Friday, March 29, 2013

Long weekend plans

In an ideal scenario I will be diligent and finish a series of illustrations today and then have the rest of this six-day Easter weekend free for the following:

|  Reading. I started reading Authenticity at physio yesterday while my knees were getting the Sonopuls treatment, and it is so good. I hope Deirdre Madden keeps writing and there will be many more books by her. I remember feeling utterly bereft when I finished my last of Jean Rhys's books, knowing there would be no more, so at least with an author who is still alive there is always hope.
I also got my third Marion Milner book, An Experiment in Leisure, more or less a sequel to A Life of One's Own (I will post part 2 about the latter soon) - she is dead, unfortunately, but there is still a lot by her out there I haven't read yet; she made it to the grand old age of 98.

|  Baking. My mum and sisters are probably making lambs and rabbits (in cake form) as per family tradition. Since the only cake tins I have are rectangluar, whatever I end up making won't look as pretty, but at least I will do something remotely Easter-y. Although instead of egg-heavy creations, I would like to make this Earl Grey chocolate cake again. I am definitely in a tea and chocolate phase.

|  Spring clean. This includes giving my house plants some TLC, particularly dealing with the explosion of aloe vera. I was delighted to see that the peace lily I have in the bathroom is blooming again after three years, and I wonder whether spraying it with misty water from a spray bottle has something to do with it. And the rose I got a few months ago is still going strong.

|  Make it to a beach, perhaps one I haven't been to in a while or a completely new (-to-me) one. I know this would be an antidote to the lethargy I have struggled with all month. With temperatures around two degrees and violent winds, it is not very tempting right now, but I could dress for the weather for a change and brave the elements. And pick sea beet, a new green food discovery, thanks to Hugh.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The small stuff


So many times my low mood, whatever its cause, improves drastically when I tackle things I have been transferring from week to week in my diary for so long that re-writing them has become almost automatic. I finally took the first step (no pun intended) to get my knee sorted. This has triggered more to worry about - how am I going to pay for it, and just how wrong has my body been holding itself, unbeknownst to me? -, but at least I have taken action. And of course it could be far worse. The appointment was followed by a well-deserved café break to take refuge from the rain. 

The problem with not running is that my brain manufactures this twisted logic that since I cannot run, I won't endeavour to be healthy and fit in other ways, as there is just no point, which explains all the bready things I have been eating. I think the only reason I am still skinny is that I have so much nervous energy. On Saturday I drove past at least twenty joggers within five minutes, all sent by the universe to mock me, of course. I let this mixed with other worries get me down, until the ridiculousness of it all hit me and I resolved to get back on track with exercise. There is a lot you can do, even with patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Posting a letter always makes me feel accomplished. It sounds pathetic, but I feel so much more together once the letter has slipped through the letterbox. These days I make seals for the envelopes with bits of patterned paper - wallpaper ads in magazines often have little squares like the one above, or I cut them out from other sources. I collect them in a Moleskine pocket memo portfolio, and the collecting and cutting out and matching colours has become a relaxing way to spend a few minutes; I love patterns.

Anything to do with gardening tends to take forever in my world, as if the garden centre were hundreds of miles away instead of ten minutes. Right now I am hoping the extreme rain from last week that made the crocuses sit in a pool of water won't be repeated for a while, so I can figure out a drainage system (I didn't drill holes before putting in the soil).

I have resigned myself to the fact that I am one of those people who easily get overwhelmed by life, including trivial stuff. It's a HSP trait. But the cure to feeling frazzled often lies in doing all the small tasks that make me feel like a functioning human being again. And now I am going to drop off a painting that has been sitting in my car for weeks now...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


In a week (a month?) full of surprises, two tangible ones: a surprise care package with petals, delivered in person by a surprise visitor, and going to a new page in the gorgeous personalised diary another friend made me to find St. Patrick's Day decorated with pressed shamrocks - somehow I had missed that page when I looked through the book to admire all the quirky illustrations.

And a third one, not pictured: a book delivery arrived surprisingly early - I now have my third Deirdre Madden book, Authenticity, a novel about art and love, apparently ideas-driven like Molly Fox's Birthday. I am thinking of saving Authenticity for Easter, but have a suspicion I might start reading it this evening.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Time, time, time

This picture doesn't quite convey how big this painting is in the context of my small house. I hung it above the table and wonder how long it and I will get on for. Faces in paintings hung in your home inevitably stare at you, which can become unnerving. I understand why some people don't want any portraits in their house.

If I had more money I would buy more art by other people (I have some pieces by other artists, but they were mainly gifts). Sometimes I do worry that it might look self-obsessed or pretentious having my own work on the walls, but then again the space beyond my little studio serves as extended storage for my paintings, and a few of them will at any one time be on the walls. And it is part of the whole process to be surrounded by and able to see your own work: it helps me to stay connected with what I am doing, even subconsciously, and I can figure out what needs changing and where I want to go with a theme or a colour combination.

I usually post here twice a week, but currently it seems a week goes by in what feels like a day (currently? "Time is flying by" is one of the phrases I overuse). My weeks are not even that structured apart from the teaching, but there are so many other markers for the rhythm of weeks and months and seasons that bring into focus how scarily fast they are passing by: the weekend papers, a certain radio show, baths with Epsom salts, changing the water filter. And it seems that for the past three years I have always been waiting for Spring so I could repot my aloe vera plants, for example, and then Spring would come and be over yet again before I could fully embrace it (it's a good thing I love all four seasons). And here we are again.

* Post title: when I think of time, Tom Waits's "Time" invariably plays in my head.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In my stride

 My default state of mind currently seems to be bursting with an enthusiasm that is suppressed by a body that refuses to collaborate. At the moment running is out of the question because my knee is still giving me trouble (though it doesn't hurt when actually running or walking; but it does feel worse afterwards, so it cannot be good), and I am battling a chest infection that sees me in bed most of my free time. I would love to make my bed an island on which to read, write and draw, but it is not happening - I manage to read a few pages before falling asleep.*

My mind, however, is very active in my waking hours, planning and sorting and dreaming and anticipating. Somewhat paradoxically, I am also doing my best to be in the moment, but that can be difficult, especially when what I would like to do in the moment is not possible, though of course I realise that being in the moment entails accepting what is.

Despite the need for a hot water bottle and/or flannel sheet in bed, Spring is on its way. I am certain of this because I want to eat raw vegetables on their own, something that seemed wrong until very recently. I have been using jasmine oil on my face (with jojoba as a base oil) and drink at least a litre of jasmine tea every day, and it puts me in a happy mood. I object to jasmine routinely being described as a "corpse" smell, though I get the sweetness link, but I find the thought a bit disturbing.

* [for Spanish speakers]: I am reading the quirkily brilliant book Artistas insólitos by Daniel Monedero, given to me by my friend Pilar, who recommended and subsequently invited Daniel for our festival - he gave a hilarious presentation on some of the books he has published in collaboration with amazing illustrators. Here is a little animation about Artistas insólitos.


Thank you for your lovely comments and e-mails over the last few days. I am behind on the e-mail (as usual... Funnily enough I have been procrastinating on ordering this book on procrastination - I like to think that as soon as I own a copy - I have read it -, I will be a procrastinator no longer), but I will reply soon!