Wednesday, 8 February 2017

#peoplearegood - Patreon

I use the #peoplearegood hashtag often on my Facebook page and Twitter. It is something I passionately believe. I am convinced that, if we all had more faith in the essential goodness of ourselves and each other (we are, after all, a natural animal, a product of the Earth the same as all others), we would live up to that more and create a better world. But sometimes people doubt my claim. It's easy to despair of humanity after watching the news. So it's good to have some examples up my sleeve. Here are three:

The first, and most exciting for me, is the existence of Patreon and, in particular, the existence of real, live people who have decided to support my work like arts patrons did in the good old days. Sadly I don't have a billionaire philanthropist extravagantly funding my life (although I am open to the idea), so instead Patreon offers people a way to give whatever they can or want to give and those collective coins in the hat add up to a few more supplies, or go towards hiring an exhibition space, or just buy another jar of coffee, which certainly couts as 'basic equipment'. But it isn't just about the money. It feels like such a brilliant way of saying, Yes! I love what you do! Please do more of it. The world needs you to keep going, so I will help you do that. Patreon is one of those ideas so good it now seems ridiculous that we haven't always had it. It is fun to click about and see what people are doing and why, but to start you off, here is my page: Lunar Hine and two pages I support, due to excessive awesomeness: Abi Nielsen makes wonderful craftivist art and Hedgespoken travel the land in their beautiful truck, scattering stories and theatre at the feet of communities as they go.

My second example of the very goodness of us is a comment left on a previous blog post:

Dear Lunar - We just want you to know that another little bit of Thomas lives on in an unlikely place here in Scotland. My husband is a conservation forest ranger, and after reading all about Thomas here having flown from Rima's blog, some time ago he decided that a very good way to honour this man that he has never met but would have loved to share a pint and music with is to help the children who visit the forest to make elf doors, so that they can peer into the kingdom where Thomas's spirit and imagination still live. Please know that there are little portals in the forest in the West of Scotland that open children's dreams, and that Thomas the Elf has guided them - a very special elf with an upside down heart.

How wonderful - and how exactly right - to celebrate my Captain by offering dreams to children. I would like to meet these people and peer through one of their doorways myself one day.

My third example is a video. It is three minutes long and it is such a simple idea. I would love it to be used in assembly in every school, every year. If we can learn this as children, so much more is possible for us.

Good, yes?

Friday, 3 February 2017

Love in Various Forms

Well, we all need a bit of cheering up after my last post, don't we? So here is some love for you, in various forms.

When I am making art, or writing, or wrangling a riverdancing baby into a highchair, love is generally what I am musing on, at some level. It's an important subject and also more interesting than wondering what I'll make for tea. Plus, if you have emerged into 2017 for even five minutes, you will have noticed that, not only has it been nearly Easter since Boxing Day, it also has been almost Valentine's Day all year. So here are some works of love and ink:

These have gone all over the world :)

Saying it with flowers :)

Good. Wares duly flaunted; now for an update on the people who benefit from and inspire my work. Currently, they are going by the names of Trumpet and Plumpet.

They are really enjoying each other, which is mostly down to Trumpet being very tolerant of Plumpet's new ability to be a danger to herself and others all of the time:

I am very proud of them both:

Trumpet has been taking lots of Thomasesque photos of stones and shadows and herself:

Having bought Trumpet a marvellous witch's hat to go with her lovely dress, she announced, with less than an hour before her school Hallowe'en disco, that she wanted to dress as a spider. We agreed on a Spider Witch, hence the eight eyes:

(Do you see that little desk all covered in books and boxes and a tangle of wires? That's my 'studio'; that's where I hunch right now.)

She has had some spectacularly bonkers moments. One night I found her sleeping tied to a balloon:

She can't do that any more, because I did this:

The mornings are so much easier :).

Following on from our potato-balancing fun, we have all enjoyed Plumpet playing Where's My Wafer?:

Trumpet has been spreading the love too. She made some beautiful cards with endangered animal designs and sold them at our local cafe. She raised enough money to adopt a snow leopard for her class and a mountain gorilla for herself with the WWF. They send a toy version and now she wants to wear her dressing gown all the time:

So, all good here. Art is actually happening, depending on how long Plumpet sleeps for (this post has taken four days worth of nap!) and other things are afoot (apen?) which I will share with you soon.

Thank you for all the love after my last post. Spring is coming!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

It Is The Day

Dear Thomas,
It is the day. I hate this day. I would redact it from the world if I could, the way I once had to redact you from the electoral roll, as if you had never lived.
It feels like a bomb has exploded inside me and all my hard-won resilience has particulated into the air. It is lost in this shockingly beautiful day, and I am stripped to my devastated core.
I am glad you cannot read this. Much as I am desperate to tell you, I do not want you to know how it really feels to be your widow. I want you to think I am missing you in a wistful, romantic way, taking long walks alone to think of you and fondly wrapping myself in your oversized jumper.
Well, I am wearing your jumper, but the sleeves are annoyingly long. They unroll into the washing up water and I don't have time to keep rolling them up again. I have children to care for!  have a house to run! I need to make art and earn and keep finding a way to live without your help and I'm cross with you and your jumper's stupid.
I was always so far from the cheerful pixie bride I imagined would suit you best - some smiley, fey woman who could play the fiddle or at least honestly enjoy you practising. But you chose me. I still don't really understand why and it still feels like the biggest compliment. I was stompy, snarky, a smoker, a meat-eater. I wanted to dance, but only by myself. I wanted to listen to music, but not more of your twiddly folk albums. Somehow you loved my Johnny Rotten T-shirt and my bad cooking, the way I would laugh and laugh at slapstick while you worried someone had got hurt. Somehow you loved me.
This fantasy (my fantasy, not yours) fey bride would now be weeping prettily and looking at photos of you. I want to take the photos down - they make me sad - but Ember wants them up, so they stay. And I'm not crying - not right now. In a minute I will read and eat crisps until the baby wakes, then I will do my best not to be miserable and grumpy with her all day. And all the long night.
Nothing is as good without you, my Captain. I had no idea it would be this hard for this long. I feel the scar tissue on my heart thickening every year, just as it did on yours. I can only hope that, unlike you, I will survive.

More twiddly folk music

Friday, 15 July 2016

Manna Manuka

Several times I have stalled a post because I still haven't told you about this:

Manna Manuka is out in the world! The labour was fast and wonderful. Ember (Pickle has decided I should use her real name too) was my birth partner for the first three hours, copying my 'funny movements' while I managed back-to-back contractions, fetching clean pants every time my waters broke (there was an ocean in there) and phoning Granny to let her know. Regardless of age, I couldn't have asked for a better person to be with me. She was calm but excited, did everything I asked and even made me laugh. With a big grinding crunch (yes, ouch), Manna spun round to the perfect position and the contractions got much faster, but also much easier for me. Gappy came to play with Ember and my excellent friend and neighbour Miriam came to take over as birth partner and get me to the hospital. Her husband drove us and we spent a looooong time in a traffic jam (tip: don't go into labour on a Saturday morning) while I tried not to groan too alarmingly, but we got there in time and Manna was born an hour later, weighing 8' 6". She was grey and floppy in a way which makes my heart tremble as I write. The midwife couldn't get her breathing, so the neonatal superheroes flooded in and after just a few puffs of the oxygen mask she was breathing fine. I lost a very messy amount of blood, which is why I can never have a homebirth - way too much cleaning to do afterwards, but I didn't need a tranfusion.

Once I had been stitched and had a cursory bath (why do my daughters feel the need to cover me in meconium at first sight?), I fed Manna her first bottle. I was sad I didn't have a breast to offer her, but the way she guzzled it down then looked so content afterwards reassured me this was good enough. And I knew I had milk from some wonderful women in the freezer at home. Ember wanted to be the first to know Manna's name, so I told her over the phone and she announced it to Gappy and my parents. This is the sisters' first meeting:

Ember has been such an amazing big sister. I didn't imagine she would be so unfailingly tender and understanding. I feel I am falling in love with Ember in a new way, as I fell in love with Thomas in a new way seeing him with Ember.

Manna herself is awesomely contented and smiley. She even sleeps! In the night! She had bad reflux and took a while to get her birthweight back and she struggles with colic still, but generallly she looks like this:

She is cute in both ways, always watching, learning; now grabbing whatever she can.

When she was three months I had my final surgery - ovaries and fallopian tubes out. It is a big relief to feel safer, although it has been tricky getting the HRT balanced, but I think I'm there now. I didn't have to stay in hospital overnight, so Gappy had a day with Manna. It was very painful to leave her for so long, but of course she was quite happy:

So now she is splendidly plump and already very keen to be up at the table with the big girls. She is so pleased with herself and merrily teeths on bell pepper or carrot, grinning all the while.

I am so happy with both my daughters. Of course it isn't always easy being a single mum with two children and there have been times of deep grief for the loss of Thomas too, but we feel like a complete and loving family, which is all I ever wanted. Our next adventure is to find a new home, but we'll stay in Chagford and maybe it will be a strengthening thing, in the end, to get some distance from the memories which overlay this house and garden for me. There are so many more memories to be made and I will do everything I can to make them very, very happy.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Baby Face

Happenings abound. Our annual Artisan Fayre was splendid as ever and very welcome as a dip in energies prevented me doing extra markets before Christmas. The big day itself was good and happy. Pickle and I stayed with my parents in a very damp and lovely part of Somerset for a few days. I was not permitted to leave the sofa (to be honest, I didn't put up much of a fight) and Pickle had a great time amassing wonders. Mum was a bit twitchy every time the phone rang because my sister-in-law was due to have their first baby on January 1st. Luckily she has stayed put well past National Hangover Day and we're all now impatient to meet her, particularly her mum.

Meanwhile I have been working and readying our home for my new daughter. My laptop is going through a tricky patch in its relations with my external harddrive, so I can't access photos, but I do have this scan picture:

I had an extra scan because her growth chart looks disasterous, but it seems that is because she is trying out a new position every time she's measured. I've told her my preference for head down, but you know how hard it is to get kids to listen.

So all is well. Pickle has gone back to school having not had enough holiday to really recover from last term and the excitement of Christmas, but she is happy to do so and I, while predictably tired and experiencing mild versions of various pregnancy ailments, am basically hale and hearty and deeply grateful that my family is growing in this beautiful way.

Wishing you all joy this year - not simply happiness (although go ahead and have a bunch of that too), but the kind of wriggling, skipping joy which makes it nearly impossible to behave sensibly.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Still Reaching For The Light

It is done.

It was a very happy thing to create (see my last post for earlier stages), but already Christmas is making demands and the baby is also making itself known with much writhing and thrashing about. So preparations for both are underway. 

Keep Saturday 5th December clear if you can get to Chagford because our Artisan Fayre is back with another wonderful mix of talented artists of all ilks, not to mention the music and teas and cakes and those very nice mince pies and... but really it's all about the art and not at all an excuse to hang out with some really lovely people in a sort of all-day party/market way. Do come!

The first load of very tiny clothes have been washed. Pickle and I had an unashamedly squealy time hanging them up to dry and it was fun to see her amazememnt at how very teeny some of them are. I'm not sure she really believes me that she was once just a loveable lollable blob of blubber which fitted into these clothes.

And space is needed (as it always is in our house), so I have taken radical action and offerred one of our sofas to whoever could carry it down our twisty stone steps on their head. No Gappies were harmed in the making of this photo.

There is a sadness in this crisp autumn air. Two young women friends, both with particularly warm hearts and generous natures, have died within the last month and another is very ill indeed. Also, I have recently made it through another wedding anniversary - a day I hope to celebrate rather than suffer at some point. Death brings gratitude to the living, as well as sorrow, and I am making the most of this gift each time I step outside, following Pickle with her new dinosaur backpack, to meet a new day. We continue to find ways to reach for the light.

For Bea. For Ella.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Reaching For The Light Supersized and Iron in the Blood

The sun is shining, the hips and haws are out and there is iron in my blood.

I realise there should always be iron in one's blood, but it transpired the reason I was struggling to cope with even the basics of our lives was that I had too little. I don't yet feel like The Iron Woman, but the house is less of a midden, some paperwork has been achieved, my current commission is progressing (more of that later) and I am here, reporting my emergence to all you kind souls who were so lovely after my last post. There is still some way to go, as this morning there was a moment of Mama-fail when there were no clean 'Wednesday' socks. Pickle has such high standards!

The school wheel is turning again and this year Pickle is balancing beautifully in its centrifugal spin, skipping up a reading scheme (a relief for me too) and generally benefitting from the calmer, more focussed atmosphere. She was particular about having 'proper shirts' (no comfy airtek for this girl) 'with wrist buttons'. See what I mean about standards? I'm tempted to buy her cufflinks for Christmas - they will blow her mind!

You can't tell from that picture, but Pickle's beautiful ponytail...

has become a beautiful squirel tail.

She is very happy about this and brushing her hair is a much happier time for us both.

Having felt so grim all during the holiday and only taken Pickle on daytrips (which were brilliant) and a few days at my parents' (which were also good), I was sad we hadn't managed a real holiday while it's just the two of us. That's the only reason I can come up with for why I agreed to go camping whilst pregnant in September. I'm very glad I did. We went as part of a gang of families from Pickle's class and my lovely friends put up and took down our big bell tent (which I currently can't even lift) and we totally lucked out on the weather, so a delightful weekend was had by all.

My sand angel found innovative new ways to become filthy

while I admired the view of blue sky and other people in really cold water.

 The children were very proud of the crab they found

and at the end of each day Pickle and I snuggled up and did lots of this:

Chagford has been temporarily renamed Chaiford for the Bangra finale to Chagford's famous film festival. An Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant has serendipitously just opened and their stall scented the Square and made me miss India. Pickle and her best friend (and fiancee) had had a sleepover at ours the night before and been mostly awake since 4:00am, so we didn't drag them round stalls for too long. We took them to the park and then to the pub for chips where our young friend smashed his apple juice bottle so spectacularly that the waitress smashed a tray of hot chocolates. We haven't been back. Bellies finally full of chips and children placated with hot chocolates and relay wees (why can't they all go at once?), we staggered blindly into the sun for the Bhangra flashmob and amazing elephant, which lead the procession.

And during all of that, in half hour bursts while I was confident I wouldn't vomit and Pickle was alseep and I had enough concentration, I have been slowly Reaching Towards The Light again. Someone saw one of my greeting cards and wanted the original, but it has long sold. So she commissioned me to do the same (I gave her the speech about how it will never come out exactly the same), but bigger. It's still not finished, but the Light is in sight. I had planned to take a smooth series of photos, but you will see I have forgotten for patches of time.

More greenery needs to shoot up and those flowers are no good to the bees without nectared centres, but it will be done soon and brightening a new family home, which pleases me very much.

Meanwhile, my new family member is growing apace (as am I). Lots of reassuring kicks and an anomaly scan in only a couple of weeks. Pickle and I can't possibly wait to find out if she will have a brother or sister. The citizens of Chagford are making their guesses. Add yours here if you have a hunch. I do, but I'm not telling...
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