Friday, 23 June 2017

You Can Do It

There is something wonderful about being on holiday as so many of my friends are just now. New places, new things to see and above all new faces to see and possibly new people to meet. 

I love being in new places and to stop and watch the world go past  wondering what people are about, where are they going? What is going on in their minds and thoughts?

As I see my friends on Facebook enjoying life because they are on holiday I often ask myself why can we not be such happy carefree people more often?

More than once during the past weeks I have set out for what I thought would be just another walk or cycle only to find myself in exciting places. Challenging me to do what I had not thought I would. Climbing, pot-holing and other such things.

But none as dangerous as The Great Zumbrati.

Zumbrati was a famous tightrope walker. He was challenged by a friend to walk on a tightrope strung across the Niagara Falls.

The day he was due to make his attempt a great number of people had gathered to watch. The day had turned foul with high winds and heavy rain. Common sense told him to call off but he looked at all those gathered and decided to make the attempt. He accomplished the feat in spite of the weather.

He was feeling both relieved and happy when he stepped of the rope to great applause.

Then as so often in life there appears somebody who want you to do even more. On this occasion one of his supporters urged him to make the return trip this time pushing a wheelbarrow.

Zumbrati was of course very reluctant given the terrible conditions. How could he get out of this.

"You can do it," said the supporter, "go on you know you can."

"You really do believe I can do this?" asked Zunbrati.

"Yes definitely you can do it."

"Ok," said Zumbrati, "get in the wheelbarrow.'

Beware what you challenge others to do it just may come back and bite you.

Have a wonderful day and if you are on holiday go find todays challenge.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Knitter.

Back to one of my favourite topics for painting. have painted a few poppies this summer and I am sure this is not my best attempt but I do enjoy trying to capture their delicate beauty.

I am sharing some of the time on this holiday with two very good friends. The lady of this couple has been known from time to time for giving me a hard time. Usually fast and witty comments that put me in my place. My family are amazed that I take it with a smile.  I do so because she is a friend and friends are to be cherished.

When we have been out walking she gets her chores for the day out of the way and settles down to knit for a bit. She usually has a project on the go and a great deal of her knitting is later sold for charity, and for the families who have been bereaved by the death of a newborn child. So a friend with a heart. 

As I watched her knit the other day I remembered the takeoff another lady that had spent a bit of time knitting.

Let me share it.

There was once a man and woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. 

They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. 

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted doilies and a stack of money totalling £6000 . 

He asked her about the contents. 

"When we were to be married," she said, "My grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily." 

The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two precious doilies were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness. 

"Honey," he said, "that explains the doilies, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?" 

"Oh," she said, "that's the money I made from selling the doilies."

I hope I never find a box with doilies and money it might be a salutary lesson. Thank goodness I have not seen my friend knitting doilies. 

I am sure my wife is not hiding a box of doilies I would have found it because it would be a very big box.

Have a wonderful day, no arguments. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

An outstanding Man

This is a painting of the mountain I climbed a few days ago. Thee were no clouds and the little branches of tree at the side were not there either.

No doubt there will be some experts who will tell me I should have left things as nature had them but I had reasons for adding them and rightly or wrongly they are there.

We live in an age of experts often ready to offer advice. I feel lucky that I get good advice from the many friends who offer it. Unlike the farmer in my tale for today.

A shepherd was tending his flock in a field, when a new sports car screeched to a stop on the road nearby in a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in expensive designer clothes and sunglasses, leans out of the window and shouts over to the shepherd, "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have here, can I take one?"
The shepherd looks up slowly up at the young man, then looks at his peaceful flock, and calmly answers, "Sure, why not?"
The young man steps out of his car holding a state-of-the-art palmtop pda, with which he proceeds to connects to a series of websites, first calling up satellite navigation system to pinpoint his location, then keying in the location to generate an ultra-high resolution picture of the field. After emailing the photo to an image processing facility, the processed data is returned, which he then feeds into an online database, and enters the parameters for a report. Within another few seconds a miniature printer in the car produces a full colour report containing several pages of analysis and results. The young man studies the data for a few more seconds and returns to the shepherd.
"You have exactly one-thousand five-hundred and eighty-six sheep, including three rams, and seven-hundred and twenty-two lambs."
"That's right," says the shepherd, mildly impressed. "Well, I guess that means you get to take one of my sheep."

The young man makes his choice and loads the animal onto the back seat of his car, at which the shepherd says, almost as an afterthought, "Hey there, if I can tell you what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?"
The young man, feeling confident, agrees.
"You're a consultant," says the shepherd.
"Wow, that's right," says the young man, taken aback, "How did you guess that?"
"No guessing required," answers the shepherd, "You showed up here even though nobody called you. You took a fee for giving me an answer that already know, to a question I never asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog."
With the help of the internet we are surrounded by experts but often non as knowledgable as the Farmer out Standing in his own field.
Have a marvellous day.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Getting things sorted.

Living in a comparatively confined space means a great deal of coming and going give and take. In the morning I like to get up sharp and get shaved and dressed. Irene likes to get up and get the bed sorted and made. Now both of those events at the same time is just really not feasible. We just get in each others way. 

So I get myself organised and then Irene takes over. I have been jokingly saying that I have a tick box that I have to follow and complete before she can start. SO I go through the motions of ticking off the items on my imaginary spreadsheet.

Iam smiling just thinking about this daily performance. But it reminded me of the team that might have learned a lesson from me. 

The boards of the two fiercely competitive companies decided to organize a rowing match to challenge each other's organisational and sporting abilities. 
The first company was strongly "THEORY X": ruthless, autocratic, zero staff empowerment, etc. 
The second company was more "THEORY Y": a culture of developing people, devolved responsibility and decision-making.
Race day arrived. The Y company's boat appeared from the boat-house first, with its crew: eight rowers and a helmsman (the cox). 
Next followed the X company boat and its crew - eight helmsmen and a single rower.
Not surprisingly the Y company's boat won an easy victory.
The next day the X company board of directors held an inquest with the crew, to review what had been learned from the embarrassing defeat, which might be of benefit to the organization as a whole, and any future re-match.
After a long and wearing meeting the X company board finally came came to their decision.
 They concluded that the rower should be replaced immediately because clearly he had not listened well enough to the instructions he'd been given.
My fellow traveller on this trip and I have a little joke. If we want to get things right then we will only if we do what we are told.

So be both await further instructions. Not worked out yet what teams the instructors are in yet. 
Go on have a laugh and a wonderful day.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A missed opportunity.

I am moving tomorrow and not sure when I will be online again. It is Sunday when I am writing this little blog. The painting above I did as a drawing some time ago but getting better and better with my pencil I thought I would try again in colour this time, after a few changes suggested by the dogs owner I think we have it, I dug in my heels (there is a wee pun there but I will leave it.) about the highlight on the eye we disagreed on that. I think it gives it life.

Sunday, after all those years away from being a minister without ever thinking , when Sunday comes along I find myself whistling or humming hymn tunes. Such a creature of habit. As I write the bells are ringing calling me to church. beside me sits my Buddha mug and a croissant, I suspect the coffee and pastry will win again.

This got me thinking about life and heavy matters, and the old couple.

They had been married for sixty years, and decided to take a rare vacation. 
They were not well-off but were in good health, perhaps because the wife had insisted on a strict diet of healthy foods, no alcohol, no smoking, and lots of gym exercise for most of their lives. 
Sadly their plane crashed, and duly they both entered heaven, where St Peter escorted them through the Pearly Gates. Travelling through beautiful countryside they arrived at a beautiful mansion and were shown inside. 
It was furnished in gold and fine silks, with a splendid kitchen and a sumptuous lounge stocked with wonderful food and drink - there was even a waterfall in the master bathroom hanging beautiful designer clothes in the walk-in wardrobes. They gasped in astonishment when St Peter said, "Welcome to heaven. This will be your home now."
The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "Nothing," Peter replied, "this is your heavenly reward."
The old man looked out of the window and saw a magnificent championship golf course.
"What are the green fees?" he asked suspiciously.
"This is heaven," St Peter replied, "You can play for free whenever you wish."
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them.
Anticipating the old man's next question, St Peter said, "Don't ask, this is heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.
"This is heaven. You can eat and drink as much as you like, and you will never get fat or sick."
"I don't need to go to the gym?" the old man pressed.
"Not unless you want to," St Peter replied.
"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..."
"Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."
The old man glared at his wife, "You and your bloody bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!"
It is all about priorities I guess. I often wonder about what it is I want, a long life or a quality life, they are not always the same. 
Have a wonderful day or two until I manage to get back online.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Life is a learning process. (Every day is a school day)

Before I say another word let me tell you  that the only cat I have ever painted before was a tiger. I thought it was time to have a try. As you can see I have a long long way to go before I will ever be happy with my paintings of cats.
But not to worry life is a learning process.
As one who is travelling a lot at present I meet many people who have much learn about being on a site with many other people, many who are seasoned travellers. 
There are those who come on to site and act as though they are the only ones on the site. They make a noise and generally act as though they own the place.
Then there are those who come on site and are friendly warm and thoughtful. Instantly you take a liking to them and just know that they will be good neighbours as I hope I am to them.
There are those who have much to learn, as I have about painting cats.
This reminded me of the tale of the two travellers.
One day a traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said "Good day" to the traveller, and the traveller nodded to the monk. The traveller then turned to the monk and said "Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?".
"Not at all," replied the monk.
"I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?"
"Tell me," said the monk, "What was your experience of the village in the mountains?"
"Dreadful," replied the traveller, "to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don't take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?"
"I am sorry to tell you," said the monk, "but I think your experience will be much the same there".
The traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.
A while later another traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.
"I'm going to the village in the valley," said the second traveller, "Do you know what it is like?"
"I do," replied the monk "But first tell me - where have you come from?"
"I've come from the village in the mountains."
"And how was that?"
"It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?" he asked again.
"I think you will find it much the same" replied the monk, "Good day to you".
"Good day and thank you," the traveller replied, smiled, and journeyed on.
Life is a learning process and if you learn life will treat you well, if not you only get what you deserve. 

Have a wonderful day

Saturday, 17 June 2017

All in a days work.


Can I begin today by telling you about this little dog. It is a painting of the dog of an artist friend of mine. This lovely little dog dies a few years ago and is still sadly missed. She will assure you it is not photograph but indeed a painting as she watched me making changes suggested by her. This dog meant much to her and I hope my artwork does also.

Ask he what kind of dog it is sadly I have forgotten even though I feel close to the dogs I paint. have never yet painted a ct other than a tiger.

Now back to my thoughts about my day. There are so many varieties of dogs and equally , sadly, so many varieties of biscuits. 

I was in the store looking at them all and wondering what ones were the most tempting. This in turn reminded me of two tales both are very true let me assure you, I know the people involved.

The first is of the lady who worked on a production line in a factory making biscuits. She was being interviewed by television reporters about her work.

She told them she had worked there for 15 years packing biscuits into boxes. She was asked if she did the same Jonb all the time and reply that she had. When asked if she enjoyed it she said she loved the people she met and shared work with.

"Do you not find it boring?" she was asked. "No," she said, "Sometimes they change the biscuits.

We really should never judge others by our own mental judgements.

The other tale is equally true.

A member of my congregation taught in a school in a very deprived area. 

Every morning one of her pupils brought her a rather famous wafer biscuit. The teacher knew they were not cheap and also knew the child did not come from a wealthy background.

She thanked the young boy but one day took him aside and told him to tell his mother that it was so kind but not to go to such expense.

The next day the boy appeared again with the biscuit. The teacher asked him if he had told his mother what she had said. He told her he had but his mother had said not to worry because she worked in the factory that made the biscuits and she brought them out in her knickers.

So you see never jump to judgement. 

Have a great day and enjoy dunking your biscuit.