Of Love and Work. Also, Spring Cleaning.

Early Spring garden pickings.

I do love me a clunky, search-engine-unfriendly post title : ) There is method in her madness, after all.

Anyway, there I was, perched on my balcony chair early this morning, with preparatory cuppa* in hand, booking some flights, when I realised that we’re nearly halfway through September.

My word.

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly full. So. Full. Not just work-wise for me, but for so many around me. Big life stuff too. I’ve been by turns excited by developments in my own life, also happy for someone dear to me, and then sad and ache-y for yet others that I love. It makes for a patchwork of emotions.

It’s all brought me home again to my core values, though. Love and work**. And Beauty. Always Beauty.

And of Beauty, there is so much of that around me right now. I’m seeing it in the hearts of others, (affirming for me more and more that the world can be a kind place). And that I’m fortunate to know and love the souls I have gathered around me, both near and far.

There’s also a glut of beauty in the natural world, as ever. Spring is in full gallop and blossom, and I swear my elderflower tree has grown about 10cm in less than a week. I’m also preparing my pumpkin patch for the seeds I’ll be sowing next month. This amounts to smothering weeds with cardboard, and adding layers of compost and leaf mulch. Said pumpkins will have to share space among the roses, (of course!), but I believe they’ll ramble happily there.

This scrumptious beauty is flourishing. I planted it along with 6 others of its kind, (yes, it’s a sickness, and one for which I desire no cure) during the Winter. Hopefully, there will be blooms this year, but we shall see.

And then there’s the creeping invasion of the nasturtiums…

The nasturtium that thinks it’s a triffid. I tell Merlin that it’s coming to get him.

My magnolia tree is (finally) in bloom. We’re just a wee way up the mountain, but high enough that our magnolia tree flowers a good few weeks later than those in the village below.

They start off as giant lipsticks, opening into great blushing goblets. I’m sure the fairies have drunken parties up here, in the forest-y bit of my garden.

In the midst of all this there’s been a goodly amount of Spring-cleaning. Which sounds harmless enough, but it’s been quite the operation chez Rapunzel’s. And as I’ve primped, and painted, and smudged, the process has been quite transformative. I feel even more connected to my home, and it’s unleashed a flurry of creativity.

The fullness of these weeks has meant that I’ve been even more focused upon carving out personal writing time, which continues to be a big priority for me. Something has to be pretty crucial or urgent in nature to drag me away. I take it as seriously as a commitment to catching up with a real-life person. And I love those hours, (or sometimes even just minutes, if that’s all I can spare) lost in the strange, mossy world of my own creation.


But love and work, hey? Love is the heart of my purpose, but work is my North Star. There’s a lot to be said for consistency of practice. How it can make things grow. Gardens, works of art, a body of work. A soul, (or mind, if you prefer). There’s an integrity in showing up to something, or someone, every day. I’ve long believed in simple disciplines. All or nothing is too exhausting for my part, and ususally unsustainable. I prefer little, by little. Word by word.

I think I’m a sensualist, at least partially because of my love of little disciplines. I savour the delicious, and the beautiful. Yet without a point of tension, or hard work, I don’t feel life is quite nearly as pleasurable…it’s managing that tension and interplay…what do you think?

Sometimes we all need a bit of escapism, of course. When we’re weary and bruised. Or just for pleasure. I can certainly sloth it up, and I love a bit of indolence. A film, a good book, a glass (or two) of red, late nights with friends. The finest, darkest chocolate known to humanity. A howl at the moon, and a hoon on the broom.***

But there’s a danger in continually feeding an escapist impulse, in letting it settle in the bones and pores, until it becomes a daily rhythm. Allowing escapism to become who we are.

Take Merlin, for example, (yes, he really is that enormous). Here, he is after my chocolate. Note his claws in my leg. If he was human, I would enter the witness protection program.

Yet it’s not so complicated, really. Often the simpler the better, perhaps. The mundane, the small, quiet habits and devotions are often what build a life. One of sustenance and integrity, anyway.

I remember how my grandma would rise early every day, even long after her obligations in and to the world had faded, and she had only herself to please. Yet still she would rise and set to work, and slip into the quiet rhythms of her day.

I admire those who just show up and work hard, with grace and humility. They work through, without drama. Without flashing lights and grand gestures. They put their egos and their fears aside, because they recognise a simple truth: that it’s not about them at all. And they devote themselves to their work, or to an idea, a love, or loved one(s). Paid or unpaid. They plug away consistently. Even on the days when it all feels pointless, or it’s hard to show up – because of course, sometimes it is, hey?

But it does matter. The tedious details, the plodding, the chores. The unseen and unsung. The showing up makes their souls beautiful, and filled with story and colour. It develops character, and honesty, (those old-fashioned, highly underrated things). And sometimes, bit by bit, it also produces wonderful things.

These are the people who continue to inspire me, and restore my faith. I have the good fortune to be surrounded by them at this point in my life, and I cherish and appreciate their presence deeply. They doing what they do, and living how they live, helps me to plod on, and quell my own fears and self-doubt. Reminding me that many of us are doing the best we can, with what we have.


Pansy faces. These Winter beauties are still going strong.

….The Bloke has just collected the mail, and I have a beautiful, (the envelope is indeed beautiful to behold) unopened letter from a dear kindred! It’s raining, and the cottage is wrapped in rolling mist and clouds. So I will fill a teapot, light some vanilla incense, and sit upon my cosy couch, beneath my twinkly star lights, and read. A delightful anticipation indeed.

Wishing you a delicious beginning to your week.

My next post will be about my adventures in dread-locking, (among other things). Because randomness is an art, I assure you. Oui. But for now, cheerio luvs. xxx




*preparing my brain for work, that is. With chocolate chai, no less.

**Thankyou Freud, for that pearl.

***not exactly bacchanalian, or excessive I realise. But whatever floats your boat.


8 thoughts on “Of Love and Work. Also, Spring Cleaning.

  1. i love that you sing the praises of people who just get on with whatever needs doing in their lives. who *show up* for it, every day, and do the needful without thought of praise or recompense. (or drama!) because i admire that too, and i think sometimes that it is under-appreciated. especially in these days of self-documenting, and fiercely competitive “marketing” of seemingly everything. when we die, do we want our legacy to be that we had a zillion ‘likes’ or followers, or do we want to have made some creatures’ lives better by our being in them? ordinary people really are, often, quite extraordinary. and like you, i believe in those old-fashioned qualities like character. there’s a word you don’t hear much now…you hear a hella lot about trying to be successful, but not so much about trying to be good. and i like the idea of making one’s life a series of devotions. there’s an indian (hindi?) word, sadhana: it means things one does daily with focus and reverence, even, and examples are preparing foods and sweeping and tending the fire, just as much as offering flowers to a deity or praying. life as a circle of reverent, attentive, appreciative participation in what needs to be done…

    i am most definitely a sensualist, but i don’t have your discipline…i am (ahem), shall we say, schedule averse? i have many of the so-called “7 deadly sins”, but sloth is definitely my bete noir. i intellectualize this; i do actually believe that we should have rhythms, but not schedules. rhythms that occur daily, maybe weekly, and seasonally. on t’other hand, i’m probably just lazy.

    that picture of the dog and merlin eyeing your chocolate noshing…the dog is all patient hopefulness, and then there’s the cat, with his claws stuck in your leg. how i love them both, the sweet nature of dogs AND the impatience of cats. cats have such a great game—when they are being nice to you, you feel they have done you a favor. they are brilliant…

    i used to have an “abraham darby” rose, among other austin roses at my old house! they are lovely things, rosy-peach or peachy-rose. and i think i recall that they smell delicious too. i hope yours reward you with clouds of gorgeous color and scent this growing season. they would look awfully fetching in your hair—that peach color on the auburn is so perfect.

    mmm, i hope that letter you mentioned turned out to be a good thing. because if it was mine, i fear there was a bit of dark and stormy in it that i almost edited out…not wanting to be a downer, and all that. it’s funny, because nobody’s life is all sweetness and light, and i certainly don’t mind hearing those bits from other people; yet i have to fight the impulse to censor it in my communications. ah, well.

    can’t wait to hear about the dreadlocks!


    1. Sadhana! Yes – I often think of this word, (particularly when I’m doing the dishes, which along with cleaning the loo is my least favourite household chore ; ) It’s a reminder to me of humility in action. So often we’re racing along trying to get to our terribly-important-work, yet the small tasks – and yes – devotions – are in fact integral to everything, hey?

      And Yikes! Reading over my words I cringe slightly, because I must sound like I’m some kind of paragon of discipline (smug – eeek). But I’m not at all. It’s just that I’m a personality (total INFJ – heh) that likes defined boundaries and deadlines, and containment. Little disciplines help me orient myself, and help me to step outside of myself and focus.

      But everyone works differently, I realise. Some thrive on last minute stuff, but I’m a stolid type, likely to have an attack of the vapours unless I’m ridiculously organised.

      I have such a soft spot for ‘Abraham Darby’ – once you know that rose, it’s nigh on impossible not to love : )

      And please be assured that that letter was indeed a very good thing. A beautiful letter, and certainly not a downer. On the contrary, m’lovely. xxx


  2. oh, the delicious scrumminess of this post. and of nofixedstars response. *sigh*

    i blame the internets, of course, for the whole look-at-me! culture…..where things that used to just be ordinary getting-on-with-life activities, have now somehow become an Olympic event [cooking, baking, gardening, dressing yourself]. it throws things terribly askew and i must confess to finding myself flapping around like a blue-arsed fly at times, wondering if i’m doing things ‘right’. then getting agitated and stroppy because of course i’m doing it right because that’s the only way to do it, ffs.

    my daily rhythms are also askew. i fell off the writing wagon and can’t seem to hoist myself back up. a great deal of inner-delving of late is revealing all manner of dire consequences of Zero Self-Care and my not-writing is a symptom of the same. but, as they say, time heals all wounds and so i must be gentle and patient [not my forte] and take better care of my inner landscape if i wish it to take care of me.

    which is quite a bit rambling and unfocused…but there you have it!

    here’s to lovely roses and tea and letters and the perilous friendship of cats! ooooh, Merlin…if looks could kill…..:O

    much love to you dearest…xoxoxoxox


    1. “i blame the internets, of course, for the whole look-at-me! culture…..where things that used to just be ordinary getting-on-with-life activities, have now somehow become an Olympic event…”
      That’s so very much it, hey Mel? The mundane as performative. I mean, it’s nice to see other humans doing human things, but I’m wary of the pressure for everything to be “amazing”. Hyperreal.
      Then there’s all those succulents and rolling pins ; )

      I fall on and off the writing wagon regularly, too. I write most days, but not always what I’m supposed to be writing. And then there are times when life and other things are just too distracting or demanding.

      You’re completely onto something with the self-care thing. I relate muchly. I can be crazy-busy and still find time to create, but if I’ve neglected myself, and I’m emotionally off, (or more’s the point, if someone close to me is), it’s particularly challenging. Patience is a moste elusive virtue in my case, (just ask my family – they call me “roadrunner”). Yet this I do know – that being gentle and patient with one’s self is the way through. I wish this for you, dearest. Much love to you too, always. xxx


  3. The virtue of simply showing up seems to be gathering dust. I thanked someone at my job the other day for simply showing up. I think it was Woody Allen who said 90% of life is just showing up. I do admire the ones who can rise early and carry on like nobody’s looking. I am a later sleeper. I love my pillows and covers and dreams. But I do envy those who are kin to the morning air. It’s so fresh and still before the rest of the world hurries in. Sigh… I’m struggling with showing up to the page lately. The written words seem few and far between. I’m hoping its a cycle. Or maybe I’m third eye tired. Or maybe I need a vacation. Or a good stay inside rainy day.

    Wishing you a wonderful spring.


    1. Nicole, I agree – a large part of life is in the showing up. I love the fact that you thanked someone at your work for that.

      As someone who tends to be a morning person, (eeek!), I’m not altogether sure that there is a greater virtue in being so. I know so many creatively prolific, and generally inspiring night-owls and late risers. But I do agree that there is a peace and freshness to the world during the early hours.

      I find that by the end of Summer my words have dried up. It takes the Autumn rains and mists to shift things…wishing you some delicious Autumn energy. xxx


  4. So much good stuff here, solid homespun good stuff. Doing work, no matter how simple, seems like an act of love, of reverence, to me. Although I’ll never understand the people who run around madly all day long, stressing themselves out, neglecting their homelife, for the sake of selling hair polish or spangled shoes, for the sake of money money and more money. But then, I am old-fashioned.


    1. To me also, Sarah – work is an act of love. I do think many of us can get stuck on a wheel, and it can be so hard to step off that. Every day I feel my good fortune, that I can work (largely) from home, where I’m happiest. But I know many who would prefer to be out in the hurly-burly all the time, and who would go mad doing what I do. xxx


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