how to irritate people just by being you

Today I took my first pottery class and my hands have that slightly dessicated feel: a rather pleasing raspiness that makes them feel used, as they do after a day's gardening.

As the only beginner in the class I found myself asking question after question about different techniques and their possibilities. And as the tutor gazed at me over her glasses, admiring my enthusiasm perhaps but wishing to god that I'd just calm down, I realised, yet again, that my need to map out an area in advance - to see the whole and then focus down on the detail - isn't always appreciated. 

Needless to say, I didn't produce a masterpiece. An adequately stable little bowl and a pinchpot that has a degree of internal integrity is the sum of my hours (all those questions to ask, you see). I'm having to damp down my perfectionist streak and see these next weeks as simple experimentation. And perhaps I'll try to be a little less annoying. But it was meditative and absorbing and has made my appreciation of master potters even greater. 

Sitting here overlooking the garden, I've just watched three full-grown swans chase each other down the little stream that separates us from their lake; blurring the air with their wings and sending drifts of leaves skywards. Although I need to head out soon to collect Joel from school, I'll brew a quick coffee to drink outside. To watch the birds as they move serenely now on the lake, in slow elegant circles, and imagine it's my hands turning clay on the wheel - turning it into something magical. 



Ten years ago, when she was eighteen and was not called Arrow, she borrowed her father's car and drove to the countryside to visit friends. It was a bright, clear day, and the car felt alive to her, as though the way she and the car moved together was a sort of destiny, and everything was happening exactly as it ought to. As she rounded a corner one of her favourite songs came on the radio, and sunlight filtered through the trees the way it does with lace curtains, reminding her of her grandmother, and tears began to slide down her cheeks. Not for her grandmother, who was then still very much among the living, but because she felt an enveloping happiness to be alive, a joy made stronger by the certainty that it would all come to an end. It overwhelmed her, made her pull the car to the side of the road. Afterwards she felt a little foolish, and never spoke to anyone about it.

Now, however, she knows she wasn't being foolish. She realises that for no particular reason she stumbled into the core of what it is to be human. It's a rare gift to understand that your life is wondrous, and that it won't last forever. 

Steven Galloway The Cellist of Sarajevo


quietly happy

Back in our own little house after several days staying in rather glamorous surroundings it's the pleasure of the familiar that has us excited. I'm happy to live at a gentler pace after the rush of these last few weeks and to enjoy looser days before school enforces its own routine. 

These first days of a new year always take some adjusting for me: I've only just dug out the new kitchen calendar. It's a ritual that I write in all the birthdays and important dates for the year - and a ritual still to be running to the postbox with a card at the very last minute and just hoping that our postal service will perform a miracle. And since I have a stock of cards always made, and envelopes and stamps and the dates faithfully written in my diary why should it still happen? I think because I feel I've already done the hard work. 

I hope this first week sees you settling in happily into 2012. 


a new year

He remembers the day the field burned,

not, he thinks, by accident.

Something deep within him said: I can live with this,

I can fight it after a while.


The terrible moment was the spring after his work was erased,

when he understood that the earth

didn't know how to mourn, that it would change instead.

And then go on existing without him.


 from Averno by Louise Glück


light can be both wave and particle

me, by Joel

Several years ago, I found myself stuck in the middle seat of the middle row of a jumbo when I'd expected to be in splendid isolation on the side aisle. Oh I was unhappy. Pinned in on both sides and unable to move my arms and legs my claustrophobia began to rise at the thought of the lengthy transatlantic flight. I determined that this was all a bad show and my bad mood radiated off me. I ignored my fellow passengers, scowling instead into my book. Time passed though my fury remained.

Suddenly the man beside me said 'it's true, y'know'. I blinked at him. He just smiled and repeated 'it's true - the book'. I was reading Ellen Gilchrist's Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle. With that, the journey changed. He was a physics teacher, travelling back home with his wife. We all talked for the rest of the flight. I remember nothing of our conversation but that it was good and thoughtful and unexpected. He took the risk of breaching my barrier of gloom and it lifted the day for all of us. 

I'm not a fan of the strict resolution but this year I'm going to try and remember to live with more generosity and lightness. To smile and see the best in someone, or a situation. To cut off a bad mood before it affects other people. To enjoy the simple fact that I'm alive to see in another year. I hope you've had some good days and are looking foward to the chances that this new year brings. Happiness to you. 



Today I found myself sketching from memory a Frink head and was surprised to discover how melancholy and odd he turned out. Replete with fiercely herbed and garlicky mushroom soup and with a cluster of newly potted tiny, fuchsia cyclamen catching this winter light on the windowsill next to me, melancholy is something far away.

Though as I drew I was listening again to a fascinating tribute to Ted Hughes, recorded to celebrate his inclusion in Westminster Abbey's poet's corner. The epigraph on his headstone consists of the concluding three lines of his poem That Morning, celebrating the magical sensation of standing amongst a shoal of salmon with his son. And perhaps the static monumentality of stone and plaster seemed suddenly a sadder, duller thing in contrast with the living, vivid flash of light and fish and atoms. With being human. 

There, in a mauve light of drifted lupins,
They hung in the cupped hands of mountains

Made of tingling atoms. It had happened.
Then for a sign that we were where we were
Two gold bears came down and swam like men

Beside us. And dived like children.
And stood in deep water as on a throne
Eating pierced salmon off their talons.

So we found the end of our journey.

So we stood, alive in the river of light,
Among the creatures of light, creatures of light.

from That Morning - Ted Hughes



These last few weeks have been lived largely without internet access, often without a phone line and with a dying laptop that finally had to be replaced. The daytime silence that settles through the house on a school day was heightened by the absence of phone rings and click of keys to the point where I held off automatically switching on the radio in favour of letting the external sounds filter into the quiet. In some small way, those little periods of mindful silence these last weeks have been a form of meditation. Perhaps I'm storing up the silence for winter, as term ends soon and the season of anticipation and feverish excitement begins. Storing up patience as I've stored the fruits that have been harvested, juiced, cooked and frozen.

And warm autumn sun has continued on, making these short days vivid with colour. Surrounded by woodland and heaths, our valley has been so lovely to walk through, especially as we can do so largely unencumbered by coats and layers. The heather lasted well beyond its usual season, the berries fruited on and on and our garden blue tits have recently raised their second batch of chicks this year. Until yesterday, when the first hard frosts left fields and leaves stiffly white for those first hours, it seemed impossible that winter would ever come. But I'm ready for it now; ready for the rush towards the end of the year with its making and baking and advent.

Walking to the car this afternoon in low yellow sun through rustling brown leaves with the church bell tolling the end of another life, I felt utterly grateful. For the warmth of the bonfires and fireworks and unexpected loveliness of autumn. That I was on my way to pick up Joel from school. It seems that the warm pleasures of these last weeks has enabled me to build a store of happiness against the coldest weeks of winter and those moments when joy is harder to find. Come on winter, we're ready for you. 


tilt and shift

As a child I spent a lot of time on my back: trying to feel the motion of the earth (and I did, I swear), watching the patterns of clouds, and pretending that the ceiling was actually the floor and imagining how life would be different in that scenario. I feel like I need a little of that altered perspective this week. Life is shifting but how it is changing is as subtle as sensing the tilt and rotation of the earth through one's skin. Perhaps that explains my recent preoccupation with photos of the world upside-down and reflected; a sort of modern day reading of runes.

When I sat down to write this post this morning I had a different one in mind. That little paragraph above is where I got to before it started to go awry. As I wrote it became clear to me (and maybe that's why I write here) that looking for signs in cups and mirrors and clouds is an evasion. I had an image of myself lost in a forest, waiting for someone to come along and show me which way to go. As I pictured myself just sitting there, waiting for the all-knowing 'someone' to direct me, I realised that's how I've been acting in regard to my own life. Waiting for a sign that it's time to act; for 'someone' to show me what to do.

Chastened, I stepped away from my laptop and put on a pot of coffee (default delaying tactic). As I waited, I flicked through one of the A4 plastic-sleeved folders in which I file snippets that inspire me. I stopped at an article by American writer Anne Lamott. I attended a couple of her readings in the mid-nineties while I was living near San Francisco and enjoyed her dry humour and commitment to her writing life. So I paused to re-read it. Another blow to the heart. She wrote about making time to do what you most value. I realise I have time but I don't use it to do what I most value. It's as simple as that. I don't do enough of what I most value and I wait rather than act. When I sat down this morning I wanted a shift in perspective and I've got it; just not in the way I expected. Time to get walking.

All your life, you wait for the propitious time.

Then the propitious time

reveals itself as action taken

 (Louise Glück 'Landscape' Averno)


oranges not lemons

Growing up in the seventies, orange was a familiar sight on clothes and in homes. One house we lived in was painted orange outside. In another, the entire kitchen was orange. Even the floor was terracotta. You had to look up or out to rest your eyes on any other colour. And if it wasn't orange, it was brown. Brown carpets, brown cars, brown cord trousers. 

Nowadays, in our white worshipping society, you don't see orange around so much. But it happens to be my boy's favourite colour so I've felt compelled to use it around his room and in splashes around the house. Last year, I stretched some orange bird-printed IKEA fabric over a very large handmade wooden frame as a cheap (temporary, I thought) hanging on one of our high, breakfast room walls, but it's still there. We took it down, replaced it with more tasteful this and that, but the wall looked so lonely and cold without the vivid splash of colour so it's back up again, reflecting warmth back into the room. It's cheer-making, especially when the days outside are increasingly grey.

This bonfire weekend was heaven for orange lovers and as a contribution to a bonfire feast I made an orange saturated almond cake. Similar to the lemon cake I mentioned previously but moister, it's been a staple of ours for years as you can cook it in advance and let it really soak in the juices or whizz it up quickly on the night as I did, making it a lighter and drier affair. I like it straight with coffee but it sits very happily alongside ice-cream or crème fraîche and simply gets more richly delicious and moist over a number of days.

The recipe below is based on Claudia Roden's orange almond cake, the main difference being that the oranges are squeezed and zested rather than boiled and used whole, so it's that bit quicker to make.


4 eggs, separated

125g caster sugar

grated zest of two oranges

100g ground almonds

For the syrup

juice of four oranges (add an extra one if you want more syrup to pour)

125g caster sugar

a good splash of brandy or cointreau (though equally happy without it)

Preheat oven to 180C/350 F/gas mark 4. Beat together the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and almonds.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold into the yolk mixture. Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loose-bottomed cake tin.

Bake for 45 mins until golden brown. Meanwhile, place orange juice, sugar and brandy (or whatever) in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins.

Pierce the cake all over, then pour over the syrup and leave to soak in. Jug any extra: rest assured, it will all be used.

By now your kitchen will be full of orangey deliciousness and November will seem a pleasant time of year. Enjoy.



sunlight on your eyelids

Good morning. And it is good. Sitting outside with my coffee I realised that something felt different: yes, the leaves had yellowed dramatically but it wasn't that. It wasn't even that the grass is so thickly carpeted with yellow and orange leaves that light is reflecting happily upwards. It then struck me that there was a lot more sky and water than normal. After a night of strong winds the tops of the tallest trees are bared and the lower limbs of the trees surrounding the lake have dropped, letting in so much more light. Tilting my closed eyes up to the warmth and brightness, I thought of this song, discovered via Lily and played over and again.

On first hearing, images exploded of my first trip to India. Driving dazed from the airport in a taxi playing bangra. Rolling along the stall-lined, rutted, back streets of coastal Kerala as dusk descended abruptly candles flicked on alongside us, the stars switched on above and woodsmoke wove in front of our headlights. I stuck my head out the window like a crazy mutt, all the better to inhale the scents of smoke, food, dust and dung. The smells of India. Addictive. But then, the scent of dusty pavements drying after rain is heaven to me. My first night in India, not sleeping. In a hut on a cliff above the beach where the incessant crashing of surf mingled with the shouts and songs of fishermen and early morning calls to prayer. And from somewhere, music. In India there is always music.

The colours of an English autumn can't compare with the vivid tones of India but this is our season of yellows and orange. Warm colours reflecting the welcome warmth of the last day of October. Sunlight on your eyelids: it's a good way to start the week. I hope your day - and your week - contains a little sunshine.  


everything's rosy


I had an unexpected little hour of happiness the other day that began with the discovery in a second-hand bookshop of The Pocket Encyclopaedia of Roses. Emerging into a suddenly blue sky with a spare half hour, I sat outside my favourite cafe and ate Swedish carrot cake. It had a cheery little icing carrot on it and I admired the extra effort. So I sat happily in the sunshine and ate and sipped and read about roses.

Published in 1963, it's a technicolour beauty. The styling is so of its time it's easy to imagine those formal displays sitting alongside a table set with wine bottle candleholders, a bit of Engelbert Humperdink on the wooden record cabinet and a hostess (already hot in her long, patterned, polyester gown) worried if moussaka is a little 'foreign' for a dinner party. My favourite bit of the book though are the descriptions of the roses themselves. Clustered together, they read like characters from a play.

Emily Gray : shapely buds golden yellow opening to buff. summer flowering. foliage small, dark and glossy. vigorous but inclined to die-back.

Cecile Brunner : blooms miniature and perfectly formed. bright pink, yellow base. fragrant. foliage sparse, dark greeen. growths long and slender.

Countess of Dalkeith : vermillion flushed orange flowers. very fragrant. bushy growth of average height. an attractive variety but similar to parent, subject to black spot.

Hugh Dickson : rich crimson shaded scarlet. very fragrant and recurrent. growth vigorous and upright, and best grown as semi-climber. unsuitable for formal beds.

John S Armstrong : blooms large and flat, freely produced on good stiff stems. attractive colouring, rich scarlet crimson. slight fragrance. foliage dark green and plentiful. a vigorous variety of good habit.

I see myself sneaking into the action as Clair Matin: blooms medium size, cupped, semi-double, slightly fragrant. pink. moderately vigorous, best suited for pillar...



faded beauty

In my eyes, hydrangeas are at their best now, their sometimes brash colours faded to softness. At home I have them in jugs, drying slowly, to appreciate their papery beauty for a few weeks longer. Not a fashionable plant, my attachment is sentimental.

They remind me of summer trips back to my grandparents' house, leaving the humid heat and yellow of a Canadian summer for the cooler air and colours of England. Sprawling mop-headed hydrangeas lined the front gardens of the avenue they lived on, hanging heavily over the brick walls that bordered the pavement. As I wove my way to the local shops each day with my grandmother, I pondered whether to prefer the blue or the pink. The fading of the flower heads marked the approach of going back home. And while I was itching to get back to my friends and my own little world, I'd by this time grown fond of the rhythm of days with my grandparents: the rituals of meals, walks, butcher and sweet shop.  

A dried flower-head: a gateway to memory. 


love and dancing  


Some lovely friends married recently in a tiny, private ceremony, a moment all the more joyful to me because it comes after some years and two children. I've written before about the particular romance of long love. To marry early in a relationship is arguably a simpler thing, with the critical tests of love still ahead. To marry years later, with a full understanding of each other and having endured difficult times, is a special symbol of love and hope.

P & A, this song's for you. Dance on!  x




Digging of various sorts happened at the weekend. A bit of harvesting and planting; rummaging in the earthen side of a slope in our woods that functioned as a broken crockery depository in the glory days of the manor house; and looking for flints in the earth excavated by badger and fox. There's something so satisfying about putting things into earth and taking them out. Bulbs that hunker in the soil until you forget that they're there and appear just when you'd stopped believing that spring would come. Garlic that warms winter dishes. Flints and bits of pottery that offer a little moment into another world. Just pottering about, all digging at this and that, there's satisfaction in dirt.  


barely beautiful

One of the four Royal Horticultural Society gardens, Wisley, is very close to us and we visit regularly: John to get inspiration (disappearing into the centre of a bed or clump of trees muttering in Latin) and me and Joel to collect leaves and cones and marvel again at the orchids, cacti and tropical plants in the huge greenhouse.

Some of the flower beds, while beautiful, are a little too brightly coloured and regimented for me. I prefer the loose planting of Piet Oudulf with his painterly drifts of flowers and grasses, especially at this time of year when the petals fade, leaving the bare brown outlines of seed-head and stem. 

Even with the abruptly darkened sky during our visit last weekend, there was still a stark beauty in their outlines and darkened palette. 


handmade home

top photo: Swedish Elle Interiors 2010: home of Maria Astrom and Sam Stigsson. bottom photos: British Elle Decoration June 2011: home of Kristin Peters

I was relieved to see the cover of last month's British Elle Decoration celebrating the handmade home. As I gazed around our own little house, I could see fewer than a handful of items that we'd brought brand new, and fewer still that haven't been adapted, or painted or otherwise tinkered with. We've always preferred to find furniture and objects to re-home and had quite a collection. But when we moved here we found that most of our furniture didn't fit. Needing new furniture throughout we had to be inventive to keep costs down. Older items are frequently more petite, so a 1950s Danish teak sideboard (bought for £10 and revived with patient applications of teak oil) sits neatly in the sitting room concealing any number of toys behind its sturdy doors; a sternly plain Victorian bookcase fits perfectly into the study alongside a pair of vintage desks and a rosewood linen press contains clothes and linens in the alcove no modern wardrobe would fit into.

The one problem with the handmade home is that it can take longer to source furniture and it usually involves a bit of work. Whitening old wood that can never be restored to its full glory is utter simplicity but while slippery modern laminate needs a little more effort, it yields equally satisfying results. A friend's unwanted IKEA chest of drawers has been transformed with some chalky white paint into a piece that is often mistaken for vintage scandinavian. I'd much rather expend a bit of energy than a lot of cash, but sometimes I admit to putting the task off. Which is why a prettily-shaped modern dining table (another cast off from a friend) has been waiting patiently in the shed for me to get sanding and painting. But it will be done and every time we use it I'll think of her.

The interiors I love most are those where you have a strong sense of the people who live there. They may not be the most styled, or even entirely my taste, but to me there's nothing better than stepping into a characterful and individual home rather than one expensively but blandly furnished. What I like about the photos above, and this eclectic bedroom, are that they're examples of relatively simple but still individual and homely rooms.

For our own home I prefer a simple palette of white and wood offset by splashes of colour. I like pictures and photos (both snaps and John's own fine art photographic prints) books, fresh flowers, candles in jars and glasses and a mix of textures. I like looking at our collections of natural objects and discovered treasures but dislike clutter, so tend to only display a selection of our things at a time. And I'm bordering on obsessed with keeping all the necessary clutter of life (art supplies, paperwork and inevitable mountain of toys) firmly behind solid doors. I also make quite a few things for the house - cushions, coverings, throws, table linen - and like to display a few pieces of Joel's work properly amongst our other things. All in all, it's a home handmade by us all and we like living in it.

As I'm writing the guilt of that languishing table is gathering. It seems there's nothing else for it but to get out the sandpaper and the paints and get down to work. 


make do and mend

Susan Collis 'Made by work' 2001 Royal College of Art, MA Sculpture show

Seeing Karen Barbé's glorious fantasy darning of a favourite dress unexpectedly ripped, I was reminded of this degree show piece, consisting of a pair of dungarees with repair work and bleach marks. I remember coming around the corner, in a bit of a hurry and full of the itchy irritation I sometimes get at the shows, and looking around to see where the exhibit was. Then I realised those old dungarees were it and I smiled. They reminded me of the tenderly mended clothing I've sometimes unearthed during my years of trawling flea markets and vintage shops: aprons, work shirts, nightwear, jackets. I love the old and frayed and patched. I like an object to be a little imperfect. And there is something about the utility of darning that moves me, perhaps because it reminds me of my grandmother. She wasn't a keen sewer but she could darn beautifully; a skill she learned during those years of necessity in the second world war when everything was in short supply.

As I rue the lack of wearable autumn clothes in my wardrobe (moths have holed both jersey and wool) I'm thinking of re-purposing instead of replacing. I love the descriptions in E F Benson's Mapp and Lucia books of competitive dress alterations: roses cut from a curtain and sewn onto an old dress to revamp and evoke jealousy or a judicious re-dye and re-collar. 

In that spirit, I'll try adding lace to the neck of a sweater that's starting to fray, and perhaps I can transform those moth holes into something more agreeable. I've discovered this cunning new moth-patching product and it looks fun as well as being practical. For those worn out elbows (I just can't shake the elbow on the table lean -I'm doing it now!) I like this lovely take on the patched elbow: a pretty solution and the chance to learn to crochet while I'm at it.  And, of course, there is Karen's superb tutorial on making lovely patches that adorn rather than simply disguise. Thriftiness can be fun!    


ah, grasshopper

detail of a journal entry

We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It's just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected. Ben Okri 

A couple of weeks ago during heavy rains, the little stream that runs down through our garden to join the wider stream at the bottom started to forge an alternative tributary to accommodate the greater volume of water. I have a little perch next to the point where the streams meet and, sitting there one afternoon in the stillness of the after rain, I noticed how beautifully the stream had dealt with its problem. Instead of overspilling wastefully over the garden it had quietly forged a neat path past various obstacles, to join the river at a very sensible point close to its twin. I saw there might be a lesson in that for me.

My life so far hasn't been entirely predictable. I've stopped and started and moved and changed. I went to Nepal seven years ago to teach and to explore, with a deep need to change my life. I anticipated the change would come slowly, through travel and encounters and the gradual unfolding of a new path. John joined me after a time and we planned to change our lives slowly in tandem. Instead, in Nepal, I found myself pregnant. So life did change - and it's been a wonderful change - just not at all as either of us had anticipated.

The route of my life has taken hasn't been straight and undoubtedly I'll continue to encounter detours and change. The lesson I take from the stream is that if I move purposefully and consistently back in the direction of my childhood dream - moving steadily and calmly past the obstacles - I'll get there. The journey and the destination may not be exactly how I planned, but perhaps that unknowing is part of the joy?


my my..

Should it ever be a life-saving necessity to sing the entire back catalogue of ABBA I'll be just fine. My family moved back to England from Canada a couple of summers after ABBA won the Eurovision song contest and their songs were pretty much the only cultural currency I had with new school friends. I knew all the words, came to learn all the dances, and came to understand that my friends only had eyes for Agnetha.

With her guileless eyes, gappy smile and princess hair, Agnetha was friendly and familiar. She striped her eyes with blue and her lips with pink as we did alone in our bedrooms. But it was Frieda who drew me in. Who daunted me. Unlike Agnetha, she belonged firmly to the world of adults - a world that both attracted and frightened me.

Frieda looked like the terrifyingly sophisticated friends of my mother; the ones who held martinis in one ringed hand and coloured-tipped cigarettes in the other and gazed coolly and silently at the shy child before them. No friendly blue daubs for them. They circled their eyes with kohl and wet their lashes thick with mascara and those eyes seemed to appraise me and find me wanting. I didn't want to be like my mother, or one of her friends, with their messy lives and children they considered a bore. In control, a little reserved but still able to smile and sing and - yes - be a little bit ridiculous, Frieda offered a better version of womanhood. 

So not only do the songs of ABBA occupy vital storage space in my brain, they're also involved in my early thoughts about what it means to be a woman. Who says pop is shallow? 



I'll always have Paris

I remember a dark room, with early light squaring up against the desk at the end of the bed. Too early and a scratchy start to a weekend in Paris, woken by the shouts, laughter and noise of the bakery opposite. Too early to speak I picked up my camera and snapped. Still lives of our lives on the desk. Keys, notes, glasses, a watch. Bed, unmade. An unsmiling portrait of him, hands crossed, in the chair. That light, that street, that bakery. The rest of the weekend passed by as they did between us then: a little light followed by dark and back again. But nothing is as clear to me as that first morning. A morning more than 20 years ago. And those photographs exist only in memory as the roll of film didn't catch.

I was reminded suddenly of those lost images of the early days of a long-complicated affair when I read Brooke's post. And it made me think about why - and how - I take photographs. Sometimes my eyes see something that creates such a jolt of pleasure, or memory, that I feel a need to record it. Brooke describes beautifully how carefully she composes with film but, film or not, my method is to work quickly, without much regard for technique. Of course, it's a further joy when a moment captured looks as beautiful as it did in my mind but ultimately, the end result is less important than the process. And key to the process is being attentive, engaging, being present. 

Perhaps that answers why taking photographs is so important to me. It's a form of mindfulness - anchoring me back in the now - but also a reminder of what I repeat to myself so many times it must qualify as a mantra: there really is so much that is beautiful. Snapping a moment whose recall will later make me happy is my way of acknowledging, and being grateful for, those frequently incidental moments of pleasure that, together, make for happiness. My snaps are the scraps of happiness I throw in the path of a future I sometimes fear: a store of memories to remind me that sometimes it's better not to look ahead but simply to look around. Be here, right now - remember this.  

Those lost photos sound sad but, in my head, they aren't. Instead, they're a symbol of hope. Every time the shutter closed it said "the morning may not be what we wished but we're here, this is us, these are ours, this is you. That is a good thing."

Joel at 2. I love it despite its imperfections, for what it makes me remember.