Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner 

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner 

Winner, Winner, chicken dinner! That was what we would call out when we guessed correctly which form the potatoes took every Sunday as a child.

 Sunday dinner was a must in our family. It was the only time we were allowed in mum’s kitchen to cook with her. It was mom’s belief that if she taught us to cook a Sunday roast everything else in the world would fall into place. Nothing could be more difficult than a perfectly cooked wonderfully timed Sunday dinner. If you could complete this task then nothing in the world would ever seem too complicated.

Potatoes were a debate. Mom hated peeling potatoes so that was always the assistance task. As the assistant we could decide if we; boiled the ‘Spuds’, boiled then roasted or Mashed. We could roast them in their own tray or next to the roasting joint. We could add onions or other vegetables too. Options like weather to salt the boiling water or the potatoes before we roast them and should an assistant add milk and butter when mashing or just salt and pepper? All was part of the game.

Everyone in the living room would take a guess and as we grew older we would bet our pudding on the result. This continued for many years as we were seven children strong. But dad never had to assist, he always got to guess.

4 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, rinsed, peeled if desired, and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Kosher salt

1/4 cup duck fat 

Freshly ground black pepper

12 sprigs thyme



Adjust oven racks to lower and upper position and preheat oven to 500°F. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1-inch. Add 2 tablespoons salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until exteriors are tender, about 5 minutes. Potatoes should show a slight resistance when poked with a paring knife or a cake tester. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.

Add fat to bowl with potatoes. Season with pepper and more salt to taste then toss with a large metal spoon until exteriors are slightly bashed up and coated in a thin layer of potato/fat paste. Divide potatoes evenly between two heavy rimmed baking sheets. Spread thyme sprigs over potatoes.

Transfer baking sheets to the oven and roast until the bottoms of the potatoes are crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes total, swapping top the trays top for bottom and rotating them once half way through roasting. Using a thin metal spatula, flip the potatoes and roast until the second side is golden brown, another 15 to 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs, and serve.

Top Essay Mate

Well its coming to that time of year again. GCSE’s for the UK’s youth meant that today I was helping an English class. With the permission of the author, I would love to share this great essay. The girl has dyslexia, but still managed to get this baby done in the two hours and a bit lesson.

Nice one!

Explore the way poets present their feelings about relationships, January 2014.

The three poems I have chosen to explore are; ‘He wishes for the cloths of heaven’ by W.B. Yeats, ‘Our Love Now’ by Martyn Lowery and ‘Song for Last Year’s wife’ by Brian Patten.

I feel that each of these poems share with us different stages a relationship can face. I enjoy these poems because I can relate to these poets feelings and the expressing of the way they feel about certain relationship. The poets have chosen relevant imagery to help portray the emotional events they are going though. Each poet gives us a different motivation for his connection in the relationship; idolising a new love, a needy and possessive love and a deeply missed older love. All the poets explore their emotional needs for the attachment to the other person and the effects it has on the mind.

W.B. Yeats has the shorter poem, but has the most emotional gravity of my chosen three.’ He wishes for the cloths of heaven’ speaks to me of a man embarking on a new relationship. To me it’s imaginative language talks of the man’s hopes, and dreams with his love. These dreams verse his awareness that in reality he has very little to offer her. Lines one to five he talks as if half dreaming but in line 4 he begins to slow the pace down, readying us for the reality in lines six to eight. Yeats says in line one ‘had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths’ then in line six ‘but I, being poor, have only my dreams;’ as if to say “had I got the world to give you I would but I only have what I hope to become to offer to you.” We all have the best intentions at the start of a relationship and Yeats gives us a beautiful metaphor of how this made him feel. For a poem that is only one stanza of eight lines, he gives a huge amount of imagery. He uses his imagination with brilliant effect. Helping us feel as he did.

Yeast’s declaration of love in the first five lines is full of glorious language, painting us a picture in our minds of how magnificent this love would be if it were tangible. ‘The clothes of heaven’ to me speaks of a highly sacred thing to have ‘Enwrought with gold and silver light’ impresses the image of the sun and moon even the stars. The use of gold and silver to describe the kind of light, lends to the image the value of these precious metals. Knowing how people wish to possess the riches and beauties of gold and silver. Yeats is saying, “This is how much I want to possess her love”.  Gold light like the sunrise and silver light of moon remind us of the heavens. Of how precious natural light is to life on this planet.   We long for the warmth of the sun and revel in the way the moon’s cool light can change the look of things. We look to and wish upon the stars things that are unknown to us or not yet in our life. Yeat’s one line says, “I value her love so highly, it is in likeness to the value of light its self”

Reality begins to creep into our poet’s dream of love. When he talks to us in lines three and four of ‘dim and dark’ and of ‘night and light and half light’ on first reading, it is the many shades of blue that this cloth displays. However, it is also Yeats hinting to the reality that life is not clear. There are highlights and dark times too. Yeats acknowledges this only to say that even in those unclear moments I would still wish to be with you. Line four forces us to slow down reading as Yeats ends his dream with ‘I would spread the cloth under your feet’ meaning; “this is my love for you and it is at your mercy I fall”. To lay something so wonderful and beautiful at the feet of another is an act of submission by our poet. I find it reminiscent of the acts of romance novels; when a gentleman might lay his cloak over the ground so his maiden will not get her feet dirty. A gallant act of love is evidence of how he values her over himself and all other things. Line five ends in a colon to inform the reader what follows explains and describes his thoughts. Yeats list in the final three lines the honesty and truthful facts of his situation. Line six is a dream crushing honest statement ‘but I, being poor, have only my dreams;’ the gravity of his statement brings us out of the heaven down to reality. Yeats tells us that he has very little to offer her. I feel when Yeats says ‘my dreams;’ that he clues to hoping to give her more as he achieves his aspirations over time. It reminds me of a part in Christian wedding vows; “all that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you”. He is offering up all that he has and in line seven spreads this under her feet. In line seven is the act of what he intended to do in line five. He had said ‘I would’ now he is saying ‘I have’. His hopes and dreams he is willing to sacrifice for whatever she wishes of him. In some way, she has become his hope and dream. Yeats ends with a plea for mercy ‘Tread softly’ he asks of her. As if looking up from having literally spread the dreams at her feet he explains ‘because you tread on my dreams’. Yeats is saying “you have the power to crush all that I am and change all that I may become, so I beg you, be gentle” the poet at this point acknowledges how vulnerable he has made himself. We can only imagine what her reply would be.

The poem is a declaration of love and a testimony of how much we are willing to give for the possession of true love.

In contrast to Yeats’s “love” the poem ‘Our Love Now’ by Martyn Lowery, is about a possessive love and the poet wishing not to surrender it. Both poets plead with a lover to have a commitment and be in her life. Lowery’s poem can be read as a conversation where he says and she responds of as a rant where he argues and she defends. The outcome is the same; their love is ‘forever dead’. I like how having the two sides’ converse gives the poem a very real modern relationship feeling. Even as I read it, I can hear the two sides in different voices. The poet has been cleaver to write the stanzas in two columns so we can see and read, “I said” vs. “she said”. From the first glance, this gives us a sense of the void between them in the poem/relationship.

Lowery gives an unpleasant use of physical damage in his representation of the love. ‘Cut’, ‘scab’, and ‘red burnt flesh is ugly’.  Therefore, I wonder if the poet’s character has not abused his lover and is wishing to fix the damage. Yet there is no apology in any of his stanzas, only a plea to stay. Line two, his first comment ‘wounds heal in time,’ tells us straight away there is damage to this love. By line four he expresses the want for them to become whole again and gives the metaphor that like cuts mending, a relationship can also mend in the same way. Her response to each of his stanzas however is cool. Each time she takes his analogy and gives him back the cold reality. In lines nine to eleven ‘it is not the same. There is always a scar, a permanent reminder.’ She is saying that they will always know what happened and it will forever be in her mind. She ends that stanza with ‘such is our love now’ and if you’re reading the poem as a conversation, you notice he had said relationship yet she called it love. The refrain ‘such is our love now’ belongs to the woman in this poem. For me it is her cool response and “broken record” technique that affirms in my mind the theme of Domestics Abuse. It’s very clear she wishes to leave but she is avoiding making him angry. She does not say what he has done, nor does she give any passionate response. For me the line ‘a numbness prevails’ sums up the tone of her stanzas. Reacting to him with numbness and distance is a natural defensive thing to do. Especially in a heated or emotional conversation.  This compared to his opposite stanza saying ‘in time it will disappear’ and his despraite rant ‘such is our love, such is our love’ he has taken her own words to use against her. You can hear how much more emotional he sounds compared to her. The poet chooses to use words like ‘soon’ ‘before long’ and ‘in time’ to give us the impression that the character believes he has done nothing of any lasting damage and that this, is merely a momentary “blip” to love.  In contract, the poet uses words for the women that are “ever sure” sounding. In each of her stanzas she says about the damage: it is ‘permanent’, it ‘prevails’, it ‘will be’ and is ‘forever’ so.  In the fifth stanza, especially I find it shows the thoughts clearly. He sees that there is no difference to the love now than what was there before. He tells her ‘it is always the same’ and it is ‘you’ who ‘feel different’ not me.  To me this sound of a person trying to shift the blame over to an other. In her response I like how she answers that now ‘changes must occur’. Saying in her own way that from this point, things will not be the same. The effect on the poem at this point is that she has made her decision. He is then forced to acknowledge her feelings in his following stanza. As I read on from line 34 it feels that her character is getting stronger. The female character is more sure of her decision to walk away from the relationship. His last words to her are a metaphor about how being in an abusive home. It is like being in the centre of a tornado. He acknowledges her fear and his anger saying ‘raging storm’ and line 40 ‘ The storm is frightening’ he still tries to dismiss its effect by saying ‘it will soon be gone’ . The character is implying that even if he gets angry and even if he scares her it does not matter because it only last for a while. He does not believe this is enough of a reason to end the relationship and that she should forget about it instead or learn to live with it may be.

He uses emotional blackmail by involving others to the argument ‘People will forget it ever existed’ I believe he is saying, “Ignore what your friends and family tell you to do. They see you hurt now but they will forget about it, you should forget about it” furthermore I think that when he speaks about the damaged trees outside in line 39, he is referring to family like “family tree”. The fact that Domestic Abuse can ruin and divide families. As well as crush, the individual works well in the form of this metaphor. Often abuses will use an individual’s fear of what people might think of them. They can use family and children as reasons for staying together. The female character cleverly answers that even so ‘it leaves damage in its wake’ regardless of whether she stays or goes the damage ‘can never be repaired’  she explains that ‘The tree is forever dead’. To me this truly represents the magnitude of how damaging Domestic Violence and Abuse is. It is so detrimental to the people involved that the damage is done instantly, and remains a permanent fact. Her words ‘forever dead’ signals her final decision is made. She wants to break the pattern of abuse and so the poet signals this by breaking her refrain in the last line. The absence of the word ‘now’ from ‘such is our love now’ has a powerful effect on the poem. You can feel the completion of the conversation. You know that this love is now dead.

My final poem, ‘Song for Last Year’s Wife’ by Brian Patten. The poet is writing a daydream. About a man who has woken to another day, without the love of his life. She had left the year before and he misses her greatly. Its dreamy half-awake feel is different to Yeats’s “dream”. Patten’s character is also waking to an unhappy reality, but his is from a dream based in memory and not a dream of love. The poem looks at the man’s plea to poses the love again. The feeling of owning the other person is hinted at in the lines 11 to 12, ‘Love had not the right to walk out of me’. The personification of love leaving him is his wife leaving him. He disagrees with her reasons because he says, “she has not the right”. The tone and conversation like qualities of this poem are similar to ‘Our love now’ but Patten’s character is more mournful because the relationship has been over for a while.

The whole poem is to one person. He opens with her name, like this is a love letter ‘Alice,’ he says with familiarity. We can assume that this must be the name of last year’s wife. The title, and line nine suggest to us, this character has a new wife or partner. He seems unhappy in this relationship. His description of a morning kiss from her is hardly romantic. ‘I wake with another mouth feeding from me,’ sounds more like breast-feeding a child. This new love only reminds him more of what he has lost. The man feels drained of joy and the tone of the poem reflects this beautifully. This poet adds imagery of winter to concrete the depressed emotion of the man. ‘earth’s still as hard, the same empty gardens exist’ and ‘winter, its isolation from other seasons’ creates a sad and lonely picture of this man in the light of cold winters morning, lay half awake thinking of Alice. He has a heart of icy emotions damaged by the loss of Alice; he misses her like missing the warmth in winter. The poem moves like the train of thought a person might have. Wavering from the man feels of self-pity, to his thoughts of Alice in the present. The poet’s use of commas slows the reading down. We almost lumber though trying to make it to the end of a sentence. The poem is all in one stanza. The poet has done this to add more effect to one stream of thought; we can see it and feel it on the page. Lines six and lines 22 to 24 the man wonders if Alice thinks of him too. He wants to know has she notices it’s their anniversary? For me when he says ‘I imagine you waking in another city, touched by this same hour’ he is wondering if she too might feel the loss of their love. He is pleading with hope she still thinks of him too. We know that this is unlikely to be the cases. The man has ‘sent our spies’ and they return with news of how ‘your body’s as firm, you are as alive, as warm and inviting as when they knew you first’. Alice is much happier now out of the relationship. The words ‘knew you first’ give us the clue that she is as well as the start of the marriage. A younger more alive Alice has returned to form. I feel sorry for the man but resent his manipulative way of getting information. He is too proud to face her himself. He would not want her to know how sad he is without her. So proud, that he pretends to be happy with a new love, secretly he is mortified by the loss. ‘So ordinary a thing as loss comes now and touches me.’ The man feels the loss of Alice so much that it has become an everyday thing an ‘ordinary’ part of life for him. He sometimes forgets even that she has gone like this morning. Line 19 ‘sends me your ghost to witness when I wake’. Is he mistaking his new wife for Alice? Forgetting in this dreaminess, she has left him. He is haunted; stalked by the love that he once had with her. It is gloomy and bleak. I am guessing it might even be Christmas time in the poem. The use of winter and that somebody came to visit, asking about Alice during that visit. This suggests the type of visit you get from more distant friends and family around Christmas. The type where you talk about family you have contact with over the year. The man resents that there is no change to his feeling even a year on. Line 8 ‘as if nothing special had changed’ and lines 12 into 13 ‘A year now. So what? You say.’ highlight this. He cannot escape the feeling of loss. Reminders of Alice trigger the painful thoughts each day. In order to survive the character becomes numb to life. He is bleak and miserable like the weather. Numb by cold and numb by hurt. Patten has great ability to create this atmosphere and even though it is a truly despondent poem, I like it.

The poems all deal with the problem that love is not a tangible item. We cannot give it like a gift or posses it like a present. Yet we all feel it is ours and we give it to others. Relationships require love of different depths, but we have not a scale or measure to set requirements too. All three poems are great examples of how love and relationships are personal and defined by the individual. They show how people value different acts or evidence as quantities of love.

For me ‘He wishes for the cloths of heaven’ by W.B. Yeats is the most effective. I adore this poem. It is so effective with amazing images and cleaver structure. The depth of the words becomes greater each time you read it and for a poem of only eight lines… genius!

New life old mistakes

“life is like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you may get” It is one of those nice statements that people always try to throw to you to cheer you up. but if your anything like me and have the unique ability of always being able to pick the coffee ones (I really don’t like coffee creams) then this type of kindness is like a smack in the face. I tried getting used to how my life was (learning to like coffee cream so to speak) but I’m still unsatisfied. I have way too much in my life and someone  sold me the line “that you ladies now-a-day can have it all” Sorry girls it’s a lie. It is true you have all the opportunity you need to do what you want, but don’t be fooled it believing you can have it all.

Have a career, be a great mom, and look amazing with an amazing house to match. you can’t, nor do you need at that and god help us if we are judging others by these, better take that yard stick and hit yourself with it first. you can not do all to 100% quality (burn out!) women can juggle so much but in the end if you are truly honest you have one thing that you do, you drop things for it, you compromise to meet it, you define yourself by it. If you don’t then you need to pick one.

I’m struggling with mine but i do know its being a mom, close second to having a career, not a job, i have one of those and it knows it serves a purpose only. i have in the past balanced all the big three. result? epic fail. Crashed my whole world, risked my children, lost friends, lovely home and got divorced had to leave a patch of heaven for a broken old town. Best decision i ever made! It saved my life, truly. So i cant have it all but i can chop and chance when the opportunity opens the door.

My children thank me everyday for my decision to put them first. God knows i have to fight hard for me but i’d kill for them. To find them happy, trying hard at school, at things they want to achieve (no matter how obscured) the fact they know their own mind, it all lets me know they are by definition my children.

Dare i risk changing my priority to get a career? How much time do i have left to really make one out of whats left of me? Would it even satisfied my “itch” or it this more peer pressure to preform?


Question your self.

“A man and his young son get in to his car and go for a drive, but disaster strikes and they are involved in a big crash. The man is killed and the young son taken to hospital. At the hospital the boy is rushed to surgery, but the surgeon says “I can not operate on this boy, he is my son”

Read it again.

Now ask your self was it obvious to you that the surgeon was the boy’s mother?
Maybe if your Canadian or Australian this might have only confused you for a second or two. however it took me 5 attempts, is this because I’m thick? or do I still live in a male privileged society?

I’m Now A Blogger

This is my first and only blog page, why have I decided that blogging is the right thing for us?

Well I am a writer who has been writing in secret for about 19 years. It all started with a birthday gift from my aunt Ve, I had never see a diary journal before, not a proper one. Its blue leather-bound cover, the newest smell, gold edge paper and its magnolia pages with caramel coloured lines were as if I were looking at a rare pice of art. to be honest I nearly cried when I wrote my name in the front, it’s what it told me to do, it said “this journal belongs to…” See I am very dyslexic and my hand witting appalling, especially at that time. 10 years old and I could barely read, less than a five-year old academically. Ashamed I wrote first my diary then my stories, and know one knew not even my parents. My dad told me some whopper about when he was a child, and I loved them. I could imagine for hour on my own, whole other worlds. I would try to write them down but often I could not write at the speed my mind would race, whole sentences would be missing. and if you can’t read what you have written you can not correct it. This went on for years until I met my high school teacher Mr Bill Young, he had a Welsh name I could never pronounce so he used Bill. He taught me to read, and read and read out loud, then read something else and read it some more. only then could we get to writing. Mr Young listen to me read painfully for an hour after school, he would talk to me about the class work, write my essay notes down as I worked out what the question was asking of me. “your not thick, lazy or slow minded, you have got this far because you’re so smart. you need to un-learn your bad habits and get some solid base knowledge. don’t let this obstacle stop you, get over it.” I’m still kind of slow at reading (have to read each page twice, once to get them words, second to read what the writer is saying) but reading means I can spell words, I can sound out bigger words, I can recognise high frequency words in a second not seconds and I have some vocabulary. most of all it means I can visit other people’s worlds and see my own come to life.

Am I still a bit scared when my children ask me to read to them, yes, but it doesn’t stop me.