Thursday, 2 September 2010

Don't call me dahlin

Me: I'm not interested, thankyou.
A cold caller yesterday: What aren't you interested in, dahlin?
Me: Please don't call me dahlin, you don't know me.
Cold caller:  I was only being polite.
Me: No, calling me dahlin is not being polite.
Phone down
'In what universe' would have been snappier. 'At best over familiar, at worst patronising' more accurate.  I could have told her that I thought she was the hospice phoning about Mum or I wouldn't have picked the phone up in the day but I didn't know her that well.
Now, love, flower, petal, meduck would have got past me, made me smile even; but whatever English region 'dahlin' is a normal end to a sentence, I've never come across it before.
And now for something completely different:

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Not grumpy, grateful

And this is the bridle path in Eckington in July:

Grumpy still

And now for Tony Blair, who with typical self obsessed lack of regard for the party he professes to love, has just published his memoirs - Radio 4 is full of it and it does no-one any credit to acknowledge his rant but I'm going to, briefly.
1: ( Are my rants typically subdivided like this or is it just today?) His increased drinking - an aperitif and half a bottle of wine for dinner - just the weekends or did he then go to the house, sign away our lives etc.  Since when have public servants been allowed to work when over the legal alcohol limit?  And if it is just the weekends then why is he telling us?  Am I supposed to be impressed that he can afford it / get up the next morning without a hangover, or feel sorry that he had to share the bottle / has a social life so pathetic that he was counting his drinks?
2: How is it to his credit that he supported Gordon Brown when he thought he wasn't up to the job of leader?
3: Hasn't turning catholic taught him that confessions are meant to be between him and God via the privacy of the confessional, not via the media?

Grumpy, old

I tried "Grumpy old women" but it seemed to be complaining about being an old woman rather than complaining about the world like "Grumpy old men" does.  Not that I can stand more than a topic and a half in Grumpy old men, the one that is sticking at the moment every time I cross the road with Angel, practising perfecting the sit, is that they seem to think that pedestrians should be grateful, or at least thank them personally for not running them down when they are on a crossing!
The one with the grating accent (that seems put on) and the circular glasses, "I waive my hand to show they can cross, would it hurt them to raise a hand in thanks?"
1: the law obliges a driver to stop at a crossing, you are not doing the road crossing pedestrian a favour.
2: when drivers stop at traffic lights at cross roads, if it is polite to express gratitude why isn't it a flutter of hands all round and the subsequent pile up?
Nah, what they mean is that pedestrians - ie mainly female, young, elderly, poor, should be eternally grateful that they are not invisible.  After all the hand wave is a truncated doffing of the cap and tug of the forelock.
So maybe they would prefer a curtsy instead
Bah.  That's that out of my system.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

What is it with...

... facebook?
Why is it addictive?
... the pictures people put on as their id pics?
Do they see themselves as dogs?  Is it if you like my:
dog you'll want me as your friend? a bit odd.
little boy you'll want me as your friend - even creepier.

Anyhow I'm going to change mine for an aubergine because it is beautiful!

... talking about crying on facebook - maybe it was the time I joined, the last day of the school year but it was all about tears.
... talking about crying - Toy Story Three and tears as if it is something to celebrate.  Sentiment or sentimentality?  Tim Dowling, is it, who writes for the Guardian lobs a hammer at it saying he can cry at external triggers - music etc - but not at real feelings - then he swears.  I don't think he hits it on the head though.  I have an image of men blubbing over cartoon characters while condoning neglect, torture and murder as long as they can keep driving their 4x4s on cheap petrol. 
... mothers on facebook - 1: pics of their children instead of them - see above
2: and I quote: "to all the mums who have traded eyeliner for dark circles, salon haircuts for ponytails, long showers for hairy legs, late nights for early mornings, designer handbags for nappy bags.... and wouldn't change a thing... lets see how many mums repost this. Mums don't care whatever ......they give up....They love what they..."  What???  Replace mums with grown ups and nappy for shopping and you see how fatuous it is.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Back in Leeds

A lovely time away in Riseley and London.  We went to  an open garden:

and Marlborough Open Studios.  Fenella Elms' stuff ( made me want to taste it!  Alison Edmonds ( in her shed was showing us how she does a piece a day along with a couple of friends and they have a format - 7"x5" - to limit it.  So I've started and done 3 so far.  Monday was London and Tracey to the Brit Museum to see the Drawing exhibition.  I got in as an OAP for half price.  The way they made me want to look and look is inexplicable.  So I got the catalogue.
I've not been away for so long for ages - 10 days including the time at mum's and all on 4 outfits and that includes the dress I took for mum's birthday bash, of which I haven't got a photo of course but it was rewearable though I carried the heeled shoes around for no reason for the rest of the time.
So bags bulging with clothes and then catalogue and the book they gave me for free and the paper I bought in the paper shop we found ( and the book I bought cos Tracey said it was in her all time top ten and of course dog stuff.  Thank heavens one was on wheels and the other on my shoulder and Angel lived up to her name, trying to get on a 2 step up train with a coffee and warm ciabata too!
I have NOT yet followed up on the other bit of the visit to Tracey - she's in to crotchet, felting ( and cross stitch - Paul is doing a beautiful copy of a madonna from Gent Cathedral with 2 threads - and a magnifying glass light!
Phillip next door looked after the garden really well and I came back to potatoes ready to tip out of the pots and the greenhouse:

Monday, 24 May 2010

My new garden is getting closer

Paul came yesterday to look at the garden.  I'm glad he couldn't do it in May as it turns out cos it is too pretty to be turned into a building site.  Every morning when I draw the curtain back there is another huge poppy. This is yesterday evening - Charlie is making hard work of walking down the fence just to tease Angel.
 This is what it looked like through the kitchen window this morning:

and from the back step I'm not sure I want it reorganising:

Angel getting to know the girls:

a close up of an atlantic poppy - that orange couldn't be bettered

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Angel has homework too.

She is learning to sit. In the kitchen:

At the crossing:
not running to meet someone.

On the traffic island in the middle of the road:

though it takes ages.
Surrounded by petals:
even if it is more fun to chase them:
She's learning table manners too - Charlie is in charge of those lessons:

Friday, 14 May 2010

 I'm half way through the five weeks of the life drawing class.  Here's a pic from each week:

I think I can see an improvement, but I'm not sure.  The house is littered with paper - on the wall and every surface.  I have difficulty seeing.  I think that is a skill as much as drawing - I bust out laughing this week, cos more than half way through a pose and having stepped back a couple of times at least, I blinked and saw how wide I'd made Tess's back.  Wide as a navvie's.  But at least I saw it.  This week was the first of surface rather than edge - more fun than measuring but a different kind of looking to learn. For homework I've started on a blanket:

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

clutter = colour minimalism = monotony

This is prompted by
the public local libraries getting rid of notice boards for design reasons,
walking round taking photos of gardens and realising, not for the first time, that I like the ones with lots of different things in, 

finishing a cushion cover mum got for me - this one was ready designed and printed with the pattern, so it was a bit like painting with numbers but it made it more relaxing.

I'm not sure whether the new one goes with the old ones, but I am sure I don't need another cushion, so it is staying on the cupboard door for now.

Flying cranes made from a pattern off the internet.
Fledglings thinking of taking the plunge

Monday, 3 May 2010

Panic over

I thought I'd lost Angel.
Today being a fortnight after she was spayed and a bank holiday, we set off early for a leadless walk in Miggy woods, with snackerels and new camera and a raincoat.  The footpath runs between factories, quiet for the holiday, for the first 100 yards or so after I take the lead off and there were these yellow flowers, primrose or cowslip, I thought I would photograph and so I did and when I carried on walking she wasn't there.
At first I thought she'll come when I 'coo-up' and then I thought, she'll have gone on, and then I thought, she'll have gone back and so I was up and down the surrounding 200 or so yards thinking 'what do I do?' in a Pigletish way.
So in the end - ten minutes or so, I phoned Josie and asked her to check the doorstep, and decided to walk the route in reverse, in case she'd chased off looking for me.
People with dogs are a special breed, there were at least half a dozen who assured me they'd keep an eye out and phone me if they found her - thank heavens I put my mobile number on her collar.
I was most of the way back and my 'coo-up' was starting to sound strained when the phone rang.  She'd got home OK and one of Melvin's carers was looking after her. 
When I got back there she was in the back garden.  I'm not sure how a dog shows remorse but I'm pretty sure that she wasn't!  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't want to make a fuss, 'cos that might encourage a repeat performance and I certainly wasn't going to punish her 'cos I can still remember Dad thrashing Rusty for running off and going home on his own.  So I went for calm.  She didn't seem to notice.
Lesson:  when photographing, keep dog on lead!
This is my new camera - a Canon powershot SX200 IS.  I got it from Jessops and the assistant assured me the ixus 850 had been discontinued for ages.

After all the fuss and worry, I don't think the flower shots this morning were worth it and though I have a vague recollection of blue bells and robins, I was too distracted and hurried to take any more.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Just for a picture really

Another Yunmee Kyong:

I went to my first life drawing class with Mike Stewart yesterday. It was like starting all over again. With it being once a week, I'm going to have to practice during the week or else I'm going to keep making the same mistakes - poor proportion was this week, massive upper body and weedy legs. The model was Tess again.

Looking at the world from 2"6'

I love sitting on my back step. 
Even without a cigarette in my hand, it can make me breathe deep just looking at the different shapes of the leaves.
From this low angle the spikes of the crocosmia and irises spear up from cushions of hardy geraniums and blue pillows of forget-me-nots.  And now the bluebells are unfurling and aquilegia shooting out of their airyfairy leaves.  From, what, 30" up, I can almost feel them growing -
Is this what it's like to be 2?  One day you can see the end of the garden and the next you're surrounded by green?
Apparently our environment is in the worst 3% in the country - so maybe I shouldn't breathe so deep.
And, aquilegia is 'famously' poisonous!
Ho hum.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Bam Bam

Bam Bam
Originally uploaded by camelgeese
I got this from Yuko Shimizu - it's Yunmee Kyong and she is on flickr as camelgeese.

Gang aft agley

The hurdle at which my hopes for a quick purchase of a Cannon IXUS 850 IS fell:

One of the thoughts rattling my head just about every time I indulge myself / see an H&M advert is Fair Trade. And since my beautiful new shoes were made in Vietnam and H&M are currently advertising dresses for £7.50ish, my head is bouncing so much I need to find an outlet, an answer for when I get told, as I have been more than once and not just by my left shoulder angel, "well if you don't buy them, the people who make them will earn nothing."

Here it is:

In England 77.5 minutes of minimum wage work= the price of that H&M dress ( I know that is before deductions, but there are limits to my obsession for detail) If it was put up to £18.75 and everyone in the process got the increase of 250%, it'd take 3 hours 15 minutes - a morning.

It is a couple of years since I read the article in the Guardian, but I can't imagine things have improved - certainly dresses aren't getting dearer - a woman making dresses in India for export does not earn enough in a morning to pay to travel to work. Imagine she needs to make 50 units a day to earn the #5 needed to keep herself and her 3 children. Imagine that she cannot physically do that, the best she can do is 25. So her 3 children have to work as well. Put up her wages so that she is paid #5 for 20 units, even if her pay increase means that her 3 children are out of work, they can now go to school, because she is earning enough to keep her family.
So how do we let the shops know that we are willing to work a morning for a frock so that a woman can earn enough to keep her family alive? That, I don't know.

At 6.30 am, the light is dim enough for some outdoor pictures to work:

but not others:

these are white and gold narcissi!

I just think that this looks kinda-magic.

Why was I taking photos at 6.30? Because I have taken my dark curtains down to wash. The blackbirds were awake at 5ish and so was I.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

To name or not to name?

Why do we label the world?  And do we all do it?  Little Bits is very Sierra preoccupied at the moment and she is busy labeling.  Do all children do it endlessly or is it only when adults give them attention for asking or for attempting labels?
I once asked the name of a bird when I was in Sarawak ( I wasn't 2 I was 27) - it looked a bit like a European Starling, iridescent and was told it didn't have one, then I was told it was a paddy bird - both the answerers were Science teachers, neither seemed interested in what the bird might be.  I remember this because I presumed it was because they were not interested in birds. 

I can't name cars.  That's not quite true - I can name about 4 makes of car with 70% reliability, give or take 20% - depending on whether I can see the Jaguar or the Mercedes rings or the VW or the RR flying lady. 
I don't drive so maybe I don't need to label them, but I had an infatuation with the Renault Megane a couple of years back that nearly made me learn.  Summer and the roof down, whooshing down the motorway.  But I am a passenger, I like to look around, pursue random thoughts, close my eyes and stretch. 

The sun is out again today.  I went out to feed the birds and was hit by the scent of hyacinth.   And now it is time to walk the dog, and blossom is starting to cloud the branches and aubretia cushion the walls, like this: 
and I am still sans camera!

Friday, 9 April 2010

68 people support the Tories!

Ok - what am I missing?  Is it any surprise that 'top business men' and managers of private health care organisations prefer Conservative ideas to Labour ones? 
So 68 people who ( and I know I'm stereotyping) are unlikely to depend on the State pension, the National Health Service or State education, think that they should be allowed to be run down and no doubt will agree with the wonderful alternative suggested today making cuts in public spending by not filling job vacancies in the public sector. 
I've already gone about 'year on year efficiencies, so nuff said

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Bother Spring Cleaning

Celandines in Miggy Woods and no camera.
I hung washing out for the first time this year,  and then I felt a bit moleish (Bother Spring Cleaning) and we went up Miggy Woods - without a coat and hot in a jacket.  It is still amazingly muddy underfoot, but the air is dry and warm and the park was swarming compared to a couple of weeks ago. 
The pond was encircled by fishermen but I think it must be too shallow where I sit, and the frogspawn still is.  Angel played runnning races with a young staff cross, I think her owner was worried at first that we might get upset but since Angel was chasing Holly (who was white in a red harness) most of the time I think he got the idea we didn't care.  Then he put her on her lead and complained she pulled too much - why do people with bit dogs put them in harnesses so that they can pull instead of nose halters so they can't?  Is it a macho thing?
I tried to do another page today but can't get the tool bar so can't load pictures.  I went on help but didn't get any.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

I know!

I know I don't have to spend five more years with Gordon Brown as PM - I've lived all my life in this democracy and voted since I was 21.  Is that the kind of slogan that is going to persuade more people to vote for anybody.
That is what I think is important - getting more to vote. I don't care who for, I just care that people don't care.
Having a democracy is like having an education system for all, too taken for granted to be valued.
If there's going to be a month of this drivel, I am going to stop listening to Radio 4 altogether.

Total change of topic - as well as putting in some links, I've also added some side pics and two new pages. THEN I  found, the blogger in draft new templates,and had a lovely time redesigning the look.

Here's a new look Angel.  The pink rinse is the broken camera, the doleful look is, "Can't I have some?"      Why do dogs carry things round with them?             She has a piece of rope which she has now 'found' three times.  The first time she found it, she carried it home then took it out a second day and left it, very definitely and carefully in the snow.                            The second time she found it a week later in a different place and it again got carried home and was again taken with us on a walk and left behind.        Yesterday, she found it in the gutter across the road after weeks of absence and took it round the Allenbys with us, brought it home, took it with us last night (tried to bring it in, but took it out again) and carefully carried it to the gate and then left it in the garden this morning.I wonder how long it will last this time?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Why am I writing?

I can't remember if I said, but when I wondered if it was OK to walk round, Susan said, "Why would anyone make a picture if they didn't want other people to see it?"
So, why do I write
I've told two people about this blog.  I don't know if either of them have looked at it, I don't know how or if you can tell if it has been viewed but I'm beginning to think that I no longer write just to express, but that I do want to communicate.
Pompous, pompous, pompous.
One of my favourite blogs to look at: which I found at another of my favourites:, perhaps instead of writing drivel I should tidy up my blog and put my favourites down the edge.

Friday, 2 April 2010

My favourite pictures

None of these are from the first day because this is not about progress but the ooh factor and these surprise me with my achievement.  Can you feel me slapping myself on the back?

This is a ten minute study from the third day.  What got me were the two shapes I could see: one made by her legs
and the other her body and arms.

Louisa showed me how to mix a neutral acrylic wash for this one - I felt I really understood mixing and using a palette by the time she had finished.  She showed me how to clean up dribbles and by the end I was slapping paint anywhere.  One of the others said it was 'gestural' which is what I was after - big sweeping confident strokes.

and this is what I did in 3 or so minutes (not counting colour mixing time) at the most on Wednesday afternoon after I'd wrecked one and Louisa had used the second for a proportion demonstration.  I'm pleased cos it's daring and not fidgetty.

Ten minutes worth.  I like the way I have done less than in my other sitting ones and the way she seems to twist.  The way her head sat on her neck and her neck on her shoulders was lovely and I think I got that.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Life Drawing

Why does life drawing mean 'drawing people with no clothes on'?  Anyway that is what I have been doing this week - 6 hours a day for 3 days.
No pics of course because I am still camera-less. It was very tiring not just because
  • I'm not used to concentrating to someone else's schedule any more
  • Standing still at an easel gives you either a bad back, sore feet or cramp in your calves
  • Working at an easel makes your arm ache
but because you have to think so much too. The teacher, thank goodness, believed in challenge laced with instruction and advice, so tired I might be but really stimulated and enthused too so I've signed up for a five week course.  Not with the same tutor, she doesn't do it, what she does do is at It starts straight after the Easter holiday, so I will still remember what she said to weigh the new bloke against.
There was a range of styles among the people, one more beginner and several who'd done some and then one who was studying fine art and another who made a living drawing so there was a lot to look at once I'd realised it wasn't rude to look at other people's pictures.  The downside to that is that people do tend to want positive comments from you, although that does make you look hard at the pictures.
Sat on the step last night I had this idea linking the bible with life drawing - not as in 'velvet Elvis' but in the making of marks on paper to represent what is much larger than that.  Whether it is in words trying to grapple with something that is more than verbal labels (ask me to describe the skin of Terri yesterday and how it was similar to and  differed from that of Leslie the day before or Alan on Monday and I couldn't do it in words and that is one little thing) or trying to describe 3 (or 4) dimensions in two, it is the struggle to do it that is, complete with frustrations and failures and back tracking, rewarding and illuminating.  One of the people had this searching line travelling through his drawing so that you could see him working out what he was doing - thinking on paper, Louisa called it, so that you could see him searching for the form.  I found the whole thing a battle between what I 'know' and what I see and kept setting myself agendas force/weight/solidity or tension/muscles/skin to try and find a flank to fight on.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Why little weed

One of the things about getting older is the accumulation of connotations to every word. Like "Coo up" the image of a man with a crooked stick pointing up from his mouth like a megaphone and cows coming over the hill towards him - on Pipworth Lane, past the house that looked like a railway carriage.

Like the lover mentioned in the last post who gave me the nickname Ragwort - I never asked why - but it goes with Little Weed and here I am as her at some Miners Welfare do. Anthony and Alan were Bill and Ben, Tricia was a coolie, Vivienne = red riding hood,her mum the nurse (and she was carrying on with the local GP too - playing doctors and nurses, ha-ha) Bessie Kay's Ellen = the fairy and Susan the Hawaian - just look at that hair.

Ragwort - bright and cheerful if common
a persistent little weed poisonous to domestic animals that eat it - I wonder what he had in mind.
Getting old
As a label it might seem a bit down, covering as it does (so far) forgetting and excessive remembering but it is an awful lot better than the alternative. I will use it I think to references to memory and personal history.