When the going gets tough the tough get going. (A phrase my husband liked.)
So here I am, all togged up and ready to go....
I was thrilled to receive these narcissus from the Scilly Isles today.
They are scenting the whole house with their perfume of springtime.
I am signing off for a week or so. Perhaps you would enjoy a browse through Simply Beautiful? Or Simply Inspirational?
I wonder if any signs of spring will have reached you when I return..
Thankfully not everything was closed for refurbishment in Glasgow, and the Public Art Trail leaflet to the Merchant City and the Italian Centre was good and showed me things I didn't know. There are plenty of good cafes and restaurants in the area too.
We visited the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and enjoyed the architecture and stained glass.
Rogano's Fish Restaurant with it's original are deco interior is a Glasgow institution (and with a deal from Itison is affordable now and then). They serve excellent coffee and ice cream too. If you should need a hotel in the very centre of the city Grasshoppers is delighful. A room on the station side, 6 floors above the largest glass roof in Europe, was spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated, quiet and friendly with treats and a great breakfast (deals available here too).
The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian is beautiful, guided tours in the morning, self guided in the afternoons. Kember and Jones, the Botanic Gardens and Hoos my favourite little shop are all within easy walking distance of each other at this end of town.
If you know of any other special places in Glasgow I'd love to hear about them..
When a friend said she wanted me to show her 'my Glasgow' I thought first, of course, of the Glasgow School of Art but it is covered in scaffolding after the disastrous fire in 2014. The nearby Willow Tea Rooms also by Mackintosh have a beautiful facade, but it too is currently covered in scaffolding for a two year refurbishment. The Burrell Collection? Closed for four years. The great little cafe in the art deco Glasgow Film Theatre surely. No, the cafe no longer exists, replaced by a bar on the first floor minus the decor which was a big part of the attraction. The National Trust for Scotland own a typically Glaswegian tenement house. Closed for the winter!
The Duke of Wellington is still there though with a new view (but the same hat!) since this shot in 2013.
The authorities eventually gave up on removing the traffic cone hat put there and loved by irreverent Glaswegians. The image now appears on postcards and T-shirts...
..when did I last feel, if not exuberant, then enthusiastic? (See 4 Feb.)
The answer is quite recently when I went to see the excellent Joan Eardley exhibition in Edinburgh. She lived to paint - there were few distractions from painting in her life.
I have been having difficulty painting myself, and think that perhaps I might sustain myself on other artists' creativity for a time, until my own impulse to create returns. My paintings, I have realised, come from the joyous part of me and from a surplus of energy I used to have in abundance. This quotation from Picasso has always made sense to me - that idea of a surplus of energy overflowing onto the canvas..
I go for a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau. I get 'green' indigestion.I must get rid of this sensation into a picture. Green rules it. A painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions.
Both my joy and my energy have been subdued by grief this past year, and I think I must seek out and treasure all the things that create a little spark until, hopefully, the spark becomes a flame.
I have accepted that it can't be forced.
A visit to Glasgow with a friend created several little sparks of enthusiasm...
Do we all do this do you think? Say I'm not superstitious but... I don't walk under ladders, or like Friday 13th, or put up an umbrella indoors.
Well I'm not superstitious but... over the past year, starting at the crematorium at a friend's funeral last January, I have on seven or eight occasions seen a single magpie (we say 'one for sorrow, two for joy' when we see a magpie). I always look for the second one, saying - sometimes out loud (!) Where's your mate? We've had enough sorrow, where's the joy?
Of course I know it's nonsense (a bit like yesterday's quiz!) but all the same my heart leapt when two flew past the window the other day and I smile each time I think of it.
No photograph today but there are some wonderful ones to be seen here.
A lighthearted quiz
Are you a secret minimalist?
I got fairly, which is fairly correct...
What will you get?
I am enjoying dipping into The Idea of North by Peter Davidson.
The short epilogue called Keeping the Twilight is a delightful read and sent me out with the camera at dusk..
Alone in the winter afternoon, suddenly you notice the light fading. The inevitable moment of loneliness.
He regrets for a moment leaving his friends in the south. Describes the ritual of lighting the fire.
He imagines night descending in Norway and Sweden.
the grey painted rooms of Stockholm have been dim with evening for over an hour....Night has moved down island by island, Faroes, Shetlands Orkneys..Stromness is dark now....the light is going fast even in the cities of the south. The Edinburgh shore recedes. Newcastle is dim with mists from the river...wet cobbles reflect shop lights in Alston and Appleby...on the western slopes of the Pennines red sun flashes a moment in Black Moss then sinks in cold above Manchester.
Here in my village on the shores of Loch Long the melancholy cry of a lone oystercatcher, the deepening cold, and the 'Card Full' symbol on my camera had me hurrying gratefully home.
I just love that phrase from Chris Baty (see yesterday's link_.)
I am encouraged in my endeavours by Barry who sent me this card once.
It says Reach For The Stars and inside he wrote
'A woman's reach should exceed her grasp'. Keep reaching. (he underlined Keep reaching)
How could I not keep trying, however imperfectly?
(I can do the imperfect, but the exuberance eludes me at present. Does anyone know how you get it back?)
This is your month perhaps?
February and I have a history! (See Februaries on sidebar)
From being my least favourite month, to becoming my most favourite month, to a bittersweet mix of a month I am finding it hard to ride the emotional rollercoaster effect this year, so plan to keep things simple with short snippets of this and that from Februaries past.
In January 2011 I decided to make Februaries less miserable with a rather crazy idea. I had great fun with it, finding nice places to write and finding tips from writers to help me along. I am about to take the advice of this one and get out my novel and remind myself where I am at with it.
First step? Get the vacuum cleaner out and get rid of the layer of dust on the briefcase!
Do you have a month that is best for you, or hard for you?
I do particularly like the month of May..
On February first, a grey dreich day (there is no English equivalent for that Scottish word), I was about to settle down by the fire with a book when the sky brightened and I thought there must be a good photograph out there somewhere...
Here it is.
Not brilliant, but it got me up and out of the door. One of the things I love about sharing on the blog is that it does just that - makes me look beyond the end of my nose for things worth sharing. Something beautiful/simple/funny/interesting/moving - it reminds me that there are good things in my life every single day and makes me grateful and happier.
I'm supposing (my word for 2017) that it's ok with you if I take an extended blog break....
I love this image. It is from another Christmas card. It seems to me to capture something very moving about friendship, especially womens' friendships, and about the way I feel about the friends I have made here.
I'm so grateful for your friendship, kindness and support.
I will continue with the occasional post for a bit, just to stay in touch....I do intend to be back - just not sure when :-)
.... a new life. As we all are in one way or another.
The Guardian newspaper runs a series of articles called Widower of The Parish by a man whose wife has died....He says 'Once you have accepted that the life you had is unrecoverable, you might just be able to create a new one that isn't just simply the old one but sadder.'
This item from Christina Rasmussen's blog struck a chord with me, particularly as I am going on a train journey soon.
Sometimes I listen to these meditations and find them helpful.
Snippets from a conversation or a song can resonate - 'One day I'll fly away, leave all this to yesterday.' which I thought of when I flew to Berlin.
2016 will always be for me the year that my husband Barry died, the hardest year I ever had, and much of it felt like wading through treacle. In slow motion. Exhausting.
I like this little being from a Christmas card - Just how I feel of late..a bit fragile, wobbly, but still upright!
Here's to wobbling on :-)
OK I know it's a bit early in the year to get serious, after all it's not even the Twelfth Day of Christmas yet. (It's a bit early for Easter too but there were Hot Cross Buns on sale in the supermarket today! Truly!)
Seth Godin's recent post chimes so well with my reading lately that I just have to share it with you. I have been re-reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death (1986) and watching a YouTube video of the same man at the beginning of the internet age in Six Questions On Technology. It is 45 minutes long and I found it worth listening to, but if you want the short version (haha Seth) go to 42 minutes
I realise that one of his questions - and you know I like a good question - has stayed with me and influenced me quite a bit in my search for a simpler life. It is:
What is the problem to which this technolgy is the solution?
Poppy, are you listening to me?
This was my favourite photograph from Berlin (mostly they were terrible, of which more later).
Since I came home I have been drinking ginger tea the way it was served to me in a little florist/cafe in Schoeneberg. The kind of place where you could go with your notebook and pen and sit for an hour. An array of candles, amaryllis and Christmas foliage, inside and out on the pavement, a few tables, a good choice of coffees and teas. I expected a sachet of ginger tea, but was served a beautiful bowl - no handle - good to warm your hands on on a freezing day - with strips of fresh ginger in the bottom, and in another small dish on the side a generous amount of beautiful creamy honey.
The work of moments.
I won't be going back to sachets.
My word for 2017 has been difficult to find.
Here are some I've considered: energy, vitality, wellness, well-being, autonomy, flourish (a close second),permission, and others, but I have settled on
Supposing it is ok to say no
Supposing it is alright to admit I am sad just now
Supposing it is alright to be happy when I am not being sad
Supposing I'm allowed to buy this for myself
Supposing it is alright to not do this, or that
Supposing it is ok just to be myself
Supposing I choose not to believe that
Supposing the sky wouldn't fall in if I..
If I choose to look at my worries and anxieties and sorrow in this way it seems to me I give myself options and open up new possibilities.
Have you chosen a word to guide and inspire you through this new year?
I found myself starting the day, and the year, with 30 minutes of yoga on a site I chanced upon and bookmarked ages ago.
The name of this first class is Ease Into It.
I like Adriene's chat. She says things like -
Keep it playful.
Make it your own here.
To each his own.
Drop into this moment for yourself.
A nice experience that feels good.
Be honest with yourself.
All rather good ways to start a yoga session, and to start a new year I thought.
May 2017 bring you good things!
Easy does it....
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out wild bells and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right.
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1850
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)