Mothers' Day, sunshine and changing the clocks forward here in UK.
I hope you had a happy day too.
Opening all the windows in the morning makes me feel more alive.
If it's cold or wet it may just be for a few moments.
On really hot summer days (we do get them occasionally!) the doors may stay open too.
I love that.
(Taking photographs for the blog makes me feel alive!)
What makes you feel alive in the morning?
Make Friends With iPeople Who Want The Best For You.
I am so lucky in this regard! I am surrounded by people who want the best for me, as I want the best for them.
This chapter in Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life is partly autobiographical. Under headings such as The Old Hometown, My Friend Chris and His Cousin and Teenage Wasteland he lists the many heartbreaking reasons why some people become hopeless, helpless delinquent or even suicidal. He also lists - and this is as hard to hear - the reasons why we can't neccesarily help them until or unless they truly want help (which can be hard to judge). Under Rescuing The Damned he suggests our reasons for wanting to help may not always be virtuous.
How dare I cast aspertions on the motives of those who are trying to help?' he says. But he does dare, and I am glad he does. It's what makes him interesting to read. He challenges a lot of our assumptions!
If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn't recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friendship for yourself?
Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to help someone who is making the world a worse place.
I wonder if you have enough friends who support you, if maybe you can 'carry' one or two who take a lot more than they can give, but not, if as sometimes happens, they want to pull you down with them. Of course I am considering people who are not at the extremes of hopelessness and despair. As a clinical psychologist Peterson has long experience with those who are.
Have some humility. Use your judgement, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.
If you want food for thought this book will certainly provide it, and with references from Dostoevsky to The Bible to The Simpsons it can be entertaining too.
What do you think of rule three?
..in the greenhouse.
The New Zealand seeds are an orange cosmos.
When as often happens, I have so many things to do I don't know where to start I sometimes list them all and do just 10 minutes on each. This was my list for today in the garden.
transplant forget me nots
plant out foxgloves
set up the propagator
sow seeds of ox eye daisies
clean up greenhouse
That took an hour by which time I felt I'd made a surprising amount of progress on all fronts and knew what I wanted to concentrate on most. It was really springlike and a chaffinch sang his little heart out all the time I was working.
I'm looking forward to the gardening season again.
My scones turned out like biscuits and my biscuits turned out like scones! Only just edible.
With a disastrous attempt at pastry too not so long ago I am losing confidence fast. I used to be pretty good at baking! Do you think that you can just - for no obvious reason - lose the knack?
I may just give up. .
I need a Plan B.
I forgot to be enchanted the other day! Imagine that. (Enchantment is my word for 2019.)
As I stood next to the Golden Gates in the Botanic Gardens my mind was on the controversy over the cost of the restoration, the fact that it was too dark to get a good photograph, and how some of the gilding was (already?) coming off. Questions over the ethics of how Duncan made his money lurked uncharitably in the back of my mind. It was only after I got home that I began to think of the story of their making and about the incongruity of the setting as rather a romantic idea.
They were commissioned by merchant, philanthropist and art collector James Duncan, who unusually for the time the guidebook tells me, opened his art collection to the public. The wrought iron gates were made in Berlin and exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, as were some of his large art collection which included work by Caravaggio, Corot, Boudin, Rousseau, Renoir and the Impressionists.
I wonder what gave him the idea. The place is quite remote, the landscape dramatic and somewhat bleak in an Arthur Rackham kind of a way. (Duncan also had a house in London.) The telephone had just been patented, the phonograph invented and electric street lighting was being installed in London. The Bicycle Touring Club was established in England. It was the time of Ruskin and Ibsen, Zola, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens,
Apart from the obvious status of golden gates in the wild wood I wonder if there was also a touch of fantasy, whimsy and romance about the decision to have them made and installed. Benmore House itself has something of the fairy tale about it with turrets and pinnacles..
Next time I visit I will look with a less jaundiced view! I was after all supposed to be out to enjoy myself...
Have you tried a final rinse in cold water when you wash your hair?
That really makes me feel alive!
I am so touched and encouraged by your kind comments yesterday I think I'll take aim for ten years!
These Golden Gates are at Benmore Botanic Gardens where we managed a short walk today between heavy showers and cold gusts of wind. They were exhibited at the Paris exhibition of 1878. It must have been a magical experience to drive through the forest and the wild landscape in a horse and carriage and arrive via this entrance to Benmore House.
The ninth anniversary of Live Simply Simply Live.
Looking back I see I have only remembered it twice before! (Here and here.)
How remiss of me.
I had lots of ideas for an anniversary post, but came down to this - a focus on the Simply Live part of the title. I am asking myself some questions....
When do I feel most alive?
What makes me feel fully alive?
When did I last feel like this? -
And I am drinking a toast tonight to everyone who reads this blog and makes it one of the favourite things in my life.
To you with love. x
..at your comments on yesterday's post! (Especially Lotta's.)
However I had an idea...
I made my own version with things I already had.
I could have used a much bigger bag (this is the duvet ready to go to the laundry) but since I plan to just write things on bits of paper I decided the small version would do.
I am dealing with money matters right now.
It makes me anxious.
What is the emotional baggage that is keeping me back?
It's the fact that my Dad became bankrupt when I was about 12 years old.
I am going to write that fact on a piece of paper, put in the bag, hang it on a hook and see what it's like to do the necessary financial business without it!
What will you put in your bag? (No need to go into full confessional mode here if you don't want to - though feel free...)
.. flowers for cutting..
Even tiny pickings are lovely. I had to creep into corners to find these little gems.
The dainty blossom from prunus 'Kojo-no-mai 'doesn't provide much for picking but if the weather is poor and I feel I am not seeing much of it's short lived blossoms I sometimes pick a tiny bit to put in a jar on the bedside table.
The bold and handsome foliage of viburnum 'Davidii' is uselful all year - the pink buds are followed by white flowers then blue berries and a spray looks very fine in a jar on its own.
I have daffodils for quite a long time. Topolino and Tete A Tete, then February Gold, then Jenny, then Thalia (still to come) with some others I don't know the names of which were here when I came.
A simple pleasure.
At times of stress or shock self care can be as simple as reading a book to take your mind off things for a spell. I find the domestic things can be a great comfort. Thus Italian spinach and ricotta rolls....
I've had this book for years and only used it once. I don't bake often but decided that when I did it had to be something special, something worth the effort and I love the idea of Italian cafe culture - the whole image of small amounts of really good quality food, time out, a glass of wine or decent coffee (bacari in Venice) - savouring it, which is why this book survived various culls.
So, cleaned my small kitchen, made it pretty, made space to work, prepared the ingredients.
450 grams of spinach? This is 200 grams which was what I had and which turned out to be way to much! You have to keep your wits about you with a new recipe book..
(Bought pastry because my last attempt at pastry making was a disaster.)
Some for now - it was warm enough to eat outside - and some to freeze.
a couple of Maori words to my New Zealand book.
Kia kaha means I beleive be strong, keep going.
I am also reminding myself that the negative words don't negate all the positive words - they still stand.
Snow on and off all day meant staying at home, with coffee and a book. I am enjoying William Maxwell's writing in The Chateau. Perceptive, reminding me rather of Henry James. he evokes post war France in a way that has me reading a few pages, then doing something else (emptying a drawer of the freezer. baking Italian pastries) while thinking about the book, then going back to read some more.
have to be added to my little New Zealand souvenir book.
Shock. Disbelief. Dismay. Grief.
Still blowing a wintry gale here! Cleaning the bathroom this morning I took down the snow picture and the red comb and towels and put up my all-time favourite card with some zingy towels and yellow bits and pieces..
Will you be making a little change somewhere in anticipation of the new season?
I did the cleaning with a little extra care and attention, mindful of all your interesting writings on yesterday's post...cherishing the space. Feeling gratitude.
..for being so generous in sharing your ideas here and making this blog a conversation instead of a monologue!
With your help I have come up with an idea for my tiny book. Several of you mentioned how the photographs from my New Zealand adventure made you feel. (Happy mostly! Me too!).
As I look over and organise and edit my photographs of the trip I will pause and consider what feelings arise from each one and put the word(s) on a page in the tiny book.
A couple of photographs in particular interest me, and puzzle me a bit because I can't quite put my finger on the feeling that arose when I was there and that I remember as I look at the photographs..
On the way back from Abel Tasman we stopped at this vineyard for a drink. Something about this interior attracted me - I could have spent hours there. It was very simply furnished and decorated - nothing showy, but done to a nice standard and with care. I loved how cool it was and the way the sunlight came in. I loved the grand piano and the one large painting. I loved how very clean it was. It looked and felt totally right. I would not have changed a thing. it felt cherished. And I still find it hard to say how that made me feel. Content. Completely at ease, at home. It was as if I too was cherished just being in that space.
Have you ever been in a space that has made you feel like this? Sometimes an old fashioned library gave me this feeling, or the simple country church in Lincolnshire which we chanced upon once. I got it last night in the candlelight (see yesterday's post).
A feeling that all is well with the world.
What if we tuned out the outer (media) world more often and created this feeling for ourselves in our homes?
I've had summer, spring and winter, in that order over the last three weeks.
A hearty lunch on the porch today (am eating up the mystery packages in the freezer!). The sun was hot on my face and I didn't need the big scarf and used it as a cushion. The spinach blew away in a sudden cold gust of wind.
I took these to show you just how really tiny the book is....
I filled the first page with kisses. :-)
..and some souvenirs.
The favourite sandals I took with me to New Zealand literally fell apart when I got there - they looked fine on top but great lumps of sole fell off around the flat and we wondered what all these bits were...I found a lovely pair of shoes in a sale in the nice (air conditioned) department store Ballantynes. I just know I'm going to love these.
I could have spent a lot in the beautiful Art Gallery shop but just bought this little bit of silly decoration because the colours are so lovely..
And I could not resist this tiny tiny notebook though I don't know what I am going to put in it.
I am reading one chapter a month of Jordan Peterson's best selling book 12 Rules for Life (see previous posts here and here).
Peterson has become a controversial figure but I am ignoring the media hysteria and the political name-calling and focussing only on what he has to say in the book, which intrigues me as his rules are somewhat unusual!
I considered Rule One was a reasonable rule to follow, but what about Rule Two - Treat yourself as you would treat someone you were responsible for helping?
It seems we are likely to look after our pets more carefully than we look after ourselves and Peterson asks why this should be so. Chapter Two is long and interesting, and I read it several times (cutting out the pages to save weight and take them with me to New Zealand). He looks to our conditioning by some of the oldest stories - original sin and other stories from the bible which has after all provided the best known 10 Rules for Life in the Christian world for a very long time - to try to understand why we should feel so unworthy of proper self care, (sinners that we all are!). I am interested too in the way he describes navigating a path between order and chaos in our lives as the way to give them meaning. We value ourselves more if our lives have meaning he says. He also says we each have the spark of the divine in us. 'So, we may not exactly be God, but we're not nothing either' .
I think self-care is often looked on as selfish. I am not talking about pampering and indulgent treats here, I am talking about serious mental and physical health issues (we all know which are ours). I grew up with the idea that truly good people put themselves last, but not to care for ourselves is selfish if it increases the likelihood of others having to look after us - partners, family or the state - a burden I wouldn't want to impose. I may not be able to avoid that, but I am able to reduce the chance of it by taking responsibility for my own health and wellbeing - a lovely project I have decided!
So, yes, I am happy to adopt Rule Two.
The title of Chapter Two Why Don't You Just Take Your Damn Pills made me laugh out loud. The man does I think have a sense of humour.
Do you think this 'rule' is useful guidance on how to live your life?
I find writing here about my trip is a wonderful way for me to record and process some of the experiences I had, so I am still on about New Zealand!
Murals abound in Christchurch. You can do a walking tour of them and I rather wish I had done it. I didn't look at the website Watchthisspace until after I came home - there are some interesting interviews with artists about official urban art and illegal art, the careers of the artists and the 'gentrification' when developers make use of the murals as a selling point for new urban dwellings....(the dynamics of rebels being subsumed by the Establishment has always intrigued me).
I just had to cross the road to see the rest - it says I always knew you would come back.
My artist friend, living in Christchurch, has been making art based on her experiences walking around the city. See at Lynne Cameron Artworks.
Meanwhile back home, although snow is forecast, Spring is coming,,,,
Is it coming your way too?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)