Do you say this when you see magpies in a tree?
An exciting and flawless performance by Scottish Opera on Wednesday evening in Glasgow's Theatre Royal.
Scroll down on this page for a tiny video snippet...
On the theme of self indulgence (!) I think I am greedy in my garden to have all the styles of gardens I love in one - which can of course lead to a mish-mash and a glorious guddle! (Which admittedly has it's charms.)
After my visit to Tatton Park in August I thought how Japanese style fitted with my aim of lower maintenance yet is, to me, exciting and aesthetically very pleasing, so the new gravel drive gave an opportunity to explore that.
My daughter has a corten steel bowl like this beside some low chairs by her back door and I am always struck by how calming it is - how zen-like- just water, filled to the brim.
Minimalist, beautifully proportioned (mine is a metre wide). and almost zero maintenance :-)
I had an acer in an old pot tucked in the garden border because I didn't really know what to do with it and I was getting frustrated at the slow delivery f the firebowl because I thought all the leaves would have fallen from the acer and I wouldn't be able to judge whether it was right for this spot or not. The moss which I had thought I should remove was actually an added bonus!
Elemental. The metal will rust to the colour of the acer leaves and I may look for somthing evergreen to put beside it for the winter when the acer leaves have fallen - a small pinus mugo, or a Wallichiana pine which I love but which grows too big but could be treated as a bonsai in a beautiful pot..
Good for the soul.
Do you have a fun project which absorbs you? Challenges you, but not too much - not enough to be stressful, but enugh to keep your mind engaged and away from everyday worries and the world's bad news for a spell?
If not, can you think of one? And perhaps share it here? Tiny or huge - Heather is learning to follow a knitting pattern, Lynne is having a whole new kitchen fitted, I am thinking how to reconcile my wish for a Japanese garden with a wildlife garden, an English flower garden, a naturalistic Scandinavian garden....
Sitting on the porch with a snuggly soft blanket and a cup of hot chocolate yesterday.
I reached for the old threadbare travel rug as it was a bit chilly to sit out, but felt the thickness and softness of this one under my hand - it was on top of the other in the cupboard. It seemed ridiculous to use this lovely bedroom blanket outside but I took it anyway, and found myself making hot chocolate instead of coffee.
The experience of sitting there was such a delight that I began wondering about my attidutde to self indulgence. Pampering was not a word in my vocabulary growing up. We were brought up to be hardy! I can remember as a very young child my Dad rubbing me down with a hard towel after swimming (or I should say being in tthe chilly water - I couldn't swim) and telling me it was good for me.
I had loving parents and we were never treated harshly, but we were not indulged either!
Maybe this is why it feels special.
So all this gorgeous 'hygge and the candles and cushions and throws and taking photographs of it all don't come naturally. I make a conscious decision to do these things in the knowledge that the small 'indulgences' and lovely photographs help me through the hard times. They don't make me soft, they make me strong. They make me grateful.
Snuggled on the porch for half and hour with the sun on my face, some gardening done (I have to 'earn' it of course!), listening to the robin and the wren, watching the light and the shadows change...
I can;t think of a reason.
..with my new garden feature....
After a number of delays and several phonecalls it arrived really early this morning before I was even dressed. I flung trousers and a jacket over my PJ's and spent the next few hours positioning it and filling and levelling it and deciding whether or not to put the acer beside it, all the while drinking lots of coffee and having some outdoor breakfast.
I had a fun time and quite forgot I hadn't got dressed properly....
Look what I found! A recent comment from Cathy prompted me to go out and look closely at the garden which I had thought was over for the season....
A rose bud, a sweet pea still stronly scented, even honeysuckle; these tiny pickings spark joy! They will only last a day or two but bring a little smile to my face.
If you have a garden do you still have flowers to pick? I know some English gardens are still full of colour and can go on into November or beyond.
If you watch the television programme Gardeners' World here in UK you will have seen where I live. They featured Benmore Botanic Gardens which is over the hill from me (half an hour by road).
With a 2 - 3 metre annual rainfall it is quite a challenging gardening environment!
Cranberry green tea with a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg and a couple of raisins and an almond dropped in. We were served spiced drinks like this in Stockholm one December.
I bought the Alessi coffee spoons at The Hepworth gallery lovely shop. Simple, with a nice weight to them and perfect for scooping out the juicy raisins and almond.
Simple pleasures for the darker months.
..but not in a good way!
Travelling a lot on public transport and having quite a sensitive nose, I feel assailed and almost overcome sometimes with the smells of all the chemicals we put on our bodies -
soap, bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, hair food (!? have just spotted an ad for this), hair spray, body spray, foot spray, aftershave, deodorant, perfume, make up, moisturiser, toothpaste, breath freshener, mouth wash, washing powder, fabric conditioner, dry cleaning fluids.....
I want to shout 'People! You do know that all this goes into your bloodstream don't you?'
But I don't.
Some pollution is self inflicted!
This morning when I came down to the sitting room the combined smells of lilies and quince were enchanting...
I am still enjoying EatTo Beat Disease (see this post) but it is such a tome that
I went through the index and listed all the foods recommended to help my eye condition (macular degeneration) and put the list in my purse to refer to when I am shopping.
Instead of listening to the news I put on some Mozart.
I photographed these flowers at the University of Glasgow last week and wore my winter coat for the first time today.
I loved hearing about what you are up to and what you are mad (in a good way) about.
I think I stalled in my review of Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life at Rule Six because it was the hardest to read (hardest in the sense of painful). It deals with suffering and malevolence.
Rule Six is Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World.
He quotes one of the Columbine High School killers who wrote;
The human race isn't worth fighting for, only worth killing. Give the Earth back to the animals. They deserve it infinitely more than we do. Nothing means anything anymore.
I thought when I read this of David Attenborough saying that human beings are A plague on the Earth. And of a man discussing how young men come to be radicalised - You are a young man seeking adventure. Do you want to stack shelves in Wolverhapton or be a Desert Warrior?
I admore people who are willing to bravely address the tragic aspects of life.
Around the time I was reading Rule Six I heard on Private Passions (my favourite programme on BBC Radio 3) barrister Sarah Langford. She is a defence lawyer representing criminals - from thieves to child abusers.
Articulate and honest, her insights into lives most of us can hardly imagine, were riveting, if painful to hear. She has written a book called In Your Defence.
I don't know if I could bear to read it.
In his very dense chapter, well worth reading, Peterson gives examples of people who emerge from terrible pasts and do good, not evil, and he ends with two pages of advice to those who think they may be heading to despair and nihilism.
I am full of gratitude to people who do difficult work with in Sarah Langford's words the mad, the bad, and the broken.
Rule Seven will be light relief!
If you can access it Private Passions with Sarah Langford can be heard here (and I loved her choice of music!)
..at how my body's defence systems actually work!
I am really enjoying this book. It's a big read, but not a difficult one.
The author describes how our body's five defence systems work to protect, heal and regenerate,
and explains how foods are now being tested in the same way as drugs to assess their effects on diseases.
It's specific and detailed (which accounts for the size of the book) and I am finding it fascinatng.
Along with Eat Right For Your sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson I am using it to refine my diet bit by bit adding more and more beautiful (normal and readily available) foods!
Another source of inspiration is the Blue Zones newsletter.
There is lots of good news out there on the health front. YouTube is a good place to start I would say.. you can listen to Dr William Li on Ted Talks and at medical conferences - it's all on there.
(I've not forgotten the 12 Rules For Life reviews....just got a bit behind!)
..and enjoying Autumn.
Some repair work and cleaning up under a new-this-year swallow nest, getting ready
for the first delivery of wood.
and swapping summer textiles for the winter ones
None of them new - just brought out of the cupboard and greeted like old friends!
i'm thinking now about stocking up with food. Home cooked meals in the freezer or at least the ingredients to make a good meal for guests, tins of beans to bulk up a stew or to have on toast for an emergency meal (ie when I've run out of food or am too tired to make anything). Covent Garden lovely soups freeze well and are only £1 in the supermarket just now, and I will make more of this easy recipe from my friend Lynne while there are still courgettes available
Cook courgettes, frozen peas and a good handful of mint in some stock till soft. Blend till smooth and drizzle with single cream or a tiny amount of truffle oil to serve.
Any other storecupboard ideas most welcome.
As you know I live a long way from the shops and sometimes I get lazy about shopping and put it off till I have run out of food...
Must do better!
I hope you are enjoying whatever season you are in where you are.
Unlike most of the country we have had a few clear and calm sunny days. So beautuful.
This is currently for sale. Fabulous position on the shores of Loch Long. The beach above is just below the house.
After the Immersive Van Gogh experience, today I was immersed in the wonderful music of pianist Edward jCohen at the University of Glasgow where he played an unusual programme - here is part of the description from the notes...
Today's recital consists of pieces that have been chosen to move seamlessly from one to the next, without pause. Movements of exotic 20th century works, alternate with gems from the Romantic era....
(Liszt, Mompou,Brahms,Rautavaara,Schumann,and Hovhaness. I didn't recognize a thing but it was utterly marvellous!)
As well as Salts Mill mentioned in yesterday's post, I visited for the first time Cartwright Hall with its very good Hockney Room, and The Hepworth in Wakefield which I loved.
The Hockney Gallery with its witty door! A good review of the artist's life and work. He is not a favourite artist of mine but I am a great admirer of his energy and commitment and think he has a lot of interesting things to say about art. I have a number of his books. He has done a lot for Yorkshire too.
Unusually for me I didn't take any photographs at The Hepworth but you can see images here aned here. I loved the architecture by Chipperfield and the way the building relates to the surroundings. There is a new garden, a very tempting shop and we had a delicious lunch in the restaurant. We went by train from York and there is a free bus from the station to the gallery in peak hours.
Rather special, and I will certainly visit it again. All these museums and galleries are free!
York City Art Gallery is no longer free sadly,(but worth a York Museum Trust season ticket - lots of concessions). Brilliant ceramics department.
Until Jan you can experience Immersive Van Gogh in St Mary's in Coppergate, York. I wasn't sure how I would like this digital animation of the works of Van Gogh - an artist whose work I do love - but if you lie back in your deck chair (!) and just give yourself up to it, it is quite enchanting.
One of the wonderful things about all these museums and galleries is that they are not crowded, you can go at your own pace and the quality of the work on show is often first rate.
Can you recommend any such galleries in your area?
that holiday high.
One of the highlights of my stay in York was a visit to Salts Mill in Saltaire. My favourite part has always been the Hockney Gallery on the ground floor.
The strong structure, big space, large jugs of headily scented lilies, displays of gorgeous books (some titles to put on my wish list) and art materials, and most of all the loud opera (the first time I was there Wagner was being played very loudly). All this and the energy of Hockney's work bouncing off the walls leaves me feeling exhilarated.
Remembering the feeling once I was back home it occured to me I can have lilies!
I can have music! (I checked with my neighbour today that I was not playing it too loudly!). Le Nozze Di Figaro is playing, loudly, as I write. I have beautiful books I have not looked at for ages and several blank notebooks and sketchbooks waiting to be used.
If you are remembering a good holiday feeling can you do anything to re-create the feeling now that you are home? I'd love to hear any ideas you have about this!
Continuing Life Lessons From Phoebe.
Lesson nine : play every day.
Never ignore a ball that comes your way.
And if all else fails just run fast all around the house, hurtle up and down the stairs, dive on and off the furniture leaping in the air and round and round in circles.
At least once a day, more if you feel like it.
Lesson ten : Just be yourself. This is maybe the best lesson of all. Phoebe is never anthing but just Phoebe.
Shall we just be ourselves and be content?
We are enough.
At least for today.
I became a copy-cat for a day or two so here is Lesson four from Phoebe : whenever you get up from sitting or lying down have a really really good s-t-r-e-t-c-h.
Lesson five : be sociable.
Pop through and see how the neiighbours are doing.
Yes, they're fine.
Lesson six : be curious.
Take a walk down the road for no particular reason.
I did, and found a lovely street market.
Lesson seven : take the time to watch the wildlife.
A small brown mouse was spotted here recently...
Lesson eight : ask for attention when you need it. Even if the person you want it from is rather busy and you have to remove her pen and walk all over her paper with wet paws! If you need a bit of affection now you need it right now!
I've been cat-sitting, and cat wathing and learning a few important things. We had an unexpectedly warm day and I watched Phoebe set out for a place in the sun, and with nothing urgent to do I copied her for a day. I lay on the grass in the sunshine and did absolutely nothing for an hour.
Lesson one : Lie in the sun when you get the chance.
Lesson two : eat when you feel like it
and stop when you've had enough.
Lesson three :when you decide to rest for a bit, wriggle and squirm about until you are in a completely comfortable position
then let go totally.
It seems that with practice you can learn to do this anywhere.
By the end of day one I was so relaxed!
More lessons tomorrow,,,,
I'm taking a blog break and leaving you with some recent magical Autumn moments. We have had some lovely days....I hope you have too!
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)