Tag Archives: daily living

Autumn then.

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I do love a shadowed footpath – Purleigh

Autumn then. Nothing quite like the march of time to remind us of our transient nature. I love the seasons here in England – the definition of different states of nature as the year progresses. And they do progress – have you noticed that? Whatever we do, however clever we think we are, time has the last word. Every time. I think about death alot. I always have, since being 6 or 7 years old. It doesn’t make me anxious. Losing someone I love to it makes me feel anxious. I don’t want that to happen. But it will. That’s what being alive has taught me. It doesn’t last forever. Be kind to those who love you the most because its easy to be careless with them. More than anyone else. Prioritise. Give attention where you want it to go. Remember there is never enough time. It’s not morbid, it is liberating. Cast off the shackles of ‘should’ and decide where you put your love. Today. Do it today. Do it now

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Biscuit comes to say hello, Purleigh dog walk.

 

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin…

I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’s people;
Why fishes have scales.
Why a white swan has black feet…

I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.

 

 

From tales of the Mabinogion, Celtic oral tradition, by  Anonymous

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All illustrations my own, please do not use without permission.

Images available via sites on menu – ask if there is anything not there that you would like.

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Who dreams in Latin?

know thyself

Me apparently.  Now I understand there is going to be a minority of educated peeps who regularly visit their night time muse and discourse via that ancient language.  Because they can.  I am not of them.  I detested taking Latin in school and confounded attempts to make me regular or irregular with verbage, refused to consort with Hannibal and Hasdrubal despite the allure of elephants, and exited the class only with the ability to ‘tu, te, tui, tibi, te’ to  rhythm courtesy of my doctors eccentric wife who brought a whole new dimension of dance into the conjugation theme. Saying that I do know that ‘Julia puella parva est’ tells me what anyone with eyes could determine – Julia is a small girl. Latin as a discipline was forced onto my curriculum by my mother, who had been denied the opportunity and believed it to be necessary in any right thinking girls armoury, which may have been the case in Montaigne’s time, whose father denied his son the use of any other language as he grew up. But times change. Move on – the thrust of my enquiry is why would I be dreaming Latin phrases?  I awoke recently with the clear message of ‘Nosce te ipsum’ plastered all over my consciousness in the style of a Banksy’s graffiti.  I knew I knew what it meant, but couldn’t recall – I had to resort to the husband, who resorted to the Google machine.  Of course – Nosce te ipsum is ‘Know Thyself’  – now the nub of the real enquiry is why is my subconscious sending me this command?  Is it thrust at me dagger like, suggesting I lack self awareness and something very dark and looming is about to reveal itself in my personality?  Or is it somewhat self congratulatory , extolling the virtues of introspection and reflection which anyone who knows me will confirm I expound.  I like neither scenario – self congratulation is about as welcome as self flagellation in my eyes, with less soreness. And I have lived a whole life like Henny Penny who clucked around her friends asking whether the sky was falling .

Despite the anxiety around whether my subconscious is alerting me to something I ought to know, I welcome this intrusion .  ‘Know thyself’ seems a good mantra to me.  Look at your virtues and examine your faults – try every moment you can to be the best version of yourself – this is what I take from the message.  I fail, I pick myself up and I fail again, but in the attempt to understand my errors, my poor decisions, I end up making better ones. Everyone’s a winner. I have never regretted saying sorry. Sometimes I have not said it, or not soon enough and I have regretted that. I suppose saying sorry makes you vulnerable, shows a side that is less than perfect.  I like that. I like that when I create something and something goes wrong, I always end up with creating something better in it’s stead. Always.  And when someone says sorry to me, I tend to cut them some slack. That’s the way it works.

Nosce te ipsum.

St Augustine quotation Anne Corr

Taking my own advice

purleigh footpath

Further to my post about Shinrin-yoku, I decided to unyoke myself from my p.c. and treat myself and Digger to a well deserved break in the day. The sun was high, the sky was blue and the wind was refreshingly gentle as a breeze.  Digger is an old dog, so that breeze is a pre-requisite to a walk in the summer.  I keep valuing his presence more and more as his age becomes more and more apparent to me. I treasure my time with him – such is love!  I was considering this and more as I reflected on my life and times.  I have had a complicated relationship with love – I crave it’s presence and sumultaneously feel I somehow have an inadequacy deep within me to fully appreciate it.  I am so glad to have my family around me- but their presence is peripheral – I like to know they are there, but am happy they are living their lives their way. I have been this way forever – to the chagrin of my mother who would demand far more time from me were I to be complicit. Paradoxically I learnt my self sufficency from her – as youngsters my parents encouraged independence , valuing it above any expression of warmth and love. My parenting has been totally informed by my perceived lack of early sustenance- as young children mine could be under no illusion that the singular aim of life is to love! Both of them now would probably complain I wasn’t authoritive enough – oh the sad absurdities of parenting!

Enough – my aim of this post was to share my experience of a simple walk . The glory to be found in the ordinary is daily worth revisiting. I was considering this after hearing a radio 4 programme promoting an upcoming project ‘Accounting for taste ‘wherein the producer/presenter Matthew Sweet  is wanting us, the great unwashed, to share what we consider to be unique in our homes – the thing that makes home ours and ours alone. I like listening to this sort of thing – connecting to ordinary lives , and I thought about my own environs. I live in a very ordinary semi- detached home in a very pleasant suburb of a Midlands town in U.K.  My house is not extraordinary in any way whatsoever, and yet if you walked into it, you would feel us. We are all there , family moments imbibe each room, mementoes collected, stones given to one another as gifts of love, paintings by the children on fridge a decade after having been produced, percussion instruments littered around, bongo drums to pick up and mess with, artworks collected over decades , photographs by my brilliant photographer husband and books. Lots of books. My own tributes to my dogs, dead and alive  are in the form of knitted statues – definitely unique! You get my meaning – our lives are full of meaningful and lovely memory that makes us unique, but none of them have any value really to anyone outside of the family, and that is fine. I am o.k with that. I love our ordinary. I celebrate it. One of the character traits of my youngest son that makes me most comfortable is that he gets this already – in a world increasingly desiring us all to be part of something ‘special’. Life is special. Life is enough. For decades I sought meaning beyond that , and yesterday felt healing. I understood that everything is of and from the same happening. Some things started their lives at different times on that happening timeline. I was telling Digger this so that he knows too. Bless. The pictures show where I was, two minutes walk away from the front door, a public footpath takes you away from the cares of the everyday world. Nice.

 

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If you want to link up with Matthew Sweet for his upcoming programme at Radio4 you can link up by using the link Accountingfortaste 

 

 

Shinrin-yoku

trees 2trees

I was entranced to discover there is a word for the feeling of well being I share with millions of you – Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term that means “forest bathing”. The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, lowering stress. Allelochemic substances ‘phytonicides’help slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. When humans are exposed to them, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of white blood cells.  garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak are all examples of plants emitting phytonicides.

When we walk in Scotland, we spend most of our time simply being in the landscape, enjoying the feeling of well-being that we both find there. I take lots of photographs there and these inform much of what I do when I am creating both illustration and the handmade books. I go back to those photographs time and again, both to recreate the feeling of creativity, and to inspire new designs.  Just browsing through my back catalogue  provokes a feeling of joy, remembered tranquillity and when I am in a slump of not knowing how to move forward, I take a step back and invariably come across something to make the spark reignite.

Today I rediscovered these woods, and immediately I am reminded of the wonderful treatise by Herman Hesse on the sanctuary of trees. I breathed a sigh of recognition when I first read his words – they are beautiful – I can only urge you to find a copy.

You can find the essay online here ; Herman Hesse Wandering

In the meantime, don’t forget to get some time in to shinrin-yoku

 

The only philosophy

Poecard

 

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’…..
………….But the most complete experience of all, the only one superior to music, is silence:
When the inexpressible had to be expressed, Shakespeare laid down his pen and called for music. And if the music should also fail? Well, there was always silence to fall back on. For always, always and everywhere, the rest is silence.”

From Aldous Huxley ‘Music at Night’

When I was seventeen I had my first adult trip to London. That is, I and two friends travelled unescorted from the Midlands to London in order to go to the theatre. The play was Amadeus, about the composer Mozart , and it changed my life. I remember walking out into the landscape of London at dusk with the music still playing within my head, and my heart felt as though it had expanded. I loved my life, I loved the paving stones, I loved my two companions dearer than I had loved them before, I loved the light, the sounds, the very air I was breathing.

I had experienced the transformative powers of listening with an audience to the exquisite sounds first heard by Mozart, then passed on by him to the world for all time.

I was seventeen quite a long time ago. I have lived several lives, some of them have been my own – to paraphrase Stanley Kunitz. I know more and less than then. I know more facts, more detail, more pain, more sorrow, more joy, more excitement – and yet I feel I know less. I am less prepared for life at 55 than I felt at seventeen, when nothing felt improbable, and I felt hungry for experience.

Yet last Sunday I returned to that state of euphoric shared experience when I hear Karl Jenkins conduct his Requiem for Peace ‘The Armed Man’ as well as other scores at TheRoyal Albert Hall to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. Was it Nietszche who said ‘Music is the only philosophy?’ On sharing that concert with how ever many in the auditorium , I felt again the transendence that

music can bring to me. Nature too sometimes moves me to the same level of consciousness, but music can take me there so quickly, so efficently, a motorway route to a temporary bliss. Bliss – what a good word – encompassing sorrow inside it as well as joy, that bittersweet sensation of tasting death and yet steering away.

I wanted to thank Karl Jenkins. This is it. A thank you from the depths of my being for showing me what humanity looks like in its greatest form, a generous, powerful force of love that knows no boundaries. There are no boundaries.

 

Benedictus -The Armed Man -A Mass for Peace

 

 

Hold on to your hats U.K!

 

whiteI was shocked and stunned by the result our country delivered on the E.U. referendum. The build up to the vote was not our finest hour. Frankly , we look pretty hideous at the moment . The thing is – I don’t quite believe it.  I don’t believe that the voters wanted this result – is that arrogant?  I think the whole affair has been mismanaged – in fact I was anti a referendum for this reason – we have a government to govern. That is the point of them – to argue out in a reasonable manner the pros and cons of policy.  I think the public are astute, but the populace cannot , by definition , read and inwardly digest the intricacies and complexities of economics and social policies via the media. It cannot happen. There will be a small minority who can unpick all the necessary argument and come to a judgement secure in the knowledge that they have equipped themselves with the available information from all sides and critically examined the opposing argument. The vast majority are too busy surviving, or too lazy or disinterested.

Now we are in this position the various factions are running about like headless chickens because they didn’t believe this could happen either. Big mistake.

However, what is important now is that cool heads manage the coming months. Britain will survive because there is no choice.  We may have to build some bridges , and that work will be done. Most people I meet are honest, well meaning, and committed to making life better for themselves and for their companions. What is essential is our humanity to others is not compromised. None of us live in a vacuumn and if compassion is at the forefront of policy making as well as daily living , there will be nothing to fear. Fear is the only outcome when the politics of the far right starts to seep into our daily governance and our daily lives.

We need to recognise the danger that the far right brings , remembering the recent past atrocities that shaped our modern politics. It always appears unthreatening in the build up to taking power, and morphs into monstrous totalitarianism almost imperceptibly.

Compassion is the key. Retain it in the heart of politics and daily living and that monster has no oxygen .

Help – I need somebody!

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Righto – I am going to just come right out and say it as it is – I really need some help.  My small attempt to make an impact in the world of hand crafted loveliness is running up against a big, bad wall.  Etsy has changed. It has. It isn’t where I started, but it isn’t going to change so somehow I need to man up and get my head around all this promotion business.  I have done some homework – oh yes – I don’t expect the world to fall into my  lap, adn I am well acquainted with the hows and wheretofores of S.E.O. – Three most dreaded capitals when they are together that I know.  This is the hub of it.  I need back links, and not just ANY back links , back links that matter. Back links with attitude. To quote a master on the subject, backlinks ‘are considered external because the appear on pages not found on etsy.com. Providing the site owner has not added a “nofollow” tag to your links, they will pass equity, or the SEO goodness that tell Google to trust your site.’

 

So there we are. I need you give me a backlink on your blog. Wow! I said it. I am happy  to sing it, and will write anyone a guest blog about how and what I do. Let me know if anyone is interested.