Friday, May 10, 2019

Art....

I haven't given up the idea of exploring Art more fully. I did take a few Art classes, as I mentioned in an earlier post and did some sketches. Here they are -


I love leaves - even dead ones have life.


A live plant on the subject of death - Crown of Thorns.


Nature is such a wonderful study......


With or without colour

Seeing through the glass



Finally a study of childhood - my son when he was 7.

Photos are great, but sketches let you get inside the subject. These are photos of sketches - what can I say.

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 04, 2019

The Luck of the Draw...

Our writing word today is "draw." Again a word with so many meanings. All my life I have wanted to draw real-life pictures. I particularly like pencil drawings with shading. I like the fact that you can create 3-dimensional pictures on a flat piece of paper.



I admire people who can sit outside and draw the landscape or sketch people as they sit on a park bench. I marvel at their talent. I am so envious. Yes, I do work at getting closer to my goal of being a better artist. I have taken courses and I make time, occasionally to draw.



However, I am not driven. I don't carry a sketch book with me all the time. In quiet times, when an artist would draw, I read or do needlework. Drawing for me is not relaxing. I have to concentrate, focus, and erase to often, to consider it restful.



Maybe that is what separates and artist from a "wanna-be" artist. Drawing for an artist is an escape. It's their restorative time. Drawing is their raison d'ĂȘtre. They live through their Art. Whereas, I live through a list of various activities - gardening, family, knitting, needlework, reading, writing, cooking and even cleaning.



In the luck of the "draw," I did not come up with a pencil. I drew a needle or maybe several different kinds of needles...and a lens. I forgot to mention photography.

Have a creative day!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Specialty...

Our word for today is "specialty." Everyone has a specialty. You're a great speaker, a fabulous artist, a  wonderful cook....the list goes on. We seek out people and places to enjoy their specialties. We go to restaurants to savour certain dishes that are unique to them. We read authors that are particularly good a writing in certain genres. We travel to places because of a special way of life they have preserved. Again the list goes on.



What is your specialty? Ironically people spend most of their lives discounting their specialties. Yes, I'm a good cook, but I would never open a restaurant. OK, I paint really well, but I could never earn a living as an artist. I'm a great storyteller, but only family wants to listen to me, Sigh! So many specialties that rarely rise to their full potential because of other demands, other situations.



What does it take to have a specialty "flourish?" Money? Time? Desire? Stability? These are often commodities beyond our control. If we live in a politically unstable country, how do we chose between art and survival? If we have no money or little time, how do we begin something? If we don't have the desire or the belief in ourselves, where do we even start?



So many questions and so few answers. Perhaps only the very special specialties are given a chance to thrive. People with overwhelming desires push everything else aside to create. They manage to "rise to the top" with very few resources. It is a fixation, a madness, perhaps.



Does this mean that sane, pragmatic people will never glory in their specialty? Maybe we need support groups. Others to say that we can be "special" from time to time.

The pictures? Some special "stuff."

Have a special day!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Collusion

Collusion is our writing word for today and it's right up my alley, even if it isn't my word. I'm a great believer in conspiracy theories. In fact, if the truth were known, I believe that almost everything is a conspiracy.

I'm not even going to talk about how governments, drug companies, water suppliers, even various religions manipulate people to "buy" their propaganda, their products or their beliefs. I'm going to start with the small things, the day to day "smoke and mirrors."



Let's start with thrift shops. I shop at some occasionally to work on my slow-clothing projects. Lately it's been harder to find outfits in better fabrics, better condition and classic designs. I then realized that there is a plethora of new re-sale shops around and I think "aha" these shops have a link with the thrift shops and are creaming off the better cast-offs for their own profits.

Then there are the storefronts that are either never open or have sketchy merchandize. They must be "laundries" for illegal trade. Even the ones who are open and sell real "stuff" can be mis-leading. Really, you have to sell a lot of cupcakes to pay the rent at $3,000.00 a month.



How many young women in nail salons are actually forced labour and never paid? How many second floor massage parlours are actually brothels and how many jewellery repair places swap out your real jewels for paste and charge you for doing it.



Then there's the door to door solicitors for various worthy causes. I wonder how many of them have "faked" the ID and are pocketing the donations.

Well, when most of the products we buy are actually produced by less than a dozen companies worldwide, you have to wonder how we are being "set-up" for the sting!!

The pictures - out-foxing the fox and the warning signs.

Have a cautious day!!


That's the trick!!

Our writing word for today is "trick." It's my word and I thought of it after spending an hour or so on-line looking for something that would outsmart or trick a groundhog. Last year, a groundhog ate all of my strawberries, most of my eggplants and too many of my tomatoes. Sigh!

I wanted to be ready for him this year! There was a lot of "ammo" on-line. In fact -

1. I could buy a solar-powered sort of siren that would make an annoying noise every few minutes to scare him off. But then, I would hear the noise too and that would put me off!



2. I could build cages around my plants and have a really ugly looking garden. What's the point of that. I need a "pretty" garden.

3. I could buy some decoys. In fact there was a rather unique alligator's head resting in a pond that might work. But then I would have to have a pond and somehow, I don't think the fear of alligators is instinctive to northern groundhogs.



Somehow, I think the groundhog may have already won. And even if I did scare him off, there are still the raccoons, the squirrels - yes they eat "stuff" and the rabbits. Have you ever felt that nature may be against you - something there is that doesn't like vegetables, or maybe likes them too much!

Have a rewarding day!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Nine Pipers Piping

Our word for today is "pipe." Again a word with so many meanings. Given the mood of today and the ugly people who have been voted in to "rule" us, the first image to come to mind is "pipe bomb." An angry populace revolts. They make weapons at home, pipe bombs, to throw at the enemy.

I can't dwell on anger very long. It will destroy us! I have to turn negative thoughts into positive ones and wait for an election or an early death for these perpetrators of hate. Here are my positive takes on "pipe."



Years ago, I thought that a man who smoked a pipe was distinguished. They were thoughtful people, philosophers, perhaps. They took a puff and pondered. We now know better. Even so I still remember a man, a friend of my fathers, smoking a pipe on his veranda under a lattice of Dutchman's Pipe, a pretty climbing vine, like the smoke from his pipe. It was a poetic moment!



Nothing stirs my heart like a piper. Once when we were travelling back to Scotland to visit my mother-in-law, we landed on the tarmac at Preston and a piper piped us down the gangway - home. I was in tears. Again, once and only once, I was treated to the scene of the lone piper, practising, while walking in the highlands. I can understand how you can't really practise piping in a confined area - there are Philistines who hate the noise. Nature is more accommodating!



I love cathedrals with pipe organs. Religion, at its worst is a destructive force, at its best, an inspiration, which has given us the finest art, architecture, poetry and music, we will ever know. Years ago I had a LP of organ music. I played it in my room and read poetry. My mother told me to turn it down. Something there is that doesn't like a fugue.



Pipes are conduits. They facilitate the passage of air, water, sound and more. Our body is an intricate lacework of arteries and ducts, to keep us going. Houses are plumbed with pipes, for our convenience. Cities bury their piped infrastructure and the world hides cables and gas lines, while it digs tunnels to underground laboratories.



Birds pipe. Their piercing trills add music to a summer's day. They are given names like Sandpiper or Piping Plover. Musicians pipe. Blowing air through a reed and a tube, they make sounds to save our souls. People pipe. They force air over voice chords to sing songs, such as, "nine pipers piping."

The pictures? The best I could do for piping. Yes, I know, swans don't pipe, but they're pretty.

Have a musical day!!

Grass...

Our writing word for today is "grass." For me, nothing says Spring more than grass, at least, up here in Canada.  When white is all we see covering the ground from December to March, the sight of some green grass is a welcome change. The problem with grass is, there is often not enough where you want it, on a lawn and too much of it, where you don't want it in a flower bed.



My husband and I have spent most of Sunday digging up a daylily bed to remove some ugly twitch grass, which was taking over. Some of the roots of the grass had actually penetrated the roots of the day lilies. Given time, the grass would have won.



Grass has its own predators, of course. Dandelions, wild clover and vicious invader known as "Creeping Charlie," all lie in wait for the first few blades of grass to mature and then it's war. We
re-seed our lawn every year and have to re-sod every three or four years. One year I just gave up and planted tomatoes near the house, where I could never keep a blade of grass alive - the tomatoes survived.

I was hoping to be able to leaf through "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman for an appropriate poem, only to find that I had somehow mis-placed the book - "Something, there is, that doesn't like grass."

The pictures? Grassy places adorned with flowers or weeds, except for a well tended swathe in my backyard.

Have a wonderful day!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

File it - for the record....

Our writing word for today is "file." Another word with many meanings. Today, I'm going to use "file" in the sense of recording information for preservation!!

Wow! big words for small deeds. What I really mean is that this blog, for me, is a way of recording or filing, what I do and have done from time to time - or on a grander scale, in a lifetime. OK, I've only been recording "stuff" since 2006 and I was born way before that. But given that I often refer to events in the past, I feel that if I keep at it, I might just be able to cover a lifetime of "adventures" in let's say 20 years, if I am spared.

I use the word adventures, even though what I do and have done might not be on the scale of African Safaris, they are/were still moving me beyond my particular comfort level - everything is relative!

So, now, for the file, come with me on my next trip. Actually it's another sewing adventure - Do not despair! I promise you surprises!!

I said in my last post that I had gone to a thrift shop to buy scarves to sew my next piece of "slow clothing." I was moaning about the extortionate price of $5.50 per scarf. Well, slap my wrists. Here is what I got:



- two 100% wool scarves, one a Liz Claiborne and the other a Perry Ellis. Both amounted to 2.5 yards of gorgeously coloured fabric.

- one 100% cashmere stole in deep turquoise with a fringe - over 2 yards in length.

- one tie-dyed wrap in cotton accented with machine embroidery and sequins - at least 2.5 yds long.




- one 3-yard length of 100% silk in coral, which I will use for lining and maybe a short top.

- finally a 100% silk scarf with a large hole cut into it to make a shoulder cover. This fabric also bleeds magenta dye miserably - maybe the one downer, but it was free, because it didn't have a price on it and the staff couldn't be bothered finding someone to price it, so they gave it to me.



All in all, I can't complain about the $27.50 it cost for a wardrobe that might amount to several skirts, tops and a poncho, once I make them!!

Have a productive day!


Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Dress...... An Atonement

I am fascinated with the "slow clothing movement." It's a throw back to the depression era when no one threw anything out. Every scrap - string, paper, glass etc. - was saved to be re-used one day. With clothing, people wore hand-me-downs or re-fashioned items, to make, what was left, last a little longer - jackets into vests perhaps and finally, when there was almost nothing left -  scraps into quilts. Clothing took a long time to wear out.

I do mend things and re-use what I can, but, I have been guilty of sending off to clothing bins articles I have barely worn. Not any more! I am now following the slow clothing movement. Here's how it all started.

1. I went to a thrift shop - Value Village. I don't go often, but I do go, when I'm in an adventurous mood. It's the thrill of the find!!

2. In addition to a Ralph Lauren blouse for $10.00, I bought a sheet for a single bed that, I swear, had never been used. I couldn't pass it up, because it had the must gorgeous tucking on the top, which was edged with lace.



3. I decided I would make a dress from it, one day. Time passed, but the idea hadn't. It helped that Facebook bombarded me daily with pictures of lovely white dresses - HOW DO THEY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE THINKING!! I pictured the sheet, the tucking, the lace!! Finally, one day, I pulled it out of the bottom drawer. I was amazed, I had actually washed it sometime ago. No more excuses - today was the day.

4. In fact, a week or so before I decided to start the dress, I had actually ordered some easy sewing patterns on line. Since, I haven't used my machine in a while and haven't actually sewn a garment in decades!! I knew I needed some simple patterns and there they were.

5. Next, I ironed the sheet, laid it out on the dining room table, pinned on the  pattern pieces, with adjustments (I have trouble following rules) and began to cut and sew.



6. With much ripping out and re-sewing - maybe I should follow the rules - I had a dress with tucking and lace trim at the hem, an over-top that needs some tucking and lace trim to finish and cap sleeves made entirely from the original trim.

7. Fate also sent me an on-line video of someone making a dress from a vintage pattern using Victorian sewing methods. This meant a lot of hand sewing, hemming seams and meticulous attention to detail. I decided that what would raise my common sheet dress to the next level would be "fine sewing."

8. I have, therefore, hemmed every seam, buried the sleeve seams in the sides of the double top and basted for my own tucking at the bottom of the "over top," if that makes sense.


9. I'll be finished soon. I need to mend where I opened a seam to adjust a dart, then decide if the skirt needs a slip. Finally, after ironing, the dress will be ready to wear. It does, however, need a necklace of sorts to finish the rather plain bodice. Hmm, maybe something in knitted I-cord. I have lots of yarn!

10. In the meantime, I've been gathering for my next project. On another trip to Value Village, I bought 5 or 6 scarves - some were silk. The price at $5.50 per scarf, though, was astronomical!! Now, I know I have to make a real gem of an outfit. Wish me luck!!

Have an awesome day!



Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Band...

Our word for today is "band" - it has many meanings. The first to come to mind is music - the camaraderie of music. People coming together to play instruments, sing, express joy. I'm not good enough to play my piano in a band, but my writing partner plays the flute and has joined a community band. I'm always amazed at the ingenuity of people who constantly create opportunities for anyone and everyone to continue doing what they love. In this case it's music.



I play very simple music on my piano. One of my favourite pieces is an old Irish folk song, The Black Velvet Band, with the lovely line, "Her hair hung over her shoulders tied up with a black velvet band." Here band is an adornment, a statement perhaps, maybe even an entrapment. I couldn't help thinking of another line from another song/poem, The Highwayman. It's a sad story, unfortunately much of what endures is sad. It is also a love story with a ghostly ending. It tells the tale of young woman who killed herself to save her lover, the highwayman. Her ghost still pines for him, as it plaits a dark red love knot (band) into its long black hair.



We mark "things" with bands - thin strips that allow us to identify or track items. We band birds, for example, even delicate insects to learn more about them. These creatures, in turn, have their own bands, stripes of colour that distinguish them from others of the same variety. We wear coloured bands on our wrists to make statements - bands of gold brand us as married. Electronic bands now measure our vital signs - heartbeat, pulse rate, kinetic activity. In groups, we band together to protest, to march for what we believe in, to pressure for change or to prevent changes we fear.



"Band" may seem like a simple word, however, it is a very powerful concept, loaded with meaning and subtext. Use it wisely!

The pictures? Bands from the archives.

Have a together day!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Separate...

Our writing word for a while now has been "separate." It may be used as the verb - to separate or the adjective, as in something set apart. I have been away for a while, separated from my usual routines, separated from the time zone of family and friends by 7 or 8 hours and separated from the goals I regularly work on.



It is disorienting. Maybe time away is necessary to re-align ourselves or to make us think anew of what we are doing or trying to achieve. I'm not sure. I'm always like a fish out of water, when I don't have the usually structures of work, family, friends, pastimes, etc. to fill my days. I then "tag along" with others and do what they do or take myself away and read or work on something "from home," such as this post.



I have to remind myself, that I am a fixed sign, a Leo, and I prefer being rooted in my own little rut, however limiting that might be, then bowing to mutable signs, who would have me leave everything behind for a new adventure. Sigh!

I have often thought that maybe adventure should be my routine - a contradiction in terms, perhaps. No, I have trouble constantly moving from place to place. There is this need to set down roots, get organized, "grow" something. It's hard to grow anything, but tired, when you are in constant motion.



I don't mind occasional separations - time away to think. But, after a brief respite, let me get back into the busy whirl of "things to do, people to see, schedules, deadlines," all those things that give meaning to the "ahhh" at the end of a day.

The pictures? Random roots.

Have a regular day!!

Monday, February 11, 2019

What a Shame......

Our writing word for today is "shame." I have heard it often. "What a shame you didn't come last week, the weather was perfect ... or you would have met so and so ... or ... the list goes on. Yes, I have had my fair share of disappointments. So many in fact, that I've had to come up with a strategy to deal with them. Here it is -



1. Decide that it was not a disappointment at all, but a reason to come back to a place in a better season or for a longer time or with one purpose in mind - to see or do a particular "thing."

2. Decide that you will not spoil the present by ruing something unpleasant in the past.

3. Decide that disappointments happen. They are part of life and you become stronger or richer because of them.



That being said, I don't plan to load up my life with disappointments, just to feel that since I have struggled, my life is fuller and richer. No, I try to make light of those "shameful" events or at least put them in perspective.



I can't let something that I did or said, or something that was said or done to me to ruin my enjoyment of the present or the future. If I caused the "shame." I try to be a better person. If someone else brought shame to me, I say, "These things happen. I'm still here." and set out to make the best of what's left.

The pictures? The best I could do for "No regrets." Life is about "You." But as a wise friend once said. "Don't take yourself too seriously." Life is still a game. You are dealt a hand, rolled the dice or moved the playing piece and now you must make the best of "it." Be your own judge and ignore what others think or say. Again it's your life. Mistakes will be made. That's a fact of life. Live with it and enjoy it.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Passage to.....

Our writing word for today is "passage." I always think of passage as a very grand word. It reminds me of long journeys by sea to distant lands. Wealthy people booked passages on steamships to the Orient. Or they took exotic train journeys, rail passages, to Istanbul.



The poor took passages too. Their journeys, though, were not as grand. For them the only luxury was to, hopefully, escape their poverty in a new land. In fact, people are still taking passages today in crowded boats, or trains and busses to again hopefully find freedom.

We often speak of a "rite of passage." These are markers in the journey of life. Some are grand and celebrated - birth, adolescence, marriage, death. Others are small, but important too - learning to skate, swim, ride a bike etc.



Always, though, with a passage there is the sense of completing something, or achieving something, of going through a trial and coming out at the end, a success. I think of tunnels as passages. I know bridges, paths, trails etc are passages too, but tunnels suggest a journey into the unknown. It's a time of darkness and ignorance and hope that we will come to some knowledge or understanding with the light at the end of the tunnel.



Some people have trouble with even the smallest or shortest of passages. I'm sure, we all have that friend, who never left home, who never graduated, never "grew up." Then there are those who constantly set themselves up for the most challenging of passages - Mt. Everest anyone?



Being a type B personality, I fall somewhere in between. I know I have to challenge myself daily or I will never grow, however, I am realistic. This does not mean that I won't run a marathon, it means, I know I have to train before I run one. I follow a group on FB called "Growing Bolder" (as opposed to growing older). They keep posting these stories of people who are achieving the most amazing goals at 70, 80, 90 & 100+

Now where are those track shoes?


Friday, February 01, 2019

Death Be Not Proud...

Our writing word for today is "Death." Well, I suppose it's important to think about the end of the story, as we read or write along. I somehow like to think, that if my life were a book, it would be a long (maybe slow) read. War and Peace comes to mind, as do these sagas written over several volumns. Then there's Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and the never ending sequels.



Thinking about Death, is not something I do on a regular basis, but I have read and remembered what others have written on the subject. Mainly I remember the poets. Poets have a way of eulogizing almost anything - I often read "To A Mouse," which contains probably the saddest lines in all literature -

"The best laid schemes o' Mice and Men gang aft agley
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain for promis'd joy."

But, I digress. I was writing about a poet's distillation of Death. Here are some of my favourites.

Because I could not stop for Death -
He Kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just ourselves -
And Immortality.

Emily Dickinson



Death be not proud, though many have called thee
Mighty and Dreadful, for thou at not so;
........
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

John Donne



and my favourite

Do not go gentle into that goodnight,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Someone asked me once, how I thought I should die. I said I just want to hit a brick wall at full speed. My mother died dancing. We were celebrating my father's 90th birthday. She was wearing her sparkly dress, her silver dancing shoes; she had her make-up on, her hair done, in fact, she looked like a million bucks at 83. After the anniversary waltz and a fast jive number, she was two steps into a tango when she died in my father's arms. We were all there to see her go. She was always a bit of an actress and I won't say it was staged, but it was a convincing performance!!



Well,  February 1 is Imolc, often celebrated in Celtic mythology as the first day of Spring - the rebirth. Ogden Nash had a great retort for someone worrying about growing older. He said, "How old is Spring, Miranda?"

The pictures? Many reasons to send flowers

Have a lively day!