What season is it where you are?
..in a day!
In the sitting room it is summer - I picked these cosmos this morning.
It's autumn in the greenhouse.
It was like a winter's storm on the beach this afternoon, with tons of seaweed washed up.
And this primula at Benmore Botanic Gardens thinks it's spring!
What season is it where you are?
Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Rain: Two
If you watched the video about the work of Saul Leiter on yesterday's post you will see the influence already! I have watched the trailer about six times and am very tempted to buy the DVD.
Instead of waking up, looking out of the window and groaning because it is raining, I think instead 'I wonder how I can photograph the rain today?' - and it does get me out of the door, which is good...
Today's rain is so fine you cannot see it or hear it. You can feel it, just, on your skin, and see how it has collected on surfaces like the glass of the greenhouse.
In Scotland we call it smirr. See here for a lovely explanation.
Saul Leiter says he is the kind of person who 'likes to postpone things', and in the city yesterday I saw this sign -
Procaffeination - the tendency to put things off until you've had a cup of coffee.
The city today seemed to be full of angry people! Remonstrating, finger wagging, shouting, swearing, complaining (about the delay as a blind person got on the bus...)
This little video came as a nice antidote. It's called In No Great Hurry and is the trailer for a film called Thirteen Lessons In Life With Saul Leiter. That number again.
A big thank you to Julia for the link to Seeing Fresh which is about 'contemplative photography' and which is where I found the video.
If you like going out with your camera in your hand you will enjoy this - such a laid back approach, and such photographs! Brilliant compositions and painterly colour.
You may have noticed in the last few posts a new theme emerging.
And the orient.
And today someone asked me to paint a dark painting....not something I am known for.
I am intrigued.
Where will it all lead I wonder.
Julia mentions thinking up a Thirteen Ways project. What would yours be?
Thirteen Ways to .............................................................................................................................
..of looking at rain. (See yesterday's post.)
Against all odds I got one or two reasonable pictures at Benmore yesterday!
I am a very hit-and-miss photographer anyway (I only show you the 'hits' if I can call them that..) In lashing rain I set the camera to automatic and quickly snapped away - no umbrella and I was worried about the camera getting wet...
So Thirteen Ways of Looking At Rain: One is looking at the fuzzy effect of heavy Scottish rain on a pond, out of focus in more ways than one, and rushing to get to the cafe for some lunch! Not quite the meditative mood I thought this series might have - but I have only just started. I can see I will have to give a lot more thought to it, and sharpen up my photography skills before I present you with Two.
And is it raining where you are?
'If light is scarce, then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty.'
I am loving this short book, an essay on aesthetics, and an insight into the Oriental way of looking at darkness. It was written in 1933.
Instead of dreading the darker months - today has been a day of low light, gusting winds and lashing rain - I shall try to see the beauty in them....
It was evening all afternoon begins one verse of a poem by Wallace Stevens with the enchanting title of Thirteen Ways Of looking At A Blackbird
I think I shall try a photographic essay called Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Rain!
Watch this space..
..or Daylight Robbery?
I have to say I am less than thrilled that here in UK we change the clocks back tonight. I also have to confess that I've never really understood the reasoning behind it, but every year there are debates about whether or not it is a Good Idea.
Daylight and sunlight do make me happy!
You may like to browse the four thousand three hundred and fifty six quotes on happiness at Goodreads.com or read Leo Babauta's current post or consider the Bhutanese GHI (General Happiness Index)..or just share which simple things make you happy....
Coloured candles on dark nights make me happy.
about happiness, contentment and feeling good about yourself and your life.
I read somewhere about the idea that if you decide what it is you want to feel in a situation - relaxed, say, or confident, or happy - you then ask yourself what kind of thoughts create those feelings for you. You can choose to think those kind of thoughts and that way create the feeling. I find it works sometimes! I can feel better even though nothing external has changed.
How useful if you are preparing for an interview, or a social occasion that you find difficult..
But I also love that good feelings can just suddenly come upon you.
I recently quoted poet Mary Oliver -
'If you suddenly and unexpectedly (my italics) feel joy, don't hesitate. Give into it.'
'Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue' said Viktor Frankl whose book Man's Search for Meaning I have yet to find the courage to read.
There's a lifetime's study here....
Did you manage to Get Up Happy? (see yesterday's post).
Arlene Francis clearly thinks being happy is a choice.
Others believe happiness is a skill.
I tend to think that given my advantages, happiness might even be an obligation! It would be positively churlish not to be happy.
What do you think?
(It goes without saying that we're not talking about clinical depression when suggesting that happiness is a choice..)
Advice from Arlene Francis -
'Get Up Happy! Every day by some quirk of nature happens to be a new one. If you wreck it at the start, you've already set yourself back, and may never recover.'
I have a line of poetry going round and round in my head, in the same way that sometimes happens with a tune. I came across it in Hermione Lee's tome of a biography of Penelope Fitzgerald.
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.
It was translated by William Johnson Cory from a eulogy by the Greeek poet Callimachus (310BC-240BC) who also wrote A big book is a big misfortune ! (I did enjoy the book but felt it was much too long, including as it did a thorough analysis of every book written by Fitzgerald and reviews by Fitzgerald of other authors' books..)
It is the rhythm of the line that appeals to me as well as the drama of the statement, and about the same time as I read it I came across this which I had copied down on a scrap of paper -
'One more iambic pentameter and you're history' whispered the deputy librarian.
which struck me as very funny, and even funnier when I looked up the source and found the cartoon. See here.
Here is the first verse - not in iambic pentameter - I had to go and look that up too! Isn't the internet wonderful?
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to bear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
Now it will be in your head too!
More about the poem here.
I seem to be veering from the sublime to the ridiculous lately.
I think it's the weather.
-of nothing much. Except that I've had this image in a file for ages, and I just love it!
I wonder who she is texting?
Should you find yourself on the McGills 907 bus as it sits in Port Glasgow with the engine idling, between 18.06 and 18.11 of an evening, look skywards! The most wonderful moving cloud of swarming starlings swoops over the town. I wanted to shout to all the sleepy going home commuters on the bus 'Look, look! Are you watching?' (but I didn't..) This 4 minute display will mesmerise you.
Isn't nature astonishing?
..several things at once. Do you do this?
Ploughing my way through Hermione Lee's biography of Penelope Fitzgerald. (Loving the way the glass top of my new desk reflects the sky into the room.)
I could give you a quote I love from almost any page of Swan by poet Mary Oliver -
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate. Give into it.
Dipping into the journals of Delacroix. Interesting, though not as much about his painting as I had hoped.
Delighting in a re-read of Tove Jansson's The Summer Book. Must get The Winter Book.
Laughing out loud at this 'all-too-human, funny and poignant tale'. Unflinchingly honest account by a natural story teller. Published in Canada (and sent to me by Julia - thank you!) it is well worth reading if you can find it..
And did you know that Sylvia Plath could draw?
Well, maybe not forever..
If you have picked out your favourite outfit from your clothes and analysed it (see yesterday's post) now you simply need to replicate it.
I know what suits me, what I feel comfortable and confident in and am now asking myself -
Do I have a dressier version of this/a warm enough version/a different coloured version/a smarter version? - whatever my/your lifestyle requires.
This is a good time to make a needs/wants list to take with you when you go shopping.
Phew! My brain is hurting a bit but I think it's been worth it, and I won't have that wedding experience again ever (see here).
Which makes me ask myself what might the wedding or party version of my look be? Narrow silk trousers, silk top, cropped dressier jacket and coloured shoes with a heel? I have three of those items already so might add narrow silk trousers to my shopping list....
Now of course you might say 'but fashions change'. They do, but fashion is about trends and novelty, whereas style is about your personality and about self expression, and your style could be tweaked a little over the years as fashions change....
Tomorrow I will change the subject - promise!
.. now apply brain!
Here is my (current) favourite outfit -
Everyday clothes - nothing very out of the ordinary - but I feel good in it, I feel myself in these clothes, these colours and these proportions. I think they suit me. They are my 'look'.
Applying my rather tired brain (decision making fatigue?) I analysed the outfit -
narrow trousers (jeggings)
standard length T shirt,
short cropped jumper
All in a similar colour range, close in tone, ie not too much contrast to divide up my five foot frame, one pattern maximum. I think proportions are often overlooked - narrow/wide, long/short. Look at the silhouette.
My friend's look is -
short pretty cardigan with three quarter length sleeves
thin patterned scarf
She can put several patterns together successfully, likes skirts with a swirl or seam detail or diagonal cut, and always wears several bracelets. (And always looks lovely.)
What is your look?
I expect you can see where I'm going with this....
My wardrobe and me! (See recent posts under Simply Stylish and Simply Eat)
My posts have been very wordy of late so, simpler today...
Out of my slimmed down wardrobe I've picked out my favourite things
And from these I'm going to pick my very favourite outfit.
Then, I'm going to apply brain!
Meanwhile creating some autumnal still lifes as I move things around in the house..do you change things as the season changes?
EXTRA! EXTRA! A four minute video on why you should spend some time reading today! (Thanks Julia.)
Still clearing! So far we've removed things that don't fit, things that are the wrong season and things that needed fixing (I hope your cupboard isn't bare).
Two more passes and you will have a wardrobe with only things that you can wear and like to wear!
First pass isn't too hard - anything that's just worn out. Stretched necklines or cuffs, baggy elbows, saggy knees or bottoms, bobbled fabric (pet hate of mine - no more acrylic for me..). Let it go! You've had your moneysworth - no need to get the last gasp out of everything. No need to relegate it to gardening/painting either if you've already got plenty in that category like me. Recycle bin.
Take a good look at what's left. And ask if there is anything in there you simply dislike.
This is a hard one for me. I think - but it's perfectly good/I paid good money for it/it was a present from..../so and so made it for me/it's too wasteful to get rid of it, and so on, and on.
Then I remember the reason for this clearout is to have only things I really like to wear.
I can - Keep it as a memento (just not in the wardrobe)
Pass it on to someone I think would want it
I forgive myself and move on.
Feels even better if you can donate it where it's useful. Here are some links to charities which can make really good use of your quality items. The first two help outfit people who are going to job interviews, and the last is a very efficient service to make it as easy as possible for you to donate to a whole range of charites. I'm sure other countries will have equivalent sites.
..as I sort my wardrobe for the new season.
Have you noticed I have stuck with one category - Simply Stylish - for six posts in a row? Amazing for a grasshopper brain like me!
If you are sorting your wardrobe along with me, the next step (last but one before the fun bit!) is to take a few minutes and remove anything that needs fixing before you can wear it. ie anything -
missing a button
needing shortened/lengthened/otherwise altered
The options once you've removed it are -
fix it now
fix it later
get someone else to fix it
get rid of it (donate/recycle....)
To take a walk in the Botanic Gardens click here..
The next step..is easy! Go to your wardrobe and remove anything you won't wear till next summer (or winter if you live in the southern hemisphere).
Here in UK, unless you are planning a sunshine holiday this winter (I wish!) put all the summer clothes in a bag or box clearly labelled and put it somewhere out of the way.
In our very variable climate layering clothes is almost essential so some summer items can be worn all year round under an extra layer.
You might take this opportunity to do some weeding out, or you could just put them all away and make those decisions next summer. It depends on how you're feeling, how much time you've got and maybe on how much extra storage space you've got.
But now you have more space in your wardrobe/cupboard/drawers.
Just two more sleeps till you have a wardrobe with only things you can wear!
Have you time today to go to your wardrobe and take out anything which doesn't fit you?
Warning - this will probably bring up uncomfortable feelings! Guilt at the wasted money/shame at the diet failures/anxiety at the unwanted, univestigated weight loss/anger that you're not as well organised as you want to be.....(add your own).
The key to doing this without angst is Forgive Yourself. If you were with your best friend as she was doing this would you berate her and give her a hard time?
Be kind to yourself.
You made some mistakes along the wardrobe way. We all do! And beating yourself up about it isn't going to help. Neither is looking at them every time you open the wardrobe door, or the drawer or the cupboard shelf!
So, lets try to get some perspective on this, get rid of the things you can't wear, and make more space for the things you can wear and perhaps some replacements that do fit.
If you plan to lose or gain weight and you really like these items put them elsewhere - out of sight - labelled with a date a few months from now when you can review your decision. Nothing's set in stone! This is an ongoing process, and the more you practice the better you'll get at it. And the fewer mistakes you'll make.
More on how to get rid later, but remember the quickest, easiest way and a way which helps others is to give the good items to a charity to deal with.
Tomorrow - more space, more clarity - lovely!
I'm short on photographs in these Simply Stylish posts, but I hope you like the new header. It's a tree I haven't heard of before - Cladrastris kentuckea or Kentucky Yellowood - photographed today at Benmore Botanic Garden which is a beautiful half hour drive from home.
Two questions for you!
First question: What are your feelings when you open your wardrobe door and look at what's in there? Try it, and give yourself a minute to think..
Second question: What, exactly, would you like to feel when you open your wardrobe door? Take as long as you need to answer this one - two minutes, two days, two weeks....
Share your thoughts?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)