Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Decorating

Christmas Stocking

Teasel has been getting over excited by Christmas so we've put her stocking up early. The snow-being in it was one of the first decorations that she stole from the boxes of decorations that were "secure" in the spare room...

Later she helped me make a wreath for our door - she found the holly on the pavement and added bite marks for decoration:


However, later still, she was caught red-mouthed with this present, the only one so far to have arrived by post... which had been put, we thought, out of reach:

Teasel on CCCTV

It is now even higher up in the boughs of the fibre-optic Christmas tree:

Damaged Present

Jim decorated it yesterday and found three cute reindeer decorations to put on it. I don't remember these at all... perhaps that's part of the fun of Christmas - the surprises in the decorations box!

This tree is currently in the hall.

In the past we've had it in the sitting room but those lights flashing all the time drove me so mad that I put a set of ordinary Christmas tree lights on it and kept the fibre-optics off most of the time! In the hall its constant twinkle is much better and more welcoming!

I may not have time to post again before Christmas - so Merry Christmas to you all!

What's a Dalek have to do with it?

Goats Butt...

Core - I see a face!
"Core - I see a face!" - I'm always seeing things...

Tinker and Leah suggested, in reply to my posting about the inscription in the book by Aviva Gold, that it was made out to Goat Lady - which certainly made more sense than Goat Judy! I was thinking about this today and wondered if there was more of a message for me in this... it had been "For April" and then I remembered the goats at Paradise Bottom earlier this year:

Tinkling Goat
"Tinkling Goat" - photo by Jim

Jim took this photo on March 21st and it was on this walk, after seeing the goats, that for the first time in ages, I really felt that being near an animal gave me something of its power. I was inspired to go up and down hills with far more energy and sure-footedness that day than usual. That was just a little bit before April... I looked through my archive of photos from April itself and on the 21st of April found this:

A water butt kit! And we all know that goats butt don't we... ;-)

Another goatish synch is that a friend of mine share's her house with an astrologer - I'd teased him for ages by not letting him know when my birthday was - I was most intrigued to find out what he thought my sign was, and besides not being into astrology myself I felt much happier with his not knowing - his first guess about four years ago was Leo - I think my hair might have been having a good day that day - this November he tried Capricorn - still wrong but maybe he was picking up on something else! Though I'd consider the message, if there is one, to be that I'm a water goat which isn't in the Western Astrologer's menagerie.

Okay I've stretched this one as far it'll go... unless someone else has some suggestions?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Power Dip

Painting From the Source

This arrived today - from the US - Leah recommended it last Monday and I'd only ordered it on Tuesday from a reseller on Amazon had told me to allow until February 9th 2009!

As I was reading the first chapter we had a most unexpected power dip. I was just in the section where where she is describing her own journey to the type of painting she calls "Painting from the Source":
And I even had to say good-bye (power dip) to the fear of being connected and whole.
Which I must admit seemed significant to me at the time. There was a second power dip a little later when I wasn't reading - I was cutting up red peppers... I can't see any significance to that one ;-)

This copy is even signed, though its really hard to read, I think its signed by the author.

My best guess is:
For April,
Keep Painting, Goat Judy
Love Aviva Gold
Can you make it make more sense?

As I tried to post this I got a message saying
Conflicting edits

There was more than one attempt to edit this resource at the same time. This may have been because you double-clicked a link or a button or because someone else is also editing this blog or post.

Please hit the back button on your browser and try again. If the problem persists, please contact the Blogger Help Group. We apologise for the inconvenience.
Weird! I wasn't doing more than one thing at once...

Any suggestions for what that means also welcome!

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards

This is what I made this weekend - in fact mostly on Saturday - it felt very productive to get them made (even if not written and posted) before the last posting day - something that doesn't always happen - indeed last year I didn't get around to making any new ones at all - so lots of people ended up without one from me - sorry!

I made these in a similar way to the ones I made in 2006 (first stage, final ones) and indeed looked at and was again inspired by this tutorial. I got carried away adding bits and bobs before they were all cut up which meant I ended up having to cut some of the shiny confetti pieces and of course add more later. I also found it much easier to tape them into the cards than glue them. Quite a lot of my potential cards didn't have windows so I used a square hole card punch to make them.

Last time I used stamps on tissue to put greetings inside and I did something similar this time - I like the effect of a couple of layers of tissue although it does mean more glue and mess! At least Pritt stick was all that was necessary for the tissue.

Anyone else making cards?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What's on the Outside of Your Fridge?

What's on the Outside of Your Fridge?

Andrea has asked what is on the outside of people's fridges - this is ours.

The monster on the left is something Jim and I made in our first year together using a similar method to the fish next to it. Jim's mother had made that for him some years before. She was inspired by Make Something Ugly...for a Change: The Definitive Guide to Papier/Cloth Mache by Dan Reeder. (Unfortunately it seems that this is out of print and people are asking ridiculous prices for the copies available.)

The green tortoise magnet was made for Jim last year by his nephew, Alex.

What's on your fridge? (Do post a link here if you decide to blog it!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Life, Paint and Passion

My studio

Yes! I've finally got my studio back so I can paint again.

Last August Jim removed the old carpet (which had moths and had to go) and painted the floor - unfortunately the cement paint was VERY smelly so I couldn't go back in straight away.

Then we got Teasel and it was the best place to put her as it had a floor that wasn't precious... now she is (more or less) house trained she is inhabiting the upstairs more and I get the basement back!

I'm restricting myself to poster paints for the moment until I'm sure Teasel isn't going to take up paint eating. But that's no problem as I rather like them - they are cheap and colourful and I love their consistency and opaqueness. They are, incidentally, the type of paint recommended by one of my favourite art books:

Which I've recently re-read.

Its amazing how one can completely misremember a book.

The last time I read it and was inspired to paint by it I produced a whole series of paintings that were colourful weird and very detailed (though I used acrylic paints then as its what I had and knew). They formed the last exhibition of paintings that I did. That was in 1996. I blogged one 10 years after that in June 2006.

Now I realise that one of the things the book does is caution against showing this sort of art work to anyone!

Because its so personal.

I somehow missed that entirely before. Though I didn't try to sell them as I felt they were too personal to sell... but at the time I hadn't really worried about whether I might feel over-exposed by showing them... Looking back now I think that showing them did block me from letting myself paint more this way. As though I'd broken a trust with myself. So this time around I will not be showing them, not even here on my blog. (I have been painting on and off this year and not shown it here for the same reason.)

Also I'm sure when I first worked with the process in the book I felt that just splashing paint on "wasn't allowed"... hence the relatively tight and detailed work and yet the book is extremely clear about there being no rules... it makes suggestions that are not all mutually compatible because different things are going to be appropriate at different times. I think I must have got quite a lot of rules into my head when really the idea of the book is to free oneself from ALL the rules!

The idea is more about painting whatever it is appropriate to paint now; not to analyse it at any point, just to let it come.

So given that when I happen to tell Jim "this is such fun" and he responds "is it very messy?" this time around I will let the inner messy painter out!

This process is not about painting for those who intend to make a living from painting. It is about self-expression and painting for the sheer fun of it.

Michele Cassou has her own website - and the first thing that struck me about it is that her name was mispelt (Michell) on the cover of the Life, Paint and Passion book!

She has several other books, plus DVDs and CDs for sale there.

I would love to go on one of her workshops...

Anyone else used her methods or even been to one of her workshops?

Friday, November 21, 2008

IF - Opinion

Opinion - for Illustration Friday - in Corel Painter

Have you noticed that opinions seem to bloom whenever they are given a chance? I remember, when a teenager, that a classmate said she hadn't realised she had so many opinions until she went to a dinner party and was asked what she thought about this and that.

Today I realised I had some strong opinions about Miniature Schnauzers - we met one that was a couple of years old and its owner told me very forcefully that:
  • Miniature Schnauzers all bark
  • Their recall, when called, is bad
  • That they are terriers
Now I do realise that I've only had Teasel for a few weeks but one of the things I did before we got her was a lot of research about dog breeds and once I'd started to seriously consider a Miniature Schnauzer even more about them.

One book did warn that many of them bark as a hobby - however not all the owners I've met so far have had barky dogs and Teasel is the quietest, least barking puppy in the puppy class we go to - she can bark and will give the odd bark but not repetitively - and her mother didn't bark at us as far as I can remember - so although I do know it could be a problem its not necessarily so. (Any hints on what to do if she starts to get barky would be appreciated!)

On the recall... Teasel's is currently good (most of the time and especially when there is sausage in the offing) and certainly very good compared to the older ones. I assume that this is something we'll have to keep on working on. However I have noticed that none of the other owners take treats of any sort out to reward their dogs for returning - its as though they assume that just because the dog knows that its meant to come back it will and this is despite also knowing that their dog isn't that good at coming to them when they call... we currently take the tastiest treats with us when we are going to the park and I think that is something I'll continue for as long as necessary... it may well be that she'll always needs some sort of an incentive.

Miniature Schnauzers are Schnauzers, not terriers. In this country they are in the same kennel club category as the bigger Schnauzers (utility dogs), in the US the American Kennel Club has them in the terrier category but they were not actually breed from terriers so have no more genes in common with them that with other types of dogs.

What they do have in common is that they were breed to hunt rats and other small creatures. This means that they like to shake things and can be very persistent. But they don't have the same argumentative nature that so many terriers have though here too there are, of course, exceptions in both directions. As a child we had two West Highland Terriers - the first was as sweet as pie, the next an absolute monster!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tagged: Another 6 curious things

My Mind Reels - in Corel Painter

Connie has tagged me to divulge 6 random things about myself - I've done at least one version of this tag yonks ago (though that one wasn't very random as they all seem to be about elephants!) but there must be another 6 things for me to confess to - especially if I can now dismiss elephants from my mind:
  1. When people say "Try not to think about pink elephants..." and then wait a while before saying "I bet you thought about pink elephants..." - I usually haven't as I purposely programmed myself to think about something completely different when challenged like this... and from this you may deduce that I was teased a lot as a child and found various coping strategies!

    One of the ways of getting away from something like that quickly is by playing word association games:

    pink elephants - purple tigers - red pantaloons - green macaws - squawk - animal noises - etc.

    (I have no idea why those pantaloons crept in... )

  2. When I was first working and living in north London I discovered that I had a fear of going down escalators. I got over it by learning to ski downhill - and in particular to learn how to stop whilst skiing downhill. I tackled a fear of hypodermic injections by having acupuncture - once I'd survived all those needles being put in me I no longer panicked when I needed a jab from a single needle.

  3. Long ago I heard about the theory that if one disliked someone else intensely it was likely to be because we were projecting parts of our own unacknowledged shadow onto them. I discovered that sometimes this was clearly true and consequently made friends with all sorts of people I'd otherwise have avoided.

    It also helps when one inadvertently happens to be on the wrong end of someone else's dislike or fear; though they are less likely to want to come to terms with it!

  4. Before I went to university I was really into making or growing things and selling them - somehow I lost this entrepreneurial urge when I started to work and had to earn a living.

    For instance, in the sixth form (aged 18ish), I painted stones that I made into jewelry and was thrilled when I sold some to a local boutique. I was even more thrilled when I saw someone wearing one of them that they had bought

  5. I used to love wearing wigs to parties. Come to think of it I loved wearing a wig to a party only last April...

  6. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I used to say:

    An astrophysicist or an artist
I'm not going to tag anyone else explicitly (too many of my tags have been ignored in the past to encourage me to tag explicitly any more) but do let me know if you do it - I'd love to see what you've written.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A splash of Colour

I painted this in Corel Painter yesterday but if I wait for the words to go with it you'll never see it. So here it is!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


How come there seems to be so much more time in the day these days but its all filled with puppy?

Teasel photos on Flickr

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hot Dog!

Hot Dog!

This month there have been any number of synchronicities and general happenings around hot dogs - here are a few:
  • The MSH had a category "hot dog" for which I submitted the above photo
  • Despite being told not to feed a dog pork I've also been told by lots of people that sausages, and in particular hot dogs, are wonderful as treats during training
  • Jim likes the children's cartoons about Charlie and Lola - he showed me one he'd recently recorded that featured Lola "training" a friends dog who is called Sizzles and "will do anything for sausages" - after watching it we went out and for the first time met a dachshund in the park
  • Soon after this I bought a fox from the dog toys available at the vets... Jim then pointed out that Lola had a fox toy she's got Sizzles to play with... not so much a synchronicity as suggestion!
    Who is sleeping in my bed?
  • We've enrolled on a puppy training course and one of the recommended training treats is hot dogs - when I saw the price of the ones specifically for dogs I was rather amazed - when asked the trainer said that those for human consumption were okay for dogs... so I got a tin from Tesco but I didn't like them much... then yesterday I was in Waitrose and not thinking about hot dogs at all when I overheard a woman rejecting the jar of Frankfurters that some Waitrose staff had found for her and then being led off to the fresh ones in the chillers.

    I stooped down (they were on the bottom shelf) and picked them up - it was the last jar there! And they are altogether nicer than the Tesco ones... if I have to share sausages with my dog these will do!

    I also looked at the ones in the chillers but they won't last long enough... Teasel is so small she only needs about quarter of a sausage to make lots and lots of treats!
  • We've been out with hot dogs as rewards for coming when called a couple of times - she is pretty good at coming for these... the day I forgot them and attempted to use less tasty dried treats she seemed to go deaf ;-)
Yesterday in the park was this little girl in her Halloween costume a little early:

Cat meets Dog

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crossed Wires!

You Don't Say

Last night Jim and I played "You Don't Say" a game invented by Karen Pryor to teach clicker training through experiencing it. In each round of the game one person is the learner, the other the teacher. No one speaks. Only the teacher clicks. (Anyone else present watches, and probably laughs.)

It comes with all sorts of small objects, a clicker and a little booklet giving various games to play.

As the leaner one simply reads the learner's section that pretty much tells you the idea is to explore the things on the table and to collect tokens. Every time one does something the teacher wants to encourage one gets clicked and each click earns a token.

The teachers section is a bit longer and gives instructions for several different games.

As I started off playing the learner I didn't have any idea what the teacher's instructions were until after the game.

I started off touching various objects on the table - when I got to the red dinosaur I got my first click - yippee!

I bounced the dinosaur up and down vigorously in front of Jim. Jim clicked some more. Then he realised that although he'd clicked me he hadn't given me any silver tokens. I'd forgotten about the tokens too - I wasn't yet "conditioned" to getting a token for a click - so I was especially delighted to get several along with the clicks my enthusiastic bouncing had caused.

I think he thought I'd been so bouncy because I hadn't had my token... and maybe some where deep inside me that was true but it wasn't conscious.

I now proceeded to play with the dinosaur a lot - I put it in various places and on me in lots of ways - I sat on it, decorated myself with it - my favourite place was behind my ears - made it bite other things, etc. and I was getting clicks and tokens but it also seemed like I wasn't doing whatever it was that he wanted me to do with it... and then he held up the Queen of Spades.

I felt like he'd thrust it far too close to me and rather aggressively (I'm long-sighted and it was too close to focus on). Oh oh I thought - I've been black-carded! That must mean stop; whatever I'm doing isn't right... yet he also clicked me and gave me a coin... confusing! Okay that must mean I'm right about the dinosaur but I need to do something different with it...

I then tried several different things with the red dinosaur and all of them seemed to earn me the black card, plus clicks and coins... what was I doing wrong? What else could I do with it? What on earth had I missed out? Why did I keep getting clicks and coins when I'd been black carded?

Then Jim took away the dinosaur!

I was bereft. I'd obviously been very naughty and got it all wrong...

I picked up all the other things that were left - and I got a click and a coin! Oh maybe the point was to pick up everything except the dinosaur! I shook them and threw them about... I wasn't really aware of what was getting clicked and what wasn't at this stage.

Then as I was picking up all the pieces off the floor I happened to be holding the blue die. Now what do you do with one of these? Roll it of course! So I did. I got lots of clicks and lots of tokens.

In fact I'd got all the tokens... and then Jim simply swooped in and stole all my tokens!!!

What on earth had I done to deserve that. He hadn't even given me an IOU!

I kept on playing with the blue die and got some of my tokens back. Then he showed me another card... the two of diamonds! That isn't the black card so it must mean carry on.

I carried on rolling.

I began to worry about what number was coming up and whether I'd yet managed to roll all the numbers... Jim kept on thrusting the 2 of diamonds right in my face... too close for me to focus on it... hmm... he must mean he wants the number 2. So I picked the die up and showed him the face with 2 dots and carefully angled it so it was as much like a diamond as a square face can be. I got a click and a token...

Then he took the blue die away from me!

I was devastated.

I'd lost both my toys.

The ones that had earnt me all those tokens (and don't forget all the stolen tokens too)... and now I was just left with all the boring other ones... none of which had apparently been any use before...

I was feeling much less enthusiastic by now.

But then I got a click for touching the green fluffy ball.


Now I just KNEW it must be to do with a sequence.

He wanted me to put coloured things into a sequence - red, blue then green!

We carried on for a bit longer and at some point I got back the dinosaur and the die. Jim held up various cards to annoy me and I attempted to get things into the right sequence.

Eventually I'd managed to put the red dinosaur on top of the Queen of Spades card (it was face down on the table but I knew which card it was), the blue die on top of the two of diamonds and the green fluffy ball on top of another card that Jim had also started to flash about.

Jim said we'd finished and that I had obeyed all the cues.

But I didn't really understand at all!

I may well have been performing as he expected but in that part of me which has any vague semblance of consciousness I was still thinking of these cards in all the wrong ways.

From Jim's point of view he thought I was being particularly obtuse to take so long... the idea had been that each card was a cue to each object. That when shown the Queen of Spades I was meant to touch the red dinosaur, when shown the 2 of diamonds to touch the blue die (without any concern over the number showing or the orientation) and when shown the eight of hearts to touch the green fluffy ball. He claims that by the end of the game he'd got me doing that and that he'd done so without sticking to any particular sequence....

I now have a great deal of compassion for any animal being trained... although I doubt they'll have my sorts of confusions going on they could have all sorts of others and at a stage when it seems they have really got it may still be operating on an entirely incorrect set of rules!

For some great examples of pets being clicker trained see the free flicks at clickerflicks. My favourite so far is of a miniature pony being trained to pull a cart and a close second is this of a cat doing an agility course.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Catch up time!

Look what I won!

This is what I won in Ellen of Creative Laundry's giveaway. Isn't it gorgeous! Thank you so much Ellen.

Looking at it is giving me ideas for using the same technique.

Though when that will be I've no idea - time currently revolves around puppy things.

I have had time to read some books - dog related ones - my favourite of the most recent ones is Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor (UK, US):

Don't Shoot The Dog!

Its a great contrast to the No Diet Diet as its all about creating behaviours, skills (or habits) and using rewards to ensure that the best behaviours are encouraged. The book is full of anecdotes about training all sorts of animals, as the author used to train sea mammals to perform for fish or other rewards and has used the technique of marking a good behaviour (e.g. with a click or a whistle) and then rewarding it to train all sorts of creatures - including cats, fish, elephants, polar bears and of course dogs. And also of course humans - herself included.

At the moment I feel its an idea that I understand intellectually and think sounds really useful but really don't seem to be able to put into practice... so I've ordered a DVD to help me see it in practise... after all humans learn by copying others.

One of the anecdotes in the book was about a cat watching a dog being taught to rock on a child's rocking chair and being given meat rewards along the way. After an hour of training the dog had mastered it and the training session finished. Then with the rocking chair unoccupied the cat coolly got on and demonstrated how it should be done and to get its own meat reward!

Now you might think that being a copy cat like that makes the cat cleverer than the dog since it only had to be shown and it could do it too... but the dog will have got more than one reward as it went along... and a whole hour of attention too.

Going for a walk!

Last Saturday one of Jim's cousins was here having played a concert in Bristol the night before - she plays the baroque horn and let us both have a go - it was most odd attempting to make it sound and just getting little tiny squeaks coming out near my right ear - she then showed us how it was done and she found that there was one note that got Teasel singing too - since then we've had several family howls as we all sing along together unaccompanied!

For the monthly scavenger hunt this month one of the categories was "black and orange" - now I'm sure that was there so people could put in pictures of their Halloween things but this is my entry:

The Black Dog of Woofington

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puppy Party!


Yesterday I was 50 but tonight it was Teasel who had a party... she preferred the little girls who were there with their puppy to the other puppies... some of the other puppies were enormous compared to her despite their being several weeks younger!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Secret Feathers

In my last posting I showed the above white feather and pink feather and asked what you thought they might mean if interpreted as a sign - thank you for all your suggestions - its great to have different ideas. I loved them all whether they'd been given somewhat tongue in cheek or seriously.

I put a comment on that posting to a flickr photo of what I'd bought whilst at the shops just after taking the pink feather photo. The first of the books that I've looked at (and already read most of) was this one - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne:

I bought it from a charity shop and its in nearly new condition - indeed if a volunteer hadn't used an overly hard pencil to write its price in I could get away with saying it was new - and I might have been tempted to give it away as a present to someone else...

Instead I've read it. In the foreword I found this:

Note the "specific feather". And later on in the book the story of such a specifically imagined feather coming when asked for is given (pp 64-65):

I've been vaguely aware of The Secret as a phenomenon and must admit was rather annoyed at all the fuss! And having read it I'm still annoyed at all the fuss but I will admit that the ideas are very well described - however they are hardly a secret from anyone who has read a self-help or spiritual book in the last 30 years! And if the fuss has helped more people play with the ideas then maybe I'll stop being upset by it...

It is all about intention and setting one's intention appropriately. Lots of different people have ideas about how to do this effectively and in The Secret Rhonda Byrne has set out some good guidelines.

When talking to both Jim and my sister about it they mentioned this book from 1977, Illusions by Richard Bach:

Which brings us back to feathers again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A good day

Wet Feather Floating in the Sky

This is a feather I saw this morning when I went down to the shops.

Later in the day we discovered that Jim had won £1100 on the premium bonds! He's putting it down to Teasel being a lucky puppy... I think its the surge of love he's feeling for her! This evening she's been with us a full week.

I then went down to the shops again in the afternoon - I felt quite compelled to go.

Outside the front door was this:

Dry fluffy pink feather in leaf litter

If you wanted to interpret a message that came this way - first as a white wet feather on a black mini that reflects the sky and then as a bright pink dry feather amongst leaf litter - what would you think?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Teasel makes herself at home

Hello, my name is Teasel

We picked Teasel up on Thursday evening... and since then everything seems to have been puppy... or recovering from puppy...

The worst thing so far was yesterday... Jim had put up a small run so we could let her out into the back garden without fear of her escaping... and in the hope that this would help in house training her too.

He then went out.

A few minutes later he returned and rang the door bell... he'd forgotten his keys... he only came back because he'd put a few photos of her onto his USB stick and was hoping to show them to Colin... having said goodbye again Teasel and I went out into the outside run... after waiting in vain for ages for her to actually relieve herself one way or another it started to rain... in I thought... but no!

Somehow the door latch had come down and we were locked out!

Two and half hours later one of the neighbours came back from work and took us in... Jim returned about half an hour after that... and rather luckily had his keys with him!

The neighbour was one I'd said hello to before but never chatted to, I didn't even know his name before... he took us both in, gave me a hot drink and didn't even seem to mind when the long awaited wee came out of Teasel in his flat! (Given how hard it seems to be for her to control herself - how on earth did she keep this in so long???)

Thank you to Nick our lovely neighbour!

Here are some more photos of Teasel:

Miniature Shnauzer with her Schnozz enhancer

Just what do you want me to do now?

Teasel checking out Buddha

Smile please!

Dog tired

Sorry I've hardly visited any blogs recently... I'm just too tired most of the time... that or I'm sitting in the garden huddled up against the rain hoping Jim will come home!