Sweet Decay

For all that lives, is subject to that law:

All things decay in time, and to their end do draw.

– Edmund Spenser

I love the way colours of hollyhocks deepen into blue when the bloom withers.

The current Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots, is to open the nearest book at page 82, and work the third full sentence on the page into a post. The nearest book was the Oxford Book of English Verse edited by Helen Gardner, and the quote from The Faerie Queen.

Advertisements

Granpaul

In a modern comedy, a bachelor left to bring up two children would be half a child himself; they’d have marvelous fun together. Real life isn’t like that.

Granpaul’s approach to life was methodical; he was a chemical engineer, after all. When a driving accident left him with the task of bringing up his sister’s children, he took his new responsibilities seriously. Things were done by the book: luckily, the book was Dr Spock. The idea that you know more than you think you do confused Granpaul, but he soldiered on, trying to let the children unfold their personalities on the book’s instructions. He didn’t buy other books. They were all written by experts, surely, so they’d all say the same thing.

In the picture below, you see my mother and uncle Ted holding on to Granpaul’s hands. The sun is in his eyes, but he was probably born with the serious expression. I’m not sure I ever heard him laugh. Not because he didn’t get the joke, but because he never took time off from the serious business of living. Being accurate was important to him: he would never let us call him Grandad, though over time “Great-uncle Paul” did get shortened. Was he secretly pleased it became nearly Granpa?

It’s really only when people die that you realise how little you knew them. He tried hard to do things right. He never spoke about his feelings. He approved of trees. I think he liked them because they were sturdy and predictable. You can depend on a tree.

On my way home for the funeral, I saw a tree, and suddenly the tears came. I hope that in his own way he understood how much he meant to us all.

Photo courtesy of the Daily Post,
this week’s prompt for the DP Writing Challenge.

The War of Colours

K’12. Ink & watercolour sketch. Impression of an Idyll.

On Sunday, I came across the tale of the Yellow Submarine, and was sucked in. The graphics are breathtaking: a true work of art. Released in 1968, it features psychedelic colours, a wide variety of animation effects and graphic elements. The story in screenshots*:

The voyage in the Yellow Submarine is peppered with colourful adventures, and of course, songs, like Nowhere Man, and All You Need Is Love. A must see for anyone interested in art or design, …and anyone who likes colours. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the varied backgrounds, and the vibrant colours of the submarine’s interior.

***

The Daily Post Challenge this week: A Splash of Colour.

* © Apple Corps Ltd. Sorry about the quality, the screenshots are not from the (beautiful) digitally restored version, as my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive…

One Word

What is the use of a fine house
if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on.

Henry David Thoreau*

oneword.com

A daily one word writing prompt. You have sixty seconds to write. No hovering or hesitating, the clock is ticking. I won’t spoil it for you by giving away today’s prompt, so here’s an earlier effort, warts and all, just to prove I usually do edit.

cap

 to cap it all another thing went wrong. like it had been going all day. there are just days you wish you could start over. or scratch out. but they too are a part of life. and everyone experiences them. you’re not alone in this.

* * *

This week’s DP writing challenge is to do “something completely different”.

* The quote comes from a word a day, another quirky and charming site.

The Mind’s Eye

What do you see in the photo? A house? A tree?

What you see in the photo is really only a patch of sky, and silhouettes that could be part of a tree and the corner of a house. But I’m sure you “pictured” a house, a tree, maybe even the ground they’re standing on.

What we see, and how we visualise it are two very different things. I’m not talking about the technical clean-up of the picture quality. But when you’re in a room with a pillar, you imagine the space behind it. And when you put your hand behind your back you picture it attached to the end of your arm, even though you can’t see it. So you’re adding information or ideas to the mix.

Since Shakespeare’s day, we speak of seeing something in our mind’s eye, and we think we’re artificially creating an image like the one we might see with our eyes. In reality, we’re building up a mental image, that may contain visual elements, but also contains concepts and ideas.

I remember a dream where I was standing by a stairwell. Upon waking I realised that I had “seen” a friend walk down several flights of stairs in the dream, although from where I was I couldn’t have “seen” her half the time. So in my dream I was really tracking her progress in a mental image, like an architects drawing of the building.

When I ask someone whether they see images in dreams, I get an emphatic yes! When they go into more details, I find that they too describe more than would be visible. My conclusion is that we dream mental images, rather than visual ones.

The advantage of mental images is not just that they use up less memory space than visual ones. They are also far more flexible. Have you ever dreamed about someone who looks like A, but you know he’s really B? And when you’re picturing something you’re reading about, no need to dream up  complex constructions: your mind can simply add a tag: “stunning architecture”.

Easy as pie.

(This week’s Writing Challenge.)

We Enjoy Helping You!

Subject: Ticket n° 773342259

Dear Ms. Barrow,

thank-you for calling the automated IDEAL service hotline.
Your call was received: 13.09.2012 10:44
Your ticket n°: 773342259
Your issue: “Email not working“.

We want to start working on your ticket as soon as possible: please release the ticket by clicking THIS LINK, or calling the hotline again and stating your ticket number.

We enjoy helping you!
IDEAL Service Team.

Continue reading We Enjoy Helping You!

Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

#Wisdom: Appreciate. Forgive. Love. Enjoy. Relax.

Donald Trefusis on Brevity

“Guest post” inspired by the DPChallenge.

I was approached by young Bertie – ablogdog, which as he kindly explains is not his name, but his you-are-well. Whether this denotes his breed or his profession I cannot say, or perhaps it is a passphrase to some secret domain? Anyway, I was invited to spread my metaphorical wings and broadcast my opinions in this new arena, the blogosphere. B-logo-sphere, a second domain of rationality it seems, or of discourse at any rate. Ever ready to try a new way of giving others the benefit of my superior, I fastened my seat-belt and climbed in the roller coaster of  bloggings and twitterings – well, possibly in reverse order.

The new birdsongs are truly delightful, one can only deplore that they come too late. What would the scholar not give to read Archimedes’ “I’m in the bath.”, Newton’s “Would you believe it, an apple just hit me on the head!”, and Edison’s laconic “Making tea.” Whether my new young friends’ “I’m on the train” will prove equally valuable, is not for me to say.

On the blogging front, I am sadly forced to confess failure. I feel entitled to plead attenuating circumstances as I was distracted by the hand of fate. It transported me with a simple click, as if by magic, into the domain of a man named Ted. A loquacious chap, the unanimous verdict on whom seems to be “Ted talks”, otherwise I believe him to be a perfectly fluffy fellow with a catalogue of highly entertaining and enlightening expositions.

Ted’s genius is demonstrated by the fact that all the gems in his collection are brief; one even bespeaks the ability to present any idea in only six words. What progress could humanity make, or the humanities at any rate, if books and essays were strictly proscribed from exceeding a six word limit? One could easily do a whole term’s marking in a leisured forenoon, and take the rest of term off.  I would suddenly have enough shelf space for my collection of stuffed owls, though, admittedly, it might be hard to convince publishers you were extensively revising word three.

The following abridgments alone will make space for the espresso machine I intend to buy with today’s profits.

  • Homer’s Odyssey. Storms, sirens, giants. Don’t wait dinner.
  • Dante’s Inferno. Abandon all hope, ye who enter.
  • Kant’s 3 Critiques – What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope for? Not much. Your best. Perpetual peace.

If you have been, how very kind.