There are some pieces of music that touch your soul. There are others that transport you to another place and time. And there are still others that make such a racket that you want to throw them violently into a boiling ocean full of judgemental lava sharks.
Below are some of the first two. I have inexplicably combined them with pet naming ideas. Bad pet naming ideas.
Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat K.495 3. Rondo (Allegro Vivace) – Mozart
Just listen to this piece – it’s just beautiful; at parts it sounds like a conversation between two people, different and harmonious, answering and responding with violins providing a sparkling commentary. And if you listen carefully, it sounds like the music is flying – zipping above a still lake, flitting with the dragon flies.
It’s a summer’s day. It’s a picnic on a green slope beneath a blue, blue sky. It’s washing up in the kitchen with a tea-towel thrown over your shoulder, the sun streaming in through the window and your feet dancing of their own accord.
It’s majestic and yet somehow light-hearted all the same.
PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Con-e-fur. (Like Concerto in E with a four and … okay. It’s a stretch)
Guitar Concerto in D Major2nd Movement- Vivaldi
Oh, this is the very definition of gentle. This is floating in safety. This is a warm fire in the wintertime. It’s a hug (for your ears.).
It’s a balm for the soul, a respite in a world of crash and clamour.
I’ve loved this piece for eighteen years. Perhaps for some it is too simplistic; but sometimes the simplest things are the best and most beautiful.
PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Major Deacon (This is so stunningly awful. I APPROVE.)
Elizabethan Serenade – Ronald Binge
This – this – is beautiful. My gosh. It soothes and yet calls you to dance. It’s a weeping willow over a winding river. It waltzes, it warms. It spins a splendiferously pretty melody.
It summons to mind mild summer days with cotton-candy clouds that have absolutely nowhere to go, ambles in the countryside, and happiness unspoilt. I adore it and the way it brings beauty to even the most wintery of winter days.
PROSPECTIVE PET NAME: Bethnade (I feel bad for any potential pet I might have in the future.)
Also – and here’s just a thought: ALL OF THESE COULD BE PART OF THE SOUNDTRACK OF A GEORGETTE HEYER NOVEL. Thank you. Thought over.
2019 wasn’t the easiest year I’ve ever lived, but it also was one full of richness and joy and growth. (Clearly, I should write greeting cards.)
Let’s do a little recap, shall we?
TEACHING // BREAST LUMPS // ILLNESS
Teaching abroad was an adventure. I believed it was the right place for me, but I missed home and my family and my books. And financial stability.
I earned money by freelance work (read: Fiverr – ONE DAY I WILL TELL YOU ABOUT MY SHORT-LIVED CAREER), and with some support from home and half my rent paid by the school, I was able to live and teach English. I met so many lovely people there who really blessed me. I learned far more than I taught.
I returned home and started working in an office job. And then I discovered that I had a lump in my breast. (The two … are not connected.) It was a pretty dark month, that one. I decided to plan my funeral. I got as far as a room with a coffin and some chairs. (Don’t attend, by the way, it’s going to be completely boring.)
I had an ultrasound and it turns out I have fibre-something-something. I can’t spell or remember it, but apparently – and more importantly – it’s called a ‘breast mouse’. So. Brambly Hedge never had that sort of mice, lemme tell you- Okay. Let’s stop there.
According to the doctor, I’m okay, and my funeral plans were premature. But I can’t help but view my mammary glands as ticking time bombs.
And then there’s been other illness in the family and that’s been difficult and has sucked.
A Hawaiian snail went extinct. Other people and creatures have had a far more rubbish 2019 than I have. Truly. When I compare my life – I mean, I know we shouldn’t – but fried parsnips, it could be so much worse. I don’t have breast cancer. And the fact that I can type that feels like some kind of miracle for which I am so. grateful.
Through the dark times and the good, God has been there. Constant. I haven’t talked a lot about my faith on this blog. I’m worried that it will sound holier-than-thou and God knows I can’t live up to that.
But God can, and so I’ll write it here – 2019 wasn’t easy, but God was good, and greater than every hardship. Under everything, joy has dwelt like a hidden stream.
There will probably be harder years – this is life, after all, we aren’t promised an easy one – but we are promised that He is with us always. And that’s true for 2019.
What – you thought I wouldn’t put anything about books in here? PFFFFT. Of course I would. And will. So let me present you with the books that made the biggest impact on me this year …
*drum roll please*
Keep Going by Austin Kleon This changed my life. Truly – it kickstarted a better writing routine and helped me finish writing a book and plunge into other projects. The front cover alone (‘Keep Going’ it proclaims in big letters) I’ve put it on my desk and every time I see it, it reminds me to do just that: keep going. Funny, how two words can mean so much.
The Bible – New Living Translation I’ve grown up a strictly KJV kind of girl, but let me tell you this – reading it in modern English, stripped of thees and thous has made it a lot easier to read. You don’t have to think past the older English as much. I’ll always adore and go back to the KJV but man alive, the NLT has really made a difference.
The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien I know – I’d never read them before. But I have now and what touched me was the overall backdrop of it – of a world, an age that was fading away and how what was new was uncertain. I ended it in tears. Frodo is so much better in the books than on film. Also, the songs and poems? Dope. They’re dope.
Till We Have Faces by C. S Lewis I seldom find books in which I connect so strongly to a character – but I did with this one. I am going to have to read it again, I think. But more slowly this time. I rush when I enjoy a book, you see, gobbling it up instead of savoring it.
There are more, I’m sure. I’ve enjoyed many books this year. I haven’t been keeping my goodreads updated because I’ve lowkey got a conspiracy theory running about Amazon and how they’re probably gathering all the books I’ve read and items I’ve purchased and guessing what kind of a person I am and I don’t need that kind of stress okay?
I’ll give the information to Facebook, instead, via Instagram.
Thank you so much for reading my blog. This is a place where I unload my brain and amuse myself (one of my besetting sins is that I find myself funny – even if the reality, and other people’s groans, point to the contrary.) and the fact that you’ve stuck around and read these posts? Thank you. You’re pretty awesome. Tell me how your year has gone? What’s the best book you’ve picked up? What’s the worst?
Next week brings a new year, and with it, new adventures.
See you there!
*re the title of this post: if my hair goes grey it means that i’m one step closer to the wolf pelt hair i’ve been aiming for ever since i decided it would be awesome to have wolf-pelt hair. i haven’t actually pictured it clearly in my head but i think it would be amazing. Yes, I am a mature adult – why are you asking?
We live in an age of instant gratification – we want things and we want things now dammit! (WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU CAN DELIVER THIS TOMORROW? THE DAY AFTER YOU SAY?! THAT’S TERRIBLE! HOW DARE YOU! WHAT ERA DO YOU LIVE IN – THE STONE AGE?)
I would like to have Project If published, and a trilogy of Our Intrepid Heroine professionally edited with sparkling new front covers – all ready to be released into the world.
I’d like to be so physically fit that if a vine suddenly appeared before me, I could swing on it and not fall off.
I’d like to speak several languages. Perfectly.
I’d like to be able say: why YES, I do think that the economy is going downhill. Just compare it to the statistics of 1970 when blah blah said blah blah in blah paragraph two … just like Churchill predicted.
I’d like to have a blog with regular posts and maybe a newsletter full of HILARIOUS doings.
AND I WANT IT ALL RIGHT. NOW.
I’m blaming Amazon Prime – it’s given me unrealistic expectations.
Begrudgingly, I’m learning what I’ve known for some time but haven’t wanted to accept: that life is spent in waiting periods and in steady step-by-step-keep-going days.
I know – it would be so much easier to have a ‘working montage’ to upbeat music:
DA DAAA HERE IS NESS TYPING DA DAAAA HERE’S ALL THE CUPS OF TEA SHE’S CONSUMED AND LOOK HOW THEY’VE BUILT UP AND GROWN MOLDY DA DAAA HERE’S HER SLAPPING HER MANUSCRIPT ONTO AN EDITOR’S DESK DA DA DAAAA HERE’S HER BOOK BEING MADE DA DA DAAA HERE’S READERS ALL OVER THE WORLD READING HER BOOK DA DAADADAADADADA HERE’S NESS LAUGHING HUMBLY AT HER ENORMOUSLY WELL-RECEIVED AND INTELLECTUALLY STUNNING WORK-OF-ART.
But alas, this is not how life works. Or at least, this is not how my life works. Yours may be different. (1, TELL ME YOUR SECRETS and 2, HOW DARE YOU.)
I didn’t win NaNoWriMo – I tried, but as a movie once put it: life … finds a way [to stop you writing.]
Is that an excuse? Probably. But I started a book and I intend to finish it because a) it’s funny [well. To me] and b) it deals with something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
I told myself ‘ah, just put in a few 10k word days – it’ll be done … no problem!’ because doing it in big chunks is so much better than a little perseverance and elbow grease.
(AND ALSO I HAVE VERY REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS AND TOTALLY WRITE 10 THOUSAND WORDS IN A SINGLE DAY ALLLLL THE TIME.)
(Also – imagine if it was elbow geese. Hahahahahaha.)
It’s December and a new year is dawning.
I’m going to try and be patient – with myself, with my projects, with life, with … everything. I’m going to try and learn that big things happen because of small actions carried out every day.
I’m going to edit Project If and I’m going to round-house kick the frustration that wails: BUT MUUUUMMM WHY CAN’T MY BOOK BE PERFECT STRAIGHT AWAAAAAYYYY.
(Because your first draft was trash, Jimmy*! TRASH!!)
*I have no idea who Jimmy is.
**also round-house kicks would leave me on the floor with a pulled muscle. No. With SEVERAL pulled muscles.
My bed is pushed up so that the headboard is against the window. I leave the blinds open. At night, if I crane my head, I see the stars. Perhaps the moon too.
But the mornings are delicious. I wake up bathed in sunshine, in a pool of warm light. Perhaps the sky is very blue, perhaps a cloud or two drifts across its face.
Eight o’clock is the sweet hour. Eight to nine and afterwards the sun slowly drifts up and away. My room is pink. It steals the light and keeps it safe and stored within its walls.
The rest of the apartment may be gloomy, slightly cast in shadow … but my room? With its curved walls dotted with post it notes and chapter sheets marching along the ground? With the books heaped on the sturdy little drawers and bags piled up in a corner? With white bedsheets which have caught spring blossoms and a faux brown fur that surely was once a fierce bear?
It’s light. It’s comfort. It’s a secret place where stress retreats just a little. It’s where daydreams are made and fears are kept at bay. It’s where I lie with headphones and listen to songs of hope, full of melody and wishes. It’s where a book and a tune and a cup of tea are the closest things to heaven I have and where prayers are told and heart-secrets whispered.
In here, I am at peace.
In this pocket of happiness, I find sanctuary.
There are other places – a stretch of road where the sun always shines and the bark on the trees is slowly peeling, leaving pure white beneath and a belief that surely, surely they are from another, more mystical world. A kitchen table when it is just I and a window and perhaps a cup of tea – not English Breakfast, but I’ve learned that there are other delights which can fill a cup. A carpet, on which I dance – not elegantly, never that, but with a feeling that youth is fleeting and I must grab it and rejoice in existence, in the life that flows through my veins. In a mirror in which I peer at my face and pretend that she and I have hidden jokes that we must always laugh at.
There is sanctuary everywhere. Hidden. Between the here and now and the hereafter.
(In the heart. That too. In the relief that truth brings. In the peace that follows. In the words written in the only book that is living. In the prayer whispered. In the burden shared. )
Sanctuary. Peace. Contentment. Joy.
Life will try to drench us with worries, numb our bones with cares, and steal our breath with anxiety … but there is always sanctuary. If only we look.
I’ve learned a truth: you’ll never get around to doing anything unless you make time for it. Do you want to organise your bookshelves according to tropes? Do you long to become ambidextrous? Investigate the lifecycles of newts? Have regular conversations with your local oak tree? (Don’t. You’ll receive several bemused looks.) (Or do.) Do you want to write a book?
Make time for it.
You don’t need a study overlooking the sea. You don’t need a smoking jacket or a typewriter or a special sort of paper or a desk shaped like a whale. (Though … that would be amazing and if anyone has one going SIGN ME UP!)
Something to write with (ink/a functioning computer/word processor/paper etc etc)
You’ll very rarely have a perfect afternoon to while away in a different world, or an entire weekend free of worry with brilliant weather just right to write with.
Writing can be done in a spare fifteen minutes tapping away at the keyboard. Writing can done scribbling away on your lunch-break. Writing can done when you’re tired, when you’re stressed, just before bed, just before breakfast.
It can be ten words, a hundred words, perhaps even a thousand (or two!). It isn’t always magical, it’s not secretive and it’s decidedly not glamorous.
It’s the simplest thing which is somehow the hardest – setting down one word after the other. Planting your bottom in a chair, stretching your hands over the keyboard, taking a breath, and diving into the words.
Five minutes. Ten. Or heck – even half an hour. It doesn’t matter for how long, the important thing is: you’re doing it.
Waiting for the perfect time, the perfect moment, and the perfect day doesn’t work. They don’t arrive. They’re stuck in the pipeline. Caught in the ever elusive ‘tomorrow’.
Make time. Cram words into the cracks and little pieces of the day you’d otherwise fill with reddit, youtube, Instagram, or a thousand other things.