Argh!!!!!!!!!* I woke up this morning with a Boyzone song in my head!? “No matter what they tell us…“ What!? Where did that come from? I don’t even know who Boyzone are! Sensing an intoxicating earworm, after six words, my wife said “No! Stop!”… it was too late we were both infected.
Alas here’s another one for you. This post has nothing to do with Babs Dickson but it’s titled January February which, if you are of a certain age, is probably enough to trigger another earworm… You’re welcome.
As you know I create images, it’s what I do. Recent morning exercise before work has seen me passing the local allotments at sunrise. and this quick post is just to share two of the unplanned encounters.
As I have mentioned before, I often find the vibrancy and intensity of the world around me so strong I have to stop and acknowledge it… Stop. Pause… breathe… to quote Ezra Bayda “What happens when we slow down and pay attention? Everything! Innumerable delights are right at hand.”
This is so simple it’s silly. We tried this a few months ago – trying to vary from the lock down staples. It’s become a regular favourite for me and the boss, though the kids are still at an “ick, fish” stage.
You do really need to be a chilli fan but do it to your liking. Again, it’s so simple – initially you think basic/bland – but, if you get the mix just right it’s delightful and filling.
Enough pasta for two: we use linguine.
Lazy garlic, or finely chopped fresh if you have it
Lazy chilli, or finely chopped fresh if you have it
200ml dry white wine
cherry toms whole
white fish like cod, and cooked large prawns or anything you fancy.
parsley if you have it.
Pasta: A pasta of your choice – make your own if you can, it’s so much more tasty – there’s some nice ones if you just look above the basic pasta, and I think it’s worth having a nice one. For this dish try a nice linguine. (Digression: I do keep looking for Orzo, not tried it yet, but once we’re out of lock down I intend to track it down)
Cook you pasta accordingly…
While the pasta’s cooking, in a large pan heat up a dash of olive oil and add lazy garlic and chilli (you decide quantity!) and heat for no more than 1 minute – just until it starts to colour. Then pour add the white wine, and bubble until it’s reduced by half.
Once reduced by half, add the cherry tomatoes and heat for cook for 2 mins. We like keeping cherry toms whole, as when you eat them they are really juicy – boom!
Then add your white fish and cook for ~2 mins – Your white fish should break up in a few mins. Use the pan lid to retain heat and moisture if needed.
When fish is breaking up, add your drained cooked pasta to the fish and toms – you may want a bit of pasta water if you’ve over reduced the mixture too much. Also add your precooked prawns (things like precooked prawns just need to warm through, not too long or they’ll be chewy)
Mix it well, and serve with parsley and a good squeeze of lemon.
Again, it’s so simple, but if you get the mix right it’s delightful and a small amount can be filling.
Still seeking signs of hope, love, and… (perhaps the word of the year) resilience?
It’s a difficult time – for some it’s almost impossible, for others it’s unimaginable, for many it’s just cancellations, restrictions, and extreme limitations… life on pause?
However, the recent newsletter from the kids’ school was packed with great ideas, enthusiasm and vibrant activity! Lots of people are doing a great job! Relaying that to the teenagers is another matter, but there’s a lot of work being done and positive energy being shared by many people at this difficult time.
I recently pondered ideas for a ‘print project’ touching on Spring/Easter/Lent and the coming festival time of year. By ‘print project‘ I mean a printed visual design, that can be shared with others to engage thoughts and feelings; a tactile card that can be placed on the fridge, mantelpiece, desktop… it’s what I do.
What’s so important, valuable or helpful about the coming Spring/Easter/Lent festival/tradition? Daffodils, bunnies, eggs, and traditional rituals… humm…?
As might be expected, talking about ‘hope’ recently, the Arch Bish of Cantaloop suggested ‘resurrection’. Within the horrors of our world, after death and emptiness, eventually we return to life. He suggested that signs of that eternal life is to be found all around us; shared and passed on given away by people every day. With this hope comes an energy to be and do things better. Though real, awful and debilitating “grief and death lies to us, and says there is no future…”, but a spirit of good resides…
In response to cancellations, restrictions, and extreme limitations, a good friend of mine said recently “Hope and Grace explode through time and space…”
Back to the a possible word of the year: resilience…
The dictionary says of the noun resilience, meaning ‘the act of rebounding’, from the Latin ‘resilire’, ‘to recoil or rebound’, ‘to jump again’ to ‘spring’. First recorded in the 1600s, the usage and meaning of the word has evolved, to describe being resistant or not susceptible to something. So it infers strength. The dictionary defines the word as “the ability to quickly become healthy, happy or strong again after an illness, disappointment or other problem. Or, something able to return to its original shape after being bent, stretched or pressed.” However not always a return. At the Stockholm Resilience Center, Director Lisen Schultz describes resilience as “a capacity to persist, adapt or transform in the face of change.” To adapt, transform and spring forward.
I wonder if the idea of ‘strength’ is unhelpful. An integral strength in humanity… perhaps not a ‘strength’, but an integral ‘spirit’ which is so much more than ‘strength’, that enables us to rebound. Yes, ‘spirit’ is a controversial term, so an integral ‘breath’ in humanity that enables movement. We breathe, we sigh, we shout, we cry out, we moan, we sing, we laugh, we talk – with an ongoing integral breath. Whether we feel strong or not, beyond culture, beyond language, beyond our understanding, we have an integral resilience.
So what does Spring/Easter/Lent look like in the light of lockdown, death, limitation and disease?
I hope that alongside impossible, unimaginable, cancellations, restrictions, and extreme limitations… we are able to breathe and find a recoil, a rebound, an unfurling, an opening-up where Hope and Grace might explode, and jump again!
The bookmarks were originally created to be left in public places like airports, railway stations, waiting rooms etc. They can be given out, or made available, where people might benefit from ‘taking time out’ of their busy lives.
These new down-loadable bookmarks are now designed so that it can be easily printed at home on your desk-top home printer.
They are designed without bleed, so you can simply print on A4 paper (or preferably card), and then cut it into five bookmarks.
These new bookmarks read:
Sit down comfortably, feet flat on the floor.
For one minute, just be still: Deep breath in… slow exhale… Relax your muscles, calm your breathing… listen…
For one minute, remember something you are grateful for. Say thank you for it, and know that gratitude is good.
For one minute, remember something you regret. Say sorry for it, and know that you are forgiven.
For one minute, think of some good things you would like for another person. Be hopeful for that person.
For one minute, think of some good things you would like for yourself. Ask how will this help you?…and listen for an answer.
For a bonus minute, pause again, and be still… Deep breath in… slow exhale… Relax your muscles, calm your breathing… …try a smile.
An agreement between people to do or not do something specific.
I’m currently reading ‘Logging Off’ by Nick Spalding, where midlife man ‘Andy’ starts a sixty-day digital detox. Andy sort of makes a covenant with himself to do stuff differently. It’s amusing, I’ll let you know if it’s life changing.
But, it’s the subject of renewing a Covenant, that Methodist people entertain once a year, usually in January.
I recently produced some postcards for the Borders Circuit of the Meth Church, an idea from Rev. Pete Taylor.
The postcards show a reminder of the traditional Methodist Covenant Prayer on one side and a revised newer version on t’other.
If you can make use of some, I’d be happy to edit the artwork with your details/logo etc and supply a cost effective print quote. Or I could send you the artwork if you’d like to print them yourself. Just send me a message.
In the midnight you awake with a chest ache, with dark dreams, worry and fear, a black dog feeds…
Alas, Decembral distractions: Hazel Prior’s Antarctic Penguins, The Bagnold’s suburbia, Mandalorian sci-corn, Home Alone capers, Billy Elliot’s passion, Spiderman’s kingdom’s, various BBC Sounds’ dreamscapes, Grayson Perry’s acute observations, Simon Cross’s Theotokos Nativity, Scott Mariani’s excessive adventures… From Snowpiercing sci-fi, to grounding Octopus Teachers…
For us this year there’s been no December theatre trip. But, this holyday season I’ve again spent time, perhaps vicariously, with a few novels, films, songs, radio shows, musicals, TV dramas… It’s amazing where you can travel with a clever combination of words, a hearty chorus, some great characters and some dramatic lighting and effect. To quote a superhero “…it’s about what you believe”.
“…it’s about what you believe”
If you are lucky to have ‘time-off’, mid-Christmas, there is a hiatus, a Pinteresque pause… …(a rejection of perfection in favour of realism?) This ‘space’ between the jingle of Christmas and the expectations of a new year…
It’s a bit like the interval in a theatre show. You remember the theatre interval? The lights go up, and the buzz is suspended. The energy of the dramatic stories that have just enchanted you is… exhaled. The house lights reveal you in a row of burgundy velour seats. The people around you stir, flip their seats and jostle to the ice-creams, or the bar, real people, real faces, sharing real place(s). There is a tangible hopeful expectation of the next act…
This ‘space’ between the jingle of Christmas and the expectations of a new year… can be a tense time… Outside the window the light is bright, but low… shadows glint… dusk silhouettes stand silent… But, Hark, the…
In this pause between excitement and expectation we might find a realism… Do the stars still burn? Yes. Are there still glad sounds? Yes. Wasn’t it great to chat with a friend outside of Tesco’s? Yes. Take an impromptu walk round the block with like-minded friends… In essence, is humanity still a wonderful thing… ? To quote Joe Gardner in Soul “just regular old living” … there is still lots to celebrate.
“…just regular old living”
Joe Gardner, Soul
So above the ache of disease, outside of the dark dreams, beyond the worry of responsibility, away from the fear of blame, afore Horace’s dusky dog…
Perhaps reality is more about just regular old believing.
Perhaps it’s more about just regular old believing.
We wish you innumerable delights and best hopes for 2021…
Back in October, after another Government imposed stint of self-isolation, I shared a random compilation of images from my Instagram feed – minus the inevitable shots of pets, food & drink of course.
I very often find the vibrancy and intensity of the world around me so strong I have to stop and acknowledge or notice it… I tend to share some of the images I capture, and inevitably, as a certified visual artist, I like to play with images, I can’t help it… ‘scamper’.
As I say, sometimes I find the stuff around me resonating so strongly that I have to stop. I learnt to do this as part of relearning a lot of things during a period of transition a few years back. It’s an ongoing work-in-progress.
The strength of our thoughts and feelings can be helpful, it can also be confusing, perhaps intoxicating, enchanting or perhaps frightening… but if we might find a way to truly slow down… Stop. Pause… breathe…
…to quote Ezra Bayda “What happens when we slow down and pay attention? Everything! Innumerable delights are right at hand.”
This reflective and celebratory ‘end of the year’ season we sincerely wish you innumerable delights and best hopes for 2021.