Now I am a reluctant ‘retiree’ I have been trying to devote a bit more time to creative stuff – things like painting, writing and cooking (I’m definitely not naturally artsy or crafty so it takes some doing). Definitely think that this helps with the happy though… no matter how rubbish your attempts seem, the fact that you are engaging parts of your brain that may have been allowed to stagnate a bit is officially a ‘good thing’. Churning out the obligatory novel that everyone thinks they have inside them is probably not going to happen so I am easing myself in gently to the writing side of things with something a whole lot less intimidating. I’ve been delving into the art of the haiku, reading everything from the traditional to the more contemporary. There are some great blogs on the subject – some of which I’ll let you know about but my first and biggest source of inspiration has been this brilliant book Scunnered by Des Dillon (Luath Press, 2011), billed as ‘Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Gallus Syllables’. For those of you who aren’t Scottish, here’s a couple of translations from the Scots-online Dictionary!
adj. Bold, daring, rash, wild, unmanageable, impish, mischievous, cheeky.
adj. Disgusted, bored, repelled, fed up. Repugnance, distaste, dislike, a loss of interest or enthusiasm. A shudder betokening physical or moral repugnance, a sudden shock. A cause or object of loathing or aversion, a disgusting or tiresome business, a pest, nuisance.
His haikus are witty and wonderful – as the post title says mine are a bit half-arsed (or ‘assed’ for our American friends!) but, what the hell, you have to start somewhere… I’m not following convention totally but trying to stick vaguely to the traditional 5-7-5 pattern, as I say a bit half-arsed, so here we go….
On Seeing a Robin and Buying a House
I ask for a sign.
Leaves rustle. A flash of red
shows me I am home
So the story behind the Haiku… we need to move house to somewhere with no or few stairs as my mobility is bound to get worse in future and its best to do it all now while I am able. We had been looking for a few months at various bungalows but none had been quite right. Then, in October, we went to visit an old 60s bungalow in a leafy, quiet part of the city neither of us knew that well. Tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac was this cool looking house with wooden ceilings, patio doors, gorgeous copper beech hedges, a secluded front, wild back garden and a little pond. It felt quite dark, grey and oppressive the day we visited and I wasn’t that convinced… but Spooky was and said it was on at a really low starting price and, although lots of people seemed interested, reckoned if we moved fast we might get a good deal (ha!). We went back the next day for another look – it was brighter and I got more of a good vibe. I could see myself sitting in the sunny front garden in springtime… I could see our furniture and pictures fitting in with the look of the house. It was such a big step though… Standing in the garden I was still not 100% sure. I needed some sort of sign. I’m not all hippy-dippy but I do like to think that some things happen for a reason and, as my granny used to say, “What’s for you won’t go by you..”. As I was standing there I heard something moving about in the hedge. My Dad died two years ago that month. My mum and I always joke (although not entirely unseriously) that when we see a robin that’s him looking out for us (in mythology and folk takes they are often thought to have some connection to those that have passed). Sometimes we’ll do the same thing with rainbows (as you can see we’re not fussy!) as both have appeared when we have been doing something that connects to him. I looked around at the house and garden and thought ‘OK universe, I need a sign, I need to know if this house is meant to be ours, if we should buy it. I have to know for sure.’ I decided that if the rustling in the bushes was a robin, I’d know it’s the one for us. I turned round and lo and behold a robin jumped out from the bushes, sat on the path, tilted its head and looked at me. My heart jumped and I ran off to find Spooky in the garden. I grabbed him and said “This is our new home, lets do it!”
After a week of going back and forwards with the solicitors we realised the bargain buy wasn’t going to happen, the house was going to a closing date and there were five other parties interested. We found out on 17 October that we were the highest bidders. That was the two-year anniversary of my Dad’s death. We found out at 2pm. Afterwards I walked up the cycle path to my Mum’s house to tell her the news. On the way there, I heard a noise and turned to see a robin singing in the tree next to me. I stood and watched for a while till he flew off. A few metres along the path the same thing happened again. I like to think it was my Dad congratulating me on our new house although I have a feeling he was just jumping about saying “You paid HOW much?!!! Are you crazy?!!!” Still… it is ours, our new home. Needs a lot of work doing to it but it’ll be worth it…
PS. The pic above is the Christmas card Spooky gave me this year. I got all teary-eyed when I saw it. It’s a beautiful screenprint by Lisa Stubbs entitled Christmas Together (check out her website for loads more lovely designs). We won’t spend this Christmas in the new house but, all being well, we, and our little robin chum, will be there to celebrate next year.