Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 So Far

Wow, what a year it's been, huh? Holy cow! It's been windy, rainy, snowy, melty.

Sunny, cloudy, dark and light.

There's been fly-tipping in our local town.

What a tumultuous year so far - and it's only beginning!


our view on a misty morning

But seriously, I am incensed at politics in both the US and UK, and I am about to go cold turkey and quit reading or watching the news at all. That'll show 'em! If politicians give a damn about my opinion (they don't), they'll be sorry I'm not watching their fake news, platitudes and Twitter regurgitations. But I don't want to sully my pristine blog with politics. I want to talk about something important, which is - is anybody blogging anymore?


abandoned chapel near us

I've become very dilatory about blogging - and especially about commenting - since I drank the Instagram Kool-aid. I'm doing this post because I wanted to practice writing again using all ten fingers to type instead of just thumbs. (Actually, I just use my right index finger to text, hunting and pecking on the phone keyboard. Is that a typical old lady thing? How do you text - fingers or thumbs?)


near the abandoned chapel

So I'll throw in a few photos here, because I have loads. And I'll encourage you all to ignore the news and politics and instead have a shot of vodka and play a game of Scrabble. Spring is just around the corner!


spring lamb on butcher shop sign in Llanidloes


door in Llanidloes


door in Winchelsea


church window in Winchelsea


London!

Val

Friday, December 23, 2016

Light out of Darkness

It's been a while since I posted, so let's get the small talk and gossip out of the way first.

The weather has been good here, much better than we expected. I'm sure that will change in the coming weeks. Here are some pictures taken from our bedroom window - our 'view with a room' as I like to call it.

early November

late November

mid-December


I know, that was boring, right? Well, here's a little tidbit of gossip to liven things up. I turned on the TV the other evening just as a game show was finishing up, and the contestants were none other than Sandra from Peaches McGinty and her husband! Sandra quit blogging last year, but I am happy to report that she's alive and well, she looks exactly the same, and she won £1000 on the game show! I bet there was some celebrating in Liverpool that night.

Now, in spite of my heathen nature and irreverent scepticism, I am sometimes allowed to enter churches if I promise not to kick the pews or sing too loudly.




So Mr. S and I went to a Carol Service at Hereford Cathedral. Here is my report.




First of all, we went to see the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library, which you can read about by following the links I inserted. The books are chained to stop thieves, I guess, because you can't trust those medieval scholars and monks.




Then we went into the cathedral to look around before the service started.




These huge ancient buildings really take my breath away. I especially love the gigantic piers and big, chunky Romanesque arches, which had crisp detailing that looked so modern, in a way.







Then we did get kicked out.

Haha, we weren't being naughty. The evening service fills up with hundreds of people who have requested tickets - as we had - so we had to go wait on the cold, stone porch with the other ticket-holders for almost an hour before they opened the doors to the congregation.




When the service finally began, the lights were turned off, and the choir and officiants processed by candlelight only - it was magic and beautiful! The lights came on for the rest of the service - we had to read our hymn sheets, after all. I no longer profess to be a Christian, but it was a beautiful service. The boys in the choir sang like angels and the pipe organ stirred my soul. It was a very special way to mark the Solstice.

Just a minute, you're thinking. Solstice? A Christian ceremony? Isn't that hypocritical?

Well, I find commonality between heralding the Solstice and celebrating Christmas. They are both ways that we puny humans try to find light in the darkness. And it feels like 2016 has been pretty damn dark, so we need all the light we can get.

May your days be merry and also bright, and best wishes for signs of light in 2017!

Val

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Short fiction - or is it?


I walked down Wiggly Wort Lane, in that dusky half-light between unconscience-ness and waking, and I saw a little antique shoppe that looked as if it hadn’t changed in decades. Although it was dark and murky as I looked through the window, I decided to go in.




A bell on the door rang as I walked through, and a rude shout came from the back of the shoppe: ‘What do you want?!?’

I hesitated, then answered, ‘I’ll just have a look round, if you don’t mind,’ and I started to wander in and out of the items stacked here and there - dusty books, elaborate furniture, old-fashioned grooming kits with brushes and combs. There were several scale-model buildings - some were houses and others looked to be offices or mercantiles. One was a hotel that included a small green board resembling a golf course. I walked deeper into the shoppe, nearer to the door at the back. There was a shelf with a row of trophies lined up. These had been dusted and polished, gold glinting in the tiny ray of light from a window at the back. I looked closer and saw that they were all shaped like women, dolls really, in decorous poses with affected smiles.

Then an old man came through from the back of the shoppe, ducking a low beam although he was actually quite small. His hair glowed in the back-light of the window, and I noticed he looked a bit jaundiced. His eyes had a strange gleam that would flit from one eye to the other and back again. I wondered if he was entirely well and if I should, perhaps, leave the shoppe and not disturb him, when he suddenly boomed, ‘I have the best antiques! You’ll never find other antiques better than mine. Mine are the best. Everyone says so. I will sell you the best antiques, the best! Mine are the best!’

He had walked quite close to me by this time, and I started to feel uncomfortable. His breath smelled of mint and something rather rank, and he loomed towards me and gestured extravagantly, his voice rising in volume as he repeated his litany of boasts. I became more and more fearful while he continued talking and coming closer to me, manoeuvring me into a corner. Suddenly there was yelling as someone burst through the front door, the bell clanging loudly, the man turning and bellowing, ‘Get ’im out!!! Get ’im out!!!’

The person who had entered was also shouting, trying to drown out the strange little man, crying at me to ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ as the din got louder and louder.

Paralysed, I struggled to move, shaking my head from side to side and trying to wake myself up. My eyes would not obey me as I tried to force them open, tried to find daylight to end this nightmare.

Eventually, the shoppe began to dissolve around me, the noises stopped and I moved my hands. My arms stretched out as I opened my eyes and broke through the miasma into full consciousness. 


And yet, the nightmare lingers.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

First this, then the other

I know, I know - we're all saying it to ourselves if not to the lady at the shop or the man at the post office.

I can't believe it's November! Where has the time gone! It'll be Christmas before you know it!


Chirk Castle


With all this time flying by at supersonic speeds, I thought it was time to update my profile pic. The old one was at least three years old.


summer in Eugene, Oregon - 2013

How things have changed in three years - different glasses, different hair, different home.


autumn in Wales - 2016


Now I'm going to bombard you with pretty photos because, one, it's been an amazing autumn here in the UK and everything is BEAUTIFUL!

And two, yes, I do live in a faerie tale land.


Chirk Castle

 
Stokesay Castle


Lake Vyrnwy straining tower


Between the photos, though, are my ramblings about balance. I am a Libra, the sign of the balance, and Libras tend to tip first one way and then the other. I find that it is, in fact, true.


Shrewsbury


Ellesmere


Ellesmere


I go through periods of being energetic, creative and upbeat. Then I go through periods where all I want to do is sit quietly and read or watch TV.


Welshpool canal


Welshpool canal


Llanerfyl churchyard


Remember all the paper dolls I did a few weeks ago?




Yeah, that seems to have blown over. I imagine I'll get my creative magic back at some point, and I'll dive in to my crafting supplies and start flinging paper around again.


Llanerfyl


Lake Vyrnwy


Llanerfyl churchyard


Until then, I'm just enjoying this lovely autumn before the weather changes to dark winter skies and howling winds, and a different kind of magic takes hold.


Lake Vyrnwy dam

Val

Friday, October 7, 2016

Another decadent decade

I have a birthday coming up, and it's a BIG ONE. It's hard to even say the number because it SOUNDS SO OLD. It's the beginning of the decade that includes words like 'Social Security' and 'pension' (on the plus side, it also includes words like 'retirement' and 'senior discount').


down a local lane

So, yeah, there's that.

I first moved to the UK when I was 39, and I had my 40th birthday at an old pub with my friend Tim, who has the same birthday. I'm being a very bad blogger because I'm not going out to the garage to dig through a box of old photos so I can scan a picture for you. Sorry. Instead, here's one of me in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago.


in Liverpool with the Fab (and huge) Four


We moved back to the States when I was 49, so my 50th was spent in Oregon. Ah, yes, I remember it well. It was Friday the 13th. I wore black. Sadly, I have lost or deleted all pictures from that birthday weekend, which included wearing a big wooden fish head at a local restaurant. It was a thing they did.


in Shrewsbury


So now we've moved back to the UK and I'm about to have another big birthday. I have no major plans for this birthday other than a nice dinner and catching up with some friends on the weekend. And then applying for my BUS PASS!


another local lane


Rather than go on about ageing (British spelling) and various aches and pains, I thought I'd mention all the positives in my new life, and share some more photos.


our view with a room


First of all, the neighbours are all really nice here. Our little close has a mix of people ranging in age from late-8os to three weeks, and (almost) everyone gets along. There is some tension between a couple of families, but that only gives the rest of us something to gossip about.


in Montgomery


Also, I've met some outgoing women who meet to speak Welsh and also have organised folk dancing and craft get-togethers. Again, they're all so nice! And since we're in a village, although spread out we run into people we know pretty regularly now.


If you live in a place without blackberries, what a shame!


And I'm going to a yoga class. I've been wanting to do yoga for years, but it was never convenient. Well, now it is, and although it is a challenge (jeez, some of it is damn hard!) it is also blissful.


Lake Vyrnwy


I'm restarting my proofreading/editing business, and I've been making paper products with the thought of selling them, possibly on Etsy, possibly in a local shop where I've already met the very friendly owner.




Oh, and I've been doing a lot more driving, so I'm not so anxious about that anymore.


Liverpool - a city of contrasts

So life is good! Okay, enough about me. After all, I'm just a boring old bat.

Val

Monday, October 3, 2016

Teddy Girls

Blazer, jeans, scarf - sounds like my ideal outfit.

February 2015

Throw in some comfortable shoes and a bit of sass and I'm infatuated.


Photos of the Teddy Girls are by Ken Russell - yes, that Ken Russell - circa 1955,
and were sourced from the two websites mentioned below.

Meet the Teddy Girls. I first read about them awhile back on Messy Nessy Chic, and there's more about them on AnOther.




Who or what are Teddy Girls, I hear you ask. Well, they are the grrrl equivalent to Teddy Boys, who were British guys wearing dapper, pseudo-Edwardian clothes back in the 1950s. With a reputation for causing trouble, they instilled fear in the heart of a very young Mr. S when he saw them in his childhood days in London. (I asked him if he'd ever seen Teddy Girls, and he said he didn't really see any girls on the streets in those days. I suppose they weren't allowed out much.)


Source


What a cool style! Dressy but rebellious. Church clothes with an edge. The girls, though, would have been kicked out of Sunday School for wearing jeans. Like they would care.




So I made my own Teddy Girl. Her name is Eleanor, but her friends call her Lee.




The paper in the background is what I used for Lee's body, which is why she has gingham on her face and leg. I like the mix of traditional and new, an English rose nurtured on nihilism in post-War London who kisses her mum goodnight, then sneaks out the window to go running through the rubble with her mates, smoking fags and snogging blokes.


Source

I wonder where these women are today?

Val