It’s mid summer -ish and after a lot of hard work, things bear fruit.
Working in a school support role, I admire, from a distance, the work that teachers and classroom staff do. They are at the sharp end (and occasionally blunt end) of education. I am told, and can see, the work is extremely rewarding, but I can also see it’s not for the faint hearted. It can be a challenging environment. I applaud everyone who takes up the classroom role. Keep up the good work. Good work produces good-ness.
After noticing the local allotments over the last year, I have been thinking about the growth and abundance that nature creates… life in fullness.
A lot of dedication hard work is put into these allotments.
Whatever we start with might grow to a certain extent. We can feed, nurture, train, guide, prune, cultivate… and… life bears fruit.
Life is what happens during the growing… What do we feed on? Where do we reach towards? Where do our roots hold? When do we rest, when do we stretch? What to control, when to let go…
…fruit is a consequence.
Our daily decisions and contemplations might be… how do we encourage or tend to the ‘growing’?
What fruit do we want in/for our world?
“A tree is known by its fruit; a person by their deeds. A good deed is never lost; those who sow courtesy reap friendship, and those who plant kindness gather love.” Basil
…plus, after good fruit, might come wine (or vinegar)!
Walking to Tesco recently the energy of people that passed by was tangible, almost sparking. A frisson of fractals. Alongside the swagger and the over-energetic boombox bravado of youth, wandered a war-torn veteran, a simple existence yet textured with age and toil – a lifetime of wisdom and wear. A lady in purple seemed excited, she seemed urgent to share a secret but was unsure where she was going. We were not to know, but the man on a bench is struggling with loss – it comes to us all. In the park, on a blanket in the hot summer sun, a spirit of sorcery enchants a young lady reading. A lad just out of jail is extremely happy yet anxious for support in what’s become an intoxicating world. A couple about to embark on a great adventure are singing “we’ll be in touch…” to everything they new. Wood-spirits dance. Energy pulses. The Tesco sign is blue and red. That man you see every now and then, what’s his story? We are all walking stories. Perhaps it’s worth realising this.
My mind is sometimes like a broken kaleidoscope… The room’s quiet… silence can really transport you can’t it? Occasionally I need a silent significance to focus my wondering.
If you’re of my age you can probably recall walking the shelves of a library, looking for that author, the writer of that book you read last year… ‘Fiction K-M’… The library, a cavernous space with nooks, crannies, and arches to other worlds. The room’s quiet, except for the “mummy, mummy…” appeals from a little one in the children’s section “look, look…” (something about a bear and a mouse in New York).
You’re looking for a new read/story. A multitude of spines are stacked tight, but although last year’s book was a great read, you cannot recall the author’s name. Where might you find a new read ? Where might a new read take you?
I was recently roaming the shelves of an online book store looking for another read. I’ve read a few books recently that sparked the synapses; exciting, delighting and warming the cockles of my random access mind. Is it addictive?
The scientific benefits of reading fiction are well documented. Reading fiction provides mental stimulation, helps with memory, vocabulary, and focus. Identifying with characters can help develop empathy and emotional intelligence.
So, looking at what’s popular on ‘the shelves’, we’re offered a lot of exciting or uplifting ‘escapism’… do we need to escape? Well perhaps we could do with less despair, less pretension, less negativity, but do we need to escape these things to celebrate the good in life?
When entertaining supposed ‘fictions’, stories, characters and visions, I don’t think we are escaping. I think we are augmenting our reality with a virtual reality that amplifies, celebrates and realises what we might have. If you want to amplify the darkness, that’s your choice, but I think focusing our kaleidoscope through reading people’s stories might help us share the sparkles of light that visit our ‘Guest House’. A frisson of fractals, the contrast between the shadows, the harmony behind the complexity, helping us to see beauty in and around us.
I heard a colleague recently “I’ve not read a novel for ages… since school”… It made me wonder, who’s missing out? I guess they’ve no need for a kaleidoscope.
Is reading a substitute reality, or is it part of our mind’s kaleidoscopic RAM?
The word ‘kaleidoscope’, created in the early 1800s, is derived from the Ancient Greek words ‘kalos’ (beauty), ‘eidos’ (that which is seen) and ‘skopeō’ (to look/examine), combined as ‘observation of the beautiful’… even outside of Tesco.
I like to make a note of stuff that sparks my synapses, and here is where I occasionally share my rough thoughts.
I was cycling home the other day and found myself listening to ‘All in the Mind’ on BBC Radio Four. Among other things, it featured an emotional story about a girl who nominated her head of year at sixth form college for an award after she helped the teenager through a severe depression, and in her words ‘saved her life’. It perhaps highlights the importance of a kind word of support and genuine relation, cooperation, honest contribution. Worth a listen.
I guess it brings me back again to my favourite quote from my degree studies…
Interaction with things (or others) requires space and time. It requires primarily acceptance or awareness, not blind engagement, interaction starts with an honest response to stimulus.
With thoughts about interaction I listened twice when Laufey commented recently “There’s nothing like leaning on each other for support, and that’s what vocal harmony is all about”
Vocal harmony – Harmony; agreement, accord, a pleasing relation or combination…
I am reminded of the 10 years I spent singing with the choir ‘Global Harmony’ from Melton Mowbray. Singing with other people is a privilege. As I have said before, it’s not all about the performance, it’s about the act of singing, together. The whole thing’s bigger than the sum of its parts.
Harmony is about being in the mix, with things (or others). It requires space and time. It requires awareness and an honest response to where we find ourselves. It requires us to care, and perhaps it requires kind words.
These recent thoughts may have been coloured by my recent reading of three books by Mike Gayle. I find recommending of books an odd thing because I feel we require different things at different times but if your library angel agrees take a look at the kind words of Mike Gayle’s:
From the moment we wake up*, daily, we are presented with characters and situations that we try to understand and engage with. Images breed Assumptions that in turn create Motives. IAM
From what we perceive, we translate our world in our minds. We reinforce images in our minds, ‘reading‘ the suggested significations… It can all become so real!
*Some may experience this in our sleep also?
I’ve never been a great reader, but over the years I have enjoyed reading more and more. What is it that the act of reading does? It can be enchanting, intoxicating, addictive and compulsive!
When reading, we are presented with characters and situations that we identify and engage with. We actually imagine new worlds in our minds. We create images in our minds from the suggested words on the pages… It can all become so real!
I have written here before about the benefits of reading: Reading helps reduce stress: Get lost in a good novel and take time out of your hectic lifestyle to unwind. Reading boosts empathy: Fiction can simulate real-world problems and therefore has real consequences for the reader. Reading boosts vocabulary: What better way to discover new words? Reading for pleasure… helps to improve skills at the same time as increasing enjoyment, self-confidence, motivation and a sense of achievement.
Of course, as a visual artist I am continually playing with visual signification, I can’t help myself.
Despite what we may think we know and subscribe to, ‘the surface’ is often all there is. The surface is ripe for images, assumptions and motives. We can be here today and gone tomorrow. Unless we strengthen our understanding, reinforce it, empower it, make it engaging, memorable, true and honest, ‘the surface’ is often all there is. Even God said “I am who I am” to Moses (Exodus 3:14)
A picture is worth a thousand words… it’s an old chestnut of a phrase, but it’s very true! An image can be worth a thousand words, for good or ill!
In my daily work, I often get people asking “can I have some paper?”, “a few sheets”, “a pile of card” … When consulted about how much people actually require, they are often unsure. We then move on to what size and colour?
People often do not know what they want, and expect me to know what the person who asked them to ask for something wants. It’s a spooky thing! Believe it or not, I do not know how much you need.
So just for the record, here goes… the quantities below are not set in stone, but if you don’t know how much you are asking for, this is what you might receive.
If you insist on being vague, just add ‘quite’ at the start of your request … ‘quite a few’ multiplies the few by an unknown quantity. It’s a spooky thing!
Actual paper quantities: “A pack” of paper, is a ream which is 500 sheets. 25 sheets = 1 quire 500 sheets = 20 quires = 1 ream 1,000 sheets = 2 reams = 1 bundle 5,000 sheets = 5 bundles = 1 bale
Having been involved in advertising and print for more than 30 years*, old typography and print often catches my eye.
Over the last few months, as part of her volunteering her her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, my youngest has recently been doing some digital archiving of old print publications for the Girlguiding organisation.
These ads in ‘The Girl Guides Gazette’ from as far back as the 1920s caught my eye.
My how things have changed. Or have they?
*In the days before desktop publishing, I served my time in a design studio in the South West; here. Happy daze.
I have also just finished the much acclaimed ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig. I’m gonna let that one ruminate for a few days.
In my experience, often certain books come along at the right time. I wrote about my Steinbeck encounters before. Of course it only seems like this. If a book’s not resonating with you, then you put it down. Conversely, if a book’s hitting the right notes then you lap it up. But, when the experiences in a book really do ring true it’s invigorating. I’m not a great reader but I’ve had a few good reads over ‘lockdown’. Reading’s good.
Of course you really do need to read it to get the experience, but here’s some of the quotes that struck me from Mike Carter’s book:
“finishing lines are good, but their most important role is to get you over the start line in the first place.’”
“… there was no end, only process, and that ultimately, this was just fine.” .
“The miracles are always found in the stuff of daily life if you have your eyes open.”
“‘happiness is the acceptance of the journey as it is now, not the promise of the other shore’ “
As mentioned, I’ve had a few good reads over so far this year:
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
One Man and His Bike by Mike Carter
Away with The Penguins byHazel Prior
The Decent Of Man by Grayson Perry
My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Human kind by Rutger Bregman
The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis
The Demon Club by Scott Mariani
A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
I enjoyed all of these very much – for different reasons. What anyone might make from this selection, I wonder?
Residents of a couple of streets inWolverhampton were invited to add a heart to a frame set out in the street, to say “thank you” to everyone who’s work and contribution has been helping people through the pandemic. Despite lousy weather, a love-filled selection was collected from neighbours.
I have to say what makes this project is the wonderful hearts that people have created by people in he community, and given, to say thank you.
I have always struggled with the cultural concept of our ‘hearts’. Our culture flippantly uses the heart symbol daily, and the heart can have a saccharine sentimental significance.
But the notion of our hearts being ‘the core of us’, is a definition that holds true with me. We cannot deny that we have ‘a core’, an essence. That thing that brings a tear, a chill, a smile. We do have hearts.
The A5 cards I’ve designed using photos of the gifted hearts, will be sent out to local schools, shops, GPs, care homes and the like to say ‘thank you’.
The cards read: “Thank you to everyone keeping us healthy, safe, supplied, connected, educated and cared for. To say thank you for all you have done and are doing to help us through this pandemic. We made these hearts for you.”
This project was created and organised by Rachel Parkinson, as part of a wider initiative by the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District of the Methodist Church, encouraging people to bless their communities around Valentine’s Day. You can see more about this project here: God is With Us: Valentines Project
Last spring (2020) I took a lot of photos of nature in our garden and on walks. So we thought we’d celebrate this spring by sending a quick printed* message to some friends – A celebration of spring and all that this time of year freely gives us. #print*
Alongside the sickness that the media have relayed recently, I’m reminded of John Steinbeck’s words ‘a sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ’. Thankfully positive energy is contagious also!
Infused with metaphor, folk tales, and traditions our springtime is full of energy. Whether it’s Creme Eggs, cake, and daffs on the window sill, or seasonal TV drama, religious reflection, and recollections of a horrific old rugged cross, it’s a season full of spirit; new things, awakenings, warmth, light and yes revitalisation.
Hopefully our springtime allows us to reconnect. We can feel the warmth of the light coming through the kitchen window, and see verdant velvet buds shooting from the grey-brown dormancy of a passing winter. You can really feel it. There’s an energy, some might say spirit, that brightens the shadows and eases the strains. A new realisation of our humanity, our breath, our connection.
There ARE flowers everywhere, for those that want to see them. Happy springtime.
In 1947 Henri Matisse published ‘Jazz’, which included the words ‘… Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir.’ This has been popularly translated as ‘Happy are those who sing with all their heart, in the forthrightness of their heart. Find joy in the sky, in the trees, in the flowers. There are always flowers for those who want to see them.’ A more literal translation ‘…there are flowers everywhere…’.