#206 theoldmortuary ponders.

Currently this woodpile is a woodpile gold standard. I love a good woodpile, they endlessly fascinate me. I pass this one most days and am in awe of its perfection. I’ve only ever owned one, woodpile suitable, house and I never managed anything quite as beautiful as this. My woodpile lived under a large open porch that ran along the front of the house, there was a bench next to the woodpile. On rainy days it was possible to sit under the porch and remain dry while enjoying the woody fragrances that the damp atmosphere enhanced. In the early days of on-line shopping a van delivery person thought the ideal hidden spot would be behind the woodpile, without any regard for the several tons of wood that would need to be moved to retrieve the item. They had no proof that they had delivered the item and ultimately the shoes were replaced. No one would move that much wood without the certainty of a prize. We never burnt our way to the bottom of the pile and so when the house was sold so were a pair of original 2002 crocs, if they ever were actually delivered. One day someone will find them, they are probably, after 20 years, a collectors item.

Tales from the woodpile.

#182 theoldmortuary ponders

A mobile phone and notebook made me unusually productive yesterday. Not exactly as busy as a bee but close. Apart from the times when I was walking the dogs I was hanging onto a phone line for the passport office. The notebook had significant dates in, that I knew I would need to quote and the phone was on loudspeaker so everyone in hearing distance was subjected to the truly terrible ‘on-hold’ music and the constant message about busy operators and suggestions that I use the on line system.

I will spare you my rage in full, a synopsis is the kinder option.

I have spent almost ten hours in the last two weeks on the phone to the passport office. Most of it listening to their dreadful music, not dreadful because the composer had a bad day but dreadful because the recording is reproduced so badly. The music is constantly interrupted by an announcer who speaks so gently and patronisingly that I wished harm on her.

Nearly two and a half hours on hold, in total, yesterday got most of the days dull jobs done.

Plenty of yardening which is where the illustrations come from.

All the washing done, no need for you to be bored by that. I even managed a small water colour doodle for my art course.

The thing I didn’t achieve was a resolution to the Passport situation. I still dont have one and it seems not even to be on the horizon. The Passport Office, in line with our Conservative Government Guidelines, lie. It seems that after surviving the aural hell that is their phone line queueing system, their overworked operators will tell you any old, plausible guff to get you off the line so they can lie to next person and achieve their lie goals for the day.

I have now entered the complaint system, lets see where that takes me.

Not abroad, that much is certain.

#169 theoldmortuary ponders

Every picture tells a story. This picture however tells two stories, one a simple story of making and the other, the story of the consequence.

For some time I have tried to be more sustainable in my painting and creating world. I no longer buy new canvasses to paint on but rely on finding donated canvasses at charity shops. Where possible I buy my paints from independent manufacturers. Similarly I like to get all my fabric and haberdashery requirements from our local Scrap Store where all sorts of things are directed away from landfill and sold at very very low prices for upcycling or repurposing projects.

The picture above is of some rustic bunting that I have wanted to make for a little while. This is the second attempt. Last week I picked up some fabric from the Scrap store, it appeared to have a plastic backing which seemed a good idea for bunting.  This is the second story.

I always wash anything I get from the scrap store, where possible. A plastic backing did not seem a reason not to wash the fabric.

Towards the end of the wash cycle the washing machine had an error code that suggested the washing machine was failing to drain.  Youtube told me how to clear the problem. Nothing I did, though, could undo the machines filter. More YouTubing took me to places way beyond my strength or competency so I rang a local washing machine repair company who gave me an appointment in a few days time. Once more on YouTube I learned how to drain the water out of the machine and open the door to get the fabric out. In horror I discovered that the plastic backing of my recycled fabric had in fact been a complex and glossy paper backing which was now a glorious gloop of papier maché in the bottom of my washing machine. I feared the worst and felt quite sweaty about the cost implications of washing exceedingly beautiful but cheap fabric in the best washing machine German engineering can provide.

Complete honesty was the only way to approach the engineer and his apprentice on their arrival. They seemed a little surprised but not particularly concerned. Twenty minutes later they emerged with a tiny quantity of papier maché and a bent and tarnished twenty pence piece. The machine was well on its way through a normal cycle.

German engineering can cope with papier mache but not, it seems with a twenty pence coin trapped in the filter.

Finding the twenty pence piece cost me £45. I still have to wash all those pieces of fabric to remove the thousands of particles of paper off them. This time by hand, I have no wish to see error E18 again even if the machine has proved it can cope. My bunting is made with unwashed fabric, another hand washing project for later in the week.

I’ve saved nearly three kilogrammes of fabric from landfill in a week. This does not feel as virtuous as it should! So far even the twenty pence is out to vex me. Every parking machine, so far has rejected it, and handing it over in a shop will just look as if I am trying to pass over an archaeological find rather than legal tender.

#167 theoldmortuary ponders

Some days should be celebrated for their ‘ normalness’. Lola has returned to her pre-surgery, happy, self so the dog world, in our house, has returned to near normal. In the outside world, we had a day that was really very similar to pre-pandemic life. We said goodbye to some friends heading off for some prolonged travelling and I went to an in-person bookclub where 90% of the members attended with no-one away with Covid. The only person who couldn’t attend couldn’t come because she was too busy elsewhere. These may be really mundane observations on the activities of a day but the fact that they are so normal is spectacularly exciting. Near normal days have been almost impossible for more than two years. Normal is really rather lovely. A normal day ended with a beautiful, but normal for here, sunset. Pretty much a perfect day.

#146 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunday already in what has been an unusual week. We should be just returning from a city break in Spain. However our new passports failed to arrive, we had both planned for this unlikely event by making, but not discussing, Plan B’s. Mine was to take a city break in Britain, Hannahs was to decorate the spare bedroom . Hannahs Plan B won the vote which made for an unusual week because I was able to attend two meetings that I had sent my apologies for.

The book club meeting had the potential to be a little awkward as I had not read the book as I had not anticipated being there. Fate however was very kind to me. As I arrived people were unusually standing outside the venue and looked very pleased to see me. Mistakenly they all thought I had the key. Since I knew I shouldn’t be there, I felt smugly confident that I was not the key holder. I joined them outside and we all looked expectantly at the next arrival who surely must have the key. Once we were all there, it was plain the key was missing in action. Book Club was officially cancelled. What are the chances of that! I didnt have to admit to not having read the book. The key was later found in someone’s book bag.

Meanwhile I was hatching a virus, not something you want to take on a holiday. More Novid than Covid I could still go about daily life and we sourced stuff for the redecoration of the spare room. Largely trying to re-use, re-purpose or recycle. We did one trip to Ikea for some hanging rails and one trip to the local Scrap store for fabrics. We will finish the room later today so pictures tomorrow.

My other meeting was a gathering of artists to natter, drink coffee and plan for future exhibitions. Artists were encouraged to take a small piece of work with us to do whilst nattering.

For a while I am sticking with the meditative mark making and colour mixing that is being taught on the course I am doing. Even in the midst of great quality conversations I found it was quite easy to ‘doodle’ with colour and shapes. The top picture is the whole thing. I decided to depict the meeting in colour. The central motif was my coffee cup full of gorgeous multi-flavoured black coffee.

Around the coffee cup I doodled the twelve attending people. 11 artists and one art lover. The art lover, a lovely man called Nick was depicted slightly differently from the artists , I just used two colours for his part of the picture.

Everyone else got more shades of colour and were a little more entwined depicting exchanging of ideas. Some people get larger segments than others to denote that in any meeting you cant always talk equally to everyone.

With just a little digital tweaking I have turned the whole thing into something quite different. I have superimposed the black and white image over the coloured version. I always make a digital black and white copy of any picture, it helps me assess colour balance and tonal changes before the work is finished. I can’t quite work out if this image expresses the energy of the meeting, or, indeed, the exhausting elements of this weeks Novid *virus.

* Novid , a nasty old virus that consistently tests negative for Covid-19

An unplanned week, nearly over.

#145 theoldmortuary ponders

This time last year our precious Cornish garden plants had been in their containers,for moving house, for nearly six months. Ready for a pre Christmas move in 2020. The transaction was long, with many pitfalls along the way. Right now they have all spent 18 months in containers despite many of them not being considered suitable for container growth, we have only had one casualty. The house sale contract was only actually completed late in September 2021, not a time when we could do too much about them. Another whole winter in containers has done them no harm and this weeks brief sunshine has brought out some blooms from under planted bulbs.

This Buddha got a major head injury in the move but has grown, over winter a fine wig of succulents to cover up her caved-in temporal and parietal bones.

Two pumpkins from October have also survived the winter and are bringing colour to our yard. Despite all the recent storms, we are due another one today, Spring might well be just around the corner.

#132 theoldmortuary ponders

Bobbers on a stormy day. Looking for Spearmint the seal. This painting was a piece of weekend homework.


It was a quick sketch but completed with mindful, meditative colour mixing and intuitive painting. As it happens it is also predictive. The weather forecast for tomorrow is predicted to be very stormy. No swimming or seal spotting for us. Storm Eunice is about to batter the southwest coast. This morning, though, all is bright and beautiful.

#128 theoldmortuary ponders

100 shades of greige. Serendipity took me to a strange place recently. Strange for no other reason than greige is the opposite of my actual life while I am doing a colour course. A local department store has refurbished its cafe during lock down and come up with a colour scheme devoid of any colour.

With a nod to the city’s nautical history, boats are the theme of the pictures on the wall. All colour sucked out of them by a digital photography programme.

Not to be outdone the wallpaper celebrates a neutral palate.

Not that I helped myself any, ordering a pot of tea was hardly going to set my colour world alight.

Is neutral really a good look for a post pandemic world.?

Thankfully this restaurant does a fine breakfast and we populated our time there with colourful memories. Too much neutral made my eyes hurt…

#121 theoldmortuary ponders

This is not the way to start a Sunday! I ‘Wordle’ any time after midnight, but this morning I did it with the best cup of tea of the week. Sunday morning tea has a special quality of relaxation. Ten wrong letters in two rows ruined any element of relaxedness! There is also a storm blowing in which is sure to affect the relaxedness of my imminent dog walk with professional coffee and croissant. I am not a huge fan of drinking anything through a lid. My lip anatomy or maybe my technique is faulty but drinking take away drinks through the lid always leads to a bit of dribble on my chin or my clothes.

Normally I just pop the lid off and enjoy my drink just like any normal human. The last time I did that, in a storm, the wind whipped into my cup. Swirled the silky froth of my flat white around a bit and then flung it all over my face, up my nose and into my eyes. It was hard to style out a look that suggested that I had come out with a face pack on. After a rocky start maybe I should listen to my omens and only drink coffee indoors!