A World Without Oil Manifesto

When the world runs out of oil, I’ll be OK.  The unskilled, unqualified, uneducated, like me, would stand up; be counted.  I’d use my creative mind to survive.  I’d turn roundabouts and wasteland into allotments for those without gardens.  Spinning wool, weaving, harvesting my own cotton and “resuscitating” second-hand clothes would no longer be “cute” or “eccentric” but VALUED and IMPORTANT.  “Twee” crafts would become Essential.  In a world without shops saturated with perfectly made posh stuff,  my HOME-MADE gifts – like jewellry made from orange peel or crocheted blankets – would sell.  Imperfect would become the new perfect. My gift for hoarding “just in case is comes in handy” would be rewarded. NO POWER = NO BIG SHOPS.  Local stores would have a GREAT renaissance.  Hand crafted furniture, toys, bicycles and watches would become “Life Saving”. Individuality would rule.  Home-spun style and hand made clothes.  No more fashion industry and soul-less mass marketing.  Dreams of creating my own clothes, crockery and candles would become the best enforced reality.  In a world without oil lack of power would mean NO daytime TV, X-box or video games.  Wii Exercise?  You’d exercise plenty turning over the soil to GROW YOUR OWN.  Big beastly supermarkets would close.  I’d have to wash actual soil off my potatoes – like the good old days.  No more pre-packed, pre-washed, pre-cooked fare.  NOPEAs mass production diminished so would processed food.  My skin would glow as I ate less ingredients that I can’t pronounce.  Plastic bags and bottles would be no more.  Pesticides?  What pesticides?  In a world without oil eating meat would be a treat – I’d be healthier and animals would be happier.  There would be less imported food and no fast food.  I’d  eat seasonally.  My friend’s vegetable oil car fuel would be in demand and buses would run on waste food.  The  horse drawn gypsy caravan would enjoy a revival and I’d embark on a different kind of road trip.  I’d sketch on paper I’ve made with my own hands, eat home-made jam and I’d never leave the tap running whilst brushing my teethThere would be less light pollution; more star gazing.  Life’s little things and treasures would be appreciated.  The multi-zillion pound anti-depression industry would turn to natural “science” for answers.  In a world without oil ‘every little would indeed help’ and everyone would have something to offer.  When the world runs out of oil we’ll be ok.

Inspired by the book, A Different World by Ruth Jacobs

The Iron Men of Crosby

Walking along the Coastal Path at Crosby, Liverpool, even on a blustery, bitterly cold day, you’ll never find yourself alone.  Scan your eyes across the beach and you’ll see 100 men, always.  Of course, depending on the tides and shifting sands, you may not have perfect visibility of them all, all of the time, but they are there nonetheless.

While the 100 hundred iron men, custodians and caretakers of Crosby waterfront, bear the full brunt of the irascible sands and an ever shifting weather front, in keeping their posts faithfully, they also bear witness to every moment of beauty there.  From stunning sunsets to ecstatic dogs being exercised, to passing titanic cruise-liners to beautiful skies; they enjoy front row seats to it all.

These Watchmen are also the frequent recipients of charitable and humourous garb.  Much like the crowning of the Wellington statue of Glasgow, with a traffic cone, became such a tradition by inebriated (probably) souls, that eventually the “crown” became a permanent feature, so too, the iron men’s adornment has become a popular practice amongst the locals.

I hope very much that local Yarn Bombers one day surprise the faithful Iron Men with colourful, warming wool.  Thus creating a beautiful, jaw-dropping sight and at the same time celebrating not just this fabulous artwork but also acknowledging the, all to often, undervalued skill of things such as knitting, crocheting, spinning wool and so on.

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Anthony Gormley, artist and creator of “Another Place” (the men are moulds of his body) has such shapely legs!

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Speaking of Yarn Bombing...bombed

Speaking of Yarn Bombing…bombed

A Postcard From Whitby, Yorkshire

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Me, sketching, at Whitby Abbey

Me, sketching, at Whitby Abbey

 

Five hours stuck on a coach, with no air, no room and a nauseating rubbery smell.  Ugh!  Would it be worth it?

 

(One of the vexing things about the narcolepsy is that I’m not allowed to drive.  This stymies a constant need in me for finding open space or to be able to “run” away, even if only to the nearest beach.  Dreams of Great Road Trips, like the Scottish Highlands, our “green and pleasant land” – England, a Grand Tour of Europe or of Route 1 (the coastal road that takes you the length of California), don’t seem feasible anymore: who’s going to want to hop in a retro VW Campervan to embark on a road trip with someone who can’t share the driving? (Silence))

 

Six years to the weekend that dad suddenly died I’m more aware than ever of how like my dad I am, both for good and for bad.  Not that you’d have ever seen my dad traveling anywhere on a coach (unless he was firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat) but had it happened, he’d have been huffing and puffing, shifting from one butt cheek to the other, all hot and bothered – in short, he’d have driven me nuts.  I now drive me nuts with me! It’s about the only driving I can actually do (queue laughter).

 

Things I Loved About Whitby

The abbey on the hill; I loved all the knobbly, gnarled walls and windows with the sparkling blue sky above its rooflessness.  Great to draw.

I loved the cackling and chorus of the myriads of starlings perched atop the abbey, all talking at once, enjoying the warm September sun.

I loved the quaint, crooked cobbled streets and quirky independent shops.  (Loved Bobbins in the historic Wesley Hall on Church Street.  Love yarn?  You’ll love Bobbins.)

I loved the wee pastel coloured houses on the waterfront; there’s picturesque scenes at every turn.  My head was on a swivel!

I loved the recommendation of the Fisherman’s Wife restaurant, with fab food and sea views (we managed to get a window seat.  Pheweeee!  T’was a close call.).

 

I can hear a little whiny voice asking: but what about the 11 hour round trip on a stuffy, cramped coach?  And what about sharing the tiny town with what felt like an unnatural amount of people (I think half the UK were there!)? And you were so tired you missed all the best scenery, like the seemingly infinite and utterly awe-inspiring Yorkshire Moors.  And what of the gaudy strip of amusement arcades and other tasteless establishments?

In reply, I’d say, I don’t know what you are talking about.  I simply don’t remember any of that.

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A Tale of Ten Kitties

This isn’t so much a Tale of Two Cities and their inhabitants, as much as a tale of two gardens and the cats that live in them.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…”

The summer was hot, the Pimms was cool.  On the surface, all seemed somnolent.  Alas, in the Universe of Scents that only felines can inhabit, rancor rankled and rattled.  The general zeitgeist of the moment was mercurial and one of unrest and of caution.

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It took us several months to realise that our new neighbours had moved in not with 1, 2 or even 3 cats but with 5 or 6.  It would seem the cats are not allowed indoors (or maybe they are too terrified to venture in due to the 2 big dogs that live there now also).

Oftentimes, sitting outside, especially if enjoying al fresco dining, it feels like living on a Greek Island.  Or, a real version of that TV advert where 100’s of cats fiendishly descend upon a home because a certain brand of milk (or cream?) is being served there; awaiting the right moment to pounce and lap up the White Stuff.

The kitties from next door seem to prefer our garden, company and affections (I can’t say food because were we to start on that road, I fear mum and I would end up as something akin to the characters in Grey Gardens.  This makes me sad though as they seem ever hungry.  Oh to have more pragmatism in life!), to that of their own domain.  Three of them in particular make constant attempts to make their paws firmly established under the table here.

All of this is, of course, much to the disquiet of our own 2 kitties and our current lodger, Binky.

The rascality and shenanigans that occur between all of these residents must be witnessed (or heard) to be believed.

The Main Characters:

Garden 1.

Savvy Sam. 034

Sam is as proud and as haughty as the cats in Ancient Egypt must surely have been.  They were worshiped there after all.  He is also, however, the softest, gentlest of boys and can be a real scaredy cat too.

Sam adopted us; it took a whole year to gain his trust.  He’d turn up between 5 and 6 each evening and wait on the window sill.  As we put food out for him he’d growl and hiss and would wait in safety until we were back inside, door closed, before making his hungry move.

Back then Sam donned a blue polka-dot collar but as the bitter winter of 2010/11 descended it was evident (if it wasn’t already) that poor ole Sam did not have a home.  He sought refuge in a dog kennel we’d erected and made cosy for him. 

One snowy December night he collapsed with the cold and we carried him in.  That was the first time we’d managed physical contact with him; his fur was matted and dirty.  He’s never hissed or growled at us since.012

We lost Sam for almost an entire year.  Once again Sam’s savvy survival skills served him well and we were all happily reunited last June.  (By this time I’d rescued a little scrap of a kitten (Tilly).  Sam now professes to be guardian of her (she adores Sam) but we know he secretly teases her.

Sam is savvy too in that he’s always managed to avoid fights and skirmishes with other cats.  He doesn’t wear the battle wounds that other cats do who have needed to fend for themselves.

He does bear other scars though.  Sam has evidently, at some point, suffered a raw deal at the hands of a man.  Bar one or two exceptions, Sam hates men.  Men and boots.

Tilly-tots

A gentle, timid little girlie that squeaks in lieu of a miaow and moves as deftly and as silently as Cat Woman herself.  426

Tilly is terrified of the cats next door and finds Binky to be blunder-bus.  As she skirts around him, hoping not to wake the beast, she growls the whole time. 

Tilly doesn’t walk or run; she ‘dances about’, as if moving to a beat that only she can hear.

Binky

Many of you will by now know Binky. On this, the eve of Binky’s being re-homed (alas, he has never been embraced by Tilly or Sam and this causes Binky no end of distress), it seems fitting to pay homage to a brave boy who has come through much (as we have with him!).

Farewell Mr Binks.  We’ll never forget you!  This hasn’t been an easy year for you thus far, we know, but we feel sure that your new Servant is just the right choice for you.

We miss you already, you lovely boy you.213

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The Sleepy Soul (me) 

Ever anxious, creative and nurses a penchant for Pimms&Lemo (only if it has all the trimmings mind!).

The Mum

Ever patient; ever calm.

Garden 2.

Please note, names may have been changed to protect the innocent.  (In other words, we don’t know their real names.)

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So called because of a triangle of black smut in the middle of his face.  The -Ange part worked well because I thought he was a she; I now think she is a he.

Triange is not afraid of heights…

Hyena

Thus named because he looks like a small hyena.  019

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My cousin named this pretty ginger spice with a white chest.

Olive tries to woo our Sammy – who runs away in terror or looks on with great perplexity.  (Much to my consternation it would appear the Olive has not been neutered.  Knowing how good cats are at breeding and knowing only too well how cat sanctuarys are packed out to the rafters with unwanted cats and kittens, I find I’m in constant dialogue with myself as to whether I ought to go and politely ask our neighbours if they have ever heard of the PDSA.)

When Sam refuses to get involved with the immoral advances of the riff-raff element, Binky is happy to oblige poor, desperate Olive – despite the fact that he himself has had ‘the snip’.  (I have video footage of this but it felt an infringement of Cat Rights to post it.  It even felt a tad voyeuristic filming it to be honest!)  Sam looks on in sheer disbelief.  I swear I hear him muttering, “This used to be a reputable neighbourhood.”

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Hard core fighter and defender of any current “Top Cat” Title. GM struts into the garden and the Rocky theme tune strikes up. It must be seriously to his chagrin that he has now been forced to wear a collar with a little tinkling bell.

I can’t decide whether this is because he’s been bringing his Servants too many gifts of the feathery or long-tailed variety or so that his Servants will know when we splash cold water his way. (They’ll hear a rush of tinkling.)

Oh c’mon now, don’t be like that!  He inflicts terror into our cats – we don’t drown him; just a little sprinkling to see him on his fighting way.

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You maybe familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical CATS, based on the delightful set of poems by T.S. Eliot.  As Grizabella enters any scene all the other cats slink off; it’s as if they can’t bear her sorrow.  And so it is with Griz.  I had gotten into the habit of calling her Gammy-eye, due to her sad, runny eyes (something else to mention in passing to the neighbours?), but her slow movements, combined with her unintentionally seeing off all the other cats made me rename her.

GB is determined to make her home here.  If the back door is left open for more than a few minutes, she’ll waste no time in venturing in (she has just pushed her way in as I write), foraging in all three food bowls here.  Maybe she could be called Goldilocks too.

Tabby

Rarely seen.  (Does she have a special place within in the home?) No photo.

Yes, yes, I realise that makes only 9 cats but would the title have had the same ring?  It had to be 10.  And let’s face it, at this rate, there could be new arrivals any day!

011Sometimes, Sam prefers to keep an eye on the outdoor proceedings from the safety of indoors.  His favourite spot enables him to do this.

Sometimes, Sam prefers to keep an eye on the outdoor proceedings from the safety of indoors. His favourite spot enables him to do this.

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Poor Grizabella

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Cubism and Sensitivity

1910, Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier), oil on canvas, 100.3 × 73.6 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Pablo Picasso’s Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier), 1910 Wikipedia.

(This is a post for moodscope.com but I’m putting it here first.)


Yes, I know, I’m all about the “highly sensitive souls” but please, indulge me here for a few posts about very sensitive people.  I need to purge these from my own sensitive soul and then, I promise, I’ll not harp on about the personality trait, again.

Despite having known for quite some years that I’m very sensitive and despite the fact that I keep a blog site with the words “sensitive souls” in the title, I’ve only just these past few months read properly Elaine Aron’s book entitled, Highly Sensitive People.

It has validated a lot that I’ve always “felt” (for starters, it’s no wonder my posts are often all about the feelings), but it has enlightened me on a whole lot more besides.

For now though: what exactly is it to be a highly sensitive person?  Here’s what it is to me…

I recently read an incredible article explaining why the camera could never, nor will ever, be a match for the wondrous design of the eye.  You can read the article in full here but, in brief, Danny Gregory, an artist and author, expresses with clarity that, “a camera sees only from a one-point, locked perspective that creates a single image of a specific vantage point…,” as opposed to the human eyes which “constantly move about…Our impression of what we’re looking at is actually lots of different perspectives all blending into one undulating picture”.

In articulating all of this Danny explained what the Cubism movement was all about and it was this that gripped me.  I’ve re-read it again and again:

“Amazingly our brains take all this information and instantaneously create a sense of what we ‘see’. It’s not a single picture but lots of different impressions that are all blended together. (That’s what the Cubists were getting at, trying to record all those different angles and perspectives into a single painting to simulate the way that we see. They were trying to show the distinction between how humans see and what the camera was introducing. People think of Cubism as abstract art but it actually was an attempt to be even more accurate about literally how we see the world.)”  (Note to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona: if you had Danny Gregory’s article, especially the bit in parenthesis, up for visitors to read, I can guarantee that more money would be spent in your gift shop. To understand Picasso’s Cubist work (I never have) is to want to buy memorabilia of it.  Trust me on this.)  See Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ here.

It finally hit me in the small hours one night why I found this cerebration so poignant.  For me, it explained perfectly how it is to feel highly sensitive.  In the same way that the Cubists were trying express how the eye sees in comparison with the camera, so too the very sensitive soul feels/sees everything as if in 3D; the length, width, height, depth. And trying to convey this can be very challenging.  The result often being that the very sensitive soul is misunderstood, just as the Cubist’s art was.

I leave the house and I see, feel, hear; I absorb everything.  The cornices, design, era of every building I pass; the character of people by observing their gardens, wheelie bins or recycling boxes;  I see pigeons swooping down invisible hills in the sky; aircraft flying overhead; I hear a police siren getting closer; I feel the moods of people that pass me by; the skinny cat from down the road – ‘is it cared for?'; I smell freshly mowed grass, pot from a house I’ve just passed; and I could go on and on and on here.

I’ve always seen this as a positive trait: observant.  For the first time in my life, however, I grasp why walking into a room full of people, people I may know well and love, can, at times, be totally overwhelming.  It’s a stimulus too many.  It’s overpowering and often something has to give: I’ll turn on my heels and head back for the door, or, hide in the loo until I feel I can make another attempt at joining the throng.

It puts me in mind of watching a film in which someone is losing consciousness.  As he or she is fading, things become exaggerated to him/her.  The music seems distorted, the person talking to him/her become a kind of grotesque, wide-mouthed creature, talking too much and standing too close.

You may have seen the enchanting mini-series ‘Lost in Austen’.  There is a very affecting moment where Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, slips through a time rip from 19th-century Georgian England and finds himself in the present day, bang slap in the middle of Oxford Circus (or some equally a frantic paced place in the capital), London.  This is a jolting, over-stimulating, terrifying moment for him and its poignancy is never lost on me.

This personality trait makes no one any better, or indeed, any weaker than anybody else. And, as with any trait, there will be varying shades of it.  Once again though, doesn’t it go to show how learning about ourselves can be helpful, comforting (I’m not a “a mess”, my senses are just more quickly aroused), and can assist us to become more successful in handling daily life?

Sensitive and successful?  A post from me soonly.

Make a word; any word!

OK?  is that the best you can come up with?

OK? is that the best you can come up with?

 

I play around with words all the time in my head and sometimes even out loud.  What I haven’t done, in a very long time, is play with words on a Scrabble board.  So, meet my trusty new tool, designed for morphing Scrabble tiles into other beauteous things (even if they don’t make a winning word score!).

A cork with a pin stuck into it.  Hold the pin over a flame and then make holes in plastic Scrabble tiles.  Easy peasy.

A cork with a pin stuck into it. Hold the pin over a flame and then make holes in plastic Scrabble tiles. Easy peasy.

A little bit of fiddling around with jewellry wire later and et voila… one pair of earrings and a brooch.

Brooch from scrabble tiles spelling LOVE.

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020023I hope no one is looking to make a triple word score anytime soon with my Scrabble board.  They may struggle; I’m scrambling the Scrabble!

 

 

A book to inspire:  ReCraft by Sara Duchars&Sarah Marks

Oh poohsticks!!

Unable to sleep, as is often my custom, I was perusing the cuteness that is Cute Overload and accidentally reblogged one of their posts (I wouldn’t even know how to do that if I tried!). Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 😣This WordPress malarkey is still work in process for me. Please excuse that dud post folks!

Soaring above Crosby, Liverpool

The aptly named Icarus from Greek mythology.  We too were able to fly only in a "corridor", flying neither too high nor too low.

The aptly named Icarus from Greek mythology. We too were able to fly only in a “corridor”, flying neither too high nor too low.

 

It’s not often I receive a phone call that goes something like this: “Hi Suzy, I’ll be flying my microlight on Thursday morning if you’d like to join me?”

 

Ever since that phone call I’ve been like a little girl, running around the playground, arms spread out like wings, singing:

I believe I can soar

I see me running through that open door

I believe I can fly,

I believe I can fly…

 

It was a beautiful thing to see my friend’s son (who started learning to fly at just 14), pilot with all the surety and confidence of someone who is doing nothing more than say, tying his shoe lace. And all that flight speak! I was sure at one point he was muttering a foreign language into that headset. I got to wear a headset too! (I’m sure that I’d really be a lot more cool if I could curtail some of my childish excitement. But never may that happen!)

 

I could ramble on all day about my mingling with the clouds above my home town but I’m not going to.  It was something I felt.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t want to weigh, measure and assimilate everything into words.

 

Suffice to say, life can be glutted with disappointments, sadness and vexation but cruising in excess of 1000 feet above terra firma, floating smoothly along at 80mph, with views stretching out all around you, further than the eye can see, it felt calming. It really did feel like “everything is going to be ok in the end. And if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”

 

If I just spread my wings

(I can fly)

I can fly

(I can fly, I can fly)

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Final checks before take-off

 

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A patchwork quilt

It's impossible to photograph the beauty of flying above fields of crops, almost ripe for harvest, as they allow the breath of the breeze to sweep and swoon them.  It's like someone smoothing their hand through a soft, sheepskin blanket.

It’s impossible to photograph the beauty of flying above fields of crops, almost ripe for harvest, as they allow the breath of the breeze to sweep and swoon them. It’s like watching an invisible hand smooth through a soft, sheepskin blanket.

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Near the air strip, Formby

Sefton Village (the Punchbowl) and then Maghull beyond

Sefton Village (the Punchbowl) and then Maghull beyond

One of my favourite roads in the world, Beach Lawn, Cosby Marina and looking towards Bootle and Liverpool Docks

One of my favourite roads in the world, Beach Lawn, Crosby Marina and looking towards Bootle and Liverpool Docks

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Prestatyn

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The wealthier part of the Wirral. Spot the swimming pools.

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The Wirral, The River Mersey and Liverpool Skyline with the menacing Anglican Cathedral just to the right of it.

The Welsh Hills

The Welsh Hills

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The River Mersey looking towards Liverpool

The River Dee and West Kirby

The River Dee and West Kirby

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The Liverpool Docks

The Mighty Liverpool Docks

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The Mersey

Crosby Coastal Path

Crosby Coastal Path and the pretty, pastel coloured houses of Beach Lawn

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Over Crosby

Liverpool Road and South Road of Crosby

Liverpool Road and South Road of Crosby

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Following my soaring came a long noon of absorbing (and snoring), after a pleasant lunch at the Pheasant, Hightown, of course.