I’ve spent most of the day searching out poems on happiness for tomorrow’s lesson with my young charge. We’re looking at how to make emotions concrete, how to capture and present them to the reader’s senses, so they are felt. And I thought happiness as good as any to examine. We did love last week as she’d amazed me the week before by saying she’d tried to write a poem about love but was unable to distinguish between it and lust. So I took her a whole bunch of poems that I hope will help her make that distinction in future. And she, in turn, gave me Carol Ann Duffy’s Valentine. Love somehow led to happiness, so here I am.
After reading about happiness all day, and having a particularly good day, I thought I might share some of the things in which I find it.
I love these colours together, and finding them unexpectedly when the Mr.’s soup arrived made an already good day a gorgeous one.
Matisse said colour was his language, he even thought in it, and Klee rejoiced when he realised colour was his medium and his subject (or something like that). I wouldn’t go quite that far, but certain colours, and colour combinations can fill me with joy on my darkest days. This pumpkin soup with sky is one of my favourite matches, another is pea-soup green with dirty pink – like raspberry milkshake with soot in it. On Monday we were coming home from a trip to Edinburgh when the Mr. suggested we stop at Ikea to look at shelf units. While we were there he spotted a green plate. He knows how I love certain greens and pointed it out. It was a good green, and even better it had a blue cousin, and an orange one. There must have been something about my reaction because he told me to put them in the trolley. We didn’t need any more plates, but suddenly supper time is like living in an oil painting.
My best friend understands me to the point where her husband is convinced we’re the same person with two bodies. You’ll see from the plate thing above that the Mr. understands me pretty well too. He proved it overwhelmingly today.
My desk from above just after I’d eaten toast with peanut-butter, banana, and syrup.
I love my desk (as you’ll have divined from all the photos I keep posting), but its height has been a big problem. I’m not tall, and I have a particularly short body, so I’m a bit like a child at a sweet counter when trying to type or write. It’s ok for just looking at the screen, but when it comes to actually doing any work I end up with sore, cramped shoulders, arms, and neck. I can raise my chair up pretty high, but then my feet dangle causing other problems. A couple of days ago it suddenly struck me that chopping a few inches off the legs would solve the problem. I shared this with the Mr. (henceforth to be known as M as I’m fed up typing the Mr.)
This morning over coffee in bed he asked me what my plans were for the day: ‘Write a lesson plan.’ I said. ‘Before you do that turn your desk upside down and measure how much you want off the legs.’ And, voila, it was done. My desk is now the perfect height for me, and after a whole day at it: reaching for books, reading, typing, and faffing, nothing is aching. That makes me very happy.
One of the joys of living in this house is the music it’s imbued with. M has played guitar for forty years, and it was this that brought him to my notice. My favourite mornings are the ones where, after we’ve had coffee and chats he goes to the music room ‘for a plonk,’ and I stay in bed writing while his tunes seep in. At one point today while I was working he came up and started playing; it seemed to make me so much more productive. Before I lived here I always thought I needed silence to work; now I realise some sounds are even better than silence. This has changed the world for me.
I love M’s word ‘plonk’ for playing with his guitar. I nearly squeaked with joy when Jen Hadfield mentioned the Plinky Boat at a poetry thing recently. The Plinky Boat! How can anyone hear that and not want to know more? It makes me want to dance. When I discovered the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins it was love at first hear: the way he uses sound as a physical element in his poems, and one that enhances the meaning of his words and phrases. So new at the time in English poetry, but really resurrected from Anglo-Saxon and old Welsh. I have to admit, however, the god stuff gets in my way a bit. Luckily his legacy lives on, he was the father of a new poetic family, and one that has grown and morphed. Here’s a poem by Louis MacNeice that on first reading would appear to have no connection with GMH, but I know it does and it never fails to make me smile:
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was Spawning snow and pink roses against it Soundlessly collateral and incompatible: World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion A tangerine and spit the pips and feel The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes – On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palm of one’s hands – There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses. *
I think I’ve written enough on this for one post, but here’s another image of foody remains:
* The formatting’s all over the fucking place here, and I can’t seem to do anything about it.