#200 theoldmortuary ponders

200 days since Pandemic Ponderings shifted without fanfare into theoldmortuary ponders. In much the same way that the actual pandemic has become without fanfare ‘ endemic’.

Always anxious to throw numbers about to illustrate the depth of the situation, news channels have been throwing the figure 15 million around this week as a total for worldwide Covid Deaths. Of course nobody actually knows, since around  40 % of the world do not accurately record either births or deaths. I know this because I’ve been doing a good bit of driving around this week. We all love numbers, ( I actually only love numbers if they are not anywhere near the word mathematics) Numbers give us scale to lifes failures, tedium and success. Round numbers are particularly satisfying and easier to cling to for some reason. My little number of 200 is well within everyone’s imagination as is 201 but 200 just feels more comfortable. But what does 15 million actually look like, and yet 15 million sits more easily in a sentence in a way that 15.33 million does not. In the same way #201 theoldmortuary ponders, will shrink into the shadows tomorrow.

When I haven’t been driving around this week I’ve been doing domestic admin and some fun stuff, very little sketching. In fact just one very quick sketch all week but I can relate it to this blog. I have been trying to sum up the discomfort of the Pandemic years with one image. Something I can expand for an exhibition later in the year. Playing with the truism about numbers that statistics are of no value to the individual. The header picture of this blog is a digitally altered version of my sketch, reimagined to be chaotic. The original sketch is the simple version.

Who could not understand two round figures/ numbers hugging.

P.s You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

#58 theoldmortuary ponders

Evening dog walks are getting a lot more twinkly. I love this completely contemporary festive home. Nothing tacky about this house

This festive property takes a more traditional approach, and diligence to lightbulb placement. At home we have gone for something a little less ostentatious.

Our home window is a work in progress, the next stage is baubles in every shade of garish. Lime green and pink anyone?

#28 theoldmortuary ponders

Waking up on a clear November morning prompted me to share three boats from the Tuesday river trip. The acidic yellow of this one almost makes me want to blink against its brightness. A proper wake up and take notice colour.

Not that we needed anything to wake us up this morning, a pocket call from Hong Kong woke us for a brief conversation about trampolines and needing a wee with our granddaughter. Urgency, and necessity, made the call short and sweet and left us awake enough to enjoy a cup of tea and the sound of a winter dawn chorus. The call was a video call and another boat on the river fairly accurately depicts what our side of the call looked like.

Last night was firework night, when most of Britain ‘celebrates’ the attempt in 1605 to blow up the House of Lords as part of a plan by Catholics to overthrow Protestant James the First and replace him with a Catholic head of state. Normally I love fireworks but post supper ennui and a genuine wish to just quietly sit this one out, won over. The first year in a new house made us slightly hesitant to leave the dogs at home while we headed out to watch fireworks, not knowing how much flashing and banging was happening at home. The answer was loads of banging and no flashes, the dogs were untroubled by any of it. Leaving this calm blog untroubled by pictures of flashy pyrotechnics. Just calm boats snoozing in bright autumnal sunshine.

#25 theoldmortuary ponders

Sharp November sun and calm waters were exceedingly kind to our river cruise yesterday. So much so that there are too many pictures for just one blog. Today I’m going to concentrate on the, almost abstract, waterscapes that presented themselves in the liminal time an hour or so before sunset. They will be a little bit repetitive because all they involve are the sky, a river bank and the river itself.

In these images I am looking out of the back of the boat in the direction of Calstock. The land with autumnal colours of tan, gold and orange is in Devon and is enhanced by the setting sun about an hour before sunset.

This picture is looking directly towards the east, the Devon Bank, just a few minutes later. There is, deliberately, barely a trace of human habitation in these pictures. A slightly longer exposure time enhances the effect of light on water.

Not so long later the Cornish and Devon river banks take a turn in the sun together , everything changes as the river winds itself through the valley to the sea.

Cornwall is the thin slice of  bank that meets  the Devon bank on the horizon. Although they look joined in this image, caused by another twist in the river. The Devon bank identifies itself by being indistinct because there is an example of an Atlantic Woodland growing down to the riverbank at this point.

As the light fades further the Cornish bank takes over the star roll, the river is less winding as it opens out into the Hamoaze and eventually Plymouth Sound. This shot looking towards Saltash gives no hint of the thousands of people who live in the first large town on Cornwall’s border.

Not so very far along is the sunset over Torpoint.

More tales of the riverbanks tomorrow.

Pandemic Pondering #255

A funny thing happened overnight on Thursday.

©Karen Mills

The picture above was taken at sunset. My Thursday evening started well, witnessing these amazing skies, but then took a more arduous turn when I joined in with a Zoom AGM. The meeting took serpiginous routes through regular business and decision making and lasted three hours. Not many important decisions were made and, as can happen at these things, some folk got on some high horses and rode the poor things into the ground. Thankfully I am not a chairman , I fear my finger may have inadvertantly grazed the mute button on more than one occasion.

Safe to say three hours prepped me very well for sleep. Not the restful sort though. I woke myself up reciting a poem, almost word perfect, that I had no idea was still stored in my brain.

Who could guess why such a volatile poem hijacked my sleep . Maybe that dramatic sky or maybe an AGM where raging and raving were bobbing just under the surface.

Do not go gentle into the night.

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning theyDo not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

After all that nocturnal culture it was good to wake up to a calm morning.

©Clare Law

Pandemic Pondering #204

These were harvested from a friend’s garden yesterday. The vibrancy of my harvestings is a reflection of the wonderful weather we’ve had in Cornwall throughout the Pandemic, that, and the green fingers of my friends Ed and Mel who are currently in Turkey, Lotus eating.

Lotus Eating fascinated me as a child, there was a TV programme, broadcast in 1972 , the story evolved around expats living on Crete. I was too young to take in the nuances of the plot, but watching the programme from a small Essex market town, I was enchanted and the glamour of Crete wormed its way into my head and has never left me.


The link above takes you to the Wikipedia page of the TV Series.

Lotus Eating has been a life long escape for me. For a long while the bookish Essex Girl that I was and am only did it with imagination. Then foreign travel became easier, and my diligent reading of books gave me a career that could facilitate actual Lotus eating. Just as my childish imagination had shaped it permanently in my head. Lotus Eating in this Essex woman’s head requires travel to anywhere in Greece or Turkey, hopefully not too touristy . Sunshine and swimming are the two essentials that the location needs to provide, I will bring a mountain of books and painting materials.

The reality of becoming my own version of a Lotus Eater has shaped me. I spend way more time imagining myself as a Lotus Eater, particularly in the brutally wet Cornish winters than I ever do actually basking in Mediterranean sunshine.

Our interior design and storage is influenced.

The whole extended family yearns to be owners of goats.

My love of rust and palimpsest probably started with that TV programme. Both are more vivid in sunshine and better preserved in a Mediterranean climate.

Lotus Eating is not, of course, expats living a hedonistic lifestyle or me reading in the sun. In fact it was only ever a myth. See link below to a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


But the fantasy and holidays in the sun make it real, often enough, for it to be as tangible as reality, and for everything else there is memories.

Pandemic Pondering #136

August 2nd. Prompt word for Drawn to the Valley is Seascape. I loaded up a series of random images that represent seascapes in my image file.

None of them are aspirational. Some, like the one above, are fictional. Some are painted. Humdrum would be the word. Seascapes captured in daily life, none involving exotic locations. All within an hour of home or work. All give me the space to think.

An explanation of August Pandemic Ponderings.

Drake’s Island, Plymouth Sound.

This stretch of water is known as Firestone Bay. In this picture, it is masquerading as a Mediterranean Port. As an artist it eludes me. There are more versions of this on my painter/artist ‘Wall of Shame’ than any other single subject.

The next three are my drone-9 fantasy seascapes. In truth they are the drivers-eye view in a car wash.

The Mewstone,Wembury, a cup of tea.

One of the best places I know to contemplate my life. Many of life’s treasures and tribulations get thinking time here.

A recent painting. Still unsold.

Portwrinkle Beach, Cornwall. I have a friend who creates the most beautiful textile art inspired by this beach. Her amazing talent at harvesting the beauty of this little known beach is inspirational.

The next picture is one that illustrates another friends wisdom. He is a wise and talented photographer. I asked him once which was the camera he would recommend?.

“The one in your hand when the perfect shot appears”

Hannah caught this with her phone, at Widemouth Bay.

Finally another painting. Dungeness.

Seascapes just another excuse to ponder…

What becomes of a careless Seagull? Not exactly Mardi Gras.

Obviously theoldmortuary has some history with the deceased. Today is Mardi Gras in many countries and I was trawling my photo files for masks as you do, and these popped up. I can think of no time when it would be appropriate to share these images of forgotten Seagulls extracted from our chimney, but they do have a feel of Mardi Gras. So today they are getting their moment in the spotlight.

I posed them on decaying flowers and in bright shafts of sunlight to enhance the feel.