Friday, 28 December 2007

Two Things Challenge Tidy/Ends

This is the great present which Mark got me as a my main Christmas present. Love it, and now I can listen to music without deafening everybody else. For such a small object it makes a very loud noise. And although it has a lot of loose ends, it is a tidy slim little thing.

All sorts of music has been downloaded today, including a bit of Led Zeppelin. Listening to Led Zep's 'Rock and Roll' on this i-pod is something of an antidote to post-Christmas torpor. Although hugely powerful and raw, this track is also poised on a knife-edge, tidy almost. Controlled power, and reminds me of that advert you used to see (in England, for tyres, I think) of the athlete's foot poised at the start line in a stiletto shoe. All sorts of wild and baroque guitar riffs and drum lines which miraculously come together at the end of the musical phrases. A bit like this i-pod with it's tidying up of all the ends in the centre.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Forest Flanimals of Christmas

Time for another inebriated cartoon session while Mark watches 'Moonraker', which beats doing the crosswords in the Daily Mail! This is a book called 'Flanimals' by Ricky Gervais, which has strange creatures of the Deep, so I got the idea and did some ones based on Christmas, but in some Tropical Christmas Forest, but I'm not saying my family or old dog Tessa are strange creatures(!) or look anything like the funny flanimal on the cover of the book, I am just stealing the cartoon concept and doing it based some Christmas time observation.

Birds of the Forest

Bedecked in colourful plumes, in fact one year in a pink fluoresent feather boa, this bird has a great time going congregating on the trees with her mates, filling the forest air with chatterings. She has jewelled and ring-like markings and headplumes. A tweeny bird, not your actual bird, just a bird in waiting. Communicates with the mobile.

The Monkey

These are usually mischievous wayward creatures, but set them a certain task, like building magnetic ball stocking fillers, they prove themselves to be quite intelligent, with an IQ which is measurable.

The Sloth

A feature of the forest, though not to be found hanging upsidedown from the trees, but on the sofa. Has the same fat tummy and vacant expression.

The Old Wolf

This is an old wolf who can no longer hunt so shows great interest in scavanging any food to be found on the forest floor, including expensive chocolate Lindt reindeers. When she smells the great feast that the rest of the pack are eating she always manages to wake up and is always around while it is consumed, waiting for any leftovers. Eyesight going so finds all of the presents left lying about something of a hazard. Although nearly blind and deaf, this old wolf retains certain acute faculties which include remembering people who have given her doggie titbits from their pocket on her walk and following them about the next time she sees them.

Trailing Vines

Found decked all over the forest, a bit like the ones Tarzan swung from. This time come from a Party Confetti Canon.

The Waterfall

Many tropical forests have rivers and waterfalls, and this one is no exception. Here is a waterfall feature which was bought from a knock-off shop on Hessle Road which doesn't work as it has a pipe missing. Not a problem you get with nature's waterfalls, as they have been left to God and not to rogue traders.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Best Blogging Buddies Award from Sweet Irene

I have just received this award from Sweet Irene which I am very pleased to have. I started this blog as a bit of fun for my kids and wrote in the third person about the daft things they were getting up to. For many weeks I had no comments at all and Sweet Irene was the first person who commented, and kept commenting which kept me interested. I have also been reading her brilliant 'Sweet Wood Talking' since May, I think. The whole blogging experience has been great and absolutely fascinating, and I have 'met' many great people from all over the world and learnt all sorts of things and seen some brilliant art, all from a corner of my dining room. It has on occasions also been very moving. I thought, before I started, it was a bit like chat-rooms and a bit rubbishy but how wrong I have been proved! So thanks, Sweet Irene!

Thursday, 20 December 2007


There is also another posting on Christmas Decorations which has published below these other ones for some reason which I want people to be aware of as I put some effing effort into this, photographing the decorations on the table with white A4 paper and that.

A miracle

Christmas is a time of year when miracles traditionally happen. It certainly does in this house as here is a picture of my daughter Eleanor playing the double bass in her school orchestra. Since I have never seen her practising the thing this is something of a miracle. It seems our strategy of choosing the double bass has paid off as the bass line usually has long low simple notes, not like the fiddly complicated bits played by the violins which obviously need more practice. Here is a silly picture of the person in question which she secretly took last night while my camera was out.

Jack Bailey's photo session

Here is a photo session by Jack. He eventually managed to get the camera pointing the right way. I am photo phobic and do not like having my photo taken because I always look a bit guarded and selfconscious. You can see how I'm leaning away from the camera. I'm only doing this because I have been horrible to Frances, and I don't do this for anybody, mind. I went through this so that we could see the lovely pictures of Frances and her daughter. I have just being reading Sweet Irene's posting today about people being neurotic (like Woody Allen) so I think I can count myself in. (Don't enlarge, it looks better small, you can tell how neurotic I am, always thinking). (Now you're going to do it. Don't. More thinking). Obviously it didn't quite kill me to do it, as I am still posting another day, so don't worry about it.

Notice the thick jumper for dog walking. It's bl**dy freezing here. Also through the net curtains you can see the special Christmas star shining brightly, which shines on Hull, and nowhere else, I believe. So I've just let you in on the special secret and you are very privileged to have seen it as I don't think any of you have been to Hull at Christmas.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Two Things Challenge Sweet/Star

I was looking around for some sweets and stars. There are plenty about at this time of year and I was going to post a picture of Eleanor's sweet mini Christmas tree with stars on it. However, as I am quite getting into posting family pictures on the net (there might be a whole lot more and nothing but, and it might be like watching the boring slideshow of someone's holiday, only interesting to them) here is a picture of my kids when they were sweet and a picture of the real star of the family (which isn't the dog).

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Decorations on the Tree

Here are some of the decorations on our tree. I have been looking at them and they show all sorts of the aspects of Christmas.
First pic, a streamlined stylish arc deco bird. You could imagine this in a twenties hotel, and also in the Titantic, but I hope this is not an omen for our Christmas.
Second pic, a bit of a tramp of a Christmas decoration. A Wurzle Gummage figure, with bits missing, though the kids love him. Needs a bit of feeding up to make him a jolly fat Santa, perhaps in one of those soup kitchens they have for mini-Santas.
Third picture, quite a regal decoration this, looks like a coronation orb. It has the regal velvet and the embroidery which you could imagine being made by the needlewomen for many hours for perhaps Elizabeth I on one of her gowns. A great Elizabethan vibe this, especially at Christmas; the Elizabethans were always great at merry-making and feasting.
Fourth picture, a Victorian Christmas scene, which is the template for Christmas in England at least. Apparently this year there is a twenty percent chance of snow in London for Christmas Day, so we might get some in Hull as well. This has not happened for a number of years. We have the sledge, but not the horses, though when in use the dog shows great interest in it. We also have some mirror baubles which reflect the scenes in this house which are nothing like the Victorian ones, I assure you.
Fifth pic, a seventies disco bauble, like the silver ones you saw hanging from the ceiling. Lots of parties go on at this time of year, and in some of the nightclubs round here, we still have them.
Sixth, a sort of Vivian Westwood bauble, with the outlandish fashions. Great pattern on the body, and also a scarf. But what about the hairstyle! Totally impractical, as many of these fashion ensembles are, as everyone knows eighty percent of the heat in the body is lost by the head.
Seventh picture, also quite Victorian with the wooden rocking horse when the toys and presents were at their best.
Eighth, nature's Christmas decoration, a robin. Seen quite a few this year but didn't have my camera with me.
Nineth, quite an Ikea Christmas scene this, wooden , minimalist and stylish, without any chintz.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Hold/Value Follow-up

One of the nice things about Two Things is that it keeps you thinking about the themes, even after you have seen all the pictures. I particularly enjoyed Bobbie's interpretation this week, holding her baby in her arms.
I am going to make a rare appearance on this blog because I am shy and don't like my picture taken or bandied about. However, this is me in the hospital with Jack when he was born. I am using a funny squeezy bottle which squirts the milk out as babies born with Jack's problem can't suck and need things like this. Also, one of my favourite pictures of Jack when he was a baby (who walked at ten months) with us. He looked quite comical as he was so young to be walking, a little walking baby!

Sunday, 16 December 2007


Regular visitors to my blog will know that I do like a bit of kitsch, but today it is kitsch with a difference, because these baubles are antiques, at least in the sense they are very old. I don't know why I am apologising, they look lovely on the tree and I like them very much. They are Mark's Grandma's decorations and I think they date from the fifties.
She also had many elaborate paper chains (you can see one in the pic) which hung down from every part of her ceiling.
They have obviously been very well looked after as they are made of an extremely delicate glass and are all carefully packed in tissue paper in a suitcase when not in use.
They have all been imaginatively designed. I like the bauble with a little bauble head and scarf on for keeping warm, and also the strawberry bauble. This is slightly reminiscent of the way in the olden days poor kids got 'an apple, an orange and a shiny new penny' for Christmas, if they were lucky, because in those days fruits were a luxury and something like a strawberry would have been quite special, definitely not something you would get out of season.
In the days before mass production baubles from the far East obviously a little care was taken in making them, and one has been hand painted. The little bird looks a bit 'Art Deco' to me, and has a little tail made out of fine filaments.
Not the most flattering photo of Mark (good job he doesn't read the blog); he's actually quite dishy from the front.
These are the sort of heirlooms that people without much money leave to their children and grandchildren and they will be treasured for many years to come.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Photographing Old Folk

I was reading Diane Clancy' s ArtBlog yesterday and was quite saddened to hear that she doesn't get many commissions about pictures of old people. I love her dreamlike pictures of people's dogs in carpets of magical flowers, so may well save up the pennies (and learn to work out the e-mail) to get a commission of our old dog Tessa, who is sixteen in April.

I have been taking lots of pictures of Tessa recently and here is a picture of her (courtesy of which they have put up in the British Museum.

My previous posting was to do with how a sprinkling of white makes things look better, and she has a touch of the white stuff herself about the muzzle, bless her. A marking of her venerable old age.

Two Things Challenge Hold/Value

As Neda has noted in her posting of yesterday, Northern Europe is now in the grips of a cold snap, as was evident on my dog walk this morning.

My last post was about artificial Xmas decorations, so I was pleased to find this leaf today. Often in Christmas decorations you get the spray-on snow or ice, but this was the real thing. Not a good enough camera (enlarged you can get some idea) but the leaf glittered in reality with thousands of little ice diamonds in the sunshine. So the leaf held much value on its on it's intricate surface. Apart from the pleasure it gave me to look at it. 'Held' is a suitable word because the cold allowed the ice crystals to adhere to the leaf; raindrops, though sparkly, tend to fall off easily.

I have also posted some sparkling icy leaves, which I thought Lisa might appreciate, and also another valuable entity, Ruby the Rottweiler ( a rescue dog, cherished as you can tell from the coat, and a name which has connotations of a Northern working class woman of a certain age with a heart of gold) Scamp's best mate, decked out in her smart winter coat which keeps out the cold.
Postscript. This is a great challenge which I have thoroughly enjoyed doing for some weeks now. So interesting seeing all the different ideas people come up with, from all corners of the globe. Now it is made even more valuable by j. m. tewesbury's generous offer of $5 per entry to hugely deserving charities. I'm going to get a better camera! I'm going to think of really good ideas! The Two Things Challenge can be found through 'Debi Cates Photo A Day', and 'The Great Grannies Blog', through the comment on this posting.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wreaths and Christmas Lights

I have just been to the shop and have taken some pictures of the lights on the way. Today I took some pics of decorations on my dogwalk. These are not the most OTT decorations round here, but the more tasteful ones. The OTT ones are sadly totally outrageous.
I really love the little twinkly fairy lights in trees and bushes. The best ones are the white ones, and some have a really subtle twinkle, owing to the electronics, I suppose. However, I have posted a red one, as the white ones didn't come out very well (too subtle to photograph well, at least on my camera). It makes walking in the evening quite a magical experience, lots of twinkly fairy bushes and trees.
I also like these little flower lights, and I have taken a picture in the daytime (when they still look pretty good) and at night. I suppose my ideal Christmas garden would be lots of white twinkly lights in the bushes and trees, with a few of these flower lights. I think the pic I have posted with the lights of different colours is overgilding the lily somewhat, but maybe that's just me.
Also a Father Christmas climbing up the house, and you get a lot of those round here, and a few icicle lights hanging down from the roof, though those are rather passe, not like the cutting edge twinkle lights.

Monday, 10 December 2007


This posting is not my fault. It was suggested by Debi Cates who wanted to know some of the English nuances of swearing (lol).

We are probably quite good at swearing because of our AngloSaxon ancestry, which contains many fruity swearwords which have filtered down. Some of these have completely changed in their strength of meaning, and, as pointed out by Frances, it's all to do with context. The rudest AngloSaxon word of all is used quite freely and affectionately in Chaucer's medieval The Miller's Tale', but now it is highly insulting. Maybe this has something to do with the way that women are viewed and maybe now they have got more power they are seen as more of a threat, so such words are perhaps used highly aggressively now to put them in their place.

As for the second rudest, it is often used round where I live as a form of punctuation, so has lost all it's power to shock, at least in certain circles. As a result it is often seen as quite humorous, and I am reminded of a scene in the English film 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' where this word is said at least fifty times in the first five minutes, to great humorous effect in a mainstream comedy.

I am aware of American swearwords from watching films and I think Debi is right in that it is all or nothing. For instance, if you add the second rudest swearword and add 'Mother' to it, I think that is pretty strong, but you don't get that much round here. And you don't hear it much from Eddie Murphy now he has got into 'Shrek', I notice.

Here are some quite nice swear words which perhaps make for the acceptable middle way of English swearing- 'bloomin' (I say this a lot), 'b*gg*r' (which has a pleasing upper class and civilised connotation to it), 'bl**dy', 'd**n', 'sugar'(a sweet way of saying the other one), 'dash it', 'crumbs', 'flippin' heck', 'goodness me', 'gracious', 'gosh', 'golly' and 'bally'. Looking at these words, I think it is probably a class thing, as they are euphemistic versions of the ones you hear on the street, more suitable for civilised company. So I think we have more nuances in swearing because we have more of complex class structure still.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

A Successful Shopping Trip

Today I drove a two-ton Landrover Discovery to Hessle Road for some shopping, without any mishap. Eleanor controls the music, which is often Michael Jackson, which helps my concentration.

We have gone to day because Mark is away and we wanted to buy him a birthday present, because his birthday is in December, and it often gets eclipsed by Christmas, and the presents are an afterthought. I saw these self-lighting birthstones in Setams, where previously I have bought him an Xmas indoor water feature with a little town with a waterfall running down the middle of it (I love stuff like this) so I went back today. It has a fairy light grotto, and many interesting things.

Here is a picture of our booty on the patio table. We have a silver coin box in the shape of a letter box(as he keeps his in a jar at the moment) a chocolate cake scented candle, a butterfly jewelled bookmark, and the self-lighting December Birthstone. Also a fluorescent Xmas cube, a spotty tea cup and saucer combo, a ring in a box with a bow on it, a Happy Santa Doorbell (£1), and a High Society Trinket Box with a flower on it, among other things. To pay Eleanor for her trouble in accompanying me, we have a Father Xmas with bendy legs you can cross (which apparently Holly's mum has), a decorated box with a fancy stiletto shoe on it in a black satin cushioned presentation box(£2) a Father Xmas key to his grotto and a bell for the tree.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Two Things Challenge - Colourful Language

I was dog walking the other day when I happened to walk past this rather nondescript church and noticed the fishing imagery on the windows. This is appropriate for Hull as is (or was) a fishing community and many lives have been lost at sea and people may have sought solace in a church such as this one, among the former terrace houses of the fishermen. Also the fish symbol is a Christian one, as Christians should be 'fishers of men'.
I came back with my camera to take pics of the fish windows, but from the outside they weren't very good, as these windows were meant to be seen from the inside, illuminated by the light of faith perhaps. The vicar's wife saw me, as it was a Sunday morning, and kindly invited me inside to take some better pictures. As usual my camera batteries conked out at the crucial moment so after much faffing I quickly took this pic, which does cut off the bottom but I didn't want to delay her too much.
Stained glass windows were originally a way of communicating ideas and stories to the illiterate medieval masses, so in that way they are 'colourful language', albeit of a visual kind. I quite like the way this subverts the obvious meaning of 'colourful language', which, is of course a usually profane one, of the sort perhaps used by the trawlermen. Although I am not religious, I always get something out of going into a church, and this occasion was no exception.