Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hundertwasser - Austrian artist 1928-2000

"We are in need of magic
I fill a picture until it is full with magic, as one fills up a glass with water
Everything is so infinitely simple, so infinitely beautiful."
I have made a discovery this morning, over my bowl of cereal, which I always eat while I open my emails and my blog comments. There was a message from someone who has recently become one of my followers: 'Kissedaprincegotafrog'. I referred to her familiarly as 'Frog Lady' in one of my comments, and asked her if she minded. She sent me an agreeable email which included a link to this artist's website, with her recommendation to read his biography.
I thought "not over breakfast, it's too early in the day", but I went there anyway. It is one of those websites with a black background, which I usually don't bother with, as they are hard on my eyes, but I stayed anyway. I read the artist's biography, which was a bit of a strain, and I admit I skipped bits, but I read most of it anyway. Then I began clicking on the coloured graphics that linked to other sections of the website, where I found paintings, videos, the artist's own thoughts and philosophy, and more paintings. Suddenly I was hooked. I have picked out two paintings that I particularly like, but I do recommend you have a look for yourself if you like what you see here. I certainly do - thankyou, Frog Lady.
I was very struck by this extract from his writing, which seems even more important to consider today, than in 1975 when it was written:
One must live as though one were at war and everything rationed
Man must be careful
Must think independently, must economize
Should not waste blindly
Man must take care that the cycle functions
The cycle from eating to shitting functions naturally
But the cycle from shitting to eating is disconnected
Being happy does not depend on wealth at all
Does not depend on production
That is difficult to say.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Google Friend Connect

I must say I am very annoyed with Blogger for adding this networking function to the Followers widget in the sidebar. It seems to have added something like 3.5 centimetres to the height of the box that contains the 'heads', and in doing so has made it messy looking and wasteful of space. What is more, the new top and bottom bars contain two links in each, and 3 of the 4 all take you to the same place. Very bad design in my view. No, I must correct myself, there are 5 links in the two bars altogether, 3 of them going to the same place. I reckon they could have got the 3 all in one bar.

And anyway, surely they could have made Google Friend Connect a different widget to be added at will? I am not going to invite my Followers to join Friend Connect as well, as it seems like it's trying to be something like Facebook, and that is something I don't do, and won't urge my friends to do either. It's nice having your faces there in the sidebar, but I'm not sure if I shall keep them there. We'll see.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Followers - 3

Firstly, I must say 'thankyou' to those of you who have recently signed up as my followers. My shameless touting for acknowledged readers was only thinly disguised as an explanation of how to make following easier for yourselves, but I attempted to place my tongue firmly in my cheek, when I named my Followers widget in my sidebar the "Trophy Room"! I think the blank faces which come up if the followers have not supplied a picture might well be drawn with a couple of antlers, or tusks, or a rhino horn, don't you?

But I am once again confused, having made a great effort to understand the way that Followers works, to find this morning that it seems to have grown into something more. It seems that Blogger is going in for social networking as well, and my neat little block of heads in my sidebar has become larger, with a banner at the bottom of it encouraging readers to join Google Friend Connect. This uses up space I cannot spare in my carefully planned sidebar. I need to study the Help section on the difference between a Friend and a Follower, but I get a feeling this latest step is one too many for me, and may be so for my followers as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Not what you might think - not at my time of life. No, it's like this: I've been looking through a couple of volumes of my grandmother's journal, written in 1889 and 1890, when she was 21-22, before she was married to my grandfather. Stuck into the back of one of them with stamp paper - (no sellotape in those days) - was a piece of paper headed 'Triplets', with this list:

Three things to love - courage, gentleness, and affection.

Three things to admire - intellect, dignity, and gracefulness.

Three things to hate - cruelty, arrogance, and ingratitude.

Three things to delight in - beauty, frankness, and freedom.

Three things to wish for - health, friends, and a contented spirit.

Three things to like - cordiality, good humour, and cheerfulness.

Three things to avoid - idleness, loquacity, and flippant jesting.

Three things to cultivate - good books, good friends, and good humour.

Three things to contend for - honour, country, and friends.

Three things to teach - truth, industry, and contentment.

Three things to govern - temper, tongue, and conduct.

Three things to cherish - virtue, goodness, and wisdom.

Three things to do - think, live, and act.
Not much that is strange to our ideas today, except perhaps 'honour', 'country' and 'virtue'; and the idea of 'governing' oneself is perhaps not commonplace either. I notice too that 'friends', 'good humour' and 'contentment' each feature twice in the list. I don't think we would choose to express ourselves in quite the same way today, but if we sat down to do this exercise from scratch we would probably come up with many of the same answers.

My grandmother


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who am I?



I found this poem the other day when I was looking through old papers - I don't remember when I wrote it.

Who am I when I'm alone,

when I am not being a daughter,

doing as her mother taught her -

who am I when I'm alone?

Who am I when I'm alone,

when my brother needs no keeping,

and our rivalry is sleeping -

who am I when I'm alone?

Who am I when I'm alone,

when I have no lord and master,

husband, consort, mate or partner -

who am I when I'm alone?

Who am I when I'm alone,

when I'm not my children's mother,

quick to succour, not to smother -

who am I when I'm alone?

Who am I when I'm alone,

when my roles have all been taken:

tiny fragment left forsaken -

who am I when I'm alone?

Who am I when I'm alone,

do I know this someone other,

do I like her, even love her -

can I live with her alone?

[The fractal image entitled 'Alone' was created by Sven Geier. You can see many more on his website. He generously makes them freely available to everybody, for which I thank him.]



Do you ever find that your days seem to be focussed on nothing but waiting - for goods to arrive, for things to happen, for people to get in touch, for appointments at hospitals etc?

In the past few weeks I have been waiting for:

  • Some goods I ordered on line which didn't arrive, and when I contacted the firm they said they were posting a second lot and those haven't arrived either, and it's now two and a half months since I first ordered.

  • Something I bought on Ebay from a seller in the US which he said would take 2-3 days to arrive in the UK. After 5 weeks it was returned to the seller because he had addressed it wrongly. When he posted it again it took 6 business days and one weekend.

  • The next email in an uncomfortable exchange of correspondence I am having with someone with whom I am in disagreement.

  • My eldest son in Australia to fix the dates of his next visit to the UK with his family, after hinting months ago that they might come during 2009. They only get over every three years or so. At last I know they are coming in April - yippee!

  • A lab report on a biopsy I had done on 23rd January. I know some abnormality was found but I don't yet know what it is or what treatment I may need. I am fairly confident that it is nothing serious, but am worrying that treatment might interfere with my son's visit


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Followers - 2

When I acquired my first 'follower' I had not caught up with the widgetry, and it took me some time to get round to it. When I did, I saw it as something of a vanity item - (but no worse than a hit counter, I suppose) - to have this little collection of heads in the sidebar to show how many reader-followers you have. And as by that time I still only had two, it didn't seem worth declaring that fact publicly.

However, Blogger recommends installing the widget anyway, to encourage more of one's readers to 'Follow', or put you on their reading list, so that they can get a feed direct to their computers. Easier for them, and nice for me to know they are there. So, this is for those of my readers who may not have realised the advantages of this particular piece of widgetry. And please forgive me if I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs!

If you are a fairly regular reader, (and if you are a Blogger too), you can save yourself the trouble of finding my blog and checking it, to see whether I have added to it since your last visit. You can click on the 'Follow this blog' link above my collection of heads in the sidebar, and this will give you a direct feed to the reading list on your blogger dashboard page, which will tell you when I have made a new post. You will have the option of following openly, identified by name, or of doing so anonymously. (I shall only know you are there, though, if you choose to be identified.)

So make it easy on yourself!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blue skies and birdsong ...

Sue has left a comment on my Christmas slideshow, saying she is worried at seeing no new posts, and hoping that I am well. I have left a comment there for her but am posting here too, in case I am worrying anyone else. It is a great privilege, but also something of a burden, albeit a loving one, to know that people notice when you fail to blog for a while, and worry on your behalf.

I have in fact posted nine times since Christmas, the last one on 2nd February. I wonder if Sue is missing some blogs. That said, I must admit that it is difficult to find the spirit to write just now. The winter is so tedious and depressing, and the MMI and BSF*, that are the lot of many of us in old age, seem so much harder to bear.

Today, however, when I went out to do the 15-20 minutes walking that I aim for daily - but do not achieve! - there was a distinctly springlike feeling in the air. Most of the snow where I live has melted now, and the trees were full of robins tweeting away. Blue skies and birdsong, two of life's great blessings.

[* Multiple Minor Impairments and Benign Senile Forgetfulness !]

Monday, February 02, 2009

The bourdalou

These charming articles, of compelling collectability, are something of which I have only recently become aware. However, I rather think that all my pictures are of examples which are in museums, so it would probably be a fruitless undertaking for me to start yet another collection. But they are so beautiful, and I covet them so much, that I cannot resist writing about them at least, and sharing the pictures with my readers.

According to, "the bourdalou is a small urinary receptacle for female use, of compressed eliptical shape and generally made of porcelain or earthenware, but also made occasionally of silver. It was used c. 1710-1850, and in England is known as a 'coach pot'. An apocryphal explanation of the origin of the name attributes it to Père Bourdaloue (1632-1704), a Jesuit preacher at the Court of Louis XIV, whose long discourses detained the ladies of the Court so as to necessitate this practical receptacle. "

The mind boggles. Not much modesty in the French Court, it seems. But the grand ladies must surely have had attendants to carry off the pots and dispose of the contents. And if they were used for long journeys by coach, were they just emptied out of the window en passant? I imagine so. Or perhaps they had to stop anyway to allow for the article to be used in the first place. I would dearly love to see a costume drama of the period which portrayed this small but vital aspect of a lady's life at the time. Is it too much to ask that reality TV should go that far?! And then of course there was a time when chamber pots were kept in a cupboard in the diningrooms. I'm not sure, but I think they were for the gentlemen lingering over their port and cigars, rather than for the ladies.

Such elegance of design and execution for the humble pot is not to be found in the retail catalogues of today, alas, but there is nevertheless a considerable choice of portable female urinals on the market, some of which can be seen here. My favourite so far, which I found in the Christmas Catalogues, is the Uriwell, and the children's version, the Happy-pee. It has a tight lid, and is about the size of a coke can (before being extended), and will fit neatly into your glove compartment in case of need. It was designed and made in Italy.

Some trees

My hands have become a little shaky now for taking good sharp photographs, and I am getting discouraged. But I pulled these three shots of trees out of my files, as I find them all pleasing regardless of quality. They will do to put up here while my hibernating brain tries to wake up enough to write an interesting post.