Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paper flowers

A lot of the book recommendations I have given here were posted while I was still reading the book in question, and now I am doing it again, and I am only a few pages in! But I can safely say that I will not change my mind about this book, and in fact all the other books I wrote about in this space remain firmly among my favourites.

This book caught my eye in the IMMA bookshop (I was there with a friend to see the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition). I think I would have bought it on account of the subtitle alone:

book with glass artwork made by a friend

Yes, that's 72. There's hope for all of us. I regularly get into a state of panic worrying that I have wasted most of my twenties and could have been more productive, so this is like balm on my wounded soul ego.
One of the blurbs on the back states that The Paper Garden "both analyses and exemplifies that obsessional, mesmerised state induced in artists and crafts people through concentration and close observation", a state Mihály Csíkszenmihályi coined "flow", a concept I am very interested in.

Mary Delany was an 18th century woman who at the age of 72 invented a new art form, the mixed-media collage. She went on to create almost 1,000 detailed cut-paper flowers, which are now in the British Museum.
This book is an artwork in itself, beautifully designed, heavy and with lots of illustrations. Peacock has put herself and the parallels in her own life into Delany's story, and her writing is lyrical and mesmerising. The only reason I haven't read more of it yet is that I have been very busy and am only getting reading time in bed before I go to sleep, and no matter how good the book, my body just refuses to stay awake for much longer once I'm in there.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kindness and Light

There was another brilliant "A Life in Writing" interview in The Guardian about two weeks ago, with Ann Patchett. I have only read her first novel, Patron Saint of Liars, and her memoir Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Crealy (and highly recommend both), but her other books are on my To Read list. I love the quote they used as the heading:

She seems to get criticised for her cheery outlook and happy endings, but she is adamant that there are enough people writing about the darker side of human nature, and since she is "a positive, cheerful person", her books focus on human goodness: "In my life I have met astonishingly good people". Reading this interview put me in a good mood. I tend to read a lot of books with heavy, dark subject matter, but recently I have been seeking out more and more books like Ann Patchett's. I absolutely loved Siri Hustvedt's latest novel, which managed to deal with difficult themes in a light, redemptive way, and I am currently reading Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate, which is hilarious.

Another thing that stayed with me after reading this article was what Patchett took away from her mentors in college, whom she credits with changing her life. One of them, the writer Grace Paley, taught her the lesson of "having a single voice and being one person, so you're the same person as a mother, a friend, a teacher, a writer, an activist, a citizen". So important, and so hard.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cow Interlude

On Friday I spent four hours in the afternoon making changes to hundreds of programmes, as one thing or two had gone wrong at the printers...

The repetitive nature of the task at hand enabled me to think and I solved a few things that had been on my mind. But I also started feeling a bit woozy. Then I heard a strange sound outside the door and thought it was a friend/a drunk/a drunk friend making animal noises. Thankfully I didn't open the door, or these cows might have walked into my kitchen:

For a split second I really thought I was imagining things. But then I saw my neighbours running into the garden with panicked expressions on their faces. I'm glad I wasn't outside lying on the grass as I had been earlier in the day...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The last two weeks...

...completely random:

-It took me quite a while to recover fully, so I only started running again two days ago; only then did I realise how much I had missed it. I also realised that I tend to look after myself more when I exercise - when I wasn't running I ate more stodgy foods, but now I am back to eating tons of salad. I feel like I've been under a truck (because of course I didn't do any stretching), but also much stronger. And of course I am much nicer to be around when I exercise regularly. There may have been days of tears and crankiness, to put it mildly, prior to my taking up running again.

-I made these raspberry cheesecake brownies -not in the healthy foods category, but very yummy - somebody said what I usually bake tends to be not sweet enough, as I always halve the sugar, but that somebody did seem to like these, even though here I also used far less sugar than stated (recipe to follow; I am compiling a list of recipes):

-I am now officially and visibly a local tour guide, which hopefully will give me some summer work, though probably not this year, as I am going to visit my family in Germany soon:

-And I've been working on this festival. This is the artwork for the poster and programme (before I added the title, etc.):

 My favourite bits are the non-humans in it, especially the dog:

-We also went on more day and half-day trips:

Strandhill, Co. Sligo

Now I need to catch up with all the things on my various ToDo-lists and with friends. It's been a busy summer so far...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


accidental still life in beautiful colours on my draining rack

 I am still convalescing. I do go to work and shopping for groceries, but when I get home I collapse. I am sure I am well enough to do some painting and work on upcoming projects, but I have been shunning my little studio. Instead I am reading about half a book per day, am glued to a hot water bottle and go to bed at 8pm most days. I am drinking detox teas and eating extremely healthily 95 % of the time (or something). I did venture into town at the weekend, but I just walked the streets in a state of delirium -and easily overwhelmed by everything- until my body ached, then escaped to my house again. It's nice to have so much quiet time at home, and I have been ordered to rest, but I feel I am getting behind with everything and neglecting my friends, and I can't wait to go back to running.

Today I am not working, but I need to get the car ready for the NCT tomorrow and I am going to draw up a new To Do list, so I can pretend I am achieving something, even if it's just preparation-procastination.
One thing that's perfect for blah days is crochet; it is so soothing. In my quest for unusual yarns I recently bought this 100% linen yarn:

It feels strangely tough and a bit rigid at first, but once you get used to it, it is lovely to work with. I only bought one ball, as I wanted to try it out first and make small things like cuffs. The woman in the shop told me one of her customers is making a dress with it, and I can picture that perfectly. The colour is gorgeous, too.