Thursday, 28 March 2013


Basket cases.  
My chickens are obsessed with Jemima Puddleduck and Benjamin Bunny.

I reckon if Beatrix were a screenwriter in 2013 instead of an eccentric in 1920, the previews for her work would come with this parental warning:

This film contains scenes of egg-based peril, plus what follows is mostly about pinafores, whatever the hell they are. The rest is just crazy narrative wandering. 

Happy chocolating to all those who partake in the seasonal egg wander.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


There is a sand dune on the road to Fort Sumner.

The surrounding terrain is a devil's playground of parched red dirt and parched blue sky, punctuated by the mesquite tentacles bursting from the Earth like petrified zombie fingers.

When I drive by the sand dune, I have to wonder where humans have gone, or if they still exist.

View from the dune (Susan Merle).
Fort Sumner is where William Antrim and pals returned to dust. There is a dry gulch and a dry lake; dry homestead ruins, and everywhere the ghosts of water. If NASA sent a probe here instead of to Mars, it would return the same result: ingredients to support life may have once existed. Almost. 

In a past life down a different road, I couldn't leave my door without running into masses of people. There were people in the hall, people in the lift, people on the sidewalk, people in the train. Somehow in all that heaving, rain-drenched sea of people I never got tired of people.

In a past life, I used to say that I had no interest in going to space. Visiting Mars would be silly, because there wouldn't be any people there. I couldn't imagine a more unspeakably lonely feeling than setting foot on the moon, then turning around to catch a glimpse of the human Earth so very far away.

In a past life, I didn't realize that you don't always have to leave the Earth to find yourself on the moon.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The waiting place

I'm a regular at the airport arrivals gate, because I'm married to a traveller.*

Home, where my love lies waiting (image by Smilla4).
While I wait, the heavens part. Megaliths to soar into the homeward blue, and tiny jets to brave the turbulence of time and space.

Above my head, plane-speak is dispensed without innuendo. Plastic tray tables dance the can-can, and deplanees lean forward in their seats to catch glimpses of familiar earth.

On the ground, landing crew ants scatter and jetways waltz. Runways jam, clear, jam, clear. Finally, as if by the grace of God, flood gates open and planes are de-planed.

I'm fond of the arrivals gate. Here I see grizzled cowboys grip returning sweeties with the most gentle tenderness imaginable. I see homebody grandmothers run like spring lambs into the waiting arms of wanderlust offspring. Here, I see kids get swept up into the stratosphere by their fathers, then showered with foreign chocolate and currency.

When someone loves you, they put up with all your crap. And if they really love you, they share all their own crap with you too. In this big lonely world of machines and logistics and efficiency, such a life of shared crap is truly a remarkable thing.

*I'm a traveller too, but I'm currently in remission.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Spring ramble

Yesterday I purchased an entire case of Samoas, the ultimate Girl Scout cookie, with no shame or regret.

Today is Mothering Sunday in Britain. On this one precious day per year, British mums are honored with flowers and pub lunch.

It had better be a good pub lunch, because it is meant to compensate for a lifelong commitment to having the precarious finances of a gambler, the mobility restrictions of a prison inmate, and the ruined figure of a Samoas-abuser.

I miss Britain in the spring: snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses, tentative returning smiles. I miss muddy walks, ale, grumpy publicans, and my children's vanished English accents. I don't miss handing over my kidneys to a landlord once a month, but I sure do miss the NHS.

In my new-ish land, I have access to Girl Scout cookies ad Boy Scout popcorn by the ton. So when I miss my other home, I can medicate with Samoas.

Happy Mothering Sunday to my friends across the water. Chin up. Go forth and multiply.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Molehillian Mountains

Out on an afternoon walk, I found an old friend in the dusty road.

In Britain, you call them 'dummies'. In America they are 'pacifiers'. For some reason, our family name became 'nuka'.

Fork stuck in the road.
Ali was addicted to nukas. Even devoted crackheads agreed that she needed to ease off, but the habit stayed strong even as she flew through her third birthday.

I devised a story about the Nuka Fairy - a cousin of the Tooth Fairy, who exchanged old nukas for sweets. Ali, never a turnip, knew it was rubbish.

Shrewdly, she began stashing nukas where the Nuka Fairy wouldn't find them. Less shrewdly, she forgot her own hiding places. In moments of panic, she screamed at mama for replacement nukas NOW.

Strangely soothing. 
One day, tired up to my eyeballs of being a nuka-slave, I snapped. I banished all nukas from the house and told my screaming kid to put a sock in it.

The kid only took a week or two to forgot all about the damn things, and I had to wonder why I agonized over the situation for so long.

A nuka is a pretty stupid nemesis. But in the surreal netherworld of parenting, there are so many tiny obstacles just like this, that feel for all the world like ginormous mountains at the time. Often I find it's only when I give up trying so damn hard that my tiny mountains blow away.

My nemesis nuka, once a destroyer of worlds with the power of Sauran and Satan combined, now it looked pretty wimpy to me. And quite delicious to my dogs.

Bear Dog chewed it to smithereens, proving that dogs have no taste...I mean, they will actually lick cow poo. This is fitting, because the only creature with possibly less taste than a dog is a cow.