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Showing posts from June, 2017

Waxing Lyrical on the Wax Plant

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Memento Mummy: The Memory Plant Well, that's what the Hoya Carnosa means to me,. I only found out its name when a friend posted back an excerpt from a plant book in answer to my query on facebook last year. It always struck me as being the kind of flower a scientist might invent, or something a robot would have in a bouquet if robots got married. A little bit sci-fi, is what I'm saying. But, that's just the first phase before it realizes it can be something quite other & sheds that artificial plastic look for something more like a 1970s paper-&-bamboo lampshade. Evolution on a stalk. The plant in my kitchen, growing out of an artist's jug, came from a cutting my mum took from a Massive Waxplant just inside the lobby entrance to the eye department of King's College Hospital in London 7yrs ago. I'd grown up with her sudden calls to shove some cutting she'd just procured whenever we went on a walk together. Mortifying! There was always a small scene as …

Spider to the Rescue!

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At Home With Spider: Protection I was utterly charmed watching 'Charlotte's Web' this weekend, the film of the book by E.B. White (it can take me the longest time to catch up with the rest of the world & Wilbur the Pig). It reminded me of a workshop I ran years ago around making dreamcatchers, touching on myths & legends based on spiders and their web-making. This rather large chappy hangs from the handle just inside my front door. I learned today that, 'if spider appears in your life' it's time to confront your fears rather than suppress or run from them. Good to know, as I was in hiding - whenever the relentless onslaught of Smart-phone trolls gets more than I can bear, I go into shock & into retreat, feeling defeated. Amazing to learn that a spider spinning a web across the cave mouth where Robert the Bruce was hiding after his defeat in battle, gave him the resolve to keep going; to persist; to try, try, try again, which resulted in his winning t…

Mr.Blackbird Singing

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A Little Bird Told Me... to listen! Inspired by my friend's gift to her man of a book to help him identify garden birds, complete with audio samples of their songs, I decided to find out for myself what they sound like so I'll be able to identify them myself in future. Thank you, Wildlife Trust & Sandie, I've learned something new. Very basic; very A-B-C, but that's where it all begins... The Poetry of Birdsong I also came across this poem by R.S. Thomas: A Blackbird Singing, which also fits the bill. The Audio Bit... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB1lgjg9e4Y wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

Crickets vs Grasshoppers

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Clearing Things Up... I knew I'd have to do some research to learn the difference between crickets & grasshoppers, my friend & I had no real idea what it was that was making the characteristic sound of...er...one of them. Turns out that chirping sound is known as stridulation - they both do it, but it's achieved in different ways. Grasshoppers rub their long back legs against the serrated edge of their wings; they're much longer - can grow up to 4 inches, but have short antennae. Crickets stridulate by rubbing their 'sort of' wings together, and their antennae are very long. The legs & wings of the grasshopper means they can jump and fly; crickets can only jump [www.softschools.com]. Grasshoppers are green - to blend in with their habitat; crickets are pale green or brown, or dark. Thing is, all that's academic if you can't actually see them. No worries! The fact that it was afternoon when we heard whatever-it-was, meant they were grasshoppers; c…

Heaven at Devil's Dyke

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Tree's a Jolly Good Fellow I fell in love again - another tree - phooooaar! - looked like it had groupies already! Very handsome. There were others, of course, but not like this one. Smitten. Maybe it was the heat; being outdoors in such a gorgeous place; I'm soooo lucky to live minutes from the sea and have the Downs on my back doorstep. Great place to catch up with a friend I rarely see since she moved 'up north'.  A walk, fresh air, damn good lunch & chat. I was saying this project made me realize all the birds & flowers I didn't know; she said she'd bought her man a book to identify garden birds; it plays their songs!  Wow! I want one! Kept seeing brown butterflies - what were they?! I wasn't fast enough to get any photos - too elusive! City Gals in the Countryside I was to lead the way [oh dear!] I set off thinking we were heading to Fulking & the 'Shepherd and Dog'. We risked life, limb & dodgy back scrambling down a very steep &…

You Can't Bury A Hurt

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Clearing on Every Level Still bitten by the pruning & clearing bug I overturned a pile of papers and unearthed the plan for a creative writing workshop I'd created & facilitated years before, specifically sited at a hardware store in Brighton. I'd spotted a sign outside inviting passers-by to visit the 'Secret Garden' at the back. Who could resist? As soon as I saw the place I knew I wanted to run a workshop there; the first of many sited in shops & businesses in the area. I'd read somewhere that it's impossible to bury a hurt or resentment - it's like burying a worm - it will always come up to the surface; so I wanted the workshop to address something that hadn't yet been resolved as a little bit of a challenge in one of the exercises. It worked. I like to mix fun with a therapeutic approach, when appropriate. Nature, the great healer, was there to help us along, even when it started to spot with rain.... wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

The Nature of Introspection

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Time in - Time Out Thank God for gardens - even mine! My back's still painful & twinge-y, but I spent a lot of time in the garden yesterday and today clearing, pruning, and re-arranging; then hauling chairs out of my dilapidated shed & painting them; then hanging up washing & reading a good book with equally good coffee. And inspired by my poetry finds yesterday, while clearing indoors, I've started a file of Nature-related poetry. I liked this one by C. K. Williams, who I wasn't familiar with - an American poet who won the Pulitzer prize in 1999 with his collection entitled 'Repair'. He seems to use nature to good effect, almost as a prop, a poetic device to explore emotions in more depth; the other example of his work in 'Poems of the Year' edited by Neil Astley, published by Bloodaxe, 2003, is 'The Doe' - excellent! But today I'm posting 'Doves' - it touches on the recognition of not knowing bird, plant or tree names - the …

The Poetry of Nature

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Cultivating Poetry A friend arrived unexpectedly in search of bike inner tubes, knowing I had several possible sources stashed in my front & back gardens. We went on an expedition. I had to do some serious pruning just to clear a path! in the process I discovered my drain was blocked, so set about clearing it & protecting against it happening again (too much soil & decomposing slugs - Nature gets everywhere). We found an inner tube he could take away with him, along with a bike carcass to take to the dump. meanwhile, I'd been bitten by the clearing bug & returned to the wilderness armed with secateurs.....very satisfying. I also discovered a bike we had completely missed it had been so overgrown! Ooops! I also did my back in - pulling on some reluctant roots, so am now unable to stand straight. But the clearing bug came with me. I came across a couple of printed sheets of poetry I'd put together for a art & craft workshop for local residents Years ago., when…

Nature's Colour Palette

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Cultivated Pleasure A 2-block stroll from beach back to my house was a feast of colour: a colour-binge. I had to take pictures of colours cultivated in front gardens and trees along the way. Wonderful colour-combos: plant against plant, or even within itself. Like fiesta time walking home, a home-grown mardi gras street party. I love seeing a clash of hot colours all together. When I was a kid fuschias always made me think of ballerinas in tutus or princesses in big puffy dresses - I loved the variety of 'ball gowns' they wore and strong choice of colours. I liked, too, that one of the characters in the Gormenghast series by artist-writer Mervyn Peake, was called Fuschia. Nature is such a wonderful free resource for artists - there must be some ball gowns or dresses based on them - somewhere (I will have to look that up now!).  I like how some colour combinations are sometimes quite 'unlikely' or unusual, almost wrong - like jazz. Look at the weird bluey-greeny leaves on t…

Natural Arts

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Rose Shadow Silhouettes I love waking up to see the sunlight create rose leaf patterns on my net curtains - the way they move in the breeze, sometimes slight & sometimes with a lot more sway. And this morning a little bird was singing its head off in the rosebush. I couldn't see it & was conscious I had no idea what bird it might be, I was sure my friend Jane would have known instantly! But I'm loving this wild challenge of connecting more with nature. I decided I'd try & capture some of the shapes the sun & rose leaves were making (though my camera's not up to much). Natural Dyes I woke early, looking forward to playing around with the material I'd found in the street in Bristol, from fabric sample books. I'd seen a couple of you-tube videos of a lady who was very excited about cooking up vegetable dyes in her kitchen to dye paper scraps she would then use as a foundation for some artwork. I loved her delight & enthusiasm at the colours she w…