house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Nerve, Neutral

'What's that man got?' Kira asks.
'Back problems.' Conversation closed.
'Something to do with his SPINE?' New word, new knowledge. Beams with pride.
'Something like that.' Conversation concluded once again.
'What? What?' Conversation re-opened.
Sigh. Small silence. Sigh.
'You know how your spine is made up of vertebrae?'
'You know, those disc-like things, like beads on a string, that make up your spine?'
'OH yeah, those.' Blank face.
'Well, two of those things got too close together and trapped a nerve.'
'A what?'
Explanation required. But what's a nerve? Quick, something.
'A nerve, you know. A nerve, well actually lots of nerves go to all the parts of your body like little feelers, and if something happens to your finger, let's say a thorn, they run all the way back to the spine and tell it about the pain of the thorn and all, and the spine takes the message to the brain and that's when YOU find out something's happened to your finger.'
'And then you look and take your hand away from the thorny bush and take the thorn out and pay more attention next time.'
'Ahhh. And if it's a fire?'
'The same happens. They quickly run with the message to your head. You get away from the fire. They tell the spine about any kind of pain.'
Something occurs to me. They're not such great things, nerves. All that pain, wouldn't it be better left alone, why does the brain, why do WE need to know in such detail about it? I conclude:
'They're not that great, nerves, are they?'
'Hmmmm', agrees Kira, deep in thought. Then:
'Don't they tell the brain about nice stuff too?'
Of course. Silly mother. Now thinking: warm bath. Salt and sand. Sunny meadow, the swishing of dry grass against the skin. Waves. Fingertips.
'They do. They do that too. Nice things, nerves, don't you think? Nice. Nasty. Nice again.'
Another new word lights up in Kira's eyes. The final word.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Curtain and the Sky

An acquaintance pops by and is duly shown around the alambique – our little home. This usually takes about 28 seconds: stand in THE room, look up, look around, you're done. The more adventurous climb up to have a peek at our beds and bookcases (another 20 seconds max).

Then we have the usual comments (ranging from 'oh how nice' to 'where's the loo') – and that concludes the tour.

This lady had something original to say: 'why don't you make a curtain for the velux?' This sole observation was repeated insistently and obsessively, using every synonym, conjugation, abbreviation or slang provided by the dictionary to cover the topic.

I wondered aloud if a curtain was really necessary. That was a mistake and produced another wave of information and advice. I hmmm-ed and nodded. It didn't stop her. Eventually I assured her I had a sewing machine and the ability to sew a curtain. She left.

I stood there looking at the Velux. It showed the olive tree outside, clouds, a flutter of birds, red sun. Why would anyone cover it with a bit of fabric?

Oh well. De gustibus non disputandum est. One person's curtain is another person's sky.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Pumpkin Plot and the Squash Squad

Harvest day at the quinta. The garden I watered all summer looks sad and spent. There are pumpkins in the brown leaves, a few dry beans, corn, some late tomatoes. Close by, horror: the pumpkins have deep cuts and grazes, one old courgette is chopped into bits and scattered to rot in the leaves. Gardening detectives arriving at the scene neeee-naaw neee-naaw.

We find the crime weapon: a matter-of-fact spade, tries to throw us with a fake alibi but the evidence is conclusive: there is pumkin juice on the blade, and a courgette seed stuck to the handle.

Needless to say, no witnesses, but soon we have a lead: Kira brought us a squash yesterday which proves her presence at the scene of the crime; soon, a suspect: Kira. We apprehend the said suspect without a fight and place her under preventive arrest (on kitchen bench 'and don't go anywhere!').

We decide on a bad cop / good cop approach for the interview, but in the event there's no need of a bad cop: the suspect confesses readily, almost proudly, to the crime. She had spotted the rotten courgette lying in the grass and decided that the entire harvest was suffering from an incurable disease that would have them – and eventually us – poisoned and writhing in agony. By wielding the spade she was saving them – and us – from a slow and painful death.

A swift sentence of community service is passed. Kira will have her own garden next year, to plant, weed and water daily, in the hope that such restorative activities will make her think twice about maiming or murdering the harvest.

What about the condemned pumpkins? A tentative solution presents itself: pumpkin and orange (and /or cinnamon?) marmalade. And who will grate the pumpkins and oranges? The accused. And who will sell the marmalade at the school fair next week? The accused. And what will the accused buy with the money? Seeds for her garden. And so on.

P.S. In the paragraph above, I think you can safely replace 'the accused' by 'the mother of the accused', but don't tell the bad cop.