Are We Angels

I’ve gone to many concerts in my life, and there are many concerts I wanted to go to but couldn’t for one reason or another, but if there ever has been one concert I really wanted to attend it was one that was held on April 1st. No, it wasn’t in an arena and it didn’t feature a world-famous artist. It was a one-hour concert held in a tiny chapel in an easily missed (if you blink whilst driving by) parish in West Sussex, England, where a local indy artist performed her songs for a few caring friends and neighbors.

As quaint as all this sounds, the cause was an important one. The 11th century stone church of St. Mary’s, Trotton with Chithurst, is in need of a new roof, a cause that local resident Tobiah took to heart. Her benefit concert, called Are We Angels, raised much needed money while providing her angelic music with help from special guest, award winning accordionist, Colette O’Leary.

Of course, I’m a bit biased where Tobiah is concerned because she’s a family friend and will hopefully make an appearance on my forthcoming CD, but even if I didn’t know her personally, I’d love this concert, which perfectly demonstrates her generous heart and gracious, enchanting spirit. Colette, whose talents are new to me, added a bit of tastefully refined fun as well.

Apart from weddings, I doubt this chapel has enjoyed this sort of joyous occasion very much through the centuries. Tobiah and her husband, with help from her friends, who include actress Sarah Miles, lovingly decorated its arches and windows with candles and flower garlands, and it’s easy for me to sense a gentle smile—perhaps even a long, contented sigh—rising from its walls.

I wanted so much to attend this concert, but, alas, time and money just wouldn’t allow it. Happily, it was recorded and has been podcast on the Paradigm’s website. I hope you’ll listen and that the concert’s magic will make you smile as well. Please click the link below to access the podcast. (Photos enlarge when clicked.)

The Are We Angels concert featuring Tobiah, with special guest Colette O’Leary

 

All photos are the property of Tobiah.

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The Art of the Daydream

Daydreams by Aimee Stewart

I’ve always had a rêverie du jour, some daydream that has taken my fancy for a brief period of time. Sometimes it lasts a week, sometimes a few months, sometimes only a few hours. Sometimes this pet fantasy will show itself only at night when I can’t fall asleep. When that happens I use it as a way of lulling myself to sleep. I have my dad to thank for this exercise; he employed it nearly all his life.

Many people may not know the benefits of daydreaming:

  • People who daydream are more likely to have empathy for others.
  • It can lower blood pressure.
  • It promotes and enhances creativity.
  • Like night dreaming, it consolidates learning.
  • Someone who daydreams usually has a better memory.
  • It helps you to relax, manage conflict, maintain relationships, cement your beliefs and values, achieve goals, and relieve boredom.

Years ago I began taking my daydreaming to another level. After having read a number of books on creative visualization, I began putting my favorite daydreams into a manifest form, i.e. writing them down in my journals, drawing them on paper, etc. These have included writing short stories (even my trilogy, Beyond the Bridge, started out as a daydream), architectural blue prints, harvesting images from the internet, and doing internet “window shopping”. When you think of it, what is Pinterest but a giant daydream playpen?

“Daydreaming is looked upon negatively because it represents
‘non-doing’ in a society that emphasizes productivity. We are
under constant pressure to do, achieve, produce, succeed.”

John McGrail

One of my favorite things has always been to design dream houses, first in my mind and then on paper. Now what I do is log into my Knight Frank account and look at all the homes and estates for sale in the areas of the UK I love best. When I find a property I like, I open the brochure to read all about it, and I comb over floor plans. If I really love a property, I save all this to a Real Estate directory on my desktop, and I remodel the floor plans to my heart’s content (frustrated couldabeen architect that I am), imagining how I’d paper, paint and furnish the house. I might spend a few days on this until the novelty wears off, and then I move on. I usually log into that account about once every three months just to see what new listings there are.

My current pet property is The Roffey Park Ballroom in West Sussex, and that’s what it is. The manor house has been cut up into apartments for sale while the separate ballroom is for sale on its own. Of course, none of these properties are anything I could ever afford—that’s the point of daydreaming, after all—but The Ballroom is actually pretty affordable. I mean, there are houses right here in Stillwater for the same price that aren’t nearly as gorgeous and quirky and unique as The Ballroom. If you want to check it out further, here’s the listing.

Roffey Park Ballroom (left)
Roffey Park Ballroom (left)
Roffey Park Drawing Room
Roffey Park Drawing Room

But the point is, I believe daydreaming is a great way to reach beyond my grasp, exercising the brain exactly as the body is exercised when we say, “Just five more crunches” or “Just one more mile.” The best part  is that it comes naturally to us. We daydream for one-third to one-half of our waking hours, although a single daydream lasts only a few minutes. In my daily practice of mindfulness, daydreaming has become as important to me as meditation. In fact, it is a sort of meditation. And if all those New Age gurus are right about our ability to manifest what we want through creative visualization, then you may just one day find me an woman writing her memoirs in The Ballroom.

Pop by. I’ll put the kettle on.

__________

Image Credit: “Daydreams” by Aimee Stewart

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Meeting Distant Relatives

wormhole

Over the past week my travels through history have deposited me on my own doorstep, so to speak, but isn’t that always the way? I’ve traveled through ancient Crete, Greece, Troy, Egypt, and Rome and have somehow found myself in Beaconsfield, a small city just west of London. What a week of travel it’s been. The sites I’ve seen and the people I’ve met! Some of these personages include King Agamemnon, a Minoan potter, Cleopatra, and nearly all of the Augustinian Cæsars. My private worm hole has raced me from the 14th century (B.C.E.) through the 1st century (C.E.); how I landed on the door step of Sir Edmund Waller in the mid-17th century I cannot say, but it was a good place to stop to share a rejuvenating cup of tea with my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle (give or take a great or two), who happily shed some light on his life and times.

“Tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which the head invade,
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.”
Edmund Waller

And Uncle Edmund (his close friends call him Ned, but I dared not) serves up a cracking cuppa. Although he has the reputation of being frugal with himself and his family, I detected none of that in him. In fact, when I was brought into his library he was signing a sizable bank draft to an undisclosed friend. He was deliberate in his movement as well as his words, but never at a loss for a meaningful insight or a witty rejoinder. On a narrow wall between bookcases there hung a portrait of himself when he was only 25, a young man with a quick mind and a pleasant but serious face with beautiful clear blue eyes. Of course, at our meeting he was probably close to 80 and had only a couple more years to live, but I saw no evidence of dulling in any of these features.  Perhaps he was less mercurial, but until I visit him at a younger age I can’t really judge.

If Uncle Edmund spoke truthfully (I later checked with Dr. Samuel Johnson, who corroborated every point so I have no need to doubt him),1687_-_edmond_waller_gkneller__large he was first elected as MP (Member of Parliament) when he was just 18, for Ilchester. Throughout his life he sat as MP for Chipping Wycombe, Amersham, St. Ives, and Hastings. But lest I might think his life was nothing but a series of parliamentary sessions full of men in wigs taking the piss out of each other, he also told me of his exploits during the tenuous and volatile reign of Charles I and  the English Civil War. It was with no small pensiveness on his part that he recounted the day he and two of his fellows were arrested by Parliament for a scheme they conceived in favor of the king. This became known as Waller’s Plot, for which he escaped the execution his co-conspirators suffered because, he said, I was very well-liked by Parliament.” Dr. Johnson told me a slightly different view of this, saying that my uncle was a wealthy man and confessed whatever he had said, heard, thought, or seen, and all that he knew or suspected of others.” When called before the bar he was sentenced to the Tower of London, but, on paying a fine of £10,000, he was released and then banished from the realm. My uncle chose to live in France, where he hosted lavish dinner parties for his fellow royalists. Two years later, at the end of the Civil War, Uncle Edmund’s banishment was revoked and he returned home. Ten years later he was once again elected to Parliament and was quick to boast the words of Burnet, “He was the delight of the House, and though old said the liveliest things of any among them.”

Of course, through all of this political turmoil, Uncle Edmund continued to pursue his real love, poetry, and in his lifetime he published many editions of his work that are still on the shelves today. When I told him of this, and that he is more famous for his poetry than for his politics, he was quite pleased but didn’t seem to be surprised. He always was known for being more than a little vain where his work was concerned.

Throughout his life Edmund Waller fathered 15 children (and built Hall Barn in Beaconsfield in which to house them all), entertained both Charles I and Charles II (both of whom it is said enjoyed laughing at his witty quips), and died in the bosom of his large, happy family when he was 82.

A good, long, healthy, and colorful life, indeed!

hallbarn
Hall Barn, Beaconsfield

“Could we forbear dispute, and practice love,
We should agree as angels do above.”
Edmund Waller

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Morning Thoughts

Bowl of Promise
Bowl of Promise

I installed and started working with a new theme last night, but the farther in I got the more I decided it just wasn’t going to work. So I’m back to this stark, unimaginative theme. It’s actually growing on me, though. I actually like everything about it except the white so today I’ll be messing about to see if I can add some color.

It’s supposed to reach 85° this afternoon, which gives me hope for this weekend when Nettl and I will begin our walking regime for the year ahead. We’re planning our trip to England next spring and we need to get ourselves (and our feet!) in shape. I’m hoping to lose a few pounds and build up my endurance while I’m at it. I’m in not-so-bad shape now, and I’m in good health, but I tire way too easily. If I don’t get a handle on this now I never will. I’ll be 65 by this time next year and time isn’t showing any signs of slowing down or stopping. Most of our time in London will be spent walking to and from various tube stations, around neighborhoods, and through museums. That all adds up when you’re an old fart, especially when you’re prematurely and unnecessarily out of shape due to just plain laziness. Nope, by this time next year I’ll be feeling fit as a fiddle and rearing to go! Right now, it’s just getting the momentum to start. Oof. But that’s what a walking partner is for, no?

So back to my more technical issues… Last year I downloaded Photoshop CS2 from the Adobe website, where they made it available for free. It worked fine, but now, suddenly, I can’t “save as”. When that screen is pulled up and I try to scroll down to save my image as anything but a PSD, the screen flashes and flitters and the screen disappears. I uninstalled and then reinstalled it, but it’s still useless. I’ve read that the people at Adobe made a legal big faux pas by making it available for everyone when what they wanted was to make it available for Photoshop users who had previously bought their product and still had their registration certificates. Legally, they couldn’t pull the freebie, so I suspect they’ve added an update that makes saving impossible. WTF? CS2 is 11 years old for crying out loud. Now I’m without a good images and graphics program. I tried Gimp, but I wasn’t in the mood to learn a new program just to save one little 200 x 100 graphic as a PNG. I may be forced to teach myself; I know a lot of people who swear by Gimp. Photoshop is just too damned expensive, especially when I need a newer version of Microsoft Office. I’m still using 2003 and Windows 10 isn’t very happy about that.

[Aside: You know? I think I’m going to quit breaking my posts up with page jumps. And I think I’ll get rid of the “Continue Reading” feature as well. Yeah. That and adding color to this theme is what I’ll be working on today.]

Time to get moving. It just turned 11:00 and I’m still in my jim-jams. Have a great day, all!

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