That sort of a day.

I have the day to myself. Bliss. I have a stack of  things to do. And so far I have done none of them. Instead I have foozled about with a few word games on Facebook, messed about on Twitter, drunk twice my usual intake of caffeine, and stared out of the window. As I type this (something I’ve been meaning to do for a few days), I have the second episode of the BBC4 series, In Their Own Words, British Novelists on in the background for company. I find the plummy accents of Doris Lessing and A.S.Byatt strangely comforting. I also like that this episode begins with the publication of The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The day feels strange though. Not quite real. Outside alternates between clouded gloom and blinding brightness. Autumn is beginning to makes its imminence felt. The roses have given up – the only colour in the garden at the moment comes from a few deepest purple buddleia, splashes of an orange flower that isn’t hemerocallis (I can’t remember what it is, and my husband isn’t here so cannot remind me), a few late honeysuckle, and the last of the apples out of reach in the tree at the bottom of the garden. Everything feels in between; everything is waiting for the signal for the next phase to begin, waiting for the bridge between Now and Then to be completed. I saw this in the sky yesterday evening, the ending of summer, the beginning of autumn. The sky was a metalled grey, and the sinking sun had left the valley depths; the woodland directly behind my garden was in dark green shadow. But the trees on the hillside behind were bathed in warmth of the last light of the sun (I love that phrase), glowing golden green – a startling contrast to the sky. And through the sky directly above arced a perfect rainbow. And then last night, the waning moon lit up the woodland, and a few constellations hung in a sky finally clear of clouds.  And it was cold. I shall miss the warm summer evenings.

I love looking at the night sky, although most of the time I don’t really know what I’m looking at, beyond a few of the constellations. But before the recent rains came, and before the moon was full, there was a perfect night, of such clarity as I rarely see, even in my sheltered valley. I went out; the air was chilled, and it seemed that only a few stars had spread their net of light. But more and more appeared, brightly small yet sharp against the blackness. Then more appeared, and still more, as my eyes adjusted in the darkness, and the trailing clouds of the Milky Way spun webs between star clusters far from this Earth. And as two shooting stars in quick succession blazed their trails in the south-eastern sky, it occurred to me to wonder how the stars might look from the Kingdom? I really should get on with those maps.

NB: The orange flower is crocosmia, my husband has informed me.

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Catching up.

May has been a challenging month. I’ve spent most of it enduring chronic back pain, which has involved a great deal of bad language, hobbling around with a stick, and more bad language. It has meant that I have been unable to spend very long at my desk, as sitting for too long resulted in being unable to stand easily. I’ve gone through anti-inflammatories, strong painkillers and a can of Deep Heat. Nice! But I’m much better now, and much happier for being able to move freely and easily. (And happier still for no longer smelling of Deep Heat…)

So while writing has been problematic, I’ve had more time to catch up with reading, generally while propped up against the wall, or the fridge. In no particular order then; A.S. Byatt’s The Matisse Stories, Françoise Sagan’s The Unmade Bed, Muriel Barbery’s The Gourmet, and this afternoon I whizzed through Andrew Losowsky’s The Doorbells of Florence. However, it’s been a long hot day and I have no desire currently to review them. I will say that if you love Françoise Sagan, you will love The Unmade Bed, and The Doorbells of Florence is just delightful.

Also delightful is the wisteria tangling over the front of the house, the aquilegia in pinks and purples in their medieval panoply, and the clematis that I’d forgotten about clambering over the water butt tucked in the corner of the back garden. I love summer, the impossible blue skies, the constant stream of birdsong. I’m not so keen on the heat – it makes me either stupid, cross or both. Oh dear! I can’t spend long in the sun, even with factor 50, as my pale skin frizzles. This year I have resorted to the stuff in a bottle in order to have a skin-coloured skin-tone. So far the effect is not orange…

In other news, since my back stopped trying to beat me up,  I have – at last! – rewritten La Nouvelle Cendrillon. Hooray and other jubilatory noises. It just needs the final polish, and then it goes back to the editor who requested it. One thing intrigues me though – what is in a name. When first I began to draft this story – October 2008 – with the idea of subverting a few fairy-tales with a sci-fi twist, it seemed a logically good idea that the heroine should be named Bella. Since then of course, Christine Meyer has been bent on taking over the world. So is it entirely co-incidental then that the only real editorial interest came after I changed Bella’s name? Or is that doing both my writing and the editor a disservice? And why does the word disservice look wrong? I think that I’d better stop now, or I’ll be going round and round and making myself dizzy. Time to close everything down and go to bed, so I can look forward to leaping out of bed in the morning, something I will never take for granted again.