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Tennis Lessons: the benefits of failure

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

~ Samuel Beckett

I wrote in my last post about my latest knitting project.  A week on and it looks like this:

I am pleased with the handling of the yarn and the interesting but easy to knit pattern.  There is a problem, however.  It is coming up too small, and the ribbing is too tight for the main part of the knit.  Hmmmm.

Continue reading “Tennis Lessons: the benefits of failure”

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On and off the needles: I’ve got the knitting – bring on the tennis

The British summer is well and truly with us.  In the UK we have been in the throws of a heatwave.  But however warm it may be, it is never too hot to knit.

One particularly welcome aspect of the summer is the arrival of the tennis grass court season.  I love to watch tennis at any time of year, but there is nothing to challenge the supremacy of Wimbledon and the grass court tournaments which lead up to it.

I am a very happy bunny when I can knit in front of the tennis, as I was doing with the Aegon Championship last week at London’s Queen’s Club.

I took this opportunity to start a new knitting project.  I seem to have been working on scarves/shawls/wraps forever.  So I decided to cast on a little cotton bolero in this beautiful cornflower-blue yarn, which I bought from WoolWarehouse – I love the fact that the yarn arrives in this handy organza project bag (and yes, I know, I am easily pleased!).

Continue reading “On and off the needles: I’ve got the knitting – bring on the tennis”

The Musical Beauty of Paper: celebrating the work of Oskar Fischinger, the ‘father of visual music’

“Music is not limited to the world of sound. There exists a music of the visual world.”

~ Oskar Fischinger

Is there no end to the versatility of paper in the pursuit of creative endeavour?  I am indebted to Gallivanta for sending me a link to this incredible, ground-breaking film called ‘Optical Poem, made in 1937/8 by Oskar Fischinger.

As the film explains, ‘Fischinger manipulated hundreds of paper cutouts hung on invisible wires and shot a frame at a time in close synchronization with Liszt’s [Hungarian] rhapsody’.  One can only guess at how long this must have taken.

This is highly reminiscent of the Disney film Fantasia.  Interestingly, Fischinger was originally part of the design team for that project, but he quit without credit because Walt Disney changed his original submissions.  It was thought they were too abstract and Disney wanted material that was more representational.

Nevertheless, Fischinger is sometimes referred to as the father of visual music.  When we compare his work with that of modern artists who paint pictures with sound you can certainly see why.  Check out this post, for example, which I wrote for my other blog LeapingTracks some time ago.  What a coincidence that this post featured a visual rendition of Listz’s Hungarian Rhapsody so that we might now compare the two.  There are similarities, of course.  But they are also miles apart in terms of production methods.

We have just recently passed the date of Fischinger’s 117th birthday.  To celebrate, Google Doodles have produced an amazing interactive music-maker, which allows the user to re-create the essence of Fischinger’s films.  You can find it here – I defy you not to get immediately addicted.  I’m sure Fischinger would be amazed and delighted if he could see the ease with which we can today produce the type of work he painstakingly put together nearly 100 years ago. 🙂

The Joy and Beauty of Paper Sculptures: Celebrating the work of Diana Beltrán Herrera

In an addition to my occasional series highlighting the wonder of paper artistry, and in the interests of promulgating some seriously beautiful creations to savour, let me share with you the incredible work of Diana Beltrán Herrera, a Columbian designer currently living in Bristol, UK.

I adore her ‘bird postage stamps’ series:

© Diana Beltrán Herrera

You can see the rest of this series, including some detailed close-ups here.

Continue reading “The Joy and Beauty of Paper Sculptures: Celebrating the work of Diana Beltrán Herrera”

Water Therapy: the Wonderful Orkney Islands

 

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.”
― E.E. Cummings, 100 Selected Poems

To close the circle opened by my last post about our trip to Orkney, I wanted to share with you just a few photos from our visit.  To prove, if indeed it was necessary, that our gorgeous Scottish islands are just the best!

The Orkney Isles archipelago consists of around 70 islands, of which around 20 are inhabited, to a greater or lesser extent.  We were visiting only for a very short trip this time, so we stayed on Orkney itself, in Kirkwall, the largest settlement and administrative centre.

We had glorious weather, as you can see.  This is a view from Kirkwall Harbour across the Bay of Weyland.

Continue reading “Water Therapy: the Wonderful Orkney Islands”

Ah, beautiful Orkney: the irresistible pull of the Scottish Isles

A view of the Orkney Isles from the beautiful walled garden of the Castle of Mey
A view of the Orkney Isles from the beautiful walled garden of the Castle of Mey

This week, Hub and I have been travelling North.  Having already visited Tain (north of Inverness) and Wick (south of John O’Groats), the final leg of our trip has taken us across the Pentland Firth to the breathtaking Orkney Islands.

I have written before about the feeling one gets when on a Scottish island.  As we left the mainland, I realised that I just had to re-post this wonderful video produced by Alistair Corbett, which, with the help of Rachel Field’s mesmerising poem ‘If Once You Have Slept On An Island’, celebrates our wonderful islands.

 

Continue reading “Ah, beautiful Orkney: the irresistible pull of the Scottish Isles”

Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud: The Timeless Wisdom of Dr Maya Angelou

 

 

“I’ve had a lot of clouds. But I have had so many rainbows”

~ Dr Maya Angelou

I know this applies to me, particularly at the moment.  As a woman of a certain age, life currently swings between highs and lows.  I should say that there are plenty of ‘in between’ times, when life is calm and peaceful.  But every now and then, something I have come to know as Melancholy sneaks up on me, dragging me down to its level.  Happily, I am rarely in the grip of Melancholy for very long – sometimes only a few hours.  But while I am there, it can be difficult to see life in any way other than utterly hopeless.

It is of great comfort to me, therefore, to listen to the powerful wisdom of Dr Maya Angelou, as she reflects on her view of life:

“I don’t ever feel I have no help.  I’ve had rainbows in my clouds”

I love Dr Maya’s view that all those people who have ever been kind to her can be called on by her when she feels she needs help and support.  These are her ‘rainbows’, which she can gather around her in times of need.  I like being reminded that I also have plenty of rainbows on whom I can call when need be.

In return, counsels Dr Maya, we should work to provide this kind of support to others:

“And the thing to do…is prepare yourself, so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.  Somebody who may not look like you;…may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you do; may not dance your dances or speak your language.  But be a blessing to somebody.”

So, next time you find yourself in a cloud, dwell not on its size, weight or density.  Rather, look through the fog to the myriad rainbows which sparkle there for you.  Think of yourself as your own rainbow too – switch any negative self-talk to a voice of kind, loving support.

And, of course, find a way to be someone else’s rainbow too. 😊🌈

 

Flash Mob in Chicago 2009: a brilliant feel-good event

I am something of a podcast addict these days.  Add to this an unconnected, but no less intense, love of flash mob footage and I am a happy bunny.

You guys may already seen the clip below, as it is 8 years old.  But I picked it up only recently while listening to a fascinating podcast called Making Oprah.  A short series of three main episodes, and three bonus episodes, this broadcast covers ‘the inside story of a TV revolution’.

To open the Oprah Winfrey Show’s 24th season in 2009, the producers staged a massive party in Chicago.  Oprah knew that the Black Eyed Peas would be performing.  What she did not know was that the 20,000-strong audience would be participating in a flash mob surprise for her.  This footage is amazing – the flash mob itself is mesmerizing, and Oprah’s reactions are brilliant, right from the start where she is clearly confused about why only one person in the audience is dancing.

It’s a few minutes of feel-good watching.  The perfect way to start the week! 🙂

PS:  if you want more of this stuff, there are loads of clips on YouTube about the preparations and rehearsals for the final performance.

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