonder how original our thoughts and feelings can ever be.

On Twitter, I note that many people think like thoughts: in different countries, in different heads, in different times: same as it ever was. But we are all obsessively talking at each other instead of listening and learning.

Moby Dick is a book to listen to and learn from.

another Rockwell Kent Moby Dick illustration. in which the boat is stove

another Rockwell Kent Moby Dick illustration. in which the boat is stove

And Yes, I’m currently ironically obsessed about a book about obsession.

whale and broken boat Rockwell Kent

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A poem about a journey: from Bristol to Beer

ah, on Beer beach, Devon at last yesterday evening

ah, on Beer beach, Devon at last yesterday evening

I decided to get away this weekend. I’d say I feel like this most weekends and reach a crux once a month. The tell-tale signs are my puffing up the cushions every time one of the lodgers sits on the sofa, and grumbling to my partner D____ in a loud whisper that I’d rather Ben didn’t sit on the sofa as since the warmer weather, the smell in his orbit is becoming very disturbing to me (the house).

lying on the beach last night at 8pm

lying on the beach last night at 8pm

I go away to give D___ a rest from this sort of confidence, the lodgers a rest from cushions being puffed up around them, and myself a rest from caring. As I have mentioned here before, life is too short but I’m a victim of human nature, with a weak tendency to get caught up in the petty detail. I have higher planes to soar and a world of words to write.

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Pleasantries #7 Brief time shift: quality time?

Last week my mum looked closely at my head whilst I was relaxing in a swing settee in Seaton; she commented twice, in surprise, on some grey hairs peeking through my headband. This made me uncomfortable, I mean, why mention it (twice)?

Then she asked me in the next breath, “do you ever look at your father and I and think how we suddenly look old?”

I stopped swinging.

You think I’m suddenly looking old?

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Holy Housekeeping, Batman; Life is Grimm and wonderful

I’m an enlightened landlady now, I sing to myself.

Like Hercules, happily wiping away crumbs of toast from breakfast every day. Definitely not the witch in Hansel and Gretel who eats all of the lodgers who stray her way…

Grimm's Fairy Tales: Hansel and Gretel

Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Hansel and Gretel

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Night stroll: and Save our Coastguard Stations (SOS)

beer coastguard cottages

It’s so good to be out of the city: I can breathe.

I went for a stroll last night. (I secretly hoped for an owl sighting.) Instead, I saw the old coastguard cottages in Beer and wondered how we will all manage when half our coastguard rescue centers shut: like those of Portland and Brixham. Save our Coastguard Stations!

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Thursday’s Child: or The Star-Gazer


This is part of an illustration from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick 1851.

I’m reading a related book called Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (2001) and my mind is filled with whales and oceans and Nantucket. Not for the first time either.

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