Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deceitful Rain

Today's image is taken from Black and White, which is also the Read of the Day.

Read of the Day

Black & White: photography from the Chesapeake watershed

I must confess myself to be a huge fan of the photo-blog. Much less wordy that us wordsmiths are, the central message of the day is conveyed through one shot, one image.

What I like especially about Black and White - which I found entirely by chance while doing an image search for the word gibbous on Google - apart from the hauntingly good images (check out 7521 miles from Bethlehem, his Christmas Day post), is that occasionally Bill Emory will do a little bit of both show and tell.

Go to this page in his archive and scroll down to the entry for September 26th. Read this post, which is the first contact I had with his site, about his father's death. This is one of the most beautiful things I've read in 2006.

Tomorrow we head for Devon for the New Year, to stay in gorgeous cottage in Lynton/Lynmouth. On one hand I'm disappointed not to be travelling down today and staying longer, but on the other, I'm rather relieved not to have any expectations of myself with a hangover either!

I've spent the most relaxing first day of my holidays recovering from a hangover. I've been reading Banksy's Wall and Piece, which I highly recommend for your daily shot of urban subversion. Then I decided to update my Links List on The Daily.

When I went to the site, I saw a button that said 'Customise' and I fell down the rabbit-hole into a bit of an Alice in Wonderland experience. Turns out you can do all sorts of cool stuff to your blog, so while I was doing the links........

....I changed everything else as well. In fact, I spent a couple of hours doing just that. I hope you like the new and improved Daily as a result, and apologies that some of the past posts are now a little bit difficult to read, but it will all come out in the wash.

Customising the Daily was almost as much fun as customising Google, but as Blogger doesn't have Frogger (ooh, that's nice...), then Google just wins.

I'm a bit nervous about my twenties style phone-ins of the blog that I have planned while in Devon, but you never know until you try.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. Sleeping late (all the Dr Hook fans go: Doo doo dooo doo doo doo!)

2. Rainy mornings and a mist over the sea

3. Dark falling early

Friday, December 29, 2006

The wisdom, wit and wonder of Miss Sally

This picture is of the Witch's Head Nebula (apparently a nebula refers to cloud of gas or dust in space) which is about 1000 light years from Earth and sometimes goes by the less poetic name of IC 2118.

G got me the book of the Universe for Christmas, which contains hundreds of images just like this one and is, with almost every other one of my Christmas presents, one of my new favourite things.

I'm introducing a new feature: Read of the Day.

It's something that I've read or am reading that I have a desperate need to share with you. One of my main reasons for starting this feature is that I've read less in the last six months than at any other part of my life. This has been partly due to workloads, but also just because I've gotten out of the habit and I think that I should hit myself repeatedly with hardbacks until I get back into it. Because there are few pleasures as pure as reading (or at least few pleasures that don't involve you or someone else breaking into a sweat.)

Today's Read of the Day

Sarra Manning's 'Pretty Things'

One glance at this book would tell you that Sarra's a teen writer, but please do not let that discourage you one little bit from reading this. Pretty Things tells the confusing, funny and touching story of 4 young people: Brie, Walker, Charlie and Daisy as they trip through a summer, a Shakespeare play and one another's beds. It's stylishly written, fast paced and funny. And my sister bought it for me for Christmas because she is naturally cooler than anyone else I know in the whole wide world. Straight up.

Back in the office today for a much better day than yesterday. I think we're all feeling a certain ennui over the whole Christmas phenomena. My stress levels fly up so easily, and I had a long conversation with the wise and wonderful Miss Sally about the stresses of change. The thing I like about Miss Sally is that she always calls it like she sees and feels it. I've never seen Miss Sally blag someone just because it would make her life, or anyone else's, easier. So when I'm lucky enough for Miss Sally to offer me advice, I strap myself in and listen.

"You know my first thought when I'm faced with change?" she asked, "It's: How do I make this work for me?"

Miss Sally gave me a conspiratorial grin, "And believe me, Sarah, there is always a way to make it work for you, no matter what the situation."

I love this piece of advice, mostly because, I realise, it's the dead opposite of what I normally do. What I normally do is get major league stressed out that things aren't going the way I want them to, or that things aren't fair, or that the situation is impossible. In short, I spend a lot of time looking at what I can't change, and what I can't influence and it's much later that I start thinking about the solutions or possibilities. In the meantime, a whole world of pain has usually taken shape.

So with the New Year looming up over us, I have decided that 2007 will be the year of making it work for me.

The rest of the day just kept getting better. I engaged in a little bit of conflict resolution with the Chief, who was a perfect boss at the exact moment it counted. After work we wandered into town to pick up copies of Mizz for the three of us. This isn't a usual ritual for us at the Ministry (we subscribe to more highbrow mags like Heat and occasionally Hello), but a special treat because.........drum roll please.........

Our own favourite Lisa Clark has a double page spread in this week's Mizz for her VERY SOON TO BE RELEASED BOOK


Don't worry because you can order a copy of your very own by clicking on the link above. Awesome. We cooed collectively about Lisa's article over a glass of white wine in Truffles on Castle Road, which is a sweet little place that is fast becoming one of my favourite haunts.

Back at home, I drank a little too much white wine and was asleep long before bedtime. A throughly satisfying start to my holidays.

Quotes Du Jour

There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.
Robertson Davies

He may be mad, but there's method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It's what drives men mad, being methodical.
G K Chesterton

Today's Beautiful Things

1. "The imagination in its loyalty to possibility often takes the curved path rather than the linear way." John O'Donohue

2. Live Lounge the Album - cannot get enough of it

3. The waxing gibbous moon

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes. J.M. Barrie

Tonight's picture, 'i liek music' is from Jinx Fulion, over at, which is rapidly becoming as addictive to me as my favourite blogs. An experimental photographer by trade, Jinx perfectly captures the disenchanted ennui that was my day. Check out her site over at DA and the rest of her work while you're at it.

I'm getting rather suspicious about the lurgy that is affecting everyone. I think it may be a new strain of illness released by the government to test our general health. Next will come arguments that the British gene pool is weakening and calls for eugenics measures from the last century.

Or I'm paranoid.

Back to work today and it was a bit of a suck-fest, and I don't mean the good kind.

The day started ebulliently enough with a text message from the Chief.

"Rise and shine, kritter, the holidays are over."

I was - and I know how sick this sounds - really glad to be going back to work. I took my new Christmas wand in and everything (I would love to show this to you, I really would - and as soon as I find a way, Dear Reader......) to share the magic. By midday though, I was having as sucky a day as any other post-Christmas returner, so I decided on the walk home that tonight's Daily would be about good things. Things that inspire me. Things that are new and positive and bright.

After all, my good mood this morning was genuine, I figure. It just wasn't very strong, and quickly overthrown by circumstance. I must beef up my moments of happiness with a kind of psychological steroid, so that they cannot be so easily conquered by things beyond my control. I feel all Hendered now.

First joyful thing is Scott Matthew's Dreamsong video, which I love, both for song and video.

I love this song almost as much, in fact, as I loved watching the solo Maccabee on Popworld's review yesterday - my Gosh, that boy was pretty. And his name's Orlando. You're damn lucky I managed to find him for you. Here's First Love. Oh, yes.

Isn't he pretty and soulful and indie and pretty? I saw the Maccabees last week, too, they were supporting the Delays, who were also fab. The Maccabees reminded me of a cross between the Kings of Leon and eighties punk. I think the lead singer, Orlando, is my new lovepunch.

Which reminds me, my sister and I spent the best part of Christmas day debating the real meaning of Emo - please share your views if you're an indie kid with a stake in this debate.

By luck more than judgement tonight, I found Neil Gaiman (one of my favourite writers and all round cool chap) has his own blog! If you like fantasy and gentle, highly intelligent Englishmen (he now lives in Minnesota), add his blog to your daily haunts.

Ok, I know I said happy stuff, and really this item is for the feminist blog that Shon and I are currently discussing launching in the new year, but I really want to tell you about the article by Julie Bindel in the Guardian from a couple of weeks back. Check the link to read it, and thanks to the ever pioneering Shonagh for forwarding the newsletter of the fabulous Lilith Project, which brought this article to my attention.

Last of all, our quotes du jour:

Anyone who works is a fool. I don't work - I merely inflict myself upon the public. Robert Morley

It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.
Freeman Dyson

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

The secret of happiness in not in what one likes to do, but in what one has to do.
James M Barrie

Today's Beautiful Things
1. Walking home in quiet, dark streets

2. Still the food

3. Thinking of Lofoten

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let your days be bright


I know I did, in the end! I had the craziest Christmas week, I think, in the history of my life so far. I spent a lot of the pre-Christmas week sobbing, wailing, feeling sorry for myself and generally acting out the harridan banshee. I had my peak on Christmas Eve, preparing for everyone to come to the Heights on Boxing Day, when I smashed my CD rack to smithereens in a fit of frustrated and overwrought temper.

"Everything happens for a reason," G said later as she surveyed the damage, "And I do like the CD's on that shelf."

Christmas Day was the perfect epiphany; the feeling of chaos was swept away as the day unfolded. There was a moment in the evening, when most people had gone home. My family and Kit Kat were half-watching TV, chatting and cooing over the novelty of their presents; Bean was dozing with a smile in his chair. I looked around me, saw for the first time in far too long how much I have, and saw with some embarrassment how hard I've been staring at the things I don't have, can't have, won't have, and, in the process, missing the important things.

Yesterday was another relaxing experience, back at the Heights for Boxing Day fun, catching up with my brother and his girlfriend, who had their own special Christmas in their new home this year. We played DVD games and Articulate - an example of how my brain falls apart in this game:

G: Ok, it's a place where a dog lives...

Me: A Bark!!

I have a Masters degree and everything you know.

Tonight's poem du jour from Massive Attack's hit, Teardrop. If you have a copy of this, find it; if you don't, buy it. Until then, you have the Daily.


[Liz Fraser]

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word
Fearless on my breath
Gentle impulsion
Shakes me makes me lighter
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

Nine night of matter
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

Water is my eye
Most faithful mirror
Fearless on my breath
Teardrop on the fire of a confession
Fearless on my breath
Most faithful mirror
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

Stumbling a little
Stumbling a little

And because I am just so damn good to you, here's the video, courtesy of YouTube.

Three Beautiful Christmas Things

1. Home

2. Moments of stillness and silence

3. My God, the food....the food.....