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

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Brumaire - French Republican Calendar …


We've just been looking at the French Revolution – guided by an excellent ex-history teacher – and I offered to give a talk about 'Napoleon and his Contested Legacy' … only clever because I'm plagiarising it from an article I came across!

Coup d'etat - painting (after the event)
by Bouchet (1840)

The French Revolution is a complicated period in history … and we've had some very good talks – I'm always learning.

My eclectic brain came to the fore again regarding a post – not for our history group – but for anyone who is kind enough to visit the blog.

I'd never heard of 'Brumaire' – believe it or not !… it was the second month in the French Republican Calendar – “which lasted for the longest time of all: twelve years (1793 – 1805)”.

The Coup of 18 Brumaire brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power, and in the view of most historians ended the French Revolution.

Month of Brumaire

What fascinated me were the details found in the French Republican Calendar – such as …

  • each month lasted 30 days, divided into three 10-day weeks …

  • Every day of the year had the name of an agricultural plant – except! …

  • The fifth days were named after a domestic animal,
  • and the tenth days were named for an agricultural tool

  • The Calendar began in September at the Autumnal Equinox

Foggy Misty day ...
Brumaire – from the French for 'fog' or 'mist'the 2nd month (22 Oct/24 Oct to 20 Nov/22 Nov) – when apparently France is known to be full of misty foggy days!

It is an interesting calendar – useless to us, who all use the Gregorian one - but I was drawn in when I saw each of the 30 days – don't ask about the extra days … see the link.

  • Today is November 17th ...and we would be Watercress 'Cresson'
  • then a couple of others: Beet Root 'Betterave' is for 4th November;
  • November 27th features SweetPea 'Macjonc'

Just fun to look at and think about …

Republican Calendar - to be
found in Lausanne's Museum

The foggy month of Brumaire will live on in history as the time Napoleon came to power as the First Consul of France, when it is thought the French Revolution ended (1789 – November 1799).

Here endeth my lesson about the French Revolution – with the interesting (I think) French Republican Calendar …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 12 November 2021

Moment of Silence … Remembrance Day 11th November 2021


I have been wondering what to write this year – at least to make us all remember, perhaps in a somewhat different approach to Remembrance Day – which we always commemorate on the Sunday nearest to the 11th of November – when the Armistice was signed in 1918 … the inauguration of our Remembrance Day was set one year later.

The Cenotaph, London

The world does not seem to have learnt any lessons … and albeit in 2000 I felt we were in a golden era – things have definitely taken a turn for the worse as the years go by.

I was somewhat surprised to read that a blogger from a European nation wondered why remembering Remembrance Day was relevant today – as we only read about it in books … I'm sure their family would have fought in both Wars … it has shocked me.

The University of Leicester's

We live today in relative peace and harmony because of all the souls lost in War, or hurt by any War– we are so fortunate.

When I looked for a different approach … I noted how the Moment of Silence came about … that period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation – that genuine gesture of respect dedicated to the dead.

It seems to have originated in Portugal in 1912 but was a ten minute dedication of silence … we usually apply the one minute silence – except on special occasions …

or as we do every year on our Remembrance Day – the two minute silence is held at the Cenotaph … we need to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us to live in peace.

The Peace Lily

There were a great many small commemorations around the British Isles yesterday – the 11th day – and on Sunday we will observe the formal commemoration at the Cenotaph in London.

With special thanks to all who have allowed us to live today …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday 4 November 2021

Shattered - Lee McKenzie's new book ...


Lee's latest book 'Shattered' where a 19 year old is crippled by a snow-boarding accident – a freak of timing, or a murder … we are left to wonder.

Lee's book

The story, or two, are a delight to read – there's the main story with a sub-plot, which adds to the twist of the tale.

I really enjoyed it … for two reasons:

First and obvious I guess – the story … it happily took me along, and I was interested to see what would happen next.

Secondly – I'd recommend it as an education 'tool' to start to understand disability, how to cope with it from both the outsider (parent, friend, contacts – medical and community), and from the person whose life has suddenly, and so dramatically, changed.

Lee's banner for her new Young Adult novel

I've been fortunate in my life … in that I should have been involved with major incidents – but I was overseas and thus was not in the country – until my mother near the end of her life had major strokes and was confined to bed … we were very fortunate that she was able to communicate.

Disability Symbols

It was a learning experience that I had to come to terms with, as well as learn to deal with – it was a struggle, and mentally demanding … but we coped – I learnt and we both laughed our way along – yes with, at times, lots of grief.

However – this is not about me – 

                            but Lee's book 'Shattered'

lives are altered, we need to adapt and change, we should appreciate others' challenges …

If I had read this book … perhaps a much younger self would have enjoyed the story, but today's self – appreciated the accuracy of the times in the book that showed how all the characters dealt with their lives … something that we really do not come across … unless disaster intercepts our lives, or we're in that type of work.

Snowboarder in soft snow

I really did enjoy the book – and do highly recommend it: to everyone to read … it has depth, the characters are interesting, the storyline makes sense in today's world … and is there to make us think about things perhaps we had never had reason to do so, and I would hope to remember/learn from.

Lee – I congratulate you … 'Shattered' is a highly readable book – with hope, with struggles, but most of all with positivity …

It is in the Young Adult genre … but frankly could be enjoyed by everyone and discussed within the family setting – a great read: Highly recommended.

All the best Lee (also known as Cheryl … but to me she's Lee!) …

You can pick Shattered up here: Amazon      Smashwords     

I slightly give up with the changes in text size ... so I do give up!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 30 October 2021

We are the World Blogfest #54 – Emma Watson Gallery at Headington School …


My alumni for nine years … I cannot say I remotely came anywhere near Emma's achievements – however if you look at her life … she is one of the world's great achievers and influencers.

Emma Watson in 2013

I also hadn't realised she had been at Headington … her recognition (actress, artist, activist – particularly women's rights) occurred when I was in near full-time caring for my mother and uncle … so I was very interested in the email that popped in my inbox this morning … so appropriate for a #WATWB post …

The school has recently opened a Creativity and Innovation Centre: The Hive – putting Creative Thinking at the heart of Headington education.

The image from the website - showing
The Hive, and the Emma Watson Gallery

These are two introductory paragraphs + the first line of the third paragraph:

With the advent of AI and increasing automation of jobs, we believe that future generations must be creative thinkers.

Creativity is a uniquely human and future-proof skill, and we know that increasingly, employers are looking for the whole person and seeking creative minds to solve business problems in a new way. 

A twenty-first century education is about thinking beyond graduation, and towards enabling pupils to become the collaborative workers, critical thinkers and creative problem solvers that our future and economy needs.

Creativity is not just about being artistic, it’s the ability to take risks, adapt, innovate, and to have the vision to make ideas a reality.

At Headington, we believe it is crucial to teach these skills from an early age, and to build upon them at each stage of the curriculum.

The Hive is a hub for cross-curricular learning with an emphasis on sustainabilitytechnology and enterprise.

Image from The Hive header

There's a short video – 5 minutes … which is so informative. Gosh! I'd love to be at school now!

Creativity and Innovation Centre:

We are in the era where jobs that can be digitised and processed by robots, will be –

whereas humans will be called upon to use their creativity, critical thinking, seeing the connection between those complex ideas –

which is what humans can do uniquely.” As implied in the video.

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories