Wake up…

20121122-230435.jpgOur jobs, our families, our homes and our social-lives* what else is there?
A lot of our energy is taken up with the above and indeed we cherish and put effort into maintaining “our” lives. Tending to our “gardens”, polishing our “treasures”, getting, doing, being.
Yes, I agree, there’s a lot of shit out there and some of it can take a great deal of patience, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness. We work hard to make stuff right, ‘cos it matters.
However, there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ in between. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s vitally important.
We rush to and from these things, we fill the gaps with ‘stuff’ and perhaps don’t notice what we are hypnotically passing by.

John Lennon famously sang about his Beautiful Boy “life is what happens to you, While you’re busy making other plans”.

Indeed! And what Antony De Mello said is often true, “wake up”:
Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, Catholics, Christians, non-Christians, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare. “

“The best path to self-actualization is not to Become Your Dream; rather, it’s to Come to Terms with Your Nightmare” BikeSnob

Various things help to wake me up. It’s an ongoing thing – “’cos everything’s enchanting” isn’t it?

A few years ago, I attended a ‘speed awareness course’, following a minor indiscretion on the highway, officer (and a faulty speed-camera). Amongst other insightful discussions was the simple reminder that, when we’re travelling past or through somewhere, that “somewhere”, is often where other “people are, or live”. Often our journey, through a village, into the city, down the corridor, into town, through the kitchen, around an estate… is about a and b, and the path in between is overlooked – just a means to an end. But real-life is “going on” as we pass through/by!

Our world tends to get populated more and more by things, and not events and experiences.
When planning our lives, tidying the house, travelling to work or “the shop/s”, it’s too easy to neglect the journey: “what we are actually doing”. We’re often busy with something better, something shiny, something polished, something jingly and exciting(?), we’re busy making our plans.
We subscribe to various forms of distraction, tonics and chococoffeecelebritygossip. We buy into culture and the collective consciousness. Some of us have to occasionally sneak Aldi Cheeseballs into the basket. Some of us have to pop pills to stop the “busy-making-other-plans” taking over and crashing the machine. Some might need a good defrag. And we all need careful ongoing maintenance.
Some of us might be able to just stop all the clocks… and be truly thankful… but it’s harder and harder in this world of non-stop 24/7-365 interconnectivity.

Where am I going with this I don’t know…

But I am here, now, breathing…
I see my children growing and sleeping and I’m amazed at the miracle of life.
But I love it when they wake up, and, as children they do see lots that we miss!
When I do go to sleep I try and acknowledge a smile on my face – and I try to remember to truly “wake up” tomorrow.

“The best path to self-actualization is not to Become Your Dream; rather, it’s to Come to Terms with Your Nightmare” BikeSnob

(*for those with children, I’m told social lives do exist and will re-emerge you know!)


Absorbed… (not cool, but true)

I work here

If you know me you’ll know that music is one of those things that floats my boat.  I’ve always had music† in varying forms around me. I, like most, enjoy, value and try to find new ways of seeing through music.
However, it’s been a year or so since I valued any ‘specific’ recorded music. A few artists that I’ve followed for many years have dropped off my list, their output was just not reaching me, and while thousands sang praises about new albums etc they failed to engage me. I found I couldn’t listen to ‘stuff on my list’, it was just not singing anymore. Shuffling through, I would skip, skip, skip and possibly turn it off.
Possibly linked to my period of transition*? I don’t know. I have kept up casually listening to ‘stuff’, with the help of Late Junction, Jools H and Spotify, but, as I say, I was not absorbing any specific artists output? Perhaps the loss of faith in humanity? Perhaps a loss of confidence in past assumptions and values? It’s affected my relationship with music.
However, as you might know, I am revaluing perceptions and pursue a new outlook*.
I recall one specific discovery as a 19 year-old lad, on a grey wintry trip to Woolworth’s in Camborne. I recall reading the lyrics all the way home and… turning on the ghetto blaster in my room… I remember a profound engagement with the sound, the feel, the lyric, the music… OK, it’s not cool, but to me then, it rang of “things bigger”. Since that album, Deacon Blue’s debut album, Raintown. I’ve collected much of their material; the albums, as well as various CD singles from the bargain bin in Woolies. How can you forget such classics as “Dignity”, “Loaded”. “Real Gone Kid”, “Wages Day”, and “Fergus Sings the Blues” etc. Especially when you’ve heard them live in various forms. But more memorable were the album tracks that burned impressions on in brain. I’ve followed Ross and Mcintosh etc and have seen them as a band and individually many times in numerous places. Then I had kids.
Last month, I woke up to hear the immediately familiar tones of Ross and team on my radio! Yes, a processed pop tune, but nonetheless “The Hipsters” had the old sound. A new album; my curiosity was raised. The sound rang round my head. All the familiar sounds came back, the lyrics, the images, the various thoughts and feelings from 25 years ago, that have been layered since, with other thoughts from other artists that also got through to me.
So, I’ve had “The Hipsters” for my birthday, along with socks, slippers, pjs, etc that you get from your kids when you’re 44.  Now on my ‘wish list’ is the “Ooh Las Vegas” album that I lost in transit somewhere. And, the overlooked The Great Lakes and Pale Rider that I have spotified repeatedly recently.
Ross and team have always evoked something that I identify with, as have many other’s on my list. So, thanks for the new album Deacon Blue, for awakening my senses.
I had lost the ability to absorb. Fighting the period of transition had hardened my neurons to ‘stuff’.
Imagine not enjoying any food to the point that you don’t eat.
Well now I’m eating, and it tastes nice.

Listen to your breathing.

†by “music” I mean anything that creates a resonating expressive sound. However, as with food, there is “formulaic” & “processed” music and that falls on the edges of my interest. Yes I like the occasional “Flames” burger and pack of “Nic Naks” as much as the next, but there’s a lot of pap out there. It’s advisable to watch your diet – you are what you eat! And, there’s a lot of stuff you’ve never tried. Listen.

Bike Uncategorized

We cycle to know we are not alone…

As you know I cycle. However (bear with me),  cycling as a sport is not my thing. I don’t find the spin and whirl of the latest chrome or carbon gadgets specifically exciting, I don’t find the latest audacious audax or spritely sportif of interest, “different chevaux for different courses” I guess.

Cycling for me is a way of travelling, getting from a to b, but also it can be a catalyst to seeing the world and your place in it in a new way. Not easy to summarise, it’s essentially an ongoing experience, but over the last year or so I have discovered a few notable (and readable) cycling related reads.

One of my first finds was “The Bicycle Book” by Bella Bathurst.

It’s a great read on the essence of the bike and bicycling. I’d suggest an essential starter.

“What is it about the bicycle that so enchants us? And why do its devotees become so obsessed with it?
A journey through cycling’s best stories and strangest incarnations. A brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present and…”


It’s all about the bike” by Rob Penn was another good read.

A great enthusiastic study and search for the best in cycling without overdoing the technical.
“the bike’s story, from its cultural history to its technical innovation to the fascinating colourful stories of the people who ride it…. with humor, humility, and authoritative intelligence… a rare and precious portal to the heart and soul of bike culture and its surprising footprint on all of culture”

Recently found, and I’m still reading, a lighthearted but enlightening read “The Enlightened Cyclist“.


Making me smile and think…
“Discussing the trials and triumphs of bike commuting with snark, humor, and enthusiasm: If we become better commuters, will that make us better people?”

It’s great when you find the reading of books build on each other. Indeed, when unrelated books enforce each other and start to agree and colour a picture in your mind, then life can seem more real.
In “Shadowlands” we imagine C S Lewis “we read to know we are not alone”.
I suggest we also can cycle to know we are not alone.


Incidentally, TBB borrowed from the local library, IAATB and TEC via KoboBooks.
I guess the drawback to readers of the ebook paradigm shift is that I can’t lend you the book to read…! ?
*** Incidentally, 5 years on and I read real books, the e-reader needs charging ***



Addendum to the below:
What a load of rollocks I write. The old brain really does concoct some crap.
 Sunday evening, and just trying to sift the crap out of the way.
 There’s not much to it really is there? Tomorrow will bring what it brings, yesterday is past.
 My brain’s problem is it’s looking for something that’s not there. That’s art for you.
 I am breathing, I can taste flavour, I feel warmth, I can expect treasures, I have painted stones and walnut whip, slumbered children and a smile from the wife, popcorn tv, infotainment … breath…
 I am breathing, I feel warmth…

And so…

Recently mulling stuff about mindfulness; all’s well and good, but acceptance, tolerance and awakening are the watch words. At first glance a new perspective seems to deny confrontation, conflict, and argument, but how can one progress, create or develop through or around obstacles, with an ‘accepting’ attitude?
The bullish energy of selfishness and the quick-fix attitude of the post-modern ego seem stronger than the river of peace… Yes, the turbulence that the enthusiastic will can create, can cause storms and depressions, and the self might be lucky to realise that one’s ego and desire is limiting. Reality is often buried under constructions and stories. I love stories, I love creativity, but it seems too much of a good thing can crash the operating system.

Personally, a defragment, clean-up and review of subscriptions has worked wonders. Yes, the chemicals are still needed to keep the sparks firing. As Mr. H says, we all need specific clothes.
And so…
Clothed with what’s needed, with a mindful view of the stream, how do we tackle the debris, constructions and faults we perceive? Do we continue, solitary, with friends, on the low-road with views of the river? Do we venture to the heights with chosen weaponry? How do we love it?


Enchanted by the sparkle of novelty.

It rained the other day (you may have noticed). My initial reaction was:

“glorious ride in rain, utterly invigorating and uplifting, joyous, rain-in-mouth, deacon-blue-in-head, alive!!! #initialunconsideredreaction”

After the endorphins settled, my slightly more-considered reaction commented on the “Blessed Rain” see below

And today; the wet ride in was again ‘refreshing’, but I came to consider that we’re often enchanted by the sparkle of novelty.

The novelty of rain, sun, the new, the old, the different, the shiny, the dull, the kill, the birth, …

When we perceive new things we are often enchanted and drawn to the joy that they evoke.
That joy might be temporary, fleeting or deep and wholesome – it might be nurturing and essential or unhealthy and toxic.
I hope we can all realise any opportunity for enchantment but be wary of its captivating effect on our perspective and attitude.

Make the most of ‘the different’ today, en-joy it, but be mindful as you might also have too much of a good thing?

Be alive, get wet, dry off, be alive!

[Facebook post]

Blessed Rain?

On the cycle ride in today the rain was (just a tad) refreshing.

Yup, it was wet, grey, and not-warm, but other than that, we’re all alive! (those that are that is).
I guess it’s a fine line between seeing the rain as a blessing or a curse.
Some say, “nowt such thing as bad weather just bad preparation.” ?
I dare say farmers, flood victims, and those with leaky roofs, might disagree with that. (I do feel for the flood victims. I wonder if town-planning and traffic infrastructure is part of the cause?) Perhaps you can have too much of a good thing…
But on the whole, we do tend to generally curse the (blessed?) rain.
Yes, we’ve had our fair share of it this summer, but let’s not always curse it.
“Oh it’s a miserable day” I hear. Umm… no, you’re “being miserable” about “the day”!?
Today I rode in; I could have focused on negative observations;
Cold, wet hands, wet feet, cars without lights in the rain, cars with poor condition screen demisters and wipers, the majority of school-kids with nice new blazers and no coats(!) in pouring rain (that’s teens for you I guess), poor visibility, wet leaves on the ground, puddles, spray from cars… no sun…
Or might I focus on positive observations;
Alive, rain-in-your-mouth, invigorating rain-on-head, the freedom of cycling is heightened by the stream of smoking almost-stationary traffic steaming into the city, Deacon Blue (Raintown) in my head, the joy of passing the usual pedestrian suspects, “morning!” with a smile, the toddlers loving their pink umbrellas, the thought of nature needing life-giving water…
Be alive, get wet, dry off, be alive!

…then after a day in an office…
Blessed Rain! Be alive, get wet, dry off, be alive!



After my last “puzzled” post, an appealing poem by Gerard Kelly was shared with me.
Thanks R.


This poem/prayer is something many can identify with, however, for me, its dressing of religious tones is unhelpful (for me… I think).

I support the idea and practice of “faith and understanding” within various religious subcultures, but personally I have difficuties with our relationship with the terminology surrounding “God”, and the ideology outlining the reality that “is” true life.

For me, a prayer, which is what this is, needs to be ‘real’ for it to truly be exercised; to come alive when read and hence ressonate with the reader.

I applaud such word-smithery for its conviction, and indeed such as this does help many pilgrims to realise their faith.

But for me, for now, I have to rework it to fit my perspective – I guess it’s just me?

For me, the contemporary idea of Christianity’s ‘God’, carries sooooo much baggage, inference, misunderstanding, disillusionment and disappointment…

For me, I struggle to name this reality of ‘God’.  Naming ‘it’ tends to colour it with an often unhelpful character. Even “nature”, “spirit”, “a glorious righteous life-force” might be unhelpful.

But ‘it’ is a reality, and should be sought, embraced and respected.

Fit me In Somewhere
By Gerard Kelly [notes JPR] Fit me in somewhere
In this giant jigsaw, God*.
Somewhere in this work of art y
Select a space my shape can fill
And with a puzzle maker’s skill
Let my contours find their fit without contortion.

Teach me
[help me see] which patch I am[might be], God*,
In the cosmic quilt you’re quilting.
[quilt too positive? Warm and fuzzy?, suggest picture, painting?]
Show me where my square of selfhood is of use.
Let the colourful complexities
Of the pattern that is me
Find their purpose in the placement that you* choose.
[“right place”? I have yet to know god’s opinion?]

Show me my position, God*,
in this group photograph.
Stand me where you* want me to stand.
Put me next to whom you* will.
Make me stand, for good or ill,
Precisely in the place your plan
[your plan? “true life”]demands.

Tell me what I am, God*
in this body you* are building [not sure]:
a tongue to taste,
a nerve to serve,
an ear to hear.
Give me grace
to not be, gracefully,
the parts I am not called to be
and to play with elegance
the roles I’m given.

Fit me in somewhere
In the giant jigsaw, God*,
Somewhere in this work of art you’re working.
Weave your wondrous tapestry
Until the twisted, tangled threads of me,
Surrendered to your artistry,
Form an image that is beautiful to see.

[yet still aware of the tapestry’s thready loose ends on the back ;-)]

*For me ‘God’ carries sooooo much baggage and inference, misunderstanding and disappointment…  


Fit me In Somewhere Also…
(after Gerard Kelly…)O true life, that is right, all-encompassing and real…

Fit me in somewhere
In this giant jigsaw.
Somewhere in this living work of art
Select a space my shape can fill
And with a puzzle maker’s skill
Let my contours find their fit without contortion.
Help me know which patch I might be,
In the cosmic picture you’re, painting.
Show me where my square of selfhood is of use.
Let the colourful complexities
Of the pattern that is me
Find their purpose in the a place that right, good and true.

Show me my position, in this group photograph.
Stand me where‘s best to stand.
Put me next to whom you will.
Make me stand, for good or ill,
Precisely in the place your true living demands.

Tell me what I am, in this body that’s growing:
a tongue to taste,
a nerve to serve,
an ear to hear.
Give me grace
to not be, gracefully,
the parts I am not called to be
and to play with elegance
the roles I’m given.

Fit me in somewhere
In the giant jigsaw,
Somewhere in this living work of art.
Weave your wondrous tapestry
Until the twisted, tangled threads of me,
Surrendered to your artistry,
Form an image that is beautiful to see.

[yet still aware of the tapestry’s thready loose ends on the back ;-)]

O true life that is right and encompassing and real, Fit me in somewhere…




My youngest loves jigsaw puzzle and is surprisingly adept at them.
This morning I went into her and she was quite fraught while two-thirds way through a colourful moshi-puzzle “dad I need help” she uncharacteristically whimpered.

Doing a jigsaw with a child can be thought provoking;

the joy of bits fitting,
the frustration of not finding your place,
the worry that something’s missing,
the moment of unintenional breakup,
the disappointment it’s not as big as I thought,
the elation as you find the bit u thought was lost,
the organised versus the random process,
the race against time, the broken bit,
the satisfaction of a finished creation,
the enshrined ongoing project…


I don’t do jigsaws… perhaps I should?

Recently, I have felt/thought that ‘bits’ are ‘fitting together’ – the finding new bits, and the seeing a bigger picture, don’t ask me what it is yet, certainly I’m far from that stage.  But, ‘knowing’ that stuff ‘feels’ right and in it’s place, is a good feeling.  Yup, there’s a few big piles of dull and busy bits that don’t have a place yet and I’m pretty convinced many don’t even have a place in this puzzle, but we’ll get to them if and when we need to.  As you do; we shelve bits, start new bits and often walk away from it altogether.  There’s the concerted effort to explore an interesting part and the frustration that it just doesn’t fit… It’s broken… I have better thngs to do… It’s lost… I haven’t the patience… “A bad workman blames his tools…” they say.  Yup, often I blame the jigsaw.


A little swing…

Both benches were taken when I ventured to the mini-park to sit and read my Robert Penn ebook…

the swing!……    ahhhh what a pleasure.

I sat on the swing, ate my meagre offering and read my ebook… not before I had a little sway.
It would have been a bigger sway but modesty forbade it – bunch of Africans sharing spicy lunch on bench looking on.

But a little sway, was enough… what deep neurons fired? I do not know… ?  but it was good!

A little ‘play’ makes Jack more clear, crisp, alive.  ’twas good!

Alas after 25 minutes the realisation that the swing’s seat was too small focused reality, along with the empty lunch box…




‘Dyson’ passed on… Was quite a creature…

We’ll after 8 years our Bristle Nose Ancistrus ‘Dyson’ has thrown in the towel.
We got him as a fry about an inch long and over 2 years he grew to about 5inch long.
After 8 years, and seeing other more fragile fish come and go, he has given up the fight.
An amazing colour, amazing creature and an amazing character.
He played tailball with the apple snails, tolerated the fire eel, but other than entertaining us with his festy antics generally kept himself to himself.
He struggled over the last 2 days and then flaked out…
Goodbye Dyson.



Silk Worms – Bombyx mori, the silkworm of the mulberry tree.

In late May we took delivery of some silkworm eggs. The silkworm eggs like last years caterpillars, came from Insect Lore.
You may recall the Painted Lady butterflies that we nurtured last year.

Well it’s been 8 weeks and a slow process but at last we have ‘Silky’ the silk moth!
Silky – Bombyx mori
Silky – Bombyx mori © Jules Richards
We have watched the pepper like eggs transform into little mini-mini-silkworms.
They grew, almost as we watched, while munching on squished mulberry leaves.
Silk Worms 2 weeks old. ©jules Richards
Silk Worms 2 weeks old. © Jules Richards
They grew over 2 weeks to about an inch and a half and then started spinning their cocoons.  Another 2 weeks and one silkworm moth has emerged! Amazing little thing!
P1050964P1050969P1050971xP1050971 copy

Silk Worms, a set on Flickr.

Oh and what’s more, having started blogging a year ago, this is post 100 from me!  Ding dong! Happy daze.