Weekend Coffee Share: 26 October 2018

Eeek! As a bit of an introvert the thought of meeting up for coffee with a whole blog-load of strangers as well as my usual phalanx of virtual friends terrifies me, but I’m sure once I settle down and see how nice you all are I’ll start to feel much more relaxed… I hope!

Being a typical Brit, I like to nibble on a biscuit of some sort with my hot beverage – generally I drink loads of tea, but when meeting up for coffee I do usually have coffee, so today mine’s a large latte and a slice (or maybe two, because I’m nervous) of crumbly, buttery home made shortbread… mmmm…!

I’ll probably worry about talking far too much and far too fast to begin with (also because I’m nervous), and being mindful of not causing offence to anyone will try to keep our discussion away from discussing any potentially contraversial topics such as parenting, politics or religion, and I’ll inevitably be thinking… help… what should I say… how do I start this conversation?

We’ll maybe break the ice by talking about the recent change in the weather, because that too is a very British thing to do – it’s a common point of reference in our temperate island climate – and I’ll suddenly remember an odd incident that happened on my way to my GP surgery early last week and will immediately forget my anxiety at the thought of being in the company of strangers…

It was an unseasonably warm day for mid-to-late-October (unlike today, which is decidedly cold and damp and miserable) so even in the thin T-shirt and crop jeans I was wearing I already felt hot and uncomfortably sticky walking swiftly along the street to my appointment. I was thinking to myself, it’s England in the autumn, and by now it’s usually blustery with a distinct nip in the air, how strange for it to be so mild this late in the year…

And just before I reached the surgery, lost in thought, the soft movement of a door opening slightly caught my eye to my right, and in my peripheral vision I saw a figure standing there, quite still, half-hidden behind the door. Without thinking I automatically glanced over in that direction and was somewhat surprised to see a grown man, completely naked and motionless in the half-open doorway, looking off down the street in the direction I’d just come from.

The weirdest thing is, it didn’t seem weird at all at the time – I mean, he was just standing there, naked, apparently absent-mindedly waiting for something or someone, as if he wasn’t really aware of either his nakedness or of me passing by quizzically only a few feet away. He had a nice body, too – taut muscles and relaxed genitals, not sexualised or in any way potentially threatening, he was more like an al-fresco life drawing model; a real-life still-life.

In a hurry not to be late for my doctor’s appointment I just carried on walking along the street and put it out of my mind, and would probably have thought no more about it until our impromptu discussion about the weather jogged my random memory and my nervousness prompted me to share it. Nakedness doesn’t bother me, so I wasn’t shocked, then or now… more curious and intrigued by why he had no clothes on in the middle of a weekday afternoon? 🙂

Weekend Coffee Share: 26 October 2018

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From OMG to WTF!

I make no bones about it, I am absolutely sick to death of yelling countless profanities and howling like a banshee at the TV screen whenever the news is on – and although I’m British, my husband is American by birth so that includes both UK and US news and so provides me with double the drama, like it or not… aarrgghh…! 🙂

Anyway, I’m seriously pissed off at what passes for political debate in both our so-called democratic countries these days – I mean, the days of lies, damned lies and statistics would be a breath of fresh air compared to today’s lies, outrageous lies and not even a passing nod towards good-old honest analytical manipulation to confuse our brains! And any genuine attempt at proper factual analysis (particularly by the media) is loudly disputed, dismissed as fake news and effectively knocked for six in some kind of privileged-power-play – and that’s just not cricket , is it?

Politics should neither be a grandiose Victorian-British-Empire-fuelled parlour game like a stab-in-the-dark fusion of pinning-the-tail-on-the-Brexit-donkey while playing blind-man’s-buff with your braying parliamentary pals, nor the farcical social-media driven frenzy of a reality-TV-style competition for ratings where a privileged few elite participants elevated into a closed-minded circle-jerk club win big time while the much-maligned myriad majority on the outside lose everything that matters to humanity on the precocious whim of a self-styled ‘stable genius’ millionaire.

Running a democratic country within a global world economy is not about creating an antagonistic binary opposition that allows you to divide and rule, fostering foreign feelings of them and us, hiking the horrendous differences between the haves and have nots. Surely it should be more about working together as a galvanised group of open-minded and compassionate individuals towards the greater good of the people as a whole, regardless of your (or their) political viewpoint. Not just some of the people (usually the richest, who in a hierarchical societal structure inevitable have the most clout) but everyone – including your cleaner, your cook, your gardener and your nanny.

OK, so rant over. Sorry my stream of consciousness ran away with me today. But this kind of never-ending nightmarish nonsense is why over the last few years I’ve found myself going from occasionally muttering a disparaging ‘OMG, seriously? You’re having a laugh…’ to daily yelling a desperate ‘WTF is WRONG with people these days, where did all this vitriolic violence and hate come from?’ to the poor TV screen, day in, day out…

No wonder I’m bloody depressed, it feels to me like the whole world is going to hell in a handcart, while we all sit here watching, powerless to do anything except vote… so what are we all waiting for? If we don’t like it, start to change it the very next chance we get… inform yourself of the facts – ALL the facts, good and bad – ignore the bullshit and bite the bullet, because done right, that’s the power of democracy… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Bone

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Toxic

So, today’s biggest challenge for me is writing a post using the word ‘Toxic‘ without referring to you-know-who… OK, so thinking non-politically I’m picturing the Toxic Avenger, which reminds me of the Swamp Thing cartoon character of my youth, which makes me think of the big-headed braggart who, amongst the stupid soundbites of his other ridiculous rhetoric, insists he’s ‘draining the swamp’ – and BAM, there he is again… Yep, I guess there’s just no getting away from it, ‘Toxic’ inevitably makes me think of Trump, with a capital ‘T’… 😦

Share Your World: 22 October 2018

Name two books that have influenced you, and share how?

Hmmm… Choosing only two books out of a lifetime of voracious reading is really difficult – should I choose fiction or non-fiction? If fiction, do I choose those basic childhood reading books that originally kindled my love of independent reading in the first place, or those adult books that for a million different reasons remain most memorable to me now? And if non-fiction, do I choose history books or cookery books or self-help books, or all those extra-curricular academic text-books I read of my own volition while completing my degree? To be honest I think every book I’ve ever read has influenced me in some way or another, even if only to remind me never to read that particular author (or subject-matter) again! 🙂

In your opinion, where is the line between art and not art?

Oooh, great question! I often ponder the ‘Is photography art?’ question – or more to the point for me, ‘When is photography art?’ So here is a visual explanation of my own personal understanding of art and not art…

This is a photograph of a cotton rug on my kitchen floor – to me this is photography, not art – it is a direct realistic representation of what I see before me.

zoomburst-mat-1

This is me altering that reality by playing about with creating a zoomburst image of the same rug – to me it’s no longer just straightforward photography, because I’m adding something I hope is a little artistic and creative: a deliberate motion blur by zooming the lens in from wide to tele while taking the shot…

But to me these resulting images still look a little dull for my tastes, so I keep on trying… To begin with I’m trying hard to hold the camera as steady as possible, but when during one shot as well as zooming in I accidentally move my position while the shutter is open, I discover I prefer the softer blurred effect of losing that sharp focus, so take some more experimental shots this way… much more interesting!

And finally, I wonder how it might look if I deliberately make an active steady swirling circular movement while also zooming the lens in while the shutter is open… et voila! The end result is no longer a photographic realistic representation of a rug, it’s a multi-colour abstract image made by me, and it is this uniquely creative response to what is effectively the same subject taken by the same person with the same camera that to me makes it art 🙂

My favourite image is the last one in my slideshow – here it is again juxtaposed with the original – my personal vision of art vs not art…

What is something that really annoys you, but doesn’t bother most people?

The older I get, the more of a grumpy old woman I become – but I don’t suppose my grumps and gripes are that much different from anyone else’s at my age. But I honestly don’t understand why American dates are written partially backwards – I mean, either have year, month, day as a format or day, month, year – but month, day, year simply makes no sense to me at all  🙂

Share Your World: 22 October 2018

Weekly Smile: 22 October 2018

greyscale-inverted-flower

Things that have made me smile this week include:-

Playing around with online filter effects applied to photographs originally taken by me – this orange-pink flower nestling in green leaves first had an art filter applied, before I inverted the image colour-wise then greyscaled the end result. I find this overall masking kind of experimental digital post-processing great fun to do, and I really love the way the subdued monochrome finish here really highlights the smooth flowing lines of petals and leaves 🙂

Finishing a warm and welcoming hand-made crochet baby blanket for our as yet unborn sixth grandchild – she is due to be born around the end of the year ❤

Talking to my 82 year old dad on the phone tonight – dad has been in hospital for the last four weeks, but thankfully got home today – definitely something to smile about 🙂

Weekly Smile