31 May 2018

Poetry Thursday - a found poem, The Planets

MACE-5 Armillary Sphere 1708 Antique Celestial Maps.jpg
The Planets (23 March 2018)

With Mercury entering its rewind phase
    you could make important decisions;

With Mercury turning retrograde
    this could be an opportunity to take stock;

With Mercury turning backwards
    your emotions can fluctuate;
This current phase can coincide with frustrating delays.

An awkward angle involving convivial Venus and intensive Pluto
    suggests you might not want to go ahead;
Other factors could also strengthen your resolve.

With harmonious Venus forging an awkward angle with potent Pluto
    you could come across as being too pushy.

With the moon angling towards dreamy Neptune
    you could be open to others' feelings;
There is a possibility of confusion.

Things may not go as planned.

Holding a discussion could improve a relationship;
Look to any experiences from your past that could come in handy.

I found this poem in "Metroscope", the horoscope section of Metro free newspaper, 23 March 2018. Each star sign has contributed one or more lines.

Found poetry is a slippery concept! Chunks of scientific text, and parts of the speeches of public figures, have been used as found poetry.

For me, it's the choice and/or rearrangement of words and phrases (especially (re)juxtaposition and chopping up the lines) and the subsequent rethinking-upon-rereading that makes found poetry a compelling form of writing. It's like collage - the elements are there to hand, all you need to do is rearrange them into a pattern that gives the viewer or reader a new perception.

30 May 2018


Norwich Cathedral has a pair of nesting peregrine falcons, which have been breeding successfully since 2012, and the Hawk and Owl Trust is on hand to give people a chance to see them close up, providing telescopes and information (and a live webcam).
The turrets are often used for consuming prey, but this bird was up at the top of the spire -

The photos were taken with a phone camera through the telescope, and it wasn't easy to hold both phone and scope steady, and then "click the button". But quite a thrill to see the bird up close, busy eating!

29 May 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Horniman Museum

And what a lovely day we had for it! The bedding going on in the garden provided my warm-up -
 and while sitting with a cup of coffee I used the circle motif of the chairs

both times using the watersoluble pencils for the pleasure of "colouring in" with a waterbrush.

Jo found many things, including this anteater -
 Janet K tackled the perspective of the greenhouse -
 and Joyce drew the cityscape onto a photocopy of a painting from a magazine -
 Najlaa had a different perspective on the bedding -
 Judith found this spectacular flower (what is it?) -
Two views of the pergola, by Sue -
 and from a different angle, by Carol -
 Janet B depicted, among other things, a sloth -

Last week Carol was at Tate Modern, admiring the view -

Extracurricular? - sort of ... Najlaa wondered how to use the silicone stamps for printing - we suggested gluing them to blocks of wood with an appropriate glue, perhaps using the back of stamps she already has -
 I had a few bits of "old work" to distribute to anyone who was interested -

On the way home - in the museum grounds, this gorgeous tree, an acacia perhaps? -
 and elsewhere, the shadow of a chestnut -
 Time for another coffee (and cake) at Highbury Barn -
 and startled to find myself sitting beside this hybrid object -

28 May 2018

Plastic redux


Investing in plastic storage boxes - these give me joy. Lids match by colour, and each colour comes in two sizes. They stack neatly.

27 May 2018

Poppy season

Last week, a single bloom caught my eye -
This week, a panoply of poppies -
 In another north London garden -
 In Vauxhall -
In context -

After you notice a thing, you keep seeing more of it, don't you find?

26 May 2018

Local produce

Gorgeous radichio - from the well-stocked greengrocer

The soil means it's real (from the farmers market)

25 May 2018


It's wonderful to have Sue here in London for a while, now that she's conquered the mountains of the Camino Primitivo and walked to Santiago. We'll be traipsing over town and country - lots to see in England, and so little time....

24 May 2018

Poetry Thursday - Getting Older by Elaine Feinstein

Getting Older

The first surprise: I like it.
Whatever happens now, some things
that used to terrify have not:

I didn't die young, for instance. Or lose
my only love. My three children
never had to run away from anyone.

Don't tell me this gratitude is complacent.
We all approach the edge of the same blackness
which for me is silent.

Knowing as much sharpens
my delight in January freesia,
hot coffee, winter sunlight. So we say

as we lie close on some gentle occasion:
every day won from such
darkness is a celebration.

Elaine Feinstein  (via)

One poem leads to another - and this is another poem found via the search for "the knitting poems", months ago.

A string of poems - like stitches in a garment?

23 May 2018

Ladder of years

The book of that title, Ladder of Years, by Ann ...oh dear, the name will come in a moment... has the happiest memories for me - I was captivated by it, right from the "newspaper announcement" of the missing woman, with the description given by her husband: "Her eyes are blue, or maybe green" - well, it's easy to forget the colour of your wife's eyes! The book came along on a trip to Paris and at one point I sat in the square outside the hotel, early in the morning, reading it while Tony slept on, and on... perhaps he was taking his time to let me get on with the book?

So now I have the ladder - the much wanted stepladder - and as for the years, what difference does yet another birthday make? It's better to get older, than not!

A cautionary tale (included, by the manufacturer, with the stepladder): watch out for over reaching - and keep a grip on that ladder -
Ah, that's better -

Ann Tyler, of course! After reading this review, I need to reread the book. Literary subtexts can be elusive - the Lear story is the basis for A Thousand Acres too (by Jane Smiley), and I missed it there too.

22 May 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Britain

This bit of crazy colourfulness is on the way to the gallery, part of a building under construction -
 but I'd also seen a lot of this -
 and it was the leafiness that won out, as I sat in the shade and tried to catch the shadows - it was windy, they kept moving! - first as lines (with watersoluble pencils) and then using the dregs of my coffee to activate the colours -
 All very pleasant, and a good warm-up for some serious stuff "inside", getting to know a seemingly simple Barbara Hepworth sculpture -
Sue started with a dark pastel paper for drawing the unidentified lounging woman in the Anthea Hamilton exhibit (it's Henry Laurens’ 1948 bronze, Autumn)-
Intersecting shadows, by Judith -
Najlaa's perseverance in tracing the contours of an Antony Gormley piece has paid off -
 Joyce stayed outdoors, using grey and black for shapes, shadows, and foliage -
 Janet K spent the morning with Rebecca Warren's "Come, Helga" -

Tool of the week - the pencil extender means you can use even the smallest stub!

21 May 2018


Several years on the needles and finished this week the leftovers of yarn brought back from Canada years ago. Looks a lot like one of these, in a blog post from March 2008 -

       Favourite pattern             

This makes a dishcloth from 1.5 oz (45 g) of cotton, using 4mm needles.

Cast on 4.
Knit 2, yarn over needle, knit to end of row.
Repeat till you have 44 stitches.
Knit 1, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end of row.
Repeat till you have 4 stitches.
Cast off.

20 May 2018

New River Walk (London N1)

A shallow stream, shadowed in the heat of a sunny day - it's a hidden green sliver through already-leafy Canonbury. Shade, birds, reflections on the moving water ... "a green thought in a green shade".

Even when you're on the way to somewhere, it invites pausing - and a few photos.

Under the fountain


Tucked away

 Abstraction -

 Patterns -

"This charming linear park is landscaped along the river. There are several graceful weeping willows dipping into the water and many other trees, both junior and mature. The narrow path winds intriguingly enabling the pretence you're in the actual countryside and it's a delight to linger ... There are ducks, coots and moorhens even in midwinter and birdsong rang out from the treetops. ... The walk is rarely busy although a favourite for locals in the know and there are strategic benches along the way for when it's warm enough to sit and doze." (via)

One such bench was occupied by a young man, stretched out in the sun and supporting a book on his raised knee, lost to the world in it.