I hear Christmas is coming soon. In a fit of domesticated semi-festivity I made magenbrot. I don't know whether I was lured toward this recipe because I have a thing for gingerbread-y things (particularly those of Swiss or German origins), or because the name translates as stomach-bread and I find that amusing.
Me: "Look! Look! I made you some stomach-bread while you were out!"
Passer-by: *look of confusion with mild undertones of horror*

Either way, it's delicious. Recipe here.
And now the present wrapping commences, because despite finally discovering the knack to that mythical art of foraging for the odd gift here and there over the course of a few weeks rather than leaving it all until...today, I have yet to wrap any of them. There's just something about present wrapping and its time-consuming finickiness that frustrates me, and that is probably why I am writing about stomach-bread while giving the odd sideways glance towards a hoard of gifts and a roll of Sellotape. It's mocking me, that Sellotape is, I just know it is.
Very merry happy <insert most applicable winter-celebration-thing here> to all. Here's hoping the Groke doesn't get you.



Pen karma got me the other day.
I have this habit of stabbing Biros into my hair at work. I think it's a waitress thing, stemming from the need to have some sort of writing implement always close to hand. Rather than scrabbling around like an unprofessional eejit, muttering "Just let me find that pen..." under your breath while a customer is rattling off at speed what feels like a hundred modifications to every meal order for a group of twelve, you can just pluck one from the bird's nest on your head.
Usually I'm quite well behaved, de-penning my hair at the end of the day (because functioning pens are rare creatures indeed), but on my way home the other week I found one still lurking there, like a stowaway making a break for freedom. I threw it in my bag, making a mental note to return it next day, thinking if I didn't then it'd burst at some point just to piss me off and punish me for stealing an oh-so-precious cheap Biro.
Turns out mental notes aren't that reliable. I never did return it. Turns out I was also right, because there is was: that inky, tacky mass all over the inside of my bag that can only signify a pen explosion.
Damn you, pen karma, damn you. But then, I suppose it is all my own fault, really, for tempting the wrath of the Gods of Cheap Biros. Lesson learned*.
* And that explains why there are now two more pens hiding out in my bag waiting to be returned to work... Eh, no one's perfect.



It seems I'm having gravity issues in relation to this blog-thing, so to remedy that I declare this a tentative - if slightly botched - attempt at re-establishing some form of anchor.

I keep writing half-things, see, and then stopping; or not stopping but more skipping on to the next, so things get tangled up in each other and all the boundary lines blur into a tangled mass of web-like clutter. There's one about really old dog biscuits; another about a long-dead crow; and something about the awkwardness of buying shoes and why it's an activity I really don't like. And then there are more half-written things, like the one about those imagined conversations you have with people you only half know, and that time the bathroom was duck-egg blue for a couple of weeks and how it connects to my intense dislike of that unsettling shade of white known as Magnolia.

But, for now, all I have is this here half-formed attempt at anchoring, and all this talk of anchoring and lack of gravity makes me think of floating in space and throwing anchors out to the ground below, which in turn reminds me of that Calvino tale from The Complete Cosmicomics. It's the first tale in the book, called The Distance of the Moon. You should read it, and the rest of the book, too, if you feel like it.

Now here's a short Pixar animation for your entertainment. I saw it earlier this year - I think it was being shown with Brave - and immediately it made me think of that Calvino tale. A quick t'interweb search confirms my suspicions that it was indeed influenced by The Distance of the Moon:

While we're at it here's another animation, found while searching for the first one, because you can never have too many animations, particularly ones based on strange tales:

And that's all I've got right now, so I'll be pulling up the anchor again and going for another wee space-swim (really I'm just off to draw a raven-crow bird-thing).



The sunshine lured me down to the river for a post-work walk yesterday, fuelled by out of date Nairn's chocolate chip oat biscuits and Grimes. I'm still on a Grimes kick, and it cannot be helped.
Some days I wish I lived closer to work, so I could walk all the way home rather than just the couple of miles to the next village, or the few more to the town after that.
I did earn myself some genius points, though, by doing that thing where you get on the bus and ask for a single to <insert destination>. And the bus driver looks at you in a confused manner, hesitating as he thinks things through (because <insert destination> is an unfrequented stop, neither here nor there, just somewhere in the middle) before informing you that he's going the other way.
I blame the out of date biscuits.



listening to grimes. lots and lots of grimes.

Reading the end of Mervyn Peake's Mr Pye, I came across this little gem; a little gem I kind of wish I'd come across three years back when I was writing my dissertation, because it touches upon something that was possibly, in some tangential way, at the core of what I was trying to explore (not that I really knew what I was trying to explore, but that was part of my point, too):
"After all, if one cannot fail with a smile one might as well 
not fail at all. Failure is glory, you see. It is success that 
looks so tarnished and jaded the next morning. It is failure
that keeps its freshness. Failure is the thing. Success is
finite, but failure is infinite. It is all rather wonderful, really."
so says Mr Pye in Mr Pye, Mervyn Peake. p.235
Think about it.
In a sense, I suppose my small brain-lump connects it to the importance of playing (particularly in terms of keeping the enjoyment in all that creative malarkey) in order to keep re-seeing all that's around you. And this act of re-seeing is vital - or so I believe - because it maintains a state of flux. It keeps us inquisitive and questioning, causing us to constantly reassess what we think we know and accept, which in turn results in unlearning and relearning and the evolution of knowledge, not to mention the growth of ourselves as living things relating to this world. So, in its own particular way, failure keeps things from getting stagnant. Failure is the freshwater flow.
Say, for example, you were building a house out of matchsticks (sans glue, because glue would be cheating) and that house keeps falling over as soon as you've nearly finished. If failure is infinite and fresh, then instead of getting disheartened you'd see the sudden collapse as a chance to build it again in an entirely new way. Each collapse is an opportunity to experiment with something different, to try a new approach. If you'd succeeded on the first attempt then that would be it: you'd have built your house the once, in the one style, and you'd be sat there in that same matchstick house, possibly getting a bit bored or succumbing to a serious case of cabin fever. You'd stop seeing the brilliance of your matchstick home, and that initial sense of amazed satisfaction at succeeding in building your little shack will dwindle to nothing. You might even forget why you decided to build it in the first place, and why you're still there. Inertia could seep in, spreading like a fever and contaminating every aspect of your vision of life.
But if you keep failing you get to keep playing and learning, and the possibilities of making something out of such small building blocks are endless. Failure allows you to draw from all that's been learnt from the previous attempts. Externally you may be building a house out of matchsticks, but internally you're plotting and filling in a library of knowledge gained through the acts of trial and error and play, and it's this inner library that influences each and every subsequent house you make. Every time you start anew, you begin - whether consciously or subconsciously - by tapping in to the unseen traces and indents of all that has been before, as if you're layering up an elaborate network of foundations mapped out on transparent paper until you find, shining through the mass of tracings, not only the lines that offer the best fit for your newest ambition, but also which lines to avoid. It's as if failure offers you a method of deciphering a tangle of potentials. Maybe you could build yourself a whole bloomin' mountain to live under - or on top of, followed by a dragon-shaped houseboat on an endless matchstick sea, and even a tree house in some subterranean jungle.
Failure can keep things alive and interesting, and it might not really be failure after all. I suppose it all depends on which end of the telescope you view it from, since each end offers an entirely different perspective. Or it might not be a telescope at all but more of a kaleidoscope impregnated with your own imagination. Maybe, in a way, failure can give us kaleidoscopic vision; a source of endless possibilities and rearrangements and all that. Maybe, just maybe, it makes things that little bit more metaphorically and literally colourful, and offers a certain immunity to inertia. I don't fully know, in all honesty. My brain-lump is but small, after all.
But I do know that I now have an urge to build a full-scale tree house out of tiny matchsticks. With windows made of kaleidoscopes. I'd live in a house like that, until it falls down, that is, and I get to rebuild it as a lighthouse with kaleidoscopic beams.
I bloomin' love Mervyn Peake. And with that I am retreating back to my hole to draw wolves. And tomatoes. Not together, mind, though not because I'm against wolves and tomatoes co-existing. They just happen to be two separate illustrations.