Thursday, February 28, 2008


Oasis in Sand

Today we finally ordered a new settee. The one we've ordered is similar to the one above though its a 3-seater.

It has taken us MONTHS, no YEARS, to decide on what we wanted.

The one on the right is the MFI version of one we'd been considering before Christmas (though in a lighter colour like the cushions). You can get it from John Lewis, which is where we'd first seen it, for £895. During the January sales MFI had it for sale at under £700. Now its currently on there at over £1100 (I think) - I questioned this since I could see it was exactly the same as the one John Lewis still has on for around £900 and she confessed that right now they are in a "price establishment" phase. And quite honestly do not expect to sell anything for the next two weeks or so until their prices come down again as "reduced" or "sale" or something like that... she also agreed that it was exactly the same as the John Lewis one, even if its not called the same thing. Its a sofabed and the mechanism is amazingly simple. But we don't need a sofabed, that would have just been a potentially useful extra. It wasn't a reason to buy it.

And when it came down to it, as a settee, the one at the top was just SO much more comfortable. Jim liked it straight away too. The ends have recliners built-in and he loves them! (So do I!) We saw it last week and went back and ordered it today.

In our sitting room we've had an extraordinarily uncomfortable seat for ages - its a futon and far too hard despite all the extra cushions I've made for it. I've been feeling desperate to get something more comfortable for years. We've even had the money earmarked for it for over two years... now we've just got 12 more weeks to wait as, unfortunately, that's the lead time on the one we've chosen. Its funny how I've been quite patient really, not buying one that wasn't right, but now we've committed I wish it was being delivered tomorrow!

What I've learnt from all this is that I now know that when we are struggling to persuade each other to buy something it means don't buy it! Wait until we see something that really is what we both want.

I've also learnt that one should never, ever buy anything from one of the big furniture places unless it is on sale. The rest of the time its in "price establishment" and no-one is expected to buy anything during that time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Marie Curie Charity

Daffodil Angel
On the radio this morning I heard Hugh Grant mentioning the Marie Curie charity. Their nurses had made it possible for his mother to die at home, with her family around her, rather than in hospital.

They have a "daffodil appeal" running throughout March.

The last time I heard Hugh Grant on Radio 4 was ages ago when he was doing his Desert Island Discs. I was immensely pleased that he had selected as one of his 8 records "The Flopsy Bunnies". This was a childhood favourite of mine too. I'm trying to remember now how it goes... We're a happy family, yes a happy family, and we live at the foot of the old fir tree... there's Flopsy, there's Mopsy - how could they be sweeter?, funny little Cotton-tail and Peter!... something like that.

Ever since I've had rather a soft spot for Hugh Grant... And since I mostly don't remember film stars names the simple fact I can say this shows he is up there with Clint Eastwood for me! (Johnny Depp would be in there too if only I didn't keep on getting him muddled up with Brad Pitt... and if you don't know how anyone can do that maybe you'll see how weird my memory banks must be... )

Anyway, this is all part of a big series of synchronicities that are currently running for me.

Yesterday I just happened to find this on YouTube - I found it looking for lyrics to go with a photo someone had put up on flickr of a bunch of sad withered red heart-shaped balloons. The video includes Hugh Grant in Love Actually dancing around.

On Radio 4 this morning he mentioned that it might be a cliche but the Marie Curie nurses really are angels. I went out to take a photograph of a daffodil to illustrate the Marie Curie daffodil appeal and it turned out itself to look like an angel too!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Passion

image - 'choosing sides' by Don Solo

Over at Sunday Scribblings the prompt this week is Passion.

My, not so, secret passion is that of playing with synchronicities... and I also love making art even though this blog hasn't seen much of it recently. So imagine what happened when Imelda, the GreenishLady, introduced me to the idea of album covers randomly generated via visits to three separate sites. Here was instant, if slightly mechanical, synchronistic art! All that's left for the budding album designer to do is select their fonts...

My only problem with it was that I always feel the need to respect people's copyright wishes and so I was very pleased when my first attempt came up with an image that was almost usable, I contacted its owned and got permission to use it here.

I played with the idea some more but was frustrated by the sheer number of unusable images that were coming up using the original search. Then I found this search. It produces a single random image from flickr's most interesting images over the last week and, joy of joys, it only picks ones which allow reuse with alterations. And so I've been indulging my passion. And here are the results!

The image at the top of this post, of the rather mechanical looking guys with an American football, are accompanied by the band name of "Gerald Salton Award". This is an award which the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) offers. Once, long ago, I worked in computing. I never belonged to the ACM though I went to some of their conferences. A couple of days before I made this cover, out of the blue, I got an invite to join the ACM - and I've not had any contact with anyone in it for 12 years at least! Couple this with the title that came up "More apt for passion" and the Sunday Scribblings prompt of passion and you'll see why I thought I'd better emerge and show you the rest of my collection.

You would like to see my imaginary record collection wouldn't you?

Oh go on. Its not like you have to traipse up to my garret and sit in an unheated room whilst I play you weird music is it?

And its not like offering to show you my etchings is it? Well maybe it is... but only a little...

Antithyra brings you See what was there. Image, Sunset, supplied by Mor (bcnbits)

It does seem to me to be worth seeing what is there... and I love that image to go with it. What do you think a leaky boat that is still afloat might mean? I've no idea but I wonder...

So everything was going swimmingly (;-) as I played this game when up came:

Still no future brings you "life isn't for everyone". With a beautiful image Three of a Kind, by mat.teo

Not very cheerful.

That night and last night I caught the beginning of Radio 4's Moral Maze where this week they were discussing suicide!

Add to that a rather morbid thought I had as I was bringing the washing downstairs. I was suddenly thinking about two of my friends who have died before they were 50 (Lee and Stefek). The phrase, "those the gods love, die young" came to me. I then put the washing basket down and caught my hand, painfully, on a a pair of wastepaper bins that had been left there to be emptied. These two bins are ones that we had recently been using as buckets to catch drips from something that was leaking... (though it wasn't a boat). I don't normally lash out at inanimate objects but this time I did. My foot contacted them and to my surprise I broke both of them. Later I realised I'd kicked the bucket - twice!

Luckily this was my next cover:

Whew! There is time enough! Thank goodness for that! But what about this:

Punjabi Cuisine sings "Our Adversaries Are INSANE". Image, Kinderdijk. by Pσrcelαΐηgΐrl°

This reminds me of Don Quixote. And it wasn't the first reminder I'd had of it recently either. I don't know the story well but it does seem to be about illusion and disillusion. Sanity and insanity? Though how can one tell if one is sane... (and don't say anyone sane would stop at one album...)

So does it make sense to build a furnace near ice? Maybe. And besides yesterday I went to a glass blowing factory and actually saw (and felt the heat of) furnaces whilst they made glass things... glass is a lot like ice isn't it?

The full quote which that title came from was:
A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. Part2, III
US (Russian-born) novelist (1905 - 1982)
So we are back with suicide again... thanks...

This one is back to the ice theme again. It was the rich which are the scum of the earth in every country according to Chesterton... Once upon a time, unless one lived amongst snow, skiing was a rich persons occupation. These days though almost everyone seems to go... except of course the starving... and the truly poor.... so maybe it is still a definition of richness?

Surely its time for a fun album?

Although this might seem to be a little lighter than the others that quote in full is:
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)
Okay I can take a hint, as long as its repeated often enough, so lets get serious about this...

Anthrax (the disease not the band), presents "The stars and sun". Image is "OSA Sunset #2" by peter bowers
Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, and to work, and to play, and to look up at the stars and sun.
Henry Van Dyke
Truly life and death are different sides of the same coin. Without one we do not have the other. One's death is guaranteed from the moment life starts. We maintain our life only by bringing death to other life forms, its all part of the cycle of life. And if we take it a step further maybe there is case for saying one's death is imminent from the the moment you were first thought of:

The rather cumbersomely named band: University of Kentucky College of Design have just released "You First Thought Of". Image, The Phoenix Palm Rises From Ashes by JPhilipson

Are we into reincarnation now? Or maybe Intelligent Design... I'm certainly amazed at what comes up at random... have I strayed into the twilight zone?

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices -- to be found in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling
US actor, producer, & screenwriter (1924 - 1975)
By now, if you have come this far, and I bet very few of you have stayed the course, you will be hoping for something to cure me of this passion:

At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.
Emo Phillips
US comedian
To make your own album covers:

The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. Find a random interesting photo on flickr that allows manipulation using this link:

If you put it up on flickr then do tag it: "cd cover meme" and add it to the CD cover meme group.

More Sunday Scribblings inspired by Passion.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Sleep (and / or Teeth)

Bird Brain?

Over at Sunday Scribblings the explanation behind this prompt is:
In honor of Natalie Goldberg, who I am going to hear speak tonight about her new book, I have chosen a prompt from one of her old books, Wild Mind. Here, in her words: "An area not written about much -- but which once thought of becomes a rich vein -- is sleep. Try it. Write about sleep patterns, sleepless nights, sleeping in the day; how two brothers sleep together, two lovers; sleeping outside, beds you've slept in, sleeping on trips, in foreign countries; no sleep. What is sleep, anyway? It's like the old trick of saying your name over and over again until you don't know it anymore. Sleep is the other half of our life, the underbelly. We should explore it."

As Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind and also Writing Down the Bones used once to be favourite much used books of mine how could I resist joining in again this week.

Sleep touches me and I fall deep, deep into the the blessed depths of deep, deep sleep

I find myself awake in a dream, knowing that I dream and choosing to continue to dream the dream I'm in

Again I'm falling, tumbling, spinning

With no fear - I do know that I dream - I let myself simply go where the dream takes me

I arrive at what could be an expensive hotel but that I know is a private hospital

Still I refuse to move my body, let the dream take me where it will

I hover through the corridors and into a doctor's room

My body is deposited by two chairs

I wonder which chair is the doctor's chair and which the patients

As its a dream, and I know that I dream, I hold this thought but do not act on it

Now I am lying on a couch
The doctor has arrived

He is dressed in a blue boiler suit
He looks like a plumber
He take a screwdriver and uses it to inspect my feet

He says "The quantum threshold of the ganglia has reached a base point,
"We will have to operate with an acetylene high oxy-propo-butane transformer,
"Its clear that the psycho-physiological bubble is about to burst"

Finally I say:

"You don't expect me to believe any of that do you?"

He says nothing and motions with some plumber's tool towards my feet

"Well at least you got me to speak." I say

"I'd better get changed" he says

He returns wearing a tweed suit, looking every inch the country doctor,

Except that he is wearing rose-tinted spectacles.

"Hold this" he says handing me a bottle of snake oil.
He is leering above me and I'm feeling uneasy yet hopeful too.

The dream fades into black.
I am still aware.
I know I'm asleep.
I hear the body breathing.
I feel the body asleep.
I wait for the next dream.

I'm swept up into the clouds. I'm flying. I am still lucid and still choosing to be passive. A passive component of my dream. In recent lucid dreams any intentional action has broken the dream and sent me straight to the black space between dreams. This is the only way, at the moment, that I can maintain both dream and lucidity.

I let the dream carry me to the top of a mountain.
There I fall asleep in the dream and let myself just dream once more.

More Sunday Scribblings on sleep and/ or teeth.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Say it with Roses, Hearts and.... Marmite!

Say it with Roses, Hearts and.... Marmite!

What a wonderful Valentine morning - Jim had baked me a fruit and nut bread to make up for the lack of chocolates - I'm avoiding sugar this year and have so far kept the resolution pretty well! But also 12 red roses!!!

I'd really hoped to get the "I Love You" Marmite for Jim before today, but hadn't manged to find it until we went shopping at Waitrose today. Jim says it smells of Champagne, but to me it just smells like Marmite.

I hope you all got something to your taste. I made this mosaic from the hearts I spotted over the last few days.

This is what I did for my neighbour, using a photo of one of her cats and written in lolcat:

Happeh Valentinez Dai!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mala Popper Corns

Through Hockney's Eyes
Jim has recently become enameled with Eggcorns. I'm still attempting to distinguish them from malapropisms and puns...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Fridge Space

Inside my fridge, very little lives
It is dark, except when I open the door
Inside my fridge, are too many olives
They smell like sweat, and Mediterranean gore

A tiny poem for this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt of "Fridge Space" which appealed to me because on flickr last month, a group I enjoy, called the Monthly Scavenger Hunt, had on its list - "Inside my fridge" so I had the illustration already!

The other image that it brings to mind for me is the David Bowie song, Space Oddity, about Major Tom:
Here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.

Its the tin can that does it and the cold fridginess of space... brr...

I know its ages since I Scribbled along with Sunday Scribblings, and I'm not promising to become more regular either! Read more posts inspired by "Fridge Space".

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Random quote and pictures

I've been playing a variant on the album cover game - its a retitling of images. I found a PG Wodehouse quote generator and stuck with the flickr interestingness archive though the ones I'm showing here are just the ones with a creative commons license.

The top image came up in response to:
...he might have been a motion picture star whose face had launched a thousand bags of popcorn.
The next quote:
Her voice trailed away in a sigh that was like the wind blowing through the cracks in a broken heart.
matched with:

I love this image and the quote gives it such a different feel to the original description with it on flickr - which is well worth a read.

A picture I can't show you of a butterfly came up in response to:
Her departure left behind it the sort of quivering stillness you get during hurricane time in America, when the howling gale, having shaken you to the back teeth, passes on to tickle up residents in spots further west.
Maybe this is the very butterfly responsible... and in case you don't know what I'm referring to there is something in mathematics called the butterfly effect:
Due to nonlinearities in weather processes, a butterfly flapping its wings in Tahiti can, in theory, produce a tornado in Kansas. This strong dependence of outcomes on very slightly differing initial conditions is a hallmark of the mathematical behavior known as chaos.
And lastly this quote:
It just shows, what any member of Parliament will tell you, that if you want real oratory, the preliminary noggin is essential. Unless pie-eyed you cannot hope to grip.

Which I find apposite because so many drunks do seem to find themselves fascinating - something that may not be shared by the more sober in their audience.

And also yesterday I saw this post at Andrea's on colouring outside the lines- go and see if you can tell which paintings were done by artists and which by apes - and its not a trick question so write down your guess before checking the answer at the top of her comments.

I might mention I like the above image much more than the ones from either apes or artists! Though as we all discover tastes vary...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And by maintaining focus

backround image used with permission from ubik14

The GreenishLady is playing a fun game.

1. The first article title is the name of your band.

2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.Now take your photo, add the band name and title to it, then post it.

I love the whole idea of this one! Though I did feel the need to get permission from the photographer before using their photo this way.

My band's name is Saint Fidelis, which is pretty lucky compared to what I just got when I hit the link to check it worked - Chelsea F.C. season 2004-05!

And the album is "And by maintaining focus" which comes from Oprah:
Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you're going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.
Oprah Winfrey (1954 - ), O Magazine, July 2003
What a great quote! And yes I can do with the reminder to stay focused - I've been a bit scatty recently - I've had milk boil over, burnt myself, written absolute rubbish in my journal and only later discovered I'd missed out whole words or phrases...

Someone has gone to town with this idea and made loads of pretend albums. If you do this (or have done it) please leave me a comment here so I can see yours.

Update: There are lots on flickr with the tag "cd cover meme"