Tuesday, 28 July 2009

In praise of beans on toast

These big fat juicy broad beans came in this week's veg box from Abel and Cole (our driver's name: Orville). I was stuck for ideas, until the Boy flippantly suggested dip.


I blanched the wrinkly white beans in salty boiling water, then whizzed them up with olive oil, a splash of lemon and liberally seasoned with coarse ground black pepper and chilli flakes.

Perfect on a slice of toasted honey-and-ale bread, crafted by the Boy's own fair hands.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Diagnosis, logophilia

This article in the Guardian Review examines words that 'make us merry', looking at sound symbolism.

We tend towards nice, soft sounds like "l", "m" and "n", dipthongs and polysyllabic words, and steer clear of hard sounds and short vowels. Apparently, dislike of certain words is called logophobia.

Discussion on the blog focused on hated words, from cliches to Americanisms and nouns as verbs, as well as phonetics. "Moist" was one of the most hated: interesting, it starts with soft sounds and a dipthong and ends with a hard sound.

Some of my favourite words are (in no particular order and in no way comprehensive!):
  • Palanquin
  • Luminous
  • Catatonic
  • Bride
  • Undulate
  • Arc
  • Ululate
  • Prolific
  • Mediaeval
  • Luscious
  • Lyrical
Lots of soft vowel sounds, but also juicy consonants and a heavy sway towards the Latinate ... Go figure!

Diagnosis, logophilia ...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Feet of clay

Reading Claire Tomalin's biography of Ellen Ternan - the young actress for whom Dickens abandoned his wife - I discover the extent to which my literary hero had feet of clay.

Dickens' passionate social documentation, live-loving humour, celebration of human nature in all it's diversity, fierce commentary on justice, poor reform, institutions and the Establishment- all this remains unchanged but I am seeing his heroines with a new eye.

Revelations of Dickens' Byzantine deceit, sexual double standards and double-dealings, hypocrisy and of utterly indefensible cruelty to his poor wife. His relationship with Ternan casts his insipid, passive, blandly pretty child-wives and doll-like victims in a whole new (disturbing) light for me.

Following it up with a viewing of the 2007 ITV take on The Old Curiosity Shop - the heroine of which, Little Nell, is the ultimate in pliable pedestal women - you can see Dickens has trouble representing flawed, real womenkind on the page. From Dora to Estella, is that it?

Interestly, it isn't (of course) the novels that have altered but my reading - thanks, Barthes! Is it dangerous to read too much secondary material? Does it muddy the instinctive reading or lift the scales from your eyes?

I am currently embarking on the Brenda Maddox biography of George Eliot. Fingers crossed there is nothing here to change the way I see Middlemarch - I am quite happy with my present understanding! So far, so good: lots of burgeoning Radicalism and working as the first female editor in London, editing a high profile quarterly ...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

My boyfriend loves the garden more than he loves me

Eccentric weather conditions - lashing rain, tropical sunshine and freak bouts of humidity have turned the garden rampant.

We have glorious flowers: stargazer lilies opening white petals flashed through with pink, abundant perfumed white roses, delicate purple clematis clinging on to the trellis in the random gusts of wind coursing up the passageway.

The veg patch - annexed by The Boy as his own fiefdom - has suddenly become exciting. Red buds promising runners beans have taken over the vines, which outgrow their supporting canes as rapidly as we construct them. I've also been feasting on ripe, sweet homegrown strawberries. The pumpkins have escaped the beds and are valiantly making for the other side of the garden, uncurling fresh trendrils everyday. We're in danger of being taken over!

So far, so edible!

I am also reliably informed that we are two weeks ahead of our competitor veg growers in Manchester, which makes us smug! Sorry, Aged Parents!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Glorious domestic goddessness

Mmm, lemon cupcakes! on Twitpic

Engaging in an enjoyable burst of domestic goddessness this morning, complete with Cath Kidson-lite apron.

A batch of lemon cupcakes nestles in the oven, alluringly filling the house with a homely, wholesome air. Recipe taken from Rachel Allen's beautiful book, "Bake".

For an hour or so there, I was beautifully absorbed in creative flow, caught in the moment and complete outside of my head. Very rare experience for me!

All this prompted by a visualisation exercise suggested by a lifecoach I am currently seeing: take your average week and the activities you do, and represent them proportionally to fill a 24 hour clock.

I spend 17 hours of my "day" at work or asleep and 3 minutes on creative activities that I feel passionate about! Oh dear!

In a similar vein, a common theme has emerged from this year's birthday presents, jotters and notebooks and journals. Clearly, my friends are ushering me back into writing! I plan to take the hint.

Also inspired by ByBlanca's art journalling project, so I think increased creativity is on the cards! Hurrah!


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