Curvaceous climbs.

blogging, photography, Scotland, weekly wordpress challenge

Got to love a curve, here are my entries for Rounded – this weeks photo challenge. My favourite place to be walking is here in the Highlands of Scotland. Curves and jagged edges all around.

These are my entries for the weekly photo challenge Rounded, Rounded photo challenge link

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Pedestrian Pigeons

blogging, daily challenge, Life, photography, weekly wordpress challenge

My entry for this weeks Photo challenge, meeting it on two fronts, pigeons being the most pedestrian of birds, and capturing them and the little fella walking.

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Waiting

blogging, daily challenge, photography

This must be one of the most tragic memorials I have witnessed.Studies have shown that the majority of Pompeii’s citizens would have been killed almost instantly from the sudden surges of intense heat that erupted into the Bay of Naples without warning. The flows of volcanic ash and gas moved at speeds of up to 700 kilometres an hour. The ash covered those people, and left us a stark impression of an ancient civilization.  Was this person waiting for inevitable death?

The Daily Post photo challenge

 

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When love is not enough

blogging, depression, Derek Walcott, health, Life, Thoughts, wellbeing

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d walcott

but it helps.

I received a message from someone in my family today which has shaken me.  As a lovely young woman , she has been dealing with the challenges of depression and anxiety , and recently has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  And I don’t know how to help.  So I will tell her my story.

You see, when I was her age I was exhibiting symptoms of depression too, working in a pressured environment and wanting to perform like Adele on a good day ( albeit in the print packaging arena ). I set my standards high and I worked to reach them.  A few years of having my foot hard on the pedal resulted in what my G.P.  diagnosed as a ‘breakdown’. The world was different then and because my boss didn’t want me stigmatised at work by that diagnosis, he could only give me a week off.  I needed more, but I needed the job too. I saw a counsellor weekly and worked on my thought processes.  Eventually I caved in to the work pressure and resigned. I was lucky as I was newly married and ready to throw myself into raising a young family.  It nearly broke me.

I wanted to be happy, and knew I had everything I could have asked for – a home, a loving family, two beautiful sons – and yet I could not function at a level I felt comfortable about. I was tired , not just mildly sleep deprived, but absolutely buggered. Every day was a huge effort to continue the daily requirements . Shopping and cooking were chores that felt like Sisyphus carrying the rock up the mountain.

I was prescribed Prozac for depression – I felt depressed but not worthy of having depression because what could I possibly be depressed about?  Prozac didn’t suit me, or rather it suited me too well, but everyone else thought I had disappeared. Which I had, I felt like a lumbering cow, just grazing on life. Nothing touched me. I came off it.

A further visit to a new doctor and a new prescription – this time Venlafaxine. This suited me better, the symptoms of depression were alleviated, but this led to me discovering a deep well of unfulfilled need within my life.  I ended up making a huge life change – leaving my then husband and making a new life with a new partner.  ( It happened like a thunderbolt and shocked the family, but ultimately it was a necessary change – and everyone worked hard at making the family unit stay strong. I continued to co parent with their dad, and managed not to disrupt their schooling, staying half the week with their dad, and the other with me. My mum and my brother were brilliant at being there too. The boys flourished and are now 24 and 21 and I couldn’t be prouder)

A diagnosis of fibromyalgia by my G.P.  helped me to understand that my coping strategies needed tweaking. I had for years battled a diagnosis of depression – now I understood I had a reactive depression to a condition which had been masked by the very medication I was taking. When I came off the drugs, my symptoms flared, and it was during a flare that the correct diagnosis was made. So knowing I had something which I could investigate, acknowledge and understand was part of me helped me to put into place the conditions by which I could most easily manage the condition.

It is becoming more accepted now in the same way that depression is less stigmatised, but unless it is experienced, or someone close to you has it the full impact is not easily acknowledged by others. My experience of having it was dealing with the knowledge of diagnosis itself – it sent me to investigate books written on it, blogs, forums – anywhere where I felt vindicated. I wanted to make sure everyone knew I was not imagining it – it was real. That didn’t happen really. People don’t want a relationship with a bag of symptoms, they just want to relate to you.  And I had to learn that some people got it , whilst others didn’t. Close people don’t always get it. I tried to shield my bad days from my sons – I wanted them to see me strong, and capable. In the end, as they got older I had to share with them that sometimes I couldn’t do what I wanted to for them, or with them.  They were brilliant and loved me anyway.  They didn’t understand, they just accepted me for who I was, and didn’t make me feel useless. Although I was pretty useless. They still say I am weird but that’s a different story. I found things to occupy myself with, that I could cope with, or put down and come back to. I managed to set my standards lower in certain aspects – housework suffered, decorating was off the menu, the garden became a self supporting area of interest.

One of the hardest aspects is still there – committing to social activities is difficult, because when it comes around, it may be impossible. Now I have managed to find a balance of not turning everything down, and knowing it will take me a couple of days to recover. I have limited my social life probably more than I have needed to, but part of that comes from having had a life spread over two counties for the past decade or so.

The reality is I cannot help my family member – I can’t take away her symptoms as much as I would want to. I only want her to know that it isn’t the thing that defines her. I came away from looking at the internet about Fibro, avoided the forums, refused the group sessions offered at the doctors, because I didn’t want my focus to be on my condition. I wanted to understand what it meant for me and then re focus my energies on the activities that meant something to me and to my family.  I have learnt those things over years, and it is hard learnt sometimes. I have suffered in silence more times than I can remember, and sometimes not so silently!  I constantly have to remind myself not to resent others for not being more considerate sometimes. I have to remember to tell them how I feel in the moment , that no matter how much I may want to so something, it is sadly unachievable for me. And sometimes I have to remember to challenge myself and test my limits. I have surprised myself on occasion.

I still feel a fraud. That is my problem. I feel a fraud at life. I challenge that thought because when I look at the reality, it isn’t true. I still have to have that conversation though. On a regular basis.

 

Hogwarts Express

blogging, Life, photography, United Kingdom, weekly wordpress challenge
Hogwarts Express

on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

A timely challenge for the WordPress weekly photo challenge – not strictly a bridge I know, but a stunning viaduct which is a bridge for Harry Potter’s train to get him to Hogwarts.  We were here on Wednesday and the visibility was fabulous. Often it’s shrouded in mist, which adds atmosphere, but detracts from the view of the train.

And of course there is the added bonus that it bridges the gap between reality and fantasy – you did know Harry Potter was made up don’t you?

WordPress Photo challenge

The Handmade Maiden

Art, blogging, books, craft, illustration

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Just a quick post to remind my readers (!) that creative endeavour can be life enhancing – a dancing in the dark sort of preoccupation, the moments that transcend time.  Lost in flow, all appears in balance – the world is a more comprehensible place to inhabit. In focusing on the small things, the big things seem to appear in greater perspective.  I like losing myself in my handmade projects which I sell on Etsy. Each handmade book is designed and made by me – every one is unique as I like to make something different each time , so the covers you see on the photos may differ from the book you receive. But don’t worry – I pour oodles of care into each one – and I haven’t disappointed yet! All my reviews from sales are viewable on the Etsy site and I am extremely grateful to my customers for their generosity in sending me them. It is always moving getting feedback that tells you of delight and astonishment!

Some of the designs you will find on the Etsy site are books I have wanted to research and produce myself – many of them arise from lifelong interests in nature and in poetry. Others are created in collaboration with customers who ask me to research a them and produce a book around it. The book celebrating Moths was created on behalf of a customer wanting to surprise a lepidopterist family member! I have created books that illustrated a wedding proposal – a young man had written a poem to his fiance which he asked me to create a book around. She said yes! He even sent me photos of the ring he commissioned!

I think handmade creates connection – between the commissioner, the maker and the recipient. It is as though it has imbibed love – much like houses do, we have all felt the difference between houses that have been filled with love, and those that are just places to function in. It may be strange, and somehow difficult to quantify, but it is real.

I have lots of pictures on the site at Etsy, Storefront  

There are cards that I design too, and that I can personalise if required. They are printed on a wonderful textured watercolour paper, and look great mounted and framed too.

The Voynich Manuscript

Etsy link etsy.me/2sRAG1s

Tree Time

Link etsy.me/2sR7

cica

Bitten by the Moth bug

blogging, books, craft, illustration, Life

I don’t always get round to sharing my handmade books which I make on Etsy – but this time I thought I would .  The book came about from a conversation with a wonderful customer, who often orders from me to gift to her ( numerous) grandchildren and friends.  One grandson had recently graduated and specialised in moths, and she was curious whether I could make a book to celebrate his interest.  That is always a great starting off point for me – someone else’s interest. It stimulates and challenges me to research a subject that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered.  This was going to test me, because I could not possibly tell this young man anything he didn’t know about his special interest.  But I decided that coming to it from the angle of art history may be a way in.  And it was.  I was blown away by the fine work that Wencelaus Hollar produced in 1646 in Flanders . I found the drawings in a collection by Gothard Monrad at Te Papa.

Gothard Monrad (1811–1887) was a prominent figure in nineteenth-century Denmark: a bishop in the Lutheran church, he was also a noted scholar and politician. Privately, he was a connoisseur of art, collecting fine prints by numerous European old masters and paintings by contemporary Danish artists.
Monrad’s collection includes engravings, etchings, and woodcuts, beginning with two engravings from the 1470s by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna. The collection’s sixteenth-century German engravings form a significant group, and include works by Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, and the brothers Hans and Sebald Beham.
The collection has now been reassembled at Te Papa according to Bishop Monrad’s own catalogue of 1869.

Two facts I discovered about the Moth world that I will share – moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth and scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species. Wowzer!

I was delighted to send this little volume to my customer, and was thrilled to receive in return these lovely comments;

 

‘The MOTH book arrived safely and in fine time. How very astute you were for the covering of the moth pages. It is perfect for a young man, very handsome. As I look through the pages several times, I am beginning to wonder if John will appreciate this work as much as I do. Should I or should I not? Oh, I guess so, I will gift him with it with the stipulation I can view it off and on. I must quit looking through you web site, as I soon will spend all my pennies on your art. Thank you for this piece especially since I ordered it and you came through with flying colors

Appreciation is a wonderful thing!  So if you have any subject you want me to consider adding to my bookshelves over at Etsy, send me a line.  Or you could browse the items I make to order here  Coptic stitch books at Modestly at Etsy

 

Glasgow finds me bowled over.

blogging, culture, Life, photography, travel, United Kingdom
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Street Art – Vettriano

Sure, it rained, but it didn’t matter.  Glasgow gets my vote. Anyone who reads my blog knows I get inspired by being in nature.  What is not as apparent is how cityscapes find a button to press too.  I was excited by Glasgow. The vibrancy of the city juxtaposed with the melancholy of erstwhile beautiful buildings showing the ravages of neglect. The city planners deserve some credit – it hands Glasgow to you on a plate. And it is unusual for me to enter the fashionable world of food ( the fashionable world of anything come to that) but at the risk of showing naive overenthusiasm, there is included a shout out for a restaurant that gave me an eating experience that thrilled my jaded palette.

We were on a budget so we stayed at EH Hostel, about ten minutes walk from the train station at Queen Street.  It looked as though the immediate area was a bit run down, but the room was clean and modern with a shower room, a toilet and a handbasin. We were using the room as a place to safely off load luggage and just for sleeping, so the fact the beds were bunks was fine – not the romantic get away destination though!. An added bonus was a t.v on the wall. And the total bill for two people over two nights was £83!

Two days weren’t enough – but we have done a great pre visit visit and will be returning very shortly.  We spent the day in the Kelvingrove gallery and museum – it was a fabulous example of how to create a space that inspires. I didn’t want to stop exploring. But my body did, so I stopped.  I have learnt that much  – I ignore the signs at my peril.

For shopaholics Glasgow is a go to city.  It is a joy just to wander down the wide streets and take it all in. Eat a take out sandwich in George Square and watch the world go by – even the police seemed chilled out, on horseback too.  Beautiful horses.

Bridges and architecture keep eyes wide open – it’s a city that wants to show off. The Clyde cut the city in two and the view from my eighth floor room was a wonder.

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Modern meets classic – beautifully

Kelvingrove gallery

An amazing installation!

IMG_8048IMG_8040Untitled-3Untitled4I need to mention the restaurant as I cannot recommend it highly enough, Dakhin, Candleriggs prides itself on being gluten free, and offering an Indian experience that is different to most. The food in influenced by  Southern India, and after having started with poppadums and chutnies that were delightfully light and flavoured to perfection, I progressed to starters of spinach and onion bhajiis – again beautifully light but satisfyingly tasty. The main dish was a perfect balance of flavours with tender chicken, complemented with a fragrant rice and gluten free pancake/breads that were to die for. I hadn’t thought of ordering them, but the waiter suggested we shared a rice and a bread dish. We were glad we did. And I couldn’t finish!! So unusually for restaurants that serve food perfectly flavoured and at a temperature that pleased even my husband ( he cannot abide cold plates and food that does not stay hot)  the servings were generous.  The only thing to add was the atmosphere – it was contemporary and openspaced with service that were genuinely friendly, willing to help, happy to explain . I have only praise for Dahkin and cannot wait to go again.  Book now!(and I don’t get paid to tell you!) Dahkin Restaurant, Candleriggs

 

How does it stop?

blogging, Life, Thoughts, United Kingdom

The spoken word   Anne CorrToday is another witness to atrocity.  Do you ask ‘When will it end?’ A normal response to the fear the terrorist provokes.  That fear of course is what he wants.  We are all afraid. The terrorists are the most afraid of all of us because they live in the midst of terror every moment.  And the real horror of it all is that we brought it on ourselves.  Mankind did this. We built ourselves a world where dogma and symbols form characters.  We discovered the science behind how things work and the result has catastrophic as well as magnificent consequences. I do not mean the world should not progress – the opposite is true- we have to play catch up and understand the results of shared consciousness that media and education plug into.  We need to understand the limitations of knowledge as well as the powers it bestows.

Without being simple, one cannot be sensitive – to the trees, to the birds, to the mountains, to the wind, to all the things which are going on about us in the world; if one is not simple one cannot be sensitive to the inward intimation of things. Most of us live so superficially, on the upper level of our consciousness; there we try to be thoughtful or intelligent, which is synonymous with being religious; there we try to make our minds simple, through compulsion, through discipline. But that is not simplicity. When we force the upper mind to be simple, such compulsion only hardens the mind, does not make the mind supple, clear, quick. To be simple in the whole, total process of our consciousness is extremely arduous; because there must be no inward reservation, there must be an eagerness to find out, to inquire into the process of our being, which means to be awake to every intimation, to every hint; to be aware of our fears, of our hopes, and to investigate and to be free of them more and more and more. Only then, when the mind and the heart are really simple, not encrusted, are we able to solve the many problems that confront us.

J.Krishnamurti

So how we choose to use our intelligence becomes the task.  To remain open to debate and to points of view that seem at odds to our own. To consciously live our lives when we make our decisions of how to live, how to treat the planet, how to respond to acts of terrorism.  The amazing happenstance of living in a country that allows freedom of thought and expression is a privilege that I am very aware of.  I treasure it. krish

Further reading    The First and Last Freedom