Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A Butterfly In The Winter Woods *

Good Morning Dear Friends

First and foremostly, let me begin this verbal onslaught with a dollop of the seasons finest greetings; and, as that season happens to be winter and also because Saturnalia is approaching with almost indecent rapidity, I thought I'd illustrate my salutation with a charming portrait by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson of his daughter Britta as the goddess Iðunn.

If you're up to speed with your Norsk mythology - and who isn't? - you'll recall that Iðunn (pronounced like Eedun) is associated with apples and youth; it is told how the mischievous god Loki is forced by the giant (or jötunn) Þjazi (a bit like Thiazi) to lure her into leaving Asgard her home and into a wood by promising her interesting apples.  The said Þjazi changes into an eagle, snatches her from the wood and takes her home.  Her absence - and that of her apples - causes the gods to grow old and so Loki promises to return her which he duly does . . . so I suppose at this time of the ageing year, we need her and her eternal youth to remind us that, although it may seem dark and gloomy, Spring is not too far away. 

It's also worth considering that this beautiful illustration has given Britta a form of enduring presence; we look and see a portrait of a delightful child who was born some 120 years ago; that's one of the reasons why I love paintings and photographs but I also feel that the same result can be achieved by writing down and recording the story of peoples lives; we make them immortal and keep their memories safe beyond the touch of time . . . which is my new project for next year - I shall keep you informed.

In other news, yesterday  - as well as being the birthday of my oldest and dearest friend and architect extraordinaire Mr DCR H. who, instead of sunning himself on Marco island as is his wont at this time of year, is sadly laid up in hospital and, it must be said, being missed ferociously - was the day in which dear old Myrtle House became Myrtle House Creative Publishing Ltd! This means that, along with a resurrection of the blog for that side of things in the very near future, some of the short stories and whatnot concocted by Yours Truly will slowly begin to filter into a wider sphere than before . . . be afraid; be very afraid! I will also be looking at other material and am happy to hear from anyone who feels they might like to see their name blazoned for all to see  via digital means as well as, it is hoped in the nearest of futures, as a 'real' printed book too !

Output on the writing front has been steady but not overly prolific due to the amount of time I'm spending having tremendous fun with a varied bunch of displaced persons masquerading as professionals. In between the giggles we are actually working on a fantastic and world-changing proposition which has me tingling with excitement; I am tremendously lucky to meet and work with the people I do; they are are,  to a man/woman/upright-hoover, immensely talented and dedicated but more importantly have not lost the ability to dream and, what is more, to believe in those dreams with a passion

I forgot to mention that all this tip-tapping is taking place down in the The Barn in deepest Cheshire where, beyond the arched window, the day (which has never really got its act together in terms of being properly light) is growing darker and the rain more insistent; I fear I shall be in for a dowsing on my way to the station . . . ah well, never mind; I shall perch on my eyrie-seat in the buffet on platform 6 at Crewe and indulge in some comestibles and a large green tea . . . its all about trying to remain positive and seek the sweetness in everything.

So I shall end where I began; with another of Carl Larsson's lovely illustrations -  this time of another of his daughters, Kersti in her sleigh . . .  Hmmm, it would be so good to have snow instead of rain - then again, I don't suppose there would be any trains running if that were the case

So until next time, which I'm sure will be sometime around the cusp of the new year, I shall say toodle-pip and wish you all the very merriest and most peaceful of Yuletides and, with the sound once again of The Incredible String Band ringing in my head I ask

May the long time sun shine upon you  
All love surround you  
And the pure light within you  
Guide your way on 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


*They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods - Edith Wharton

Friday, 7 December 2012

Winter Is The Time For Comfort ... *

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Welcome once again to the wintery blast that is December - with a somewhat tardy trio of Snow Hares to usher in the first of the month of course - and today finds Yours Truly viewing the world via the study window in the barn in Deer Crossing, a tad further south than normal, in deepest Cheshire . . . I'm here housesitting as artisans splash paint and ensure boilers keep the home fires burning as, beyond the Velux, the day crisps nicely !

So, what's been occurring since last you popped by? Well, work has been progressing on a number of short stories, though not as many as originally planned due to other fun-filled tasks connected with some lovely folk I've met in the Wigwam who - as well as sharing a vision about just how nice the world could be if we were all just that bit more connected and friendlier to each other - have elected to share their time and talents with moi-même in order that together we can create a nouvelle vogue that will, tsunami like, wash away the old order . . . and, what is more, we're going to have fun doing it!  I'll also be showing these people these meanderings for the first time too in this post so a huge hello to you all - you know who you are!

I'm also working with groups of fledgling writers alongside some not-so-recently out of the nest and enjoying the process immensely; it's really rewarding to see people who perhaps haven't written very much since leaving school suddenly find the courage and the will to commit their thoughts and emotions to paper.  I'm also very fortunate that the groups contain others with much more skill and experience than this poor scribbler who inspire and encourage their peers more than I could ever hope to do.  Anyhow, we meet and drink tea and eat cakes and chocolate and gossip and counsel and cajole . . . we even sometimes write!

Meanwhile the day drifts on and I have a list of jobs to do before the light fades; I am being entrusted with the de-tangling and subsequent arrangement of over 1200 lights ready for the seasonal festivities about to befall us all in a mere 18 days or so; they are, I have to say, very subtle and small lights and I do have some experience of the task in hand . . . still, I'm sure I will be unable to complete it without some personal injury or affront to my dignity; not to mention a probable appearance of a few degrees of frost bite around my extremities! Still, I suppose its all part of the great and glorious festival we all call Saturnalia . . . don't we? Oh! 

I hope I manage to get a least one more post out to you good people before the festivities begin;  you are more than welcome to drop in here for a cup of something warming and cheery and an assuredly warm welcome.  In the meantime. please try not to get too stressed about the business of buying presents and what to wear etc; I'm happy to reassure you that were you to come empty-handed and dressed in rags there would always be room in this particular virtual inn

I hope you have a truly wonderful week and that there is enough warmth and cheer in your soul to keep your toes and hearts from freezing; if the snow arrives please use both it and the time it affords wisely and with love . . . perhaps by sitting by the fire and reading what I think is my favourite book of 2012 . . . there is a lot to be said for surrendering to solitude and peace and quiet and an equal amount to gained by offering your company to those who need perhaps just a little more love in their lives

Thank you for popping by; I hope you have a super time and enjoy yourself in the coming days . . .

Whoops - I must away; The gas man commeth!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


* "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home" Edith Sitwell

Monday, 19 November 2012

What's Gone, and What's Past Help, Should Be Past Grief*

Good Afternoon Dear Friends! 

First of all, I must completely, totally and unreservedly apologise for the recent dearth of posts here; whilst it true there have been momentous difficulties and problems to deal with and still more to overcome, I have to say that  I have been a tad neglectful of you, my dear readers and loyal visitors to this verdant plot that is forever Myrtle House ...
... where, interestingly enough, were you to pop your ever-welcome phizzog around the door jamb you would find me not at my desk, head bowed in the waves of creative productivity but rather as an altogether more dishevelled creature, fleeced and somewhat forlorn on my bed as I seem to have succumbed to some viral visitation or other.  Anyhow, the lack of movement such infestations afford mean that I can attempt a tippytaptoe version of said blog on the lovely iPad whist attempting to focus and stop shivering long enough to compose a line of text!

Talking of which, and whilst we wait for the kettle to thrub and sing in order to allow us the excellence of a warming tisane, I can take the opportunity to tell you about a number of new works which have seen the light of day since last we spoke:

"Choosing" was written for and submitted to the Salt Short Story Prize and concerns two women and their lives as viewed on a rainy Wednesday evening in the car park of a local sports and leisure centre. It examines the choices - or lack of such - that they each feel they have and must make and I really rather like it! 

I've been doing some preliminary work on a community- memory project; I want to do a bit of a Cecil Sharp and collect the memories of local residents and weave them into a collection portraying the lives of people seventy plus years ago ... I feel one important aspect of this work is to persuade the contributors that their lives, their stories,  are as important and as worthwhile as anyone else's and deserve to be written down  In an attempt to introduce this concept, I quickly wrote a very short yet I feel timely piece entitled "Remembrance Day" which uses one tiny, momentary fragment of my life which I recall happening one Remembrance Day Sunday when I was nine or ten years old ...  And since that day so many moons in silence, have swum across the sky and gone below - as dear old Bertie Brecht said when remembering Maria A but it is the tiny things that make such memories fascinating and vital. 

Another such fragment of my memory was the starting point for a submission to the Book Week Scotland 2012 Flash Fiction competition; in less than five hundred words one was asked to consider one of four images from the special collections department from The University of Aberdeen and be thus inspired; the one I choose was entitled " On Thin Ice" which also became my story title. It showed a Victorian couple skating and was rather a bland image but for me the immediate feeling caused by memory was of blueness; that special blue of a midnight sky with snow; of frozen Norwegian landscapes from thirty years ago and of the colour of an illustration in an Andy Pandy annual I possessed as a child. The story is a brief, psychological insight into the female skaters thoughts and she follows the man silently across the thin ice.

I do believe I can hear the kettle whistling to attract my attention; not to mention the grumblings and rumblings surfacing from beneath my bed as The Famous Sally Dog tries to decide just what to do with a raw hide bone nearly half the length of her good self - simply eating it is not an option, of course, it must be carried around, hidden under cushions and behind tables, rediscovered and exhumed and carried about once more - along with the more amusing aspects such as leaving it in my bleary-eyed path whenever possible in order to watch me express myself in the terpsichorean mode whilst howling and holding my foot aloft ... Such are the joys of canine companionship!

Which reminds me, if you think you are beginning to see double and that images are repeating themselves on this bloggage, fear not! You are correct; it seems that Google who operate Blogger the software I use for blogging want me to download their atrocious Google+ software in order to upload pics from my iPhone or iPad; naturally this is not going to occur and so, for the time being at least, you may have to suffer a monotonous round of very familiar pictures, for which I can only apologise. 

Ah well, the light is fading in direct relation to my energy and so I shall take my leave of you; if you'd like to help yourself to tea on the way out please feel free, I won't join you just at the moment as I'm aching rather more than I want to and can feel the lure of a swift kip of the serene in the offing!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief sojourn at my bedside; and I hope not to have to do the same for you - may you be in rude and ruddy health, both hale and hearty and have a week simply overflowing with all possible love and sunshine. 

'Til next time

Be Seeing You !

Monday, 8 October 2012

I Saw Old Autumn . . . *

Good Afternoon Dear Friends!

And with a liberal sprinkling of the customary White Rabbits which were due as usual on the very first day of October, I welcome you, somewhat tardily, to the blog on this second Monday in the month!

As per the last time I wrote, you have tumbled upon my personage once again ensconced in the cosy environs of Sunshine House where plans are forging ahead to provide the good folk of Wigan with the opportunity to learn how to blog as badly as I do.  Along with other vastly secret plans -  which are thrilling beyond this poor writers imaginings -  these are some of the many ways  of  providing yours truly with the chance to earn a modest crust whilst having massively good fun with the collection of characters who gather around and share their experiences and good humour.

The stories are flying off the presses of my imagination thick and fast; some speeding off immediately to find their fame and fortune whilst others sit and wait their turn impatiently in the waiting room of my memory; one such Dick Whittington of a new short-short one is entitled "The Strand" and is set to appear in a forthcoming publication namely "The Wee Seaside Book" which should be available just in time for Christmas - what better gift with which to please your loved ones? What do you mean - you have a list? Hmmm ... Anyhow, I shall certainly furnish you with more details of that as they become available as they say and I look forward to your lavish praise as well as the royalties!

Whilst a this wonderful house of sunshine last week, I took the opportunity of reading three of my pieces - the above mentioned Strand, Miss Powell's Chair and Cutting The Mustard - to the Friday morning reading group.  It was such a marvelous feeling to be 'performing' again and to see peoples instant reactions to the twists and the turns in the narrative. We spent two hours in reading, chatting and discussing writing in general with the very positive outcome that the members of the group began to believe that their lives were as important as any one else's and should be written down for posterity which surely is a massively important part of the writer's role of providing inspiration as well as hopefully entertainment .

Life has become very full and busy over the past weeks with masses of opportunities and links being forged, meetings to attend, plans to hatch so hence the scarcity of postings here; I shall endeavour to make sure the frequency of these ramblings increases as I get more settled into some kind of a rhythm and that you are kept up to date with events as they unravel.  You may have noticed that I have deleted and deactivated my Facebook account which may mean that you're not getting notifications of postings etc. I am sorry about that but from now on I shall only be using Twitter to inform of such things; a new Myrtle house Facebook page may appear in the not too distant but, to be honest, the less I have to do with FB the better in my humble opinion.  If you are on Twitter and FB and would like to post when a blog is published on my behalf I would be more than happy and grateful.

The afternoon is drawing to a close and my time here is nearly at an end for today; I hope you are enjoying the Autumnal weather and are basking in the warmth of friendship and love despite the nippy eves!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


*I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand, shadowless like Silence, listening
To Silence.
Thomas Hood

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

And These Days Dwindle Down To A Precious Few . . . *

Good Afternoon My Dear Friends!

It is indeed a goodly while since I last put pen to paper - or cursor to screen in this case - in fact, as I look at the dates it seems that I owe you two sets of three white rabbits at the very least!
This lack of communication is not because of any lack of impetus on my part but to severe technical difficulties which have afflicted me for fast approaching a year now but which will, I hope, soon be sorted and finally laid to rest .

Circumstances are changing rapidly and I'm now able to put more time and energy into my writing and also in the formation of the old e-publishing business which has the vaguest chance of becoming a reality in the near future . . . so there will be, at some point, a resurrection of sorts and Myrtle House will appear not only here but on its own website and blog - but you'll have to bear with me a tad longer for the details.

I'm actually writing this not too far away from the said House of Myrtle, in a rather swish room in the gorgeously named Sunshine House, across the river and into the trees near my old abode; this is one of the places where I hope to be flogging my wares shortly and bringing writing and blogging to a wider audience - well, one can but hope! Sunshine House has the distinction of being a veritable hotbed of creative activities as well as a thriving source of inspiration for yours truly and I am here under the auspices of the energetic Barbara who refuses to let anyone with an iota of any kind of talent pass by her doors without dragging them in and bombarding them with tea, cake and kindness . . . so stand by for more juicy details of my activities as they emerge!

Talking of creativity, as I am wont to do, I have been positively bursting with it recently; a new (very) short story entitled "Miss Powell's Chair" popped into my head from a dream and another is currently in progress whilst the novel  - which is the main Work in Progress - is up to chapter five . . . so you see, I haven't been lazing on my laurels whilst I've been away, have !?

Yet so soon it is September and with it comes not only the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness but also a round of birthdays.  Today is the celebration of the birth my wonderful Japanese 'daughter' Mana Takeshita whose email today to her rather crusty old English 'Dad' brought even more sunshine into this house; on Sunday the lovely and ever-tranquil Akashadevi celebrates her coming into being and I suddenly realise it is nearly thirty years since we used to walk together on the strand in Aberdeen . . . and of course this Friday would have been the eighty-ninth birthday of the Old Duchess... it's strange how time slips by without us hardly even noticing; perhaps, because these people never leave our hearts we forget that they are not around in our everyday life . . .

But enough of such musings; like the crocodile in Peter Pan the clock in my tum tells me it is time for tea and, in the best traditions of Alice, I shall hare home to prepare some for myself and, of course, the Famous Sally Dog who is still as waggy and 'fragrant' as ever . . . I think I need to employ her services in my writing projects to distract the poor folk attending and make them believe that they have had a good time - this is, along with biscuit location,  something she is uniquely talented in doing.

So I shall leave to to your evening; I hope you have a lovely one and that the weather fills you with the urge to spread a little sunshine and love to those around you.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

* September Song by Kurt Weill

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Flashing Bars of July*

Good Morning Dear Friends!
And, as it is the first day of July allow me once again to fill your bleary Sunday Morning eyes and ears with visions - in triplicate - of those members of the Leporidae clan, with particular reference to those devoid of pigmentation; to say nothing of mild fisticuffs of the order of pinching and punching ... where have the previous six months fled to? Anyhow, this is to be the very shortest of blogs, just to wish you a wonderful month ahead.
Beyond the study windows a steady sheet of rain drapes over the day making it seem like an unwanted and forgotten piece of furniture, in a locked and unremembered room; it is said that we see what we feel and hence my dismal imagery, for it has been a trying and troublesome time and, between you, me and the gate post, I've had more than enough of the stuff that life throws at one ... Oh hum!

Any old how, on a brighter note, I've just heard from friends taking part in the Sun Walk at Battersea Park in the great wen that is Lungdung that the weather is lovely and that a joyous carnival atmosphere pervades all which is, of course, brilliant news! The walk - which is just over thirteen miles- is in aid of Breast Cancer research and so the vast majority of walkers are parading around in undergarments decorated appropriately which must add to the party spirit ... Sadly, Rigby and Peller failed to have mine delivered on time and so I must content myself with cheering from the sidelines - these lines being drawn somewhere in the vicinity of the newly refurbished Costa where, very shortly, I shall be partaking of breakfast tea and cake with Sam and Andrew, aka Mr and Mrs Gecko... talking of which I had better begin the long dance of transformation in order not to shock the waiting world too much . . .

And now it is later and, thanks to a flying visit to the shire of cheese, I too can see the shining face of Pheobus and very nice it is too!  I'm spending a few hours here and taking the opportunity to continue this scribblage in the quiet and peaceful hamlet of Deer Crossing, where the only sound to break the mirror surface of the day is birdsong and the tip tapping of Yours Truly as the words fall like the rain and pain I've left behind.

I hope the new month fills you with joy and the promise of much more to come; sorry this is so brief but time is short and I need to recharge my jaded old soul somewhat in the few hours left.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


*"The Summer looks out from her brazen tower,
Through the flashing bars of July."
- Francis Thompson,
A Corymbus for Autumn  

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Don’t Be Dismayed At Good-Byes*

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Welcome to the study at Myrtle House where, after over five hours delay due to technical problems, today's blog is finally taking shape. It is, of course Father's Day and one can suppose that everywhere dads have been somewhat reluctantly tucking into burnt offerings and cold cups from their offspring, whilst looking faux-appreciatively at the inevitable ties and socks and cheesy Hallmark products festooned in vintage cars, cricket bats or below-the-belt remarks regarding bodily functions; let no-one ever tell you that being a man is easy! Such events, of course, do not take precedent here in the heart of the Victorian Quarter; Sal assures me that a lack of funds and opposable thumbs, alongside the inability of shopkeepers to understand her requirements, have resulted in the lack of appropriate cardage but personally I think she simply forgot!

More to the forefront of my mind today however, is the fleetingness of time. Mad and impossible though it seems, today is the first anniversary of the death of the Old Duchess; several times, over the past few weeks and cups of tea and cake with Sister Cate, the realisation has struck us quite forcibly that time seems to be increasing in momentum and that we barely have time to grasp today before it is gone; and certainly never with such impact as when considering the fact that it is a full year since May died.  In many ways it seems as though she has been gone forever; her house is now lived in by someone else; her belongings which she had collected over a lifetime are scattered -  as are her ashes -  to the four winds and the seven seas yet, at one and the same time, it seems only yesterday that we last spoke to her. 
The fact that she lives on in our memories, as vital and vibrant as ever,  helps to blur the distinction between what was and what is. She was a remarkably resilient woman and one I was incredibly proud of and I, personally, find myself reminded of her at the oddest moments. I was re-watching "84 Charring Cross Rd" the other day and remembered sitting watching it for the first time together with her one afternoon and her remarking how much she enjoyed it; like "Brief Encounter" it was the perfect film for May; no violence or suspense, nothing to worry her and perfect for a good weep on your own when no-one else was around. She wasn't a great believer in worrying other people with her troubles, though it has to be said her life wasn't exactly free from such worries and I'm sure I was quite a significant cause of many of them. 
It seems almost facile to say I miss her; I had known her every moment of my life and when that presence is suddenly taken away it isn't easy to come to terms with but, in many ways, I am glad she had the death she did, the death she wanted; independent and without being a burden (her greatest fear) and after the shortest of illnesses.  She was alone when she died but, then again, we all are; it is the one thing we can guarantee no-one else can share with us. So I hope you'll excuse me taking up so much of our time talking about this; I wanted to mark her anniversary in this way and I know she would be very pleased, though probably not a little embarrassed,  to know we were all thinking of her.

Time is up to its old tricks again and I see, with some sense of shock, that it is already past lunchtime, that I have been up and about some seven hours and am quite incredibly hungry; mumbles and grumbles from herself inform me that I am not the only one and surely a walk is in the offing on a quite remarkably dry day? I suppose it is, and with that I shall leave you for this afternoon.

I hope the rest of your weekend astounds you with its sheer wonderfulness and that the week ahead stretches golden-like and full of promise.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

*Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. Illusions, p132,  Richard Bach

Friday, 1 June 2012

There Shall Be Eternal Summer in the Grateful Heart*

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Unbelievably, it is time again to bestow upon you a trio of albino Leporidae in order to usher in the first of the month, so in an incredibly loose rhyming manner, I shall say pinch punch first of the month and white rabbits x 3 to you all!  I do hope you like the accompanying photograph, by the way; I snapped it on an evening walk through Mesnes Park in Wigan with Sal the birthday girl and it summoned up for me those long lost summer days of childhood, an idyll if you like which, as I grow older, sometimes seem more unlikely to have ever existed but which also appear to be pinned to the cork-board of my memory . . . ah me!

So it is the first of Flaming June and, being in the North West of England, we are greeted with leaden grey cloud and temperatures low enough to cause a penguin some disgruntlement. Surely it wasn't always this way, was it? Are all those baking hot summer days - and subsequently painful nights with bright red glowing limbs as this was before the advent of sunblock for the masses - an illusion? I think not!  I recall many days on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare  - that wonderful seaside town of my conception - with my skin blistering like a suckling pig on a spit and equally suffocatingly hot days throughout my childhood travelling around Somerset in a Ford Anglia with seats (of leatherette probably!) too hot to sit on . . .  Perhaps it is all an illusion and, like now, Summer was confined to a few glorious days but it really doesn't seem to be the case, not in my memory. The wonderful garden designer Gertrude Jekyll said:

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade"

Beautiful words that bring to mind and recall how we feel at our youthful best when we don't fully realise what joys and sorrow life contains and still believe that everything is possible . . . and yet now I look back and realise that age has a certain power and benefit.

Albert Camus wrote:

 "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer"

I believe that it is that invincibility and belief that drives my words and work; the memories and images of those golden afternoons that populate my writing and which I try, however unsuccessfully, to recapture and relive once again.  There are so many words written about summer which I'd love to share with you but I shall restrain myself and end these musings by quoting another of my favourite authors, Violette Leduc:

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer.  My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.  It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips

Yesterday I attended a lovely World Food Day hosted by the simply scrumptious Shirley at Food Positive, our neighbour at Ashland House, and encountered some lovely folk including the very passionate and Obsessive Chicken Disordered Alison and her hen Peggy; the outrageously mustachioed Mustard Man Georg proprietor of Otto's Mustards and Pickles and the extremely inspirational Kathy who brought along her bicycle-powered smoothie maker and selflessly spent time nattering to me about all things green and growing . . . There were much and many foodstuffs to partake of from all corners of the world made by lovely people who I didn't have time to chat to properly but whose work I appreciated greatly! The only disappointment was, of course, the weather which was exceptionally wet and kept a large proportion of the public away . . . following hot on the heels of this gastronomic delight was the almost royal progress of the Olympic Torch past our place . . . alas, there was little to see except many police officers on motorcycles and a couple of coaches which was less than thrilling, especially for the people dutifully lining the route.  I believe in the centres of the local towns actual runners were to be seen but I feel it did sort of detract somewhat from the grandeur and historic quality of the event.

And so to today and the promise of an extended Bank Holiday; the excitement in Myrtle House is almost palpable as I look forward to having the time to do some serious writing that doesn't involve grant applications and bids for funding . . . I do feel as though the creative side of my life has been sadly neglected and so I've decided upon a week of culture and relaxation in order to get some more of my thoughts down on paper . . . the prospect of perhaps sitting atop local hills to write or soaking up the atmosphere in Haworth (though in this particular shot it looks rather unwelcoming!) and such places fills me with a very deep joy and excitement. 
Today I think more mundane tasks are on the bill of fare - although a sneaky tea and cake with Sister Cate may rear its sugar-laden head once more; I am deeply in love with the Lemon Tart and Green Tea supplied by the lovely Sharon and Co who always minister to my needs with such care and attention - I think Costa should recognise them for their stirling efforts!

Talking of tea I can feel keenly the call of a cup and so I shall finish this verbiage and away to my day; I hope yours is flaming wonderful and filled with wonder and that the long jubilant weekend is just what you need to put a smile on your phisog and contentment in your heart!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835 – August 25, 1894)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Happy Birthday Sally Dog !

Good Morning Dear Friends!

And what an absolutely special morning it is; for it was a mere seven years ago today, in amongst a litter of big burly chaps that the small bundle of weeness who was to become The Famous Sally Dog saw the world for the very first time; five short weeks later she came to live with Yours Truly and has hardly left my side for a single day since!  In terms of birthday celebrations - and in line with her mature and sedate years - plans are mainly based around lying on the sofa, snoozing and eating treats, especially since the weather which has been so beautifully hot of late has taken a turn to the damp ready for the diamond weekend ahead . . . oh hum! Anyhow, I hope you all have got your birthday cards in the post for Sal to rip up as the postman delivers them, if not I will happily accept financial donations on her behalf . . . no? Oh well, it was worth a try!

Today being a Thursday should be tea and cake with Sister Cate but I am involved in a wonderful World Food Day hosted by Shirley from Food Positive, a simply scrumptious organisation based just underneath us in Ashland House; I am evidently due to be overseeing the production of fried rice -  outside - in a car park -  in the rain . . . Hmmm . . . wonder what kind of cake Cate wants today? No, I shall be brave and don my waterproof Cheffing outfit and shortly, courtesy of the lovely reflexes and aromas of Vikki - not to mention her vehicle - be on my way rain-wokking, hence the brevity of today's post.  I shall hopefully manage to scribble more upon my return but need now to go and beautify.

Hope you have a wonderful day wherever you may be; please telethink you birthday wishes to my most lovely canine companion and spare at least one thought for me as I attempt to become a sort of Jacques Cous-Cousteau 

'til next time

Be Seeing You!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Loving The Questions

Good Morning Dear Friends!

I'm so glad you popped in; please do help yourself to tea and toast (there's even a splodge of Orange and Ginger marmalade if you so desire) and we'll pass a wee while in conversation . . . 

It was while wondering around the Parish Church Gardens photographically represented here  - but sadly, for this morning at least, bathed in a veil of low cloud and drizzle -  and listening to some music-based quantum physics - for such things do exist - that I came up with the idea for today's conversation piece.

I better elaborate: There's a project of which I am very fond and which I have mentioned here before.  It's called The Symphony of Science and is basically a fantastically innovative way of spreading scientific ideas to members of the non-scientific community via music.  Clips from programs and films are taken and edited together to make lyrics and the voices treated with synthesis so that the people appearing in the clips - from Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox to Alice Roberts and Carl Sagan - appear to sing.

Anyhow, there I was, strolling and pondering about life, death and the Universe with Sal Dog (though, to be fair, I think she was more interested in sniffing actually) and listening to a song called Onward To The Edge which is ostensibly about space travel, the chorus of which is:

"Onward to the edge
We're moving onward to the edge
Here we are together;
This fragile little world"

and it occurred to me that, like a lot of the concepts about the universe,  it could be taken as a metaphor for our journey through life here on Earth . . . after all we are all made of the universe, the elements that make up our bodies come from the Big Bang and the particles that make up our bodies are a sort of universe; one might even fantasise that the universe we catch the tiniest glimpse of in the night sky could simply be the particles of some other body! 

The overarching feeling I got from the song though was one that occurs to me a lot; the story of the Universe, how it was formed, how it will die is the same story as the story of our life and death.  As Richard Dawkins says in one of the songs Our Place In The Cosmos:

Matter flows from place to place
And momentarily comes together to be you
Some people find that thought disturbing
I find the reality thrilling

So all this matter and energy comes together and for a short period of time we exist; it then changes and we cease to exist, we die; but as energy cannot be created or destroyed only transformed, we never really die which I too find, thrilling! At the end of Onward To The Edge, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says:

When I reach to the edge of the universe
I do so knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery
There are times when, at least for now,
One must be content to love the questions themselves

and that is exactly my view of our journey though life; it is the journey itself that is the reward and no matter how many answers you seek maybe sometimes we just have to be content with loving the questions.

I suppose such questions concerning our mortality have been brought even more to the forefront than usual by a series of meetings with the lovely folk at the Me2You Bereavement and Loss Charity this week. It seems that they are keen to work with our organisation and we are truly madly deeply wishing to be involved with the stunning work they do and so a passionate partnership has been formed.  Should you want to find out more about their work or even pass on a few hard-earned pennies you can click on their name and be whisked magically away to their website - please do visit; they are totally self-funded and the work they do is remarkable and so desperately needed.

But look, how remiss of me! I haven't wished you a Happy 17th May! Now why, I hear you ask, would he wish to do that? Well, because today is Norwegian Independence Day and an occasion for much frolicking and fun . . . at least it should be, though with the shadow of the Utøya massacre in July last year and the current trial of the perpetrator hanging over the whole country, it's hard to imagine there will be much celebration.  However, I have been very proud of the people of Norway's attitude; they were intent that life should carry on and that security paranoia be kept to a minimum which, to me, seems very typically Norwegian. I remember when I lived there in the 1980s it was rumoured that the old king Olav Vth could often be found pottering about in the supermarkets and shops in KarlJohansgate, just down the road from the Royal Palace - lovely!

It's also time for me to be about my business and, as a meeting with Sister Cate looms, that business is with cake!  I hope this lot of blather made some kind of sense and that your day is filled with love and swamped with memories of those who have touched and continue to touch your life.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !