Zentangles – and a piece of advice.

Advice first:

If you have had a tumour removed, and are possibly facing chemotherapy (but it’s not sure) DON’T, for the love of God, and for your own sanity’s sake, read this book:

The descriptions of the chemotherapy that the heroine of the story has to go through will make you shit-scared and very nasty to your husband (who’s only trying to help) however much you tell yourself that the young woman in the story had MUCH worse cancer than you.

And if you’re going to visit someone who has had cancer and faces the (fairly small) possibility of having chemotherapy, don’t lend them this book. It’s not great for the morale. Honestly.

And now, zentangling. (Click on the images to enlarge them)

Comeuse With A Chou said in the comments to my last post: I’ve no idea what zentangling is though (and am now intrigued). Do you have a link to a previous post describing it at all please? 

Well, if I’m honest, I would say zentangling has been around as long as doodling has, but it’s just that some rather canny Americans thought about how it could be used to their advantage, and have rather taken over what one would, in the past, have called doodling. A whole industry has grown out of it.

Rules have been formed, to say what is zentangling, and what isn’t… If I quote from the “official” page tanglepatterns.com

These are the characteristics that define a tangle:
The elemental strokes of a tangle in Zentangle

  1. a tangle is abstract, non-objective (non-representational)
  2. a tangle is non-directional, it has no up or down orientation — there’s no “right side up”
  3. a tangle is usually an overall pattern that grows organically, rather than a single motif. Zentangle is about “the repetition of a stroke, not the repetition of a drawing.“
  4. a tangle is at most 2 or 3 simple strokes — “Usually the number of elemental strokes needed are 3 or less. Often, you only need one or two. By ‘elemental strokes’ we mean a dot, a straight(-ish) line, a curve (like a parenthesis), a reverse curve (like an ‘S’), and an orb or circle.“
  5. a tangle is simple enough to draw without using a pre-printed grid, pencil guidelines or an eraser. “It also has to be done without any underlying pencil structure or preplanned grid.” Inked grids or dots, however, are often part of a tangle.
  6. a tangle never uses rulers, stencils, or any other mechanical construction aids
  7. a tangle is elegant, unique

In my view, this is all a bit of cobblers – it’s making rules where there is no necessity. They say: The Zentangle® Method was designed to remove the thinking, planning, decision-making and other obstacles that often hinder creativity or even prevent people from creating art at all.

But then, by making all these rules about what is/isn’t a zentangle pattern, I feel they are stifling creativity in people all over again!!

So I take no notice of the rules – I should, apparently, be calling my work “Zentangle Inspired Art”, for example, and instead I enjoy creating art, whatever it’s called, and in whatever form. AND (shock!horror!) I use a pencil, a ruler and an eraser to create grids, especially if I’m working on something that’s going to be a gift.

All the examples shown here are mine: the sheep was done for Michelle, from Boulderneigh Farm, I think (she keeps sheep). The cat was one of my very first forays into ZIA, and was designed for a charity Spanish Stray Cats.The chicken was drawn for a blog swap of some sort, for Busy Little Chicken (she’s no longer blogging) and the sunflower was a birthday card for my sister. Finally, the Harry Potter was completed soon after my return from Lines Summer School last year, as several of the teachers were confirmed HP fans. I didn’t send it to anyone, so it’s lying around my study somewhere.

If anyone reading this would like their own personal Zentangle, do let me know in the Comments – I’m always looking for an excuse to start a new one. I’ve done many subjects, including knitting, Celtic crosses, dolphins, fairies… If you want yo see other examples, click on the “tag” title Zentangles and you should find others that I’ve done.

I hope that answers your question, Chomeuse…


Happy New Year

Hello dear ones.

This is just to wish you a Happy and peaceful 2018. I hope that your year is full of blessings and good things, and that even when the bad things happen, you can find the grace and strength to deal with them. On a post on Ship of Fools about the power of prayer, one poster wrote to another

May I pray for you and your wife – for strength, for courage, and that your home would be filled with love, with laughter and joy, with good wine and great friends and family. For relief from pain and fear.

This is what I wish you all, dear ones. Thank you for your support, your messagres, your comments and for your sharing of this journey with me.

May 2018 be good for all of us!

Here’s a photo Mr FD took of me on Christmazs Day. It’s not often I like a photo of me, but I really like this one, so I thought I’d show it to you. Click on it for an even better view!

3 Things – Christmas Version

Here’s a post shamelessly stolen from Confuzzledom who stole it from someone else…

3 Things I Love about Christmas

  • First and foremost, The “reason for the season” – the fact that we are celebrating the birth of God in human form, Emmanuel, God with us.
  • The presents – both the giving and the receiving. Yes, sometimes those gifts I receive show little knowledge about me, or are a tad disappointing…but equally I love trying to choose presents that I think people will like.
  • The food – here in France, things like mince pies are not easy to come by, so those traditional goodies are all the more special when we find them. Huzzah for Le Comptoir Irlandaise, selling boxes of mince pies and jars of mincemeat!

3 Things I Dislike about Christmas

  • There’s very little really, but I suppose the early-onset of Christmas in the shops is something I don’t like. It isn’t so bad here in France, but it is creeping in…Late November was when I saw my first “Shop for Christmas!” sign.
  • On a similar vein, the adverts on TV that encourage everyone to buy those “must-have” items – be they food, electronics, toys, sofas…whatever. And that brand you a failure if you don’t get them.
  • Features in magazines that give ideas for  “stocking fillers” that cost more than I’d dream of paying for a super-duper “main” present! I saw something in one feature that was branded a “stocking filler” and cost over £100! That’s practically my entire Christmas present budget!

3 Favourite Christmas Movies

  • Love Actually – it’s schmaltzy, and a bit over-sweet in places, and the creepy signs-outside-a-newly-married-woman-that-I-fancy scene makes me cringe. But…Alan Rickman! Emma Thompson! Alan Rickman (again!)! Hugh Grant dancing! Alan Rickman! It still makes me cry every time I see it.
  • Elf. Great fun, and fast becoming a tradition in our house
  • The Princess Bride. No, not a Christmas movie, but it needs to be included at every opportunity.

3 Favourite Christmas Treats

  • Mince pies (already mentioned)
  • Lindor balls.
  • Foie gras. Yes, I know it’s not at all ethical, and I shouldn’t enjoy it, or buy it. But I do. I love it! We don’t buy it very often, so it is a treat.

3 Favourite Christmas Traditions

I’m not sure these are “favourite” traditions, but they are traditions:

  • Decorating the house on the second Sunday of Advent. Usually, the same things go in the same place, although I do tweak things occasionally. We don’t have a Christmas Tree, because we can’t trust the Very Bad Cats not to climb it, but I bought a small wooden pine-coney tree this year which I have wrapped in tiny lights which is very acceptable.
  • Our “spread out” Christmas meal. We really only eat one meal on Christmas Day, which is timed thus:

10.30-ish: smoked salmon and champagne

13.00-ish: foie gras and an appropriate wine (Muscat is good)

17.00-ish: main course (this year it’s roti de pintard (guinea fowl), roast potatoes, spiced red cabbage & green beans

19.00 + cheese and dessert. Dessert can be Pannetone pudding, but this year is going to be mince pies and ice cream.

With this, one never feels full. Between courses there are walks, present opening, listening to music, reading, watching TV, preparing the next course, etc.

Actually this year we may be skipping the foie gras part as we’ve been invited to a friends for drinks. We’re taking peach juice and champagne, so we can have bellinis.

  • The Church Carol Service – a slightly informal Nine Lessons & Carols – which is always nice. Mr FD comes to this service as well, which pleases me.

3 Favourite Christmas Songs

This one’s a bit tricky, as there are new ones being added, but if we are on secular songs I think I have to go for…

3 Favourite Christmas Carols

Confuzzledom didn’t include in her list, but this is an important one for me:

  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Hark, the Herald Angels Sing – which I didn’t use to like, but after reading the words carefully, and thinking about them suddenly became one of my favourite carols ever!
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel – which is strictly speaking, an Advent song, but which speaks so eloquently of the world yearning for its saviour.

3 Favourite Christmas Gifts Received

I’m not really sure – I have been lucky enough to receive some beautiful things. Mr FD is great at choosing just the right piece of jewellery – be it earrings, bangles, Pandora beads. When we lived in Milton Keynes there was a jeweller who came to the Christmas Market every year, and Mr FD would choose something from his stand for me! Now, he will often buy me a Pandora bead.

I don’t think I can choose to be honest.

Let’s just say the gift of salvation through the Nativity. That’s fairly good (!!)

3  FOUR Gifts I Want to Give the World

  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s first answer: Empathy. I’m stealing Jana’s answer again, but it’s a good one. If people would just consider other people’s feelings occasionally the world would be a much better place!
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s second answer: An end to climate change… or at least to slow it down to how it would have been if humans hadn’t come along to destroy the planet. I would like there to actually be a planet by the time my (future) children and grandchildren grow up! – except I don’t have children, but I have nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces, Godchildren…so it’s just as important
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s third answer: Laughter. Bad things are always going to happen… and without sorrow we wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate happiness. But I would love to give everybody out there at least one reason to laugh or smile even when things are at their very worst.
  • But, most of all, Peace. Peace in the world, peace in communities, peace in family relationships, peace in one’s heart. Peace brought through the Prince of Peace, who came to call us to take his easy yoke and rest in Him.


And so,with that in mind…

Birds on the Wire

We were at Friend Richard’s for apèros on Tuesday – which was lovely. He provided so many delicious nibbly things that we didn’t need dinner when we got home! We sat outside until gone nine, watching the light fade over the hills, and the bats come out. He lives at the end of a road up in the hills – beyond him is a forest track, and a lot of trees – so the views are lovely.We could see the lights of the village twinkling in the valley, as the stars started to appear above us. All this, good friends and good wine. What more could you ask for?

One topic of conversation was the signs that autumn is on the way, and Friend Alison mentioned how she has noticed the swallows are now starting to gather on the telephone wires, and twitter about whether it’s time to set off for the South.

Whenever I see this sight, I always say (or, at least think) “The birds are writing music again”!

Someone else thinks this too…Or,at least, thought about how birds can make music. Not quite as delicate as sitting on wires, there is a Liverpool artist, who left  large pieces of paper, marked with music staves, on the ground in various parks around the city ,and then waited to collect pigeons to  contribute to her music. From the position of their, um, “droppings” she collaborated with a musician to convert this into a piece of music.

If you link to this article you can hear the music that was finally created.

Hey, listen! They’re playing our tune!

Another piece of music created from birds is one I think I have linked to before. In fact, I much prefer this one to the pigeon poo music. It is made from the positions of the birds on the wire:


One morning while reading a newspaper, Jarbas Agnelli saw a photograph of birds on an electric wire. He cut out the photo and was inspired to make a song using the exact location of the birds as musical notes. He was curious to hear what melody the birds created. He sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the newspaper. It ended up Winner of the YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival.

I’m not at all musical, but here’s a challenge to my musical readers: can you make music with the birds?

Sunshine and shadows

On Thursday it was a bank holiday here in France, because it was Ascension Day – it seems strange to me that in a country so determined to keep religion and laicity so firmly separated in the state, most bank holidays have a religious background. Is it a rather pragmatic (or cynical?) approach of “let’s squeeze some advantage for ourselves out of this”? Whatever it is, there we have it: Thursday was a bank holiday. And – of course! – because it is not worth going back to work for one day after a day off, many people take Friday off as the Pont (the Bridge). In fact many companies actually close, and force people to take it as one of their holiday days.

For me, it meant that my Thursday lessons didn’t happen, and my Friday student took the Pont, so I didn’t work then either. So I’ve already had my weekend – and it’s still only Saturday!

The Thursday market in St Just did take place, however, and the Plant Man was there, so I bought some plants from him.

I spent Thursday afternoon potting them up, and tidying the balcony, which did rather look as though it had been unloved and uncared for for many months. Actually, that’s true. But now, plants are potted, and hanging basket-ed, the litter tray has been hidden behind an upturned orange box, a bit of rearrangement of furniture, and it’s a nice place to sit again.

This shows the balcony last year – with the litter tray in full view! – but it’s similar this year.

I enjoyed breakfast there yesterday and today, sitting in my furry winter dressing gown (because there’s still a slight chill in the air) and watching the sun rise over the hill in front of the house, and creep round the fields until the square is lit up, and the heat starts to rise. It is a joy to watch the swifts race, screaming, around the air above the square, and swooping at high speeds under the eaves to where their babies twitter in anticipation of a beakful of insects. The sound of other birds can be heard too – the cuckoo is still calling, and the blackbirds sing their song in the (fairly) early morning calm.

I have retreated into the study now, and going against all my instincts, have shut the shutters, and am sitting in darkness, my desk illuminated by the glow of the computer and my desk lamp. It seems wrong to shut out the sunshine, but I know that it’s sensible to do so, as it preserves the coolness in the house.

I know that I will eat lunch in the blazing heat of the early afternoon on the balcony, but it will quickly get too hot for me. I bought a cheap deckchair-type thing yesterday, as the other chairs are slightly less comfortable upright metal chairs.

Just like these but in slightly better nick!

I may spend another 10 minutes reclining in my new chair before coming back inside, probably complaining that it’s too hot! When the sun has moved round, and there’s a slight breeze, I may open the shutters again, and the windows too, and let some air into the house. Opening windows is a bit risky though, as Jasper likes to go onto the outside sills to see what he can see. They are deep, but it only takes one uncertain paw and he could fall.

Yesterday evening Friend Cathy came, and it was lovely to take an early evening apèro on the balcony, as by three o’clock the sun has moved behind the house, and it is no longer in direct sunlight. The breeze was warm too, so it was extremely pleasant drinking kir made with white wine and myrtle sirop.

nice, but giving a slightly medicinal flavour to the kir!

After dinner (green salad with walnuts, croutons and comté cheese, kamchatka, and a vanilla & caramel choux bun) we sat outside again with a coffee, to watch the swifts on their evening feeding trips, and to listen out for scops owls. No luck on the owls this evening!

So, how to spend my “extra” weekend? Probably doing some work – I need to prepare for next week’s lessons. And ironing. So much ironing!! I swapped my winter for summer clothes on Monday, and it has taken me two complete Kermode & Mayo podcasts to iron them all! And now the pile is mounting again. Luckily, I’ve got this week’s podcast to listen to, so I can at least enjoy that, even if I don’t enjoy the ironing! I don’t iron quite so many of my clothes in winter (partly because the ubiquitous fleeces don’t need ironing, and partly because I’m happy to wear things twice before washing them) but in summer there always seems to be so much more (because I am less happy wearing things twice after hot days spent “glowing” on the balcony!)

Act N°36 (2017): HABIT

Hello everyone! For the second day in a row I have cancelled lessons, because of my bad back. Very frustrating. It’s certainly improving – I can sit on (and get up from!) the toilet now (is that TMI?!) and I can walk almost upright. I’m becoming aware of other strains caused by not standing straight however, so have to try to get properly upright ASAP.

I’m sure that the main cause – apart from the fact I have crumbling discs – is that I don’t do enough exercise. With dodgy knees too I am limited, but I plan to try to walk more. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day – this fits in nicely with the “Habit” theme from today’s Act as well! I hope that Mr FD will accompany me on some of these walks, plus Friend Cathy when she arrives. I know that I will need to make an effort to carve out a niche of time for them, but it has to be done.

ACT N° 36 :: HABIT

Breaking a habit is a challenge, but creating a positive one can be even harder. The theory says it takes 21 repeat goes at making a habit stick. What generous action could you start turning into a chain of repeats, today?

Just one option. Start today. What generous action from the last 35 days do you want to make a habit? Commit to putting this into practice regularly.

Like someone else mentioned on the FB page, letter writing is a habit I’d like to try to keep up. I started really well this Lent, but it fell by the wayside a little, but if I can find time each weekend to write & send one letter that would be good. I may use this afternoon to write a few more postcards/letters to send.

I have also enjoyed leaving what I call “Ninja Notes” – basically postcards, either from places I’ve been to, or blank ones I’ve decorated myself, with encouraging messages, or Bible verses


I will continue with these two Acts I think.

The other is Forgive.

Like I said, this is definitely an on-going challenge for me, but one that I need to work at, with God’s grace backing me all the way.

I have to say, it’s good to see this as one of the Challenges. As I remember saying last year, 40 Acts isn’t just for Lent, and it has never been just a “Tick. V.G.” list…It needs to be something that changes attitudes, and opinions, and actions. Chocolate Tuesday is great (especially if it continues every Tuesday) but it’s our whole outlook that needs to change.