Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Duvet Day

Blech, had a horrible migraine yesterday. The kind that insinuates itself into all the nerves of your teeth. Better now, although I still feel a little "spacey". I think these headaches are being caused by the oestrogen inhibitor that I take to help prevent a recurrence of the breast cancer.

Got my second critique on the piece I've been writing, all really helpful, constructive comments.
So I've prepared a final draft incorporating them. I'm glad folk get the humour of the piece, when something makes you laugh it's hard to know whether others will get it. And I've written a covering letter to go out with it. Just need to pluck up the courage to post it off.

Also did some work at the weekend on getting some garden photography locations.
Most are round the doors, this area has a wealth of fabulous spaces. I'm pleased the line I've taken in approaching owners has met with favour. Looks like I'll be busy most weekends from May through to July.

Anyway bathroom cleaning beckons ..............

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So cold!!!

It wild weather, hail, rain, rainbows, sun, wind - the bloody works. I've been out getting Spring flower shots, spent an hour lying on my stomach in the wet grass cuddling up to a mass of crocus. Wish there had been just a bit more sun to open them up. Snowdrops are almost over, but took a few more "big drift" shots in the grounds of a ruined castle. Came across an old ruined farm steading, roof bare to the elements, broken windows etc, took some great gritty black and white shots.

Got the second crit back on my piece of writing. It was very favourable, asides some minor suggestions on word placement and punctuation. I've also designed some graphics to go with it, simple line drawings. I'm pleased with the way it has all turned. I've sweated blood over it and I think the level of effort shows. Funny with photography I very much a completer/finisher - I suppose because it's my first passion, with writing I have to really discipline myself to redraft and edit things. I think it's because it still feels too much like my former job, which was drafting Gov policy papers/briefing/PQs etc.

I've been lurking on a poetry site, but the ethos of the place is terribly disciplined to the point of verging on the hostile. Lots and lots of rule to be obeyed. So I think I'll just lurk and read the poems and look at the crits.

OK back to the picture editing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Well done Andy Murray

So proud of him winning last night, and beating two former number ones on the way. Hope he keeps it going in Memphis. For me he's the most interesting tennis player since McEnroe who won the double title last night at 47!

Sport needs characters, there are enough bland types out there.

And good luck to our curlers, though it'll take a miracle to kept the women's team in it now. The men are through though, and were brillant against the Swedes.

It's February, Scotland needs a tonic to boost us upfor Spring and this kind of success is just what the doctor ordered.

Me I'm tidying up the house after the weekend, and then I'm seeing someone who is editing a piece of writing for me. Should be helpful as I've messed around with it for ages, and could use someone else's perspective. It needs to be cut, plus I'm not sure what work and what doesn't. I think I know it's strengths, but as someone, I can't remember who, said about writing "you have to be able to murder your babies". I find that hard, the line might be clever, but it's knowing that it doesn't sit well in the piece and not being over attached to it because it's what sparked your interest in the first place.

It's like deleting "almost" good photographs - though I'm getting better at that. Very few get retained these days.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rainy Sunday

Got up late, which was good as I've not slept well lately.
Worked in the garden. It's looking the best it has in years this Spring. I dug up some self seeded lady's mantle, from the patch we laughingly call a patio. I love this plant it but it really takes over if you let it. Then I went into the greenhouse and dug over and manured the two borders. Tomatoes and chillies are growing in the propagator in the house, they'll move out to the greenhouse in April. And the flipping jasmine has tunneled in from outside and rooted itself right through the borders, so I had to clean their roots out. Then I pruned the grape vine, it's 10 years old now, planted it on my fortieth birthday, and it now looks all gnarled like a real a vine should - a bit like me I suppose! Last year I got 35 bunches of grapes - and my family just complained about the pips! It's a variety called Black Hamburg, pretty reliable greenhouse variety for up here in the frozen north. The root is planted outside the greenhouse, and is brought in under the founds, so it gets a good winter chill, and enough water in the summer. I have a passion flower trained through it, and a tender clematis.

Photographs of the vine sell really well on stock sites, I think designers must do a lot of work for restuarants and wine growers. This is a shot of it taken in fall two years ago.

(BTW I appreciate my pix can be nicked from here, but be warned they are less than 300 pixels each. I don't want to watermark them as it spoils the effect, but they do carry my EXIF info)

Yesterday I went to an antique fair. Nothing much took my fancy, but I did buy a second hand poetry book, an anthology of garden poems, edited by Germaine Greer. It has some good poets it, Larkin, Heaney, Plath, and Simon Armitage who I've recently discovered and really like. I'm enjoying dipping into it.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Shelley doesn't like it being called a tea tray - it costs £3,000 and is precision engineered.
Not IKEA then Shell?

And she goes at 85 mph - well maths never was my strong suit and kilometeres is "new money" to me.

I'm trying to organise a programme of plant shoots - God where do these puns keep coming from? Fixed up two nice ones for May and June, one in a walled rose garden, I just have to do two days hard labour before hand to earn the priviledge.
Going to buy the Scottish "Yellow Book" guide when it comes out. It lists all the gardens open to the public over the summer - I may try and get permission to visit some on the eve of opening, that way I'll miss the crowds.
Sorting out computer photo files, burning back up CDs of RAW and processed pix. Should do this as I go, but my burner died and I've just replaced it, so I'm catching up now.

Can't wait for Spring, blossom, daphne and hyacinth scents, flame tulips, fritillaria............

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yay UK won a medal in the Winter Olympics

First one in forever by all accounts - shame it has to be for hurtling down a hill head first on a tea tray! Mind you anyone that does that at speeds in excess of 70mph deserves a medal. And it was a girl that did it, Shelley Rudman. We have some really brave sports women around at the mo.

It reminds me of I test I had during my cancer treatment. I had to lie on a tea tray ed under a big scanner, while some injected isotope whizzed round my body. The isotope was picked up by the machine as it passed through my heart and they could then measure my heart function - to see if it could stand the damage chemo would inflict upon it! I remember thinking you wouldn't have to be fat as the tea tray wasn't large and you had to lie completely still for 20 minutes! Wonder what my heart function would be at 70mph?


Been working really hard on my garden/plant photography and after a few rejections, which were well deserved as I had things to learn, I finally got accepted by the UK's biggest plant photographic library.

I feel really motivated , as I now have something to focus on - please 'cuse the awful pun!
But I now need to keep finding new top notch material to meet their high standards -submission quota is 300 a year, they took an initial 17 shots, so just another 283 to go!
So I'm busy sorting out photo bagging trips for the summer and getting my office space/cupboard more organised.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


One thing I notice using different sites on the web for the range of interests I have, photography, plants, poetry etc, is the number of people who turn up on a site and expect immediate gratification on any issue they care to raise, without a thought of searching the archive, or lurking for a bit or buying a magazine/book and gaining a little experience/expertise. It's no wonder those with experience get driven to distraction by having to repeat the same advice or keep directing people to newbie pages or forums.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Experimenting with photographs and poetry/haiku

Not strictly a haiku, unless you apply the one breath rule. It's part of a longer poem. Took the picture in Aberdeenshire last October. I tritoned it and added some noise

Super Bowl

Go Steelers!!!! Well done Ben!!!!

15 months ago on a visit to NY a good friend gave me Terrible Towel and I became a Steelers fan. Last week I e-mailed her a picture of the towel in the local kilt shop window. She sent the shot to her local TV station, who were compiling a "Steelers' Nation" gallery of shots.

Stayed up to 3am to watch the game. Wish we got their adverts too, as millions are spent on them for Super Bowl Sunday. Still don't understand too much about the plays, and it'll never replace real footie for me, but it is an amazing insight into all things American.

Stones played at half time, and Mick still looks young and spry. They are such a stadium band so they sounded really good too. And Joss Stone sang with Stevie Wonder at the beginning. So the Brits were there in force.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I love Sunday mornings. My old man brings me a cup of tea, and I listen to BBC Radio 4's excellent Broadcasting House topical news programme, and graze the Sunday papers at the same time.

I've stopped reading the political stuff, I'm just so out of sympathy with it all that it feels a pointless exercise. (Best bit of political satire is Rory Bremner doing Blair saying, "I'm not bothered!" Cameron is just a young Tony, bright and opportunistic, and the Lib Dems "sacked" one flawed guy and are now offering two less able men (or why didn't they get the job the last time) the chance to run for the post )

I like to read the book and music reviews, and the Observer's Nigel Slater and Monty Don.

Must do piano practise. I'm learning Ode to Joy, though the way I play it it's more of an Ode to So So.
Weather dull so photography not a great option. Will try and capture drifts of snowdrops before they go over, but frosty morning, with a bit of sun is preferable to this flat gray.
May also tidy my friend's garden, she's living with stage 4 breast cancer in her spine, so gardening is no longer an option for her.

I'm with Earl, life's all about earning good karma these days.

Writing a piece for my Writers' Group on Tuesday. We're taking sessions in turn, and I did one on characterisation, based on a Carol Shields' quote about how we all wake up and reinvent ourselves each day. We agreed to write a longer piece based on one of the short character sketches we each wrote "in class".

Oh and I've Sunday dinner to cook, devoid of ideas at the mo. Nigel..................................

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I thought I'd give blogging a whirl. I'm about to turn 50, and life is looking good. I've pulled through a major illness, and I'm finally starting to do the things I've wanted to do for years. It's taken me 30 years to get a "gap year" and I'm going to enjoy it.

I'm learning to play the piano, improving my photography and writing for pleasure rather than salary.

Like the song says I've never been to me, and it's about time.