Sharing the Love

In my last post I shared the story of this, the ‘Dangler of International Happiness’

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Many comments focused on the extraordinary gifts that we receive from each other within our blogging communities.  Yes we receive all kinds of happy mail from fellow bloggers, gifts expected and unexpected.  Random Acts of Kindness that make a smile appear or maybe even a tear drop or two.  But even more precious is the friendship, understanding and positive support shared when times are hard, hearts are opened and just the smallest thoughtful word can make a big difference.

I have read posts that have questioned the reality of relationships made within the world of bloggers, claiming that we can invent ourselves to be quite other than we are, claiming that we can’t quite trust who or what is on the end of any comment, that we only present ourselves in our best possible light.

I disagree.

When over a period of time we read posts, comment and interact, the truth will out. Those who claim absolute positivity and living in the light may begin to grumble and blame.  Those who build themselves up as debonair and exciting, may soon become repetitious, egoistic and boring.  Those who interact simply to gain more followers for their own blog soon stop coming by and that is okay.  Those who claim no particular talent or ability may reveal a huge heart, a deeper philosophy, and a better – or alternative –  way.

In short we bloggers are not a stupid lot – we can see beneath any veneer, we can sift and sort, follow and unfollow.  Still, I agree on this one aspect.  We do mostly present the best of ourselves and that, it seems to me, is perfectly okay.  What a wonderful chance to celebrate our perfections rather than our imperfections.

I sure don’t want you all peering into my kitchen on any morning before I’ve had  my mug of steaming hot coffee and I’m pretty sure you don’t want me peering at you before you have finished your wake up/get up routine whatever it may be.  I’m all for let’s keep this as us at our best – or at least us at presentable!

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Most of the blogs I follow closely and interact with are blogs written by very real people, people with whom I may never stand in the same room and give a warm hug of greeting to, but still are people with whom I feel and experience a very real connection and sense of friendship.

Having said all that,  this is also a forum where we dare sometimes to show ourselves at less than our best.  There are times when life gets too much, life is hard and we are battered and bruised and in need of comfort.  This is us in the raw.  This is the stuff of real life.  And this allows us to be there for each other in a way that is uplifting and encouraging and often inspirational.

Writing posts about raw emotions or big life problems takes courage.  Reading through responses reveals the light that shines within a real, living community.  I know I have some readers who find posts of this ilk not okay – for their own very good reasons I am sure.  There’s a little part of me that is sad for them that they feel this way, but still I must, and do, respect their stance.  Those people do not interact on my blog when I write a more personal post.  And I see that I also choose not to interact with a blog when the topic or the over-arching feeling of a post doesn’t sit well with me.  We all have our boundaries.

But when a fellow blogger reveals they are upset, or ill or in emotional pain and we stay and read and allow ourselves to still the judgement and stay open and strive to feel empathy instead, when we offer words of understanding and support and even practical help if we can – then the blogging world becomes something other.  We create a global and spiritual reality that is based on empathy, understanding and love.  We wish to reach out, we say ‘I hear you’ in a hundred different ways and we offer support any way we can.

The world needs this, the earth needs this, we as human beings need this.  It counteracts the darkness of materialism and consumerism and corpocracy and greed. Those things get all the press.  But here we are doing the real work of being human.  And there are an awful lot of us!

This is my blogging experience, this is the community that has built around my blog and which I value more than I can say.  I have been the recipient of a great out-pouring of love and acceptance and pure delight over the past year or so and with this last delightful event still fresh in my mind I want to spread the love a bit more.

Here is what I am doing and I invite you to join in the fun and let’s see what we can make happen.

There are two Random Acts of Kindness going on, you can take part in one or other or both – or none if now is not the right time.  Whatever you decide is absolutely fine!

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RAK #1 The Road to Serendipity home to ‘two middle-aged, penniless hippies’ has recently finished enclosing their ‘Sanctuary’, a fenced and netted garden where Fran and Steve are growing their ‘futures’ from seeds and cuttings whilst fending off the advances of quolls and possums [and Earl] who are intent on eating or destroying everything as fast as they can.  My friend Dr Snail [The Snail of Happiness] and I have unilaterally decided that this garden requires BUNTING.  You get to make a piece [or more than one if you like] and Fran and Steve will find somewhere within their Sanctuary to string and hang it.  Just make sure there is a 4 cm  [11/2″ ] hem for threading the hanging rope through – and it would be good if it was sturdy, weather proof type material involved.  This is the first Fran and Steve will know about this dastardly plan – but we are quite sure they will love the opportunity to add into their sanctuary a myriad of brightly coloured, shimmering, waving fun infused bunting!

Your offering can be any shape, any size, any colour, any hardy outdoor fabric or recycled stuff.  Just make sure it has that threading venue available.

Fran also belatedly threw into the mix a request for beer bottle caps as she wishes to make a beer bottle cap dangler.  They can be used 🙂  That is such a cool Aussie idea!

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RAK #2  Marlene at Insearchofitall is a senior citizen living with Bells Palsy, which means she cannot get out and about as much as she used to and she has days when her energy is low.   Despite this Marlene has recently moved into her new forever home and has been hard at work turning what might have been described as a pigs ear into a silk purse.  Marlene has a china cabinet and loves keepsakes.  I am going to [possibly make and] send Marlene a small New Zealand icon.  Would you care to [possibly make and] send her something that will represent you to her so that every time her eyes fall upon your gift, she thinks of you.   Wouldn’t that be the grandest thing!

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I do so hope you will join with me and make this a most wonderful and joy filled giving event.

When you are ready to send I can pass on addresses to you, my details are in the ‘Contact Me’ page under Orlando’s beautiful picture.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

The Dangler of International Happiness

Some time ago – maybe three or four months back the lovely Fran at The Road to Serendipity had one of her sparkling good ideas and decided that I needed to have – and I quote ‘A Dangler of International Happiness’.  It was an off-the-cuff, spur of the moment, random act of kindness that half delighted and half terrified me.

To this end she invited all her readers who wished to, to send me something I could create said ‘Dangler’ with.  I was supposed to also invite any of my readers who wished to, to also participate but I had a momentary meltdown in confidence and decided not to do that.  At that time I was the recipient of what seemed like an overwhelming amount of gifts from far and near and I felt asking for more was just plain greedy!  Silly I know, but there we have it!

Several of our mutual blogging friends committed to send something and over the ensuing weeks little packets arrived in my letter box.  Some came with beautiful little notes and messages,

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some with longer letters and little notes on envelopes.  All were equally welcomed and treasured.

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The gifts sat on a tray in my art room, a vastly different array of items, from tiny glass beads to big wooden beads, threads of broken jewelry, ribbons, glass hearts, buttons, crochet flowers, palm frond spirals, lengths of ribbon, hearts with names on and a guitar pic.  All mixed in with my collection of broken sun catchers and glass hearts, flowers and chandelier chains.  There is such a huge variety of items I was quite bedazzled by them and I had no idea where to begin.

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I wanted to incorporate the smaller notes into the dangler and I needed to think about how that might happen.  That took a while!

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I also needed to decide on shape – was it to be one long thread or several long threads?  One morning I stumbled upon an unused plastic embroidery hoop which was the perfect size and the shape dilemma was solved.

Still all the bits sat in the tray, overflowed really.  Siddy ate one of the little notes and later, another.  I moved the tray and got on with my painting.  October ended.

November arrived.  I signed up for FBF Goalfest again!  So this is the month when I am finishing – well starting and finishing – my ‘Dangler of International Happiness’ which nine dear friends have contributed to. and whose contributions continued to be sitting in a pile in the designated tray waiting to be allotted their place on the plastic hoop.

I wrapped the hoop with ribbon.  I divided the hoop roughly into three and in each third hung a palm frond spiral from Christi and Keith and all Fran’s beads threaded onto one drop of wire.  I added three of Linne’s hand died ribbons and topped the dangler with Kym’s three gold leaves.  The dangler was up and almost balanced.

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That turned out to be the hardest part.  The rest was a joy of playing, threading, joining, adding and hanging.

Alys had sent three little hearts with names on.  I wanted to ensure her handwriting stayed safe so I laminated them

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Doing that also made me realise I could laminate all the precious little extras – well, the ones Siddy hadn’t eaten that is.  Alys’ hearts also inspired me to make  a heart for each participant in the dangler and include them as part of the finished piece.

Here it is

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I am totally in love with it and now have a constant reminder of some of my friends from around the globe.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you to dear Fran, whose idea it was and to Stevie-boy for the splash of bright colour from his guitar pic.  Do you notice how I played it up with matching beads?  What do you think?  I wrote out the message you left me in a comment somewhere about the key and included it behind said key – you can see it in one of the photos.

Thank you Dr. Snail for the crochet flowers that help balance the circle and weight it at the bottom.  The two gorgeous antique buttons are not hung, I couldn’t get them to hang straight so I am saving them for another project – I love them!

Thank you to Linne for the pretty ribbons of just the right colours that divide the circle and make little bows at the top with Kym’s gold leaves and the necklace that hangs entire within.

Thank you to Kym for the pretty gold leaves that also divide the circle perfectly and look so nice at the top of the dangler.

Thank you Wendy for the wonderful assortment of jewellery pieces that you can see add sparkle and depth all around the dangler.

Thank you Christi and Keith, your ‘invention’ of palm frond spirals makes me smile.  You made them and sent them all the way from Hawaii and they were still first to arrive in the letter box!  Your happy, waving cartoon figures, drawn so wonderfully onto the mail packet, are now laminated and hanging on the dangler.

Thank you Alys for the beautiful and thoughtful and care filled hearts and beads and pictures with accompanying notes.  I’m so sorry Siddy ate two of the papers, though I don’t think he is – he had a wonderful time with them.  I managed to save the ‘Joy’ piece and it is laminated and hanging.

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I wish you could see it.  It glitters and sparkles and shifts shape.  It sighs softly.  I think I want to add some bells in and hang it in a window so the breeze will make it sing.

I am totally in love with the idea of sending small bits of designated things to other bloggers and then seeing what they come up with – it is such a challenge, such a gift and just another way of making this lovely community of ours more vibrant and supportive.

Is there something you would like to make that we can contribute to?  For example Jan at The Snail of Happiness made a blanket with squares from all around the world.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!  🙂

 

 

 

The Adventures of Siddy

It’s time for a Siddy update – just for his fans you understand.

Do you remember that about seven weeks ago Siddy had his first haircut and returned home a very clean and cute wee pup?  This was him a few days ago

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Already looking decidedly raggedy again and with the groomer booked up until the end of February, YD decided we could do it ourselves.  I was not so confident given the way he leaps about when I’m brushing and combing him, but she was certain it was straight forward.  Her words in fact were “How hard can it be?”

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Looks good right?  There are no further photos of the process as my main job was to hold him steady while she clipped along his back and sides and then to hold him down forcibly when she got to the tricky bits about his eyes and other cringe making body parts.

We took several breaks to regain our aplomb after mis-snips and close shaves, and to allow Siddy a breather and a treat or two for being such a ‘Good Boy!’   Eventually, we decided to leave the finishing bits ’til tomorrow’ and I gave Siddy a bath and let him chase the hot air of the dryer for a longer time as a special treat.

Finally, twenty four hours later we had this happy and relieved little pup

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YD later reported to her work colleagues that groomers earn every last cent of their fee!

I went to Mudpuppy and promptly booked Siddy in for grooming every seven weeks for the entire year of 2015.  The groomer smiled broadly as I related our tale of home hair cutting and announced that for a first try it wasn’t too bad………….. bless her!

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Siddy has always enjoyed his baths.  Right from when he was a tiny wee chap and I bathed him in the hand basin when he got covered in mud and other things better to draw a veil over, to now when he is a big boy and stands in the bath tub while I shower him down.  I lift him in and lift him out and rub him down with his towel and then turn the hair dryer on him while he rolls around and tries to catch the hot air.  It’s a lot of fun and he has a thoroughly enjoyable time.  [Although I’m usually pretty done in by the time he is dry!]   He enjoys it all so much that when we come home after a walk, and if he is muddy, he marches himself straight through to the bathroom and sits by the bathtub ready for me to do my part.

But then, two days ago Siddy taught himself a new game.

The first I knew about it was when, from the corner of my eye, I noticed him running backwards and forwards between his toy basket and the the hallway – always with a different toy in his mouth.  He is much given to arranging his toys in formation in different areas of the house, or piling them up for either Orlando or me to find later, so I didn’t think much of it.  Until there was a resounding clatter and crash and bang coming distinctly from the bathroom.  I put down my work and went to see.

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After I had finished roaring with laughter I rushed to get the camera and returned in time to find him making sure everyone was behaving themselves

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To finish off, here is a photo of Siddy [pre-haircut #2] enjoying time with his favourite visitor of all – there is a whole little ritual that has to be gone through and if she doesn’t call in at least every two days he starts looking for her – that’s love!

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Do you notice Siddy has a new toy basket?  He ate his original lovely wicker one.

My next aim is to remember to take the camera on our morning walks so you get to see Siddy flying around the park.  But as I haven’t remembered in five months, don’t hold your breath in anticipation will you…………

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My November Goalfest is to complete my ‘Dangler of International Happiness’  and I am working away happily on it every evening.  It is almost finished – expect a post about that soon.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Painting for Alys

October was a make it or break it month for me creatively.  I was way behind with so many projects – even my garden remained semi planted as I spent time doing things other than what I really wanted to do.

I started a painting way back in April.  At the time it was to be the first in a series of ‘Soul Portraits’, gifts for friends featuring my take on the preciousness of them, their lives, their gifts, their creativity.  Of course, I bit off more than I could chew and my first feeble attempts were unsatisfactory and I happily left the work sitting for days – then weeks – while I prevari wondered about what to do next…….

What happened next pretty much brought life as I knew it to a complete standstill – if you read my blog regularly you know what it was.  Next I adopted a puppy!

Puppy put a stop to all serious creative play for four months.  When he got big enough and well mannered enough for me to set to work again I didn’t know where to start.  All through September I tried to start.  I never really got any where – I saw 2014 passing before my creative eyes with nothing more than some crochet throws and knitted bunnies and a few less than perfect bookmarks to show for it.  I felt like I had forgotten how to paint.

I’d ‘work’ on the painting on my desk.  Put a bit of colour on it, collage some papers, write some words and paint over them again.  I sketched out the layout, started the face and stopped again.  I wasn’t sure how to do what I wanted to do and I was thinking about it too much.  I walked the dog.  I went out and about.  I read.  I gardened a bit more.  I avoided the art room.

I missed sending away the completed painting in June, which had been my first deadline, in July, my second deadline.  I missed sending it to celebrate my birthday, and then I missed Alys’ birthday too.  The painting was moving from room to room, being placed where I could see it and figure out where to go next.  It lived in my bedroom for a few weeks, the last thing I saw before sleep and the first thing I saw on waking.  Still nothing.

Alys sent me some stamps.  These were special stamps.  They had belonged to her late father, an avid collector and Alys had decided to share them with those of her blogging community who would like some.  They were precious to her, she was sending a little of her beloved father out into the world.  I had said, send me some and I shall incorporate them into a painting for you.

I knew what I wanted to do with them, but starting was also scary.  There were only so many stamps, if I mucked up there was no going back.  I sorted the stamps into colours and pasted them onto the brittle with age album paper they had come on.  I took a deep breath and embossed the pages.  I cut out shapes using three different punches and left it all sitting in a pile on the desk while I prevaricated some more.

October arrived and so did the dear girls, El and M, over at Fat Bottomed Fifties with their October Goalfest Challenge.  They wrote a blog post which pretty much said ‘Come on Pauline, quit mucking around and get on with it.  You’ve got til the end of the month.’

I signed on and immediately came up with more reasons why I couldn’t ‘get on with it’.  Then El said ‘Let’s help each other out here’  Well thank god for my pal El is all I can say.  Now there can be no more mucking about. I have a job now, I have to support her while she gets her bike roadworthy and then gets herself on it and cycling twenty miles without ruining her  butt bones if possible.  I looked it up because I knew I had the wrong words in my head.  ‘Saddle soreness’ is a much nicer way of saying it than my chosen phrase and the ‘ischial tuberosities’ are apparently the bones that suffer 🙂  Who knew!!    …..  Any how I felt that El’s goal was a way bigger challenge than me just mucking about with a paintbrush, paints and papers and gel mediums and various glues for heavens sake!

There’s nothing like giving me some responsibility.  I suddenly become very competent and capable and ‘can-do!’  Nothing is a problem that cannot be overcome.  Prevaricate?  Me?  Good heavens no!  I’m Ms In-charge-and-on-to-it.  Here, let me show you how it’s done.  I’ll cheer you on and get on with my little project too – Let’s get there together, follow me!.  Ready?  Here we go – charge!!

Geez.  El works full time in a high stress career and writes two blogs.  She’s going to bike twenty miles.  I’m retired and have to finish a painting.  There’s a bit of pride involved here – if she cannot complete her challenge El has a very good reason why.  I do not.

Once committed I started work.  I had ideas, I saw shapes and colours – I knew who and what I was trying to represent in this fairy tale painting.  But it was slow.  I collaged a fairy.  I painted a face.  I made flowers out of the stamps.  I stuck everything down and painted over it all.  I worked and reworked.  It began to come together.  I left it for a couple of days and then came back and reworked some more.  I loaded colour on and took it off again.  I changed and altered and worked around and up and down…….

Paintings always go through an ugly stage – well mine do any way.  The trick is to keep working at it.  Nurse it through, make that one small sweep of colour that will lift it, right the wrong, pull it together.  I kept waiting for that to happen.

While I worked I thought a lot about my friend Alys and her big heart.  I thought of all she is and who she is and how she is and her big heart and her hurts and her losses and her big heart.  I thought of her cats and her garden and her boys and her husband and her home and her sister and her work and her library and how her heart encompasses it all and spreads out through her whole community.  Through her friends and family, through her professional life, through her blog and out into the world.

I thought and then I stopped thinking and finally – finally, I made this with my hands and my heart, for Alys The Wonderland of Alys

It’s an original mixed media work on 300gsm art paper, A4 size.  It is heavily textured and contains the stamps Alys sent me from her fathers collection as well as some of the paper they were mounted on.  It requires framing and is titled ‘The Wonderland of Alys’.

I hope you like it.  It is winging it’s way to California as you read this.

I also hope you my dear friends and readers and lovely new followers will wander over to visit with the most delightful El and M on their great blog and let’s see a big surge in goal-fest readiness for November!  I’ll be in, come join us.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!