Thursday, 13 January 2022

Brain Rambler - another year gone ...


Snowdrops - Spring bloomers

It's that time of year again … the birth of a “Saint” – albeit in the 20th century, somebody with microscopic literary intent – the birth of a blog, and reminiscences from a mere 59 years ago …

Happy Falstaff - Hilary too
true to my name

Yes – I am still 'St Hilary' Peregrinating with Respair in my heart – just like last year … or Brain Rambling on with hope that 2022 will let us back into a normal life …

January's change … this year is very unseasonal, it's relatively 'warm' and when the sun shines it is bliss for winter – especially when I remember this day 59 years ago … or those times …

I'm happy - a 
big grin!
In 1962/3 we'd had snow for two and a half weeks … it started on Boxing Day – pretty with Christmas lights up, long icicles everywhere – I next saw icicles that long in New York in 1976 in May when I was visiting.

Snowflake through microscope

It snowed, and snowed and snowed – no doubt a few other things in between … I've written four weather posts about that time (in 2013) – and this year the BBC showed film from the archives … perhaps to remind us that our lives today are not so bad.

I was at school in Oxford, a 30 mile trip on 1960s roads, but ended up being ill – perhaps a bad cold or flu – eventually due to the bad weather my parents set off in both cars … one did break down on the way home, but they'd dealt with the war's 1940s weather so knew how to cope – how many of us today would … I know I would struggle.

Walking through drifts 1963

We drove through snow drifts 20 foot high – the road in a narrow cutting, then the hedged field banked with snow, topped with a blizzarded white drift … I do remember the height … it was an amazing journey.

Once the snow stayed around in late December 1962 we co-erced our parents to help build us an igloo … it wasn't large enough to live in – but it was still there at Easter 1963!

Clock patience

Strange but true … I had a virus at the end of term and they isolated me for 10 days, before I could be collected … I played a lot of card patience, read, listened to the radio and looked at the daily newspaper where snow and flood scenes were shown …

I don't remember being ill per se – but have some minor stretch marks to remind me of those days … I've no idea what caused it – or how I caught it, seeing as I was sequestered in a girls' boarding school. Apparently I was one of 9 in the Oxford area to have 'said' virus.

Pepper Virus

Today – we're still being safe … but some meetings are going ahead … last night we had a business dinner for about 50 (socially distanced in a large room), and this morning I'll be at another group meeting … probably 8 or so … then later on I'll meet up with friends for a drink and light meal …. where there is plenty of space.

I hope that 2022 brings more light into our lives and we can put 'respair' out of our minds to enjoy life … as Bob Marley put it:

Don't forget your History

Nor your Destiny

My history is fine and you find out about my thoughts in that direction … destiny is another matter – but living life applies!

Bob Marley quote

Thanks to you all for being so supportive … into my 15th year of blogging … the years of life are toddling along – my enjoyment in blogging hasn't evaporated …

I so enjoy the friendships, the comments and the learning about different ways of life I read through your blogs – also I teach myself about so much as I post.

Overlooking Keswick, in the
Lake District

Normality will resume here – I have a number of posts to write up … and as we reach towards Spring I'll be so pleased if it stays 'warm' as the days lengthen … the blackbirds continue to sing, the blossom flourishes, and those beautiful bulbs safely appear.

Beautiful anemones - my mother's
favourite bulbs and flowers

With thanks and all the best for this coming year …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Life is to Treasure …


We are so lucky we live today and have lived as far as this period in history …

Treasure - of Villenna, Spain

Let's enjoy our world, regardless, we are living history … and here in the UK – we live in peace – which means we've had the opportunity to be sensible and realise how lucky we are …

Buses stuck in 1963

There have been a fair number of reflective programmes – reminding us of 'events' that have happened since WW2 – most of us were born since the war …

some have lived through the Great Depression, all of us (most) will have family memories of times since 1900 or perhaps a little earlier.

Stonehenge with blue skies, which 
have been in short supply recently
I realise my parents, born after WW1, survived the War and privations, which we 'inherited' as we grew up … Winter of 1962/1963 – that time is 'iced' into my memory bank …

That's enough for this first post of 2022 – I'm going to see if I can do something about the layout of my blog postings* …

Hazel Dormouse

Happy New Year – life is ahead of us .. let's go – we have the intellect and education to cope, adjust and help others …

* Well I tried - to start it was ok - then I did some editing ... and ah well it's slipped off track again .... ne'er mind ... cheers!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 31 December 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 54 - Power for the Neighbours ... and where are we going in 2022 …

It's amazing in this day and age – how people go out of their way to help their communities …

Here in Murang'a County, south central Kenya – one man got VERY TIRED OF WAITING – so took 'things into his own hands' …

he found some bicycle parts, scrap metal, built a home made generator – subsequently bringing electricity to his neighbourhood …

Murang'a County
John Magiro expanded his electric operation – thus bringing affordable electricity to 750 local people ...

John Magiro outside his office
… he transformed so many lives – now they don't have to use hand-held kerosene lamps … the kids can study, people can safely move around … and all those benefits those of us have in our day to day lives, they now have ... 

Here's to more John Magiro's – People Fixing the World … giving Power to the People …

BBC How to make electricity for your Neighbours (video 2.43)

Magiro Mini Hydro Power - their website ... 

At the end of 2021 – what will 2022 hold? …

more peace,

more understanding,

more compassion,

more thought for others, before one's self …

George Cruikshank - see my
previous post ... His view
to the opera - taken by me
as 'our view' to 2022 ...

So with this last post of 2021 – I wish you an easier New Year – here's to 2022 …

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Guzzle, Gulp, Swallow – a rare bird …

 I just wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and then during the festive season: a peaceful and blessed time.

A self-portrait (1858)
So many need our help at this time … this seems 'revolting' – yet displays excess, as seen 170 years ago … when trade routes were bringing in 'more and more' goodies for the western world to learn about …

Seen here on ships sailing in: 

Spices / Sugar / Coffee / Tea

George Cruikshank's 'A Swallow
at Christmas'

Waiting to be poured: Champagne / Hock / Port / Gin / Rum / Whiskey … to be drunk by the tankard: Frothy Beer …

Then happily standing in line waiting to be guzzled, gulped, swallowed: 

Fishes (mock turtle soup available too); 

birds various; pies; breads; cheese …

and numerous 'I don't knows' – notations too small or indistinct for me to work out …

Portmeirion tea-cup ... for that 
Christmas relaxing cuppa
The Spitalfield's Life blog brought this to my attention – and as I love the caricatures as illustrated by George Cruikshank (1792 – 1878) … they can be seen on the link … and more can be found in Wiki

A coloured print can be seen here in AntiquePrintMapRoom - December a Swallow at Christmas - Rara Avis in Terra

With a lot of hopeful thoughts to those in the world who need care, love and compassion ... 

Glad tidings to you all – be safe and see you the 31st – cheers!

PS Once again - no drink (yet!) ... but those wretched fonts have done their thing and faffed around with size etc ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Whoops, Legs and Boompsy Daisy …


I couldn't think up a different title … but this .. or should it be whoopsy daisy?

Human and Gorilla
(stretched out) to

These snippets bemused me – so here they are! Or impressed me for an #WATWB post … but appears here …

King Arthur - our greatest King has ladies legs … who would have guessed – after conservation – it was found that the top of half had been sculpted from Coade stone (invented late 1700s/1800s); while the lower half, including his right leg were crafted from Bath stone in the Roman period (AD 43 – AD 410) - c/o Ian Visits the statue ...

Extraordinary juxtaposition I'd say … especially as the Roman element came from a female statue … possibly even a sculpted goddess?!

Now we move to South America … to find an Inca pottery muscular leg wearing a sandal – on show at the British Museum: “Peru – A Journey in Time” ... 

The leg celebrates the running skills of the Chasquis, messengers in the Inca empire, who took advantage of the vast Inca system of purpose-built roads and rope bridges in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.

An Inca Quipu

No wonder their legs are muscular – they could run up to 150 miles (240 km) per day – recording administrative details on a Quipu: a fascinating device  ...

Next we come back to London … where a man has been trapped inside a clock – oh yes … more legs to walk forever more; chasing … what? Oh yes – the time …

Maarten Baas, who has been described as an “author designer” … see his bio. The Paddington clock found in Eastbourne Terrace is one of his Real Time Series 12-hour films of performances indicating the time that intends to combine theatre, art and film production in a series of new clock designs ... c/o Ian Visits blog: Paddington has trapped a man inside a clock ... 

I need to see this …Maarten Baas – Real Time Clock outside Paddington station … to quite comprehend it ... 

Last but not least to note a Bristol charity saving prosthetic legs from landfill – here recycling its 10,000th leg – brilliant inspiring charity.

As we're at the end of this post – just watch those legs especially in the northern hemisphere – where ice and snow may well descend.

Well we were at the end til I remembered the dead parrot - actually a sulfur crested cockatoo - residing on a plinth in South London ... and of course the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch ... 

One more post to come … stay safe and well during this continuing difficult time …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 3 December 2021

Narcissus - the Wear and Tear of Ageing ...


Ow! ow! … ooohagh … don't they realise all that chafing hurts – much more than a cut-throat scrape …

What are they doing … restoring me, repairing, re-painting me, cleaning me …? I know I'm 500 years old but … it is 1997 after all.

They've been nibbling pieces of my paint, crushing the rough pieces of oils in their fingers to dust – for some reason they put this stuff into little vials – now I could gaze at those pieces of me …

Cut-throat razor
... they take me off into their ether … there I'm scrutinised from all angles, put into metal boxes which flash lights at me, other containers brightly shine at me … some close-up, sometimes from afar …

those people stand and stare, gossip until I'm subjected to some infraction … they seem to think it improves me – how could it? I am me – me - Narcissus – I, I cannot be perfected …

Syrian Vial from the 4th C -
today they are made from glass

Caravaggio created me using chiaroscuro … now he was allowed to pore over me, observe my very movements … so that I, in all my perfetto youth, would be captured tenebroso...

I believe they call it research … to see how dark and grubby this masterpiece of me has become – but look ... I shine so brightly out of the shadowy canvas … you can still see my reflection clearly in the pool – but they keep working, thinking they can buff me up …

St John the Baptist by Caravaggio
(1604) highlighting Tenebrism

Over the centuries they've dusted me off – then they attack me – it's nearly the 21st century – what do they expect … I am valuable as a masterpiece (that has not been so closely examined).

Yet if only I had known what was to come in the next 24 years … they've lost their creativity … it seems they punch things like keyboards (similar to clavichords) and out appears from the constantly changing mirror in front of them many images of me …

1977 unfretted Clavichord
I am me – me - the way Caravaggio painted me so empathetic to my youthful appearance – these 'reproductions' as they are called – do not credit me with Caravaggio's sympatico art-style.

Really they should leave me alone – I enjoy my place on the wall of the National Gallery of Ancient Art, Rome – where everyone can and does so admire me … completely fawning over Caravaggio's creation.

National Gallery of
Ancient Art, Rome

Wear and Tear – they need to look at their own lives … I've lasted more than 500 years, expect they only live about one fifth of my life.

Oh I'm so sensuously beautiful – and will be forever more … no wear and tear for me … more importantly no ageing.

Smartphone screen 21st C

The art work may age – and they can do their damnedest to restore, repair, or conserve – definitively in the era they live in … the technology seems to find things that would not have been found in earlier centuries, but I remain me – "Narcissus".

Wear and Tear begone!

Fine Art Conservation YouTube video by 

Julian Baumgartner of Chicago - for anyone interested

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 25 November 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 53 – The Red Dress Project …


This is such a wonderful project unifying women around the world – Kirstie Macleod from Somerset, England started The Red Dress project to help marginalised women tell their stories through embroidery.

The finished object
c/0 The Red Dress

As she says in her introduction … her dress embroidery project has globally connected 244 embroiderers (239 women and 5 men), their families and their communities from 28 different countries by adding an image onto the dress that represents themselves and their culture.

During twelve years (2009 – 2021) pieces of burgundy silk dupioni have travelled the globe to be embroidered with cultural stories …

Embroiderers include:

  • Women refugees from Palestine;
  • Victims of war in Kosovo, Rwanda, and DR Congo;
  • Impoverished women in South Africa, Mexico and Egypt;
  • Women in Kenya, Japan, Paris, Sweden, Peru, Czech Republic, Dubai, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Tobago, USA, Russia, Pakistan, Wales, Colombia, and the UK, as well as
  • Upmarket embroidery studios in India and Saudi Arabia

It is quite stunning … and I would ask that you look at the video twelve minutes of pure indulgence for us to luxuriate in – and wonder at: 

  • their stories, 
  • their skill … 
  • and to see the dress in all its glory – in the individual's homeland
  • and now it is being exhibited in various galleries and museums worldwide

Each embroiderer has been able to have more positive lives, and have helped others in their villages or camps enhance theirs too … improve their lot, teach others to use their talents, and tell their stories with thread.

Just look at the beauty … this artistic platform has really opened doors for these marginalised people to rebuild their lives.

Kindly commenters, readers – please look at the video and marvel … I exhort you to!!

Hilaria in Mexico - one of the talented
embroiderers c/o the video

The Red Dress will embrace you – draw you in, let you wonder at its beauty. An artistic project to be sure …

This has to be a perfect example of the We are the World Blogfest mantra:

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

The Red Dress Project has completely transformed their lives … they can afford to feed themselves, earn a decent and consistent living …

Enjoy the video!

The BBC Dress Embroidery Project unifies women around the world.

This has a two minute video - to give you an idea ... but the twelve minute one is superb.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories