Tuesday 30 September 2008

The Mystery of Love

A long, long time ago
(twenty six years ago, to be precise)
MrM lived at the top of this staircase.

Behind this door.

The facilities were basic
but he worked hard and played hard
and enjoyed life.

It was a long way up the stairs
when MrsM went to visit
(of course, in those far off days,
she was the lovely MissP)

One day MrM decided to play a trick on her...
he climbed out of the window
with the intention of springing up
to surprise her as she walked past.

But she was late.
And his fingers got tired
And so he fell down onto the ledge.
And had to cry for help.

MasterM is mystified.
"But WHY would you do that?" he asks

MrM is unrepentant
"I did it to make your mother laugh."
And the memory of that day still makes me laugh
Twenty six years later.

Monday 29 September 2008

on the opacity of light

on this morning of autumn
a white mist.

not the fine gauze of summer
that, lifting, reveals the bright day;
but a felted opaqueness,
layer upon layer of soft, fibrous air

fold, cling, drape,

loose threads drifting.

in this muffled world a heron wings by.
slow, scissored strokes.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Man Chat

MrM has now recovered
from stepping over the threshold into Blogland
and would like to offer the following advice
to other Blog Husbands

1. Bloggers CAN be normal people.

2. Try not to think about the fact that this person
whom you have never met
knows ALL about you.

3. Do NOT prejudge the Husbands of Bloggers,
it is not their fault they have married a Blogger.
They share your suffering.

4. Do NOT ask Husbands of Bloggers
if they have a blog too.
The answer is always NO!!!

5. Do NOT attempt to talk to quilting artists about quilting
they probably know more about it than you do.

6. Photographs of feet are NOT compulsory.

7. Be KIND to your wife's Blogging friends...
they keep her sane.

Friday 26 September 2008

A Night on the Town

How long have I known Tracey...
is it only a year or is it forever?

How well do I know Tracey...
I know about her husband and her children
and her home and her beautiful quilting.
That is quite a lot!
She tells me about her sisters and her parents too.
She has had a pretty difficult year
and she has shared some of that
just as you would expect with a good friend.

And in turn she knows about my husband and my children.
She has introduced me to some wonderful people
and encouraged me when I lose my way.
She knows me pretty well, I think.

The only thing that we haven't done is meet
because she lives in Townsville, Australia
and I live on the other side of the world.

That all changed last night.

Last night MrM and I went out with Tracey.
We met her lovely husband Peter
and the adorable Ashleigh.
We had such fun with these people
we have known forever but have only just met.

It was over too quickly
and the only evidence is
a beautiful bunch of roses on my dressing table.
Thank you so much Tracey...
speak to you soon

A Kaleidoscope of Gladioli

I love the bold statement of Gladioli;
petals as vibrant as wax crayons
unfurling slowly from day to day.



glacier white



(NOT lime, I am SO over lime)

Thursday 25 September 2008

School Photograph

MissM describes it to me:

It was such a lovely day.

We all went to the great lawn
and everyone was laughing and chatting.
They arranged us in height order and
I wasn't the smallest in the year - Yay!

We were in our uniforms, of course,
and the teachers were wearing their robes
and it was so colourful and picturesque.
Then we climbed onto the scaffolding stand
with the Cathedral in the background.
It seemed to take forever to organise.

We were facing the Staff Common Room door
and it was so funny because right at the last moment
a teacher ran across the lawn at top speed...
he was late!
We all cheered - he must have been so embarrassed.

The photographer said that he had to wait
for some cloud cover because he didn't want bright sunlight.
I was right at the end of the row
but I suddenly felt part of the school
and I really loved that feeling.

And then it was all over
and everyone was climbing down
and walking away across the great lawn.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Lemon Curd

My lemon curd is lovingly made
from lemons, sugar,
eggs and butter
using a secret family recipe.

I know, I know, you are shocked.
I have let you down...
You are turning away from the screen...
"Shop bought!" you gasp.

Well, I'm sorry,
but I was desperate for a cream tea
and I couldn't face the washing up.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Pocket Intelligence

So - what is a mother to do?

She has to empty out the pockets
of the pair of jeans that travelled around Europe
before they are safe for the washing machine.

Is she to close her eyes?
Must she respect her son's privacy?

Errr...I'm thinking that
he should have emptied his own pockets.

Let's hope there are no Croatian linguists
in my blog readership
who can identify embarrassing purchases.

I like to think of him eating
Lusty IceCream in Germany.

It all seems a long way away
from conkers and acorns.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Epilogue to an Adventure

There was once a woman who made a mistake.

Luckily, she realised before it was too late
so she left a message for her friends
and went home.

When she arrived she looked around
and knew that she had done the right thing.

There was work to be done
and changes that must be made
but they could wait for another day.

She flung open the windows
to let in the sunshine
and blow away the cobwebs.

The Road Home

I had a long drive on Saturday evening and I got to thinking about something that MissM had said that afternoon.

I asked her what she thought of my new blog and she said ' I don't understand what the difference is - you still write every day' I replied that when I started I had thought that I might not be able to write every day and that even though I was writing regularly now I still might not able to when term starts and I am busy with students. I said that The Magpie Files had been about MasterM's last year at school and this was a new phase when I was working full time. MissM thought about this and said 'Yes, but you still write about us in the same way' - which is true.

'And another thing' she said 'I can't find you on Google' - which is also true.

And driving along that road between school and home three things became clear to me.

Firstly, I blog to record my family life - not write a novel. Even though our life goes in phases it is continuous, interwoven strands. I can't break it into chunks of narrative.

The next thing that I recognised was that my working life is not separate and independent of my life at home - it is a part of me that joins onto all the other parts of me: wife, mother, daughter, sister and that if I try to create an artificial barrier between one part of my life and another it is bound to feel awkward.

Finally, I realised that however much my family complain about the compulsive taking of photographs and the public record of family trivia they have begun to accept the blog as a fun part of our family life and they felt sad that it had come to an end.

At this point I went around a bend in the motorway and drove straight into the sunset and I was powerfully reminded of my two favourite posts on The Magpie Files:


The Road Home

Now I apologise to you all - especially those who have already changed their blogrolls. I have thought this all out in public and been very indecisive which is unlike me. You have been amazingly supportive.

I have decided to copy all my posts from Lime Juice across to The Magpie Files so that it forms a continuous narrative. Subsequent postings (which may or may not be occasional) will be on The Magpie Files.

I have closed the comments to this post because you have all given me more than enough warm and generous encouragement. Unfortunately, I don't think I can transfer the comments for other posts but I will link back to Lime Juice so that they remain as a public record. They meant a great deal to me.

Saturday 20 September 2008

rose petals in the early morning

Small fragments of summer
glimpsed in passing.

Friday 19 September 2008

Culture Clash

MrM has printed off schedules, emails and interesting background from Wikipedia.

MasterM is concentrating on the flights for his uber-cheap skiing holiday which have doubled in price before his eyes.

MrM has put aforementioned paperwork into plastic wallets, colour coded for each day.

MasterM is prepared to put them in his overnight bag but on no account will he be seen writing notes. No Account.

MrM is wearing polished shoes and an ironed shirt. He is at one end of the Smart-Casual spectrum.

MasterM is wearing jeans and T-shirt (although not the 'Yes! It's Really Me!' T-shirt, thankfully). He is at the other end of the Smart-Casual spectrum.

MrM has got up early to shave and generally buff himself up.

MasterM did not get up early and did not intend to shave anyway.

MrsM explains that if the University thinks that he has issues with personal care they might take it as an early indicator of poor mental health.

MasterM allows MrsM to brush his hair which he concedes looks as though he has slept on it.

MrM looks faint.

MrM has a full schedule which includes visits to sites of historic interest.

MasterM is prepared to visit a pub of historic interest.

MrM tells MasterM that he has put a clean handkerchief out by the front door.

MrM has never been to a University Open Day.

MrM has a lot to learn.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Dear Lovely Lurkers,

I know that all blogs have lurkers
but it didn't occur to me that I might have some.
Doh! I can be a bit dim like that.
When I decided to stop writing The Magpie Files
It is only a break - I think...
I suddenly had some wonderful and unexpected
comments and emails from my Lovely Lurkers.
Panyan, Viv and Laura
and Anonymouse (as MrM insists on calling you)

Thank you so much for delurking.
Your kind messages meant a great deal to me.

So just for you and the rest of the Lovely Lurking Posse
I offer you this picture:

I don't know anything about the person
who planted this bike basket
but it doesn't matter - it still made me smile.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

A New Purpose in Life

If you see four little plates on the White Elephant stall
and you know that they have been languishing
at the back of somebody's cupboard, unloved,

you should murmur to them as follows:

(even if the weird old guy dressed as a scout
with immaculate scarf and woggle is watching you)

"Come home with me and I will make a fuss of you
and you shall have a new purpose in life.

You shall be the Creme Caramel plates."

Tuesday 16 September 2008

The Way Things Are

I love having MasterM at home.

Am I allowed to say that?

For a few weeks
- short to us but endless to him -
he has to be based here
while he applies to universities.
A combination of boarding school
and an ambitious travel schedule
has meant that it is a couple of years
since he spent this long at home with us.

In between our son has become a confident young man.

There are downsides of course...
my home is achieving the Frat House vibe
with piles of shoes, gym bags
and odd socks in odd places.
The TV seems to be permanently tuned to Ross Kemp
and ice lolly sticks mysteriously appear
where they Should NOT Be.

BUT he makes us laugh effortlessly
with his talent for mimicry;
his outrageous but true travel stories
and his lively use of street language.

It really delights me to realise
that he is well informed about world affairs
and exceptionally perceptive in his understanding
of the people around him.

He has so many plans for the future
and he has the energy and organisation
to make them happen.
None of the plans include staying at home
and so I must treasure every moment
of this brief interlude.

Advanced Parenting

I wish I had more energy in the evenings

You need some Red Ambulance

MrsM is aghast.
She has read about This Sort of Thing
in parenting manuals.
She knows that you must keep CALM.

What is that?


MrsM knows that her worst fears are confirmed.
She prepares for a difficult future


(sighs loudly)
Not that sort of coke...

Monday 15 September 2008

An Office Warming Party

I thought you might like to have a look around.

Here is my screen.

It has been much admired.
It is big enough for large financial spreadsheets
and wide enough to watch tennis.

Would you like a coffee?

Please appreciate my mugs
which have a strong graphic design
inspired by much reading of blogs
featuring modern fabrics.

The view from the window might seem dreary
but there is a flat roof outside
and a magpie often sits there.

I like that.

A lot.

Saturday 13 September 2008

A Debt of Gratitude

I started reading blogs, as most people do, via Yarnstorm and Posie Gets Cozy - but their world, however beautiful, was not one that I felt part of.

One day I was clicking through somebody’s blog links (whose? I don’t remember) and I arrived at say la vee. I read that day’s post, laughed out loud at the sight of the folded plastic bags and felt as though the writer had reached out a hand and gripped mine.

In retrospect, it was a life-changing moment.

I did not know bb then but she writes every day and soon it was my first stop on my daily commute to Blogland. Her wry perspective on life and the humanity of her observations opened my eyes to the world around me and I adored the wonderful group of people in her comment box. It was like being able to eavesdrop on the smart crowd hanging out at school. How I longed to be a part of it.

I can’t remember which post I commented on first but it was a brave move for me at the time. Another Alice was already commenting and I became Alice C to distinguish myself. To my astonishment, bb responded and immediately made me feel part of her eclectic circle of friends.

Since then bb has reached out her hand to me over and over again. I have sat down at her table in the kitchen with the black and white floor and been offered a glass of wine. In the background K and the boys get on with their lives and the dog is there too, somewhere. It is a good place to be. She has made me laugh countless times. She has dragged me away from the results of my own foolishness. She has invested hours advising me on blogging and life in general.

On 29th September bb starts a new job and a new part of her life. If she decides not to continue blogging and shut down her email address I would have no way of staying in contact. I do not even know her name.

Sometimes a person can have a very profound effect on your life.

bb rescued me when I was considering the world of domesticity and desperately wondering why it didn’t seem relevant to me anymore.

Rescued is not too strong a word because I was drowning.

It is good to be able to say thank you.

Friday 12 September 2008

A Single Rose (x2)

MrM has discovered a new florist.

She will select one beautiful, fragrant pink rose
and wrap it in cellophane
and tie it with raffia for MrsM.

And then do another one for MissM.

Step away, Ladies,
MrM is already taken.


This post is for Jane
who grows beautiful flowers in Scotland.

Thursday 11 September 2008

Last Minute Baking

It has obviously been a long time

since I made a cake...

It tasted nice

but my arm hurt.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

I would rather be...

...sitting in the sunshine
eating my breakfast.

Does anybody else want to finish the Timetable?

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Travel Tips from MasterM

Eastern Europe

The Thermal Baths in Budapest are awesome.
Make sure that you have enough money
for a mud massage.


If a big Australian waves to you in a bar


When playing Poker in Croatia:

1 Croatian kuna
5 Hungarian forint
10 cents
100 matchsticks

Monday 8 September 2008

A Long Weekend


MasterM plays in the Old Boys Rugby Match
against the School 1st XV.
Preparation for the Big Match is characterised
by a visit to a local hostelry (or two)
and much exchange of summer travel stories.

Half Time Drinks

The Old Boys make the 1st XV work hard for their victory.


MasterM gets up earlier than he would have wished
and listens to a sermon warning about the perils of
'rioting and drunkenness,
chambering and wantonness'.

MissM sits at the other end of the Cathedral
with beautifully polished shoes
and a new school jumper with a white stripe
and the surplice of a Scholar
and one rebellious Shocking Pink fingernail.

It has been a good weekend.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

The Window Closes

I read somewhere about a doctor who wrote poetry.
He scribbled the poems on the back of prescriptions
as he waited in his surgery for each patient.

That is what blogging is like for me.
I write in small slivers of time.

But now other things demand my full attention
even in those tiny fragments of time
that I had thought were my own.

I must turn away from my window for a while
although it is hard to do so.

I know that you will understand.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Souvenirs from Africa

A passport full of stamps

A cheerful Hippo candle
hand made in Swaziland.

A pair of carved Elephants
which will last a lifetime.

A Hat presented by new friends.

A precious can of Liptons Iced Tea.

but no photos...
because MissM dropped her camera
into a rock pool in Mozambique.

Monday 1 September 2008

The Way to the Secret Garden

Walk through the gate in the wall

into the Topiary Garden.

Follow the soft grass paths to the summer house.

The little bridge will take you over the moat

to a rose garden, heavy with scent

and then down narrow corridors of yew

to the Secret Garden.

Take your time,

there is so much to say.


MissM was surprised and touched
by all the kind comments yesterday.

She thanks you all.