I just came inside from watering my garden. I had meant to do it earlier but it all got a bit dramatic outside this evening as we have a baby seagull learning to fly and being heavily guarded by it’s parents for the second year in a row on our terrace. Last year, I was minding my own business walking up the path after doing my watering and two massive feet swooped down in front of me. You do not realise how big those things are until you are staring one in the face! As the baby seagull has been on our wall and in and out of our neighbours gardens tonight, I was not going to risk being dive bombed by a protective mum or dad again! The baby was chirping and it’s parent were shouting at everyone to stay away so I stayed inside and took a few photos through the windows though because it is kind of cute and interesting…
When this all went on last year, I drew it in my art journal because it all seemed a bit surreal….
….we don’t live near the sea for a start!
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It never does. I have a weekly planner where I write a few plans and lists for my week ahead. I also use it to summarise things I’m currently working on or reading so I don’t spend too much time procrastinating about what to do when I get a bit of free time.
This week I ordered all the supplies I needed to decorate my kitchen and pencilled in Thursday/Friday/Saturday to do it. Then one of my kids got ill and was home from school for two days. My daughter came back a day early from Uni which I love, it just changes the routine up a bit in the evening. My other son got ill and it looks like both boys will be off school tomorrow. No decorating the kitchen this week. No ‘Art day Tuesday’ which is a day I am setting aside to have a good stretch of time to paint.
I was going to do a WIP Wednesday post yesterday as I thought I might start doing that regularly over here instead of Instagram where I have several different accounts and it seems a bit disjointed. I like checking in with what I’m currently working on because it is a way that I can see progress week by week. Especially on weeks like this when it seems I’m getting nowhere fast. Here is my WIP
Books…I’m listening to Zadie Smith’s ‘Swingtime’ which I’ve had in my Audible wish list for ages. I’ve read all her other fiction, and this is probably the best so far for me. I’ve also just started reading ‘The Witch’s Kind’ by Louisa Morgan. I read another book by the author last year, ‘A Secret History of Witches’, and really enjoyed it. I am already wanting to stay up later to read ‘just another page’ so I think this will be just as good.
Art…..Well not much actual art has been done so far this week but I’ve made my own journal for Moonshine for the first time. I will not be going back to buying ready made ones!
Knitting…I’m still working on my Dragon’s Rest shawl, the rows are getting very very long now so I’m near the end. I’ve also done a little on the sock pattern I’m working on, I can do these whilst sitting with the poorly children so more may get done tomorrow.
Random…I’ve started collecting onion skins for a natural dye. If only they actually dyed wool this colour – they produce a green. Well they have for me previously, it’s not always a predictable process. I actually had a really good result last time I did this but I saved the skins for several months so this is going to be an ongoing project!
Today is a good day because…
We got news about my sons’ school placement which has been precarious since last autumn. My sons are in a ‘special’ part of their special school and have very high staffing levels because of the level of challenging behaviour they present. The funding from our local authority was no longer at an amount which could sustain that but they have finally agreed to the additional funding which will enable them to stay thanks to the hard work, perseverance and willingness of the school to fight for that funding on their behalf. It has been an enormous stress for us because if we didn’t have school we would not be able to keep caring for our sons at home. School gives us 6 hours break a day to recharge and get stuff done. There was a real risk that if the funding didn’t happen, our sons would have been placed in a residential school or college in a different county. We are feeling bloody relieved tonight!
I rejoined Effy’s Moonshine course because doing this blog along has made me realise how much I miss that group and that the art witchery that Effy teaches in Moonshine is the right fit for me. You can find more details about Moonshine here.
I did an hour of yoga.
I have had 3 fantastic nights sleep, laying in until 9 each day. I don’t always sleep well when the lads are at respite because I still worry about them and my routine is different. Try telling a brain that has had disrupted sleep for nearly 20 years (basically stuck in mother of a newborn baby mode) that it can go to sleep when it likes and see how it reacts. Not this weekend though, this weekend I slept like a baby and had epic dreams. In one of them I lifted a huge boulder off myself!
M&S Veggie Mince – It’s a game changer, we love it so tonight we had ‘Witch’s Cottage Pie’, the best sort of comfort food.
And lastly, it’s Monday so I’m about to go and watch Game of Thrones 🙂
I’m trying to get fitter and walk more. I really hate exercise. My most hated thing at school was P.E. and by the time I got into my last year, I had devised a way of going home on a Friday afternoon and completely avoiding the lessons by scheduling my Flute lessons where registration was. No one really noticed as far as I know. You can do things like that when you are ‘good’ and ‘quiet’ as I generally was back then! I did used to do an awful lot of aerobics in my mid to late teens. It really was awful, I made a homemade step out of piles of encyclopedias and a shelf so I could do Cher’s step aerobics video. I twisted my limbs to Callanetics and I pranced around the lounge to Jane Fonda.
These days I really cannot be arsed. There is nothing I enjoy much except yoga and that is a bit difficult for me at times because I have wonky hips. I had been doing alright with my yoga practice recently until we went to see The Levellers a few weeks ago and I danced to much. So I’ve been on a yoga break for a couple of weeks again although keeping my walking up where I can. Today I went for coffee with a friend and arranged it at a bit more of a distance so I got a few steps in. I got some pretty good photos on my way down considering it’s actually rained here most of the day…
I live too close to everything to get enough exercise by just leaving my car at home so I’ve started taking detours around my local park before going into town. I have started chanting affirmations in my head as I walk and I am using it as an opportunity to be out in nature which I enjoy. I’ve been using my art journal to help with body image stuff and to set intentions. I have bought myself some fantastic new yoga leggings for motivation….
I have lost 10lbs so some of this is working – I have made considerable changes to my diet too though through a combination of Slimming World and Calorie/Macro counting. I have really needed to because my health is already not great and it is oh so easy for me to prioritise art, knitting, reading, studying, gardening, ancestry research – actually anything at all – over diet and exercise.
So although I have been winning at this for a few months, I’ve had a particularly slack week and I need to get a grip of it all again. Tonight though, I had egg, chips and beans for my tea and I’m not sorry.
I don’t write poetry, sometimes they just come tumbling out of me every now and then. I commented something like this on one of Effy’s posts for the Blog Along the other day. I find it a weird experience, like if I don’t catch them and write them down they will float off again. I think Elizabeth Gilbert writes about something like this happening with creative ideas in her book, ‘Big Magic’. I can’t remember the details but I remember having a bit of an ‘Aha Moment’ when I read it.
I have a few of these poems and random bits of writing that I have written on ipad notes and in emails I’ve sent to myself from my phone with good intentions of jotting them down in a journal. Several of them are related to my experiences with my boys and directly about them and I have a small art journal for that but I’ve never actually gotten around to doing it, but thinking about this has made me go back and look at them and I’ve actually put one on a page!
I know I wrote this when a lot of ideas about how people with learning disabilities have been treated through history were floating about in my head and mixing with my own work experiences as well as those I’ve had with my sons. This is it as I wrote it….
You leave me out for the wolves…you lock me away, keeping me out of sight with ropes and out of mind with dopes….you apply behavioural abuse to me, working a forty hour week in exchange for what? Crackers? Yes, maybe…you set me free with an illusion of normality as if pretending to iron my own clothes will make me more like you without questioning that that is what I want, when, in my mind, clothes are a barrier to the ecstatic joy of running naked through a meadow in a spring shower…you tinker with my diet, my inner chemistry….I am too Metallic for your liking…but I like metal – it’s shiny and it sounds good…you light my senses up and weigh my senses down…but I am the child that likes to spin and spin I will….while you try and win, against my nature, not realising that if you were to spin, for that brief moment, I might just let you in.
(Sophie Horsman 2013).
I decided to take a few days break from Effy’s Blog Along. Life got a bit hectic after getting back from our weekend away and as much as I wanted to, I knew I couldn’t do all the things. I’m back for a short post today.
I have finished knitting a jumper that I started last June! It’s a Stephen West pattern, Marled Magic Sweater. I found it an enjoyable knit, it only took me so long because I had stopped a few times to work on other things that had deadlines like gifts and last year’s yarn bombing. I did change the neck – because I couldn’t get it over my head with the pattern version 😂
Most of the yarns in this jumper are ones I’ve dyed myself. I’ve accumulated quite a lot as I’ve been teaching myself to dye my own and this was a great way to use them up (and give me an excuse to dye more)!
I will end by confessing that I haven’t actually finished it because there are still lots of ends to weave in….
I woke up very suddenly from a dream in the early hours of Saturday morning. Someone was telling me my son had had a seizure again. It was so intense I kept thinking the phone would ring that morning to tell us Charlie had had one in the night but the phone didn’t ring and I relaxed again. We got on with our weekend. When I arrived to pick the boys up this morning though it was still playing on my mind but nothing was said and I told myself I was reading too much into it.
Tonight, Charlie had a seizure for the first time since February. I wasn’t reading too much into it.
Intuition often frustrates me, I’m not always sure what to do with it. Sometimes it seems absolutely pointless. Sometimes it’s a warning. Sometimes it makes great paintings and sometimes it ruins them. I’m often wishing I had listened to it more though.
I’m writing this post from my breakfast table in Cornwall. We are having a weekend away. It’s the middle of the Easter holidays and our sons are at respite care for their birthday again. It’s not moveable so we have to go with it otherwise we wouldn’t have our much needed time out from caring which is especially important in the school holidays. Even though the same thing happened last year, it still feels strange. It’s part of the reason we picked this weekend to go away. We will of course celebrate with them tomorrow and it looks like they will end up having 3 birthday cakes so I’m sure they will be fine!
In the meanwhile we are pottering around Cornwall doing the things that we do….
Art – actually I have not done any yet but look at my travelling art box!…..
What we are not doing is drinking! Yes, you read that right lol….we’ve got another week of school holidays after this weekend and so we are attempting sensible!
I used to do a lot of sewing when I was a teenager, in fact I think I had this machine for my sixteenth birthday.
I’d have a go at anything really but I often didn’t use patterns. Or pins. I’d just have an idea and then keep going until I had created it. A bit like how I paint. My lifestyle has not really lent itself to sewing since I had children but I have Pinterest and sometimes start getting drawn in to reviving that hobby (because obviously I need another one 😂). I particularly swoon after Tina Given’s patterns and although I suspect they are beyond me at the moment, I do want to eventually have a go at them.
I’m also a big fan of the pinafore aprons, any aprons actually.
I think the pinafore aprons would be great for painting though so I’m planning that as my next project.
In the meanwhile though, my return to the sewing machine started with Pyjama bottoms. I decided to do this as an ‘Artist Date’ as I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ again. I was very disciplined. It was a bit of an experiment for me. I’ve learned that my knitting has improved a lot by following patterns and learning proper techniques and now there is the Internet, that is much easier, because obviously if you come across a technique you don’t know , there is google. Without that, as a teen crafter, I would just wing it. I don’t actually think that was a bad thing because I have good creativity skills and confidence at having a go at things as a result but a lot of the time, using the right technique gets better quality results. I basically tested myself with this sewing project to see what I could produce if I followed the rules. I was pleased with the result, they are tidy, fitted well and look good.
I did not have much creative satisfaction, it felt a bit of a chore to be honest. I will probably do more sewing in the future (I do really want those aprons and pinafores!) but I think I will always need to add an element of working intuitively to make it enjoyable for me. As an artist date activity though, I learned a lot about my own creativity from this sewing experiment.
This is Day 3 of Effy’s blog along (for me as I started late!) and I was going to write about something else but then I read Effy’s post today and her poem about Mary Oliver made me remember the journal page I did last year after some crap stuff happened. I’m not going to write about what happened but I was upset and unsettled at the time. I just wanted to share the page because although it’s not my best piece of artwork ever, I really worked through some stuff on this little page and it felt special. I had decided to draw a nuthatch after seeing one while ‘the stuff’ was going on. Then I found Mary Oliver’s ‘Winter and the Nuthatch’ poem when I went looking for a quote to put on the page and my mind was blown because it seemed so relevant to what was happening so I added that to my background. This is where I often find myself with my artwork. At some sort of meeting point of my inner world, the outer world and the symbols from both where I start to make sense of things. It’s why it crosses over into magic and witchcraft for me.
Winter and the Nuthatch
Once or twice and maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still, with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn’t cooperate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about those walnuts.
But there was a morning I came late and, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger’s hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister,
that nuthatch and I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree and trust my fingers.
But I didn’t say anything.
Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human and partial therefore to my own successes—
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs—
I’ll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.