Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Some assembly required....

Assembly is our writing word for today. Given that I have recently assembled a few purchases from Ikea, I'm not surprised that this word, just popped into my head :) In fact, if the truth were known, I have, over the years collected (and assembled) more than my share of Billys, Gronlids, Ekeros, etc, etc.

My living space (not my life), I owe to Ikea. No, my life, I've had to assemble on my own. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of simple parts, neatly packaged with detailed instructions, to get me started, though, there were times, when I wish there had been. Oh, to unlock the mysteries of life with something as simple as an Allen's key.

No, in life, you have to write your own instructions, which may be very complicated. However, this is how discoveries are made, diseases cured, countries formed and ideas realized. Someone or some group was able to get all the parts in working order and "Eureka" - not necessarily synonymous with "Ikea," we have a wheel, insulin, a European common market and a man on the moon.... just a little assembly required :)

Somehow, I don't see myself launching someone into outer space. However, I would like to create something that is greater than a Janinge bar stool, standing in for an elevated piano bench to reach a key board raised over a radiator with the help of two Olov legs and a Besta shelf. (fig. 1)

Yes, some more complex assembly will be required, if I am going to make it past the pre-cut forms, half a dozen or so nuts, and an angled bracket or two. Wish me luck!

The pictures? Recent assemblies.

Have a "together" day!

Friday, January 25, 2019


Our word for today is "shadow." I've written about shadows before - The shadow knows. Shadow is an old word, from the mid 1300s in Old English via Dutch and German and possibly, Greek. Such a word will have developed many meanings. Ultimately, shadow means the interruption of light by something opaque. This is its technical definition - block the sun and create a shadow. It has, however, developed a deep, emotional subtext.

To live in the shadow of a person "greater" than yourself, must be a sad existence. Always an after thought, the second to be hugged, congratulated, remembered or not, as the case may be. Some very shy people might welcome such an existence - "She didn't mind living in her husband's shadow." For others, this would be a second-hand life.

Evil has always lurked in shadows. We hide in the shade, when we have something to hide. Mysterious figures wear dark glasses to mask their eyes, their souls. Shakespeare referred to ghosts as shades, the spirit or shadow of person who once lived.

At one point, in your childhood, you discover your shadow. Some elementary school teachers build whole lessons around this discovery. In fact, for some the fascination with their shadow never ceases. I remember once reading a proviso on a photography site that accepted images for sale. The line read - Please, no pictures of the photographer's shadow.

One of my favourite lessons, when I taught Theatre Arts, was shadow plays. Somehow removing the body from the performance created something surreal. Even vignettes with hand shadows were magical.

Peter Pan lost his shadow. Does that mean he has no dark side, no lurking evils - the innocent child, forever? Then there is the enigmatic quote from Ursula Le Guin, "To light a candle is to cast a shadow."

Have a brilliant day!!

Saturday, January 19, 2019


 Our word for today is "obsession." Its synonyms are - passion, mania, compulsion, addiction, craze, hobby horse... wait hobby horse? How did that get in there? I had to find out.

Well, one of my obsessions might very well be words - their meaning, usage and origin, as a start. So how do you get from "hobby horse" to obsession? A quick Google search brought me to this site https://www.phrases.org.uk/. Go figure, a site dedicated to the origin and usage of words had to be British. God save "the language" from those who would compromise it!!

Apparently the first appearance of the word was around 1375 in a poem written by a Scottish poet - John Barbour. The poet was referring to a favourite preoccupation at the time, horses a.k.a. hobys, hobby or hobbies. Hoby was actually the name of a particular breed of horse, now extinct, from Ireland. So ingrained in the culture was this Hoby, that it took on a life of its own. Actors, costumed as horses, performed in mummers plays, morris dances and pantomimes. Well, some things never die. Apparently you can still see some of these antics each May Day in Padstow, Cornwall.

But I digress. I was writing about obsession, today! Of course, if you are infatuated with words, you should be passionate about writing, addicted to reading, compelled to debate. Need I say more?

Yes, I do. I also have other avocations. They are, however, more graphic. I am a compulsive knitter. I love Art in all its many forms. I have recently become preoccupied with needle felting. I crave music all the time and play the piano, a little, some of the time. Probably enough "hobby horses" for now.

But if you'd like more, you can buy a bottle of Obsession, which is also a perfume with overtones of  bergamot, mandarin orange, peach, vanilla, basil, coriander, jasmine, cedar, rose, amber, musk, civet, and incense. It's all a little insane!!

The pictures? I forgot to mention food, travel and gardening as passions too.

Have a whimsical day!!

Obsession II

In an earlier post, I wrote rather lightly about our word for the day, obsession. It is anything but light. Obsession is a passion. It may, however, manifest itself, in what others consider light or frivolous.

Obsession is anything but frivolous. It is for many, a reason to live. A reason to get up in the morning, to walk for miles, to take on challenges and press forward in spite of pain, fear, and other physical or mental limitations.

Obsession is "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower." Obsession is not within our control. It comes from some other place, from some hidden force within or outside of the cosmos. It is the creative spirit driving us to realize our reason for being here.

What could be more frivolous than -

A Caution To Everybody by Ogden Nash
Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked

Yet to write poetry was an obsession for Ogden Nash. I'm sure he did it every day, all day. His poems, however, light were serious stuff.

Again this canvas may seem lighthearted, however, I know it is what gives the artist a reason to live.

I often wonder what it is that keeps my father going. He's 104.  He has a few passions. Certainly he is, even now, very opinionated. However, his greatest obsession might be the rejection of anything standard. He hates doctors, for example, even though they saved his life once. He never takes medication. He loathes people with "regular" jobs, except lawyers. He loves lawyers.

My father is a maverick. He will "not go gentle into that good night." Perhaps that's my underlying obsession as well. To fight the stereotype. To be and do what is you, regardless of the opinion of others, regardless of what is expected of your sex, your age, your station in life.

Rage, rage against the conforming of the right!!

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Our word for today is "starter." I had been writing about making a starter, a leavening agent for bread, so it's an interesting word to explore.

Beginnings, "starts" are always challenging. I remember, in my twenties, when I was about to begin a planned trip to live abroad, in Europe, for a few years, I was getting a little nervous. My travelling companion had dropped out and I had to do this on my own or give up the dream of a lifetime - all twenty years of it - Gulp!

A rather wise co-worker said, "Why are you worried? You'll just be six hours from home." That clinched it. I could do this, because I had a lifeline, a plane ticket back, if all else failed.

It didn't fail. My two years in Europe turned out to be fantastic!!

But that was then and this is now. I have lots of ideas, all the time, however, I have realized only a few. Yes, I have done the usual - finished university, had a career, married, bought a house, raised children, had a business, but now, I think I have to do something else.

I think I have to write. I need a starter for this. Yes, I have completed a nanowrimo and written 50,000 words, but it isn't a book. It's a patchwork story of my life. I need to write a novel, a piece of fiction or I have to go on an adventure and write about it.

I need an ignition point, a starter.

The pictures? Some recent adventures. These, though, were short trips. I need an odyssey.

Have an adventurous day!!

Saturday, January 05, 2019


Our word for today is "artisanal" or artisnal. - made in a traditional, non-mechanical way - made by hand. It applies mainly to food or drink, such as, bread kneaded by hand, possibly using a homemade starter.

Artisnal also refers to locally made cheeses, beers, preserves...the list goes on. These foods are a little more expensive to buy, but they are tastier, more eco-friendly, support local artisans and generally make the world a better place.

I wanted to write about artisnal foods, because a friend had given my son a book on making bread - Tartine Bread. She actually brought over some bread she had made from the book and it was to die for. Apparently, they had been talking or texting about food - this is life for a foodie - and the subject of bread came up!

Well, this is bread from absolute scratch!! OK, you don't have to grow the wheat, but you do have to "grow" the starter. Making a homemade starter is not for the faint of heart. We began on Thursday with 5lbs of flour - half white and half whole wheat. I mixed the two flours together in a large bowl and my son made a rather runny paste in a small bowl with some of the flour and water. He worked it for about 15 minutes to get out the lumps and what can I say, he's a foodie, so he could easily have worked it another 15 minutes. It's like knitting, once you start, it's difficult to stop!!

Today we check the paste to see if it has fermented. We will then have to feed it and work with it until it is sweet smelling (this can days or weeks) and can then be used to leaven our dough.

Next, he will knead the dough by hand, lovingly and I know it will taste like mana from heaven. It is not by chance that many of the great hymns refer to God as bread - Bread of Heaven, Panis Angelicus - Bread of Angels. Bread and wine - food of the Gods!!

Coming down to earth, my son's goal is to make the perfect hamburger bun. Well, of course, it doesn't stop there. I can see us finding the perfect organic beef, using lettuce from the garden (in June), making tomato jam (ketchup) from tomatoes I froze in the Fall and, of course our artisnal relish and mustard. This is not your quick evening meal. This is a life's work, a religion.

I think we'll have to say Grace!

The pictures? Well, since we haven't made the bread yet, these are foods to eat with bread.

PS - I knew my writing partner would have no problem with the word "artisnal", she makes the most awesome bread as well.

Friday, January 04, 2019


Our word for today is "felt." As as noun it means a cloth made by pressing or rolling fibre together. As a verb, to felt, is the process of pressing fibres together to make a cloth or a shape. Felting, in fact, is an art form, with artists creating amazing pieces in every dimension!!

They are creating two dimensional pictures using fibre, felted cloth and felting needles. The process is a little like painting except that wool is your paint and felting needles, your brushes.  It's a lot of fun.

They are also creating three dimensional pieces that could be considered sculptures in felt.

I started felting a few years ago. Because I distribute fibre and felted fabric to craft stores, I really felt (no pun intended) I needed to know more about the process. As with any process there is a learning curve. I began where I saw an entry point. I can draw (a little) so I though that I would start by drawing with fibre on fabric. I could see the possibilities. However, I needed to progress to the next stage. I had to make three dimensional figures - cute figures, like the ones I saw on-line.

I began with a teddy bear that was midway between a two and a three dimensional figure. I then moved to a very obvious free-standing, OK, sitting teddy bear. I added mice, lady bugs, bees. I see room for improvement. Their faces have to be sweeter. In fact, I have re-done the insects - pictures to come.

I am slowly progressing to larger projects. I was actually thinking of taking on this guy. Wish me luck!

Have a creative day!