Emerging from marking…

Although I’m still ploughing through papers, I’m coming to the end – only one question still available online and I’m guessing that will be at the end soon. It’s not like other marking, where you have a goal in mind and you can see how much you’ve done – and set your own goals for each day – you just log on and do as much as you can or want to. It’s a bit mind-numbing, especially since the question left is the one where kids tend to write about football. Luckily, these are fewer and further between than I seem to remember them from the first marking I did. Bah. Anyway, the end is in sight.

I’m supplementing it with sporadic gardening and storing. I’m definitely being an ant at the moment and not a grasshopper. Lack of blogs proves that, I guess. The garden is in severe need of attention as all I can do is get out there and pick stuff. Our freezer is almost two-thirds full, and I’d say a good third of it is either tomatoes or courgettes. I’ve got the world’s largest courgette there at the moment. Alright, it’s a marrow. It’s passed being a courgette a good few inches ago. I’ve called it Sean, following discussion, and it’s at 12 inches and counting. Its girth is phenomenal. You can’t say inches and girth without sounding smutty, which is why I’ve called it Sean, since it took me by surprise in the garden, much like the magnificent Sean Bean in Lady Chatterley’s lover. He should be honoured.

It’s funny that things are coming to the end of the season – our number 1 veg patch is now empty apart from winter veg – parsnips, cabbages, leeks and cauliflowers, which all look like they’ve been dried. Note to self: must try harder. Cabbages and cauliflowers need more love and care next year, I think. The parsnips are doing well as are the leeks.

Number two patch is now devoid of sweetcorn – been and gone – although most were eaten by birds. We need them under netting next year. No wonder we didn’t enjoy the stolen maize last year. Even the birds don’t eat it. I’ve picked a good 15 kg of tomatoes which are now skinned, seeded and frozen. Courgettes are badly in need of digging up – think they’re way past their best, though they’re still going strong.

Number three patch is full of toms – both plum and cherry – though I’m going to branch out next year. And I’m going to stake them better. They’re impossible to get to. You live and learn.

Number four patch is in need of all the potatoes digging up and storing. Can’t wait for that job! I bet I lose a stone doing it.

Number five patch. Well… let’s say a match to it would improve it a great deal!

Funny that it’s August and everything is starting to come to an end. Mind you, we’re way ahead of where we were last year, courtesy to the unnaturally hot spring. Apples are already ripe. Plums are coming and going. The plum harvest is poor this year. Not sure why, or if that’s the global experience.

Not only that, but with Steve and Jake being back in England until next week, I’m running at an egg surplus. Steve had done quite well when it was just him, and I only came back to a surplus of about 30 or so… and I did A LOT of cake baking. But I’m still at it. I’m getting all experimental now, seeing as I’ve got about 200 sponge cakes in the freezer. Done the coffee; done the chocolate. Now I’m up to ginger and lemon, lime and coconut, cherry and almond… and I’m down to 14 eggs again (soon to be 18) – I need a cake sale!

Baking, storing, marking, cleaning…. a woman’s work is never done!

I’ve stuck Amy on as my song of the day… I know feelings were greatly divided on the subject of Ms Winehouse. Personally, I love her music and I’m sad she’s gone, though I think it would have been nigh-on impossible for her to come back from all her experiences in the last 5 years. Such is the way of some great talent. She was such a fragile creature, and she was savaged so frequently by the press. I read some posts that made light of her death – joking about reductions in drug use in Camden and so on – and one that quite rightly said that hundreds of soldiers have died in Afghanistan and yet we never post their names or mourn their loss. It’s true.

It got me thinking about why we mourn the loss of some creative geniuses more than the average Joe, and whether being a creative genius should come with the bestowing of more value, if the number of twitter and facebook posts are an indication of value. Maybe we should aim for the egalitarian view that whether we are a soldier, a sailor, a tinker or a singer, our worth is the same on this planet. No one is worth more than anyone else. I certainly believe that to be true.

So why do we mourn the passing of singers in such a way? Maybe because they do a little something to us. Some music and some voices seem to force a fist into my chest, grab my heart and lungs, give them a good squeeze and mess around with them. Amy’s voice did that to me. Often, it’s the saddest voices, the most aching of songs that do this to me. Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin… they do that to me – among others. It’s not just a girl thing. I only have to hear Leonard Cohen singing ‘it goes like this… the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift’ and something’s got hold of my soul and is squeezing it a bit.  Some singers do that to us in ways that no other method of communication can. And usually, it’s those singers who understand all too well the frailty of humanity, our weaknesses and our pain.

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