Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Canon

Mary, my exneighbour and fellow blogger, kindly passed this award my way. In return I must tell about a few things that I love. Mary did a great job of this herself, describing in loving detail her old black shoes and her leg-warmers, and I am going to carry on in that prosaic vein.

I read, recently, in the book of Seamus Heaney interviews (Stepping Stones) this quotation: ‘Love is not gazing at each other wistfully, but looking in the same direction.’ I have a tendency to use the word ‘love’ in the gazing wistfully sense about anything from a dress to a bowl of soup. What I really mean is I admire, lust after, am hugely impressed by, whatever has grabbed my attention; it is having some enjoyable effect on one, or more, of my five senses. But that’s not love. It may lead to love once the excitement has died down, but love is about longevity not instant sensual gratification; it may be great to look on something beautiful but you’re going to want to get on and do something else eventually. Love is something to do with shared purpose, shared vision: harmony. When it comes to non-human entities, therefore, the ones I love are those that help me on my way. And here, in an order of no hierarchical intention, are a few of them:

My washing machine: I don’t want to smell and I don’t want to look like a bag lady. Neither do I want to spend hours hand-washing my thick-knits. I have been discovered by my great task* and it consumes time. My washing machine has a hand-wash programme that mimics the most talented laundress, it has never shrunk or mangled a single item of my clothing even though I have tested it to the endth degree. This allows me to get on, fragrantly.

My mini trampoline: Most days I can be found sitting at my desk writing, and most evenings sitting in my armchair reading. Neither require much movement. I don’t like to be taken away from them for too long but I have noticed that reading becomes difficult and writing becomes impossible if they are all I do. A bit of fresh air and frantic movement solves the stagnation problem, so my mini trampoline is a real boon. It lives in my shed so I don’t have to go far to use it, and about three or four times a week I spend an hour or two happily bouncing to music. When I get back in I find almost all my erstwhile, apparently insurmountable, problems can be tackled with ease and many will have evaporated completely. An added bonus is that I no longer sit in a pool of my own flesh.

My hand-blender: Suddenly velvety smooth soups are easy, mayonnaise is a breeze, and my favourite lunch – banana soya-milk smoothie zinging with chili – can be made directly in the glass, so washing up is halved. All in all it saves a huge amount of hassle. I inherited this from my late mother-in-law which somehow gives it added resonance.

My fridge-freezer: I have two hungry men to feed. I want to feed them and I want to feed them well. I could easily see myself spending hours in the kitchen trying to make delicious, nutritious meals from cheap ingredients, every day. But, thanks to the freezer part of the fridge-freezer I don’t have to; it’s just as easy to make a huge batch of soup, stew, or pasta sauce and freeze them in meal sized portions for other days, so this is what I do. It means I don’t have to choose between my family and my work which would be like trying to choose between my heart and my lungs.

My computer:
I don’t think a day goes by without me feeling immense gratitude to whoever invented the computer. I’m pretty sure that without it I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Imagine having to redraft by hand, or even on a typewriter: rubbers and Tippex, who needs them? On a computer whole blocks of text can be moved around the page; I can play about with punctuation and syntax; change the form of a poem in the blink of an eye; nick bits from earlier work; skit about from page to page or piece to piece. Work is play with no fear of getting it wrong, because on a computer you actually can undo, and all these possibilities for exploration and experimentation mean more chance of eventually getting it right. I can also have several projects on the go at once without living in a storm of paper, everything I ever wrote is stored, and easily accessed, in this one little box. Not only that, but with fast internet access I rarely have to go anywhere: most of my research, and shopping, can be done right here at my desk. And, of course, one of the best things about it is that I can be in contact with like minded people all over the world any time of the day or night without having to make arrangements or spend any money. Poverty is not an obstacle in the cyberworld.

Update: my memory has just been jogged by a visit to Scarlet's place: I am supposed to pass this award on, to how many others I don't know, so I will choose: the lovely Scarlet herself, Hoodchick, Jane (although I'm not sure how she will fit love into the theme of her blog but she's a poet so I'm sure she'll manage it), Savannah, and Conan,because I would love to read their takes on the subject should they wish to accept.

*Have a look at Nietzsche's autobiography Ecce Homo for an explanation of this apparently pretentious term.


savannah said...

i love the way you look at things, sugar. ;) xoxo

PI said...

Thanks to you I no longer hand wash. Bless you!

debra said...

Now, I could love a washer that would do that. Mine is ancient and prefers dancing along the floor so that I can jump up from whatever I am doing and race to push the off button. Probably not as effective as a mini=trampoline. Our big trampoline is covered in now melting snow. It's future is questionable.

scarlet-blue said...

I am going to invest in a mini-trampoline... sounds great fun!
P.S Congrats for the award!

Piloting The Ship Of Fools said...

Now I feel guilty about my washing machine and fridge freezer too: they have worked hard for me and would no doubt feel so envious if they could read this. And I wish I had a mini trampoline too, though I suspect if I did, my kids would hog it.

I knew you'd do this proud!

Eryl Shields said...

Savannah ~ because there is a sense of shared harmony, I hope/believe/think... XXX

Pat ~ I discovered the goodliness of this function due to sheer laziness, and am glad beyond belief to have been able to share it with a friend. X

Debra ~ one day your old machine will give up the ghost, as mine did, and you will have no choice but to get a new one with this useful function.X

Scarlet ~ mine cost twelve quid from Argos, so I feel it was well worth the investment, let me know how you get on, if you are anything like me thirty seconds will kill you the first time. X

Pilot ~ hello, how lovely to meet you. And thank you for your faith. Luckily white goods haven't yet learned to read, or so I believe, give them a pat on the back though just in case.

My neighbours kids got bored with my mini trampoline within about sixty seconds because it doesn't really ping you into the air like a big one does, so you might find it left to you if you get one.

Jane Dearie said...

You're so right about everything, but the computer is my saviour! To be able to communicate with people from all around the world when I live in the back of beyond beyond (I meant to repeat the word), to be able to push words around with ease and without wasting paper - how did I cope without it?

Eryl Shields said...

Jane ~ When I first moved here it really did feel like beyond the back of beyond, beyond life itself. There was no one who looked, dressed, sounded, acted, or even thought like me, or so it seemed. I just kind of languished. Then I learnt to drive and that made a big difference, but not till the computer made itself felt and we got broadband did I really begin to feel myself again. I have great hopes for it's possible egalitarian qualities especially now prices are coming down and we really must stop using paper to the extent we still do, and stop driving around so much. I think cope is all we did before it, anesthetized by TV. The computer gives us back the ability to act, from wherever we are. Cripes, am I sounding rather evangelical!? It is a tool, of course, so everything depends on how we use it. But I don't think I could be without mine.

Coffee with Cathy said...

Great post. Absolutely agree with the computer, but the non-human entity I'm most in harmony with in my house is my lovely, lovely, lovely espresso machine. I love my espresso machine. It's definitely on my grab-in-case-of-fire list.

savannah said...

thank you, sugar! i am honored and will do my very best to be worthy! xoxox

Eryl Shields said...

Cathy ~ I'd love an espresso machine, they always look so fabulous for one thing, and I am addicted to lattes. Sadly I have neither the space nor the cash. One day...

Savannah ~ hurrah, I can't wait to read what you write. Love your new image! XXX

scarlet-blue said...

Now there's a challenge! Well two challenges... the mini trampolene and writing about love... erm... good job it's nearly Valentine's Day!
Many thanks for the Award!

Eryl Shields said...

I'm confident that you will meet both challenges head on! X

Brother Tobias said...

You must have a very high shed. I have to duck to enter most of mine. Bouncing in them would be out of the question.

Kanani said...

I'm grateful for my washer and dryer, though I don't know if it would qualify as love.
I also like my Kitchen Aid Mixer.
My car. I love car culture and when I can't drive I get awfully crabby.
Flush toilets -anything less would be barbaric.
My computer --yes it's made life busier but also more interesting.

Eryl Shields said...

Brother T ~ Hello, thanks for stopping by. How many sheds do you have? Mine has a very slanty roof so I bounce at the high end, I am also not very tall.

Kanani ~ You have a dryer in the heat of So Cal? I expressly didn't get one with a dryer function as I knew I'd be tempted to use it always and can't afford the electricity they consume. All winter I wish I had made the opposite decision!

Have you seen composting toilets, they're amazing?

Kim Ayres said...

I could have sworn I'd already commented here. Ah well. Wonderful list, Eryl :)

Eryl Shields said...

Hello Kim, glad you like it!

savannah said...

tomorrow, it is done. xoxo