Self Portraits in Summer

I am seriously not keen on staged or posed portrait photos of me – especially just me alone – even the thought of it leaves me feeling truly uncomfortable somewhere deep down inside, all squirmy and suddenly clammy all over. The thing is, there are plenty of photos of me as a young child, sometimes caught candidly, sometime posed, and I seemed to have been fine with it then, so I wonder when did my discomfort begin?

With realisation of the not-good-enough self, perhaps, an awareness of apparently not meeting the required standards in life? Or of not liking what I see, of being a disappointment? I’m not terribly keen on being in pics with other people, either, but at least I feel a bit more at ease with that – candid snapshots with me and my grandkids, for example, make wonderful memories to be treasured however fat/old/wrinkly I look. But just me on my own… no!

I’m quite clearly not one of the millennial generation, who all seem to think nothing of taking about a million selfies every day in a hundred different public places but always with the same moue mouth, and then posting the best shots online. I always feel far too self-conscious to appear so self-absorbed in public, and all too often it shows in the end result. My husband takes some good selfies of us together, but he knows he needs to catch us quickly or I start to look either stony-faced or forced-stare-y.

But today I was on my own in our local park, lying on my back on the short grass and just looking up at the vast hugeness of the sky, like I used to love to do as a kid. There were a few clouds floating about, but overall the sky was beautifully blue and I found myself thinking (amongst other things) about what the sky might start to look like if the ozone layer depletes too much more, or worse, disappears altogether… would we still have a sky at all?

Anyway, at that point in my random reverie I sat up and spontaneously decided to take a selfie or two, just for the sheer hell of it, and of course for posterity. Phone camera on, selfie mode on, and click, click, click, squinting a bit at the screen in the sunlight. A quick look… hmmm… then click, click, click again… enough. The mood passed as suddenly as it had arrived, and the sun chose that moment to hide behind the only huge grey cloud in the sky…

When I got home and looked more closely at what I’d taken, I was, as usual, disappointed. Six pics of me, two of which were OK-ish. There I was in glorious technicolour, double chin, no make-up, hair dishevelled in the soft warm breeze and eyes all wrinked up in the sunshine. God, these phone cameras pick up every flaw in your face. But then I thought – even young people sometimes use filters to make themselves look better, don’t they? So I searched online for something suitable to soften the rather harsh look and…

Ta-da! I still look like me, with my natural dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look and fake photo smile. The rectangular image simply has a ‘sweet caramel’ haze on it and the square image a ‘soft lilac’ haze, both quite flattering, I find. Two passable al fresco self-portraits in summer, me at 55, in a blue dress against a blue background, on the day I wondered randomly about what colour the sky might be if the ozone layer evaporates… Let’s hope I never have to find out 🙂

Stream of Conscousness Saturday: Leaves

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Mix and Match Media

I decided to mix and match gel pens with coloured pencils in colouring in this circular design – I first used a metallic gold gel pen to create an outline framework, then continued with gel pens for the smaller fiddly bits. I chose coloured pencils to fill in the larger inner areas, then finished off with gel pens again around the border 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club

Teflon Trump

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks:

‘Do you believe that Donald Trump is an effective American President who should remain in office despite having accepted aid from a foreign adversary (Russia) and having committed obstruction of justice into the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential elections? Do you believe that Trump should or should not be impeached for his actions? Why?’

Ooohhh, interesting question, and most definitely provocative… perhaps you should prepare for a bit of a rant… Being a Brit – and a proud Scot at that – I’m so excrutiatingly embarrassed to think that Donald Trump has any Scottish genes running through his blood. You could say I’m black-affronted by his behaviour, and fair scunnered by his sense of superciliousness…

Even taking only the very first opening phrase of Fandango’s question, personally I don’t think Trump is an effective American President at all, regardless of any alleged complicity in proven Russian interference in the last Presidential election process. The man’s a bloody nightmare of a President no matter what, psychologically insecure with an obvious inferiority complex as long as his ridiculous tie and then some. And to be honest at this point I couldn’t care less if he’s impeached or not – as long as he’s not re-elected to a second term.

He says whatever he likes, whenever he likes, however racist or misogynist his particular opinion of the moment may be, then either avoids answering, contradicts himself or flatly denies it when someone calls him out on it. His behaviour is curiously childish and churlish, he yearns for constant attention but can’t accept criticism of any kind. He pretends to be a ‘man of the people’ by bad-mouthing whatever is the standard American version of ‘the establishment’ but in reality he is also as far removed from your average American as any other spoiled-brat dad-made millionaire.

His narcissistic, nationalistic plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ seemingly at the expense of undermining America’s previously secure standing on an increasingly growing international stage is, to my mind, worryingly misjudged and myopic. Trump clearly admires autocratic rule rather than democratic leadership – he schmoozes sycophantically with Putin and Kim Jong Un, smugly salivating at what he seems to see as their singular success.

And as far as pulling the US out of both the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal with such pompous political posturing – well, that may well backfire spectacularly in the long-run, speaking more of braggadocio bully-boy big-mouthed bluster and badly-judged brinkmanship than deft diplomatic discussion and decision-making.

Meanwhile his public picking of a pathetic playground fight with China over trade tarrifs is unashamedly ramped-up with more of the same social media spewing he rallies round and relies on so consistently. I’ve heard of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer, but to many of us across the globe this off-the-scale level of divide-and-rule deliberate world order disruption is tipping dangerously close into megalomania.

Running a country is a very different beast from running a company – not that he’s necessarily got a good track record on that front, either. After all Trump is not CEO of USA plc – so when he inevitably screws up this time he can’t just let the country file for bankruptcy, pass on the losses to the poverty-stricken bulk of the population and walk away without a second glance, Teflon-coated to ensure nothing looking remotely like failure (financial or otherwise) ever sticks to him personally.

OK, I’m done…

Fiddly but Fun

One of the benefits for me of colouring in with gel pens rather than coloured pencils is that I can colour all the really fiddly, finicky little designs that my well-used pencil points always find so frustrating to fill in. I’ve looked at this particular mandala design so many times and have resisted starting it, knowing that it would take some time to do – but here it is completed, and I’m really delighted with the way it’s turned out 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club

Landscapes of Home

‘I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives with you. I don’t think it’s true of people who’ve grown up in cities so much; you may love a building, but I don’t think that you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth; it’s a different kind of love.’ – Arundhati Roy

One liner Wednesday