Flora #1 Ornamental Poppies

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The other evening I was walking with my family and spotted some ornamental poppies growing in the front garden of an empty property.  Years ago, I attempted to grow some. I have tried to grow so many types of poppies over the years with varying success and currently only have yellow Icelandic ones.  I once had deep purple ones which were very beautiful and kept some of the seeds.  So I never miss the opportunity to collect the pods once the flowers have shown us their beauty.

Since the flowers had finished, as I often do I took some of the seeds from the flowers so that I may transplant them into our own garden once again. The rest I will scatter in the garden on the hill and give to friends and family.  That’s the thing with poppy seeds, there are so many that there are plenty to go around.

I took this particular photo when one once grew in our garden, it was a solitary red poppy. As though it was growing in memory of someone special, I hope that there will be many more, since we have lost many special people.

O Grande Amor, the song of stress.

Stan Getz

I simply cannot explain it.  It’s bizarre but I had to listen to this fantastic album again yesterday to find out that this is the name of the song which I have noticed that I hum to myself in times of stress.  I had mistakenly thought it was another on the album, which I catch myself humming when things are getting all too much.  It starts off as an unconscious thing, but then I realise and it is like an old friend, immediately calming.

I first recall the regularity of humming it whilst walking through the corridors of the cardiac unit with my father, when he returned to see the consultant after having a heart bypass. But it has been with me far longer than that, occasionally I attempt to sing parts of it too.  I have owned the album for many years, since 1998 when I began to buy CD’s more often than cassette tapes. I have also found that after arguments it also mysteriously appears.

I have no idea as to the why?  I am unable to shed any light upon why of all the music I have heard over the years and grown up with, this is the one which returns and why there is one at all. Perhaps there is some deep seated reason I have yet to find out, but  I do love the song and I know that I love listening to Jazz music.

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – O Grande Amor

If you don’t ask….

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I am a firm believer of “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive” with some things, but torn slightly as there are other times when you just shouldn’t ask.  Generally though it has served me well over the years and worked on occasions where I have asked for a pay rise. If I have asked for someone’s help since I don’t make a habit of it, they are more inclined to assist me.  Of course I am happy to return the favour if at all possible and offer help in return.

This week, in practicing Gratitude for the good things which have been happening, even when they are few and far between.  I wanted to share with you all something that I am very grateful for.

As a keen recycler I have written about this previously in One Mans’ Waste is another Mans’ Treasure I do tend to search for items if there is something that I would really like, to see if it can be bought second hand or given freely if times are tough.  I don’t have a problem in having things which are pre-owned or preloved since they are often better made than new items.  I am also happy to donate to charity shops and buy from them as well as re-using what others may think of as waste items, so that as much as possible is kept out of landfill.

I have had a desire to get myself an old typewriter.  I wrote a while ago in  English Lessons, Touch Typing and Speed Tests about learning to type when I was at school and felt a little bit nostalgic about it. So I asked my father, since at the time when I studied, we had my grandmother’s typewriter.  I would have loved to have it and use it again and since I have not known him use it for years, he may want to pass on this heirloom. However he wasn’t ready to do that at this point and told me it has sentimental value and he is still using it.  It may be passed on to me one day, however in the meantime I thought I would search elsewhere.

So, a quick browse around the local charity shops proved fruitless although my partner asked them to call us if they get one in.  It really didn’t matter to me what it looked like, as long as it works.  But something vintage would suit my inspirational living and I do love old items. There is something about that Art Deco room in my imagination, where I can write wonderful stories at a big wooden desk, with old writing implements surrounded by beautiful things and peace and quiet.  I purchased an old ink well on the strength of that particular dream or goal. Alas at the moment we are lacking in space and it is resigned to the loft until I have this wonderful office one day.

My next stop was Freecyle where I have received some wonderful things in the past. So I posted a “Wanted” advert on there at the weekend.  Lo and behold, a rather nice email popped into my inbox on Monday from a lady, telling me that she had a portable typewriter which I could have.  I didn’t ask too many questions, just when I could pick it up and arranged this with her.  The thing about Freecycle is when you collect that you are not obliged to pay for it.  I feel that if someone is giving you something for free, then it is only fair that you show them a token, however small of your appreciation.  So I took her a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, when times are hard, you have to share what is available.  The lady asked what I wanted it for since she though that no-one uses them anymore. I told her that I wanted something to photograph and that I was in the process of writing a book and feel that it might bring inspiration in my moments of writing. It had been her Father’s, she was pleased that it would be used, but wasn’t sure if it still worked. I said that I would give it a clean up and if it didn’t then I would just photograph it.  I did not look into the box until I returned to my car, then sneaked a peak inside the dusty and slightly battered case which surrounded it.

On opening it, it took my breath away, I must admit that I squealed with excitement too at this point as my eyes met a possibly 1930’s Royal portable typewriter, a little dusty, but otherwise in good condition with a ribbon in place.  It is beautiful and I am feeling very lucky.  I cannot remove the smile from my face.

I found some paper and tried it out.  It all works perfectly, I sent the lady a message, letting her know and she sent one back and wishing me luck with my book.

If anyone had asked me what I could have hoped for in a typewriter, whilst living in a small space. I couldn’t have described it any better, this is one which I can put away, when not in use, but enjoy whenever I like.

Gratitude, Absolutely Yes.  I love it and I am thrilled with it. Share your Gratitude.

 

 

A Midsummer Night

The beautiful moon on Midsummer night
Watching as the clouds go on in flight,
Rushing under an enchanted full moon
Which passes us by all too soon.
I throw open the blinds and welcome the sight
To see the room bathed in its’ light.
Laying in a pool to feel its balm
Taking over that sense of calm.
Once in a lifetime. Gone too soon
As it’s beauty and light fills the room.
I’m so excited I cannot sleep,
Wondering what blessings we’ll reap
How our lives may change for the best,
And when I’ll enjoy peaceful rest.
So wrapped myself up in a blanket of white,
Watching their step as the angels alight.
They’ve come so far to visit me,
dancing around and setting me free.
As I tell them that I’m not ready to go,
Despite the battle of highs and low.
My work around here has only begun,
So I’m not content to skip and run.
Will they assist me as I prepare,
To cleanse and grow, my soul laid bare.
So as I watch the moon at its height.
Not thinking at all of my recent plight.
But of new things which may come our way,
As we dance headlong into the fray.
It is far better than counting sheep,
Watching the moon as you’re trying to sleep.
Watching the reflections starting to gleam,
A part of my own Midsummer Night’s dream
With her smiling down upon your face,
As you cherish living in this special place.
Laying awake and looking at stars,
Searching for planets, Jupiter, Mars.
There’s a wondrous world out there,
If you take just a moment to share
In the beauty that’s heaven sent.
As you watch the moons ascent.
The light is changing a new day has come,
As you drift into sleep with the rising sun.
It was a moment, so special and bright
Bathed by the moon on Midsummer night.

 

The Daily Post – Summer

Le Grand Plan

Le Grand Plan

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There is a language barrier, but it is my saving grace.
So that when I want to visit France, I’m able to save face.
I try to speak the lingo and do what can be done.
But when faltering in conversation, I’m inclined to run.
The actions of our countrymen, can lead to embarrassment.
But that’s not what takes me there, its not why I’ve been sent.
See, I am after something else, which is different from the rest.
It’s a place to call our own, and searching is my quest.
I will enjoy the culture, the cuisine and the wine
And when I’ve actually found it, we’ll settle in just fine.
Not sure if farm or mill house, will suit our big grand plan.
Or whether a small cottage, will house our little clan.
But it will have some land and lots of greenery.
Somewhere with peace and quiet, with great scenery.
The climate will be lovely, where warm breezes blow.
It will be a place, where we’re happy when we go.
Perhaps there’ll be a place, where we’re looking out to sea.
Surrounded by trees and pasture, where animals run free.
Or in some darkened forest, or a wooded glade.
I simply do not know what decision will be made.
When we’ve finally found it, I’ll definitely need a hand
Strong people there to build on, or work our fields and land.
Friends might come and stay with us, plenty of room there.
If there’s lots of space, maybe a cabin or two to share?
Will there be an old house, filled with grace and charm.
Or ramshackle sheds and buildings, on a forty acre farm?
Wherever this can take me, I’m glad where it began.
I’ll call this little journey, the start of “Le Grand Plan”
It has some ten years, in which to grow and fruit.
Now there’s just the family, to entice and recruit.
When up mountains and through lakes we follow all the trails,
I’m sure they’ll be with me as we figure out details.

 

Images: Location Photographs byIndiaBlue. Food from morguefile.com

The Library

IMG_2849A trip out to the Library was where it all began.
Imagination fired once more, mind running off again.
I looked at rows of books and piled some on the floor.
Hoped for peace and quiet, from ladies starting to jaw.
But I sat there and persisted, blocking out all other noise.
Although futile I resisted, children playing with the toys.
Wrapped up in a book or two, whilst they began to play.
There’s still a story to get lost, and while away the day.
Old books have been “Withdrawn” and are on sale by the door,
Pick a book not knowing, what it has in store.
Whether factual or a thriller, there’s so much there to choose.
A lover or a killer at only 20p, what have you got to lose?
Carpets torn and tattered, bookshelves empty and bare.
It’s hard to get excited, when there’s hardly any there.
But as you search among them and seize upon your choice,
You’ve finally seen one which matches your own voice.
There seems to be a moment, in which you dare to hope.
That when finding inspiration, there is always scope.
Take a moment get stuck in, spirited far away,
To other places far and wide, in corners of your day.
And as you are transported, off to another world,
You think of tales and they as they became unfurled.
What people are in there and their stories to be told,
Fact or fiction in this space, you’ll surely find pure gold.

This was inspired by my research trip to the library the other day. See In the name of Research, The Library and Books of Poetry  Photos: Morguefile.com

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The Home Made Dark Room

IMG_0034_v2The Homemade Dark Room.

Where we all had to go to the bathroom before we started, as no-one could use the toilet while we were all in there!

I was thirteen when I really noticeably got into Photography. At the time, my parents attended a church. They ran an award scheme for the children, it was a bit like after school clubs, or youth clubs for all the kids in the church. It was called the Kings Award Scheme and upon completion of the course, which was usually 4-6 weeks duration, for a couple of hours per week, you received a certificate.

Since such certificates of merit were not commonplace or even given out in our school. It gave me a real sense of achievement back then to be able to do something useful, and practical.  It also gave the people in the church with practical skills, the opportunity to teach them to the kids. It also meant that if someone wanted to have something done on their house, they were able to get it done by someone in the church and a team of kids for the price of materials and refreshments. It is the place where I learned to plaster a wall, lay and point bricks to build a barbeque and develop photographs and later Mum and Dad decided that they wanted to have a go too.

So that is how we decided to turn our family bathroom into a temporary Dark Room, in the evenings while my sister, who was a toddler at the time was sleeping upstairs, we trooped into the bathroom. You see we had to have somewhere with a water supply and there was way too much light in the kitchen. So ever the practical ones, we created this space. A bright orange gloss painted door was placed over the bath, this was now surplus to requirements and the only thing large enough to so that we could lay our trays of developing fluid on it and the wash. On the cupboard in the corner, we placed the photographic enlarger, and the plug for it went through an extension lead which went out under the door. We tried to cover all other light sources with a bath towel so that small shaft of light could not seep underneath spoiling our efforts. The final addition was a large blanket covering the window. We also had a torch, for when we needed some light, since the light switch was on the outside of the bathroom door.

We were limited in our prints, to black and white and I noticed that if each process was prolonged there were interesting effects upon the printed results. The negatives had been selected beforehand in a room with the lights on, so we knew which ones we wanted to do. But that is how we spent several evenings, the three of us cramped in the bathroom, whilst my sister was sleeping soundly for the night. I loved those developing sessions. The smell of chemicals was heavy in the air and probably encouraged at least some of our artistic outcomes, but it was a time when I was able to bond with both of my parents simultaneously and also have a physical memento from it.

It also gave us the opportunity to go through the slides, which were the only film my father used to take photographs on when I was a small child. There were a few cine films too of other family members. But save for the school photographs, all the childhood pictures from when I was a baby were on slides, which meant we rarely got to see them. Unless the slide projector came out for an evening, which was too much hassle. I remember one time they did get the projector out though and being absolutely mortified when in a room full of people suddenly I was confronted with an image of me as a two year old sitting in the car seat in the back of a Morris Minor, absolutely covered in chocolate. I asked what had happened. Mum explained that “Daddy had given me a 2 finger KitKat and was surprised as to just how far it had travelled on a sunny afternoon” He was taking the photo, when Mum asked me to give him a cuddle, so there I was ear to ear grin and arms outstretched to greet him. I was so embarrassed that the memory of that has stayed with me. It is quite an innocent image, so I cannot understand why. I was too young to remember the actual memory of that day.
Other than that I did enjoy the nights when either cine or slides were set up in the lounge, the slides would allow us a peek into the family history, people from the past and happy occasions, holidays, parties and relatives.
I have been trying to encourage my parents to allow me to borrow these, so that I can see them again. Show them to my partner who has never seen them. Unfortunately neither parent is particularly keen to assist with this. My aim is to get be able to photograph them as they appear on the projector, so that I can turn them into a family album that can be shared between us all in years to come. No-one else seems bothered to do it, or even bothered that they may never be seen again. I am the sentimental one of my siblings, the others have their moments, occasionally we share in a memory, my sister being several years younger than my brother and I, has slightly different memories as we were so grown up when she was still small.

Some of the past it would be nice to keep alive. It shouldn’t all be buried and forgotten, there were good bits.

In the name of Research, The Library and Books of Poetry

So since Today was a pretty grey day and I had some errands to run, I found myself walking past where I used to work years ago to visit the very unassuming library to do a bit of actual research, I was in a nearby town close to the family home.

Two things happened today, I ventured out to do stuff and in doing so, I put on a smart shirt, some perfume and some heels along with my jeans and a leather jacket, did hair and make up and felt like I had returned to the land of the living for the day. I refused to let the debilitating headache which has plagued for a week get the best of me today and now that the shakes have stopped (almost) I decided to get things done…

So having not got any answers as to how many poems in a book is a good idea. I thought I would flick through the shelves and look at the children and adult poetry sections there for inspiration or to at least figure that bit out.

I located one of the librarians who gave me directions to the bottom shelf, where I was faced with the grand sum of less than 2ft of one shelf with poetry books.  Hmm, I thought nervously, (and more than a little hopefully) maybe poetry is such a great thing that all the books are out.  Alas no, this was all they had, I hoped that my choice of genre was not a bad one after all.  That is not really going to light up my life is it, about 20 books!  Dismayed I sat cross legged on the floor, I opened the first book, the rough carpet under me since there was no sign of a comfy chair on which to sit and I was not going to be emptying the meagre shelf just for a look. I hoped that no-one would tread on me in their stampede on their way past to the craft afternoon which was just about to start and rather wished I had made the journey to the other old library, where I used to go as a child after all. Now that was all that you want a library to be. It was beautiful old building with solid wooden panels and shelves and you could lose several hours there with a good book looking out over some lovely gardens. Or perhaps the one in the nearest town to me, which is huge and has regular exhibitions and lots of seating.  But there I was for a a short time transported back to a world which reminded me that I love reading and if the floor is the only place to sit, it really didn’t matter.

I picked up the first book, which was a collection of the poetry that used to be on the underground. I was quite surprised that the book was over 300 pages deep, but then had large widely spaced text, small poems, one to a page or more and lots of chapter pages too, so a lot of that was information and credits.  There were over 100 poems though.  So if I am going to follow that route then I will need to write a few more and include all the ones I have already written.  

I picked up another book, of Love poems the contents slightly less at just under 200 pages, with about 20 of them being allocated to indexing and notes.

I found a few which only had 30-40 poems in them and some of them were also very short so it seems that there is a whole host of ways to go.

The things I noticed from my little bit of research about this is;

All the books listed the poems, in the index by the first line of the poem. 

Only some of them listed the poems by name.

They were not split into subject matter.

They were randomly included in each book.

Most had less than 180 pages including the indexes and afterward.

Almost anything goes…

So it seems that although there are no hard and fast rules about which way to go, for any of you who like me, are on the route to your first book of poetry, I hope this little list helps you out.

What struck me though was the bizarre mixture of poetry which jumped off the page and stuck in my head as I left there.  Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Roald Dahl, Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou and The Tyger by William Blake, all so vastly different.

I may have to visit the other libraries anyway all in the name of research of course! to see what else I can find out. I feel my research is incomplete, plus it will give me the opportunity to read a few more books and see what exhibitions are happening locally. Now who could pass up an opportunity like that.  Plus, I enjoy the silence with which to read, it makes the memories last so much longer without distractions. The silence was definitely missing in today’s library, there was noise and bustle and things going on, along with a loud conversation between the librarians about recycling and composting bags and how many of them they are selling at the moment.  Perhaps I am recalling times gone by, a flashback to the past, when libraries were a place for peace and quiet.  Perhaps it was that this was a small community library that they were holding events in the midst of it, so should I be seeking that serenity elsewhere?