Sunday 13 January 2019

small victories

I had an abscess in my gum last week, and tried lancing it and keeping it clean by gargling with salt water (urk) and whiskey (yes!). Sherry Jim suggested applying mouldy bread, for its penicillin effects, but I didn't, because I don't have any mouldy bread, and because, well, just because.

But it didn't go away, so I  took myself off to the dental hospital in Bristol where you can go if you don't have a dentist of your own and it constitutes an emergency; and while I didn't think it was quite an emergency, I'd read up enough to know that you should tke these things quite seriously, and it was getting worse...

So I got to be looked at by some dental students, under the supervision of more senior folk, and they pulled out the problematic tooth and made a very good job of it too, and the whole thing was as cheerful and friendly as you could ever hope for. Thank you, Bristol dental hospital!

I was fit for nothing much but bed by the time I got back to the boat, and the next morning was still extremely lacking in get up and go. So it seemed like an ideal time to try a jigsaw.

Some friends had seen my picture of the badger at Avoncliff, and asked if they could use it for a jigsaw, as a present for somebody. I was happy for them to do that, and as a thank you, they gave me one of the jigsaws. I felt rather daunted by the prospect of 500 pieces of mostly blue, and I gave it to Mal, who likes this sort of thing.

Then I got thinking about what someone was incredibly active as Mal gets out of doing a jigsaw, which I always rather thought of as a good picture spoiled. Is it a hygge thing? Mindfulness? Obviously I loathe and detest both these terms, and so would she, I'm sure, if asked, but you know what I mean.

I have an old Victory jigsaw, found in my favourite charity shop in Bath (the women's refuge shop, opposite the Bell on Walcot Street). I like it because it's a nice picture and especially because of those flying boats rumbling over Queen Mary, presumably in the Solent.

Finding enough space on my desk to start with meant a fair bit of reshuffling. I picked out the most distinctive bits and made headway with the ship's bridge and foredeck area.
Mental state: moving from o fuck, there's pieces everywhere to ha! It's starting to come together!

I put the flying boat together, and examined it closely. Three engines, RAF, a single tailfin (as far as I can make out). Perhaps a Short Rangoon? - though those engine nacelles look rather long and boxy. 
Mental state: a bit excited about the flying boat, but frustrated that I can't identify it with certainty. But I must accept this inability with fortitude. Life doesn't always turn up the answers.

Presently, I was cracking on at a great pace, and all the foreground was coming together at a rate of knots. It felt good.
Mental state: positive and enthusiastic. I think this is the stage of the jigsaw that corresponds to The Magician in the Tarot's major arcana. With hindsight, I was setting myself up for a tumble.

O god, this sky took for ever. I selected all the obvious edge pieces and juggled them until they formed a border. It was a bit of a slog, to be honest. 
Mental state: resignation and fortitude. Like being in the middle of Dartmoor when it's blowing a hooley and has just started to rain. It's not exactly fun, but what can you do but keep on doing?

Look! A vic of three more flying boats, Short Rangoons or whatever they may be.
Mental state: rather chirpy. I do like the thought of a formation of flying boats rumbling overhead. Concentrate, Dru, concentrate.

In time, the holes shrank, and it became progressively easier to locate each new piece by matching it with the holes. The end was in sight.
Mental state: you're finally coming down off the moor, and the sun's broken through, and there's a pub just down the lane.

And there it was, finished! I'm not a quitter after all, and my life will be better from now on.
Mental state: Hmm, nice pic. Not going to do that again.

Thursday 10 January 2019

the Barn Owl at Diggers

I'm moored near the Dundas aqueduct. A very sociable spot, with good folk all around (and the occasional miserable scrote, like the dogwalker who let his dog piss on my POETRY ART BIKE REPAIRS sign and on my bike trailer while I was standing there going OI! Some of the natives round here are not very nice, and dislike boaters. Hey ho). Ding Dong and Sherry Jim are moored next to each other, and Ding asked me to pick up some vodka and tomato juice from the shop at the garage, whither I was cycling to get some eggs. There was no tomato juice, so I got three tins of Heinz tomato soup, and joined the party for a nutritious Bloody Mary.

At night it can be so still that when a muntjac deer barks in the woods, it echoes all along the valley as though you were in a deep cave. Sometimes in the small hours I lean out of the hatch and watch the stars, failing to see any falling.

It's a good spot for wildlife watching. From here, we've often watched the barn owl hunting the scrubby slopes on the other side of the valley, perfect territory for voles. Sometimes you'll se a fox wandering up the hill, or a roe deer bound out of cover and then back into the woods at the far side of the field. 

I started this picture ages ago, based on a sighting of the owl on a September evening when the last of the sunlight was slanting across, lighting up the newly-blossoming Old Man's Beard so that it was like May come again. It's still bright now, with frost. But the colours of the valley have turned to olives and browns and russets.