Fire in the soil

I don’t blog much about my vegetable patch, although I have a third of an acre that I work on. But earlier this year, despite the bad weather, we had a disaster… No chilies. Although that is a bit of a lie, we had one.

Sweet peppers we have masses of them but the hot chilies were a failure. Now, normally I know that this wouldn’t be an issue but we use them in every meal. And I mean every meal.

My dad is Indian and we like spicy food, but we don’t eat currys all the time. I mean I love a good curry but I also like other foods. We have a wide diet of a lot of different foods. Most of which we rear or grow ourselves (yes we eat our own animals). But the spices are very important.

In our house if you sit down to soup there will be chili in there. Not a massive amount but enough to give it depth. So when we got only the one plant I started to panic. Normally we grow three different types and yet here was just the jalapeno, and a single plant.

So I decided to buy some more. Except something niggled in the back of my mind. I was sure that a friend had got me an odd Christmas present. Something to do with chocolate…

But it hadn’t been chocolate. Instead it was chocolate plants; daisies, sweet peppers, tomatoes and (thank goodness) chilies. So three weeks ago I put them in. All of them.

I have just checked and there they are – ten tiny plants. Chocolate chilies… Not sure what they will taste like but the brown fruits will be hot and that makes them fine in my book.

If you do have a lot of chilies and you need to store them then just freeze them in a pot. Don’t wash them, or if you do make sure they are 100% dry before you pop them in the freezer. Then just remove the one you want and chop it up from frozen. Easy. If they go into the freezer dry then they don’t stick together and you can use them as you want. We always have a large ice-cream tub of them by the end of the growing season which we use through out the winter. This year though they will mostly be brown – and I don’t mind that at all. (Although they are very very hot so we may be only using a little of them in a soup…)

This post was inspired by the daily prompt – ring of fire.

Dyslexia and novel writing

I have been having dyslexic problems. Most of the time it is there in the background, just sitting and not doing anything much. I know my limits and I live within them.

But I am trying to make a living writing. Now I can write small stuff – the short story is my favourite form of writing, but when I try to write anything longer I hit a wall. Although a better analogy would be a ceiling made of glass.

You see part of me is scared to smash that glass. If I do will my writing be as good? I don’t know. But I have got to get past my little dyslexic problem…

What is it? I hear you ask.

Well, I just can’t hold any long story in my head. I can’t sequence so I don’t write it in the right order. Then, I get so anxious about my writing that I forget the simple fact I am a writer and not a reporter of facts. I forget metaphors and using all my senses to describe things. Everything I’ve learnt goes out the window.

So how do I get round it?

I’m not certain. I am trying to plan, but I just don’t know if I am getting everything in the right place. My editor has looked over the outline and plan to make sure I have the girl meeting the boy in the right place and the baddies working right, but it isn’t ideal.

I’m hoping in time that it will get easier but right now I am having issues and it is getting me down a bit. Luckily, the next piece that will be published is an anthology of short stories, but I am hoping that before the end of the summer my first novel will be ready to be published…

So keep everything crossed because I need the support at the moment. I’m definitely having a depressing dyslexic moment.

Puppy Love

“Are you sure you want to take him?”

I look at Mum and smile. “Yeah, without him I might not sleep.”

In my hands is a soft toy, a dog. It is floppy and almost flat and looks more like a cushion as opposed to a toy, but he has been my companion for eight years, since I was five. The puppy was a Christmas present and one of a kind, it had said so on his kennel type box. I didn’t think I could cope without him, especially in Paris. It is just so far away.

“Okay, but you be careful not to lose him.” I gave her a massive grin and said that there was no way I would.

The only problem was that Fred, my rather squashed pup, never came back. To this day I don’t know what happened. Maybe the kids I was with decided that I was too old and they threw him away, or maybe I forgot him, but on the bus waiting for the ferry I realised that Fred was missing.

“Has anyone seen Fred?”

Silence.

“My soft toy?”

“I thought I saw it in your bed…” one said.

A teacher stopped and scowled at the girls and then turned her gaze to me. “If you can’t find it I will write to the hotel and see if the maid has found it.”

I said nothing. What could I say? That I wanted to go back and rescue my toy? I would just look daft.

And that was the last I saw of Fred. He was gone.

Sometimes I hope he went to a child who loved him but I think he ended up in the bin. Why he was left behind when I know I packed him I don’t know. But because I didn’t cry and make a fuss the rest of the girls in the group pretty much left me alone until we got home. School was the same of course, but I never allowed anyone to know that my prized possession was gone. I never let on how much it hurt that the toy my parents had saved for and given in love had been removed from my care.

And yes, maybe I forgot him. But I don’t think so. The girls on that bus looked far too smug and then disappointed at my reaction. They thought they had committed the perfect crime but I never gave them the satisfaction of seeing me upset.

 

This is not my Fred. He was darker and the leather had rubbed off his nose.

This post was inspired by the daily prompt – pride and joy.

Parties

Have you ever seen ‘The Sixth Sense’? Well, there is a party in it. This is how I used to feel as a child when I got the invites (not the ghost bit but the party). I’m sure that I was invited because the whole class was, and to leave me off would be too much like bullying. But once I was there, normally on the insistence of my Mum, it just wasn’t right. I didn’t feel good. I wanted to go home.

I felt like I was in a vulnerable position and just didn’t feel comfortable. Of course I was a child at the time so when Mum asked how it had gone I used to say that I hated it. Except that I realised one day that it hurt her every time I wasn’t able to integrate.

So eventually I stopped telling the truth and instead I lied.

“Oh yes, it was a great party. I really enjoyed it.”

And then when the invitations stopped, as people only invited those they wanted to, I no longer had to lie. It was refreshing and completely demoralising at the same time. I loved not going but I also wondered what was wrong with me because I hadn’t got an invite.

Now, looking back, I can see that it has coloured the way I see parties. Any party. Even New Years Eve is a trial for me. Something that I have to get through rather than enjoy. I hope one day to feel comfortable at a gathering, but so far I am still waiting.

This post was inspired by the daily prompt – it’s my party.

Appearances

“So where you from?” The girl in front of me asks.

“Midlands,” I say. I’m so nervous that I’m almost shaking. Luckily she hasn’t noticed. This girl is my new neighbour and I’m not sure she and I are going to get on. Not in the least is the simple fact she is sucking on a lollipop and wearing the shortest skirt I’ve ever seen. Back home I’d have walked in the opposite direction and laughed about her with my friends. But here I am stuck – destined to be her next door neighbour for the next year. So I smiled. “Where are you from?”

“Oxford.”

“Cool,” I say, lame I know but what do you say?

Silence, and it is fairly uncomfortable. In fact the only thing that draws my attention is a guy working on the halls of residence across the way. He is hammering something, fixing something I guess.

“What are you studying?” she asks suddenly.

I drag my gaze away and look at the blonde perfection next to me. “English lit. You?”

Her eyes went round. “Same here… Oh wow! We can help each other with work and everything…”

My smile sticks. “Great… Sounds fun.”

She doesn’t notice that I’m not over the moon about this news but prattles on for a while. I turn back to the view. He’s older than me but I can feel the insistent tug of attraction. He’s mighty fine, as my mate back in the marsh would say.

“Don’t bother with him,” she says, and then she leans through the open window and screams across to him. “Loser! Thick as pig shit!”

I raise an eyebrow. “He probably isn’t.”

She just sniffs. “All handimen are. They work with their hands because their brains are nothing but slush.” She waggles her french manicure to emphasis the point.

I shake my head and get out of the room. I’m definitely thinking about a transfer to a different halls. It only takes me a minute to reach the guys position.

“Hi,” I say. Butterflies are screaming around my stomach. The guy has turned and is looking at me. Not a bad look, but an impersonal one. “I’m sorry,” I mumble.

“For your friend?” he asks, and straightens up. He is easily a head higher than me and built well. My mouth goes completely dry and he gets this smirk on his face. The kind that tells me he knows exactly what effect he is having on me. That gets me angry.

“Not my friend,” I bite out. “I’ve only just arrived and if I had a choice I’d move.”

I turn to storm off but he grabs my arm. Pulling me around he smiles, and this is one that reaches his eyes. “Don’t.”

“What?”

“Swap halls.”

“Why?”

His grin broadens. “Because I only look after this one.”

Oh man… “Okay,” I say looking at the floor. I look up at the window and I see her looking down and my shoulders slump.

“Don’t worry.”

I look back at him. His eyes are the deepest green…

“She won’t last.”

“How do you know?”

“Because tomorrow she will find out that I am her tutor.”

My eye widen.

He shrugs. “I do this for extra money, I’m studying my Phd.”

“You might not be her tutor,” I say.

“I am.” He leans in close and breaths into my ear. “As I’m yours Julie.”

“Jewel,” I say automatically, totally distracted by my reaction to him.

“Now, wave.”

And we both stand there and wave up at the girl above. She stares down and scowls, eventually disappearing into her room.

This story was inspired by the daily prompt – if I had a hammer.

Beer Bottle Tops

It started with beer bottle tops.

You remember, they were all the rage in the eighties. Every teenager was wearing them. I forget which idol started it, maybe Bros? Maybe not… Anyway, I went into school and laughed.

“What are they?” I said, pointing at a friends shoes.

“Fashion,” she snapped back and turned away.

“I’ve never heard of it.” And I hadn’t. I’d been playing out in the street and reading most of the weekend, not watching TV. Turns out that the band had appeared on some Saturday show. And now everyone was copying them.

My friend sighed and looked at me. She had pity in her eyes and I wondered just what I’d missed.

“They are beer bottle tops.”

“Oh…” I said. We didn’t really drink beer in our house.

“You need to get some.”

“No, I don’t think it’s me.”

My friend had sneered. “Then you are just weird.”

I didn’t think I was weird. I just wasn’t interested in following a band. Sometimes I didn’t mind the songs, but I was more of an indie rock girl, before it was cool. So I just shrugged and walked away. Not really bothered that I was on my own. But in that one small conversation I had destined myself to walk alone for the rest of school. I would be the weird one on the edges.

In fact I still am. Except now I don’t allow myself to get bullied for living a little away from most. I still like indie rock and I don’t drink beer, and I can confidently say that I have never put the tops on my shoes, whether in fashion or not.

This post was inspired by the Daily prompt: teen age idol.