Saturday, 26 August 2017


What I’m especially grateful for today:

Finding I have a 3rd cousin in the US. This means we have the same great great grandparents on my Jewish father's side.

Love this pic, but sadly she's not a relation!

My dear friend Claire still in a coma, is peaceful in her Granada hospital bed.

My daughter in law loved her three weeks late birthday chocolates, and my grandchildren helped her eat them all.

The small white van that reversed into me yesterday in a narrow lane in the village did no more harm than give me two red bruised knees.

I finally understand 90% of my writing is just getting clear.

I'm grateful for hours spent with paint and pastels messing till the emerging stranger appears, and in a flash of recognition becomes family, and greets me. This is a real prodigal son/daughter moment. A meeting of hearts. Magical. Mysterious.Thrilling.

                                                             This happened today.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Bejewelled Baker

The  bejewelled baker, a fiesty blond, and a fishmonger -summer adventures in Andalucia.

My exploring today wasn’t nearly as intrepid as yesterdays with you Cathy, for many reasons.  One being I forgot the map!

I headed for Cutar where some interesting Danish artists live , missed the turning, and found myself in Olias which is in the direction of Malaga.

Olias was gearing up for their anual fiesta weekend.

 Entering the small village I immediately spotted a bar/restaurant.  It was lunch time, almost.  So I pulled over and parked, not brilliantly I admit, but ok. 

At the very same moment the fish man  arrived  from the opposite  direction. He  parked abreast of me, blocking the road.  Then bread van  arrived and parked behind me. Roadblock.

A group of local women were waiting for both vans.  They sat on a low wall by the roadside, probabaly just like their mothers and grandothers had done for  decades.

Straight behind them was a stunning view of  rolling hillsides dotted with ancient olive trees, the dry soil a rich terracotta colour.  To their left , the Mediterranean sprawled way up the coast into a fuzzy pale distance, and way down to the right to busy Malaga, and right across to Morocco. These views feed my soul.

One of the village women, about 55,  wore a  white mini lacy cotton dress, shoulders exposed.  Sexy and defiant  her short  dyed blond hair pulled tight into a ponytail  needed to grow a tad longer to give the full youthful effect.

She was the ring leader.
The alfa lady.

She looked me up and down slowly.  Scanned me. Labelled me?
Then she noticed the crutch.  Her look softened.
There was a hint of a smile.

The chatty housewives were stocking up on fish and bread  for the  fiesta weekend.

A car came up behind mine and of course couldn’t pass.  The fish van would have to move, but nobody was in a  hurry.  There were lots of loud jokes from the ladies, and finally  the young fishmonger jumped in his van, grinned at me, and dashed off to stop again and block the road at  the next blind corner!

The ladies mooched over to the grinning middle aged weather-beaten bread man who was wearing at least 10 multi-coloured bead necklaces, each with a flimsy plastic cross dangling from the bottom of it.  His open shirt  exposed a small clump of curly grey hair.

An alfa male, sin duda (without doubt).  Full of life energy.

After buying her bread the blond lady asked  for her  toilet rolls and paper napkins.  The bread man considered bringing these important items a huge favour, and their joking reached decibels. The  goods  were sitting on his passenger seat –  he had no room for anything else I think he was saying!.

‘What d’ you want,’ he then asked me abruptly.   ‘What have you got I.’ asked.
  ‘Bread!’ he said laughing louder than ever.

The ladies didn’t laugh.

‘Jajajaja, hombre,’  I said, ‘no soy totalmente tonta !!’ (Hey pal , I’m not completely stupid!).

‘MUY BIEN,’ shouted the rubia ( the blond), she was almost clapping, her arms full of toilet rolls napkins and bread .

‘You tell him matey,’ she said, or something like that.

I think the blond and the bread man have history.

So love my life Spain.

A painting by Picasso I've never seen called Campesinos ( country folk).

Friday, 16 June 2017

Another new day...

Today started with an 8.30 am blood test, a 9 am wasp bite, 10 am porridge, then developed into a day of long rests, lentil stew, and listening to the BBC's Radio 4 Women’s Hour for the first time in 21 years.

Then quiet time came,  thinking of friends who are ill, especially little Ursula in Canada whose brain tumour has come back for the 3rd time.

The hot day is slowly closing in now.  The cool air comes like a beloved friend. Carmen next door helps me  give the chickens fresh water. I can't bend yet. 4 eggs today. 'How sweet she says, pointing to the two tiny quails. They lay about one egg a month I tell her.

Now, after chocolate crepes (not quite right again, but made right with lots of vegan chocolate spread), before the light goes, some watering needs to be done.

Evening. My Spanish neighbours are siting outside under their beautiful tunnel of vines, talking. Old Louisa  sits on a  broken Van Gogh chair and swats flies, all day.

I took the following photos  in the village of  Notaez,  half an hour  away. My neighbours are carrying on the traditional ways of life here, but without the mules and donkeys .

'Lean on me.'

Hearing this song this afternoon made all the sadness and unfairness that’s happening all over the world, and especially in London - Grenfell Tower - so poignant.

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

Titch Nath Hann

Friday, 28 April 2017

People of the Book. Ancestors.

Brief historical note:

Between the 9th century and the 1400's, Muslims rulers in Spain not only tolerated Jews, but gave them many privileges.  They became known as 'The People of the Book.'  During many centuries great interchange of learning took place especially in Cordoba, Andalucía, until 1492 , when the  Jews were brutally expelled from the country they knew as home, unless they converted to Christianity.

Here, today in usually sunny Andalucia, it's a cold wet morning. So unusual.  The plants, the trees, and the thirsty land effortlessly absorb the colourless  rain.

I would light the fire if I had any kindling or  if I had a rain jacket, I'd go looking for wood.

 On the other side of the river, there are  lots of sticks and bark and hollow bamboo, but the only  bridge is narrow, made just for visiting sheep and goats .


Dare I try it with one crutch, and no handrail?

Question.  How to make the best of today?

 How can I be helpful or encourageing to anybody today, and disabled at the same time ?

And what can I learn without leaving my little house?

EASY answer.   The Internet.

Organic coffee in hand, wrapped up in a purple Peruvian blanket on the magenta sofa, I feel a blog coming on !!!

As Mary Oliver invites us to:

Pay attention, be alert, tell about it.’

I will, I want to , I’m trying!

People of the book, ancestors, yours and mine?

People of the Book. Ist version.

Finished 1st version.Very hard to photgraph.  Poor colour.

2nd version beginning...

Early morning thoughts tap dance as the sky turns different shades of grey. Does the rain silence the nightingales?

10.30. More rain.  Good.
Will my chickens lay eggs in this downpour?

Thinking about - Friendship? Trust?  Patience?

Remembering to expect the best not the worst. Another operation looming close now.

Noticing how my heart closes and freezes when opening certain emails. The mind goes white.  Love this Spanish expression. Like a whiteout! Si señor!

So, how best to harvest the wisdom that surrounds us, despite the state of the world?

Creer es crear -to believe is to grow. Gracias Arbol Rojo.

I want to always believe in goodness.

Belalcazar monastery studio.

 A wonderful John O’Donohue’s poem about mornings comes via  FB.

It comes with the same joy of receiving an old-fashioned letter under the front door.
Remember the pleasure of recognising a friends handwriting?  Thank you Benita.

The poem starts:

‘May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear…’

Golden years in Spain, when Muslims, Jews, and Chrstians lived harmoniously side by side in Andalucia.

I teasure this gift which slips out easily, but I'm shy and bold to share it. !  Much more shy than bold usually.

So love that Irish expression.. she's bold !  
She's frikken bold ye know! 
Ah no.  
Not often. 
Not unless it's necessary !

The new ' Jewish ' drawings boldly communicate  in their own nonverbal way, timeless, title-less stories of  Spanish Jewish history.   Beloved ancestors. 

By way of contrast, these four images below (made between 1998-2000)  arrived long before cancer knocked on my door in 2014.

Skellig Michael Monks 1999

Inuit Elder, Newfoundland 1999.
Aids in orphanges in Bulgaria.

My unmet father.

When cancer moved into my life, the artist in me came out of the cupboard!  Big time!

The journey was  truly mysterious and truly miraculous.  It involved losing the self I used to know, losing my home , losing my identity...

It's like I don't remember  who I used to be,  and I don't know now who I'm becoming. But my soul is completely at home in these drawings,  it rests here, and it recharges.

Is that what I want to say?
Yes I believe it is !

Belalcazar Monastery 2015

Pen and ink drawing, damaged and remade.  2015.

 I’m sharing  the new  pink version of  People of the Book (below), chosing to be bold on this grey wet day. 

 Drawings numbers 2 -6 show how it began two years ago.

The theme of the  drawing is The Conviencia in Spain in the 14th century. In 2015, I spent two months painting at Belalcazar monastery  near Cordoba, exploring this period with a varity of materials.

Splashes of black ink were thrown onto thick white paper driven by intense feelings related to the brutal expulsion of the Jews in 1492.  The People of the Book were robbed of everything they possessed, their homes, their homeland , their work, the lives they had created.

Abandoned for two years, the drawing has now evolved into a pink reincarnation, thanks to the upcoming Pink Exhibition in Velez Benadaulla, Andalucia.

So it's kind of like these three characters  have finally found their new homeland, as I have, literally across the river from where my  Spanish life stared, 21 years ago.

I've found a brand new life, and a new home - with chickens - post chemo!

Two years now in remisssion.

Thank you God/Goddess /All That Is.

And so the day ends with with finding firewod, feeling warm, finishing the drawing, and sharing the story.

And your day?  Did it surprise you?

“Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”
Thank you Robyn.

Impossible to photograph well, the finished drawing, with me in the picture ! LOL!

Exhibition details to follow.