Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fleet Foxes

Sun Giant from Fleet Foxes. A lovely song for the blank page of a New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sharp light

I took these shots at sunset the day we had a cold clear sky, I was hoping to do more today, but I've managed to chop the top off a finger on my left hand with my new vegetable knife, thereby adding a bit of unwanted protein to the soup.
So I've spent yesterday and today having it treated and dressed down at the surgery. Luckily it is knitting together nicely, otherwise I'd have faced a 20 mile hike to A&E. But it is bloody sore and it is a shame that I can't drive as the large dressing on the offending finger would be very good for making rude gestures.
And as I can't drive I can't get to the places I was planning to go with all my photo gear, so I'll have to leave it until next week, when hopefully we'll still be experiencing these hard frosts.
This triptych was taken with my favourite lens, which has really good glass in it, it always produces tack sharp images. Teasel are just fantastic in low winter light.
PS I won't mention the old and new years, as I just find this time of year a bit maudlin.
I have my family and friends, and food and shelter and warmth and right now that makes me feel blessed enough. I hope you do too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In a word

We had a lovely Christmas and I think my FIL really enjoyed himself, especially having his brothers and their partners round on Boxing Day - but it was hard work cooking two huge meals two days in a row, despite having my feet planted in my comfy crocs - a very welcome present.

So today I intend to please nobody but myself. I'm locked away in my wee pc room having a huge clear out, matching stacks of papers to various projects that I have in progress and then sifting them once again within project order.

I'm doing a poetry retreat called the Fielding Programme this spring, Polly Clark is the tutor, so I want to get scribbled ideas and part drafts into a portfolio that I can take with me to either spark ideas or polish up/redraft.

Lucy at Box Elder and I have been working on a collaboration for an online magazine, we were sharing drafts over Christmas while icing cakes and baking flapjacks. We thought we'd have to wait a while before we heard anything about it, but Lucy got an e-mail last night to say they'd be delighted to accept it , and that while they feel it's a wee bit long they think it is such a complete piece of work that they'd be loath to cut it down. We're both really pleased as we put in a heck of a lot of work on it. I'll post more on this once I know more.

On the radio today they were asking people to think of a single word to define 2008.
here are a few of my ideas:





or maybe just "Infamy" as in the old joke "Infamy, Infamy, everybody's got it in for me!"

Monday, December 22, 2008


Yesterday's Glasgow Herald had a great extract from Janice Galloway's memoir "This is not about me". It dealt with travelling up from Ayrshire by train as a child to see Glasgow's Christmas lights and the article was teamed up with stunning black and white shots of the period from the Herald's own archive. Galloway's almost exactly my age and I too was raised, for part of my life, in the west, so her piece really spoke to me.

But the thing that caught her imagination, as a young girl of about six seeing the city for the first time, was not the gaudy lights, but the wonderful mass flight of the city's starling population, as they wheeled across the skyline to their evening roost. (Edwin Morgan has also written about this beautifully in his poem George Square.)

Sadly due to the decline in these birds and the work done to stop all feral birds roosting on city buildings this is a sight one no longer sees.

I read the piece over lunch and then we went off to Edinburgh to do some last minute shopping that I've been putting off simply because I hate doing it.

Luckily my husband was driving, for what did I see on the way home, away across the fields and towards a scrubby bit of wood and a small farm? That's right a massive cloud of starlings.I even caught the moment when they finally swooshed down as one into the trees.

It's a sight I've not seen in years and yet there it was before my very eyes on the very day I'd been reading about. And, just like wee Janice, it was the best bit of my day too.

I pulled this shot off the net, as sadly I didn't have a camera on me. But it was pretty much like this, with the final swoosh like iron filings responding to a magnet.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The excellent Now Show had a great spoof song last night on the X Factor's use of Cohen's Hallelujah.

To the tune of the song itself they had a line directed at Simon Cowell the gist of which was "you want a Christmas number one, but it doesn't have to be your version, fooled ya"

Indeed Buckley's version is now up to No 2 on itunes, so will all old grumpies please go over there and buy it, even if you already have it, because, as Amy MacDonald never tires of telling us, the yuf of today have their own songs. And quite right too, no-one saw us trying to sing Frank Sinatra at 18.

This is lovely to, from the Weepies, I gotta have you -if you are apart for Christmas this is the one to drink and eat to........

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tinkering with tanka

I've been reading up on the art of tanka in a book called "the tanka anthology" by Red Moon Press, purchased from the most excellent Snapshot Press, who specialise in all forms of Japanese poetry.

This particular anthology is a collection of English speaking tanka poets, and the introduction gives a wonderful short history of the development of the art form from its Japanese roots right up to the present.

I must admit to liking to write in the very compressed form of haiku and now tanka. I like the concentration or distillation of ideas that it affords. And it seems to suit my current restlessness and lack of patience with all things long-winded.

I've only attempted two tanka so far and I'm still tinkering but here they are:

black nyger seed for the goldfinches
rushes from funnel to feeder -
age brings such

weep old pear
cut back -
hard pruned
to within an inch
of my life

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I must admit to enjoying watching G W ducking to avoid the flying shoes the other night.
One of the papers had a very funny cartoon today about shoes being outed as weapons of mass destruction.

What a great world it would be if we could line our leaders up once a year to chuck shoes at them and then demand that they say "mea culpa".

And think of all the lives we might save if we opened it up to an international audience.
We could even have a public vote on who to chuck the shoes at and who should get the national honour of doing the chucking - which would knock both Strictly and the Olympics into a cocked hat and save us all millions at the same time.

Of course there would have to be rules like - "No Jimmy Choo's" as those heels really would be lethal.

I'm trying to get Christmas organised this week, and I have my bone density scan on Friday morning, luckily N is driving me there, as I have a stiff neck and the thought of rush hour driving does not appeal.

And, after a 2 month wait, I finally got my mammo result back and it is clear, so that's a relief and I can stop dreading the arrival of the mail for a while.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I bought no gifts this year..........

For all my fellow Scrooges out there, Cyndi and the Hives try a Pogues type song.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Black and White

I was really pleased to get a letter on Saturday saying that four out of six photographs that I submitted for a competition have made it past the first round of judging and will now be displayed until the early Spring to allow the public to add their votes to the process (this seems to happen in every walk of life now - just so long as it doesn't ever extend to surgery! 'And you would you go about removing the gall bladder how Mr Tupper?')

Two out of the four shots are black and white studies on the theme of "environmental impact" and I'm really pleased they both got through as they were my personal favourites.

Last night I was listening to
Something Understood
on the radio and it included a brilliant piece by John Berger on why black and white photographs seem to evoke more memories and provoke a greater response than anything shot in colour.

He thinks this is because black and white photos give the memory and imagination less to work on, and they therefore work harder at filling in the gaps. Listen to the programme if you get the chance - it wasn't one of the better ones, but it's worth listening to for the Berger and Pinter pieces alone.

I also discovered the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard this week. There's something about his style, especially his "Zen twigs series" that I really like. They are the sort of shots I like to take, but rarely do anything with as I fear no-one else will ever get them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


breakfast was……

a boiled egg with soldiers

pomegranate juice

a Bluey/Green MP, lifted over leaks

some blackberries from a terror plot

a bargain hunter’s trophy -
one Walmart worker, crushed

Thai flights that wouldn’t stir

and a piece - of pirate radio

tomorrow I think I’ll stick to toast ......