Nursery Reveal!

My baby is 10 1/2 weeks old, so I think it's about time to give you a peek into her nursery! This room was originally designed to be a sewing room so it's not too big...just the perfect size for baby & mommy! But it is a little bit tricky to take pictures with the tight angles, so please forgive the crookedness.

Since we didn't find out baby's gender, I needed a neutral room and the colors I envisioned were turquoise and coral. After hours of searching online - and almost giving up - I found the one!!! [Please tell me I'm not the only one who is so obsessed with that image I create in my head!] But it was worth the wait!
The colors were exactly what I had in mind. Don't tell me God doesn't care about the little things!

We decided to just paint the inset wall with the turquoise to match the bedding. I love the color ~ subtle, but beautiful!

And there is my little yard-sale chair in all its glory! So much comfiness for so few buckaroos!!

The tissue pom-poms were made by my mom and add a punch of color to the whit wall. I had another moment of inspiration for the canvases, which I had fun creating! 

So there it is...Hadasssah's palace!! I hope to add a few things here and there but for now I'm happy with our sweet little hang-out. If you want to see it in person, we'd love to have you stop by! 

:: Check back later in the week for a giveaway I'll be hosting!! ::


Our Hebe is a calligrapher, letter-cutter in stone and general jobbing artist.  The masonry where she does much of her letter-cutting is attached to A.C. Towner funeral directors.   

Ed Towner is a lay reader at St Matthews Anglican church just along the road from where we live, and at Christmas time Towners has a crib scene filling the whole window.  

The stable was made by Duncan Brown  (one of the funeral directors who also makes beautiful sacred objets d'art) and Stephen Groves a one-time Anglo-Catholic priest, now a Roman Catholic.  Hebe painted and gilded the 'Puer natus est pro nobis' ('For us a child is born') on the front edge of the nativity, and the little holly leaves on either side of the lettering.

Then this year she was asked to paint a backdrop to stand behind it.  She has painted the town of Bethlehem just before sunrise.  The exposure of the picture means you get the impression the sky is pale blue: in fact it is dawn colours of luminous rose and gold as well as soft blues deepening into mystery, and in the sky can be seen the stars that would have been visible at dawn on the day Jesus was born, including the constellation of the Southern Cross which she has painted over the stable.

I'll see if we can get a photo that shows the sky better, and add it on.

Stationery card

Park Avenue Birth Announcement
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Vandana Shiva

I'm a fan.

The Way We Were (Are)

Sometimes life is going so relatively smoothly that I want to take a snapshot of it and keep it unchanged.  I guess Thanksgiving has helped me concentrate on the blessings rather than the frustrations, but our lives are going well at this time.  Everyone in the family has a job, son Matt is putting the finishing touches on his software creation that will be offered for sale soon, Matt and wife Sarah just ran a 5K for the first time (pushing Joshua in a stroller), the grandkids are all healthy, Mom is doing great (her cholesterol level is actually better than mine....grrr...don’t go there!), Mom’s dog Jenny still hasn’t killed or maimed our new puppy, my older niece was elected president of her sorority, my other niece has been inducted into the National Honor Society, Caroline and Charlotte had an amazing violin recital and are doing well in school, my sister after years of hard work finally got our mom’s house on the market.... and you know, the list goes on and on.
But, of course, change does come.  On a description of this blog, I mention that my journey focuses on my response to aging, roadblocks to simplicity, grandparenting, acceptance and celebration of the past, etc., but basically here it is in a nutshell:  “’s changing roles.”  Change is everywhere, from my living situation to my aging body to all my family and friends.  Things cannot stay stagnant.  Even the seasons remind of that.  (Ed told me it is time for our annual call to our local newspaper to ask them to stop delivery until the spring thaw, as the carrier can’t get to the newspaper box because the snow plow drops it all in front, since we got our first real snow of the winter this week.)  Holiday commercials are everywhere, and Rachel calls us every day to remind us that her blender is being held together with duct tape and she really, really, REALLY wants a new top-of-the-line blender for Christmas.  
But can’t we keep things the same right now?  Mom is still with us, my aunt and uncle and Mom’s best friend, all in their 80s, are still with us.  I don’t want any more losses, any more deaths.  Everyone is healthy and happy and I want it to go on forever.
Change is scary because of the unknown factor, but just when I wish for the power to stop time just as it is now, then I wake to reality:  Joshua is a cuter-than-ever 16-month-old toddler, but I am curious to see what it will feel like to have him tell me about what he is doing in kindergarten a few years from now.  I wonder how Caroline will be excelling in violin as she grows and fine tunes her already incredible talent.  And Charlotte - now there’s a firecracker in training - I can hardly wait to see how she matures and changes!  What will the grandkids look like as they grow?  What will they be interested in?  What things can I help them with and teach them?
The cycle of life is so poignant.  Charlotte’s violin is very small, the size that Caroline started with, but awhile back Caroline upgraded to a bigger violin because she had grown.  When Joshua comes to visit, we pull out the plastic spoons and bibs that we used for the girls when they were little - and even a toy dog that I used when I was a baby!  Each object just shouts “CHANGE!”
Tomorrow our family will celebrate Thanksgiving here (after the kids go to their in-laws today).  Since Mom is here, we will have 4 generations together for the first time ever on Thanksgiving, so that will be a blessing.  We will gather in the living room to take our annual family Christmas photo, this year having Mom in the picture.  That photo freezes us in time, at our current ages, interests, skill levels, physical health - the snapshot of what our family looked like on November 25, 2011.  Nanoseconds after the photo is taken, though, things will be changing.  Cells in our body dying and replenishing, more life experiences to enter in our brains’ computers, more conversation, more learning - and yes, more pain, more sorrow, more anxiety.  
But for today, I close my eyes and picture our family as we are this second - healthy and content - and we all have warm houses, enough food, clothes, and money to live, friends who care about us, but most important, we have what you can’t see in the photo - oodles and oodles of love.  And that’s the thing that will support us through all the inevitable changes life will throw at us in the years to come.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Leo Babauta again.

I'm with him on this.

Etsy joy

The creativity of Etsy is endless and rejoices my heart.

Looking at hats today as the year goes down into winter.

Look at this

and this

and this

Not to mention these!

In times of recession, it seems wit, eccentricity and a certain daft exuberance are still alive and well.  Hallelujah!

Man Traps

So I have been listening to beautiful songs on YouTube . . . songs that move me . . . this . . . and this . . . and this . . .

Can you tell (?), I do like a quiet furry voice, a thinking mind, and a certain quality of almost painful gentleness - er . . . tenderness I guess it's called.

But, oh, glory! With the songs come (sigh) the adverts.  One that comes up repeatedly for a site that promises to teach women how to catch and keep men.  Promises to show them the ten things they are doing wrong that make men want to pull away, and how to modify their behaviour so they can (presumably) trap the men and keep them prisoner forever.

Why would you want to do that?  What is love, if it is not free?  I like men.  I love the man I am married to.  But I have no desire to keep him in a cage, tied to me by promises, manipulation and fascination.  Even the thought makes me tired.  What he is, I love.  What I am, I am.   

Something I read years ago . . . when I was about 18 . . . I jotted it down somewhere . . . from Anthony Padovano’s book Free To Be Faithful . . . just a minute . . . Yes, here it is:
The woman who abides at the side of her husband because everywhere else she is homeless is a woman who has given not compliance but freedom.

Same applies to men.  At a time when many followers began to fall away disillusioned (a lot of people prefer illusions), Jesus said to his friends “Would you like to go too?”  Peter (I love his candour.  Not a flatterer!) answered Jesus: “Lord – to whom should we go?”  This happens, I have felt it for myself; it is as if there were no other place in the whole universe to be but this.  Well, not ‘as if’, even: there actually is nowhere but this place, this person, this situation: God’s gift to us of the present moment has about it a kind of imperative, which once we recognise it makes contentment possible in the most surprising of circumstances.

Just saying

I love this song.

It is full of kindness and comfort and hope.

It re-starts my kinetic melody - the connections that keep my nervous system trucking and re-integrate my mood. I mean it does, actually, fix me.  How curious.

It has taken me all day to try and recover my head from the inherent trauma of (yes, I know it's hard to believe this) asking our decorators if they wouldn't mind adding a coat of grey on top of the white now we'd found the paint.  Hebe and I went together to ask.  We didn't succeed really because both of our consciousnesses spiralled so far out of the here and now under stress of making the request that we lost coherence completely.  At the end of the conversation we said we'd paint it ourselves.  HSP.  Sigh.  It's not always easy.  That was at about 10.30.  It's now 14.27.  I've been striving all day just to get my head back.  And then I thought to listen to that song.  And now I'm OK again.  We'll still have to paint it ourselves, but that's OK, we can do that.

This morning early (this is a bit more interesting), while it was yet dark, I went downstairs to measure the windows and make a cup of nettle tea, and found Edwin (thinking inside the box in the previous post's photos) skittering wildly about. Uh oh.  What had he got?  A moth?  No. The person that ran terrified across my foot was larger than a moth.  I put the bathroom light on so it would shine through without waking up the household.  Oh, right.  Someone small and dark with a long tail.  I grabbed a towel off the bannisters and flung it over the person, to immobilise it and protect it from Edwin.  "Alice!" I hissed, in a sort of hoarse undertone to avoid waking Hebe, "Alice! Wake up!"

Because I am useless at catching mice.  I like the mice but their darty speed unnerves me and I am never quick enough.  I always panic and miss them.  Alice is fast and fearless and grabs them quick.  She emerged.  I shut Edwin in the bathroom.   Slowly we patted the towel and rolled it back to expose the Person.  Ha!  It tried to run but Alice was too quick for it.   We went down to the front garden (yard) which is very small but we have landscaped it like a miniature woodland dell, so all kind of creatures take refuge there.  Alice opened her hand and for a short while the mouse sat up and looked at us.  Unharmed.  That sends out a ripple of well-being and gratitude.  It was OK.  Then it ran away into the ferns and rocks and morning darkness.

I'm going back to listen to that song again.  Gradually my soul is coming back to peace.  I'm all right as long as I don't have to speak to anybody.    The sun is shining.   Through the window I can see a seagull chilling out on the chimney stack.  Blue sky, white clouds.    I can hear the song in my mind. '...lights will guide you home...'  That makes me feel both very peaceful and intensely hungry in my soul.  Do you like the song too?

The house is very quiet.  I think the men have gone.  It will be OK to go downstairs now.

Thinking inside the box

World View Wednesday ~ Belize!

I guess you could say I have a heart for missions. Seeing God at work all across the globe gets me excited!! So I wanted to feature different missions/people on my blog that have been an inspiration to me. 

In August of 2008, Eddie & I had the privilege of flying to Belize, along with some church friends, to work with Nancy Marshall and The Deaf Ministry. It was an unforgettable experience! I don't know of many people who have more of a servant's heart and an untiring love for people than this woman of God! As a deaf person who had hearing at one point, Nancy is perfectly equipped to reach out to and mentor the many deaf children & youth in the surrounding areas. She helps teach the deaf in a nearby school, as well as leads the services at Jesus' Deaf Church.


Nancy has learned to depend on God for so many things and He has always been faithful to her! Her blog is full of inspiring stories and records the adventure of faith she is on with the church there. I would post more pictures of our trip, but they're all outdated by now so I guess you'll need to visit her blog instead!

Nancy, you are an inspiration to me in your commitment to the work God has called you to! It's beautiful to see God building the Deaf church in Belize. Never give up and you will reap an abundant harvest!

Wandering off

Walk away
from the middle of things
don’t be afraid
right out of the middle of things to walk away.

Stuff accumulates
Stress accumulates
Stuff accumulates stress accumulates stuff.

Shove it.  Blow it.  Leave it. Laugh at it.

It doesn’t really matter very much.

Whatever it is (that accumulating stuff accumulating stress)
Bills . . . possessions . . . fat . . . ailments . . . hassle . . . appointments . . . glory . . . status . . . money . . . worries (funny that, how ‘money’ and ‘worries’ go together) . . .
. . . well, all of that – it isn’t what you came here for.

What you came here for – excuse me – let me not presume – what I came here for at least, was to walk in freedom.

I came here to taste being human one more time.  Stand beside the ocean.  Walk in the gold of falling leaves.  Love the dark trees spiky in the soft fog.  Feel the warmth of the sun and the fireside.  Whatever else, I came here to see the stars.  And I think I came here to pray, and discover something about how to love, and the choices that allow peace to come through.

Sometimes it seems necessary to be what feels distinctly irresponsible.  Sometimes I end up feeling deeply apologetic.  Because sometimes the only way to stop the clinging accumulation of stuff and stress is to drop it or walk off and leave it.

How dare you?  A voice says.

How dare I not?  Life is short.

What I mean is, who cares if they paint the room white or cream, or use the duvet cover for a dust sheet?  Is it irresponsible to walk away from these decisions?  Yes, I guess.  But they don’t hold my attention.  My mind wanders away.  It’s difficult even to remember that it’s Monday. 

What I do remember, though, is that my dear friend has come through her surgery OK, and she is feeling better now, and this afternoon is a chance to go and see her, drink tea with her, and enjoy being the happiest people in the world.  

I-Witness to History

Maybe it's partly my career, but I have always been fascinated by medical things in the news.  One story that intrigued me the most was that of Jill Bolte Taylor, who wrote the book My Stroke of Insight:  A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey.  Amazon's description of her book reads in part:
Jill Taylor was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. Through the eyes of a curious scientist, she watched her mind deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of the brain, her respect for the cells in her body, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered. In My Stroke of Insight, she shares her recommendations for recovery and the insight she gained into the unique functions of the two halves of her brain.

Basically, she watched herself have a stroke, and, being the curious brain scientist she was, she remembered details as it was unfolding and during the aftermath, almost as a third person observing an outside incident.

Thankfully, I have never had a stroke, but as I grow older, it still intrigues me to see my body change.  It's an eyewitness account of the history of me. Certainly, having my 88-year-old mom living with me has strengthened the observation, because, of course, we don't exist in a vacuum, and as I am watching myself age, I have watched her age as well.   I have been in her life 57 of those 88 years and I have watched her deal with changes in life situations as well as changes in her body - now as a daily occurrence.

I've been sick with a bad cold this week which has now congested my chest.  I've had three nights of lack of sleep, missed half a day of work, used up two boxes of Puffs, and have sat here berating myself for not having the energy or desire to do things I need to do on my weekend.  I recalled the weekends where I still did not accomplish anything, but had no illness excuse, and how I wished I had those weekends back to be productive!  You forget to appreciate everyday health until you lose it - either temporarily or permanently.

I asked Mom last night if she remembers what it was like to just jump out of a chair and go on her way without bouncing up and down about 5 times to get some rebound, holding onto a walker, and every so slowly pushing herself up.  She has one useless hand now, permanently in a clawed position, and I wonder if she ever thinks about the time when she had two good hands.  I know she misses being able to do housework (washing dishes by hand was her favorite activity!).   She has told me all my life, "Your health is everything," and now I see what she means.  She is an eyewitness to what getting older (as well as sequelae of trauma) means.  Every movement, every attempt to do anything, makes her painfully aware of what time has done to her once young body.

As it has on me.  I'm not in that bad shape yet, but I look in the mirror with astonishment almost every day.  My face and body are records of my life, and I am, as Jill Bolte Taylor was, an ongoing eyewitness - or as I like to say, I-witness, to my life being lived on this physical earth.  Some of the changes are just natural changes of aging, some were avoidable but I made poor choices through the years, some are specifically hereditary in my family.  It is intriguing to watch this process.  One has to try to do it with an open mind, and an objective sense, a sense of watching another person age, because if one carries to the surface all the emotional baggage involved, the journey can be too traumatic.

It all reminds me of the saying, "Don't hate birthdays; consider the alternative," because my mom, even with her arthritis aches and pains and vision loss and neurological deficits and dental problems and everything else that an average 88-year-old woman has on her medical problem list, she has been, in a way, privileged to watch herself get old.  As a 30-year-old, maybe she wondered (probably she didn't) what it would be like to be old, to look old, to feel old.  Now she knows.  And it's still an ongoing process - her doctor said she'd live to be 100, the news of which, I think, made her rather pleased but exhausted just thinking about it.

And so the journey of life continues.  I am contained in this physical body for an unknown number of years, and I have been, yes, privileged to watch its changes as I age.  These changes sometimes anger me, frustrate me, and make me wish things were different.  On the other hand, I'm mostly in awe of the process.  The changes are natural, they are expected, and they still are miraculous to watch as they unfold.

I heard once that we start to die the day we are born, and I can understand that.  The researchers are learning every day more and more about DNA and cell death and cell turnover and the telomere lengths and all that other technical fascinating stuff about why and how our  bodies gradually just fall apart.  I enjoy reading all their latest findings.  But for me, it all comes down to me, doesn't it?  And the things I am honored to watch - to see - to actually experience - makes me kind of lucky in a way.  Many of my friends did not make it to the age of 57, so aging needs to be considered a gift as well as a curse.

I'm planning on splurging on an iPad next month.  I'm been researching apps I'd like to have, but there is one app I've already got - iWitness.  And what a remarkable, exciting, incredible app it is!!

Thrifty Thursday ~ Fun Fall Craft

One of the benefits of being a SAH mom is having a little extra time to do fun crafty projects! [Well, that does depend on whether baby is happy or not, but naps are a perfect time to fit these in (=] The other week I was inspired to decorate for fall and came up with a simple garland that cost me $0!!! And it's ridiculously easy to make, which is important for this not-so-detailed girl!

You need some autumn-colored cardstock, patterned paper and white paper, along with ribbon [or twine, which I used] and clothespins. I got the pumpkins at Michael's last year. You could buy them using the 40% off coupons they offer every few weeks.

Cut your solid-colored cardstock to the finished size and then glue a slightly smaller piece of the patterned paper onto it. I added an even smaller piece of white paper and wrote my letter onto this. If you don't like writing, you could use a stencil or sticker instead. All you need to do now is hang your ribbon/twine, pin on the letters and attach the pumpkins!

This would also work great on a mantle and could be made to any size you choose!

Now I'd love to hear about your fall decoration inspiration!

Endless Knot Endless Story

About three years ago, I decided the Badger and I needed a new kingsize winter duvet, 13.5 tog to be warm and snuggly in the snowy weather.  I went hunting on eBay, and sure enough I found one at a very low price indeed and duly bought it.  How happy I was to have exercised frugality in this way and made a purchase, not from a big store that would ultimately impoverish the local economy to fill the coffers of powerful people far away, but a small independent UK trader working from home.

The duvet arrived, still new and sealed in its packaging, 13.5 tog.  I unwrapped it, and only then in preparing to put it in the duvet cover and settle it on the bed did I espy the label stitched into the side of the duvet: 10.0 tog.  Oh.

It had been sent me in good faith, by a trader who had evidently been pleased to get hold of a job lot of duvets, not realising why they were so cheap.  I wrote to her; she, mortified and full of apologies, offered to refund my money.  But I said it was OK – 10.0 tog would do.  And in our centrally heated house in Aylesbury with a long radiator right by the bed, all was fine.

Then we moved down to Hastings and took up residence in our garret, which (at our own request) has no central heating; we like to experience the seasons, and central heating dries out my eyes and nose and all my skin.  In the summer, the garret gets mighty hot and we open the great skylight windows to let in the breezes from the sea.  But in the winter it gets ffrrrreezing!  Last winter we piled on three blankets, wore our socks, added a couple of hot water bottles and clung to each other, and we were OK.

My mother has recently moved to live in a village just five miles away from us, downsizing a third time – from a big country house to a medium town house to a small town house and now to a small apartment.  Careful and thrifty like all her generation, there have been things she has hesitated to get rid of, and a week or so back she did another winnow of stored possessions.  She managed to find new homes for everything that came out of the boxes – except for a kingsize 13.5 tog quilt: had we any use for it?  Oh, well – as it happens . . .

So the quilt came home with us, just as the cold weather is returning and nights with the 10.0 tog had begun to feel a little challenging.  How wonderful!

But with the journey into autumn have come rain, mist, cold, fog and drizzle.  And we are in process of a massive re-think of the garden – everywhere is mud and plants dug up and trellis/fences/rose-arches/posts/trees/etc half in and unfinished.   So the washing line is out of commission and even if it were not the idea of trying to dry anything in this weather is merely laughable.  So there is a huge pile of laundry in our bedroom because the indoor drying space is already in use by someone else.  I have three sets of pyjamas and now two are in the wash and if I don’t overcome the laundry conundrum I shall be chilly at night indeed.  So this was not the best evening to change the bedding and add a second pile of laundry to the one we already had. 


In addition to the clothes and the bedding needing washing, the 10.0 tog kingsize quilt will have to be washed and dried before it can go into store for use next summer.  This means it will have to go to the laundrette, as our washing machine is too small for it, we have no drier, and it will never dry out of doors in this weather.  But the laundrette requires pound coins (of which I have none), and because we need to use the extra big washing machine it will need an extra lot of pound coins – probably about eight in all to get the quilt washed and dried.  The Badger has some in his loose change pot, but only about three, cos I checked.

Further more

I have given away my car now, and a kingsize quilt is a mighty big thing to lug ¾ of a mile down the road to the laundrette.  And back.

All of which goes to show that in the ending of every story a new story begins.  Every resolution carries an embryonic challenge.  Heaven and Hell belong to one another.  Every situation turns into its opposite.  The lily is in the compost and the compost is in the lily.  There is no case for complacency and no need to worry.

This is the second time in only a few days that life has reached over my shoulder to direct my attention to the Endless Knot.

I think I can afford to relax.  Surely the lesson is that in solving this one the triumph I achieve will bear the seeds of the next moment’s downfall.  Energy moves in circles.   The secret is to stop thinking about destinations and concentrate instead upon the journey.  Namaste.

In the Sweet Buy and Buy

There are many memories of the days following 9/11, for me, but one of the most memorable, oddly, is the president telling everyone to get back to business as usual:   "Get on board.  Do your business around the country.  Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots.  Get down to Disney World in Florida.  Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed."   I totally understand what he was trying to do and why, of course - to reassure the American people after fear had suddenly paralyzed everyone.  Even his brother, Jeb Bush, said, "We need to respond quickly so people regain confidence and consider it their patriotic duty to go shopping...."  The truth, though, sometimes hurts.  And what is the truth embedded in these quotes?  Our whole economy depends on consumerism.

It's that time of year again - Halloween is over and The Holidays are in full swing, with businesses flooding radio, TV, and other media with the message, "Go shopping!"  Of course, it's a catch-22:  Companies don't hire workers because there is not much demand for their products because people can't afford to buy; people can't afford to buy because they have lost their jobs because companies aren't hiring workers....and on and on.

Our local Lowe's, for instance, announced its closure last week, with many employees suddenly out of work.  It was apparently an "underperforming" store.  Now, Ed and I have shopped at Lowe's many times, but still there was the nagging guilt in my head:  Should we have shopped there more to save all those jobs?  Do I really have to spend beyond my means in order to be patriotic and help the economy?

In the next couple of months, consumerism will be paramount.  The messages are all similar:  Spending a lot on a gift shows you love someone.  Spending more than you can afford helps the economy and saves jobs.  Maxing out your credit card will enable you to have happy holidays when you don't have the cash; in fact, with some credit card offers, you even get a percentage of your expenditures back, so the more you spend, the more you "save."  It's much better to buy something you really don't need at half price for $50 than for full price at $100.  (The option of not buying it at all is never mentioned.)

We have to feel some sadness for the state of the world, our country, our economy, and our addiction to a lifestyle that is not sustainable in the long run.  Just as banks should not become too big to fail, an economy totally based on buying (and charging) more and more and more is doomed to falter.  Those who cannot afford to buy, or choose not to buy, or limit what they buy, should not be made to feel guilty for their lack of "appropriate participation" in bringing our economy back to life.

I'm so sorry for those folks at Lowe's and every other place whose jobs were lost or cut because I'm buying less than I used to, but for me, to live within my means and to live with personal integrity, that's the way it has to be.  We know in our hearts that "buy more stuff" is not the message of Christmas or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or any of the other religious observances - but it comes through loud and clear anyway.  Sigh.  Happy Holidays.


Poem for today

What have you done?
The work is unfinished
and vanished
the sun.
Wild wind from the ocean
is bringing the rain;
and we have no notion
when work on the garden
can start
or continue
be feasible
set s l o w l y in motion

This was only a poem.  To be fair, it's a jolly nice day and our garden is holding its breath in good hope of work continuing to completion.  Oh . . . no . . . wait . . . that's a very big very black cloud . . .  If he can just get those fence posts set in so we can dig the new beds and put the plants we dug up back out of their buckets into the earth.  Such a small window - it's November already - the season has a tension about it like someone with a sneeze that won't come - the cold is on its way but  w h e n . . . . come the time it lets go I think we may see snow and rain clear through to February.  Why am I saying this?  I have no idea at all.  But - quick, Joe!  Get the posts in before the rain, and the wall pointed before the frosts!  Joe is an excellent workman.  Our house now has a patchy being - two parts Victorian villa to one part essence of Joe.  It is held up by the wisdom of his hands.  My, that wind is gusting!  Hurry, Joe!

More good sense from Leo Babauta

Here at Zen Habits.  This man is on a roll !  What brilliant posts he has put up lately!

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi: guest post by Hebe

Not sure if folks overseas can catch up on the BBC programme we saw about this painting, but it's here on i-player for those who have access.

I am also not sure what pictures I am allowed to post on my blog from among those online, but to stay on the right side of copyright law, I will not display but link to a picture so you can see what we're talking about.  The one closest to the picture we saw in the programme is this one.

And, UK peeps, don't miss out on this!!

Okay - here follow Hebe's thoughts on da Vinci's Salvator Mundi (which means 'Saviour of the World')

Salvator Mundi

We were excited to watch the programme on BBC 1 on Sunday, with Fiona Bruce, on the painting which it is believed could be the lost ‘Salvator Mundi’ by Leonardo da Vinci. 
It was an insightful programme about Da Vinci although somewhat dominated by many shots of Bruce wandering around, but we felt it could have had more analysis of the painting itself.  So here are some thoughts, and feel free to add some of your own.

First of all, we are inclined to think it is by him, and I’m going by that assumption.
The first thing I thought when I first saw the painting (in the Radio Times) was how blue the robes are.  In fact, after googling later, I discovered that Jesus (at least as Salvator Mundi) seems more generally to be depicted with red robe and blue blanket (I think it is like a priest’s stole, but Jesus nearly always seems to have his handy blanket draped over a shoulder).  The gold braid also drew my attention.  I could be reading a lot into this, but it looks like the symbols of the chi rho [abbreviation to mean 'Christ'. Ember] sideways on (PX). 
Compare these to the Christ in da Vinci’s Last Supper.  There he is more of a man, I think, yet to undergo full realisation into Christhood.  Here he has become fully the Christ – he wears the colour of heaven, no longer red, the colour of Adam.  And what was a simple jewel on his collar has become the name of Christ.
I am interested in the jewels, and wonder if they have any significance.  I read somewhere on the internet that the 8 sided star (look carefully at the bottom jewel, it is set in an embroidered star) is the symbol for resurrection, and the gold threads are also 8 stranded.
Apart from my initial response to his great outfit, I was surprised by the muted, undefined face.  The beard is not as strongly painted as I’m used to seeing in standard depictions of Jesus, indeed the facial hair could almost be mistaken for shadows.  The whole face has an androgynous quality, and his chest has the lightest suggestion of a bosom. 
The more we considered it, the more this Christ looked as though it was supposed to represent male and female.
After seeing the documentary on BBC 1, we thought this painting also bore a strong resemblance to self-portraits by da Vinci.  The pose is very like a self-portrait, the direct eyes like the view we have of ourselves in the mirror.
We think that da Vinci might be trying to show that the eternal resurrected Christ lives in everyone, every man, every woman, in me.

In the documentary one of the experts described da Vinci’s painting technique as layering ‘glazes’, or building up washes is how I’d put it, of colour over a white background.  The gives a luminosity, as if the light comes from within the skin, rather than overpainted white highlights reflecting off a surface.  The face in this painting is very subtle, it’s possible that it has lost paint over the years, especially since it was painted over.  But I also wonder if it is meant to be painted so delicately to give the face of Christ maximum luminosity, emerging from the dark background.  Like the Light of the World; like the ‘light shining in the darkness’ in the opening of John’s gospel.

His hair has a reddish tint, which Sr. Julia tells me is typical of medieval Florentine art (I don’t know if that is true of elsewhere, but it seems there is a strong tradition of depicting Jesus with red hair)  Fair to red hair and green eyes were considered beautiful and indicated purity.
Da Vinci is known (according to the documentary) for giving angels and the holy family these light delicate curls highlighted with gold and copper.  I find them oddly thin, the strands too insubstantial to be realistic.  Ember suggested that they are not so much representation of hair as a representation of light, radiating, glinting, like a halo.
As far as I can tell, and it may be to do with the quality of images I’ve seen, but here the eyes seem amber, golden brown rather than green.  I can’t think of any meaning for this, but there is quite a captivating quality to his eyes.  I find myself trying to read the expression in them, they draw you in with their faint ambiguity yet disarmingly direct gaze.
The other detail that draws attention is the globe (or crystal ball, I like to think!)  Later depictions of the Salvator Mundi also have a crystal globe, but they seem to be mimicking this original.  I don’t know if any earlier paintings have a crystal globe or if da Vinci set the ball rolling…
It looks to me, and this is entirely subjective of course, like he painted an object he physically had.  The detail of the internal flaws suggest he had studied and I guess become fascinated by the way light passes through polished crystal. [And maybe, because it is a flawed world?  And maybe a crystal ball because Christ can look into it, ‘read’ it.  And I love that he holds it in his hand. Ember]
I wonder why he showed the world as a clear ball.  Is it a new world, made new, restored by Christ?  Is its clarity a representation of purity?  If so, I wonder if the flaws have any other significance.  Maybe they are not so much flaws as effervescent bubbles, simply joyful.
 The detail of three dots of light please me, a reference to the Trinity I like to think. 
The globe brings to mind the quote from 1 Corinthians 13, “for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”
This also resonates with the indistinct but emerging sense of the face.  The restorer of the painting said that Leonardo da Vinci said that dusk was the best time to paint for the light, and that she found the painting became more alive at that time of day. 

Anyway, those are some of mine, Ember’s and Alice’s thoughts on the painting, I expect there’s more to say and discover.  But how about you?  let us know what you think too.