Thursday, May 06, 2021

What's been happening

I usually ignore recipes in the paper but I saw a recipe for croque monsieur this morning and decided I was going to make one. I have perhaps only had five in my lifetime but every single time I've thought them delicious. 

The last time was with Het in The Wolseley, next door to the Ritz. It was a special treat. Unfortunately my photo of the dish has been subject to a recent purge so Het sent me this one of me in the restaurant at the time, looking pleased:

And it makes me think that treats are always worth it - nothing you do for a Sue is ever wasted, just as nothing you do for children is ever wasted. (See last post but one.)

There are a lot of treats to come in the next few months - everyday things that I haven't been able to do for over a year - and I am going to relish them and be thankful.

Painting continues. After I'd finished the painting of our front garden, my brother suggested I try painting a self portrait. So I began with some pencil sketches of myself, using photographs, although purists would say you should do it from life, using two mirrors.

I did three sketches which took me ages, and involved lots of rubbing out and redrawing along the way, and this was the last and the best. 

It was a sketch and not a perfect finished drawing: as you can see, I paid scant attention to the hair. I was really pleased with it until two of my 'children' said the mouth was sinister, leering, whatever - you get the idea. I don't mind their comments. I asked for their opinion, and how do we get better if we don't listen to criticism? But I was disappointed, because my mouth is the hardest part of me to draw. I don't sneer, but drawings often make me look as though I do.

Anyway...after this failure I decided that painting a self portrait would be much too hard and I've been working on an abstract instead. But the self-portrait idea is niggling me and I think I'm going to try a painting after all.

What else has been happening?

Lots of tedious admin;

Having a haircut for the first time since February last year. It was so nice to see Nicola again, my hairdresser for 30 years;

Having my first Indian take-away for over a year - scrumptious;

Planning for a few days away next week - whoopee! - while telling myself it doesn't matter if the forecast is right and it rains the whole time, because it will be such a treat to see the sea;

Feeling anxious. I have never thought of myself as an anxious person, but aging seems to be changing that, and yesterday I was so jumpy inside that I wrapped up warm and went on my favourite local walk and ended it sitting in the village churchyard. 

Sitting there for 15 minutes listening to two blackbirds singing was heavenly and made me feel calm and settled again.

On the grass when I arrive,
Filling the stillness with life,
But ready to scare off
At the very first wrong move.
In the ivy when I leave.

It’s you, blackbird, I love. 

( from The Blackbird of Glanmore, by Seamus Heaney.)

Everything is Going to be All Right

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

Derek Mahon

from New Collected Poems (2011) published here, by kind permission of The Gallery Press

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