Thank you year


For those of you who are settling down to write this year’s thank you letters, you might be inspired by this lady in Hermann Fenner-Behmer’s “De Quoi Ecrire?” and grab a jaunty hat, fur stole and glass of wine. Or how about Gina Hamaday, who for this year has written one thank you note a day in themes for or each month: school teachers and mentors, former bosses, friends and beloved authors. Read more about it at Gina’s Instagram page “thank you year”.

You are living the dream (and blog of the week)

Putting pencils in the kids’ Christmas stockings reminds me of Ben’s fourth birthday, when our friend Daniel asked him if anything special had happened yet and Ben said, with his little eyes glittering with excitement, “Well, Daniel. Yes. I got juice without any water in it.” “Juice without any water in it!”, Daniel said. “You are living the dream.”

The excellent gift guides and game recommendations are only one reason that I’m enjoying the new to me blog, Ben and Birdy. The writing is the other! Happy Birthday to my mother, who is also happy with small presents to mark the day. 

my IKEA wine rack


For this Michelangelo commission I had great fun yesterday trying to convey the sound of metal ladders being pulled up from the damned as pictured in The Last Judgment and that of angels’ long-stemmed trumpets knocking the heads of the elect. I found the right sound for this latter action by bouncing the bowl of a ladle against the top of my IKEA wine rack…

Attrib. from “Attrib. and other stories” by Eley Williams. The Angel isn’t not Michelangelo at all, but I imagine the sound of trumpets knocking would be quite golden so I decided this angel might be a better fit.

When I think about you


what I call you

when I think about you

and you are not there:

my wild-strawberry

my sugar-lizard

my comfort-bag

my sugar-spinner

my care-chaser

my aurelia

my stone-flower

my slumber-child

my morning-child

my full-forgetter

my window-bar

my moon-hider

my silver staff

my evening glow

my sun-thread

Friedericke Mayrocker. What words would you use? Art by Lakshmi Hussain, whose art you can buy via her site here, or just follow her Instagram feed @thislakshmi

Early morning

Very early morning. The sun was not yet risen and the whole of Crescent Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist. The big bush-covered hills at the back were smothered. You could not see where they ended and where the paddocks and bungalows began…there was nothing to mark which was beach and and where was sea. A heavy dew had fallen. The grass was blue. Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow garden were bowed to the ground with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuschias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It looked as if the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though one immense wave had come rippling, rippling – but how far? Ah-aah, said the sea.

Katherine Mansfield – The Bay; photo from my visit to Oregon Cannon Beach last year.


Every Eye

How lovely it was to be alive and walking up the village street at ten o’clock in the morning. I curved the soles of my feet luxuriously over the mottled cobbles, round as turkeys’ eggs, that had been brought up from the sea shore maybe fifty years ago, and felt the heat of two hours’ sun stored in them.

Every Eye by Isobel English – an intriguing novel that interleaves the story of a woman’s new marriage (moving backwards from the departure in honeymoon to the first meeting) with her remiscences (moving forwards from 14 to 33), the mysteries unravelling as she goes.

A time of green things

I think of that time of year as a time of green things. Green like me, and unlike the city. Around the same time as the green melons, fruit sellers started to sell yesil erik, green plums…


My first year in Istanbul I didn’t understand the plums. They are small, almost like oversized cherries, and hard. The second year we sit in the heat with whiskey and a saucer of salt in a spot where we can see the Bosphorus flow. Take a plum, bite a piece out, and dip the wet opening into the salt – just so, not too much. Now take another bite. Now a sip of whisky. The salt and the cold tart flesh and the smoky liquor and the ships that go by with their red – blue – grey containers packed high like a child’s wooden blocks do make sense. I begin to laugh. Now, I look forward to the green plums each year.

Green plums in FARE Istanbul. Image by @niftyswank

To us who bought oranges


My husband died in Rome, in the prison of Regina Coeli, a few months after we left the Abruzzi. Faced with the horror of his solitary death, and faced with the anguish which preceded his death, I ask myself if this happened to us – to us, who bought oranges at Giro’s and went for walks in th snow.

Natalia Ginzburg, “Winter In Abruzzi” (1944). Republished in the essay collection The Little Virtues, and reminiscent of “Maman, what are we called now?”