Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011,/2012

Here we are again at that point in our lives
when we visualize ourselves crossing
into new opportunities and challenges.

I must say that New Year had never made much sense to me
as I've always seen time as a continuous "now",
and it's marking and breaking into segments,
a human invention born out of necessity,
but of no concrete reality.

You will guess then that making New Year resolutions is not something I've ever tried.
From what I hear they go something like this.

Still and all, I know that this is a meaningful time for many
and certainly it was strange how last New Year
almost straight after midnight we were pitched
into some hard experiences which continued
pretty much over this last twelve months.

It did make me review the times I've dismissed it 
when I've heard people say,
" I,ll be glad when this year is over",
and realise how they felt.

There surely are differing seasons in life,
how ever we view the marking and passing of time.
So on the eve of 2012 
I wish you and yours
A Blessed , Happy , and Healthy New Year.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Earth Marks - What do we leave in our wake?


Today I walked through Abbey Fields, Kenilworth.
The sky was pale blue,
with the occasional cloud scudding across the wintry sun;
the wind stinging my cheeks,
 stirring the trees tops to a sea-like surge,
and rustling the crisp fallen leaves like milk
poured into a bowl of cornflakes.

As always I am fascinated by the multitude of footprints, 
paw marks, scuffs, and tyre tracks,
imprinted not just here but in so many places.

Soft sand beaches where our beautiful traces
are washed away with the tide, 
or muddy ground,
where they glisten damp, soft, and squelchy, or 
having baked, dried, or frozen,
ridge hard under our feet.

Even the unyielding pavements,
and town or city stone are not immune, 
the dark imprint of wet on dry appearing with the rain.

I am absorbed by thoughts of the many feet,
small and large, well shod or ill.
The feet that hurried or laboured on.
The wheels that have swished
or heavy pedalled along this particular spot of earth.

And what of the owners of those padded paws,
the feather dropped,
the claw marks where wings have come to rest?

In this place, - these Abbey Fields,
it's no hardship to remember feet from long ago
covering this same earth.
Monks and lay,
sacred or profane,
they too have come and gone.

It's not merely the physical trails we leave that fascinates me,
or our impact on the material environment.
I wonder what real impact we make;
what indelible mark our being here has?

What do we leave in our wake?

*
God Bless



Friday, 23 December 2011

It's Almost Here

 Of course I did get around to decorating the house for Christmas, 
and humble though our little tree is it pleases me
that I didn't give in to the feeling that it was really 
all too much to manage this year.

As I'm going into hospital straight after the New Year 
it will all be coming down rather soon 
and it was tempting to think 
it wasn't worth the expenditure of time and energy.

Wrong!

True it was a slower, more meditative process 
than it has ever been,
 but perhaps it was this that made it
an even sweeter time than ever too. 
The cheap little wooden figures I bought so many years ago
come out every year
and never fail to take me back to my family roots;
to the winter's day in Monmouth when I bought five boxes of them.
I each for me, for my mother, my daughter,
and my then infant granddaughters.
Once the doors of your heart are opened
the thoughts of loved ones from many times and places
 come flooding in.

Given the unhurried pace I was taking,
 these reminders seemed to turn to thanksgiving and prayer 
of their own accord.

After the determined effort it had taken
to unearth the makings and start the job,
it became a time of sweetness and encouragement.

After that I knew writing the cards, 
and buying the presents in time,
would also be possible.

So I sit here with just the wrapping to be done tomorrow,
and two cards to be taken to folks I want to hand deliver to.

There have been other,
unforeseen things that I've been called upon to do
that I would never have believed I had the strength or energy for,
but they too have been possible by God's grace.

One of the most pleasurable of those things
was to have our four year old great grand son 
with us overnight last night,
and part of today. 

It is a real joy to be woken by a little person 
who is dancing from foot to foot
at the side of your bed, 
and chanting
"I love mornings. I love mornings" 
A couple of hours later we had eaten, 
read, played, sung, and
he was still joyously on the move.
I was a little less so.
Sometimes it's very easy to see 
we've been given strength and carried along!

Wherever you are
 may you be blessed by a wondrously

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent Waiting


If you are wondering where I am in these days leading up to Christmas...

I've not been madly decorating,
or Christmas shopping,
though I will have to engage with all that soon.

As it is the days
have been full of lots of comings and goings.

Family birthdays.
Hospital appointments.
Day to day necessities to be seen to.

There have been,
and are,
at this moment
griefs to come to grips with,
difficulties to be faced and overcome, 
and I am wearied
and wanting to opt out.

 If I knew what I could opt out of 
and where to "op" to
I would.

My thoughts twist and turn, 
 my strength ebbs...

An unreasonable quietness rises
to hold me firmer 
than my doubts and unbelief
before the next battle.
It is not I who hold on.
I am held despite myself.

 Inwardly
I am
just keeping as quiet as I can,
and waiting,
just waiting,
for the holy,
and the deep:
that moment
when Christmas really comes,
though I live in the truth of it while I wait.



,

Thursday, 24 November 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different




Scenes from the Passion:  The Fall  by George Shaw  1999  courtesy Wilkinson Gallery London














Was it Spike Milligan or  Monty Python 
who coined the title's catch phrase?

Whichever it was was on to a winner
because that's just how life is.

From minute to minute something new.
Each moment offering challenge or relief.
Light or shade.

Somebody once commented that the constant element
in each of my paintings was that 
counterpoint between light and dark.

She obviously saw something I wasn't aware of 
because for me I had always thought it was as simple as 
the need for tonal contrast,
whether the work is abstract or representational.

As in art, in life though,
as has been said so many times.
Without the dark passages we could hardly appreciate
or fully experience
the joy of the light.

Which brings me on to the painting at the head of the blog.

Couple of days ago I left hubby to his own devices
with a promise from him that he would behave
and not do more than the prescribed stuff for his stage of recovery. 

Reassured, I went off to meet a friend for coffee,
and then on to view the most wonderful exhibition
of George Shaw paintings.

You may not know his work, 
or that he was born here in Coventry,
and that his work is shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

The exhibition consists of work done 
both before and after his formal art education,
and they are all depictions, in Humbrol enamel paint, 
(the sort you use to paint model aircraft and suchlike),
 of the estate he was brought up on.

The work is full of that edgy, gritty, atmosphere 
that still pervades that particular area today,
and even where some of the buildings have been replaced
you can recognise where the vantage point for the painting was.

I could go on and on about the technical elements of the work,
but it is the portrayal of light which is so superb.

Sometimes the light broods, and hovers ominously,
and you know you are between lights.

Is it dawn, or dusk?
Is there a storm still brewing, or just gone?

At other times as in this work called
"Scenes from the Passion:  The Fall", 
a scene of almost unremitting grimness is lifted by
the glorious luminosity of the light.
Alas this this little JPEG can't do it justice.

Somehow for me,
(and you would expect me to say this wouldn't you?),
his work portrays not just 
the light that sometimes hides from us 
in the grind of life and living;
but also
the numinous;
that sense of the divine that
hovers and broods over us,
and waits with us,
and for us,
and in us.

As with any true artist he opens our eyes, 
and passing through our familiar places
we will never see them quite the same again.  

***

If you ever get a chance to see his work" in the flesh", do go!

In the mean time if you want to see a small sample of the other work in the exhibition, you can click on
But be patient 'cos it takes a while to load, 
and be aware that one of the works was painted in the bedroom he shared with his brother when he was still at school.

God Bless

I do thank those of you who sent your comments on the last piece, which I didn't publish because of their personal nature, but WERE appreciated. 
I do treasure you taking the time to get back to me.
If you would like to open out a discussion on this, or any of the other pages, please do. 
Any and all of your comments are more than welcome.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Changing Direction

Woke up this morning with a weight on my mind, and in my stomach. 

It was the heaviness of worries for folk I love, 
and knowing I've done the very little I can do to help, 
which hardly made a mark on the whole situation.

Sometimes it's as if  before I can even engage a waking thought 
anxiety has knotted my stomach and I feel heavy to the depth of myself. 
This morning before I know it I'm spilling this stuff out
to pollute hubby's waking moments as well.

I'm on a roll now, 
so I am seeing not only the problem as it is, 
but how it will grow;
it's effects for the future.

Cacthing myself in this worry fest which has now
reached crystal ball-reading proportions 
I reach for morning prayer.

I re-direct my gaze.

The text contains the words:

" I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord,
My lips shall proclaim your faithfulness."

All too often I forget to recount the immensity of the good life holds,
so I re-wind to regain all that is good in this morning.

From the comfort and safety of our home, 
to those other things which I have somehow lost sight of in those waking moments, 
there is so much to remark upon; 
(literally to note and bring back to my view).

 Hubby is doing well,
and it being the tenth day after his operation, has had his clips out yesterday.
(This is when the application of a heavy mallet to the cranium might become necessary
because he is feeling bored and looking for 
"something to do").

I have had increased strength and energy,
and have accomplished lots in the last week which I would have thought beyond me.
That crystal ball can get things so wrong you know!

These are the" biggies" that come to mind first,
but they are only part of the daily goodies that are the warp and weft of our lives.

I turn the eyes of my heart to the One who has woven our lives
with threads of richness and plenty 
when humanly speaking we might have had no reason to hope, 
and given up again and again.

Now I am reminded of His faithfulness.

Now I am ready to pray with faith,
and to believe that the fog of unbelief and doubt that clouded my vision
are as nothing to the love God has for us.

I can even raise my voice,
(the voice I could have lost in the last surgery I had, but didn't.),
and sing along with Delirious.



Praying you aren't as suseptible to the"dumps" as I am,
and you can fill your weekend with moments of song, 
and store up what will be re-markable in your life too.
God Bless



Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Keeping Fit My Way

You may not be familiar with the articles on the left.

They are a pair of anti embolism socks, and they are issued  when you have surgery here in the U.K.

You put these on before surgery,
and have an anticoagulant injection
every day you are in hospital 
after your operation and keep the stockings on for some ten days.

  This is to reduce the risk of
developing deep vein thrombosis.




All well and good,
but to be effective these stockings have to fit
closer than a second skin
and are very difficult to get on.

A handy hint from the hospital 
is to slide them on over a plastic bag 
and then remove the plastic bag
through the open hole under the foot.

Sound simple?

Today, because hubby can't shower or get into a bath post op.
because the wound in his back has to be kept dry,
in addition to his usual ablutions we thought 
it would feel refreshing to let his feet have a nice soak
in a bowl of water, so off came the socks.

Along with the other restrictions
he isn't supposed to bend, twist, or reach too much,
so of course I had to put the socks back on him.

Although we used the plastic bag trick I would say that,
even though I don't have much experience wrestling pigs,
getting those socks back on him was something along those lines.

By the time I got them back on him I not only felt
as though I'd wrestled a pig,
but that the pig had won!

Still, hubby's a nice clean boy now, 
and I don't need to go to the gym!


If you want a blast from the past try this video of Olivia Newton John singing
"Let's Get Physical"
with positively no pig wrestling involved.

God Bless

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Never too Late to Learn + Couple of Important Lines Added

My dear hubby came home just 24 hours after his operation. 
Too soon really but in any event 
praise God, he appears to be making a good recovery.

It is strange that for the first time I am the carer
and he,
(the extrovert who finds it hard to survive without people, talk and activity),
is the one having to stay
just a little bit aside from the action.

Not an easy place to be for either of us.
  There are lessons we both have to learn.
An "interesting" time!

After almost 50 years of marriage
we are still testing each other.

Having our spats. 
Trying to make ourselves heard.
Attempting to really listen.
Getting exasperated.
Giving each other a hug.
Seeing the funny side.

Exercising patience.
Re-acting quicker.
Offering new gestures of gentleness.
Exploring unaccustomed toughness.
Giving space to each other
whilst remaining one flesh.

Unbelievably even as I typed those words I had to leap up
and stop him trying to pull a large lounge chair 
across the room, thus breaking all the taboos
for somebody who has had his type of surgery
just 5 days ago.


It may not always seem the case but how good that 
opposites do attract!


God Bless

P.S.   After  posting this I realised what it was about our relationship that I really wanted to say, and just two lines seemed to say it. 
I wonder can you spot the added  ones, and if they are the ones which you find think most helpful in your relationship if you have a life partner.
Maybe your needs and way of making things work are totally different?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Good News in the Morning


This has been a time of intense peaks and troughs for us.

After months of pain from a trapped nerve 
hubby had a date for the necessary neurosurgery 
week before last.
A matter of only hours after the date was given him
he had a phone call to say that due to an " anomaly" 
on one of his test, surgery could not go ahead,
and an appointment with an anaesthetist was made
to decide how to go on from there.

We were mystified, 
as hubby's general health has always been excellent.


It turned out that the anaesthetist was mystified too.
He looked at results,
read outs,
and traces,
and examined hubby.
He consulted with others anaesthetists.


The verdict was there was nothing to indicate any reason why surgery could not have gone ahead.
Relief, but  "tis'mystery all!"

Within the hour of returning home
hubby has a new operation date
and we are in business again.

The next day I sat in the same room as I had with hubby 
to hear the anaesthetist's verdict on him,
to hear another anaesthetist go over the plans for my own forthcoming surgery by epidural. 

He was very intent I should have the full picture,
with timings and stages of preparation,
and even showed me the size of epidural needle 
and what emergency measures would be in place at each stage.

That's what you get for throwing a curve ball in the recovery room as I did back in May.

If it's possible to come away reassured and scared stiff
at one and the same time, 
I did.
 Then yesterday I left hubby at the hospital to have his surgery,
and staggered home exhausted from
the "will they won't they" game that always
seems to be part of the wait. 
  If there is an emergency somewhere along the line,
then staff and theatre priorities may mean you go home 
without your operation being performed.

I waited all day for news and at last got the green light 
that I could go visit when he got back from theatre 
at about 7.30 p.m.,exactly 12 hours after he was admitted. 
Thankfully my son-in-law drove me and my daughterto the hospital 
because I was beginning to realise how far my own convalescence from that op. back in May still had to go.
I was really running out of steam by the time I spied him 
propped up in his hospital bay.
I needn't go into details but our half hour or so on the ward 
with him was not an easy one,
and we left quite upset.

The ward sister rang me some time after we got home
and our conversation did nothing to reassure us
accept that we knew from it the staff 
were caring and dedicated folk.
He seemed in good hands.
After the family left I sat and focused on the safe hands 
I return to again and again, 
and weary as I was decided to settle my fuddled brain 
by praying the evening office set for the day.

I followed Compline on-line, 
and was brought up short by the words of Psalm 143,
"Let me hear good news in the morning,
for I trust in you."
So exactly my thoughts. 

  I don't recognise the translation 
of David's prayer, 
which sounds more familiar to me as ,
"Show me your loving kindness in the morning, ..."
but undeniably these words are what my heart longs for.
Good news from the hospital.


I spent a restless night, and made a grab for the bedside phone almost as soon as it began to ring this morning.

I could not believe that the voice at the other end was hubby's.

I took a few minutes to take in all he said.

The good news I asked for the night before took me by surprise.
Utterly.
How can things have changed so quickly!

As soon as he was off the line I rang our daughter 
who was equally incredulous,
and equally as relieved.

Though there is the inevitable journey of healing 
to be gone through, he has come through this part successly.
 I know that our cry for "good news" 
is not always answered as clearly or as quickly
as it would seem this prayer of mine was. 
For me there was great reassurance
even as I read the words of the psalm 
and made them my own,
for in so doing I was reminded
in whom it was I placed my trust.
Thus taken back to a place of faith
I knew there would be strength enough to face
whatever would come.
And this, surely,
is the ultimate good news that each of us need.
"Let me hear good news in the morning,
for I trust in you."
God Bless

P.S. The photos are shots of the wild flower meadow in my beloved park as they look today, despite the fact that it is November.  Lots of colour and beauty in the midst of the tangle of what's dying off. - another lesson?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Radiance of Wonder






























"God does not die when we cease to believe in a personal deity, 
but we die 
on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated
by the steady radiance, renewed daily, 
of a wonder, 
the source of which is beyond all reason."

Dag Hammarskjold


May the scales of boredom and not "seeing",
  fall from our eyes this week,
and the eyes of our hearts  be opened
to the miracle that is life.


God Bless

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bonfire Night


Tonight is Bonfire Night 
but we are tucked up by the fireside as befits us
as things are at the moment.

On Monday we will know 
if is there is a hospital bed available
for hubby's operation to ease the trapped nerve in his back, 
so we are cozying up together and taking things easy.

To be more accurate
I'm trying to make him take things a bit easier
and rest up in preparation.

Outside we can hear the crackle and bang of fireworks,
and though as a child I was frightened of it all, 
I must admit that I would love to be at a bonfire party
"oohing" and "aahing",
and sharing baked potato snacks and ginger parkin. 

Oh well, perhaps next year.

There may be no fireworks in my garden tonight
but there are the reds and golds of the leaves,
and this little mock Catherine wheel
at the heart of an iris
which seems to have lost track of what time of year it is.

Have a weekend full of colour, warmth,
and rest, ready for next week.

God Bless

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Rainbows in Unexpected Places


























Today hubby called me to 
"Come quick while it's still here!"

There against the garage wall were two mini rainbows.

The spangled spectrum of colour,
red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet,
fell shimmering and quivering at our feet.

We knew it was the result of refracted sun light 
glancing down through the gathered raindrops 
on the transparent corrugated sheets
of our car-port roof,
but the transient colours were
no less to be wondered at for that.

Happy as clams we stood for several moments
looking at the treasure at our feet, 
and remembering the scriptural promise.

(Genesis 9:13–17)
"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth".


Looking up
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow
I found many faiths and cultures
attach significance to this beautiful phenomena.

I remember a television program on the use of light in art 
showing some remarkable windows designed to
throw glorious rainbow colours
on to the walls and floors
of a building in America.
(I so wish I could remember where it was).

  The  native Americans of the area were shown
visiting the place specifically to "bathe" themselves in the
rich spectrum of colour, 
believing in the deep healing properties 
of the play of light they took into themselves.

Like them,we see the rainbow light as a sign of
  blessing and love.

You will see how "our" rainbow 
has settled over a crack  in the concrete
amidst the broken bits and pieces 
that settle from the comings and goings of life. 

I confess I was in need of that reminder
that God's love watches over us wherever we are 
and whatever the other outward signs may be.

Today if you, or those you love and have care for, 
are feeling the brokenness and fissures of life, 
I pray you may receive fresh encouragement,
and the strength of knowing 
that you are neither alone nor forgotten.
God Bless
 

To give yourself an instant injection of joy
if you like gospel music
listen to Mahalia Jackson 
sing "God Put the Rainbow in the Sky"

If Blogger refuses to upload the video to hear it go to

P.S.  I wonder do you know where that building with the wonderful light spectrum filled windows are?
I seem to remember it may have been near the Mojave desert,
and it may have been the Mojave Indians
who soaked themselves in rainbow light.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fun with Photos



The little white flowers 
of the winter clematis 
have once more transformed our garden arch 
into a bridal affair.

This is only it's second year 
but as it gets more established it produces more blooms so 
even hubby has noticed 
it's charms.





I wanted to enhance my photos by digitally painting
some blue sky as a background 
but got totally seduced by the effects I could obtain on the free editing suite on
(I can't afford Photoshop).


This is what I produced
by playing around! 

As a character from the
t.v. show "Miranda" would say,
( you have to hear the impeccably cut glass English accent 
for the full effect),

"Such fun!" 



God Bless