BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

a flower-strewn diary

The peace of old winter is mingling with lovely little chimes of spring. I literally gasped when I entered a driveway I hadn't visited for a couple of weeks and found it queened over by magnolia flowers. The person who was with me smiled happily; they had known what I'd see, and left it as a beautiful surprise for me.

I managed to get one photograph before having to hurry along - because although the sky in the picture is bright blue ...

... right behind us was a thunderstorm.

(That image has not been altered to black and white.)

Small roadside bushes are also beginning to flower, and lately I've come home with stems of lavender and pink manuka and - er, other pink flowers whose name I don't know. Saturday is Imbolc, the quickening of the year. I've been bringing paperwhites in from my own garden.

It's still cardigan and coat weather, however.

Today I made cinnamon scrolls for afternoon tea. The recipe is very simple. I used one and a half cups of flour, 25g butter (well I ended up using 50g because the first lot fell on the floor, after sliding down my dress of course), 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and water. Making a light dough, I cut strips and layered them with a brown sugar and cinnamon mix. Then I rolled the strips, cut them in half, and baked them for about ten minutes of 250 degrees celsius.

I have two new books to read. A Georgette Heyer novel, since so many of my friends love her books, and Weathering by Lucy Wood, since its description sounded so alluring, and which I think will be a cold rainy day read.

As I look out my window right now, the neighbour's house is gleaming with creamy afternoon sunshine and small birds are darting back and forth to select just the right sleep-tree for themselves before the coming night. I'm dreaming of river-run woods and country peace. I think I might put aside my new books for a while and read a certain one I've not looked at since I lay it down with a sigh, half a year ago ... I might just ease myself again into Emma's gentle dreams ... although of course I risk seeing every grammar mistake and awful sentence.

And now that lovely light has gone, just like that, and the day is dimming. I hope your own day is beautiful.

(By the way, I deliberately wrote a mild post today, as a way of holding my own heart after a day of reading callousness, hatred, and willful misunderstandings online. I have been thinking deeply about subjects like game hunting, boundaries for social media aquaintanceships, and so on, but sometimes quiet is a response just as mindful as debate.)

comfort and consolation

I am a visual person, so pinterest has been a wonderful source for me, not only serving me creatively but also therapeutically. I find myself going there when I am out of sorts, so that I may soak up the loveliness of my collected images. Afterwards, my heart feels softened and my body dreams it is gently dancing.

credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

I tend to move in and out of two moods, the subtle and the soft, the wild and the peaceful. But when I am feeling tender, it is always the soft, the peaceful, I go to for comfort.

It is the same (although slightly less so) with books. Last night, for example, I drew out my old copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel and luxuriated in a couple of scenes from it. The begads and zooks and the sweetness of Marguerite's dear little toes do annoy me, but really it is one of the most wonderful romances, and Percy is one of my favourite heroes, despite his inability to talk like a real man. (Don't you agree someone should make this book into an updated movie? Same story, stronger language?)

I must admit, I feel a little nervous telling you this. There's a real sense these days that a woman can't love lace, blossom, and quaint romances and still be deemed strong and intelligent. I read an article yesterday about how "being a lady" is coming back into fashion - but infact all they meant was that the word lady had been reclaimed in an ironic sense by all the strong fierce rapping bitches (if you'll pardon my language - I was raised to never use such words in good company (although I certainly use them in private), but nowadays it's perfectly normal.)

Am I a twit because I love tea and roses and Percy Blakeney and little English cottages? If it reassures you, I also love bleak moors, combat boots, action films, and humour as black as the blackest coffee. And I respect any woman's comforts, be they yoga and mythic poetry or pistol practice on the range or whittling or salsa dancing.. I also envy you if you find cosiness and repair in something trendy or socially acceptable, because that must make it easier. It seems to me that much of the backlash against feminism (and I personally am in favour of feminism) is due to some women feeling their choices for the furnishment of their spirit home are no longer respected.

I wonder, if women aren't encouraged to seek softness and tenderness, how will we care for ourselves? No one can be forever strong without cracks beginning to show. No one should have to be.

sharing with roses of inspiration

healing our place in nature

I think I've said this before. I guess that shows I really mean it. What I've said : that I don't like being told to love nature. I don't think wisdom or healing lies that way. Yes, of course love nature because it's wild and beautiful and mesmerising - but not as a woman will hold up a crystal swan, or a book of poems, and love them. Because we do not hold nature; we do not look in at it. We ourselves, we are nature.

I think we need to stop visiting nature, admiring it, loving it, wanting to protect it. I'm talking here about language and perspective. I think instead we need to start communicating with our fellow elements of nature, reweaving our broken bonds, and balancing once again our place in the world. Not just as a community, but individually - spiritually, physically. (And not just as individuals, but in community too. Because people are a forest, after all.)

For me, I love what nature loves : the nourishment and guidance it gets from the sun and the dark, the storms and the long bright sky silences. I love it like the birds love it, with symphonic prayers at morning and evening; I love it like the sea does, sighing and shifting; I love it like the trees and flowers and people do, reaching for the sun. It is my religion, the god and goddess, being and change.

poetry and secret pound cake

The sky fills the world today, singing, raining. I am up to my elbows in storm and tea and story, so only have links and random thoughts to offer you today. I hope you find something here which brings you value.

As you know, I am wary of the gratitude movement, because although it obviously has benefits, and we of course should be more positive and thankful in our outlook, to make a daily conscious practice of it seems perhaps to focus overly on the self? I know I am the only person saying this, however.

Imagine if we all made THIS our daily conscious practice instead.

Inequality does exist.

Nineteen photographs of human impact on the planet. When I look at those cities and think of the individuals living within them, I wonder what voices are going unheard, what soul beauty is lost in the thicket of concrete and plywood.

If only we could talk to each other, make spirit roads for each other, in poetry.

Did you know that mice sing love songs to each other? Did you know that vegetarian diets cause more animal deaths than carnivore ones? I didn't.

Graphs for writers.

If super heroes lived in the Elizabethan Age.

"It is wildly romantic, a Keatsian dream." Suddeley Castle. The home of Katherine Parr, who was my favourite of Henry VIII's wives because she has such a fascinating, dark, powerful story.

Tell me, if you had this guy writing you poems, would you turn him down? Maude was crazy.

the sky behind my bones

I went out in the last light of the day, the time that always seems to me like a Robert Frost poem, lovely and just a little melancholy. I came home in the dark. Only two bright stars were visible, too bright for beauty. And the sky, so black and cold, was stiff with silence. I was glad to get home.

But at home I felt the darkness and the cold linger within me, as if I had a night sky behind my bones. And for all the river dragons and leshys that live on this plain, it seemed far too empty for comfort. The emptiness of wide spaces and the air above the sea.

I'd rather have an old hill sky, tumbled up with stones and forests, shy-eyed witches and gnomes; the sort of sky that has risen out of shadowy tree roots and secretive vintage storybooks. But I think for a while I'm bound to be dreaming of the sea and the silence. The dark side of peace.

(Have I shared with you the photography of Vivienne Mok? I can't remember. It's ethereally beautiful; reminiscent of David Hamilton's work but with a woman's sensibility and no dubious creeping along certain boundaries.)

at the start of the relationship

For me, there are two ways a story might begin. The first way, words tumble onto the screen without any thought of where your fingers have gone over the keyboard. I like that way. I appreciate the magic of it as much as the ease.

The second is slower, harder. You have to try every word carefully, with an uncertainty that is both frightening and beautiful, as if you're learning about a person by touching them bit by bit. I like that way too. I wish mostly to experience the first method, since it's almost effortless and I'm lazy. But the tenderness of the second, the moments when you realise you've been holding your breath and, as you let it out in a quiet sigh, the story begins to settle more deeply in your mind; and the moments when you shiver gently because the story has touched you in return ...

There is enchantment in work as much as there is in inspiration.

Outside my window, the world has gone to winter gold. Little birds are singing and scrounging in my garden. A neighbour has something richly fragrant on their stove - something that seems to involve flowers, I think, and their own exotic memories, and warmth. It's all lovely. But inside of my imagination, rain weeps against firelit panes and a girl is waiting, a monster is waiting, and I am laying this word, that word, against the images of them, learning slowly where every syllable fits.

So a brief hello today, and best wishes to you. I'll be back tomorrow, or whenever I catch hold of what is stirring behind the fire and the dark rain.

in support of loveliness

Lately I have been soaking up loveliness, and noticing the influence it has on me in many ways. When the mind is full of beautiful images, charmed thoughts, it's easier to go contentedly through the world.

I wonder if all the violence and horror on tv creates stress for human bodies and their unconscious minds. I started watching an action movie the other night but it was so brutal, I had to turn it off. For a couple of days afterwards, I found myself alert for violent scenes in everything else I watched - including comedies. It made me question whether witnessing brutality over and again on tv traumatises people on some level.

I know many people think loveliness equates to weakness or silliness - as if a clever person couldn't possibly love lace and peonies, or a strong woman wouldn't ever wear chiffon. I've written about this before. I think it's sad some of us scoff at pretty gentleness, or relegate it to the sphere of the older woman, which is so misogynistic.

So today I'm sharing some links to loveliness.

These gift tags by Georgianna Lane.

Lace & Lilacs.

Anastasiya Belik's photography.

Cabin & Cottage.

Grace Gardens.

All the beautiful things.

Seawashed Living.

The Enchanting Rose.

A Return to Loveliness.

I hope your day is filled with all the things that bring you comfort and contentment.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy this weblog you may like to leave a tip.

Thanks & Blessings.