Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Daphnis and Chloë


We have a bird-table in our backyard. But being in deepest urban Lancaster we don't get so many small birds. But we do get the larger ones; magpies, jackdaws, collared doves, the occasional blackbird and even rarer song thrush. Oh and one feral pigeon we nicknamed "Wallace" as it reminds us of a Wallace and Grommit character. The main visitors by far are the jackdaws. Like all of the genus Corvus they are social creatures and they come in large groups but each take their turn at the table. Having watched them for some time now, it is plain to see they have a pecking order in the real sense of the word.
The most timid visitors are the collared doves. they usually come as a pair and I rather suspect there is more than one pair. Today at lunchtime a pair of real love-birds dropped in and stayed for a couple of hours. They billed and cooed and mated and then just sat there like any loving couple. One or two jackdaws came by but left them alone.
I've nicknamed them "Daphnis and Chloë".
Daphnis and Chloë (Δαφνίς ου Χλωέ) is a Greek legend of two lovers. Both were shepherds who lived an idyllic life together. Daphnis was a son of Hermes and enjoyed the protection of Artemis. When he and Chloë came together the gods could not grant them immortality but instead decreed that when they died they would die peacfully together. When they died they continued their idyllic existence tending the sheep in the Elysian Fields of the Underworld.
Much later, the largest of the jackdaws put in an appearance. Not that it disturbed the two love-birds. But this big black bird is the boss of the jackdaw flock.

Perhaps I should call him Zeus (Ζεύς)?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Er, not QUITE so big...

This picture I posted t'other day is not the size I said it was. Just for curiosity, I picked up my tape in the studio and measured it. It sure doesn't look to be half a metre by three-quarters. Sure enough, once I'd measured it, it turns out to be half that size. 35 x 50 cms. Just a tad bigger than A3.
Not that I did too much at the studio today. Sanded a sculpture, sketched a few ideas and that's about it. I am feeling a little bit fragile today after last night's wedding anniversary celebration, and before you all ask....
No! I didn't get drunk!
We had a lovely evening at Quite Simply French, a rather more up-market restaurant than I usually go to. It is on St. George's Quay in Lancaster. We both really pushed the proverbial boat out and had full blown a-la-carte. The only trouble was that really the food was rather rich and something of an assault on our digestive systems that are more used to simpler fare. But it was a lovely meal and a nice romantic evening.
We were much kinder to our stomachs this evening, Greek Salad with feta and olives and an olive oil/lemon dressing. All washed down with a nice cup of (Tetley's) tea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Seem to be getting fitter

The sculpture shelf in my studio

Just this last few days I've noticed there is more of a spring in my step. I don't get short of breath any more. I can walk up the (steep) hills in Lancaster without too much hassle, and most notable of all I can get around without relying in my walking pole. That pole has been with me every time I went out for over two years now. It has become my "comfort blanket", my Linus syndrome signifier. Yeah, I know, once a nurse, always a nurse.
Why this sudden change in health for the better? I really don't know. Well, I don't think I know. It can't be the onset of warmer weather, 'cos there hasn't been any. Well, last week it got rather spring-like for a few days but now, although the sun is shining between showers that wind still prefers to go through you rather than round you. Lazy wind.
No. I rather think its been the switch to making sculpture, - making wood carvings. It is much more physical than drawing and painting. There's the continuous swinging of a mallet at a chisel, the filing, sanding and polishing. The work is clamped in bench vice. There is a lot of crouching and bending and general moving about.
Whatever it is, I'm a lot stronger now.

Tomorrow its our wedding anniversary. Forty-five years. Am I boasting? You betcha!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Lady of Banbury Cross


I was in Banbury in Oxfordshire last summer. At the crossroads in the centre of town there is an equestrian statue of the "Fine Lady upon a fine horse" as the nursery rhyme says. The statue is life-size. I took a few photos of it along with making a few sketches in my sketchbook.
In the midst of my present pre-occupation with sculpture I was asked to do an equestrian drawing. Unfortunately they have not returned to collect the work so it currently adorns my studio wall, It is on a sheet of paper 50 x 70 cm. Graphite and watercolour with some water soluble pencil.
The statue is not coloured. It is a metallic silver grey colour. Bronze? I'm not sure. It may be having been subsequently patinated or it could be cast in some alloy. Unfortunately I have been unable to track down who made this. There's plenty on Wikipedia about how it was funded and so on, but nothing about the sculptor.
I thought I'd show it here. I am doing some drawing between carvings but most are of sculptural ideas at the moment.
The nursery rhyme if I can remember it from my childhood days of BBC's "Listen with Mother" runs;
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a fine horse
With rings on her fingers
And bells on her toes
She shall have music
Wherever she goes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Book of Silence

It was my birthday last Monday. One of the pleasant surprises was to be given a copy of Sarah Maitland's "Book of Silence". It is from what I can gather somewhat autobiographical and is as the title suggests a look into the world and nature of silence. Certainly of silence in a spiritual sense.

So far I have read the first chapter. It reminds me of another book written some time ago, "A Tide that Sings" by SR. Agnes, a modern anchoress who took her eremetic life to an isolated island near Shetland.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Of Feral Cats

A link here mentions someone who looks after a colony of feral cats in the USA. This put me in mind of the "Cat Man of Limassol" for which I re-post the blog from a few years back. Click on the 2007 title to see the original entry with picture.

The Man Who Loves Cats (2005)
Not far from Lemesos there is a monastery dedicated to St. Nikolas of the Cats. Access is very limited on two counts. The nuns are part of an enclosed order and it lies right in the middle of the Sovereign Base which is a restricted zone.But...This morning I saw a man carrying a large carrier back walking towards the pier in the Old Harbour. He was followed by what appeared to be the entire feline poulation of Limassol. And, more and more cats rin to join him. When he got to the pier, he stopped, opened his carrier bags and handed pieces of cat food to each individual cat. There was no hurry. No scrabbling among the cats and the man himself made sure the weaker ones and the kittens each got their fair share. The entire process took some time. He patiently fed these cats untill all the cat food was gone and the cats all fed. Then he turned and left the cats and went his way.There are many feral cats on the island. Cyprus is said to be famous for them. Its nice to know there is at least one guy who cares about them.

The Man Who Loves Cats (2006)
Followers of my Blog may remember me talking about the Man Who Loves Cats last year while here in Limassol. He has looked after the feral cats of Limassol for years. At 10-00 am every morning he arrives at the end of Limassol Old Port pier and puts food out and a bowl of water. These cats just know when he's coming. They appear from all the nooks and crannies around and follow him in a great furry mass.Interestingly enough, there is a monastery not far from here dedicated to St. Nicholas of the Cats.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Solitary Ceremony

I was hoping to get to Throssel for the Festival of Avelokiteswara (Kwan-Yin) last Sunday. Alas there was no-one going there with a car so a lift was not possible and the the journey by public transport can be quite a protracted affair and I would still have a walk-in of a few miles at the end. This latter would have done my aging bones little good.

However, all was not lost.

My personal shrine is to Kwan-Yin so, I lit a few candles, and did my own solo version. No uplifting choir of monks here, only my rather croaky voice singing into the emptiness.

Solitary, yes. Lonely, no.

Wherever we meditate we are not alone. Somewhere, someone is doing it at the same time. I did my solo ceremony at what I reckoned would be the same time as the Throssel one. As I say...

Solitary, yes. Lonely, no.