Flocks of geese

The geese take off from the lake, fly around in a great flock, as far as three miles perhaps, then alight on the water again.


It is very beautiful. I saw them on Friday, but was with a friend so did not want to be messing about with a camera. Now, the next sunny day, I wonder if they will repeat. I see no flocks of geese as I approach. Just my luck if they had all emigrated!


The self-aware swan, nervously looking at its reflection, is some consolation.


Then- there they are! It would be beautiful, just to contemplate them; but I want a good shot. They are towards the sun: perhaps from over there I would get a better view.


They fly so close together! Many shots are less well focused than this.


I love this shot:


I stood around for about half an hour, waiting for them, then snapping away, seventy shots, most unfocused, some just of sky or trees. I got chatting to an old bloke who comes here every day, can tell different kinds of geese apart, and has been watching them from the causeway.


This family has four young, a good survival rate. They were ten yards away, aware but unfazed by me.


Video selfie

A video selfie. Because still selfies are so last year.

Also in the park I saw this pair of swans:

Swan couple 1 swan couple 2

Then the narrowboat. I might as well- but I have to take it quickly, with no time for thought for the framing. And, I can’t see how to frame it. Nice that the woman waved, though.


Two swans flew over the field and landed in the water. Again, I was in a panic trying to sort my camera for a shot: I missed it with my heart, as well as with my camera. That’s why I do not always take the camera.

Swan landingswan landing 2

Then there were the pair of geese:


Walking along the path, I thought, a butterfly landing among the flowers would be lovely. Should I wait a bit, in case? Nah, no chance of that. But then, it did.

butterfly 1butterfly 2butterfly 4butterfly 3

A fbfnd identified it as a peacock butterfly on borage.

Rule of Three


Have you heard of the rule of three?

The woman had not, though after she apologised for her dog shaking over me, she told me about the photos which had got away: she had seen a kite only 10′ in the air, bullied by two buzzards into dropping its prey; and in the back-brook where her dogs swim she had seen a carp, all the beautiful colours of it; maybe she should get a camera. Then, the picture which got away eluded me: that splash of colour from the red van, driving past too quickly to snap at, would have complemented the poppies beautifully. “Back-brook”- a phrase I have not heard before, but get the meaning immediately.


Isecurityf I could get the exposure right: I am not happy with the colour. I need a better tool for adjusting, and practice with it. So my poppy photo to illustrate the Rule of Three is not the one with strict one third to sky with the poppies one third in, one third up, because it looks washed out. My poppy photo shows the splash of red by the lower left magical point, one third in, one third up, but the yellow of the rape is still washed out.

The rule of three is so important that my camera screen can be set to display a grid as if for noughts and crosses, helpfully to show where the significant points of the subject(s) should be, and yet I had not heard of it, and am not sure it works. The test is my own response to the photo. I think it works with the swan, its body a third up, its neck a third in, and I particularly like the way the reflection of the beak becomes an abstract squiggle; and I am unsure with the poppies. I do need more practice. I came upon the rule in a page I cannot find, now.

My next encounter was not so pleasant. The man stood with his dog in its harness, telling it to sit, though it was desperate to get at me as I walked along the path. His voice would be gentle, if you can imagine gentleness completely devoid of sweetness. I do not like what the man is doing to that dog, preparing it for war with the Bad People. It seems security too far. A photo from the front might have pushed the dog beyond control. Roll on Googleglasses, when one will be always ready to take any picture: though that readiness can stop me seeing what is there.

I wander on, thinking how a photograph could never convey the ever-changing quality of being here; blogging, turning phrases over in my mind; and planning my new meme.

hut meme

Amazing how far left I have moved this past year. I have started a memes page, as writing on photos is such fun. I get to enjoy the goslings, here straining towards Mum. Have I got the framing right? Hmmm…


Birds in flight II

flyinghunting…Just this way a bit- bit lower-

I don’t actually know what these are. If you do, please let me know.


I really would hate to scare the swan off, and- at the moment of taking the picture I wanted the picture. Partly “Of course it’ll be alright” and partly recklessness of wrong.


No such problem with the flocking


or the ripple effect.

Getting to know myself

I saw two swans flying. This is rare, because they can normally get where they want to go, by swimming. They aid each other, one flying in the other’s slip stream. As I watched, they changed places.

As the laws of attack govern those of riposte, to avoid being harmed by the asperities of my character, all my servants adopted in their own the same withdrawal tactics, and always at the same point; in compensation for this, they took advantage of the gaps in my defences to gain ground there. Of these gaps I knew nothing, any more than of the ground gained in the spaces they left, precisely because they were gaps. But my servants, as their faults became gradually more apparent, taught me of their existence. It was in the defects which they invariably acquired that I learned of my own natural, invariable defects, and their character presented me with a sort of negative proof of my own.

-Proust, The Guermantes Way

How can I get to know the bits of myself which I deny? The first step was realising that such bits exist in the first place. When I first saw Johari’s Window in the 1990s, it did not really speak to me. It was a great revelation to realise, in about 2000, that I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a Good person. One thing I sought to do then was find other motivations I might have to lie to myself.

A strange thing about this lie is that it still applies, though my principles have moved from a Daily Mailish morality to ideals around personal growth and spiritual maturity, it is still easier to tell myself I have done some healing or growth than actually to do it.

Another task was to find out what I really wanted, and to compare my belief of my wants to my acts. If I really want something, I should be motivated to achieve it. In come the lies again: I want to protect myself, and wear a mask when I interact with other people, so I do, but do not realise it. I tell myself I want the things I have learned I ought to want, but don’t. So I seek them out, and wonder at my lack of motivation and energy.

Also, at some deep unconscious level I wanted my own survival and healing, towards a self-actualisation that, consciously, I could not have understood, or might fear and hate. These factors have brought me Here, to a place where I might do that healing.

The blue pill

Using male pronouns to refer to me is as disrespectful, uncivilised, and wrong, as calling a black person a N*****.

This is who I am. To express myself female is what I wanted, against all common sense or rationality, against the evidence of my own senses, looking at my own body. Plunging into the nature of my being, that I am female is deeper than anything else, utterly impervious to change. Actually, the pill question: “If you could take a pill and be a normal male without these feelings, would you?”- well, I come out with the “right” answer, “No, because then I would not be me”, but sometimes it is a close run thing. Being transsexual has given me such intense pain that sometimes I do not know how I have borne it. I have been suicidal, just wanting to die, for months at a time, and twice I have undertaken preparatory acts, though not any actual self-harming physical act- I have formed the decision, then backed off.

To refer to me as “she” rather than “he” is a basic level of courtesy which I am entitled to, and fortunately receive from most people I meet. However, where I do not, I will not be sympathetic or understanding, and nor should you be, whoever you are. I so resent still having to work through these issues aged 45, ten years after getting the courage to express myself female at work.

It is the same for people with body integrity identity disorder. If someone is complaining about how difficult it is to get a wheelchair on a bus, “Well you could walk” is an answer just as disrespectful as using male pronouns for me.

It seems to me that humanity, now, is working through issues of otherness and respect, issues of living together, issues of accepting the full range of human diversity and the discomfort that currently engenders. I think we can get these things right, and that free, diverse humanity has far more access to blessing and gift than regulated, regimented humanity. For my own self-respect, I will assert my right to respect from others. I have been at the fulcrum of this issue, and have survived.

If I can assert my right without anger or fear, then I am giving an invitation, though one some people will be unable to hear: an invitation to see humanity in the full beauty and richness of our diversity, and to accept all those bits of yourself which you have falsely been told are unacceptable.


It really matters to me to see humanity as progressing. Things are not as I might wish, but I do think they are getting better. A little group of Quakers, frightened of Peak Oil, climate change, and the Global Financial Crisis had a conversation where I asserted this, and people brought forward the Bosnian war and the Rwandan genocide, child labour in India, even female genital mutilation, forsooth, as evidence against. I could play the game: I have a good level of articulacy and rhetorical skills. I am interested in current affairs and history- and Life, in all its fulness and variety, even if more as an observer than a participant, so far- so I can come up with apposite examples and elegant argument. Instead, I disengaged.

Heaven is Here. I see it. That anyone does not see it is not evidence against its existence. So, I do not need to win the argument and convince anyone, I am satisfied in my own mind.

I can say to anyone, look around yourself. See the abundance and the beauty and the wonder and the Blessing. Look, at this, or this, or this. And if they cannot take this in, I may give up on them.

Gosh, that is pretty mature of me. Saintly, even. Or, since I am doing teenage at the moment: the argument going against me, I went into a sulk. Words….


Am I boring you? Am I just repeating myself? I have been thinking about that last Pronouns conversation, three weeks ago. There are times when it is the other’s own stuff coming out, or they are just ignorant, and there are times when they want to push my buttons. Those two, they know, they have the intelligence, maturity and experience to understand completely. That particular time, it was deliberate. As if I have a big, red button, as big as my torso, and all you have to do is tap it gently and watch me implode.


Ah. Breathe it in. I am getting there.

I have nothing to be ashamed of.

You will not hurt me with this.


I visited Belfast in 1988. There were soldiers with guns, and armoured vans with low skirts on, so no-one could roll a grenade underneath, and barbed wire protecting the pubs. I was pushing my bicycle through the station. That army officer will not walk in front of me- so I hurried, walking in front of him, making him pause. And- I felt his Love reach out and envelop me. That is the only way I can put it.

Rather than suppressing it, I am feeling the intense pain of decades of feeling that I am an outsider, that I am less, and I see a way through this.

TED, in praise of vulnerability.

My community

There is a plaque outside the pub which says people have been drinking in this inn for over 350 years. That is quite a sesh, I think, someone should tell them to go home. Walk up the hill north towards the cenotaph, and you pass some lovely buildings, some half-timbered. In the shopping mall there is Dorothy Perkins and WH Smith, and here there is a shop selling speciality teas and a hardware store. Or you could turn off past the fifteenth century barn and the sculpture of the swans in flight. On the river you may see dozens of swans, I had not seen so many together before coming here. It is beautiful.

You will get quite a different story about the town from a certain website which tells of “chavs”, which means oiks, or lower class people, in British towns. I noticed that website, talking of shell suits and jogging bottoms, which I rarely see. “Chavs” is an offensive term for my neighbours. Not a word I would use. Not really how I see the town at all, my town is beautiful. Not the way I see my neighbours. Look at these trees, gardens, open spaces. My next door neighbour taught me my two words of Bulgarian. Perhaps I should try to remember more: Dobre, meaning well, but also translating the word Uhuh, as in I understand, yes, go on, is a useful word. Like “Acha” in Bangla. My other next door neighbour fixed my dehumidifier, and I helped him with a question about benefits.

It is as if the person who wrote in that horrid, mocking site and I see two different places, different people, different worlds, parallel universes. Not all of us are well off, indeed Ofsted wrote in its report about the Children’s Centre that some parents studying school-age qualifications were doing these as an end in themselves and not as a route into employment, as there is little in the area. This writer sees an oik, and I see my friend M, and we go for coffee. It is important to me to see the beauty in the place I live and the people I meet. Fortunately, that beauty is easy to find.

Sunshine and Community

In the meeting house garden, the plums are out. Apply the gentlest pressure, upwards, to the base of the fruit, and if it falls into your hand it is perfect, ready for feasting on. You can tell it is a meeting house because of the grave stones, plain, uniform, below knee height, simple and unadorned.

My friend tells me the brambles will not be out until October in Edinburgh, but here they have been out for two months. At first either wersh and characterful or with that wonderful, explodes in the mouth sweetness, now they have a soft, gentle sweetness. I stain thumb and forefingers.

I have been noticing, more, since that programme on the Impressionists. Tiny plants cover the surface of the field by the river. Looking down, I see their leaves green and red, but further away there is a sheen on the field, far too complex for any pointilliste, green and red and- blue? And purple. I have been looking at the difference in one colour, in sunshine, in shade, under cloud, after sunset.

On the bridge over the river I meet a couple taking photographs. The man is not so interested in the swans, as in the light on the water: with the sun at this angle, the ripples make clear precise patterns of light and dark. I took the photo above before- noticing the effect, he captures it better. I do not have my camera, because with my camera I am tempted to concentrate on creating an image I can delight in later, rather than delighting in the reality, around me, now. Just over the bridge, the chirping of the grasshoppers is as loud as a car engine, but as I walk on it is soon replaced by birdsong.

The park is mine, today, I only see six other people. It is too hot for the wig, so I take it off, and feel the wind in my own, so terribly sparse hair. Down by the lock a few weeks ago I met a man who goes there to chat to tourist narrowboaters, who told me his great delight and his great fear and called me “me duck”, a beautiful endearment for a stranger which I had not heard around here before. By some branches, cut and planted in a pattern and now, amazingly to me, putting forth new shoots, I met a man with two dogs of a breed common in Portugal but rare here, who read me, and told me of his own experiments with cross-dressing- his wife does not approve.

Inspired by this post. If you like what I write, please tell people.