Friday, April 20, 2007

New acquisition

There was an unexpected benefit for me from entering my blog in the Herts24 Web Awards competition. Although I was not placed, I found a new name for my blogroll, an artist who lives just down the road in the next village to mine. During the competition, she visited my blog and left a message, and I visited hers, and we have blogrolled each other.

Julie Oakley set herself a challenge: to walk a minimum of one mile from home, record where she's been with a drawing, sculpture, photo or painting and then walk back - every day for a year! Yesterday was her 357th day, so she's obviously going to make it.

As Julie's pictures are scenes from my local area, I really enjoy looking at them. This one has a special appeal for me though, as it reminds me of spring in the countryside where I grew up, and of my mother who used to send me snowdrops by post when I lived in London!

Julie's pictures are for sale, and I have this morning received a signed print to hang on my wall. It is rather special to find something like this which you weren't looking for and didn't know you wanted, but which is immediately recognisable as a valued link with the past.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Now we shall always be together

Some years ago, when I had recently joined Growing Old Disgracefully, (about which I wrote here), I attended a workshop about funerals, and about creating one's own alternative celebration. The workshop was just for members of our Network, which made it easier for us to trust each other and take full advantage of the opportunity. In the event we were greatly moved by the experience, and formed a very close bond. After the workshop I wrote this:

We met, some friends, some strangers,
to look, with courage, at our dying;
to consider our leave-taking
and how it should be marked.

We sought the meaning of our lives
that others might celebrate them.
We touched the pain of things awry
and longed to set them right.

We shared our fears, our feelings,
and with paper, paint and willow
made expressions of ourselves.
We wept, and laughed, and hugged.

We joined our hands beneath the sky,
with lights, and words, and music,
rosemary and forget-me-nots.
We set our spirits free.

We should not travel on alone;
we should always be together.
Before, and after, we have gone,
we shall always be together now.


The workshop was run by Welfare State International, "a collective of radical artists and thinkers who explored ideas of celebratory art and spectacle". Unfortunately the original organisation came to an end in 2006, but has been succeeded by Lanternhouse International, whose projects "projects are celebrations, performances and rites of passage, exploring the poetry of the everyday and the paradoxes of contemporary culture". It is worth having a look at the archive website and the new one if you are interested.

Pick'n'mix collections

I realised the other day how my house resembles a sweet shop, with containers full of goodies set out for people to dip into, pick up and enjoy. I cannot resist small items, and those which represent what I suppose one might call 'domestic archaeology' are particularly attractive to me. This collection contains among other things: light pulls, lamp switches, a window wedge, a key, brass weights, a 1914 penny, a brass magnifier, a brass plug for a sink, a brass padlock, a mini ashtray for the handbag, and what I believe to be a container (with applicator) for an infantryman's gun oil.

This basket contains mostly seed pods, with a few other bits and pieces which seemed to belong. Some were brought for me from Australia by my son, some were collected individually by me, and some were bought at my daughter-in-law's Christmas craft fair.

This was my first pick'n'mix collection, which I started when I knew my first grandchild was expected 15 years ago. I wanted to have something on my coffee table which a small child could play with without restraint, and which could be appreciated both visually and by touch. What I overlooked was, that small children also throw things, and that wooden eggs are more hurtful than real ggs!

This is the latest addition: winter spices, including apple and orange slices, cinnamon sticks,chillis and bay leaves. They have a wonderful fragrance and I wanted to set them up as a sort of pot-pourri. I needed a large container to give as much exposure as possible and eventually I thought of the right thing; it has been hiding in my bathroom cupboard for years. See below for additional views.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The kiss

[Photograph by Sheila Joynes]

I exchange a loving moment with Sarah Jane, who came to me as a cleaner and remained as a friend, until we adopted each other as grandmother and granddaughter.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

All change

My friends Sheila and Stephen came to visit me this weekend. It was Stephen who helped me originally to set up my blog, and with him at my elbow again, I plucked up the courage to embark on customising my layout.

[Photograph by Sheila Joynes]

I was excited about the possibility of changing my template, as there were features in other people's blogs which I wished to have in my own. However, when I came to experiment, and selected two templates that I liked, I found that among other shortcomings, both of them, having slightly narrower pages than my old one, had a bad effect on my past posts. My careful layouts of photographs had all gone to pot, and I decided to stick with the old template, but to give it a change of colour, and add some new stuff which is now possible with the new blogger. I shall probably go on experimenting, at least with font colours and sizes, but I shall stick with the red header for the time being, and I hope you will be able to recognise it when you visit.