playing around with Harmony

Harmony is a great way to doodle and create biomorphic image. You can access the application directly or as an app for Chrome.

Here is a web album with some images I made recently.

Harmony pictures

A World in Miniature

Here is an update on my friend, who broke her ankle two weeks ago. She tells me her morning routine has changed.

A World in Miniature

The universe has shrunk. It must be a nice day outside, because the living room is bright. Most of the day is experienced with a single view, from the sofa. There are distractions and points of focus, and a few channels to the outside world.

Two weeks after breaking the bone, it still seems important to keep it horizontal as much as possible to promote healing. Some normal simple household tasks are completely impossible, while others can only be done at the expense of too much time spent with the leg vertical. Keep a close eye on the toes, if they start to darken, stop and elevate the leg above the heart until it normalises again. Make sure you don’t put pressure on the cast, or on the leg within the cast.

A dining chair has been moved into the kitchen, so that cooking and washing up can be done sitting down if needed. Eating can be done at the site of food preparation. Getting food from the fridge is quite complicated and difficult, still.

The normal morning routine is exhausting and puts maximum stress on the leg. Doing any additional tasks is a challenge – today moved the allergy medicine from the dresser on one side of the room to the other, so that it is accessible. Took five minutes and a lot of flinging about. Then had to clean up a bit of cat upchucked food – not nasty, it just happens when they eat too fast, but how to bend down and pick it up in a tissue while in the hallway? And how to move it from there to the toilet? I was almost in throwing distance, so practiced my basketball technique – bundle it up as tight as possible in the tissue, aim at toilet, toss, hit the package of loo roll next to the toilet, bundle falls apart, now bits of cat food fallen behind toilet. Ha ha. Defeated me for a few minutes, then I managed with some struggle to retrieve all the pieces and dispose of them. And yet one more additional task outside the routine today…retrieve a clear plastic recycle bag from the shelves on the opposite side of the dining table (table is pushed against those shelves to make enough room for me to walk  around the other way on crutches). Ha ha! Crutches can be used as a tool. Stand on one foot or move a chair into position and use the crutch to knock the roll of bags off the shelf, then pull it towards you. Takes five minutes. Win! Exhausted! Put clean yogurt tubs and takeaway boxes into the bag and leave it in easy reach. Feed cats. Drink leftover coffee from yesterday (clever). Worry about colour of toes, so sit down on sofa without eating anything just yet.

Take a few pictures, because the photo journal exercise is continuing. Write a journal entry – that’s your bit of creative writing for the day. Sit in the centre of a very small universe, as if the horizon has been shrink-wrapped tight to your skin.

Look forward to a visit and cherish the friends who make contact, whether electronically or in person.

Empathise with people who face similar things every day without having an end-date in sight. At the moment, I’m hoping I’m one-third of the way through.


Flash fiction 7X7 Story 3 Ōne in the zone

Word list (yes, it is more than 7 words):

  1. Ella Sprung ONE / zone
  2. Karen Pierce Cartography
  3. Trevor Sewell Intertwined
  4. Joanne Frances Maddern Decision
  5. Allen Foster Honeycomb
  6. Trish Barres Ludicrous
  7. Mary Scott cantankerous
  8. Joanna Bond train

Ōne in the zone

by Mary Jacob, first draft 19 January 2013


Two teenaged girls sat in the back of the train, with one iPod between them.

“You’ve got to hear this new band. Their name is spelled like ‘one’ but pronounced like ‘own’.”

“Oh weird. What do they sound like?”

“Wait, here’s the title song from their new album, ‘In the Zone’”. Judy slipped one earbud into Kayleigh’s ear.

“Oh my god! What are they playing? I hear the trombone, but is that a comb? That other bit just sounds like a phone, and what is this clacking sound?”

“Bones. They play trombone, comb, bones, phone and kazoo. Cool, huh?”


As the volume of the earbuds increased, so did the volume of their voices. Judy squealed, “Oh, Kayleigh, they’re fun, and you should see their shoes!”

“I can’t listen to shoes. And I can’t listen to this, either. I’m making a decision, now, to move to another seat.” With that, she stood up and moved to the front of the carriage. They still had three stops to go before arriving in Aber. Their sudden silence was like a honeycomb, just plain hollow and unsatisfying.

A gentleman seated two rows ahead of Judy turned around – he must have been nearly 50, just ancient – and said, “Why is your friend being so cantankerous? May I have a listen to this music?”

“Erm, sure, I guess.” She leaned forward and passed the earbud to him, while keeping a tight hold on the iPod itself, because you never know, do you?

It wasn’t clear at first what he thought. His eyebrows went up, then they went down into a V shape, then they seemed to get longer as his whole face opened up really wide – big grin, those eyes that narrow but are crinkly right up to the edge of a person’s face, even his ears seemed to move back to make more room for his smile.

“Like it?”

His head bobbed up and down as Judy put the other earbud in her own ear. When they got to the chorus, each of them sang different parts of the harmony, so that their voices intertwined as they leaned over the empty row of seats between them. A couple who looked like students from the Uni came back and joined in the singing, so Judy passed the earbuds to them. The volume was cranked up so loud that you could hear it even without earbuds, to be honest. Soon there was a little party going on in the back of the carriage, people dancing in the aisle and making those little poky motions with their hands, in unison.

“Hey, we’ve got choreography!”

“What? We make maps?”

“No, that’s cartography. Choreography is dancing, like, together and stuff.”

By the time they passed through Borth, everyone in the carriage was dancing except for Kayleigh. She walked to the back, with her head hanging down.

“I guess you were right. Ōne is in the zone. It’s pretty cool. Can you burn me a copy?”

“Oh no. You’ve got to buy it yourself. From the artist!”

At that, Judy flipped a business card in the direction of her friend.

“What’s this? ‘JudyTwoShoes, the Unknowns.’ Don’t the Unknowns do the backing vocals for Ōne?”

“Yup. We do!”

Then she flipped her two pigtails and turned to get off the train. They’d arrived at their destination.

7X7 Story 2 – Snow Day

by Mary Jacob, first draft started 16 January 2013

This story was made using the following words contrbuted by friends (yes, it is more than 7 because words kept coming in!):

  1. Anastasia Allen knitting
  2. Janice De Haaff stuff
  3. Anastasia Allen puffin
  4. Huw Owen hydraulic
  5. Jim Curry Chiaroscuro
  6. Yana Hearl huddle
  7. Ken Humphreys Haberdashery
  8. Steve Simpson prehensile
  9. H. Lori Schnieders snow
  10. Phil Wheeler tail

Snow Day

She was curled up in the window seat, absorbed in her knitting, when he came in. He didn’t want to break her concentration, so he paused in the doorway to appreciate the scene before his eyes. Dark hardwood floors, stone fireplace, shadows in the curved arches of the ceiling. How lucky they were to live in such a place, even with the cobwebs and dust in the corners, and dodgy plumbing. Snow was starting to fall, just visible through the stone windows. The light on her smooth face made a chiaroscuro effect, like a painting by Vermeer. Maybe he should ask her to pose for him, but of course light isn’t reliable. Tomorrow it would be completely different from the silvery luminescence that he saw right now. Even a few minutes would make a huge difference.

He didn’t want to break the spell, so he turned away, but she must have heard his footsteps, because she called after him. “Joe? José? Is that you?”

“I love it when you use my Spanish name! It makes me feel like I’ve brought a little bit of my home here to this cold climate. What are you making?”

“Oh, here, let me clear up my stuff, sit with me. It’s a puffin, see? I started with the colourful beak.”

“A puffin?”

“It’s for Cora’s little girl. What do you think?” She held up a tangle of bright yarn for his approval.

“Hm…I’m not sure it’s obviously a bird, sweetie. Not yet, at any rate. Is it supposed to have a prehensile tail?” He picked up the dangling skein and wrapped it around her head.

“Joe, that’s cruel, stop it.”

“Okay, okay.” He huddled next to her on the bench. They both shivered at the same time.

“I need to go to the haberdashery to get some more supplies, though, I need some buttons and I want to put silky black ribbons through here. Can we go into the village? Have you fixed the hydraulics on the truck yet?”

“No, and I’m not sure it’s going to happen today. It’s too cold to work on it now. Anyway, we don’t have money for fancy ribbons and stuff. Don’t forget we’re just squatting here. Sometimes you act like you’re the lady of the manor.”

“Oh Joe, don’t spoil it. It was so nice just now. Let me carry on for a little while, then I’ll make you some leek and potato soup.”

“And we’ll dine in the great hall?”

“Yes, by candlelight. Like the lord and lady of the manor.”

He gave her shoulders a squeeze and walked out, having completely forgotten what it was he wanted in the first place. Or maybe he did get what he came for, just possibly.

morning routine

My friend who has a fiercely independent spirit and lives alone recently broke her ankle.  Here is her morning routine:

illumination 142

  1. Put the little shoe over the cast and the slipper over the good foot.
  2. Stand up on one leg.
  3. Put on a dressing gown.
  4. Pick up the crutches and walk to the loo.
  5. Do yuu you need to do.
  6. Stand up on one leg.
  7. Pick up the crutches and walk to the kitchen.
  8. Stand on one foot halfway between the sideboard and wine rack.
  9. Put down the crutches where they won’t fall.
  10. Standing on one leg move two cat water dishes and two cat food dishes from sideboard to the wine rack.
  11. Pick up the crutches and walk a  few more steps between the wine rack and kitchen sink.
  12. Put the crutches down where they won’t fall.
  13. Stand on one leg move dishes to counter to the left of the sink.
  14. Pick up crutches and move to front of sink.
  15. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  16. Stand on one leg and empty remaining food into the recycle bin next to sink.
  17. Still standing on one leg fill sink with soapy water, wash and dry dishes, fill bottle with water.
  18. Lean against sink as needed.
  19. Still standing on one leg move dishes and bottle to wine rack (this may require picking up crutches, walking a few steps, putting crutches down and standing on one leg again).
  20. Pick up crutches and walk to side board.
  21. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  22. Stand on one leg and put dishes in dish holder, pour water into water dishes, move food bag to sideboard, dish out food into food dishes, move food bag back onto kitchen table and move water bottle back to wine rack.
  23. Pick up crutches and walk to kettle.
  24. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  25. Stand on one leg and fill kettle with water, put sugar in coffee cup, put filter holder on top of cup, put filter in holder, put coffee in filter.
  26. Lean against the counter to catch breath.
  27. Stand on one leg and put cereal into bowl, pour first batch of hot water over coffee.
  28. Pick up crutches and walk to door to landing (tiny exotic kitchen, no room for fridge so it is on landing).
  29. Stand on one leg and open door, holding crutches in one hand.
  30. Take crutches properly and walk onto landing.
  31. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  32. Stand on one leg and open fridge door, move juice and milk bottles to shelf, close fridge door.
  33. Pick up crutches and walk to doorway.
  34. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  35. Stand on one leg and lean back against door frame, move juice and milk bottles to kitchen counter.
  36. Pick up crutches and walk a couple of steps out of the door frame.
  37. Hold crutches in one hand, stand on one leg and lean against wall, close and lock door.
  38. Take crutches properly and walk to kitchen counter.
  39. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  40. Stand on one leg and pour milk into bowl, juice into Tupperware unbreakable tumbler, move coffee filter holder to sink, stir coffee to mix in the sugar.
  41. Pick up crutches and walk to sink.
  42. Put crutches down where they won’t fall.
  43. Stand on one leg and move coffee, juice and cereal from the right-hand counter to the counter to the left of sink.
  44. Pick up crutches and walk to wine rack.
  45. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  46. Stand on one leg and move coffee, juice, cereal from wine rack to table.
  47. Pick up crutches and walk to table.
  48. Put down crutches where they won’t fall.
  49. Sit in chair and arrange food in front of yourself, keeping cats out of the milk.
  50. Arrange the cast so the leg is supported by another chair and yet you can still reach the food.
  51. Catch your breath.
  52. Eat.
  53. Reverse the steps to transfer dishes from table to wine rack to sink (water bottle, too), stand on one leg to wash dishes, leave dishes in rack for next time.
  54. Pick up crutches and walk to living room.
  55. Arrange self on sofa, elevate leg, check for swelling and discoloration.
  56. Stay put as long as possible.

Let’s all be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted. Let’s all appreciate the difficulties that others may have. Let’s all be thankful for our friends. Indeed!

poem – Glitter

by Mary Jacob, first draft composed 4 January 2013

illumination 086

Streetlamps and fairy lights sparkle the crumbling facades

of this Edwardian town.

Early evening, no movement but a lone woman

crossing to the middle of the road.

She straddles the median,

braces her feet against the cobble,

sets her hip, locks elbows,

and raises a camera as steady as it can be

for a slow shutter speed.

She presses the button, squints, fiddles,

presses again. Everything presses –

feet on the ground, elbows into ribs, finger

on the button.

She shifts her weight, changes

the white balance. The lens

unfolds out, then collapses back into itself

again. She steps

forward and back.

No sound on the street

but the soft tick and flutter of the shot.

She holds the camera

away from her face. The tiny image

shows sparky spikes of light

beating out from the streetlamp,

bashing the darkness and leaving

tattered shopfronts awash

in gold lacquer,

smoothing and filling in the cracks.

She takes her time

progressing slowly round the town tree.

Finally, a car passes, and then another.

A flock of Friday night revellers

totter onto the street in matching plumage –

impossibly high heels, miniskirts, and somewhere

each one has

a touch of glitter, echoing

the street decorations.

There’s always a bit of glitter

to push back the black.

It works quite well, sometimes,

seen through the right lens.

poem – Year of the Snake

by Mary Jacob, first draft written 2 January 2013

It is the Year of the Snake –

garters, clinches, slow-acting venom,

a rustle below the line of sight, then


Is this what the year bodes?

Or is it something

seething up from our own swamp,

the lizard brain?

Strange hissing

in the inner ear, wordless susurration

and sibilants?

A whisper from the sibyl

wise, wise, wise.

Flash Fiction: 7X7 number 1

seven2This story was written in response to an invitation I posted on Facebook:

7X7 experiment – Please comment on this post by posting *one single word* – any word you want (well, not something rude, obviously). Once I have seven words, I will weave them into a mini story. Next step is try to create seven different stories using the same set of words. I’ll put the stories where you can find them. Thanks to Tommy Baker for inspiration.

The words were: rose, flapjack, octopus, dolsot, travesty, laughing, wired, with the optional addition of reptile. Considering the level of specificity of the words, I’ve only written one story.

Language Lesson

by Mary Jacob, 13 January 2013

They had been driving since 6am, sniping at each other the whole time, so when they arrived at the lake, they put down their bags and sat without speaking for a while. It seemed easier that way. A square patch of sun inched across the floor.

She rose heavily from the kitchen chair and said to her husband, “Well, I might as well start making the flapjacks, or it will be too late to eat by the time they’re done.” She rummaged around in the cupboards. “This cabin is so tiny, there’s nothing here. I can’t find a fry pan, only these stone pots. What a travesty! We paid a lot of money to spend this weekend at Big Bear.”

“Calm down,” her husband said, “Why are you so wired? The saucepans were probably nicked by the previous guests. All they have left are these Korean things, dolsots, I think you call them.”

She snorted. “Dolsots? That sounds like some kind of reptile. What are we supposed to do with these? You can’t fry pancakes in stone pots.”

“Pancakes? I thought you were making flapjacks?”

“Yes, flapjacks.”

“Oh wait a minute…” They spoke at nearly the same time. He was saying, “In Britain, a flapjack is…” while she said, “In America, a flapjack is…”

Before they could finish their sentences, they’d collapsed on the floor laughing. He enclosed her in his arms and breathed in the fragrance of her hair. “Shall we start again?” he said.

“You’re such an octopus!” she said, as she snuggled into his chest. “Okay, let’s see what the rest of the cabin is like. If it’s really nice, we don’t have to go skiing at all, do we?“

“We can stay in and teach each other to speak English. Properly, I mean. With this nice bottle of Cabernet.”

“That’s French, silly.”

“Yes, teacher. I’ll see if I can find the California Zin, then, shall I?”