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Sometimes it’s the little signs and las poquitas criaturas that remind us we’re on the right track.
I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights this week. I haven’t been up worrying about stuff, it’s been more of a feeling of expectancy. Like I’m about to give birth. Waiting. I’m in that strange and restless time in between creative endeavours. I have the ideas, the inspiration. Those have been steadily growing and developing for the past 6 or 7 months and couple of years.
I woke at 1am on Saturday morning and laid there in bed next to Steve, with my mind and eyes wide open. I got up at 3am and organised the freezer. You know how it is. Now all of the wild boar sausages, beef casserole meat and chicken thighs are in one section. The homemade chicken and fish stock is gathered together (I threw out the bread crusts and still need to investigate the 50/50 mix of icing sugar and ground almonds – could that be a marzipan mix?). A bag of ice cubes, an ice pack from my osteopath and a bottle of Absolut in the top compartment. A pint of real vanilla ice cream is floating about. Sorted!
Then I tidied my studio.
I decided a couple of weeks ago that I am not going to renew my membership to the British Quilter’s Guild, nor am I going to enter a quilt into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham this year. This is a biggish move for me because I discovered and claimed my self as an artist through quilting. I have enjoyed working to the structure of quilting, it gave me a container for my first pieces of art that I put into the world. All guidance and structure can come with a cost however. With quilting, it was the rules and definitions of what a quilt is (and is not). I’ve found the constrictions frustrating over the past couple of years and have been organically moving towards other media and ways of creating. So I put my BQG membership application and a couple of quilt show applications in the recycling pile.
Then I erased my chalkboard and wrote this.
A collection of curiosity cabinets; poetry, haiku and a fairy tale about a shape-shifting Muscogee wolf girl; drawings of jackdaw inhabited rooftops and illuminated fibre works are shimmering, mirage-like on the approaching horizon.
I finally got to sleep at 5am. I woke and felt ready to get on with the day by 8am.
I set fire to Our toaster broke the other day, so I decided to pop out to the Co-op and get some croissants (which I could heat in the oven) and The Guardian.
On the way down the front walk, I noticed a snail heading over to our side of the wall which separates us from our neighbours. We have a wild, little front courtyard with lots of lovely, delicious, succulent plants and flowers. I am too tenderhearted to outright kill the little buggers, so I picked it up and turned it around so it’s cute horns were pointed towards the neighbours. Then I went to the shop. Couldn’t have been gone seven minutes. By the time I got back, that snail had pulled a U-ey and was headed right back on over to ours. So I thought, “What the hay? Who am I to stand in the way of a determined snail?” (Snail trail digitally enhanced!)
I went inside and made breakfast in bed for my husband. Our 3rd wedding anniversary is coming up this week, so we’re beginning our celebrations early! It’s time to take it easy and keep on truckin’ in the right direction.
This week, for my Monday drawing class, Andrea asked each of us to bring something which makes a noise so that we can draw the sound. We normally begin each session with a piece of blank paper on our easel and we draw for 2 minutes, then move to the next easel and so on until we are back at the beginning. This Monday, each of us ‘played’ our offering for two minutes while the others drew. Some of the things people brought were: wind chimes, Swiss goat bell, hand wound Victrola with records, rain stick, egg carton played with a paintbrush, marimba . . . .
Here is the ‘group’ drawing.
One of the women brought a set of carved wooden hollow bells without clappers which were tuned to the eight octaves. They were suspended in order and played with a wooden stick. She bought them in China and she said that in days of yore they would have been made from monk’s heads. At least that’s what the person selling them said!
All of the various instruments/sound making devices were arranged on a table on the centre of the room and I drew two of the heads. I used my coloured charcoal pencils on black paper. I think I need to get a hold of some white charcoal or chalk, as I really liked the way it looked in the group drawing above.
The carvings in them looked like owls. I have fairy tales bubbling on the back burner and these two looked straight our of some Eastern-European story.
One of the fun things about being a blogger is weeding out some of the spam comments that get through the WordPress filters. Usually they’re very nonsensical, as in completely ungrammatical and illogical. This one sort of makes sense, sentence by sentence until they’re read together as a whole.
“Add garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and pepper flakes to the pan and cook together a couple of minutes, then add peanut butter and melt it.
If you find that the area immediately around your house is very damp, you can add a gravel and limestone border, which will help
with drainage. The odor can smell like moldy must or worse than that.”
Interestingly, or not, “blog spam”, or “blam” for short, is spamming on weblogs. In 2003, this type of spam took advantage of the open nature of comments in the blogging software Movable Type by repeatedly placing comments to various blog posts that provided nothing more than a link to the spammer’s commercial web site.
Of course, many people also know and love, or not, Spam (shortened from spiced ham) as a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937.
Through a Monty Python sketch, in which Spam is portrayed as ubiquitous and inescapable, its name has come to be given to electronic spam, especially spam email.
In the 1980s the term ‘spam’ was adopted to describe certain abusive users who frequented BBSs and MUDs, who would repeat “Spam” a huge number of times to scroll other users’ text off the screen. In early Chat rooms services like PeopleLink and the early days of AOL, they actually flooded the screen with quotes from the Monty Python Spam sketch. With internet connections over phone lines, typically running at 1200 or even 300 bit/s, it could take an enormous amount of time for a spammy logo, drawn in ASCII art to scroll to completion on a viewer’s terminal.
Sending an irritating, large, meaningless block of text in this way was called spamming. This was used as a tactic by insiders of a group that wanted to drive newcomers out of the room so the usual conversation could continue. It was also used to prevent members of rival groups from chatting—for instance, Star Wars fans often invaded Star Trek chat rooms, filling the space with blocks of text until the Star Trek fans left. This act, previously called flooding or trashing, came to be known as spamming. The term was soon applied to a large amount of text broadcast by many users.
Steve and I spent a beautiful May Bank Holiday weekend in London. Our approach to the city was via the Underground.
The sun came out from behind the murk some time last week. I walk past my favourite green-sided building on my way to work. Come to think of it, it isn’t the green or the actual building that makes it my favourite. There is a huge tree growing next to it. The wall faces west, so that when the sun is shining, the tree casts a beautiful shadow onto the building by late morning, when I walk past, and into the early afternoon. Last October, I was known to invent a 2 pm errand, just so I could go outside and behold the glorious shadows cast by the late autumn sun beaming onto the bare branches of this tree.
Last week, the sun picked out the achingly new, vibrant green leaves and traced their outlines onto the wall.
A 90° pivot to the right provides the background of my favourite terracotta and charcoal multistory car park. I love the contrast between the fluffy yellow green leaves and the delicate, airy fern green leaves set against the broad stripes of colour.
I’m happy for the shining sun and the beautiful shadows it casts. I’m happy to see the new leaves bursting and uncurling from branches which have been too long bare. I’m happy that springtime has arrived at last.
I’ve been back at my Monday morning drawing class for the past couple of weeks following the mid-term break. Today we were invited to bring in an object “constrained by form” which speaks to us as an ‘antidote to the fear of death’.
I brought my mother’s wristwatch, one of the very few items I have that belonged to her. It’s a Timex watch she bought from Long’s Drugstore when I was about 10. Sometimes I wind it up and wear it. It keeps more or less accurate time.
One of the gifts I claimed from the death of my mother, when I was 16, is the awareness of mortality. When I got a little bit older, I was able to reflect on her life and I realised that she had waited until too late to start making positive decisions and choices based on her interests, well-being and desires. Besides going to college at age 50 and leaving an unhealthy relationship with my father, I wondered what else she had left too late. My mother died from cancer when she was 55. At a very young age I decided that I did not want to follow in her footsteps and wait until it was too late for me to live my own life.
In a way, she gave me the gift of time which is symbolised by her wristwatch.
Anyhow, here is my drawing, followed by a poem which my drawing teacher read to us.
Antidotes to Fear of Death
Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
But unconstrained by form.
And sometimes it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:
To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.
- Rebecca Elson, 2001