Posted on October 14, 2017
What a nice day I’m having.
We’ve been grocery shopping, cleaned the house, done the laundry, sorted out my phone without incident (though I am uncontactable now until next week until the number transfers. It feels deliciously freeing, like floating through clouds) and I have eaten flapjack, which was better than anything.
I do believe there is a bottle of something in the fridge for this evening. Happy day!
For your amusement, a round up of my Inktober pictures for the past week. Each day the Inktober people provide a word as an inspiring prompt. I’ve been linking the words to women from history, and have produced all these pictures digitally.
It’s a long read (but fun!). Take a seat.
Day 7 – Emily Dickinson. Prompt word: SHY
I chose poet Emily Dickinson for this one, because she was a recluse for the latter part of her life, and visitors had to talk to her through her bedroom door. Sounds like a sensible strategy to me. Her expression in this picture is basically mine when someone asks me to a party where I have to make small talk.
Day 8 – Fannie Farmer. Prompt word: CROOKED
It’s been fun trying to come up with the women to match the words. Crooked was a particular challenge, until I stumbled across Fannie Farmer, and saw that she pioneered the use of standardised measurements. Everything about her seemed scientific and level; the antithesis of crooked. She was perfect, and fitting, as my daughter is doing cooking this term. She has to take all the ingredients ready for each recipe. Thus, every Tuesday night, last thing, I am to be found carefully measuring out 50g of this and 25g of that, and searching for the safest way to transport two eggs to school.
Fannie, I salute you.
Day 9 – Valaida Snow. Prompt word: SCREECH
You might not know, but the technical term for hitting the highest note on a trumpet is to ‘screech’. I know this because one of my kids started playing jazz trumpet at school. In his first lesson, the first thing he did, accidentally, was hit that highest note. Apparently, it takes some skill – or total fluke, in his case, as he’d not ever played before. The teacher was excited. It was all very thrilling – a prodigy in our midst? Then he got braces on his teeth and never screeched again. He still continues to make a tidy sum busking jazz on the streets at Christmas though, so he’s not too sad about it.
Valida Snow was the talk of the town in the 30s. A prodigious musical talent, trumpet was her best instrument. Unfortunately, Valaida was captured by the Nazis in the war, and incarcerated in a Danish prison, where she was repeatedly brutalised. She was released on a prisoner exchange, and though she played and performed again, her spark had gone out.
Day 10 – Ella Ewing. Prompt word: GIGANTIC.
What can I say? Ella Ewing was quite simply gigantic in height, and as a child, not at all always comfortable with the fact. She made her living, somewhat reluctantly at first, touring with the circus. Her father was especially uncertain as to the suitability of the career, but Ella, seeing a good opportunity to turn an unusual life to her advantage, persuaded him that she might as well use her unique height to her own – and her family’s – advantage.
Day 11 – Lina Radke. Prompt word: RUN
Lina Radke was a pioneer of women’s athletics in Germany in the 20s. She ran the first ever 800m event, and won the gold medal – Germany’s first. After the race, there was some consternation among the officials that the women were exhausted (I’ll bet you the officials were jealous couch potatoes), and so the poor little lovely women were banned from running that distance… until 1960. I imagine those officials have never given birth one day and looked after the baby and the rest of the children the next, and the next, and the next, and…
Day 12 – Marie Curie. Prompt word: SHATTERED.
Marie Curie, excellent at science. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person to win twice, among other accolades. I decided she definitely shattered all expectations of women of the time.
The other thing that makes me gasp about Marie’s story is that she kept radioactive material in her desk drawer, and noted that when she opened it in the dark, it seemed to glow. Can you believe it? And her papers, now so valuable and precious, are imbued with radioactivity, and have to be kept in a lead lined box, and handled wearing protective clothing.
Day 13 – Gertrude Ederle. Prompt word: TEEMING.
Another brain teaser. ‘Teeming with fish’ was the first thing that came to mind, and so Gertrude Ederle fit the bill. Gertrude was the first woman to swim the channel. The grease involved in this physical challenge has always fascinated me. They rub it on to stay warm. But what is it, I wonder? I guess it would have to be fish-proof, or sharks might get you.
And that’s something I have often pondered when swimming out to sea in a bikini in Greece. Do sharks like the taste of suncream, ’cause I’m covered in it, and really quite far out?
It’s been OK so far. I don’t think they like it.
Day 14 – Boudica. Prompt word: FIERCE.
Boudica – fierce warrior woman. Perfect. And, no one knows what she looked like, which is much the best, as getting a likeness of anyone is devilish hard. I can do it, course I can. I just prefer imagining!
I based this one – the hair, at least – on a beautiful model I drew at life drawing once. She had braids and dreadlocks, something I have always liked. I have never forgotten her look.
Still here? High five.
Posted on October 13, 2017
Hurrah – it’s the weekend!
What a long week it was, though studded with good things, like visits from friends and meetings and lots of work finished up. And Mr M home from Copenhagen.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow, as it will involve cake and all sorts of delicious things I’ve missed, what with being on a self imposed health kick these past few weeks. Like unrequited love, the thought of chocolate has been painfully delicious.
Now I can have it, the real thing might disappoint – what do you think?
There is, dear friends, only one way to find out!
Don’t worry, I am ready for the task.
*No time to post my week’s Inktober pictures today. Stay tuned, I’ll try for tomorrow (in between biscuits).
*This charming ‘pencil’ doodle is my favourite way of drawing on the iPad. It took me about 15 minutes. It’s the sort of thing I do on the back of an envelope. It looks like it could be in a magazine though – could life really be so simple? Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
Have a good weekend.
Posted on October 11, 2017
If you ever thought of giving me a call, I’d do it soon.
I’ve had a modern day headache this week, trying to escape the dastardly clutches of one mobile provider, and switch to another. I’m confident this new company will be much better, and I’ll be free as a bird, flying on the airwaves of unfettered 4G.
But do my existing provider want to let me go? They do not (well, who would?).
It all started when I realised that half my income was still going to the mobile phone people even though my contract has recently finished. What? How dare they? Oh wait, here it is in black and white… ‘if you are idiot enough not to check the date of the end of the contract, we will say nothing, and we’ll take your money anyway.’
Ah, yes. Of course. So I called them up, asking to stop everything. I’m not very interested in these things, so I don’t know what I’m talking about. I got the technical terms muddled up and revealed myself to be the ultimate technology buffoon, and then started giggling, which didn’t especially help.
That conversation ended with me agreeing sheepishly to stay with them. I had to call back (please, God, I promise I’ll go to church and I’ll even try to enjoy it, just let me get someone else this time), and put on a posh voice and pretend to be an actual grown up.
All good. But then I realised what unlocking a phone involves – all of it petrifying, bringing with it PAC codes and factory resets and the risk of losing all those photos I took of the pussycats wearing bonnets.
Please, if you are good at these things, send me encouraging thoughts. And call me soon, maybe, before my phone number goes into the dark side. It might never come home to me.
*And yes, I did write this listening to Carly Rae Jepsen, and watching this video, it was only right.
Did you see the bit where they swipe right for Tom Hanks? In another life, I would too. He’s so cute, and he dances like me 🙂 🙂 🙂
Posted on October 9, 2017
Strange connections happen if you let them.
Last night, I watched a film called ‘The Light Between Oceans’, and it was sad and funny and sexy and romantic and I cried and cried (no surprises there). Mr Murray is away again; I’ve got free rein on all the weepy movies.
It was about a lighthouse keeper and his love, who became his wife, who wanted a child.
In the film, tragedy strikes, as it must. And then, bizarre opportunity arrives on a shipwrecked boat, and the pair are faced with an awful decision – which will have consequences, of course. What will they choose? And how will they live with their choice, once made?
It was good – maybe not as good as the book, but all the same, worth watching. It made me late to bed.
The most compelling thing about the film for me was that the couple live on an island, all alone in the lighthouse.
It pulled at me, because I often feel like I live alone in a lighthouse on an island too.
Maybe that’s because ideas turned into paintings and writings have to start from some place of isolation. You do after all, have to carefully tend the light of creativity and keep it burning. You have to nurture the first glowing lightbeams of an idea growing in your brain, bring it out of nowhere, usually by yourself, and in utter quietness if you’re lucky. You have to examine it from all sides and understand how it’s going to work. You have to test its brightness. And then you have to spend days and days doing the actual work to bring it to being, all by yourself, and then regularly shining it out so other people can see it. Maybe your light is a comfort, or maybe it’s a warning. Does it matter?
Not everyone could tend the light, and some people would go mad in the trying. But someone has to do it. Someone has to live in a lighthouse on an island.
It may as well be me. I’m quite suited to it.
So with all that lighthouse thinking in my head, I set out this morning to Kevin’s studio. I got up late too, as well as going to bed late, so I’d quickly piled my hair up on my head in a scruffy bundle. It looked, so I was told, like Virginia Woolf.
Which reminded me of her book To The Lighthouse – a book I’ve never quite figured out, though I’ve read it twice. Margaret Atwood wrote an article about it, which leaves me none the wiser, but she helpfully ends with this:
‘Some books have to wait until you’re ready for them.’
Quite so. I think that too. And perhaps – perhaps – with all these lighthouse coincidences, now is my time.
Posted on October 6, 2017
Mr Murray and me are on a healthy eating regime. Well, he is, and I am joining in for solidarity.
For two weeks now, no crumb of bread, no granule of sugar, no ounce of caffeine, no morsel of cheese, no smudge of butter, no drop of alcohol has passed our lips. (Well… in my case this is *almost* true. I might have had some liquorice.) We are brimming with energy, clear skin (and resentment).
It’s great. (Its awful.) On top of that, three or four times a week we have done an early morning HIIT session. Then we come home and devour bacon and eggs (and the thought of that is the only thing that gets me through it). It’s hard during the day – no one else is here and the biscuits call to me.
Be strong! I can do it. Mr Murray has lost weight. It’s good. I’m trying not to, however. Which makes the whole venture rather nonsensical, which leads to a weakened resolve, which leads to the biscuit tin…
I’ve been distracting myself with Inktober – another wonderful project, which I’m enjoying very much. Here are my first 6 pictures (apologies if you’ve seen them elsewhere – I had many emails asking – nay, begging – me to put them here too!)
Here we go! They’re all done on my new iPad Pro, with an Apple Pencil – it’s like working with magic. I love it.
Each day the official Inktober people provide a word as a prompt. I’m linking all the prompts to a woman from history. The research has been delightful. I’m thinking of a book like this.
And you’ve seen day 5 here.
Have a great weekend. I’ll be trying not to eat sweets, and dreaming of cream cakes.
Posted on October 4, 2017
Truth: everything’s for sale, and nothing’s for sale.
It just depends on what day it is, and which way the wind blows.
Take this painting, for example. It’s not finished yet. How I will finish it, I don’t know. I don’t know what it needs.
It goes with a story, and that’s not finished either. How I will finish it, I don’t know. I don’t know what that needs either.
Perhaps one day I’ll find some perfect music that makes my brain and heart collide, and that will help me finish them both.
Or perhaps one day someone will say something, some snatch of phrasing, that unlocks the last sentence and the final brushstroke.
Who knows? Not me.
It’s tiresome, I know. We must be patient.
In the meantime, sorry to everyone who wants this painting. It’s not for sale.
*I could, however do some more in the same vein, and I would definitely sell them to you (I think). Leave me a message if that appeals. But would it distract me from finishing this one?!
Posted on October 2, 2017
Sometimes it’s hard to look forward to Autumn, with its darkening nights and damp gloom, and episodes of the back door sticking in the rain, and the nervous making perils of turning the central heating back on.*
So this year I took action early. I needed a new raincoat anyway. My old one is still spattered with bike oil from when we went on a cycling holiday in 2006. I think it’s served its time. So I went out recently and bought the most charming, most adorable coat I could find. It’s the colour of green grass, and it has toggles up the front like Paddington Bear. When it rains, the water pitter patters on it like on a tent. I love it.
I hope it rains a lot this Autumn.
*It always works, but I get so nervous about turning it back on. What if the radiators explode? 🙂