After a morning looking after an enchanting six-year-old girl….


Vieillesse  et jeunesse
ont beaucoup en comun
sauf  excès d’énergie

la musique démarre
nous commençons à danser
tout le monde bouge

L’enthousiasme règne
bras, jambes et corps partout
le rythme accelère

Vieillards ralentissent
la fille virevolte en pirouette
pour les vieux – finis.

which translates more or less as:

Old age and youth
have much in common
except vitality

Music starts to play
we all begin to dance
everyone moves

Enthusiasm reigns
arms, legs and bodies everywhere\
the pace accelerates

Stiff pensioners wilt
lithe girl twirls in pirouette
the oldies are spent.

Posted in formal poetry, haiku and senryu, life writing | Tagged | 12 Comments

scrap quilt progress since hiccup

After a two-week break, I was quite excited to get back to my scrappy mayhem quilt.  The photograph shows the first six chunks tailored to size and assembled. I am now making a long thin block to go down the side.   There is still a healthy heap of bits and pieces, so I reckon this will finish as a big double!

first 6 blocksassembled 24.8.15

Kate Chiconi is making a bookshelf quilt, which is quite superb.  Mine is simply hanging on the bookshelf, as the only way I could get it all in one picture.  The tapestry above is a bit of Jock’s Canterbury Tales which he did a long time ago to pass the time while we were waiting for planning permission for the House That Jock Built.

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A superior being has chiselled away at me
leaving a hollow space with no words,
no rhythm, no poetry,
nothing but puzzles.
My feckless muse is dumb
having lost lucidity
to a perplexing foreign tongue
in a struggle to make sense
of this luminous sunrise
staining the sky with flame.

photo by No.1 son Robin Smith, taken from our previous house

Others will have made more sense of this bunch of disconnected words at the Sunday Whirl

Posted in free verse, pictures, really bad poem, wordles | Tagged | 8 Comments


Summer has returned, now Linda’s gone

Murphy’s Law dictates that while you have a friend staying the weather will be so so, and the moment they go home, the sun comes out. But I had a fun week with my good friend and we managed to critique tons of each other’s poetry, have lots of giggles and eat far too much!Linda at Pirou

Today is our neighbour’s wedding – a beautiful day for it.

Find other 6-worders at Cate’s Place

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Momma took us to the zoo on Wednesday

We have the most delightful zoo near here, where all the animals seem happy, with the lone exception of an elderly tiger.  I think Linda/Tillybud enjoyed her afternoon there.

another goatcheetahs

lemurland more lemur Linda was enchanted when one of the lemurs put a paw up to touch her arm.
You can tell which are my favourite animals!ringtailed lemur

Parrots (2) yucca in flower

Mrs Giraffe

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I’m all behind with Miz Quickly’s delightful prompts, having spent a happy week with young Tillybud, sharing some of our favourite French things, food and places and enjoying the lively company.

Miz Q has had us exploring the senses, and here is a less than fragrant poem on the theme of NOSE.

Dark opaque
insidious miasma
overwhelming smothering
every other scent.
No whiff of this
no trace of that
no hint of anything other
than skunk.


Lunch with friends at the Restaurant de la Mer (that’s beside the sea to non-francophones) at Pirou Plage is to undergo an assault on the senses of sight, scent and savour.

Visually the food is stunning, the aromas enticing,  the experience consummated in the eating – texture, flavour, savoury or sweet, with tang and zest of skilful seasoning

A feast for gourmets
sensory titillation
full satisfaction



Lusciously stroke velvety lamb’s ear leaves
surprised by  scratchy tongue of cat.

Sink all your senses between smooth clean sheets
with the softest of pillows, subside into sleep.

Sound will have to wait.  Something’s gone crazy with WordPress layout tools, but I’m too tired to struggle with correcting it. So be it.

Posted in food, free verse, haibun, life writing | Tagged , | 11 Comments

A Day Out

Jock 18.8.15overcrowded beach at Pirou

thistles again

les trois vieillards à Pirou plage

Three of us take a rest and a passing cyclist called us “une brochette de trois vieillards” (A kebab of three oldies)  Linda was insulted – she’s the same age as my daughter, Sally.  The one on the right is Annette of the fabulous garden.   I took the photos.

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Taking it Easy

Linda and Jock in the Jardin des Plantes, Coutances

Linda and Jock 15.8.15

Solitary park bench
could be lonely
but isn’t.
Peace to stare
at flowers and trees,
soak up sun
listen to bees.
Ponder the meaning
of life
or simply be me.

Waiting for Jock and Tillybud who were exploring further down the precipitous botanical gardens in Coutances.   Later, the peace was disturbed.

Boing, pause, boing
Deep-throated Cathedral bells
sound the Angelus.
The clock at St Paul,
down the road is slow,
rings out of synch.
Later still Saint Nicholas
joins in from up the hill.
Melody becomes cacophony.

we were prompted to “take it easy” last week here

Posted in free verse, life writing | Tagged | 3 Comments

Wordle 212: A sackful of jokes


Hubbub breaks the ghostly silence
of feastly eating by the guests.
Humour torn from every breast
as laughter escapes with jocularity
Nectar-filled veins provoke hilarity
mirth explodes in outrageous glee
shaking shoulders, heaving lungs
hiccups, tears, hiatus comes:
engine running now on empty
a gasping plea for mercy hums.

I haven’t written for Brenda’s Sunday Whirl for some time, but Tillybud  is here, and we had a Wordle race.  Hers is a proper poem, beating mine into a cocked hat in half the time. I hope she posts it over at her Laughing Housewife blog.

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Laughing Housewives are the best guests

If you don’t know Tillybud’s blog, you have missed a treat, as she rarely blogs nowadays, but back in the day I was roaring with laughter every morning.  Before that we were study buddies and critiquing colleagues, so we go back a long way.

Linda (her real name) arrived at Deauville airport on Thursday  afternoon, and we haven’t stopped yacking and giggling yet!  Through monsoon rain we sat in the back of the chauffeur-Jock-driven car and caught up, while munching baguette sandwiches.  By the time we got home, there was a glimmer of sun to show our little home in its best light.
A riotous meal with Jock in full Burns-quoting joke-telling mood saw us wind down enough in time for some recuperative sleep.

The weather is still not behaving properly.  A couple of short walks to orient her in our rural landscape with an afternoon working on each other’s poetry –  a lovely way to spend time, specially as Jock lit the fire to make it cosy.  We did our best to demolish a roast leg of lamb (a rare treat for us these days), watched a couple of episodes of M*A*S*H
and retired, tired.  But happy.


And now we’re off to market and for a bit of exploring………

Posted in life writing, prose | Tagged | 22 Comments

History in Art

David, Michelangelo

Throughout the ages artists
have harked back to earlier times.
Vast scenes of gods and goddesses
epic battles, resplendent kings.
Renaissance gave us the classical
in extravagant proportions
focused on the human form
in unlikely combinations
surrounded by flying cherubim –
more naked flesh than we would wish
exposed in improbable contortions.

Impressions of reality cajoled me
and then they went surreal, abstract,
cubist, fauvist, weird, and lost me.

Michaelangelo’s David, image from Wikipedia

Abhra at dVerse Poets’ Pub has us talking about history in art.  My poem is more a brief history of art, but you get the idea.

Posted in formal poetry, rhyming poetry, sonnet | Tagged | 21 Comments

Lament for lost loves

Debilitating depression
over disappearing dexterity  –
erstwhile talent down the drain.

Those tasks I used to do with ease
like thread a needle, pin a seam:
disaster, all  gone sour on me.

Diminishing dexterity
makes discords in the music:
piano given away.

Clarinet clearly past its best,
ex tuneful voice can’t hold a note,
distressing listener and singer.

Driving now denied me
typing ineptitude replaced skill
love of reading thwarted by fuzzy type

Old, I am,
hoary, hairy and past it.
Time to go.   Miz Quickly wants us to turn inward and dwell on negativity.  With apologies for the surfeit of alliteration.

Posted in life writing, Poems, rants | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Atrabilious tanka’s word-of-the-day  yesterday:  “atrabilious”, an adjective meaning gloomy, morose, melancholy, morbid;  irritable, bad-tempered;  splenetic.   It could well describe me, who is glooming for lack of poetic inspiration.   However, a Prompt a Day gives us the phrase “Take it Easy” to start us off. So that’s what I’ve been doing.  It’s not working.  A gloomy tanka for you.


Leaves are yellowing
early on the apple tree
scatter on the lawn
fallen spirit of Autumn
prematurely lowers mood

Posted in nature poems, pictures, tanka | Tagged | 11 Comments

Quilty progress

The scrap quilt I started last Sunday is making slow progress, and the pile of bits of fabric shows little signs of disappearing:
blocks 4, 5, 6 ,  and 7block 4

and another one on the go.  There’s something very satisfying about the process

block 5 ...  5.8.15of more or less random piecing.

block 6

block 7

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Charming Chaos is taken for granted

I am feeling punch drunk this morning (not drunk drunk) after that very French institution, a repas – a meal for about 30 people to celebrate something or nothing.  In this case it was a long-deferred get together of the team who created last year’s Carneval float, at the  home of D.  The repas three years ago was in D’s garage his biggest space, remembered mostly for the smell of diesel from his central heating boiler.

Invited at 7 for 7.30 and  not wanting to be among the first, we arrived at 7.25, to be ushered up to the huge back garden where a few of the old faithfuls were tending a generous pile of meat on a barbecue.  There followed an agreeable hour chatting and wandering about D’s impressive garden -admiring veggies enough to supply the village market,  a magnificent row of dahlias, and a laden orchard, including a healthy young fig tree.

One or two people arrive, and still no sign of nibbles and aperitifs.  The meat is taken off the barbecue to rest.  … by 8.30 pm more guests trickle  in … the last farmer arrives at 9.   No-one bats an eyelid:  milking takes precedence.

We are proudly ushered up a pile of breeze block steps into D’s not-quite-finished veranda, open to his living room.  A kilometre of table stretches into the distance.  The guests start unloading glasses, plates, cutlery and bottles. Ouch!  M forgot to warn us to bring the necessaries.  No matter, D kindly provides all that we need.    A group of ladies starts uncorking bubbly, dispensed liberally with crème de cassis or mure as kir royale.  At last we can begin.

Huge baskets of bread appear.  My neighbour – a frail and slender elderly lady wearing a typical outfit of cardigan (orange) T-shirt (fuschia pink) a floaty frilly violently printed skirt, with denim espadrilles adding the finishing je ne sais quoi – erects a mini mountain of bread beside her plate.

A few bowls of garden radishes, cherry tomatoes, cheesy nibbles, and a tasty fish paté constitute the first entrée.  These circulate for some while amid hi-volume chatter.  A small boy manages to capture his share, while two blonde potential heart-breakers giggle over an electronic game.  A King Charles spaniel enchants everyone with his impeccable table manners.

More entrées appear –melon quarters,  a vast bowl of delicious rice, crab and avocado salad circulates.  The mounds of bread are replenished several times.  Crisp packets , tortillas and other goodies are piled along the table wherever there is a small space between bottles.  Another great dish of potato salad makes the rounds.

From time to time M and Y disappear to add more charcoal to the barbecue, the meat meanwhile resting on a tray to one side.

Hi-volume hours pass, and I am grateful for the dying of the battery in my hearing aid.   Bowls of garden lettuce appear.  A refreshing apple sorbet is served, sprinkled – for those brave enough – with Calvados – the kind Jock likens to engine oil.  This course is the traditional trou normande, designed to clean the palate and prepare the inner space (!) for the main event.

More charcoal goes on the fire.  Not yet the meat. More conversation, bottles empty at an alarming rate.  Yves tells some incomprehensible funny stories, impossible to hear above the hubbub, but we laugh anyway.

11.30 M and Y disappear again, to return first with some gorgeous burnt sausages – not very warm – and when those have been wolfed down, they come back with trays covered with the biggest chops I have ever seen.  Jock and I split half of one between us. The farmers take 2.  No veg – crisps are passed round and a token lettuce leaf may be added.  The meat was very tasty, but barely tepid!

More salad, more bread, to accompany a delicious selection of cheeses and an increasing volume of chatter.  The small children and dog continue to circulate, as bright and bouncy as they were at 8pm.

Dessert is served around midnight – traditional apple tart, apricot tart, tiramisu and the enormous but disappointing coffee walnut tray bake cake that I had made.  They were polite about it, but I wasn’t fooled.  Why is it that I can make that cake perfectly standing on my head, but when wanted for a special occasion the sponge is heavy, the mascarpone and cream topping not sweet enough etc etc?  Murphy’s Law.

.As usual, Jock had contented himself with the half glass of bubbly and a taster of the red wine with his meat, but we worried about the alcohol levels of several worthy citizens.  Pray that they all arrived home safely . Fortunately no-one had more than a couple of kilometres of quiet country lanes to travel.

Coffee topped off the meal and signalled a gradual shift into clearing-up mode, winding down by 1am when the bisous (kisses) round was repeated and we stumbled through the long grass of the orchard to find the car.  I am full of admiration for the stamina of French people, even the children – who can party til dawn without turning a hair.  Moi?  Je suis crevée.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I took lots before I discovered I’d left the memory card in the computer!

Posted in life writing, prose, quilts and pictures | Tagged | 10 Comments