Ain’t No Use Complainin’

Using Abundies, Mooka, Flux and Hollibaugh.

When I was a child I liked music – still do – so my Mum and Dad joined a music club to buy me classical records to play on my Dansette Major record player. It was my pride and joy. I can remember standing  in the front room (Sitting room/parlour, depending where you come from. The room that was only otherwise used if we had visitors.) conducting the Halle Orchestra and singing along to the Messiah at the top of my voice. I bet our neighbours loved that! One of the early records that I got was Porgy and Bess, which I fell for hook line and sinker. It led me to love blues and soul from a comparatively early age and I’ve never stopped. And one of the songs in Porgy and Bess (“I Ain’t got no Shame”? possibly) has the line “Ain’t no use complainin'” and sometimes it is so right. However badly done to we may feel, there just ain’t no use complainin’.

This comes home to me at present because we’ve just come back from a trip that was less than perfect. All sorts of things were wrong – they wanted us to share rooms when we had booked (and paid for!) separate ones.  We were travelling as a couple and a single lady, so sharing a room really wasn’t on. We’re good friends, but not THAT sort of good friends.) The compensation offered didn’t materialise. The supposedly five star hotel just wasn’t. (It was mainly very nice but it wasn’t five star.)  The Dining Room staff had arguments over our heads as they cleared the tables.  The airport on the way home was a shambles, badly dealt with by the tour reps. The goods we’d ordered on the outward flight were not there for us on our return.  It just went on. It was especially galling because for the  friend we had with us,  this was her main holiday of the year and it should have been just so. So the day after we got home I got a customer satisfaction survey.

You may imagine how long it took to complete it. And my language when the site timed out and I had to do it all again.

But thing is, as my grandson Ben would say, the thing is, my carefully worded and desperately fair critique of the poor service we experienced will have no effect whatsoever. I won’t be compensated but even if it was offered, what compensates for a series of comparatively small, badly dealt with problems? And the smooth apology, if is is forthcoming, will be worded in such a way as to be no apology at all. “I’m sorry that you feel that way, madam…” I mean, they’re not sorry and it’s not how I feel that they should deal with, it’s their poor standards of service. It’s annoying to be ignored but but it’s almost preferable to being insincerely schmoozed.

Icanthis, Sheleaf and Fiore getting ready for some shade and colour.

So let’s do some tangling and get some focus and relaxation. I did too. I’m doing a set of postcards for the latest swap and using them as 100 Days too. (I’d be drawing 18 hours a day if I tried to cover everything separately!) The first one just fell out of my pen. No thought, no plan except to have a border and be vaguely floral. (The brief is to do a bordered card with either a floral theme or a Summer landscape.) You can see it at the top of the page.

And then, as I was part way through drawing out another one, a thought came to me out of the blue. (It doesn’t happen often so I treasure these moments.) ” Clarice Cliff,” a little voice said to me, “try to do a bit of Clarice Cliff.”

And my poor homage to Clarice Cliff in colours way outside my comfort zone.

This is not my usual colour palette but I got out the Sharpies and gave it a go. Now poor old Clarice will be spinning like a top at this travesty, but I got an awful lot of pleasure out of doing this one.

And when we got back from our trip, the floor was covered with post, much of it was what the loved one  calls “hate mail” but is really happy mail from various swaps. So I’m showing you them here because you will understand what a thrill it is to get tiles and zenbuttons and bookmarks and who knows what else from friends across the world.

So much lovely work.

 

ATC from Pam Purk
Bijou on a Tile also from Pam Purk
What a delicate floral tribute this bookmark from Barbara St Pierre
Another bookmark, this from Brenda Perreira. Look at those lovely colours.
Speaking of colour, how about this from my swap buddy, Terri Byrkitt Brown
More from Pam, love sinuous curves on these.
Pam again – she’s been doing some catching up and this is her vintage Winter Ornament.
Zenbuttons Janet Prouty Morrison May 2018 Fabulous shading
And Pam again. Even the envelope is jazzy!

So I’m going to leave it there and wait for the next Diva Challenge.  We’re off down to Wales to see my wonderful Ben soon, so there may be a pause in the drawing for a week or so.  Well, ain’t no use complainin.

Until next time, world, be good-ish.

 

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Own Worst Enemy

Honestly, I think my learning curve has flatlined. I mean, I am excruciatingly well aware of how limited my crafting/artistic skills are. Ideas? Yes, tons of ’em. Ability? Ah, no , not so you’d notice. So why did I not only agree to make the wedding invitations for my son’s up and coming nuptials, but then say “Just show me a picture of what you like and I’ll see what I can do.”?  AND SHE DID! Dammit. Anyway, the style they like is not too challenging so I’ll be getting started as soon as we get back from what my Dad used to call furrin’ parts.

I’ve joined the Zentangle Artist Trading Card Swap on Facebook for the February swap. It requires us to use one of two particular strings – 150 and 39, plus anything heart like in the patterns. I’ve done one or two and am loving this – lots of Helen Williams patterns seem to be making their presence felt, I notice.

 

BREAKING NEWS
At half past five yesterday morning the earth moved for the loved one and me.  Continue reading “Own Worst Enemy”

Pete Townshend was wrong

You may remember the immortal words from the song “My Generation” performed by The Who and written by Pete Townshend – “Hope I die before I get old…” At the time, aged about 14, I was with him all the way. Live hard, die young seemed an admirable and romantic mantra, linking to thoughts on Rimbaud, Keith Moon, and Romeo and Juliet. (Mind you, it didn’t take me long to change my mind about R&J. What a pair of spoilt, disobedient brats. Their parents should have grounded them and sent them off to boarding school until they were old enough to have developed some common sense. They weren’t star crossed, they were just the result of poor parenting.)

People try to put us down...
People try to put us down…

But for a long time, I thought it would be awful to be old. And, to some extent, Pete Townshend and I were right about that, it sometimes is. Until you consider the alternative. Better to burn out than to rust? I’ll take the rust, thanks.

 

However, to mix aphorisms, if a rolling stone gathers no moss, I may be rusty but I won’t be mossy. I’m keeping moving.

 

 

Continue reading “Pete Townshend was wrong”

It’s very nice to go travelling…

And, as the song goes; “It’s oh so nice to come home.”

Depends on the weather in my case, I do so hate leaving the sunshine behind.

But this week we have been travelling in the UK and next month we intend to do some more, in Scotland this time. My cousin who we used to visit when he and his wife lived in France, now lives in Hampshire, back in England, and it’s a part of the country we don’t know too well, so off we went last week to see them.

This has gone from love to hate as I've worked on it and now I'm just a bit, well, it's OK I suppose.
This has gone from love to hate as I’ve worked on it and now I’m just a bit, well, it’s OK I suppose. It’s quite a large piece, about 10 inches across.

 

It was a fairly uneventful drive down there. We missed our way once or twice but this is de rigeur when I’m map reading and we always get there in the end. We arrived to rapturous welcomes and chicken curry and an evening yattering away like nobody’s business. When we get together, oh how we do go on. And on. And on…

On Saturday, we drove down to Arundel Castle, which was new to us and turned out to be a great delight. To start with, we found it easily, which is not always the case. And we found a convenient car park. AND it didn’t cost the proverbial arm and leg just to park.

It couldn’t last, could it? We are people of a certain age and the placement of public lavatories is a matter of some importance to us. There, at the edge of the car park, were public loos, excellent news, you may think. But no. Why? Because they were not gender specific. Now we Brits like to know where we stand/sit. We like Ladies public conveniences and Gentlemen’s public conveniences, not a loo door with a picture of a man AND a woman on it. There was confusion. Were we meant to go in together? Would it only accept heterosexual pairs? What would happen if a person went in alone? Would the door fly open half way through the event and an armed Convenience Supervisor leap in, dragging behind him/her a complete stranger and insisting that we share? (Or two complete strangers, one of each gender, to ensure the right mix, so to speak?) The discussion was heated but we eventually did what a man has to do and then went into the castle.

Even the children's high chairs looked like a Bishop's throne.
Even the children’s high chairs looked like a Bishop’s throne.

The castle is lovely and full of interesting rooms, the first of which was, no, not the lavatories, we’d solved that one, the cafeteria. And very nice it was too, if a little over priced. The staff, however, were efficient and friendly, the tea was hot enough, strong enough and came with an extra pot of hot water – very civilised – and the scones with jam and clotted cream were delish. It’s a fascinating place. I won’t bore you with the history, you can read all about it here… http://www.arundelcastle.org/the-castle/history.html … but it is stuffed with fascinating bits and pieces. There are lots of family portraits and religious artefacts, coats of arms and pieces of armour, and armaments, and a private chapel bigger than many a parish church. We were impressed with all of it but when we came to the library it just took our breath away.

It’s not the number of books, any library would have them; it was the room itself, filled, from floor to ceiling, including the ceiling, in fact,  with the loveliest carved wood panelling  I have ever seen and, in spite of its undoubted magnificence, a room you could sit comfortably in and read. I’ve never envied the aristocracy before but I really wanted that room. Even the loved one, whose strongest term of approval is “Aye, it’s alright…” actually said…

“This is the most beautiful room I have ever been in.”       Wowzer!

I could have made this my home forever. (As long as there was someone to bring me a regular supply of tea, of course.)
No photo could do justice to this. The wood panelling glows and the carving is incrediblw. I could have made this my home forever. (As long as there was someone to bring me a regular supply of tea, of course.)

And then,and if this doesn’t impress the Hell out of you, I don’t know what will, the lady who was supervising the room noticed that my cousin’s wife, who has had a hip replacement and now has a bad knee instead, was walking a little uncomfortably, asked if we had seen the gardens yet, which we hadn’t.

“Well,” she said, “When you go outside, there will be  a member of staff, who will call a buggy to take you down to the garden entrance…”

So we did and there was and he did and we did. Fabulous. Felt a bit cheeky but it was obviously all part of the service. Excellent. And the gardens were spectacular. Not in a huge and dramatic way, but just lovely. As you can see from the pictures I took, dozens of them. 
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What an ace day out. And that was just the first day of our stay. Can’t wait to tell you about the rest of it!

While we were away, because we spent little time lounging and lots of it out and about, I have done very little drawing, apart from the flower ring you see at the top of the page, which has been both a blessing and a curse. I’m not too unhappy with the drawing itself but the colouring went all wrong. Well, not all, but you know what I mean. I was using my new Koi water colour pens, which I love, but am still learning. I wanted pale and subtle but what I got was loud and glaring because I used paper that didn’t encourage blending or fading the colours with water. Dammit. Oh well, lesson learned.

But for now, it’s the Diva Challenge and…

And she wants us to use patterns that are all straight lines. This is good for me, as it makes me concentrate, so I’ve chosen just three patterns: Zin, Rain and a version of Farling. I’ve used Rain before but not the other two, so it’s been a genuine challenge and good fun.  I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not to use colour, so I scanned it both ways – so which do YOU prefer?

 

Before adding colour.
Before adding colour.
With a bit of colour but no shading - couldn't work out where to shade!
With a bit of colour but no shading – couldn’t work out where to shade!

 

 

I forgot,

 

AND  . . .

I did a birthday card for my son in law. I had all sorts of ideas to include his hobbies and interests and then I thought, nope, he can have some Zentangle, why not? He’s tried it himself in the past and I’m hoping to recruit him to the cause sooner or later. Maybe this will set him going again – or put him off for life!

You'll see this week's Diva Challenge tile included on the card and I kept the theme of lines and angles, with a flash of red here and there. Hope he likes it.
You’ll see this week’s Diva Challenge tile included on the card and I kept the theme of lines and angles, with a flash of red here and there. Hope he likes it.

Minotaur Island

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That’s Crete, of course, and one of my favourite ever places. (Alright, yes, there’s Rhodes and Skiathos and various areas in France and the Peak District in the UK and…..) Anyway, one of my favourites, as I said. Although, coming from the murk of the north of England, it’s the sunshine that attracts in the first place, the island itself has a real magic. It’s quite big, in comparison to the other Greek islands and there’s a wide range of scenery, from cliffs and mountains to beaches and bays; from vineyards and farms to night clubs and busy modern cities.

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The loved one and friend with the pool all to themselves. Bliss.

We were there from May 2nd with my cousin and her husband plus a couple of friends we met there two years ago. It’s one of those things, when you recommend a place, you hope and pray that it’s as good as you remembered and that the others will like it too. And it’s the same way with friends – we knew WE would get on fine with Ann and Kev (Cousin and hubby) and ditto Gareth and Sonia (Friends from previous holiday) but would they get on with each other?  Well, we needn’t have worried. We spent the whole week laughing, teasing and generally enjoying each others’ company. Continue reading “Minotaur Island”

Spring is sprung. Possibly.

I admit it, I didn't take this picture but it is exactly what it looked like on the day, deer and all.
I admit it, I didn’t take this picture but it is exactly what it looked like on the day, deer and all.
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The river Ben didn’t fall in.

Having had a glorious Easter break, with sunshine and everything, I’m feeling a bit shell shocked. Generally, Easter in the UK is a bit chill and Bank Holidays are notorious for attracting bad weather, so to have been able to play out on the garden with Ben and go for walks in Derbyshire has been a real treat. Ben managed to avoid falling in the river and was rewarded with an ice cream that dwarfed him, leaving him so sticky that falling in the river started to look like a good option. The pleasure of his visit was not unalloyed, as, on the first morning, he decided to climb into bed with Grandad at 4.30 a.m. The first thing Grandad was aware of was when Ben sneezed violently onto his (Grandad’s) neck and then, while he (Grandad) was still fighting off cardiac arrest, wriggled his frozen toes into Grandad’s lower back.  I told the loved one I would willingly have swapped places but I don’t think he was convinced.

Continue reading “Spring is sprung. Possibly.”

Oh Bliss! Oh Ecstasy! Oh poop poop!

After adding patterns and a little shading. Less than perfect but I did it on the plane. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)
After adding patterns and a little shading. Less than perfect but I did it on the plane. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
This one is coloured using a dauber and ink pad and ready to add patterns.
This one is coloured using a dauber and ink pad and ready to add patterns.

For those of you who haven’t read “Wind in the Willows”, these are the words of Toad on first seeing a motor car and becoming enamoured of cars and sports cars in particular. (The poop poop bit is in reference to the car horn, I feel I should add, for those of you wondering if I am of a scatological turn of mind.)  My college friend Sue and I used to use it on sighting a particularly attractive member of the opposite sex. (It’s been a while…)

Anyway, Why, I hear you ask, why, Maggibee are you in such raptures? Well I’ll tell you. (Was there any doubt?) I received a parcel today from an organisation called Woodware, who make excellent acrylic stamps for cardmaking and journalling and the like. That’s not all they sell by a long way but it’s what I knew them for and I have to say their stamps are excellent. (They are wholesalers, so you don’t buy direct from them but loads of places stock their stuff.) BUT, do you remember I met up with a “blogfriend” from The USA a few weeks ago?  Lynell Harlow, Well, she is/was the owner of Dreamweaver Stencils, who have just sold out to Woodware and, as a result of that meeting and some exceptionally generous behaviour on her part and  theirs, I am now the proud possessor of a set of Dreamweaver stencils.

Again, just daubed with lilac ink and ready to fill in.
Again, just daubed with lilac ink and ready to fill in. I’ve deliberately made the inner paler to see what the effect will be.
Trying for white on black. I don't know if this will work because the white ink I've used here is pearly and my pens might not write on it. We'll see.
Trying for white on black. I don’t know if this will work because the white ink I’ve used here is pearly and my pens might not write on it. We’ll see.

I am, therefore, giddy as a loon and, in spite of the fact that I’m supposed to be packing to go away tomorrow to Tenerife, I’m in my craftroom instead, stencilling away like nobody’s business. I’ve used either stamp pads or Promarker pens on the stencils to create backgrounds and/or strings for tangling and I’m taking them with me to sit and play in the sun. You can see one of them at the top of the page  in a sort of Before And After arrangement, and another two a little lower down, just coloured and ready for patterns. There are more but I haven’t had time to use them yet.

Oh bliss! Oh ecstasy! Oh poop poop!

LATER

So now we’re at the airport watching the news about a plane crash over France. I’m torn between sympathy for the people who died and their poor families and a strong desire to avoid flying at all costs. There’s a bank of cloud drifting across the runway as I write and it all looks a bit Stephen King. Will feel a lot happier when we get to Tenerife. It’s a five hour flight so I might do some tangling on the plane. However, having been up since 03.15, I may just sleep. Who knows?

I brought my circle maker too in the hope of doing a Zendala or two. Doesn’t get much more exciting than that, does it?

 

This gives a lovely soft tone to the white "shading", whereas the pens are distinct and better for lines and patterns.
This gives a lovely soft tone to the white “shading”, whereas the pens are distinct and better for lines and patterns.

 

But it does. I was looking on Lynell’s blog (Dream it Up) and there was a piece on her blog drawn by me! It was drawn using mainly the pattern Athizi, which I found weirdly versatile, and I’d given it to her when we met. On the blog was a request for a reminder of what I had used to make it. It looked way better than I remembered but that’s almost certainly because I saw something similar on Youtube or Pinterest and “borrowed” the idea! It was done with Pigma Micron pen, white water colour pencil, a Mitsubishi white pen, sanguine pencil and a Zenstone from the Zentangle people.

 

I like this one better, i think.
I like this one better, i think.
This one is coloured with Promarkers, ready to tangle.
This one is coloured with Promarkers, ready to tangle.

I tried another way with the owl stencil, using Promarker pens to set up background colour and then patterns using Pigma Microns (01 and 005) then finished it off with Gelly Roll pens and water colour pencils. again, here are Before and After pictures. And, as a result of being away and the vagaries of foreign wifi, I haven’t done the Diva Challenge this week. I saw it and I will do it because it’s to use a pattern I want to try, but I’m waiting until next Monday and I’ll catch up then. This week’s Challenge, is to use the “official ” tangle, Flux and, as I was already doing another of the Dreamweaver owls this week, I’m using both versions of Flux for his feathers.

LATER STILL

Well, we’re home, having spent ten days in the sun, walking, well, let’s be truthful; strolling, for miles along the sea front from Costa Adeje to La Caleta and back; swimming in the sea – not as warm as it looked – and dipping in and out of the pool; eating out every day and drinking too much of the local beverages and , of course, doing a bit of Zentangle.

Helix angle and circle tool On the five hour flight out there, I did a sort of zendala, although it’s ended up a bit wobbly in places. I used a Helix angle and circle maker to do the circles – they don’t approve of sharp objects at airport security, so it’s an absolute godsend. An American friend from one of the FB sites sent it to me because, although it’s a British company, you can’t buy them in the U.K. There’s logic for you. So, thanks again, Rae McCurdy and this is how it’s used. I’ll get better, I promise!

The usual pens, 5HB pencil and some red water colour pencil.
The usual pens, 5HB pencil and some red water colour pencil.

 

 

 

I also used one of the stencils from Dreamweaver to do a front for a birthday card and I rather like the finished product.

Using one of the stencils from Dreamweaver. I daubed this with three pale silver, gold and bronze stamp pads, then patterned it with a white Mitsubishi pen.
Using one of the stencils from Dreamweaver. I daubed this with three pale silver, gold and bronze stamp pads, then patterned it with a white Mitsubishi pen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the last thing I did while we were away was a stylised picture of the island of La Gomera, across the bay from our hotel. I don’t suppose it’s recognisable but I quite like the finished product.

Lots of patterns here on top od Promarkers for the background and then a range of finer pens for the details. The dots on the frame are sparkly but it doesn't show very well.
Lots of patterns here on top of Promarkers for the background and then a range of finer pens for the details. The dots on the frame are sparkly but it doesn’t show very well.

So, soon it will be Diva Day and then I’ll post for two weeks. My daughter and grandson are coming up for a few days and things might be a bit busy, so I’m hoping the challenge is not too challenging this week, concentration will be at a premium!

DC 212 fanzSo the diva challenge is here and she has asked us to use Fanz as a focus pattern this week. It’s a simple but very adaptable pattern, so I decided to have lots of little Fanz bursting out of a big one. It seems to work OK. While I was doing it, Ben came in and offered to help and, since I was drinking tea at the time (When am I not?) he drew me a tangled teapot. So here it is.Ben's Teapot

Bye world, see you next week…