Socks! Ahh-ahh*

Tuesday, December 27

To try and purge tomorrow of any potential for that ‘oh, I’m supposed to be studying but somehow tidying my room seems so much more interesting’-type procrastination, I decided to tidy my room today. Serious studying can now begin in the morning! 
While I was tidying I found all these socks at the bottom of my bed!

I cannot sleep with socks on (or if I do, I wake up feeling weird), so I tend to peel them off with my feet once I click out the light. Alas, however! As I now discover, this habit seems to be the root cause of the odd sock issue in this house. I've been blaming the tumble dryer for so long ('I think it eats them out of sheer badness.') I shall make my apologies to it tomorrow. 

(I got a bit distracted from tidying by making sock shapes...!) 

While we're on the subject... look at these amazing socks (from Topshop) I got my sister (who is a nurse) for Christmas!  

I thought they might help her to heel the patients (oh ho)!

*(to be sung to the tune of 'Flash')

Le Morte d'Dignité

Thursday, December 22

Tonight I noticed... a very large and gigantic beetle in my bedroom! (How long's it been there for? And does it have cousins? And aren't all insects supposed to be taking a holiday from frightening people at this time of year?? For goodness sake!) As much as I hate to think of myself as a damsel in distress, bugs make chivalrous acts not only desirable but, indeed, necessary. I was rescued from the fearsome beast by two kind gentlemen (father and brother).
Thank-ye kindly, sirs. Now excuse me while I go and search for my fallen dignity under that pile of books.

(picture from: here.)

I'll be your harvester of light.

Tuesday, December 20

Three small noticings:
(One.) I came across the word ineffability recently and it has entered my list of favourite words. Ineffable means: ‘cannot be expressed or described in language; too great for words; transcending expression; unspeakable, unutterable, inexpressible’ (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). I like how it speaks of mystery and how it sounds like it has feathers.
(Two.) It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Twinkle lights, Christmas trees, glass jars of cranberry sauce, songs with lines like ‘oh come let us adore Him’ and ‘silent night, holy night’ playing in unlikely places like H&M and Tesco, sparkly party dresses, the anxious wait for Amazon parcels. 
(Three.) I like this song (Winter Song by Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles). I always feel there is something a little bit sad about Christmas, although I can’t put my finger on what it is. The passing of another year, the bareness of the trees, the people who are alone... this song captures both the sadness and the loveliness of this time of year.

(pictures by Becca Stadtlander)

'I am half sick of shadows...'

Sunday, November 27

I've noticed that I’ve not written anything on here for quiteawhile!
I’ve also noticed that I like Tennyson’s poetry (especially 'The Lady of Shalott') that the Christmas lights are up in George Square, that by the end of this week it will be December, that I seem to be getting progressively less organised with age and this trend must end, that my friends are very funny, that I drink on average about eight cups of tea (if not more) a day, that The Importance of Being Earnest is still hilarious even if you’ve known it for years, and that I really (really, really, really) hate deadlines... which is inconvenient as they’ll always be there. This next year I’ll maybe try and make a friend of them...

think it's time to put myself away...

Saturday, October 29

 I’ve been back at university for five weeks now. How this happened, I’m not quite sure. I feel like I just started back yesterday and now, here I am, halfway through the first semester (and already feeling extremely behind).
I have not written much on here recently as I am currently suffering from noun-poisoning. It’s a rare condition which manifests itself as incompetence when it comes to all things grammatical. The symptoms include: equal measures of interest and bewilderment in Stylistics lectures; mind-blanks when it comes to trying to write essays; and a tendency to speak out in class with silly answers (such as answering the question: ‘What is the verb in this sentence?’ with the word: ‘Over’. Over is not a verb).
I was looking through a few of my journals recently for a quote I had copied down. While I was flicking through the pages, I noticed a lot of little doodles. Not just any old doodles – I noticed a lot of little harassed-looking doodles. I noticed that these doodles seemed to increase in number around the times of intense coursework. It seems that doodling these doodles has a sort of cathartic effect. I thought I’d share a few of them on here because the melodrama of them made me laugh a bit:

(ha ha... a bit depressing, eh? I do love my course, but it can be incredibly stressful to keep up all the work that is squeezed into ten week semesters!)
(Title from: this song)

to tremble.

Friday, October 14

‘ sentimentalise something is to look only at the emotion it stirs in us rather than the reality of it, which we are always tempted not to look at because reality, truth, silence are all what we are not much good at and avoid when we can. To sentimentalise is to savour rather than suffer the sadness of it, it is to sigh over the prettiness of it rather than to tremble at the beauty of it, which may make fearsome demands of us or pose fearsome threats.’
~ 'Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairytale' by Fredrick Buchner (1977)
I thought this was an interesting idea, and I want to be careful of sentimentalising things and missing their meaning. This book is absolutely beautiful. I’ve been reading it slowly, in between Dickens, Bronte, Tennyson and all the other Victorian writers that we’re looking at this semester. It is worth reading, whatever your philosophy on life, purely because he writes such wonderful sentences (about silence, about loneliness, about laughing). And he quotes Shakespeare, and he is insightful and intelligent, and he writes about ideas through stories, and... and... ah, it’s brilliant.
(Picture from: here).

[insert horse related pun]

Sunday, October 9

I saw a lady passing our house this evening... on a horse. Not only was she on a horse, she was also on her mobile. Are you allowed to be on the phone while riding a horse? Or does that part of the Highway Code only apply to inanimate vehicles?

Odd. I guess we’ll neigh-ver know!

(Picture from: here.)

exciting news!

Monday, October 3

I am a Features columnist for my university newspaper this year (the Strathclyde Telegraph)! Very exciting! I’m writing a 650 word column every month along the ‘something I noticed’ theme. The first edition is out tomorrow... just thought I’d pass the news on!

(picture from: here.)

proud of ma' shelf.

Monday, October 3

I rearranged the bookcase in my room this summer. I realised that it is very easy to take the books out of the bookcase – to slide them off, to stack them into piles on the floor, to dust the shelves that haven’t seen sunlight for years.

However! Once the books are strewn across your floor, all in a muddle, it is incredibly difficult to know how to put them back in.  

First: it is tricky to start anything that resembles tidying when the books are distracting you by calling out, ‘Helloo! Remember me? Read me!

Also! there are a lot of tricky genre questions that need answering. Questions like: 'Is the novel Jane Eyre simply: fiction? Or is it classic fiction? Or gothic fiction? Or romantic fiction? And should it go on the shelf beside Pride and Prejudice and Emma? Would Charlotte Brontë be annoyed by this, seeing as how she apparently had such a low opinion of Jane Austen? Would they squabble with each other in the middle of the night making it difficult to get to sleep?'

And so on. You get the picture.

Anyway! Here is what they look like now. (Cue the the bright, naturally-lit photographs which emphasise the shelves’ gloriousness in their rearranged state).

Much better, eh?

spotted in Glasgow...

Friday, September 23

...when my sister, Emilie, and I went to see 'The Slow Club' (amazingly quirky). Quite nice to be greeted by stairs. We realised that, between us, we were wearing every colour in the rainbow. Red: my coat. Orange: the flowers in her dress. Yellow: her cardigan. Green: her dress. Blue: my shoes and dress. Indigo and violet: the flowers in her dress (kind of ...does anyone actually know what indigo looks like? It just has a lovely sounding name. Like 'India' and 'Calico' - two of my favourite words to say - mixed up in one).  

a rainbow on the walk to work.

Friday, September 9

So faint you can hardly see it. But it's there.

go do.

Friday, September 9

When I was twelve, I read a book on juggling. I read it in the summer, lying on my stomach in a rectangle of sun. I went over passages of the book again and again, trying to make them stick in my brain. I eventually put the book down and felt ready to begin. I picked up the oranges (stand-in balls). I started playing circus music inside my head. And then... thump, thump, ‘owch’.
...that was not supposed to happen.
I took a moment and then started again. I fetched the oranges. I hummed the circus tune (a little louder this time). And then... ‘owch’, thump, ‘owch’. Juggling, it turned out, was trickier than it looked on the page. I decided to give up and eat the oranges instead.
Thus ended my brief career as a clown.
I was reminded of this recently, and I think that I probably went about it the wrong way. The way to learn juggling is probably just to juggle. To practice. To physically move your arms: throwing, catching, dropping, picking up, trying again. Learning the theory is part of it, but the real learning is in the doing. It is easy to read the book, but that is not juggling. You can’t call yourself a Juggler if you don’t actually juggle.
I read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse at the start of the summer. There was a description in it of someone who was ‘so brave in thought’ but ‘so timid in life’. And it struck me. I am someone who would prefer to wait until I really fully absolutely understand the ins and outs of things before I act on them. But I wonder if there is a degree of fearfulness in this. Most things that are worth having require a level of risk – the risk of being embarrassed, hurt, wrong – and risk means dancing with the unknown 

I've been thinking about this a lot this summer. I've been thinking about  how I can (and do) wax lyrical about "the beauty of love, friendship, faith, [insert other ideal here]" to my heart's content; I can discuss the theories and philosophies behind them; but if I get stuck there, if I do nothing beyond that words are empty. Life will be empty. Life is something that is learned by doing it, by taking risks. I want to live a life that matters, not one that could have.
Listen to this (Go Do by Jónsi) ...if you want to.
(Pictures from: Leanne Ellis).


Tuesday, September 6

Lady with the happy wrinkles: "I’ll have a plain scone, honey. And an earl grey tea."
Man with the red tie: "I’ll have nearly the same. I’ll have a fruit scone. And -- I’ll just take some of your house tea."
~ In work the other week 

'House tea.' I thought that was quite a cute thing to say.
(Picture from: Emma Block.)


Tuesday, September 6

William Strunk, Jr in The Elements of Style writes this:
'Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.'

I completely agree. I’m trying to get better at this, at chipping away at unnecessary thoughts, words, commas. Writing that is cluttered with too many obscure words and phrases feels a bit self indulgent to me. I think the best writing is hardly noticeable, it honours the ideas it gives form to.
I finished reading The Remains of the Day last week. It is an excellent book, very engaging, and I think it is because Ishiguro writes like this: with quietness. The most powerful moment in the book happens in a single sentence near the end of the story. It is perfect, but I would have missed it – a skipped beat in my heart – if the rest of the novel hadn’t been so muted. Really beautiful.

(Picture from: here.)

I think I'll be six now forever and ever.

Wednesday, August 10

(Blowing bubbles on my 20th birthday.)
Hello gentle ladies and men. Please accept my apologies for my lack of updating. I have been working a lot, holidaying, volunteering with 3 year-olds, and trying to shift a never-ending cold (excuse me while I go blow my nose). I have a lot to write. In the meantime though, I’ll leave you with a short conversation that happened while I was serving a bald man and his friend coffee yesterday.

Bald man: "Sorry for asking, hen, but are you old enough to work here."

Me: "Yes. I’m actually twenty."
Bald man’s (cheeky) friend: "Twenty? What... inches?"
Oh how very hilarious.
I can just about guarantee you that every day I go into work, a customer will tell me how young I look or ask if I’m still in high school. I like to shock them with the truth: ‘No no, I’m in university. Going into third year. I'm twenty actually.' (Bam!)

(...if I'm honest
I can't
believe it myself.)

What ho!

Tuesday, July 12

I’m just home from a week’s holiday to jolly England. It was splendid, and quite sunny – warm enough for carrying our coats about (rather than actually wearing them). There was one wet day though. A very wet day. Thunder and lightning and rain bouncing off the ground sort of wet. It happened to be the day that we had picked for an open-top bus tour of Bath.

This picture was taken while we all huddled under the shelter of ‘the Assembly Halls’, mustering up the courage to brave the rains. These boys had given up trying to shield themselves. There was no point - they couldn't get any wetter. Water dripping off their noses, shoulders hunched, feet dragging, amused (but slightly pathetic) expressions on their faces. Poor things. We also looked rather similar by the time we got back to the car. It was quite exciting though. There is something of the sublime about being caught in a rain shower.
I called my Grandpa this afternoon, and was telling him a bit about the holiday.
‘We went to London one day and saw the Lion King, and another day we went to Bath and ---‘
‘Did you get wet?’ He asked. A husky chuckling tumbled into my ear through the receiver. (This sort of humour is rooted deep in the bones of all the male members of this famliy.)
‘Yes. Very funny. We did get wet in Bath.’

four small things.

Wednesday, June 22

Bonjour! The past few weeks I have been: working more hours in the cafe (which has been quite interesting – lots of funny customers, a saxophonist, and delicious mistake ‘hot chocolate brownie’ ice-cream sundaes), going to two conferences, finding out that I passed 2nd year university (with ‘distinction’ – hooray!) and spending rather too much time pottering about the house doing nothing (which I must stop doing). I will write a proper post later. For now though, here are a few things that I’ve noticed...
(one). A car with eye-lashes...
(two). The fact that it’s June and it already looks like autumn. Brown, shrivelled, dead leaves. Something's wrong with the trees...

(three). Even though I’m not an ‘animal person’ ...when asked to look after pets, I inevitably end up falling a little bit in love with them and proceed to embarrass myself when they leave by bursting into tears. This has now happened twice: once when looking after Shadow the Dog for 3 months and just there when looking after Tasha the Cat for 10 days while my Grandparents were on holiday. (Incidentally... as I seem to be writing an awful lot about moustaches on this blog, I might as well continue and tell you that Tasha was so named because she has a white moustache. They’ve had her for 16 years, and I only just found this out.)

(four). And my sister found this music last night which is lovely.

Thinking of moustaches...

Thursday, June 9

I saw a moustachioed man at the train station on Tuesday. He looked rather like a walrus. He was fat, with braces to keep his trousers up. And it was a large moustache - a big, looping white one that covered half his face... but in such a way that it wasn’t a beard. Quite clever, really.

It must be very itchy to have so much hair on your face, though. And his wife must find him tickly to kiss. If he has a wife, that is. (One shouldn’t assume.) Maybe he can’t find one because of the hair-up-the-nose issue. Or maybe he chose to have the moustache instead of the wife. He might of. I can imagine it was an active decision that he made after his pie-loving sweetheart – Marion Appleberry – told him she would ‘only ever marry a clean-shaven man’.

He might have stood in front of the mirror the day after she said it – face covered in shaving foam, hand clutching his razor – wondering: did he love her enough?

‘Can I sacrifice this hairy beauty to marry Marion? Marion – my soul mate, my one true love, the apple(berry) of my eye? Will I shave it all off to be with her – that fine figure of a women who shares my passion for marmite on scones, and finds my interest in small-rodent taxidermy endearing? Will I? Will I?’
A dilemma to be sure.
Marion or moustache? Marion or moustache? Marion or ---’

He threw the razor to the floor. He splashed his cheeks with water.
Damn her facial-hair preferences!’ He (maybe) cried. ‘The moustache will always be first in my heart!’
Now he spends his days drifting around train stations, a living monument of how staying true to yourself, no matter what the cost, is possible!
(He’ll never admit it, but sometimes, when he is picking scone crumbs out his whiskers, he does feel a little lonely.)
Pictures from: marc johns (again).

n. an unshaved growth of hair on the upper lip

Thursday, June 9

I was brushing my teeth this morning when I noticed that...

...the bathroom mirror looks like it is framed with moustaches. Brilliant!

Deliciousness in 11 easy steps

Thursday, June 2

1 Cadbury’s chocolate Whispa bar (or a Galaxy, or any other delicious chocolate bar)
Preparation time:
About an hour
  1. Take the Wispa. 
  2. Unwrap, and break a little bit off the end of it and eat.
  3. Leave the rest on the coffee table while the sun is high in the sky and forget about it.
  4. Spend an hour doing any of the following: a.) read a book, b.) write a poem, c.) have a nap, d.) go for a walk, e.) write panic-y emails to university admin staff about complications with the children’s literature class that you’ve been desperate to take since you were about fifteen...
  5. Remember about the Wispa.
  6. Sneakily glance around to make sure no one is looking (because you don't plan on sharing, but don't want anyone to think that you're greedy...even though you've already had quite a big lunch and have eaten two biscuits)
  7. Try and pick the Wispa up but realise that it has melted in the sun.
  8. Find a spoon.
  9. Eat and enjoy and smack your lips (in a dark corner so no one notices).
  10. Destroy all evidence!!
  11. Write a blog about it, therefore nullifying step ten.
Picture from: here.


Tuesday, May 31

My first study-free week was delicious. I read a book. I listened (really listened) to music. I wrote in my journal. I thought about things. I went to the cinema with Evan (my brother, who was also exam-free).
And then a curious thing happened.  
On Friday, I was (all of a sudden) gripped by a desperate urge to make things. My List of Things to do Over the Summer did not include making things. This making things mood just came out of the blue. (I hesitate to use the word ‘crafty’ here. A ‘crafty person’ brings to mind two images. One: Dick Dastardly rubbing his hands together and laughing evilly. Two: someone who owns a fluffy fleece with a print of white wolves on the back. The kind of person who takes their shoes off in cafes, and who has a halo of unkempt hair, and who talks in a very ‘deep’ way, but no one knows what on earth they are talking about. God bless that kind of person. It takes all sorts to make the world an interesting place. I just don’t want to be one of them. Creative not crafty. Anyway...!)
I spent about eight hours making these. (I got the idea from here) I want to hang them in my room ...which needs to be tidied.. Tidying is on my list, which perhaps explains the creative urges. It seems that where there is a list, procrastination soon follows.

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