June 2019’s MLA (Monthly Look Ahead)

Late getting something here again, lacking focus and concentration lately. May turned out to be a hopelessly haphazard struggle against some odds. Less said the better for now, it’d most likely seem crazy paranoia if I even began to try to elucidate & essentially personal impacts were of an external variety with other folks confidentiality to guard in the mix, so, onward for June… joining in with https://coolbeans4.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/monthly-look-ahead-june-2019/

Monthly Look Ahead logo designed by coolbeans4 wordpress blog challenge
don’t forget to visit challenge host coolbeans4.wordpress.com

I didn’t manage to achieve anything toward M.E. Awareness Month, tho’  truth be told I get really fed up with focussing on M.E. stuff. However it seems quite important while social media campaigns are potentially unbalancing perceptions of myalgic encephalomyelitis via popularised campaigns and public information. Maybe it’s aimed toward creating a client base and/or job creation scheme and/or funding & financial advantage somehow else. Very discomforting. Enough said already.

photo of my hand-made mini-books. Top: mini-book, titled Rough Work 1, with red ink writing on brown cover. Centre: open mini-book, left page reads Focus on one thing at a time; right-side page shows a doodled flower. Lower mini-book pages, left-side reads Every day is a new blank page... how will you colour yours?; right-side reads Smile you never know whose day you might change.
My handmade mini-book projects started in January, abandoned soon after. I really must get back to a little hobbying somehow!

So far this month, as well as getting out to the local shops THRICE, I actually got some windows shopping done and overspent on late anniversary/birthday/xmas treats whilst excusing myself some early xmas shopping too (not pictured!)… just in case Amazon etc. go kaputt with the problems Brexit appear to hold in store for us Brits…

I’m really looking forward to reading this book! I’ve only read as far as the second chapter and love that I started reading it when I did… to know why, you’d have to buy it for yourself – it’s available on Kindle if you prefer digital books. You can find a link to V Donovan’s ‘The Time Company’ at the author’s coolbeans4 blog.

I’ve spent some minimal /maximal enough time in my yard soaking up some natural daylight and fresh outdoor air, trying a little ‘physio’ & have tackled a tiny fraction of the gardening and yard work I need to achieve. In the next few weeks we should be having gates fitted on the front yard and then it’ll maybe feel safer kicking a ball or lounging out there. For my back garden I’d purchased some fence panels online during April but there was a mix-up or courier scam and as yet they’ve not been delivered (or refunded). So there’s a to-do to sort asap, and hopefully not a problem now outside the 30 days standard consumer protection timeframe for being a snail…

Snail on my doorstep earlier this month (June 2019)

As you can see in the pic below, my back garden’s an overgrown wilder-haven, in need of some attention for sure – although ‘aggressive planting’ was recommended by the local authority for security in years gone by. Dunno about these days, but security’s essential.

A fairweather gardener, it’s never a fair enough day for the effort for sometime… somewhere hidden in the undergrowth are some fuschia plants I’ve been neglecting to transfer to their tubs. Oops. Maybe I’ll catch up with gardening.

And for the first time in several (maybe seven or eight) years I visited a local country park for a stroll… Hopefully I’ll be able to get out more again soon and perhaps make it even further afield. I used my old mobile phone to video my 20-minute walk around part of the park, but dozey me didn’t notice I was filming upside down, although it’s quite a good disorienting effect. I’ll maybe get round to uploading it to youTube if I can reduce the file size or edit it somehow.

The pedestrian entrance to Nottingham city’s very best country park and nature reserve, image cropped to show ‘we count’.

I’ve not found my newest mobile phone yet and that’s quite a nuisance. I need to move some things and get down to floor level to really be sure it can’t be found before reporting it stolen. If it was stolen, it was from my home during trespass by someone who heard where it dropped. Hopefully it is here and my sometimes nightmare neighbours’ associates aren’t pesky thieves(!) I don’t mean that my neighbours are nightmarish, but some visitors to their households seem so.

Well, other than nursing my overdraft, self-care toward optimising my health, enjoying music and books, getting on with some spring-cleaning and keeping up with basic chores now I’ve cleared this year’s backlog of laundry and washing-up, making time for a little creative hobbying and getting back to blogging better sometime whenever, I don’t really have much else planned for the remaining days of this month…

All images in this post are my own photographs snapped during June 2019, excepting the Monthly Look Ahead badge designed by the challenge host at coolbeans4.wordpress.com














August 2018 Monthly Look Ahead [MLA]


#MonthlyLookAhead badge above designed by Donovan at coolbeans4.wordpress.com

You can read this month’s MLA post via coolbeans4 here.

N.B: my post below contains a total of 13 original images, all optimised for mobile data usage. [My image files = 1.66Mb total. My text file to copy in is 12kb but adding this intro and ad libbing on the wire, warning for length, should be less than 2000 words but by the end is approx 2150words!].

This data-optimisation is essential for me too right now while home services appear broke. I am the legal originator of all images (and text) in this post except the MLA badge shown above (and excepting the Microsoft image I photographed, screenshot and appropriated using Microsoft enabled basic software, believing it valid legally entitled individualised use).

I was looking forward to trying the wordpress desktop app I downloaded a while ago now it might be really useful, but it needs an update downloading, with no forewarning of how much data that might crunch from my limited allowance.

So prepping via screenshotting my photos and writing a notepad plain text file all seemed like do I really need an app? I really don’t like apps and try to avoid them like the plaague! Trying to keep my wits about me, I’m looking forward to the day I succeed in that aspect most days of most of whatever’s left of my lifetime.

Here’s my images index screenshot…


… in case you wanna skip off sooner rather than later having seen a little of all those pics… in no particular order of course… they all follow individually through the text of this post, but unfortunately visual describing will need to wait until I have home internet and better physical functionality again.

As I sit pondering my Monthly Look Ahead post for August 2018 I wonder how on earth with my physical limitations I can make any planning of things to look forward to this month AND make it interesting for the reader somehow while stuck almost totally housebound – somehow more fun whilst keeping it achievable??? I should probably give up trying. Almost everything I’ve ‘looked forward to’ in previous posts hasn’t happened yet(!)

I did at last buy Jen Brea’s Unrest film last week at Standard Definition (by choice, not wanting super-sharp cutting my eyes to bits!) expecting a download file. Nope, for a bit less money than previously available I got a watch online on amazon site product, just a day or two before my internet access cut off! It is as if she never wanted people with M.E. to be able to watch the darn thing. But that’s probably not so and just one of those things. Hopefully she’s not part of that bogus campaign muddying the waters to misrepresent how patients with my systemic disease might present.


I have weeks at a time of silence and it pains me so to not be able to enjoy music. Participating in musical enjoyment is therapeutic, singing is deep core muscle and respiratory excercise while needing to avoid aerobic exertions. I am not reliant on digital consumption and avoid it like the plague, so have plenty of listening opportunity offline from old archived discs – but my #newMusic Lunar tides EP paid for and downloaded from bandcamp works offline fantastic! So enjoying the loudest possible sounds and sensations of music is very high on my ‘looking forward to’ list…

Staying offline and off tech doesn’t help me get anything more done or feel any better either.


My internet access gazumped having been fine overnight to wake to find it dead and gone on 1st August. coincidentally Microsoft updated me an odd opening image to my laptop’s desktop screen. “What’s life like in a science research outpost…”?!?WTF!?!

No idea if my aging router is at fault – that’s been playing up since they upgraded my speeds almost two years ago and often on the blink even before that. If I were paranoid I’d have been thinking it was deliberate communications curtailment – and I’m sure I have sometimes felt it was that very thing.

outpost postcard 04082018.jpg

[Previously published on twitter, but I am the copyright holder of the appropriated image.] I look forward then to making more ‘postcards’ from whatever gazillions of files I created or the few generics saved from pixabay/splash etc.

My laptop was holding this overnight ready for my re-awakening, so I had to snap it in response…


Finding another way, I finally dragged out my emergency mobile hotspot I bought from another ISP so I have some very limited data allowance and minimal access for anything I’m impulsed to consider urgent enough.

I am looking forward to sorting my issues and dispute with my home ISP – but I was looking forward to that way back when too!

So until my replacement router arrives mid-week perhaps only to find that I have to pay £13.60 for out of contract and wrote snailmail to cancel disappeared mobile phone from my bank balance of £38 to last ten days, still needing electric and food (but rations enough if I choose to suffer emergency rations instead)… while they owe me much more than £600, maybe over £1000 in refunds etc etc… I’ll look forward to getting it together and adding it all up properly!… we’ll see then…so my new router might not even get authorised to allow internet access.

So I’m looking forward to gauging how I can somehow keep myself internet happy with only mobile data usage from another provider. it just means it is how it is and I have to put up with the added sense of isolation.

I bought a new mobile phone from another provider to find I have to be well enough to go back to the store for a PAYG voucher or change my email address to receive a digital download of a ‘paper voucher’ when apparently my receipt for the phone should have included a voucher number! Three months having a new phone that I can’t make a call, send a text or use the mobile internet via their services!

But I can tweet at them from this other old mobile hotspot provider and maybe sort it now I found there is definitely no voucher code on a receipt when buying the phone and only a top-up card to use when paying in-store. Aaagh – I’d have expected a sales assistant to tell me that when I was instore collecting the phone I ordered online. It’s been working as a hand-held internet device while I had internet enough and my youtube on it is optimised for mobile data – but still munches it so fast. So you-tubin’ MetOffice weather forecasts only for now. Camera works but it ate my memory!

So I’m looking forward to whenever I get back the freedoms of internet access and the luxury of mostly listening while ‘watching’ some vloggers I’m following.

#skywatching – I forget to post online but do skywatch almost daily at least once or twice and always looking forward to spend more time with it. However, when I think I’ve barely done any skywatching during any given month I still might find I’ve taken 400+ photo of skies from home, even if they are lo-tech old BB snaps for having clogged my new phone’s memory with no easy way to transfer them and bluetooth being such a lengthy excercise! Old BB snaps are good enough, especially if I need to screenshot them for mobile data optimisation! Rarely I might make written or sketched notes and should look forward to journalling them to fill my days and any sleepless nights. They all seem full enough for basic survival efforts without that inclination adding pressure. but I might enjoy it!


I was glad to still have full online access to NASA coverage of the lunar eclipse overnight 27th-28th July 2018, as the cloud coverage made it impossible to see for most of the UK. Skies were drab on 28th I think, until sunset colours appeared in the Eastern skies by evening…


and then got interesting again by 29th (think I must have missed 31st, maybe both myself and the skies were just too dull to be bothered!)


The final one below made me reflect on the volcanic activity from Kilauea and the happenings in the Eastern Rift Zone of the Big Island aka Hawaii. I am missing my updates from @DoingHawaii mostly, but hey… I have to be patient…


So yeah, skywatching is high on my personal agenda. I’ll probably add my full low-resolution images to my skywatching blog elsewhere (blogspot) at a later date. I will look forward to be able to do so, if not this month… whenever…

I’m looking forward to making a TFIBritain (=This Friday in Britain)
post later in the week/month and actually remembering to link it to Joy’s ‘BritishIslesFriday’ challenge!


Real news versus fake news:

I’m very looking forward to catching up with #brianharvey while he’s subject to corrupt criminal proceedings – and wondering is Ian Puddick also being prosecuted for malicious communications then, because he should be! Of course Puddick has money and there’s no such thing as Fair Justice or balance in the UK Criminal Courts. Crazy times! Wish I could look forward to being well enough to go protest!

Also hoping very much to hear good news from the #freemelanieshaw campaign after her court hearing due this week on 7th. But the ways things are in my country I’m not sure I can realistically be looking forward to any such thing much!

Hopefully I can still access the news though, but the news services don’t half seem a load of rubbish, often anything other than the real news while they try and shut down real news sharing via social media and will criminalise the troofsayers – making an example to shut us all up? Calling real news ‘fake news’ and giving us loads of fake news as if ‘real news’!


I haven’t yet analysed data use for my SCBI (SimCityBuildIt) app on my android, but fear that’s too much too. My league effort is ruined and I let my club down by not playing at all this week, but…


At least I completed my challenge and earnt my reward of… an iconic Music Festival …of course I can’t do anything with it, but having no internet makes no difference to that! I am missing just relaxing and shoving graphic icons into factory and production slots and trying to add up well enough to meet challenge demands and time management constraints. So I will look forward to playing a little if and when I can. It’s the only thing my android tablet is much good for. Fingers crossed then.

The data allowance I have could last 3 months if I don’t waste it and use it only sparingly. But I found looking around a few blogs doesn’t take too much so far, maybe depends on photo quality within posts and things like that. Nor does being online making this lengthy post. Hooray! Still, I look forward to less isolation and more freedom of choice.


I had been looking forward to taking part in #DrawingAugust on twitter and via my blog, but being offline doesn’t have to stop my trying to draw every day and worry about posting sometime later. I hadn’t managed to draw a thing since April’s A to Z challenge and must make more effort, I’m really rusty again. I am very looking forward to some serious concentrating with drawing attempts!

I’m always looking forward to family time and hopefully there’ll be more of that again soon.

I’m always looking forward to health and mobility improvements and one of these days I’ll achieve some!

(I should look forward to vignettes perhaps…)

I was looking forward to the NHS improving standards of care having seen it’s now decided to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis oil – then I remembered that under NICE Guidelines 2007 for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (being different and NOT the same thing!) anyway, doctors can only prescribe those medicines in the NICEGuide2007 recommended list – mostly only useless harmful medicine like paracetomol, ibuprofen and anti-depressants for pain relief(!) and NICE2007 is not due for review until 2020! So that’s another inequality to look forward to.

I’m still looking forward to the year 2065! That’s when the classified info will be made public that almost definitely includes my blood test results and those of others affected by M.E. during the 1980s, held at Kew research, previously due for public release 2025 and re-classified in recent years until such time as we can all be expected to have gone to hell.

Cheerful this ‘looking forward to…’ innit. Sorry about that. I made every effort to capitalise all my little ‘i’ occurences though…

So, maybe this month’s theme is ‘failure posts’, apologies again for all my previous inconsistencies and failing to post… and I sincerely hope your month brings many happy things to look forward to looking back on in the future!

Final thing not to miss on my list: Recycled Book Reading Challenge ~ posting something for that at my main blog sometime soon enough – surely I can just relax and read a book!!!

Apologies for another rant! Next time maybe I’ll try going back to a simple short list!

By the way, I might only be posting from my micro-blogging site (swishing4th.com) if my access remains curtailed so I’d best look forward to picking up over there again very soon…

PS: @wordpress.com – I’m looking forward to return of PDF capability for saving my draft off line too, thank you! Guess it’s a copy to OpenOffice then… maybe it’ll PDF once published(?) and maybe it’s different on the sites I paid for from wordpress(?) Oh my days, #MLA! over and out…





TBR – Ten more Blogs from the A to Z Challenge

I fell a little behind with blog-hopping toward the end of this week while having wi-fi issues, but hopefully will catch up again soon enough. I’ve found my round-up list of 50 useful in keeping up with visiting better, without getting lost in the Reader or distracted by other things in my email notifications – although I am definitely missing some of my regular reading visits!

Anyway, I’m adding some new blogs I’ve had a quick visit to and fancy reading more at, as a To Be Read list, for next week, starting as soon as I’m up to date with other reading:

  1.  https://thedreamgirlwrites.wordpress.com/      [= ongoing fiction]
  2. https://faeriembassy.wordpress.com/       [quite long posts, miscellaneous]
  3. https://cheryllennox.blogspot.co.uk/    [quite quick reads, textile art images]
  4. http://lisa-musingsofamiddle-agedmom.blogspot.co.uk/     [=travels in Israel]
  5. http://www.kridwyn.com   [=tongue twisters]
  6. https://onomasticsoutsidethebox.wordpress.com/      [=medieval names]
  7. http://yenforblue.blogspot.co.uk/     [= miscellaneous]
  8. https://jenseriously.com/        [=Mother Goose nursery rhymes ]
  9. https://invisible-no-more.com/    [=health]
  10. https://nydamprintsblackandwhite.blogspot.co.uk/  [=author’s own characters]

There are so very many blogs in this challenge I’m sure it’s not humanly possible to read all of them – and I’m not an avid fiction reader, so in the main I’m avoiding those types of postings, although I will make the effort to see a few more from that category once I’ve had a good rest.

Az Values and Vanities

letter V badge for April 2018's A to Z Challenge; click image to visit the A to Z Challenge dot com websiteStill Life with a Twist ~V~

Victorious I emerged from the vastitude of my storage area with a sketchy painting from 26 years ago that I wanted to show this month. (I’m still vexing for my paints etc!) I’d been tasked (as an art student) to arrange and paint a collection of objects that held significant personal value at that time. It’s not a well-finished painting and is the most complex ‘still life’ I’ve ever attempted. Here’s a couple of close-up sections first (I’ll need to return to visual describing for alt text for these images):

The section below shows my Bible, I’d bought that myself when I was eleven, either with gifted money from my Nan or with the book voucher I’d won as a prize for attainment in English lessons at school. I’m still trying to remember that detail, maybe I combined both £5 amounts – that was a lot of money in those days and I’m fairly sure my Bible was quite expensive. I wonder now what were the two other books in my painting and why were they there? And do I still have my C-leaf pendant?

The VODKA bottle made it into the picture as an empty bottle that I retained after it was gifted me by a special friend at my 21st birthday celebration. I’m not sure I still have it. My guitar was also a gift for my 21st birthday from my parents, they’d visited me here in Nottingham and took me to the city to choose it.

Apologies for poor quality photography, I’m struggling for areas with enough light where I can get this large painting flat! Here’s the whole shaboodle:

At the very back of the painting is a brass teapot ornament that I dug out of my very first garden after moving from my flat to my first house – probably my very first ‘found object’. At the very front left is one my son’s first walking shoes, they squeaked when pressure was applied to the soles to encourage walking – he’d been pulling himself up and standing for ages but couldn’t walk until eighteen months old, I dunno if the shoes helped, but at least he learnt to walk! The whole arrangement is on a blanket I still have from childhood, more faded and worn now than then, as am I.

That’s a lot about me, so there went my vanity excercise… I have nothing new I want to show today around remembering my Mum, other than this photo of a plaque with VERSE I bought as a gift for her while I was quite young – I was surprised to find she still had it. (I placed it on one of her cushions, it’s not wallpaper.)

Two more female painters have vied for my attention in my virtual explorations today (they’re both French):

  • Suzanne VALADON (1865 or 1867- 1938, I’m not sure why there’s a discrepancy with her date of birth, intriguing). Valadon was painting in Paris around the time of French Impressionism and was  associated with Degas and others. There’s something vaguely ‘Van Gogh’ about her style in the still life paintings I’ve seen so far.
  • Anne VALLAYER-COSTER (1591-1632) was a very skillful painter, one of only four women to have entered the Royal Academie de Peinture et Sculpture before 1800 (or thereabouts). She’d entered two still-life paintings for exhibit in 1771 and was subsequently unanimously elected by the academics who saw her work. Perhaps her work would be an example of VIRTUOSO still-life, but some of her pieces definitely appear to qualify as VANITAS works.

VANITAS still-life paintings are “a collection of objects to remind the spectator of the transience and uncertainty of mortal life” and “speak an immediate universal language” (Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists). They often have a  moral or religious context with symbolic or emblematic visualisation and are sometimes also devotional. The name apparently derives from Eccliastes (i:2), ‘Vanitas Vanitatum…’ and now I have a vested interest to pick up my Bible and read that chapter and verse, so perhaps will.

I was also reading a little on the traditions of Varnishing Day, when painters retouched their paintings before exhibition opening, often competitively when they saw each others work to be displayed. Turner is said to have habitually only half-finished his paintings, completing them only on Varnishing Day. The now customary VERNISSAGE apparently grew from that earlier tradition, that being the Private View, the preview for invited guests.

Back to VALUE – in technical terms, this usually refers to tonal value, as gradation of monochromatic tone to suggest darkness and light. Colour values in the pictorial space often require creative license to be applied to add contrast to or emphasise areas with similar tonal values. Tip: When observing objects for still life drawing or painting, looking through squinted half-closed eyes helps to reduce the areas of colour to reveal visible tonal contrasts.

Briefly, before closing and veering slightly off-topic perhaps, VERISMO was an Italian form of Realism preceding Impressionism – I haven’t yet found any still life examples but wonder there must be some (it also has a musical meaning in operatic terms). VORTICISM was a British art movement around 1914 that fascinates me for the abstract compositions, similar to Futurism and Cubism, some few examples of which might appear to relate to objects.

Finally, VEHICLE is a word sometimes used in place of medium when discussing VISUAL arts and so far, the A to Z Challenge has been a fine vehicle for returning to learning more about art, and practising a little once more. [909!]


Az Unsettled Undertakings

letter U badge for the A to Z Challenge; click the image too visit the A to Z challenge dot com website

Still Life with a Twist ~U~

Today, I’m  bringing not ‘tone and texture’ results, as I’m saving those for another days’ post. Instead and in lieu of (uh-huh, with my best-naturally-lit drawing room also being my lav…) I’ll be usurping this space with some line excercising, while I play with ideas around my Still Life project…

…but before those …

I’ve added digital text to my photo of a 2012 drawing of mine, originally made as a design element for the cover page of my ‘career plan’ made during work-related activity training, hereby updated, especially for ‘U’.

The following photo shows another element of that coverpage design, again, untitled…

… I’m undecided if this drawing is unfinished or not, as at the time it was deliberately left as is.

I’ve been wrestling with my conscience over making art for art’s sake and drawings for the sake of drawing. However I’ve arrived at the conclusion that while I continue to practise drawing, ie. next month and beyond, I could do so with the intention of collecting my loose-leaf stuff together and assembling it as a memory book or personal journal. I don’t usually do artistic ‘journalling’ although I admire those whose work I see online – and mine probably won’t turn out anything alike.

Those pics (above) were ‘old’ … what’s new for ‘U’?

Ok, you can barely see the photo (shown right)… one of my drawings from timed excercises. I got that far in seven minutes – and should have got further.

I could have worked more on this drawing but decided to leave it as is, because I see it’s potential as something to complete another time for that memory book.

Similarly, I’ve left most of my timed excercises for their potential repurposing, wondering I can colour them, tear them up, make them somehow else – anything other than this one significant picture I’m reaching for.

The next two examples show the same three-minute excercise repeated, first using my dominant hand, then my non-dominant hand…

3 minute drawing with dominant hand 24/04/2018
3 minute drawing with non-dominant hand, 24/04/2018









I definitely need more practise to get my drawing speeds up. Although there’s really no need to rush.

As an art student we had to fill large sheets of paper with whole images sketched in as little as two, three or five minutes. That was a very long time ago though, and I have to keep reminding myself that the unwanted devil of a fine art tutor on my left shoulder voicing jibes and prodding me to remember formal conventions is an academic trapping and unnecessary to listen to in the context of my project here. I’m not trying to make a portfolio or accomplish a set of standard criteria.

I’ve found myself hankering after making abstract versions too during these excercises. The following non-dominant hand drawing was one of my favourites for potential abstract play (at a later date of course, needing to keep some UNITY to my theme).

3 minute drawing with non-dominant hand, 23/04/2018

I’m reaching the point of ultimatums as we near the challenge completion date. Do I need a frame for a watercolour or am I using acrylic and painting a canvas? I still need to UNEARTH paints  – or should I dash out and buy more?! I really need to make a start with UNDERPAINTING if I opt for an acrylic painting on canvas. Am I wasting time by drawing when I really want to be painting? (No, I don’t think so, observational excercises are helpful to the process, I just mustn’t use up all my time and energy with them). Am I really waiting in the hope of getting flowers and anything else I convince myself I really NEED? Have I even decided my final selection of objects?

Just as I have a fine art tutor uttering in one ear, in the other I hear my mother whenever I think of shopping for flowers and art materials for this project. She’s there reminding me of the uneconomic-ness of buying flowers for the sake of sentiment and art – and the uselessness of art full stop. She worried about us ‘wasting money’ on flowers to take to her grave, but she knew we would want to. As I live over a hundred miles away I’m easily excused the luxury of keeping flowers at home when I buy any in remembrance of my Mum and she preferred it that way too. She was a very unselfish lady.

ULTIMATELY, I’ll simply show this final example from the past, as another technique I’ll perhaps try again while playing with ‘Still Life’. I enjoy the effects on the underside of drawings made with marker pen – ideally that would require drawing a mirror image on the upper side of the paper, but might not be necessary…

Finally, a tip I was given (as an adult learner from a practising fine artist/tutor rather than ever learning something so USEFUL from a full-time academic fine art tutor) and really must remember whilst drawing: always turn your drawing round and look at it while it’s UPSIDE-DOWN to check accuracy of things like proportions and perspective.

Any drawing or painting tips you’d like to share? What’s your favourite memory around art-making? If you’re doing the A to Z challenge, or any other project over time, do you have a devil and an angel on each shoulder and what are they telling you?




Task It Tuesday (To-Do this week!)

badge for the Task it Tuesday chllenge hosted at bloggiesta dot com, click the image to visit this week's challenge post. The badge image shows the background as a piece of lined paper with a vertical pale red line for the margin, the words 'Task it Tuesday are drawn large in grey aligned to the left side margin and one word per four lines; there is a picture showing a diagonally placed yellow pencil and a two-tone pink eraser in the page space toward the right of the image; along the top line to the right side in small text are the words 'Created by the Geeky Blogger' and along the bottom line to the left, also in small red text, are the words 'Hosted by Bloggiesta'.Click here or the image above to visit this week’s challenge post and Inlinkz

I’ve been meaning to join in with #taskittues since it began four weeks ago. There’s no excuse this week while I’d been readying my post yesterday. I’m not likely to get all these things achieved this week and I have to acknowledge that, but I can make some headway on as many as possible. The activities I can tackle during ‘resting’ times are my priority along with those that can be tackled in short bursts between rests, perhaps.

  1. Revisit the question, ‘how to simplify my life?’ [I plan to ask myself that every week!] this week’s answers include (a) do my laundry on good outdoor drying days and not have damp washing on racks indoors – typically, I just missed all the warmest days so far this year and now have a backlog just as we’ve returned to wet weather days!; (b) somehow improvise fixing the back yard fence until the neighbour’s landlord repairs and replaces it properly; (c) catch up with washing up the dirty dishes AND get back into the habit of washing up as soon after I use stuff each day as poss. (d) reconstruct and remake my bed, unavailable since last year’s Spring cleaning attempt(!) … (e) start taking my kids some of their things they’ve left stored here and find ways of making such things take up less space somehow in the meantime; (f) pay my Spring bills before they go as far as litigation for my having such poor memory(!)… (g) get help moving my Mum’s sideboard from it’s standing upright position in the tiny hallway behind my front door and into it’s horizontal position in the reception room and filling it with crockery and other items appropriate to it becoming my dining room – this includes re-organising the room generally for that to happen and removing the broken sofa; (h) declutter my small bedroom to use better as a ‘study’ and ready for use as a guest bedroom… that really is too many things to do in one week but any one of those achieved this week would be a good start on the home front! (i) Now that I’m eating more meals again more regularly I should really return to taking nutritional supplements that might help support better energy and at least small health improvements. Also: (j) Buy a new mobile phone and cancel my contract for the lost/misplaced/stolen one – 7 months missing, way beyond compulsory contract time and still paying that bill! (k) Buy at least a month’s prepayment electricity credit to save impacts of exertion, easier to achieve now spring is here. (l) Do my grocery shopping online and have easier access to food for meals.
  2. Go through all my A to Z posts correcting the links in badges and any textual links to make them clickable to visit the official challenge website rather than the 404  error page(!) I’m sure they worked before and I’d have sworn I checked!
  3. Update alt texts that remain lacking for images in my posts.
  4. Update my bloghop list of 50 (some i was still catching up reading at have stalled along the way)
  5. Visit at least 10 new A to Z blogs by Friday and another 10 over the weekend with a view to reading through those next week. I’m probably up-to-date with at least 30 from my list of 50 so far, aim to catch up better with those I’m lagging behind at.
  6. Improve my drawing space(s).
  7. Continue drawing/painting practise excercises and readying for making this one final pictorial image by Monday 30th to reveal with my ‘Z’day post.
  8. Maybe try this theme (toujours) on swishing4th and decide if I want the personal plan here to fully utilise the theme. If affirmative, plan the timescale for making that payment. (I realised that while I wanted to update the dynamic content on the homepage view, that option might no longer be available in the free plan. The guestbook feature would display correctly then too.)
  9. Pick up on this month’s as yet undone things … like an audio recording I mentioned somewhere and other stuff/ideas I might have left behind.
  10. Maybe start writing a condensed and polished all-in-one text of my ‘Still Life with a Twist’ A to Z series as an easy access, mobile friendly ‘highlights’ piece, maybe with a little of the potential visual content I left out. Thinking this over… as it’s extra workload. I’m thinking of posting that as a new unique presentation at one of my other blogs rather than here.
  11. Play with taking mundane snapshots somehow for the MMPC#157 prompt this week = two for one.
  12. Plan my posts for coolbeans4’s Monthly Look Ahead due 1st May here at this blog and Mliae’s Recycled Book Reading Challenge that I do from over at one of my other blogs, also due on the 1st May or thereabouts.
  13. Be ready for SkywatchFriday this week and complete blog-hopping visits for last week before then (I do this one from my blogspot as that challenge community is based there).
  14. Be ready to join in with Joy’s British Isles Friday this week and do NOT forget this time.
  15. Post a TBR list of A to Z blog homepage links with a view to reading some more next week.

Afterthought: During Spring Bloggiesta I made my to-do list post then returned to that list and used the strike-through to mark progress. Now I’m wondering how screen readers manage with that. Does anyone know? Is it disruptive for visually impaired visitors reliant on assistive technologies to use the strike-through?

Maybe I’m worrying too much while I might not even have any visitors with such needs. However, if a whopping seventy per cent or more of current generations are likely to be legally blind by the time they reach their seventies, such considerations might be appropriate now, rather than later… I’m attempting better inputs of my alt text on the selfish basis that I might like (or need) the textual descriptions for reminders of the images I use in my posts myself one day.

ONE over ? TIME ? GOAL: Finding out more about such accessibility issues and assistive technologies are on my longer-term to-do list – and have been for a while. I hope to find out what the options are for screen reading software – it would have helped me a lot to keep up with blogging during some of my inactive phases by at least having access to reading material while unable to look at the screen for pain. Would I have to put up with American English versions? I’m aware the standards are quite different between American and British services for the blind. Obviously I’d rather use something tailored to my native language than the very foreign American language – and I kind of guess they have to be ‘responsive’ to recognising the differences in spelling and grammar that cast the chasms of difference despite all the similarities. I imagine them to be cumbersome and annoying unless splashing quite a lot of cash at them – and the current tendencies seem to be toward no longer buying software kit for life but buying it on an annually licensed basis. That’s gonna be likely prohibitive – and in spite of our ‘wonderful welfare state’ many a legally blind person is currently left without the state assistance that purports to enable the disabled among our communities / wider society. Maybe I’ll enquire to the RNIB for more information. Whoops, more words than I intended! [1244]

Az Sentiment and Souvenir

letter S badge for April 2018's A to Z Challenge; click the image to visit the A to Z Challenge dot com website

Still Life with a Twist ~S~

Saturday and the letter S! I’m indulging myself here, slightly straying off topic…

Sadly I’m still struggling with sourcing my stash of stuff from the back of beyond among the stacks in my storage area. I’ve found quite a lot of other things along the way. If I were to doodle my still life I have Staedtler pens and Sharpie markers I bought in summer 2015 and still haven’t opened; I’ve found all manner of potential support for painting from watercolour paper to student quality high-street canvasses bought in 2011 and still in their wrappers unused. This summer they’ll get used – as soon as I can find my box of paints etc! And if they’re solid… I’ll scream and kick myself!

So, along the way of my search I found myself wondering, what did I leave in this box?

photo of the top of a packing box; handwritten in black marker pen in the top right are the words 'somehow sentimental F.O. stuff 1989 to 2009Is there anything in this box I could use for still life?

contents of box marked 'somehow sentimental F.O. stuff 1989-2009, please return to text for detailSilly stuff for safekeeping in a ‘somehow sentimental’ box!

[Visual description for the benefit of those who might be partially sighted.] Without rooting through to the underlayers of the box I found it holding a strange variety of items (from bottom left, working across, up and round…) there’s a red plastic shade from the first set of Christmas lights my Mum had given me around 1987 or 1988; a plaited scoobie string my daughter made a decade or more ago; a snowman with a severed head made in self-hardening clay by one or other of my children – I’ll remember who exactly when i find the other snowman probably in a different box!… a scrap of tissue paper from a school wind-sock project; these are resting on the colour stained foam insert from an emptied box of soft pastels that i actually used up as a student in the 1990s;  above that on the right is a Mum badge my daughter made me from her Crayola kit around 12 to 15 years ago; above that is a snack noodle pot reused to contain various scraps and bits and pieces; top centre is my son’s size six suede moccasin slipper again from the early 1990s, I’ve no idea if I still have the other one(!); a bottle of scent gifted me by my Mum so long ago that what little is left now smells awful but still in it’s original box; below that there’s my kiddo’s handmade christmas cracker decorated with a snowman; then a Hallo Kitty sticker and a plastic dinosaur straw holder from the late 1980s/early 1990s. Quite a lot of ‘S’ things but nothing I wanted to sketch.

So, I didn’t get around to making anything other than more muddle and mess this Saturday. Maybe I should sling that box, but not before I check for anything I might have secreted below the surface…

Onto another something else… I found some more of my sketchbooks and smaller folders of my loose sketches. If it weren’t for the limits of Still Life schema I could have shown drawings of street scenes or the Market square, the railway station, skaters at the ice stadium or the skipping figures of children I sketched while I was a school arts week volunteer. And if I’d thought about it sooner I would have consulted my spreadsheet index I had some help with a small few years ago to know exactly what to look for in what book or folder! Sharpen up (my) synapses!

Although it’s not a still life sketch I’m showing the view looking through my Mum’s kitchen, drawn in 1985 when I was sixteen and still living at home but attending the local college as an art & design student for a short time until my ‘rare form of glandular fever’ recurred. This sketch has added sentimental value now that my Mum is no longer there and there’s no going back ‘home’.

A4 pencil sketch, 1985, Looking through my mother’s kitchen

The next drawing was made in my best friends’ living room in the early 1990s and could be described as still life. In a way it’s a shame that the paper’s coffee-stained. However it is the coffee that I was drinking at the time and made for me by my best friend. She died in 1998, so it’s another drawing of sentimental value. I used to love hearing her play her guitar while I visited, or playing mine when she visited my home.

I’m stalling shopping for flowers until I have suitable space and stuff to hand enough to make studies and sketches of them while fresh. I’ll hope for progress on those issues during Sunday but my to-do list is bursting at the seams for a day of so-called rest. Although neither are still life drawings, in place of real flowers for now are two flowery doodles made in 2011:

What strange sentimental or souvenir items do you have secreted away? Do you make your own things as ‘souvenir’?