Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ok so if it's not one thing

(ie blogger) it's the whole www!
I blame BT.
Something funny going on - either out there in the www or inside here in this box of virtual tricks.
I can't make a deduction about which cos it's just behaving randomly. But since I'm now, randomly connected,*shrug*, I'm not going to throw a screaming wobbly just now.

And this morning I kicked myself out of bed really quite early and set off with camera in the sunshine (yay!!!)
And was rewarded as I deserved* :) I saw swans, cormorants, and of all things, a stoat! Also deer. And, if not exactly a castle, certainly a manor!

Not to mention a good bit of water (quite reasonable since my travels took in a lake, a canal and the River Kennet.
(Oops, something is going on again. My netgear router thingie is flashing and blogger tells me it can't connect. So what's new)
Oh! and now Blogger is unavailable - well clearly it's a random day - since, Oh look, blogger is back again!
Clearly anything could happen. Or not happen as blogger and the rest of the www decide.
Oh I can't be doing with this flip flopping between canIcan'tI, willitwontit. I shall save it, publish and be damned and go back to Earthsea where I went when it last went wwwol.**
I may or may not be able to visit anyone tonight. In case not, I am sending out random thoughts of everything being really really nice in every possible direction :)
Sleep well :)

*because I made sure I went to the sort of place where I might see such things, though the stoat was a completely unexpected gift.
**w-where with out leave

Monday, January 28, 2008

There's a hole in my pocket

And every time I get up from the desk, a cigarette lighter falls out of it, down my trouser leg and onto the floor.
You'd think I'd have mended it (or at least learnt to put the lighter in the other pocket) by now. But it seems not. In fact it took me half a day to work out why, every time I got up, a lighter magically appeared on the floor by my feet! At this rate I may venture up into the eyrie to talk to the sewing machine, oh, by about midday tomorrow?
Meanwhile I have to fill up the 'new' 'gift horse' dishwasher. Again.
Not that I'm looking it in the mouth or anything like that. But while studiously not looking in its mouth, I can't help noticing that it doesn't take an awful lot of dishes. If you attempt for instance, leaning two little pyrex casseroles against each other it positively revels in sweeping all the stuff that ought to end up in the filter into one of the casseroles, thus rendering it dirtier when it comes out than when it went in. I'm sure this isn't how these things are supposed to work? So I'm doing two doshwishes for one these days* and though it's a very quick wash I do wonder how much more power, water and nasty chemicals we're getting through. Well I could invest in some eco-chemicals though the investment would be VERY LARGE since they cost twice as much as the evil kind. (and a quick burst of uncharacteristic arithmetic tells me this will eventually cost four times the original amount)
Well my best friend can't swim twice a week with me any more so I've been taking the dog out as a kind of alternative exercise. And since I can't be outside without it, I also take the camera. This arrangement isn't completely satisfactory for either of them, since every time I want to take a photo I have to tie the dog up first and every time the dog gets very excited about a smell in the distance it seems to be time to tie him up. The best arrangement is to tie the dog to my leg and shout at him a lot while I take the photo**. This doesn't work so well if I need to crouch down to take the photo though as he immediately imagines that I have finally gone completely off my rocker and have decided therefore to show him affection in a positively doggy way while halfway up a bank peering through some barbed wire at a distant blob. He thinks this idea rocks and that I should also. Easily achieved with a quick nudge.
So today I have taken several photos of a large black.... well a large black really. Nothing else much in shot except on one occasion a large sort of green and brown with a blobby twig in the middle.
The three of us need practice is all. And it's important that I remember what settings I last used (while fending off an importunately friendly, wet nose) since the settings that work quite well in the dim woodland undergrowth, produce an entirely unwelcome result when golden sunlight floods the wide open spaces and, dammit, a buzzard sails across the field, gilded by a shaft of sunlight and places itself dead centre as I click. It would have been the best picture of the day.
Where on earth is my lighter? Oh right. I finally remembered to put it in the other pocket.
I think for the moment I'll do my own pictures. I don't think the dog could have done this one. (I had to hold the camera way over my head for a start and his head doesn't come up to way over mine.)
Now I have to go to bed - naturally. There's a nice moon lying on his back out there. Are you all watching it too?

*which is of course, one for the price of two
**What would be really good and efficient would be if the dog could take the photos, then I would only have to look after the dog. And then I could make a huge amount of money as a the owner and trainer of the world's only photographer dog***
***there must be a succinct and grammatical way to put this but I can't find it.

Another weekend passes

As they do.
We did the gig. Due to an unaccountable confusion over bookings*, we had a new caller. Callers are all so different! Our very first gig was at the very first Yattendon Jugglers Ball. (Barney ran the jugglers club and I played fiddle in an informal 'lets learn some folk music' gathering, made up mostly of beginner musicians. We were a rather large barn dance band (12 people I think for that first gig) and we had our very own caller - one of the musicians.
Over the next few years, the band settled down to 6 members and a tight, unusual formula involving eastern European, Irish, Scottish, English and French tunes. And some very weird and wonderful dances invented or discovered by the caller.**

We didn't realise how good we had it until he gave up calling and we had to find new callers.
There was one lady we remember fondly, who we booked for a dance held in a tiny room in Reading for a very 'alternative' group of people. We didn't start playing till about 10.30 and by then, being acutely anxious about calling for strangers and slightly alarmed by the free and easy nature of the venue, she had drunk most of a bottle of wine. However, most of the dancers had also imbibed a good deal of whatever turned them on so really no one except us noticed how very random the dances were!
Then there was the man who couldn't understand why none of the dancers knew how to do it. And didn't seem to be able to explain how either.
And another who wanted us to play only the tunes he normally had for each dance and could only do the dances that went with the few tunes we had in common. That one didn't get asked again either.
And now we have lovely Fran (this is not the lovely Frangelita btw but another Fran) who now calls for us regularly and is completely at ease with us and all kinds of groups of people.
Occasionally if Fran isn't free, we have to find new callers which can be stressful. We never know what sort of music they'll want and how they'll communicate with us.
Anyway, Doug, last night, was competent, funny, cheerful, good at explaining and good at communicating both the kind of tune and the kind of speed he wanted. Mind it was still quite difficult as the hall was packed out crowded and the noise was immense. (It's a big hall where we get booked every year for the Christian Aid people in Newbury and the sound booms away up into the roof and comes back as a big echoing muddle). The only problem was Doug liked very slow tunes and quite complicated and interesting dances. Since we have a repertoire of fairly fast tunes this was quite hard and involved lots of deep concentration.*** And occasionally playing slightly slower tunes at double speed which involves lots of flashy fingers and a good deal of sweat! Afterwards he said we were much faster than most bands! Phew!

The last time we played at this venue for the Christian Aid people, there was an eclipse of the moon and half the evening was spent outside watching it :)

*we seem to be getting a lot of those at the moment such that we're getting more and more paranoid about whether any gigs are actually booked or not and if there aren't any in the book, we start wondering if there's someone out there who thinks they've booked us
**'wringing out the dishrag' A wonderful dance in which Geoff enjoyed turning a set of four people inside out and back again - damaged arms and shoulders optional :)
***You'd think playing slower would be easier but it seems to take forever to get from note to note and it's really hard to remember how many times we've played each section, like -can we really still be playing this the first time round?


Baubles in the sky

The strange and narrow way to the end of the rainbow

It's out there somewhere.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The moon's in the heavens

Rivers run to the seaThe snowdrops are out

And all's well.

Have a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bits and scraps day

I opened Abobe photoshop today and was confronted by the information that the author is mig, the colour yellow and the size medium.
then I realised that we were talking about a medium sized, yellow note what I had wrote on this pic. Not a yellow medium sized me! Phew!No it hasn't been snowing. I did something completely accidental in photoshop and the result was so unexpected that I wrote a note on the picture! It really does look like snow doesn't it! and a typical English sprinkling of it at that :)

The entrance of the rather beautiful siberian to the pub the other day caused a sudden melee of fur and tails and noses. It was obviously all very exciting! Even the basset hound sat up and opened his eyes. And Snipe, a well known, but not much loved, regular, let loose a volley of silent but deadly, scent bombs. Oddly enough, this cleared the bar of most of its human visitors.

There's been a bit of interest among some Newbury photographers in an old industrial tower which dominates parts of the skyline. I was tempted to add a few photos of it (it's not at all beautiful but can look very impressive). but I got a bit sidetracked by some sunset and a couple of windows
And a jackdaw (?) going home to his penthouse flat.
(actually it's not really a penthouse, being only halfway up the building but you get the general idea, town centre luxury with a nice oval door - latest design I've no doubt)

I hope you've had a very very nice thursday :) I've got to go and practice for a somewhat imminent Saturday :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Order, order

In the house. I'm going to make some. There has to be a way to get some of the stuff that currently lies around in heaps into places where the heaps will become stacks or piles or something less objectionable and disorganised than heaps?
Meanwhile, I've rediscovered my template. Gradually, my bog roll is beginning to match my RSS feed list.
(Oh sorry, that was blog roll of course - the bog roll's run out)

In other words, the rain has finally got into my head and turned the contents into a big soggy cotton wool-like mass. I shall put up a big sign saying
Headworks from today until further notice. Expect delays. Follow diversion signs (What diversion signs, I haven't got any diversions!)

Oops. I had a diversion today. Locked myself out. But as it turned out, a search for keys given to other people led to rescue, cups of tea and wonderful company so it just goes to show that clouds have silver linings after all.
Now I am reverting to cotton wool mode as we had a band practice tonight and I'm slightly used up and worn out. Got a gig on Saturday and lack of practice really shows up. Let's see, I have 2 and 1/2 days to get some of it back together. Hmm.
So no more stopping to snap churches in passing (who am I kidding)
And no more trips to see how the floods are going (that won't be so hard as they're subsiding)
Mfff. Cotton wool. Really, really I ought to gop to bed now and see if I can get the head working by tomorrow!
Sleep well. We all deserve it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flood warning

I got this phone call the other day from a homeward returning bear.
"just thought you might like to know the river's really high at Goring - some good photographic opportunities"
And he was right. There was Old Father Thames, behaving a bit skittishly among the trees

And a swan and a seagull making ripples on the bank
and the river making fun of people who might have wanted to sit down
and admire the view

And a tree poised above the water.
So since I'm quite without thoughts at the moment, you have water instead.

And then twice last week, there was a really weird glow in the sky after sunset. Sort of brown on one evening and then sort of purple the next. I caught the purple one :)
I wonder what that was all about.

Somebody broke our headlight the other night while we were playing at Pierrot and Beetlejuice so tomorrow I have to go on a headlight repair expedition!
Better start early. Somehow I feel that there may be ordering of parts and long delays!
Goodnight. I hope the sun shines on you tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fancy stuff

I have a question for you.
Do clowns wax, shave or electrocute?
What? Oh their eyebrows of course.
You see today we went to a fancy dress party.* And due to the randomness of what was available in the shop** he went as Beetlejuice (?) and I went as Pierrot - at least I've heard of him. Only I didn't realise Pierrot was so definitely a male figure. Not a problem since his outfit could easily conceal the gender of a....very female thing which I can't think of right now. And his make up similarly deprives the made up one of all pretensions to any kind of gender. No wonder he couldn't get the girl***
Anyway, when it came time to get ready, I started to apply white stuff all over my face (like you do) and then attempted to apply black stuff in only the right places to produce a sad but indefinably appealing and slightly mad look. Then, ignoring the result studiously, I added lipstick.
Um more than slightly mad I have to say.
Well I was hampered by the fact that as a non-user of make-up, I have no little lip brushes or eyeshadow sponges. I used a kitchen sponge sliced into smaller and smaller pieces. The lipstick I use has done a fine job (applied so rarely and so thinly as to be almost invisible) for at least fifteen years. Of course it's not waterproof or glossy or booze proof - that's never been a problem before and anyway, when I bought it you couldn't get all those things and colour too!
I decided the patchy appearance caused by sliced sponge application was endearingly um, patchy! And the extra eyebrows were magnificent and of course the original ones were thickly layered with white stuff and while they did itch a bit they felt satisfyingly proof against anything but a rainstorm. Bit like wearing eyebrow armour actually, sort of crispy but flexible.
I did leave quite a lot of lippie on the first ciggie I had but I knew there was plenty left.
We set off and on the way I practised my Pierrot smile (mournful but quirky, see).

Then we arrived and had a drink and I did wonder if the wet feeling meant that bits of white stuff might have dissolved in my drink - too late to do anything about that.
anyway to cut along and slightly dull story to size, some hours later I went to the loo thinking I ought to get a last look at Pierrot before rolling home to wash him off and undress him.

It was a bit sad really. In the course of a single evening, he'd both aged (by about fifty years and he hadn't looked that youthful when he left) and gained an extra pair of eyebrows. His eyes were pink rimmed and endearingly er, patchy had become raddled and blotchy. And he'd acquired an extra mouth where the drinks had washed off his corners. His hat (which had been a bit loose) was dangling over one ear and some of his hair had escaped and was sticking out sideways.

The clothing would still have camouflaged a cow, never mind a woman but it was all in the right places at least. And all I'm going to say about that is that I was grateful! No woman would want to be seen looking like poor old Pierrot looked at that moment and as long as I could pretend I wasn't pretending to be one (How's that again? Never you mind) I could get away with only pretending to be a man. In a floppy white outfit with enormous dangly black pom poms placed to cause as much embarrassment and destruction as one could wish in a crowded party.

Never go to a party as Pierrot unless you're prepared to forgo all drink and shave your eyebrows off first. (Or should you wax them? Or electrocute them? Or indeed tweeze them).

It was a good party though :)
No Pierrot picture I'm afraid, there wasn't time before we went and afterwards I was in a bit of a hurry to wash him off before any wind changed or clocks chimed and left me stuck with him for ever.
Instead, here is Newbury looking slightly apocalypticBut then it seemed the apocalypse was postponed - floods due any minute though.Pierrot is tired now. Goodnight and sleep well :)

*Actually it wasn't, it was a black and white party so we needn't have gone and got fancy dress anyway.
**I don't know what I was going to say here

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dancing with death.*

As the animals and I all get older, we meet more often in 'amusingly' unplanned ways. For instance in trying to get out from under my feet, the dog (who surely ought to have learnt better at his age than to be under them in the first place) will dance and lunge sideways and backwards in every which direction. Except the right one. This makes him look as though he's trying to stay under my feet. Eventually he'll back himself sheepishly into the very corner towards which I am heading.
The cats generally have a little more sense. They only get under my feet when I'm going downstairs or when I'm trying to feed them. But once in either of those situations, they suddenly start behaving like pheasants. They seem quite unable to see that I'm going in a more or less straight line and make frantic zig zag dashes across my path. So yesterday, as I carried two cat bowls to the shelf, they both zig zagged and Mandu paused indecisively just under where my foot was about to be. (carrying the bowls see, I couldn't. See.) So I trod on her causing a shriek of protest.
As I was about to apologise, wobbling a little, she dashed the other way, where I was stepping to avoid her. We both realised that this was a mistake and I attempted to adjust the landing place of the foot. She changed direction. By winding herself round my other foot. So there I am, two bowls of cat food held high, poised on one foot and doing a kind of morris dance wobble with the other one in mid air, on the edge of the step, with a cat wound round the grounded foot. I decided to go for the big stride, met the cat again, missed the step, swooped gracefully floorwards, described an elegant sideways arc and arrived, slightly disturbed among the rubbish stacked up for the recycling men and the barrel left over from the party, with both bowls of cat food intact and held high.
Impressive or what?

I've always been good at falling over.

I expect Mandu thought the whole episode was an elaborate punishment for being hungry in the first place. Probably translated my extensive and vocal rudeness as "Take that and that, yes and that! And never ask me for food again"
The other cat, darted around the periphery, and when the battle was over hopped up to the shelf and said "Squawk? Mrrrrrr? Dinner? Why not?" I swore at her too.

I came face to er, root, with this the other day. Why is a potato sitting on the scales? I asked? Waiting for judgement maybe?
No, it's Barney's entry for the Turner Prize.
I set off in the pouring rain and there were these two, solemnly discussing whatever horses discuss.
But the rain stopped :)
Later the sun came out, just long enough to go down again!

*The first time I fell over a cat on the stairs, I realised that when it came, my end would probably be fast and furious and involve fur and a broken neck.**
**Sandy Denny died of a broken neck, falling downstairs. I wonder if she had a cat?

Sometimes, there's nothing you can't do

So naturally, you do it all :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Run out of time

But there was this rainbow :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

And here's a rather happier bunny*

Also a rather more awake one :)
I was tempted to use photoshop to desaturate the nose. When younger, the children always noticed, and mentioned, the, ah, pinkness of my nose. Particularly after a drink.
Now they are older they don't mention it so often because, of course, they have grown more tactful. How long, I wonder, before the grandchild and her siblings begin to ask why Grandma's nose is so red...I mean pink.
Anyway, it's a fine nose and promises fair to develop along the family lines (the dutch family I think, somewhere between my Grandmother's potato - her description, not mine - and my grandfather's, which was of splendidly Roman proportions). So I shall leave it in all it's roseate glory.

Now I have a very dear friend who didn't like the earlier self portraits. She says they're not me! (I hope she'll like this better :) But as I told her, I see a lot more of me than she does and most often without the benefit of her sunny personality brightening up the ambient temperature:)
So who is the person we see first thing in the morning in the mirror? Is that truly ourselves? self? I'm getting my quantities mixed up here. And who is the person that other people see? Both, I think are constructs. From the eye and mind of the beholder. And of course, the artifacts we add to enhance the way we appear.... You know, combing the hair and straightening the collar and if you really want to go to town, putting on make-up. (Now I'm mixing up the persons singular, plural and other)
See, I don't believe a single portrait can capture the whole essence of a person. The miracle is that a photo can capture any of the bits of the essence. The other miracle is we are so many people. No? Maybe only some of us are many. I don't really know. Maybe my friend who doesn't like me to look grumpy in the morning is always sunny and optimistic and outward looking? From dawn to dusk. I know I am not always the same. So tell me, are you?

In spite of promises made recklessly I seem to be fresh out of chickens and I can't find any creeping light (there must be some somewhere on the computer but it's a bit late and I'm quite knackered) but it's been rather splendidly stormy recently and here's a very stormy sky :)
So goodnight. Sleep well.
*Because of the reappearance of a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON :) Yay!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Of feeding, frenzy and injustice

Well now that the Christmas, New Year feeding frenzy is over, I hope my trousers will soon feel a little less er, cosy!
And since I can no longer say I'm too busy to do it I'd better check Barney Bear's junk email. This is something he doesn't like doing and I hate even his bit of my computer being full of this kind of babble. Now I once read about how there are people whose job is to read lists and select things from them. Such people could read lists at ridiculous speeds and select things so fast that they'd make my computer look a bit staid. (well by the time it's decided it can't actually search for names in my address book until I've set up something to do with indexing which, ominously, "may take a few minutes")
Well I can skim through Bear's junk email quite quickly too except that my attention tends to snag on the half visible subjects. No not those ones, the ones that say stuff like "are you just an average b....." And "Outstanding performance from fpth...".
Sometimes the inventiveness of the names catch my eye and often a little spurt of outrage will slow me down for a moment.
Which just goes to show that jobs which sound easy, probably aren't.
Anyway Outlook delivered 800 odd emails the other day which was worrying as that's a good bit more than we usually get. But it seems this was just a backlog from over the holiday period. And although it was likely 800 pieces of junk and babble, I did skim it through which was just as well since there was one genuine email in there somewhere!
Now why does an email from (insert perfectly ordinary name), entitled

"present for (insert another perfectly ordinary name)'s birthday",
achieve junk status while

"urgent email from (insert the name of a well known bank), "because we want to get hold of, oh sorry confirm, your account number"

gets shunted into the inbox?

Talking of feeding and frenzy. A couple of days ago, the idiot dog went off in the pouring rain and raided next door's compost heap. Later, he wasn't very interested in dinner and later still, he wasn't forthcoming when I took him out in the pouring rain to relieve himself. Later even more still, he used the shower in an unorthodox and entirely inappropriate manner.
Well it could have been worse. For instance it could have been me that discovered the unpleasantness or he could have left it on the carpet (just recovered from similar unacceptable leavings from the cats).
I suppose I should be impressed that, in extremis, both cats and dog choose the room which we use for the same purpose?
I am not impressed.
Well they are all now hoping I will let them go upstairs or outside alone. Butter wouldn't melt in any of their mouths they say and it's cold down here and I really need just a quick sniff-and-roll.
I am still not impressed.
I am tempted to build an anti animal flap and put all three of them on the other side of it for ever.

And talking of animals, feeding and frenzy, I've just seen the last of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's programmes about intensive chicken farming. (If you have tender feelings about chickens you might want to skip this bit and go straight to the pictures. Likewise if you're getting bored with my ranting. It seems to be a rant day!)
Myself, I'm not really sentimental about animals and I don't feel that fairness to chickens is a big deal. After all what's fair about killing them? It's not as though they get to kill us back!
But it is disgusting and horrifying to think that we* may have been eating animals which spent most of their short lives sitting around in each others' piss and shit, constantly eating and effectively prevented from sleeping or exercising.
Animals which live fairly normally it seems to me, will become fairly normal food. The sort of stuff which humankind have thrived on for a few millennia and which probably is quite good for them. It's just impossible to imagine that food obtained from animals reared in the sort of conditions so well depicted in Hugh's programme could possibly be good for anyone.
And while, I don't get excited about the unfairness of it all, it does seem to me that to encourage the whole chain of frenzied production to service the insane consumption levels so diligently stoked up by the supermarkets is an invitation to those multinational companies to treat us, the consumers, with less and less respect and more an more as if we are of no greater value to them than those dreadfully damaged creatures lying around on their stinking bedding.**
Which is to say, to the supermarket chains, them chickens are just like us! Items to be managed productively. Or do I mean destructively?

*In fact I always buy free range chicken these days. For once I do put my money where my mouth is. And what's more, it's a lot cheaper from the local butcher than it is in the supermarkets.
**While they can't move freely, as they're packed into their barns like feathery maggots, they are expected to keep getting up to feed. Any that are unable to get up and stumble over to the feeding posts are culled. Er, because they aren't going to be economical to rear. Somebody has to wade through them daily to hoick out the incapables and break their necks.
Oh and when the (precisely timed) day comes for slaughtering, they have to starve for eight hours to empty their guts. The good side to this is that they get eight hours darkness and therefore a full eight hours rest for the first time in their lives. So the condemned chickens may not get a hearty breakfast but at least they get a bit of a lie in. Oops. I seem to be getting a bit concerned about chicken welfare here. But then think about it. If the supermarkets could, wouldn't they prefer us to shop than to sleep? Wouldn't they love it if we ate all day and certainly, wouldn't they be unhappy if we were unable to waddle out to them to do our shopping? Is there some kind of poetic injustice going on here?

This lovely little pastoral scene came from one of my folders, appropriately entitled
and baubles:)
And here are some sheep. And lambs.
Oof! That was tiring. I'm off to sleep and preferably not to dream. I think I may lay off the TV watching for a while. It's all too serious in there. It would be nice if tomorrow morning was a bit like this :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A bit of brightness

Just a couple of days ago.
And a kite robbing the rooks' nests
on a cold and frosty morning

Monday, January 07, 2008

Batten down the hatches

While they lift the lid....
Off the septic tank.
Out here in the cosy, wilderness that is rural Berkshire, we don't have street lights, mains water or gas, or mains drainage. We have septic tanks*. Very efficient they are too and probably very 'green'. (though we won't think too hard about the colour).
Anyway, once in a while we have to phone Mr Clearwise who sends along one of his nice yellow tankers and there's a bit of a slurp and sludge and there it is, all gone to a better place inside the yellow bellied tanker. (lesser yellow bellied tanker since the greater variety won't fit in through our gate).

I just thought I'd share that with you.

While waiting for the arrival of the lesser yellow bellied tanker I had an assignment to do. Last night, we watched a programme about 6 amateur photographers competing for the chance to get their photos exhibited in an important London Gallery and to have a book published. It was very interesting and naturally**, at the end of the programme Barney Bear drew my attention to the website where you can send your own photos to be critiqued and, who knows, maybe even chosen to be entered in some similar event.

Ok so I looked at the site and I found that this week's entry should be a self portrait. Er, I quote, "think of an iconic portrait, an image that embodies the essence of a person, an idea or the spirit of the times
Then think, what if that person were me?"
I have a bit of a problem with "iconic portrait" I really don't know which ones are iconic and which ones not. I looked up some stuff in the National Gallery portrait competition for 2007 and there were some stunning ones. But what if they were me? No it's no good, I can't see it. I am me. How can I imagine being them?
OK, an idea? A portrait that embodies an idea. Right. Oh dear I'm fresh out of ideas (unless you count the rather nice one of suddenly becoming a phenomenally successful photographer and being on telly and having a gallery exhibition and getting a book published. Somehow I don't think that's the sort of idea they have in mind. Further I'm really not sure my body is up to embodying such a thing)
The spirit of the times? Hmm. How does the 56 year old rather ordinary looking grandma embody the spirit of the times? And which spirit? do we really think there is a single spirit of these times? (That gives me an idea. Probably a) too gimmicky and b) too ambitious. Something to do with multiple images)

So this morning, not bright, but early (in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the lesser yellow bellied tanker) I snapped a few dawns and then set about taking a self portrait. Making full use of the flattering early morning sun in the bathroom (that's where the early morning sun arrives around here. By the time it gets to any of the other rooms it's turned into the harsh mid-morning light).

Somewhat bleary, I propped the tripod up in various places around the bathroom and pressed things and fiddled with settings and generally sort of let the camera take some photos for me. Then I finished getting up and the yellow belly arrived and later still, I had a look at what I'd taken.
Well, I'm not sure about iconic, but they're definitely me, there's a clear idea of 'when can I go back to bed' and there's a strong sense of the spirit of the time...08 something or other in the morning.

And having said all that, you know what? I'm really quite pleased with them :)

This is what you get when you're noticing a grubby patch on the shower door and the photographer says "don't forget to look at the camera"
Tomorrow I shall try and do some smiley ones :) Maybe I shall try running and jumping past the camera. In the garden. If it's not raining. Maybe I shall put the camera in the gateway and then drag the wheelie bin up the hill past it. Spirit of the times see :)

*We don't of course have to drink, cook or get light from the septic tank - we have bore hole water, a gas tank and electricity for all that.
**He doesn't do computers, websites or any of that stuff himself but he has touching faith that anyone else can find anything he wants out there on the www somewhere. Like, for instance, gainful employment for me.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Away with the Doldrums

Following the post I wrote last week about my families, I was struck by the serendipity of this article appearing in the Guardian today, written by my delightful and talented Sister in Law.*
She writes and lives with all the zest and courage that her mother had and this article was, for me, a clarion call to get out the oars and row out of the New Year doldrums. Well, paddle out anyway.
It's a fabulously written piece. Enjoy it :)
So, now I'm going to stop whinging (for a day or two) and embark on a giant tidy-up.
Oh and on the subject of books, I've just finished reading Legs Up and Laughing which the lovely Frangelita bought me for Christmas and it's another fantastic read, full of laughter and courage.

One small whinge I must have though.
I want to know who, in their wisdom, decided that dustpans should be redesigned without a cover to stop all the little bouncy and fluffy bits bouncing out over the back of the dustpan, back onto the floor? Yes I know the topless dustpan allows the neat disposition of the dustpan and brush as a stylishly matching pair**, clipped together. But the main purpose of a dustpan, surely, is the efficient disposal of small dry waste from the floor, not to be a design statement? Perhaps I am the only one who hasn't mastered the use of the modern, topless dustpan and brush?
Also, it's much harder to catch a live mouse in the topless variety.
No pics tonight. Picasa is doing something very, very slowly. In fact I think it may not be feeling very well.

Goodnight. And as my children used to say, have lovely dreams and wake up freshed in the morning :)

*See also a Handful of Earth

**Well, no, not really stylish, I mean dustpan? Stylish? No. But with pretensions?

Friday, January 04, 2008

More promises from

The weather site, which still shows today garnished with a little black cloud and two snowflakes! So? so? Where are they then those two snowflakes? I haven't seen them!
Well it's good that Barney doesn't have to drive home in a snowstorm. But I'm not pleased.

My head is a sieve. Whatever I sat down to write has sifted out without trace - I've searched the floor, nothing interesting there. And I can't make Homer Simpson's claim that " there are so many thoughts in my head that whenever I put a new one in it one of the old ones falls out" because I haven't had a new thought yet. Possibly not for several years. It's the copies you see, the stories I've been repeating over the years (so often that now I am that old woman telling the same story for the fiftieth time to all the same people).
So I'm trying to find that thought I thought I had a few minutes ago:-
*Crossly ransacking headbag* I'm sure I had a new one in here somewhere. *turns head upside down and shakes it* Oops, I've dropped my head on the floor *getting up and shaking self* Oh look I thought I'd done that and I'm sure I did give those back. No, it's not time to do one of those yet is it? *going off muttering* better check with Barney. Now where did I last see him....

Last night, feeling like a change, I trawled blogs for what seemed like hours thinking, once long ago I found nice blogs out there didn't I. Well maybe they found me. I don't know but last night, every other blog had boobs* all over it or seemed intent on lecturing me to death about something or other. I made no notes and they wouldn't have even sounded silly! Just v-e-r-y-b-o-r-i-n-g. And then there was one that kept coming up every time I started again which I had already dismissed on the grounds that I didn't like the look of the photo, there were a large number written in incomprehensible, though very beautiful Chinese or Japanese. A further large number in other languages which tantalisingly, almost made sense. Lots of sales blogs.
I rejected a whole lot because they appeared to consist solely of videos, songs or quotes - no doubt very interesting but it's people I'm chasing not art!

There was one with very beautiful photos, very short and amusing descriptions. blow me but it's the only one where I left a comment and I forgot to bookmark it.

Well the snow never came. Instead we got some chilly rain. Barney's cold appears not to be going away at all! 2008 isn't going too well so far, I might complain to the management.
On the other hand, a change of search methods opened up new avenues. Trawling through profiles with violin interests revealed a million or so teenagers who like music (and also myself amusingly enough) and a hasty scramble around Great Britain brought me to a whole load of people I used to visit regularly. (which, out of 380,000 is at least a tiny bit surprising - I've only got as far as 680)
Ah well. Tomorrow is another day. I'd better get moving towards it...towards bed that is.

Goodnight. Sleep well.

*Not that I have anything against boobs on blogs, just, it would be nice to have a 'skip boobs' button incorporated into the 'next blog' button.

Blogger isn't terribly co-operative sometimes in the matter of changing dates. I gave up trying to get this one right and it should have said Jan 3rd.