Wednesday, 30 December 2009

In the bleak midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, the family gathered and had a lovely Christmas. Diz phoned just after I'd finished the floor and we were off early - Angel and I in the back like taxi customers. Angel was a love, quiet and still and sociable with the sheepdog and the dalmatian we met at what used to be the Leicester Forest services, but it doesn't seem to have a name anymore.

Here's David whose beard has gone all bushy and voice has gone to his boots since the summer:

This is Abigail who has got the latest Pratchett and wasn't letting go in case anyone knicked it:

And this is everyone except me and Pete - Susan is in the middle of a story.

Now we're back and mum is with us. She is talking of being home be the 7th - cos the fish man is coming - but I'm hoping she extends it, she is very uncertain on her feet.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A hibernating people

I think that my most 'British' characteristic is my urge to hibernate. It's snowing properly today and radio 4s advice is "Stay at home." I'm still waiting to hear from Diz about what we are going to do. This is the present view from my back door. I've just cleared the snow from the greenhouse roof, fed the birds (though how long it will be before it is buried again, I don't know) and poured a kettle of boiling water on the bird bath.
I rushed back to get this shot so there are more foot prints in it - at least 2 sets of mine: It is so Narnia, I wish Sammy were still nine.

This is with the flash last night, cos it shows up the berries

and this is without, cos it shows the beautiful lighting from the street lights.

As I've been writing this, it has stopped - I don't know if I'm disappointed or pleased but I'd better get the kitchen floor washed, just in case!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

I'm on message!

I'm on message! Mrs Brown is NOT buying wrapping paper this year but is using newspaper. I wonder if she's bid for the Guardian originals for those special gifts? I have remembered to save the sheets and know that I'm giving Tutu's to Josie, but haven't got much further than thinking about it.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


We (they [radio 4 announcers]) are always being amazed at how badly we deal with the winter and spend hours trying to explain/justify it. Do they really think their audience haven't lived through a British winter before, or listened to radio 4 before, or maybe they think that with their listener profile we have all lost huge chunks of memory and need telling all this again. We do it badly, we do - it's 'cos we don't really suffer from the chaos, we abandon cars and panic and complain and it gives us something to do to justify ignoring people for whom not bothering is fatal.
'Little Bits' says "Thank heaven for the mobile phone" - maybe she wouldn't have dared to run out of petrol with a baby in the car in pre-mobile days, maybe she'd've had to take more care.

Out in the snow the black birds and pigeons are busy being territorial instead of eating; squabbling instead of searching for food - if I fed them less they might co-operate better. This was going on out there while in here, Radio 4 (a different program now) was talking about the American attitude to climate change which seems to be, 'let them worry about it, we're not going to do anything because we're not suffering.' Reminds me of "Sheep look up" by, I think, JG Ballard.

So I turned to Radio 7 and listened to 1970s comedy while I cleaned the kitchen.
This is my favourite bit at the moment, though the stewpot is missing 'cos it's in the fridge. I'm not suffering either which is why I'm pondering all this. The stewpot has chicken thighs in it - for Angel. But I do feel remote from the future-threat not only because I don't feel it yet but also because at my age and with no children, I can afford not only to be a bit objective, but a bit selfish too. When push comes to shove, I'll be among the first off the cliff, so I may as well enjoy now. As Angel does. This is her reaction to hearing the fridge door open. See her run:

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow at last

The snow has arrived. Angel spent a lot of the 10pm walk trying to catch the shadow of snowflakes. Our street has the new white lights so the shadows showed up beautifully

She had her coat on cos I was worried about her fur not being plentiful enough to repel the snow and when we got in she had ice between her pads, which didn't come off on the towel but melted all over the chair so I'll remember to check for that in future.
It had stopped by this morning though the radio promises more. I didn't get round to posting the bought cards (or even writing them) so this is a possible:

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Blair blur

This is following on from yesterday's rant - I'm looking for a new label but haven't got one yet - maybe questions or thinking out loud??
Last week, it was reported on Radio 4 (and so must be true) that Tony Blair said that his religious belief had no influence on his decision to invade Iraq. I've been puzzling at it since. Did he mean that:
it took a nanosecond to make the decision
or that he did think about it but went against what he believes is right
or that what he believes is right has nothing to do with his religion?
Whatever the reason it makes both him and his claim to be converted to anything other than "whatever is most expedient in the struggle for Tony Blair to have public power" even less credible.

I've got a new label and am going to retrospectly (?) apply it, if I can.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Modelling the teddy cut

Here she is, post haircut:

and with the latest entertainment - a pop sock. It's a bit like children, I guess, spend money on toys and they play with the packaging - Angel likes: a stick that she's wound wool round - her knitting, a skin polisher that she nicked from the bathroom - her noo-noo, and now a pop sock that my mum hasn't named yet so it's still just her pop-sock.

She was wonderful at 'The Lamppost'. The loss of hair has obviously affected her body temperature - she spent the rest of the day asleep (it's exhausting being beautified)curled as tight as a comma.

For or against

This may be because I'm trying to write through feeling fragile - so if the bile shows, sorry!
There are those who support because they are:
for the thing
against 'not the thing'.
The Leeds supporters I shared the bus with the other Saturday set me on this track. The crew nearest me favoured "You are my sunshine" as a pre-match warm up, towards the front it was "There'll be ten in red, dead at my feet". Although they did all join in "We hate Man U, we do, we do." That is one sentiment that unites all Leeds fans. I used to work with someone whose husband would rather his son wore a green dress than a red T-shirt.
Then, reading Rob Bell and the faith that defines itself by exclusions came to mind. I'd rather a faith that includes. He says, I think - I can't find it this morning to check - if it's true, it's from God. I like that - that's inclusive and walks straight through other labels.
Sitting at dinner last night (not responsible for the fragility except for piling rich food on rich food) trying to hear the truth and work out why I reject the BNP without knowing much about it, I think it is maybe about its base being anti not-like-us, the same reason for rejecting Jehovah's Witnesses' pattern of faith.
I need to work on this more. For now I'm going to close my eyes and fight off the sickies for ten minutes!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Where does the time go?

This is the last week of creative writing and Chinese. Maybe in the Christmas break I'll catch up, or maybe not!

Today Angel goes for her hair cut. This is how she looked after a walk in the wet this morning:

We meet a whippet called Bonnie on our 10pm walk. They're like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe (or Katherine Hepburn and Diana Dors) and imagine what each would look like without their fur coats on - Audrey in suede and Marilyn in mink. So I don't know whether to push for the plush look or if she'll look like no more nor less than a sofa. Thinking of Marilyn this is my mum looking like Norma Jean at 90 might:

She was posing for the Guardian Camera Club November assignment for me.
I've been reading 'Velvet Elvis' by Rob Bell - Howard lent it me but I think I'm going to buy my own copy. Faith is jumping on a trampoline. I can remember that exhileration and it is what my faith is. Church dogma are the springs, Howard, Gunita, David and the rest are the people round the edges to make sure I feel safe to jump and Jesus is up there jumping with me - making me go higher and wilder than I ever could on my own. WOW!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

I never posted this 2

The sea is after Hokusai - it's Whitby as is the cormorant - and is aquatint, the bird is hard ground. The sea on the 2 together is upside down but it does show off the reflection better!

I like the sea better than the bird and used it later for some chine collee but they didn't quite work either.

At the last week of the first term I did the moon and grass- that only sort of worked too. Jonathan suggested that I aquatint on top of the grass plate - later.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I never posted this 1

This is where I go for lunch on my way to Creative Writing. It makes me feel comfortable, I think because it is more borough than bistro. Brass lamps and bottle green outside, but a smell of stew and gravy inside.

And it kept me going all through the course too, from pensioners' special to
jacket tater and beans.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

One more Obama
plus - beside him Gordon Brown
does seem decisive.

Mum was happy to be photo'd but it was hard work to get her NOT to pose. This one is so like her and so warm, but I don't think it will work in black and white.
We went into town this morning to get some wool for winter jumpers and the first of the Christmas presies and I used my bus pass!
The wool shop was chaotic - only one member of staff 'cos two have left and are not going to be replaced. She was up and down the stepladders three times while we were in. Mind you, as always, it took longer than I thought because of all the beautiful wools - they just have to be felt as well as looked at.
We finished up at Ainsley's buying mince pies - it might be early but that's one bit of Christmas that doesn't get stale.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

This came to me on the bus to creative writing yesterday ( so I didn't practise my Chinese vocab)

I see an advert
to deter benefit thieves
and think of MPs.

Reading out was scarier than expected - partly because I was the 13th out of 14 to do it and we were over an hour into listening to attempts - if I were teacher, I'd have a tea break half way through!
The pair either side of me continue to intrigue. Left says he's dispraxic autistic and Right says she's never read a book because by the time she gets to the end of a chapter she's forgotten the beginning - I still haven't worked out what she thinks the class is for or why she chose to take it.

Angel is a real dog (what is an unreal one?)

On Woman's Hour they're talking about stereotyping women with small dogs and someone has just suggested:
dachshunds are real dogs - what are unreal dogs?
women with dogs are seen as mad whereas men are seen as manly
- it reminded me of some writing I did years ago (when I had cats):
Thoughts in the bath

They burnt as witches
the women who had cats
as those who had dogs
were wooed as widows.
Thus we state independent or not.

The arch of a girl's eyebrows has
caused hearts to flutter.
The raising of a woman's
is a cold slap across the face.
Thus we state tractable or not.

Here's Angel's history:

she's the one with the buried head

the day she arrived with me

bringing outside in (it isn't always mud)

helping in the garden or mining?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Falling behind already

Where do you get the time, Em?
Do I type too slow, take on too much, spend too long walking Angel, sit dreaming for too long?
Whatever, it's creative writing today and I've only done half I intended, Angel is sat at my feet doing her"What have I done to not deserve a walk now" look and the house group homework last night was to find five things a day to be grateful for (ignoring the fact that the homework for a fortnight ago is started but not finished) and I have to remember to order more wool, food and chase up the hospital results.
But I've written my blog:
which will act as a to-do list,
prompted my daily photo
reminded me that multi tasking is real!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

She's no angel

She's such a little trollop:
hanging about on corners,

posing under street lamps,

dawdling past gates.

Oh to be young!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sunshine magic

Sunshine after seven days of rain, and me with my border fork off to meet our 'in bloom' group to tidy up the garden in the park.
Tidy up? It's more like chop down but 'the one in the know' says it'll be better for a winter haircut so ... As you can tell from my header and footer, I'm not much of a one for getting rid of anything that will grow.

After ..........................Before

There's always time for tea

Friday, 6 November 2009

Aquatint rules, OK!

Aquatint rules, OK! I had a great time at printmaking even though the coffee machine would't come out of audit mode and I got my sea upside down twice. I felt competent and even pleased with the sea. I've not brought it all home yet because I'm still adding to it. This is my best register lino-cut though.

Welcome to Earth

A lovely morning on Radio four. The crossword's not done, Kakuro unfinished.

"What planet is this hateful man (Sir Christopher Kelly) on?" asked the annonymous MP."I feel powerless and insulted"

Has he never thought of himself as an employee in the public sector? Most of us have had years of limited pay rises without the benefit of expenses and a bad press.

"We do live in the real world," said Stephen Hester, justifying the Royal Bank of Scotland.

But in which universe? It's not mine and it's not Pratchett's - Vetinari would talk to you about angels.

On Earth, in this universe: my bin men are on strike because it's the only way they can show their unwillingness to take a pay cut that they have no other power to refuse, radio 4 tells me that workers are out of work because their employers have gone bust because the banks won't lend and the interest on savings - ie. the money that the bonus paid bankers use and risk to make their bonuses and their savers' interest - has fallen by 4%. Are bonuses are limited to 2 1/2% of salary?

I can't understand why MPs think deciding thier own salary and conditions of service is fair. I can't understand why banks can be in the private sector and yet be granted immunity from the forces of that sector - 'too big to fail' ? outgrown their usefulness!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

This time yesterday, I was sitting in the library basement listening to the town hall clock. I went to my first creative writing class - no judgement as yet but I intend going back next week saying I've written every day, even if it's only (is that rude) blogging. And I've joined a poetry forum and written two opening paragraphs (homework in progress) so I'm into gold star territory today.

Tonight, it's printmaking, which is a great class - etching and aquatint this week. I've done the plates so tonight is the printing. These are from the first week - monoprints. What gets me is the way the same picture looks different the other way round.

The problem with hand free mobiles is I can't tell whether people are talking to themselves, a mate or me. When in doubt I operate on teacher's rules: if I can hear you, you're talking to me. Ooops - I was wrong, again.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What to do? Angel is 'in season'

What to do? Angel is 'in season' , she's bleeding but I don't know how to tell what stage she's at. I'm keeping her on the lead but it is raining and so no-one else is dog walking. How can I tell when she is out of season - am I getting the terms right, this seems more like buying veg - without dog interest?
And do I get her neutered. She's a lhasa apso, I don't want to breed but I don't want to change her character either.