Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sprout peelings

Look, I'm here, really I am. I'm sorry this blog is updated rather intermittently. I don't forget my readers, both of you. It's just that the creative block called Christmas has gone now, and I keep having to work hard in the lair. I went into the garden yesterday just to take some leaves from outside the kitchen door to the far end, and blow me if there weren't some sprout peelings looking lovely and glistening in the morning sun! So I had to go and get the camera; a woman's work is never done.

And then later that day was a lovely evening light: 'Light in winter', a phrase that once sustained me through some grief. I saw it on the spine of an old book in St. Deiniol's library. I didn't get it off the shelf; I didn't need to, the phrase was enough and reading the book might have broken the spell. Well, we all have our excuses for being poorly read, and that's mine. The phrase didn't suggest that there was hope, rather it suggested that one could live in a kind of winter of the soul and there could still be good stuff to sustain one within that situation. And somehow, I just can't read a load of stuff, I have to give up thinking of myself as an 'avid reader'; or else perhaps I'm just an avid reader of a very little. A few phrases are more than all I need, they jump out at me; too many and I'd be overloaded. I go to bed with picture books.

And then just now I settled down in my kitchen chair for a nap - I was late working last night - and what did I see but this dishcloth pilgrim marching across the windowsill! It must be a sign, I tell 'ee!

But I have a list of blog topics just howling at me to be set down. Titles waiting to be brought to fruition include: 'Omni-this and that' and 'Splish splosh, neatness, Stanley Spencer' and 'New light shed'. Do I write this for you, dear reader? Well, partly! But mainly I write it for myself - I think I must be my most avid reader! Then sights like this are only a click-of-Clothq away. We have this kind of sky quite a lot in Lincolnshire, and this pic is not souped-up in any way; my pics usually are not, and I would tell you if it were. It's for bedtime reading, provided by God.

Light in Winter

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Flower chariot rides into 2012

This little creation makes me feel so optimistic. This chocolate-box chariot is what little Eric aged 5 made - with a little help from Gran who did the wheels - over Christmas.

Open it up and it is full of flowers Eric cut with his precious flower cutter. It reminds me of those Neanderthals who died out, and who were said to have decorated the graves of their dead with flowers. (Wiki again - sorree!!!)

So little boys do not just want to make cars that go faster, and chariots of fire. Before the world gets to them, they sometimes want to make chariots of flowers.

May the wheels stay on your chariot in 2012, and may it always be full of flowers and taking them to where they are needed.


Pics are back! Thank goodness; I'm not the psalmist, I can't paint pictures in the air with words. Writing without pics reminds me of the mourning in the monastery at Jarrow when due to plague in the 7th century they had to recite the psalms without the usual Christian antiphons. There wasn't exactly a plague here, although it could be said to have been a plague in the laptop, a kind of fever of such temperature that the thing ceased to be.

So now I can bring you the result of the Christmastide ride over the Humber. Recently I said that one mince pie would fuel one bike ride over the Humber for a small-medium-sized woman. Here is that very mince pie!

And the rest of the pics almost speak for themselves, which is a relief as I was getting tired of always speaking myself.

This pillar really does have something to say. See next pic.

I've talked about this before, the poem by Philip Larkin, but I don't think I showed the very pillar where it is quoted.,628365&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

 And now, a real sunset-and-mud-fest from that ride. I'm going to let the sun and the mud say it all, almost.

Golden sunset at Hessle

Moments later, pewter sunset at Hessle.

Going underneath at the Hull end; squidgy mud, be careful on the bike.

The road up from Hessle

Homeward bound, looking west.

SOTS winter meeting 2012

Sunday afternoon  in the lair
Welcome to Viv's lair on a Sunday afternoon. I've just spent a happy hour here resizing pics from the SOTS winter meeting 2012. The pics aren't brilliant, as they are all taken hand-held on a small not-very-new camera without flash, but here goes... (I'm sure others will have taken much better pics)

This view of Durham is from the station, often the first view visitors get of the magnificent cathedral towers across the valley. Those of us who were students here coming from south of Durham never forget our first encounter with this.

I decided to walk up to Collingwood via the town centre, taking in views like this. The bridge you can see in the distance is Framwellgate.

Brolly RIP
 The weather prevented SOTS people in Scotland from travel until the second day of the meeting.

As I arrived on Palace Green, I turned round and saw this rainbow. I touched up the colours and contrast of the original pic to try to give it the impact of the original view; an attempt at a 'dynamic translation'. The rainbow had gone a few moments later.

The 'Department of Theology (and now) and Religion', Palace Green. I spent many happy hours in there 1973-1977, when it was just 'theology'. Location, location, location.

I took another walk that afternoon after the committee meeting, and here is Durham in the gloaming. I was sorry not to catch the grey heron which rose from the banks near me just after this was taken.

 And one just has to take this one.
Next day the host of SOTS descended to Prebends bridge to make the crossing of the Wear in order to reach the cathedral where we were to be led on a tour pointing out aspects of the cathedral which have resonance with biblical themes.

The River Wear and the Department of Archaeology.

The Dean, Michael Sadgrove, is 'one of us', and entertained us to a lovely tea in the Deanery with its sumptuous historic wallpaper.

 It was still quite bright when we left the Deanery. Durham is set on a hill..... As a student I thought it was Jerusalem. Dean Sadgrove seemed to think that this was exactly the impression the builders hoped we'd get.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Religious not spiritual

The lack of pictures here is very galling, and normal service will be resumed asap. There are some great ones of mince-pie-with-Humber-Bridge, Humber-Bridge-mud-in-the-gloaming etc languishing on the camera. I'm supposed to be looking for a new laptop, but have no idea how to choose one. (I'm of the idea that Bluetooth is what you get from eating bilberry pie, and more recently, drinking red wine.) They don't seem to be marketed at people like me who would like some freebie such a lovely pair of scissors to add to the (at least) 25 I already have. Come on, you lot at Sony, Toshiba etc, turn your minds to some truly sensational pack of coloured pencils for me.

I was looking around this morning while in bed, and found a blog with a section on reading stuff about bohemia. It contained this line:

"Oh no! I am feeling like a book blogger who has slept through her alarm, turned her face down into the warm pillow and lazily allowed for the languishing of good books. I have many excuses, but I won’t bore you with them: I am just late in posting."

I had no idea that bloggers had to stick to a timetable, though I do know the feeling of having the face in the warm pillow [pause]; yes, I can recommend it.

But Hannah Stoneham's book blog really is excellent.

She's everything I'm not. (She's the young relative of a friend).  She says her blog is about 'the book-less-read', which I misunderstood at first and thought it meant no books were needed for this kind of reading. (That would be bookless-read.) But she really does read, and if there's any novel etc you'd like a review on, she's probably done it. She obviously takes the art seriously and puts her stuff out there regularly and on time.

Not-reading but crocheting the other day in the living-room-cum-nursery, I overheard something on Cee-beebies, you know, BBC kiddie telly channel, and I thought I heard the words 'The Virgin'. Of course I knew I hadn't, but I wished I had. It set me off on one of my thoughts about how in the wish to avoid propaganda or favouring one religion over another, the media just backs off from everything* to do with religion, and the upshot of this is:

1) All religious people are viewed as potential or actual proselytisers.

2) All religious people are viewed as fundamentalists.

3) The next generation will suffer, as most will not have much knowledge of anything biblical except through determined book-larning, and so their understanding of literature with its many allusions to such will suffer.

It's like a kind of allergy to religious people.

Wouldn't it be good if children's programmes contained easy and relaxed references to the main characters in around six of the world's major faiths? I know they are taught about these in RE, but I'm talking about taking a more relaxed attitude to people of faith, and letting our stuff slosh around in a more organic way. Some of us are attached to our faith not through some 'firm belief' in this or that doctrine, but because we feel that the raw materials it offers - literature, music, liturgy etc - cause true and helpful thoughts and feelings to spring up. The faith is inspiring, whether we regard its 'stuff' as inspired or not. I live blithely in this kind of attitude. It's distressing when I'm assumed to be part of some fist-banging group of hard-line believers. I'm fearful lest the kind of allergy I describe above is actually instrumental in attracting more fist-bangers to the faiths.

I tend to say I'm not spiritual, but I am religious. I love the physical trappings, the characters, the existence of awkward bits like Psalm 109**; it's the only way I can be in a faith at all.


*OK then, this is a bit of an exaggeration; there are quite a lot of documentaries about religion. But one can be made to feel a bit like an insect under a microscope rather than as a thinking being. I remember a line in the Guardian in which a radio programme was reviewed, and in it Anne Karpf said, 'Surprisingly, the voice of sense came from the religious angle'. That was a turning point in my going right off the Guardian, and I now read 'The Week' and listen to Radio 3 news.

** I'm sure I'll say more about awkward psalms in the fulness of time; but just to say I like my religion warts and all as it seems more genuinely human; I don't have to want to pray it all.