I Wonder Where Summer Went?

She was here for a couple of days earlier in the month, Lady Summer, but seems to have given way to a resurgent and surly Winter who still has something to say.

I used to call the city where I live ‘The Riviera of Antarctica’.  I had good reason for doing so, low rainfall in the extremes of the year and high sunshine hours too.    Lately though it seems we have been upgraded and now reside as the Capital of Antarctica.

There were, I was told a couple of days ago, four cruise ships coming into harbour to dispel their thousands of well-heeled patrons into our fair city to enjoy a day or two of Southern Hospitality.  (Please bear in mind I don’t read the papers or listen to the radio so all my gossipy news is picked up at the dog park, where I loiter around with a mismatch of folk while our pets chase each other round in ever decreasing circles in an attempt to keep warm.  So I may get actual facts slightly wrong.)   Anyway, they picked the wrong day to arrive.  For a ‘Weather Bomb’ also chose this time to put in an appearance.

Apparently old man Winter was really p***ed off about something and he hurled a few icicles our way along with torrential rain and winds that drove the rain horizontally against the landscape.   I spent yesterday with the heating on, tucked in a blanket watching the one hundred videos saved to my ‘watch later’ tab on You Tube and pretending I lived in the far north of Canada where I was enjoying a really pleasantly mild winter.

I have no idea what happened to the hundreds of well-heeled tourists, but I imagine they retreated back to their cruise liners and waited patiently to be taken to a more salubrious part of the world.  I did hear that one of the ships, an especially large one which sometimes has trouble making port due to time and tides and its immense size, nearly keeled over in the wind, but that might just be an unfounded rumour.

Just bear all this in mind if you ever meet somebody who says they went to New Zealand one summer, had a cold and miserable time and the hurricane level winds almost caused their gigantic ship to capsize. They were probably on that particular liner.

Any way, with all this inclement summer weather I’ve spent a deal of time playing about in the art room and trying to find my painting mojo again.

I made cards.  I cleaned up and cleared out THE STASH….  We crafters never throw anything away because it  can be used on something, somewhere, one day.  I have stuff I’ve kept for ten years or more and, as I’ve cleared out everything else in my tiny house, it’s now time to clear out some of the ‘someday stuff’ that makes up a lot of THE STASH.  I figure that if I live to be 100 and make a card every day, I still won’t have used up all the stuff lurking about in that pile of ‘someday I might be just what you are looking for’  stuff.  So, I used a lot teeny bit of that stuff on the cards I made, which slowed me down no end and made me realise why I’d never actually used it up before.   I’d spend so much time sifting through piles of stuff I’d forget what I wanted it for by the time I found it.

To be honest, I was also prevaricating.  Delaying the actual moment when I would start work on an actual canvas…….  it’s always so terrifying for me – I wonder if it is so for every other person who paints.

Any -hoo, back to the cards, here’s a selection of cards ready for next Christmas  – made using the same embossing folder and different paper remnants, some worked, some didn’t……

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

The onto the stash scraps and bits and pieces.  Small note cards to start

Hisilicon K3

Large greeting cards, all made using my hand made papers and various ‘stash’ items

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

In between card making I spent some time acting as Chief Consultant and Shopping Assistant to my daughter, the Official Photographer who is doing up her new flat and who had decided she wanted a ‘pinkish’ bedroom.

We made the headboard and used that as the jumping off point for what ever came next.  While we were busily attending to the fiddly bits, young Sidd-Arthur was also busy making sure the bed was nice and comfortable for her…… that’s his rear end you are looking at

siddy-nesting-1

Furiously digging his way through duvet, sheets and pillows

siddy-nesting-2

Thoroughly rumpled and immensely satisfied

siddy-nesting-4

Sigh!  So funny!  Pure gorgeous furriness!

I managed some sketching.  The last two while I was keeping warm and indulging in that ‘Watch Later’ channel on You Tube I mentioned earlier

Hisilicon K3

Hisilicon K3

The birds got doodled in when I tired of sketching in wrinkles…..

And finally – I have to tell you – finally, I did some work on canvas…….. it’s not finished yet, but it’s a good start.  Oh the relief!!

Unfinished 'Believe'

Unfinished ‘Believe’

So, that’s January up to date.  How’s your January going?

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

 

 

 

 

The Books Piled Beside the Bed: Pt 3

Christmas always brings me a new range of books courtesy of my dear eldest daughter, The BookRep.  This past Christmas was no exception, despite the fact that we had all agreed  ‘We Aren’t Doing Christmas This Year!’.  She sends me enough reading matter to get me through to Mother’s Day, I think it’s the second Sunday in May here.  Then I take delivery of a few more books to get me through to my birthday in early September, which in turn stocks me up til the following Christmas.

Aren’t you envious?  I LOVE my regular restocking of the pile of books beside the bed.  It is an eclectic and enjoyable pile – books I’ve never heard of, books I want to read, books of fiction, fact, good literature, old literature, poems, essays, short stories; books instructional and uplifting, books containing new thoughts and information, books by loved authors and books by new authors.

And it’s not just books supplied by the BookRep in that pile – oh no! Sometimes I even purchase a book or two myself, sometimes I am gifted books by other kind folk – the pile is a never ending, always changing heap of anticipation and delight.

Delicious!!

Surveying the new pile brought me up with  jolt as I realised I still hadn’t completed intended reviews of books that were once in the pile but which have now been removed to the ‘read’ shelves in the living room.

My blog posts slowed down considerably last year, did you notice?  I was busy organising myself and apparently can no longer multi-task.  So, here I am to celebrate kicking off 2017, let’s take a look at a second novel from a fellow blogger:

My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard

my-father-and-other-liars

In my last book post I reviewed Geoff’s first book ‘Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle’ which, despite the title was a great read and, maybe because of the title, is a comedy waiting to be made.   So I was looking forward to settling in to read his next one.

‘My Father and Other Liars’ is very different.  I should have known by the cover, which had always quite puzzled my eye and scrambled my brain in some odd manner…….  This is a complex, multi-charactered look at a complex, multi-layered issue of today.  Complex family relationships, particularly father and child, are interwoven with a dramatic, fast paced story (so fast paced, I sometimes had to back track to sort out who did what) and the interweaving of religion and science.

The main characters, Maurice (Mo) Oldham and Lori-Ann Beaumont knock into each other at a Pro-Life Rally.  He is looking for a story to impress his absent father and she needs rescuing from a group of interrogative journalists grilling her about her father’s church.  They think never to see each other again, but some months later Lori-Ann turns up on Mo’s doorstep, bruised, destitute and desperate to track down her missing boy-friend.

Moving between the US, the UK and Nicaragua, the novel introduces us to the Church of Science and Development, one where religion and science unite with embryonic research at the core.   Throw in political investigations, mysteries from the past and a few dead bodies and the result is a fast paced (did I say that already?) thriller dealing with complex issues of ethics in scientific research, family secrets, personal and religious beliefs, and political interests with their own agendas.  And just in case you are wondering, there’s a quiet, slow blooming of a little romance as well.

When I finished this book I was struck by how well the characters were developed.  Despite my own personal views, I felt for those protagonists whose actions and beliefs were so very different to mine.  Geoff Le Pard has a real gift in presenting characters as human beings one can empathise with despite their behaviours or different beliefs.  Life is rarely black and white, and perhaps ultimately this book reveals the layers of grey that make up our relationships, our history, our beliefs, our actions and our world.

The thing I most delight in with Geoff’s writing is his ability to switch genres at the drop of a hat.  The inside of his head must be a maze of ideas and words and pictures running the gamut of all possible genres and then some.  To have a look at what I mean visit his blog TanGental and read some of his short stories or accompany Geoff and Dog on one of their meanders about the streets and parks and sights of London, I’m sure you’ll find something to delight you.

**********************************

Regular readers of my blog know we lost a great poet a few weeks ago. I always intended to write a review for Cynthia of her book.  But, alas, I waited too long.  She knew what I would say though, so here I write it just for you:

A Certain Age, Poems by Cynthia Jobin

a-certain-age-cover

I’m no poetry maven, I’m just a person who knows what she likes.  My friend Cynthia passed away on 13th December last year.  Her collection of poems has sat beside my bed, or on the arm of my chair for the past couple of years.  Her ability with and knowledge of poetic forms was vast.  She wrote poems that tore at the gut, making me wonder what it had cost her to go so deep and express so eloquently.  She wrote poems that caused a gurgle of laughter to erupt, a sigh of empathy to escape, a moment of silence to linger on.  She wrote words that made me look anew at nature, at my actions and even at my thoughts.  She was a woman who had grown through pain and loss into extraordinary kindness and appreciation of the simple things in life.

I read her poems again now, with an even greater appreciation for her ability.  Bennison Books is working with John Looker to publish a second collected works of Cynthia Jobin, in the meantime we have ‘A Certain Age’ to enjoy again and again and again.

So, two writers who come much recommended by me for your new year reading lists.  I hope you will meander through their blogs and find something to enjoy.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Saying Farewell to Friends Who Blog

I haven’t posted in a while, I hadn’t intended to post again until the new year, but the past three weeks or so have been fully focused on my circle of friends here on my blog, and on one in particular.

I know I am not unusual in having had the opportunity to make many friends and some particularly deep connections with folk who blog – we stumble into each other in odd moments, like what we see and stick around. We are often introduced through another blog, usually in the comments where we air our thoughts and feelings (well, I do any way) generously, randomly and sometimes in great detail. 🙂 We find folk who resonate with us as well as having shared interests. It’s the resonating that is important to me, it probably is to you too.

My friend Cynthia reminded me that we first met through Derrick’s blog, I had forgotten the genesis of our friendship but she had not.  We knew each well for less than two years – yet it seems we knew each well for much longer.

Our friendship grew quickly. We emailed and continued conversations started in a comment somewhere. We shared our opinions, our thoughts with honesty, sometimes acerbically, sometimes with humour, and sometimes with tears about hurt hearts. There was nothing that couldn’t be resolved, there was nothing that didn’t end with us bouncing humorously off each other. Despite having lived in different parts of the world and having followed very different paths on the journey, we found we held thoughts in common, about health, about education, about art, about spirituality, about life and death. Sometimes we ranted, sometimes we sighed, sometimes we amused ourselves and each other highly, sometimes we simply changed the subject.

I bought her book of poems, ‘A Certain Age’, loving so much of what I read on her blog. She ordered a light catcher, to be made in blues and oranges. Particular blues and oranges! I was aghast at her colour choices and kept trying to calm them down. “No, no!” she emailed back, “the other blue the bright one….” I strung some together and sent a photo, “Less amber,” she replied “more orange, the bright orange”

At last I got it right and she pronounced herself satisfied. It was spectacular!

cynthia-pizap

Cynthia had a gypsy soul I decided. She agreed, but don’t spread it around she said – I can’t dance any more and I’ve lost my castanets and you can’t be a proper gypsy without castanets!

And then my gypsy souled friend admitted she was feeling unwell. I knew she had been struggling all through that last northern summer. She emailed and said she had finally given in and gone to be checked out. She was afraid the cancer had returned.

Cancer? What cancer? She had a bout of cancer some time back and had gone into remission six years ago. Cynthia was afraid it had now returned. She didn’t want to go the medical cancer route and she didn’t want the battle she thought she would have to endure.

I mostly ignored that email – I didn’t want her to go that route either. Another note arrived hot on its heels. The diagnosis was in. Cancer. Metastisized. A matter of time.

The time was two weeks. Two weeks from diagnosis to a peaceful passing with her beloved sister Jen beside her and Celtic lullabies playing on the CD.

Cynthia Jobin, poet, writer, calligrapher, artist, blogger, friend, passed away December 13th 2016.

Cynthia will be cremated today. She did not want a service, just her ashes to be scattered when the weather is more clement off the coast of New Hampshire.

Far away in New Zealand on the 13th of December, I sent my last daily email to her. The following morning I sat before my in-box and a little voice whispered in my ear to let her go.

We’ve lost a great gal from our blogging circle.
A wonderful poet – a great mind – a ready wit.
A particularly kind woman!

I thought you’d like to know and perhaps share the news as appropriate.

Cynthia’s sister Jen is happy to hear from any of her friends who would like to make contact. Her email is [jlibby16@twc.com]

Cynthia told me that her friend and fellow blogger John (Looker) Stevens had offered to organise publication of a second volume of her poetry.  She was ecstatic about the kind offer and with her energy failing and her sister’s help, gathered together some works and sent them to him.  ‘They won’t go into the dumpster’ she wrote ‘Hallelujah!’

Cynthia’s intention was to make three last posts on her blog, poems already in her archives.  She managed two.

I’ll leave you with the third:

The Sun Also Sets

Without a bedtime story or a lullabye
the evening’s blush sinks to a deeper red
then slips into a slit between the earth and sky
leaving our goodbyes lingering, unsaid.

I do not want to go, or let you go.
I want to dare this ending, call its bluff,
delay our parting with a sudden overflow
of words—too many and yet not enough–

while you, my dearest one, would choose
blunt disappearance, the mute way
to stanch an agony—those deeper blues
along the skyline fire—as if to say

the sun rises, the sun also sets.
So let it set. Let us let it. Let’s.

To listen to Cynthia read this poem, follow this link 

Mandalas and Dream Catchers

I’ve been drawing mandalas for many, many years. Once it was a tool that helped focus me and bring me into a quiet and meditative space. Another time mandalas became a way of connecting with and working through my feelings in a troubled time. I kept a book filled with my intricate drawings for years until I felt it was time to let them go as I moved on with life. I thought my time with mandalas was done – I turned instead to doily making, a kind of crochet version of a mandala if you freestyle it and work with form and colour as your heart dictates. A thoroughly satisfying and restful occupation, mainly done during long winter evenings and eventually ending up, not with a book, but a blanket – a more cuddly and useful product formed from many hours of quiet contemplation.

And then recently I fell somehow into the idea of painting little dream catchers – a version filled with doodles and shapes of a repetitive nature emulating the work of a mandala.  Here are some I’ve been working on.  They are not quite finished yet…….

dreamcatchersx4

Then my journal page got a workout with this

dreamcatcher-14-oct

I thought I was painting a mandala – which goes to show you never quite know when you pick up some colours where you might end up ………

The process, if you are interested, was to lay down a mixture of colours over the entire double page spread.  You see them now just as the background of the mandala.  Then I used a circle template to pencil in three circles, the rest is done freehand.  The mandala grew from the centre outwards, with lines and doodles and black, white and gold pens.  When the sixth ring was completed the remaining page was painted black.  When the black paint was dry I continued drawing and doodling the pointy outer shapes and finally the ribbons and feathers – at which point I realised my mandala had become a dream catcher.  I felt the black was too heavy so finally I made lots of squiggly marks all over using a white gel pen.

And here are some details of the piece –

 

dreamcatcher-detail2

dreamcatcher-detail4

 

So, even though it’s not quite a mandala and not quite a dream catcher, it was a lot of fun to make!  And it might make nice prints – what do you think?

Finally, for his fans – here is Siddy this morning.  Patiently waiting for Orlando to wake up and accept the toy that is being offered so they can play.

siddywaitsforo

He did wake up and Siddy did his happy dance, but Orlando didn’t want to play – again…….  (sigh)……….

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Has Commercial Christmas Started at Your Place Too?

My birthday, as I keep telling you, falls at the beginning of September.  A few days later I went into the city – somewhere I avoid normally – and was truly totally amazed to see every store had put out the first of their Christmas decorations and assorted stuff.  September!!  I thought it all arriving en-masse near the end of October was bad enough – soon we’ll be shopping for festivals and holidays all year round.  Are you like me and think this is ever so slightly crazy?

I did wonder if it is just here, where we do not really celebrate Halloween or have Thanksgiving as national pastimes like, for instance, our American friends.  Our national holidays are fairly low key and not hugely commercial affairs, so have the corporations decided that, lacking these other two major fiscal opportunities, to make the time of ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men’ a spectacular four month long spending spree?  Or am I being just a tad cynical in my old age?  Maybe you like it!  So come on down and share with us – when do you think Christmas should appear in the shops?

So having done my anti-establishment rant about the commercialisation of holidays, I will now jump on the band wagon.  That’s the irony of life isn’t it!  For there is, purely coincidentally, good news for any of you who were pondering on items in my ‘Contented Crafter’s Gift Shop‘ and maybe put off by the exorbitant additional cost of shipping.  For just a short time – unknown exactly how long as yet – postage on any item, to any place, anywhere, is free! And, as just complained about by my good self, in time for the major gift giving season too.  Whoot-whoot!!  Ah well, if you can’t beat ’em you may as well join ’em as someone famous once surely said!

There are also, of course, pages from the art journal to be shared.  I’m beginning to work up so many ideas for proper paintings I don’t know where to start:

There’s this one based on an event from many years ago when my life was in crisis

earth-goddess

There’s this one, just playing around with texture and colour

oct-flowers

Or this one, where my latest addiction to gold paint and decorative tapes is indulged

oct-purplegold

And here, where I am just starting to play around with ideas for a proper painting

oct-laurie1

It’s an eclectic mix isn’t it!  Any thoughts?  I’d like to find time to make some more bracelets, my wrists feel they are in need of some decorative touches………

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Back to Work!

Hello there blogging friends!

It’s spring here at last and the sap is finally rising.  The daffodils are smiling, the blossom is blossoming and the birds are singing enthusiastically by 5 am every morning.    It’s just wonderful!

Another short break has ensued from posting here while I had my two week long birthday festival, followed by a mild case of flu, followed by a back that got put out by all the festivities, followed by trying to catch up with everything that had got away on me.  All is well again now and we are good to go as we cruise towards summer.

Of course I kept on making stuff all this time – several light catchers got sent off for example – and not a one of them photographed before doing so…….  Sigh!!

Miles of decorative tape got made – such an excellent activity when you only have energy to plop yourself onto the sofa and keep yourself amused with doodles and colour – a few cards got put together with said decorative tape and a few note books and journals found themselves titivated up as well.  Serious painting duties have now resumed.

Decorative Tapes are made by laying down strips of masking tape onto plastic cutting boards, the kind that you buy from the $2 shop, and painting them or doodling them start to finish.  The centre one in the photo below is all doodles, the other two are painted and when dry I used gold paint through stencils.  The one on the right has additional doodles.  Loads of fun!

dec-tapes

Some books got covered with other decorative tapes:
Notebooksdec-tapes-notebooks

The back and front covers of another notebook:

notebook-cover-1-sept-16

A journal cover for the official photographer – who incidentally took none of these photos – but that’s okay as I’m not that enthralled with the quality of cover that she received!

journal-cover-1

Little thank you cards were made from paper painted with left over paint from other activities that piles up until I feel I want to do something with them – these ones were dabbed with paint on a small round dauber I was using at the time:

paint-paper-cards

Storage for little thank you cards made from an empty packet of washing machine powder covered with paper and edged with decorative tape

box1

A journal page almost completed, edged with more decorative tape:

fancy-headwear

And I’ll leave you today with a small peek at an amazing basket of flowers received from Ms Laurie at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things for my birthday.

flowers-from-laurie

Blessed indeed!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Bottoms Up!

So!  I began to get a series of emails from Twitter advising me I had new followers.  This may not be big news to some of you avid tweeters – but to me, whose Twitter account at three years old sported twelve followers and whose only tweets consisted of the automatic notifications made when I posted something on WordPress – it was a bit unexpected.  Especially as they addressed me as Tericia and the new followers were mostly all young Latino looking dudes sporting an arm muscle or a Superman/ Batman, or interrelated Marvel Comics costume.

I assumed, in my all my worldly wisdom, that Twitter had somehow cocked up and mistaken my elderly profile for some pouting Latino looking dudess named Tericia and they’d soon enough sort out their mistake.

Time passed and the emails kept coming, accompanied now and again by a private message containing single words like ‘hey’ or ‘hot’.

I thought I must go check my Twitter account soon as I’ve done ……

So, this morning, with the weather turning wet and cooler again and my plan to plant up the spring garden put on hold, I hunted around, found and opened my Twitter account and was truly amazed to discover a lovely profile picture of a slim, dark haired me pouting provocatively up at my hand held cellphone and my name clearly scribed across the top Tericia McGowan.

Well, I’ve heard of the Mandela Effect and all that, but I didn’t expect to slip through universes and dimensions as a totally different ethnic and generationally nubile and re-named me.  I had a quick peek in the hall mirror just in case – but nope, still Contented, still -er – generationally mature and definitely not nubile!

Tericia had definitely been handed my account – Oh, hang on – I’m slow, but I’m not that slow!  Had Tericia in fact hacked her way into my account?  Oh ho!  Off I went looking for evidence.  Where my nice little bio had once been telling you all about my contented retired, artful life now rested a nice blue link address.

Of course I hit it – don’t be silly, what would you have done?

You could have knocked me sideways with a feather duster!  Or, as my favourite aunt would once have said ‘Well, bugger me!’

It took me a moment to realise that the two beautifully curved and rounded gleaming moons shining out at me was in fact a bottom, an ass as you Americans say; an arse for my English friends; a derriere, a behind, a bum!

Bare.

Naked.

Arched.  Taut.  Erotic.

Well, that explained all the muscles and Superman and Batman and so forth costumes!

There were many photos of Tericia’s bare and tightly bunned bum.  She must, quite rightly be very proud of it.  However she picked the wrong dudess to hack!  This hacking victim is well versed in the sublime art of the ‘Interesting Times Curse’* and planned on putting it to good use.

I battled my way through all the incongruities and inconsistencies of my Twitter page and eventually removed all traces of Tericia McGowan [may you live in VERY interesting times Tericia McGowan and long enough for stretch marks to pit your twin moons!] and reclaimed my Twitter account for me.

Lastly I looked into my ‘Followers’ list.  Almost TWO THOUSAND! Last time I looked it was twelve …………..  And no way – no way Twitter people – to mass eradicate them.  There they were all those lovely young men looking like they might just have emerged from pre-pubescence into puberty; strutting their stuff according to their life view – but all – ALL! – very attracted to the bum of Tericia McGowan.  Not a one of them there to enjoy my journey back into the world of artiness.  [May you all live in interesting times young men! – oh, that’s right you do!!]

So, Tericia McGowan [may you live long enough to see your taut little ass dissolve into a lumpy puddle!]  I had to spend three hours of my life – three hours I can’t really afford to waste at this end of the life spectrum – blocking one by painful one each of your avid rear-end admirers.

I now have twelve followers again.

To any of you who read my blog and who may have come across one of my tweets and who may have inadvertently – or out of mere curiosity hit that harmless looking blue link in my bio field – I hope you enjoyed looking at Tericia’s bare bum – I  suppose you realised quite quickly it wasn’t mine, but were too bemused to enquire any further…..  ??

I’m not at all connected to my Twitter account.  But I have two very kind blog readers who loyally tweet out my posts as they hit the airwaves and who may have helped grow my sudden large following if they have any young dudes on their twitter lists ………  [Just joking Norah and David!]  I hope none of your friends investigated the little blue link under the name of Tericia McGowan.  If they did I apologise! If Tericia McGowan [may you live long and grow some self respect Tericia!] comes back again, I may just have to let her have it!

Still, it’s all done now – I’ve reclaimed my Twitter account and found a couple of other interesting/nice folks to follow too and I’ve got my lovely twelve followers.  One day I might even see the point of having Twitter and go read some tweets.

So, if you’re still with me [well done!] here’s a fun little art journal page to finish off.  Staying with the subject of birds, twitty ones, it features an owl, a bird who is equated with wisdom.  Perhaps he’ll fly over Tericia McGowan and drop a bit on her.  🙂

Painted over black gesso across two pages, with stencils and modelling paste leaves and stars.  The little verse bottom left made itself known as I finished – it’s a bit Roald Dahl-esque don’t you think? I’m dedicating it to Tericia McGowan – enjoy!

Good NightIf you click once on the photo you will see the painting pretty much life size; click twice and you’ll see every brush stroke – or be in Kansas!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

*Commonly attributed to the Chinese, it may in fact be an American invention. I just found this out via Mr Google – I love Mr Google!  ‘May you live in interesting times!’ usurps any hopes for peace and quiet and ease in the victim’s daily life.  The up-side of this of course is that it is through troubling events that we deepen as human beings through personal growth and through the opportunity to reach out and help each other.