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31 August 2009

It's official...






Helsinki (my daughter) and I, last week, received identical, rather mysterious postcards from the maison communale last week, requesting that we come in and get new ID cards. I was particularly mystified because I'd renewed my 5-year card last year. But it turns out that we were asked to do this because my Belgian naturalization application has gone through, and -- without any further pomp or circumstance -- we are approved! We are going to be naturalized Belgians! Happily, we can retain our US citizenship, so I guess that makes us Belgo-Americans. Which is a little eerily reminiscent of the makers of SpaghettiOs, but nevermind. (Non-Americans, see here for what I'm talking about.)

28 August 2009

Writing in bed








I am alone in the apartment. I was alone last night when I went to bed and alone when I woke up. I can't remember the last time this happened. I have to stop writing for a moment and think about it....

No, nothing. Maybe the year before last.

I wrote/worked on poems in bed for a couple of hours, then got up and showered. I've mailed off the release for the two accepted poems and I've heard nothing more from the magazine so I assume all is moving forward. As a result of this acceptance I am wondering what else could I submit, a rather inspiring wondering, so I'm not working on the novel again until school starts. I'm going on a course in November and my goal is to have some semblance of a word count by that time. But there's plenty of time. Until then it's poetry time. Especially today when I have no external obligations apart from (what else) a trip to the grocery store and later -- oh, much later -- to collect my daughter and friend from their day camp.

26 August 2009

Rainbow in 3 Parts

It's amazing what you can do with a couple of free hours. This afternoon I synchronized all of the line edits I've been making, which has been happening here and there, if and when, for the past few weeks. I'm meant to make a submission to my writer's workshop, so it was a good time to get re-acquainted with my desk.

The rainbow is from Monday night. It has taken me three days to get the camera to the computer. This rainbow was so big, I had to photograph it in three parts. It didn't last for very long, but it was the biggest, most complete rainbow I've ever seen.

Not half bad

I got up early to write this morning but felt all fuzzy and had no momentum, so I crawled back under the covers and laid there for a while, not quite awake and not asleep or dozing, and not quite daydreaming. When I felt I had had enough of that, I turned the light on low and worked on a poem.

I don't know what is the best way to write a poem (OK, except for the kind that just comes all in one lump), but in bed, under the covers, very early in the quiet of a cloudy summer morning, is not half bad.

25 August 2009

Want to clear your bookshelves, but don't know where to start?

Scott Pack has posted a great set of criteria.

Come back, Leo!

I've discovered some strange things using Google Analytics and today was no exception. Today I found this blog had had two hits from three rotten things. I followed the link, rather dreading that one of my posts was going to be listed as a rotten thing. But instead I found that ceci n'est pas une cuisine (CNPUC?) is on three rotten thing's blog roll.

Rather chuffed, I skimmed through the 3RT blog. All too quickly, however, I realized that the blog was no longer live -- created earlier this year to "balance out" the 3BT sites (the Three Beautiful Thing type sites), barely one month into its life, Leo, the author, gave up.

Oh but why, Leo, why did you leave it? I wish I had found your blog sooner. I would put it on my blog roll. Your 3 rotten things were not rotten at all... fruit flies in the middle of winter, the crunch of very cold snow, realizing that you are the geezer at the end of the road... But I would love you just for this if nothing else:

A big, black button pops from Matt's coat sleeve and it makes tinny little sounds on the hard tiles, as it dances and jigs and skips away from us. Run, little button, run!
(from Saturday, 31 January)

Do you think I could persuade you to start again?
















Come back, Leo!


photo: The author of three rotten things, from his blog.

24 August 2009

My first Ashes


The BF and I were lucky yesterday -- popped into the Old Inn pub in time to catch the end of the test match and England's win. There was one young Australian guy at the bar, keeping up a brave face even as we waited for the last wicket. As for the English, there were about 12 men (one with a girlfriend, sitting next to him reading a newspaper) and they all stood up and cheered when the last ball was caught. Later everyonel clapped as Andrew Strauss raised the Ashes urn, a tiny thing about 6 inches high.... You just couldn't help it.






photo © Getty Images from cricinfo.com

22 August 2009

Swallows and Amazons


I am reading this (British) childhood classic for the first time. A little summertime regression, perhaps, but so what. Some of the middle class references grate -- Nurse, for instance, is always being given Baby -- but it does make me yearn to sail to a deserted island and cook scrambled eggs over a fire. With mugs of tea, of course.

21 August 2009

Back to school... the anti-climax


No, we aren't quite back to school yet but the other day I received a call from one of the schools we'd been wait-listed at for all of last year, telling me that Helsinki (oldest daughter) has a "fortement" chance of getting in there. I was a bit ashamed to have to say we'd already enrolled in another school. I apologized and fobbed it off as having happened "right before the holidays". But actually I did it on purpose. I was curious to see if we'd get a call or not, having been no. 169 on the "hors-commune" waiting list. (That means, we were not in the same commune as the school.)

It was nice to know we would have had a safety option. I am still getting emails from the "Angry Parents" group, which still seems unable to come up with anything constructive. Surely there is not much to complain about now, if those of us who were 169 on the hors-commune lists are getting phone calls. They'd be better to come up with a coordinated plan for future enrollments, instead of wringing their hands about this year's "rentrée." If it doesn't prove to be the disaster that they predict, they'll lose any credibility they have gained...






School photo credit: CopID libre non marchand © 02/2007 Alm & Walk Galerie
WALMA 3.4 pour SPIP 1.9.2

20 August 2009

Coffee collection VIII

























I am allowed to use this for educational purposes. Thank you, Lokesh Dhakar! Source: http://www.lokeshdhakar.com/

19 August 2009

I should have bought this in Brittany

















I thought we would go back to Auray again but we didn't. There were many beautiful things at the Galerie Terre et Feu, where the girls confused the owner by speaking a mix of American and British English with me and each other, then perfectly accented French with her. You can't really blame her, most English speakers down there don't seem to try very hard to speak French. There are English versions of menus everywhere. I tried not to be offended when these were offered.... On one menu "crudités" was translated, most excellently, as a salad of "rawnesses". But as The Youngest asked for a potholder "for the heatness", there must be some sort of logic to the construction.

18 August 2009

A bit of fun for the end of the summer
















Arvon (Lumb Bank location shown above) is running a Seven Day Summer Challenge. Winners will be published on the Arvon blog and five winners will receive surprise books, so why not get cracking?

The Arvon Seven Day Summer Challenge

Take a blank sheet of paper. Write for ten minutes non-stop. Do not stop at any point. If you can't think of anything to write, simply write that - "I Can't Think What To Write!". After ten minutes, stop. Read your writing. (Enjoy being surprised about what you write.) Then pick your favourite sentence from your writing. Highlight it. Keep it safe for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, write yesterday's favourite sentence at the top of the page and repeat what you did then, starting with that line. Again, after ten minutes, stop. Read your writing. Pick your favourite sentence. Keep it safe.

The next day, start with yesterday's favourite sentence and repeat, and so on...

After seven days, you will now have your Seven Favourite Sentences. Assemble these as a poem or a short prose piece and email to competition@arvonfoundation.org. We will present the best on the Arvon Blog and five winners will each receive surprise books. Submit your writing by September 1st.

17 August 2009

Much better than the usual bills and adverts

Came home from two weeks of holiday last night and guess what was in the mailbox? No, it wasn't a kitten.... (Though a friend of mine has this one to give away). It was an acceptance letter! And for not just one but two poems. I really couldn't believe it. I had only opened the envelope to get the rejection over with.

Publication will be on 10 October. Full details and links when it happens.

I think I deserve a dolphin sticker for this.

03 August 2009

Have you got a story to tell?

The BBC is searching for "the most remarkable real-life stories in the UK." The best stories will be made into short films and shown on BBC One. (thanks to VE for the tip)