Jan 14th

Scared of Love

By Momo
The victory was yours,
but I was running scared.
The victory was mine,
but you was running scared.
The victory is ours.
No need of running scared.
Jan 13th

Morningtide

By Aiyla

MORNINGTIDE

 

Patterned sea

Pale blue sky

Hold in place the morning sun

Warm yellow glow reaches out to all

In welcome of the day

 

Just another it may seem to some

Not ever noticed, not ever sung

One of many lost between

A mountain of mornings

In an endless dream

 

I make a note each morning

Today is new, today is true

And should I ever forget this beauty

I’ll fall away

to lands so vast

Miss my fortune and

Miss my bliss

To have my moment to be alive

To be here present and always strive

 

And should I ever forget this beauty

I’ll fall away

To dust forgotten

Miss my fortune

Miss my bliss

To be not a bloom forgotten but

To take my stand to be here present

 

To take my stand to be here present

In my word and in my world

 

 

 

Jan 9th

Stories for Homes auction

By Debi

Hey there lovely Cloud family. Have you seen the latest initiative from Stories for Homes? We're running an auction with 100% of the proceeds going to Shelter. There are only 10 lots but, when you see them, I'm sure you'll agree that quality is more important than quantity. Please bid and please help us to promote the auction by sharing it far and wide. https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/storiesforhomes

We also have some more events coming up. Sorry to out-of-towners but they're in London. We're hoping some of our supporters will arrange events outside the south-east. Details of all our events here: https://storiesforhomes.wordpress.com/events-2/

And, of course, you can buy the book online if you haven't already done so: getbook.at/sfh2

Thanks for your support. :-) x

Jan 8th

When the vet nurse asks if you’d like a moment to say goodbye and you know that no moment will ever be long enough.

By Seagreen

 

We lost one of our rescue rabbits on Friday. Our beautiful, black Netherland Dwarf. Her name was Piper, sister to Phoebe - age and history indeterminate. What follows here might be a blog, or it might not. It might just be an exploration of thoughts and feelings that have overwhelmed me this past weekend. I blame Shelley Harris. I went to her workshop at York in September and she said, ‘Be human,’ so this is me, being human. 

 

The girls were our only outdoor rabbits. A bonded pair, small and placid. I brought them home having seen them languishing for three months in the adoption pens of the pet shop. How was it possible that nobody wanted them? The fact that I had nowhere to house them and they spent Christmas at the Bunny Boarding place was neither here nor there. They eventually settled into a playhouse at the bottom of our garden and, apart from feeding and cleaning, we left them to their own devices. They had each other and preferred it that way.

 

But on Tuesday morning, Piper isolated herself from her sister and was off her food. We’ve seen it twice before in our other rabbits - gastrointestinal stasis. Caused by any number of things, it can be bad news for bunnies. We took Piper to the vet for a series of gut motility-inducing injections and pain relief, and brought her home with an appointment for the next day if we weren’t happy with her. She jumped out of the carrier and headed straight for the kale and the carrot tops to prove to us that we were over-anxious. We laughed in relief and gauged her against our experience with the other two rabbits who’d been fine once they started eating again. 

That was our first mistake. 

On Friday morning, my daughter fed the rabbits before she went to work. ‘Watch Piper,’ she said. ‘She’s not right.’ 

The second mistake was mine. I didn’t check her soon enough. 

The calm-on-the outside, ex-cardiology nurse was not in evidence when I rushed Piper to the vet two hours later. ‘Rabbit… no appointment… not even registered with you.’ The weight in my chest and the obstruction in my throat made it impossible for me to speak and somehow I managed not to convey to the receptionist the urgency of a very sick rabbit, but the belief that I had brought one who was already dead. Thank goodness for the nurse who picked through my garbled speech and whisked us through to an empty room. 

Hypothermia. 

I shied away when the vet said it, but it wasn’t an accusation. Rabbits, it seems, are adept at hiding how sick they are. Our gorgeous girl who’d scorned the extra insulation and heat pads we added to the playhouse during the cold snap, had fallen victim to the milder temperatures by virtue of being unwell. How could we not have known this? How could we not have heard, read or been told that hypothermia was a real risk in rabbits when they were poorly? 

The vet tried his best. Wrapped her in blankets to bring her temperature up and gave her fluids. Gave us hope. Sent her home that evening with instructions for overnight care (since they had no resources at the practice) and an appointment for the following day. It wasn’t to be. Piper died at home that night, with her sister and the sobbing wrecks of two humans beside her. 

These same two humans now flay themselves with ‘if onlys’.  If only we had taken her back to the vet on Wednesday. If only we had been more observant. If only we had brought her indoors. If only… if only… if only. Our sense of having failed her is acute, and I can’t begin to describe how that feels. The dam of tears pressing behind dry eyes. The hard lump of emotion interrogating every word. 

Some of you who read this may not get it. I understand that. Rabbits are still, for the most part, perceived as pets for children. Believe me when I tell you that I am not your typical pet lover. Dogs are fine when they are other people’s, and should I ever be cast in the role of a cynical, judgemental old bat, I won’t have to scratch too far below the surface to turn in an Oscar-winning performance. But Piper was special. Shy. Good-natured. Inquisitive. She wriggled her way into my heart. When I held her, she would press her head into my neck with a snuffle-sniff that, without fail, made me smile… made me giggle. She had a way of squirming upwards to put her paws on my shoulder to get a better view of the world. She sweetened and soothed my soul and no moment will ever be long enough to let that go.  

For the time being, Phoebe remains indoors. 

 

Jan 5th

Dylan re-visted.

By mike

 

I spent Christmas and the New year celebrations in the company of books, plays, tv, wine and the radio. This was due to having no close family  - and transport problems. Due to the completion of building work at London Bridge railway station, there were no trains into London on my line.  Transport links were restored in the New Year and i caught a train.  I walked around Trafalgar Square.

    One of my favorite productions - seen last year  - had been a play based around the songs of Bob Dylan. The production at the ‘Old Vic’ ended before Christmas.   The same production is now staged at a smaller theatre near Trafalgar Square,  It was the first night. I was lucky and got a day seat in the front row and saw the production again.  

       I had been intrigued by Whisks blog on original sin and the issues raised,  I tried to find the source myself. It’s origins seem to be in the Catholic Mass,  “mea Culpa‘     We are all sinners.   Whisks pointed out that a ‘sin’ has to be acknowledged before it can be forgiven - atonement.  A similar concept permeated most of the books  I read, and productions I saw - including the Dylan play. We are all sinners’ could be the theme.     

    (Sinning does seem to have a secular counterpart and atonement is required - viz, the current scandals at the House of Commons and Hollywood.  Saying sorry is not enough.) 

      In the play, written by Conor Macpherson, a group of disparate characters assemble in a boarding house during the American depression. A black girl is pregnant with no apparent father and  the baby was conceived when a wind blew through the window.   There is a bible.  It is in the suitcase of a traveling salesman for whom selling bibles is an occupation.  This seems an odd interpretation  but I don’t want to do a spoiler and the play is really a critique of the American Dream. Archetypes from the great novels, plays and films a of the 1930‘s act out a tragedy of Jacobean proportions.  I think!  If you are a Dylan fan I do recommend this play.  It might well turn up at a theatre near you.

 

    I also read a spy thriller, I returned it to my local library and then borrowed a life of Kim Philby.  On the wednesday,  I saw Simon Callow portray Oscar Wilde on the stage.  He read out an adaption of ‘Di Profundis‘  which Wilde wrote in Reading jail.  It is a long letter addressed to Bosie - his lover - and Wilde often refers to his legal trials.  There is some similarity between the two cases, though Philby never went to trial and seems to have acknowledged no sin.  Both Wilde and Kilby offended the rather strict moral code of the gentleman of their class.  Wilde seems to be asking Bosie - Lord Alfred Douglas - for some sort of acknowledgement of his own love for him.  A love that destroyed his life and turned comedy into tragedy.  But why had Wilde fallen for such a (****)  We now only have Wilde’s view of the affair.

    A company had hired a London theatre and the productions  are  celebrations of Wilde.  Simon Callow’s portrayal is only staged for a few days, but it might well turn up at another theatre or on TV.   From next week, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ is being staged.

     

 

Jan 5th

Another Update on Getting Published (aka Trying to Write Book Two)

By Skylark

It's been a strange few months since I shared my book cover (here). My input into the finished novel was done by mid-August and it became time to wait while other things, not involving me so much, happened in the background. This, the publishers and my agent advised me, was the time to make a start on Book Two. And that's mostly what I've been doing. Book Two (if it all works out) will be not a sequel but a sideways step from HOME, telling the story of a couple of the minor characters who make brief appearances as Jesika's supporting cast. The idea came to me during one of the HOME rewrites and niggled away in the background for almost two years. So when I started the first draft in September, it was with a clear vision in my head, bagfuls of enthusiasm and energy and a brand new Don't Break the Chain chart (explained here). And of course it all nose-dived from there.

I spent much of early September trying to write before I was ready to, and panicking when it wasn't working. I broke my chain several times. I got frustrated, despondent, worried, anxious... After a few weeks of this, I told myself to stop trying to write and just dream - characters, scenarios, backstories - I made copious notes in my notebook and on scraps of paper that I stuck to my pinboard. There were frequent crossings out and scrunched up paper and name changes and plot changes and character changes and still NO IDEA how I was going to achieve the vision, wondering how I had ever managed to write a whole book that someone wanted to publish in the first place. I started to feel the weight of the Second Book Curse that everyone talks about but I had been determined I wouldn't be trapped by. Now it appeared to be blocking all my exits and I didn't know how to avoid it any longer. 

Then late-October I had two breakthroughs. First, following a conversation with someone about how HOME came about, I suddenly remembered how many false starts I'd had with that novel - I rewrote the first 5k around ten times before I ever made it to double figure thousands on the word count - and I remembered how many times I knew I was writing drivel and unnecessary backstory and limp dialogue and cliches and tics but knowing that I just had to keep writing it to get the story told so that I had something I could work from, to rewrite and edit and refine. And some of the early drafts of HOME were truly terrible - in fact some of the later drafts weren't much better! -  but I'd forgotten this because I'd spent the last couple of years working on an almost-ready-to-publish book that was very far removed from first draft awfulness. Ok, so good. All the false starts on Book Two were a normal part of my writing process and it didn't matter how bad my writing was at this stage.

The second breakthrough came after I'd written the first chapter for the fifth time and I still wasn't happy with how one of my main characters was coming across. A voice in my head (which I'd probably been ignoring for a few months, because I'm helpful to myself like that) told me to stop, close my eyes and listen. It wasn't that I hadn't listened before, I'd just forgotten to shut up while I did it. This time I really listened and I didn't let my own thoughts and preconceptions drown out what I was listening to, and there was my main character showing me exactly who she was and what she was like - all her hopes and dreams and worries and hang-ups, her good points and her flaws spread out at my feet. And she wasn't so far removed from who I thought she was, it's just that I'd forgotten, in the excitement of starting a new project with a character I thought I already knew, that I was writing her from ten years before her appearance in HOME and a lot happened to her in those ten years before she became the person Jesika met. I needed to go back to the beginning of her character arc to find out who she was before 'it' all happened. And to find out what all the 'it' was that happened to her! I wrote the first chapter, again, but this time it stuck.

At the very end of October, I started a new Don't Break the Chain chart and bit by bit, over the last couple of months, the word count has increased. Some days I write a few hundred words, other days I bash out a sentence, and sometimes, like the day before yesterday, time and peace and inspiration come together in one marvellous day of non-stop writing and I write a couple of thousand in one go. But whatever I manage, every word counts. And very recently I was reminded by Joanne Harris on Twitter that even a few hundred words every day adds up to a novel by the end of the year. Yesterday, I completed 67 days of writing every day and I've got a word count of almost 17k. Not huge, but a significant improvement on the 2k I spent a month rewriting and, more importantly, I'm starting to sense where the story is going next. (Sort of, in a navigating-through-the-mist kind of way.) 

Meanwhile, things are still happening behind the scenes towards the imminent publication of HOME in just over a month's time. In December, I was incredibly privileged to be taken to Clays the book printers in Suffolk to see the printing process and see the hardback version of HOME roll off the end of the production line. It was an incredibly validating moment and the most perfectly-timed reminder of how far a book travels from first draft to finished book. It has taken me several months to adjust my brain back to first draft writing and I can now say with huge pride: YES! I am writing the most gloriously SHITTY first draft of Who Knows What... but look what happened, in the end, to the last shitty first draft I wrote.

 

Home book

 

p.s. yes, to those who spotted it, the cover design has changed a little since August!

Jan 1st

Janus

By Jill

Janus

God of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings

We have reached another January and like Janus I find myself looking both backwards to 2017 and forwards to this brand new year of 2018, reflecting that Life holds all of the qualities attributed to this mythical God ~ and so much more.

2017 was the year I turned 70 and we celebrated with three special holidays, all in some way taking us down memory lane.  After a welcome, if brief visit from our distant family in the Summer, we ended the year with a wonderful visit to them for Christmas, full of all the things which go to make up family life, love and laughter.   Not to mention Lego!

2017 was also a year in which I fell prey to four nasty chesty coughs which each lasted ages and so my priority resolution for 2018 is to continue boosting  my immune system ~ ‘Away damn cold’!  I am doing all the usual things, but if anyone has a particular pet remedy it will be gratefully received.

Another resolution is to anchor and build upon the renewed creative spurt which I seem to have brought back with me from the USA.  2017 was a year of pure relaxation and enjoyment on the whole, but the creativity I so enjoy and the itch to write were not much in evidence.  Maybe this was what was needed in my 70th year when I was reflecting on the previous decades of my life.  I have always found that periods of fallowness are followed by a period of increased productivity and hope this will be true of my 2018. 

 This is the cyclical nature of Life.

 

So, as we go forward into 2018 and we necessarily let go of another year of our past life, look to the future but live in the present also, I wish all of my friends here a year of fulfilment and health, happiness and peace.

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