Thursday, 29 May 2014

An Archer and a Date!

So, first, the Archer:

This is the latest in the Thomas Hine section of my Etsy shop and reminds me of how much Thomas loved archery. I remember one hot afternoon, while I did a workout inside, Thomas practising in the field with the sun on his back. He very rarely removed his top in public because of all the surgical scarring on his chest, so his skin was totally unprepared and he was too focussed to feel his skin sizzling. I have never seen such bad sunburn and it was even worse a couple of days later when the healing itching set in and we were visiting his grandparents. We had to keep sneaking off for me to slather his back in Pickle's nappy cream - I don't know what everyone else thought we were doing. Anyway, here he is, fully clothed and minus the Sudocrem, giving Rima a quick lesson while Pickle tries to help, wearing her Miss Havisham dress:

And now the incredible news that I have a date! I am playing with you here - I'm still a lightyear or two away from going on a romantic date, but I do have a date for my mastectomies after a hard year of waiting! I made my weekly phonecall, expecting the usual, 'We'll talk to him and get back to you' (which no-one ever did), but instead was told, 'Well, I've got you down for the 9th of June.' 'Oh,' I said, 'Will a letter be arriving sometime then?' 'I expect so.' she said. So, I am very glad I made that call and didn't miss my surgery because I didn't know about it. My house has been ready for months, in case I got a cancellation. Everything's down from my top shelves and I've bulk ordered everything from quinoa (dahlink) to baby wipes. (Yes, we still use them. I will use them forever for a hundred things.) I've put up lower towel and coat hooks and stockpiled vitamins and vegetable juice. By great good fortune Pickle's Gappy had already booked that week off for a dogsit which has been cancelled, so childcare for the first few days while I emerge from the general anaesthetic is covered and I already have multiple lift offers for getting me there for 7:30 am. Tom Hirons of Source Point Community Acupuncture will be sticking sharp things in me, setting light to stuff on my skin and peering at my tongue in a knowing manner, so all I have left to do is enjoy my lovely breasts while I still have them.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Air and Water

'A tail of Air and Water' is now available to the world and not just flying in our staircase.

Many of Thomas's drawings were illustrations for stories he had written or half-written or dreamed of writing. One day I will collate his written work too and see if somehing can be made of it.

Meanwhile Pickle and I have been adventuring in the sunshine. We visited our friends' home and were wowed by the massive stone which stands over their land and the rhodedendron flowers bigger than Pickle' head which smelled of a heady mix of bubblegum and sex. We climbed inside the branches but the scent was overpowering. We scrambled back out, only seconds away from being transported to another realm.

With Pickle's Gappy we explored (and much coveted) outbuildings

and in buildings

then ran and ran across green fields of tiny wildflowers and found rare plants and stoat poo and a lightning-struck tree and the upper limits of how much bog mud one dog can wear.

We've had more fun at Forest School

and talked with the ponies and their foals at the end of our road.

We've been out in the warm evenings, listening to our friends make music round fires and on Saturday I dared (just) take us to the art auction for Proper Job. I cannot tell you how scared I was that no-one would bid for my work. It seemed all I heard that week was people saying they couldn't come, or they could but they wouldn't be bidding as they didn't have any money and similar must have reached the organiser's ears because she was making contingency plans for anything which didn't sell. This is some of the work in the preview during the day:

So, we milled about and all hoped to win the original Alan Lee drawing in the raffle and then it was time for the actual auction and guess who was up first? With dignity and an air of confidence in myself and my work, I hid my burning face in Pickle's neck and rocked a little while three wonderful people bid. It was only a very modest ping-pong-ping, but for the first piece of the night it did fine and it has found a very loving home. The woman who made the winning bid kindly contacted me to send this:

and a picture of Tulip Field which she had bought before the auction:

Half-term is coming and I am glad. Pickle and I really need some time to just be together. No adventures planned; no late nights for a bit; just me and my girl bimbling around our garden like the happy, heavy bees.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Aa - The first print in my Thomas series

So, here is the first of a series of prints I have made from the many wondeful drawings left by Thomas. He had planned these as a book, but only got as far as 'I', so I am hoping they will find happy homes as name initials. There are lots of things to find beginning with 'A', but he didn't leave a list (or, in fact, ever in his life make a list) so I keep thinking I've found them all and then I find another. I'll give you a clue, though: a knowledge of botany (or a book thereon) will gain you extra finds. Enjoy :o).

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

From Inside a Hawthorn Tree

Lately I have been living from inside a hawthorn tree. Thorns and spikes holding me fast, drawing blood and fracturing my view while the bread-and-butter leaves have sprung out to sustain me and the heart of the hawthorn has surrounded me as a balm while my human heart has panicked a little. I remember that moment in childbirth when the pain and exhaustion suddenly tipped me over the brink from enjoying being such an amazing animal to fear that this just couldn't work and I and my daughter would die. Grief has such moments too. The pain just goes on and on and much of the time I can recognise it as a sign of the depth of my love and so live with it quite peaceably, barely writhing in its grasp. And then some trigger, often unknown, tips me up and I am so scared I won't be able to carry this for much longer. I panic that if I slip and this pain spills, it may swirl around my girl's ankles and pull itself up the xylem of her veins until it holds her heart as it holds mine. And we will both have no choice but to retreat to the hawthorn tree at the bottom of the garden and wait it out until pain or life let go.

My fear is unfounded. When I tip, nothing spills. This pain is mine alone and cannot harm others. It took a long while to learn that and I doubt it still. My daughter carries her own pain which will evolve with her. I pray it will never feel this heavy because, while she perhaps has lost more than I, she is less aware of how much lighter our lives would be if her gentle Dada was still with us.

She has her own concerns but they mostly involve what I'm cooking for tea (invariably pronounced 'Disgusting', then consumed with gusto) and the contents of her astronaut lunchbox. Lately we have found a couple of baby birds on the pavement, fallen before wings had even begun to form. We carry them to the nearest field, choose some grass or earth to lay them on and a nice leaf to cover them. Pickle knows they will likely be eaten before nightfall, but we like them to be somewhere green and good for a time. Her equanimity around death is shocking for some, but reassuring for me. It happens and it can happen right up close before you are even two; before you have grown even one feather. It is good to know a kind hand will carry you and the people you love to a good place. That feels mythology enough for now.

Here, as proof of the resurrection that is spring, are four (I think) live and squirmy babies who will by now have soft featherdown. The photo isn't great because I used the zoom so I didn't get too close, but you can just see their interwoven bodies.

When I last spoke with you I was eyeball-deep in fayre preparations. It was all worth it (as it always is) and here I am having a lovely birthday selling wares and receiving gifts

and laughing with some excellent friends.

To the left is Suzi Crockford, creatrix extraordinaire at Dartmoor Drums and Rima Staines, muse of many, over at The Hermitage, who took the first fayre photo. This second one was taken from the stall of Virginia Lee. I am blessed to have so many inspirational friends. It was a good day and ended with the fine combination of The Sweet Lowdown and cider.

Many of the talented names of Chagford and its environs have donated work for this Saturday's art auction fundraiser for Proper Job - our essential local re-use and recycle centre. It'll be a good night, with a band and beverages and banter, but I'm quaking at the thought of my work being auctioned alongside the other amazing things on offer. Click the link to see why I'm so worried. I've given this oil painting:

I've also fully set up my online shop for original work, here at Artfinder. There's quite a few new pieces which haven't made it onto this blog yet, plus a lot of prints I've made of Thomas's amazing pencil and ink drawings, so I'll run a series of regular posts with a new work each time. For now, this is Still Falling For You, which I think explains itself:

Pickle and I have been to Tintagel Castle, where she had a brilliant time racing towards cliff edges or leaning perilously over them while I held myself back from holding her back and nearly fainted from the effort and anxiety.

And we have spent more time with my parents, comparing the wide open spaces of Somerset to the moor we are used to.

And all this time, while I am angsting about money and schooling (don't get me started on that) and art and her falling off cliffs or bikes or trees, Pickle is sensibly getting on with the business of growing up. She grows out of her clothes faster than I can say, 'Maybe I did a hot wash by mistake', can get her own breakfast and do most things all by herself (al least until she's tired) and has even started writing/dictating letters to her friends.

Oh, and she has produced her first book - fully illustrated and bound by her own fair hand. It mostly concerns the movements of snails and is the most delightful thing I have ever read. #Proud Mama moment :o).
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