Thursday, 24 December 2015

Please Take Note

Please Take Note

John Knox House Edinburgh.

The painting on todays blog is a pen and ink drawing of John Knox House in the Royal Mile Edinburgh. I went through a spell of doing such pen and ink drawings while having to spend a great deal of time sitting about after having my new ankle fitted.

Such painting makes you very aware of detail. This awareness often leads me to notice things I might not always pay attention to. One such things is what is written on items that I have purchased. The instructions for use are so often very amusing.

Yesterday I took delivery of a little clip on lens for use with my phone. The instructions said fit to phone before use. Rather obvious I would have thought.

Here are some others.

1.  On a Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping.
                 ( and that's the just the  time I would want to work on my hair).

2.  On a bag of Fritos: ..You could be a winner! No purchase necessary.Details inside.
                (the shoplifter special)? 

3.  On a bar of  soap: "Directions: Use like regular soap."
                (and that would be how???....)  

4.  On some  frozen dinners: "Serving suggestion: Defrost."
                 (but, it's "just" a suggestion). 

5.  On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom): "Do not turn upside down."
                 (well...duh, a bit late, huh)! 
6.  On Sunsbury's peanuts: "Warning: contains nuts."
                 (talk about a news flash) 

7.  On a Swedish chainsaw:"Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands." 
                 (..was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)

I could go on there are so many more but I will leave you to have a look for yourself. Good searching.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Just a Little Information Please.

Just a Little Information Please.

Can I Tempt You.

The painting was one of my early paintings of my own hand. A little play on an idea. There never was an apple mentioned in the story this painting points back to. How often we do this put our own thoughts into a story. Reinterpret to suit our own ends.

I was in hospital at this time two years ago. Had a serious infection in the wound from an ankle replacement operation. How I just wished that when I asked for information I had been just told the real story and not some half story.

It reminded me of a funny little story that I am told had a fair bit of truth in it.

The Grandmother and the Hospital.

A sweet grandmother telephoned Kirkcaldy Hospital.  She timidly asked, "Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?" 

The operator said, "I'll be glad to help, Dear.  What's the name and ward number?" 

The grandmother in her weak tremulous voice said, "Holly Bell, ward  3.

The Operator replied, "Let me check.  Oh, good news.  Her record says that Holly is doing very well.  Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back as normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged Tuesday."

 The Grandmother said, "Thank you.  That's wonderful!  I was so worried!  God bless you for the good news."

 The operator replied, "You're more than welcome.  Is Holly your daughter?"

 The Grandmother said, "No, I'm Holly Bell  in ward 3.   Nobody hear tells me anything."

A bit of straight talking never does any harm. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Lone Ranger and Tonto

The Lone Ranger and Tonto

Stirling Castle

It is so easy to complicate life. Too easy to see shadows that do not exist to  be too clever  for our own good.  Some times the simple way is the best way. Sometimes it is best just to take things as they are.

Let me explain in a simple little story. I hope this does both. Bring a little smile and also give a little thought.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep. 

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemosabe, look towards sky, what you see?"

The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars." 

"What that tell you?" asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, 

"Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. 

Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.

Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning.

Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

What's it tell you, Tonto?"

“You dumber than buffalo chip.   Someone stole the tent."

As I say sometimes the answer is right there before your Eyes.

The painting isa pen and ink of the back of Stirling Castle. This place is close to my heart because of some of the memories it evokes, but that is another story.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Congratulations To All Born Between 1930 and Early 1980

Congratulations To All Born Between 1930 and Early 1980

Dunfermline Abbey From the Glen.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL BORN IN 1930's, 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's and Early 80's !!! 

First, you survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a tin, and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, your baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints. You had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when you rode your bikes, you had no helmets, not to mention, the risks you took hitchhiking .. As children, you would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.Riding in the back of a van - loose - was always great fun. You drank water from the garden hosepipe and NOT from a bottle. You shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. 

You ate cakes, white bread and real butter and drank lemonade with sugar in it, but you weren't overweight because...... YOU WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!! You would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach you all day. And you were OK. You would spend hours building your go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out you forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, you learned to solve the problem. 

You did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no text messaging, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........YOU HAD FRIENDS and you went outside and found them! 

You fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents you played with worms(well most boys did) and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. You made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although you were told it would happen, you did not poke out any eyes. You rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them! 

Local teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! The idea of a parent bailing you out if you broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! If you went home from school and told your parents you got the belt , you got another whack.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. You had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and you learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL! And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!  Any truth in it? You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good. And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

The small watercolour is a place where I had hours of fun with my friends. if my parent had known some of the things we did we would have been in big trouble. LOL.

Friday, 18 December 2015

The Death Of Bankei

The Death of Bankie

An Atmospheric Abstract.

Overheard a small part of a conversation yesterday as I awaited to get on my bus. I heard one person say to another the well known phrase, "You must never speak ill of the dead."
My first reaction was to agree totally but as I boarded the bus I found myself thinking about that again. Why should we recreate the history of a person? Should we not speak honestly of a person alive or dead?
This reminded me of the story of the person who had died.
The Death Of Bankei.

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master’s temple told a friend:
“Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.
“In all my experience, however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.”
How I hope that people speak fondly of me, now or even after my passing.
Sorry if this sounds a bit sad, especially at this time of the year. On a very happy note! Yesterday I met with my friends. While we were sitting talking somebody came over to speak with me. He had come just to meet me and to purchase one of my paintings that was hanging in the place of meeting. What a pleasant surprise. he told me he and his wife fell in love with the painting on first sight. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Dog That Chases His Tail.

The Dog That Chased its Tail.

A Thoughtful Dog.

 I do not know what I achieved yesterday, if anything. It was one of those days where I seemed to spend a lot of time doing things but at the end of the day There was very little to show for all my doing. I in fact spent all day chasing my tail and getting nowhere. 
There is a very short little story about a dog that did the same.

The Dog That Chased his Tail

Once there was a puppy chasing its tail. It just chased and chased it.
An older wiser dog came along and watched this puppy  for a long time. Then he asked the puppy, “Puppy, why do you chase your tail?”
The puppy replied, “Because I will find happiness in my tail.”
The old dog watched again for a while before saying, “I, too, used to chase my tail because I thought I would find happiness there. But I realized that I didn’t need to chase my tail for wherever I went it seemed to follow.”
And the old dog got up and walked away with his tail whishing behind.

Maybe sometimes the pursuit of happiness is something that we need to stop doing and in the process find,  Happiness

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Whats it All About Alfie

Whats it All About Alfie


Today I am posting my most recent painting of a dog. This dog has a name, it is called Alfie. Somebody told me I should call the painting whats it all about Alfie? The song made famous by Cilla Black. The dog does have a kind of cheeky look about him.

As I was painting Alfie I remembered this little story. I first heard this story when Adam faith had a song out at Christmas about a dog in a shop window. A lonely pup in a Christmas shop.

Here is the story.

A store had a sign in the window that read "Puppies For Sale."

Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared in the store asking. "How much are the puppies?" 

The store owner replied, "Anywhere from £20 to £40."

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have £3," he said. "Can I please look at them?"

The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"

The store owner explained that the vet had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. "That is the puppy that I want to buy." The store owner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you."

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you £3 now, and 50 pence a week until I have him paid for."

The store owner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies." To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!"

We ALL need someone who Understands! So it was agreed: the little boy took the little puppy home.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

It is the Little Things That Matter.

The Albert Tavern.

It is often amazing what it is that brings joy to the human heart. The sale of a painting for me is not always the thing that brings the joy, it is the knowledge that somebody wants to look at your art and get pleasure from it.

Yesterday I saw one of my recent artworks hanging in the local tavern in the village. I felt my heart warm knowing that it would be there for sometime and that many visitors to the village would see it. They might not know who painted it but they would see it and maybe some might even like it.

There is a story worthy of some thought.
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they travelled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the walls of their family estate. The widowed elderly man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed their nation, and the young man left to serve his country.

After only a few short weeks, the elderly man received a telegram that his beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season-a season that he and his son had so looked forward to in the past-would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. 

As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. He opened the door and was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand.

The soldier introduced himself to the old man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you." As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man's son had told every one of his-and his father's-love of fine art work. "I'm also an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man began to unwrap the package, paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son.

Though the world would never consider it a work of genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the portrait above the fireplace. 

A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of paintings. And then the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man learned that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.

As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief, as he realized that, although his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on because of those he had touched.

The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the priceless pieces for which museums around the world clamoured. He told his neighbours it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation, since, with the old man's passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the way he had received his greatest gift.

The day finally arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings.

Dreams could be fulfilled this day; greatness could be achieved as some could say," I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum list... It was the painting of the old man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent.

"Who will open the bidding with £100?" he asked. Moments passed as no one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and get on to the good ones." More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one-first," replied the auctioneer. "Now who will take the son?" 

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. "Will you take £10 for the painting? That's all I have. "Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer.

After more silence he said, "Going once, going twice...Gone!" The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone shouted; "Now we can get on with it and bid on these treasures!"

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Then someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a portrait of some old man's son! What about all of the other paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art work here.

We demand an explanation!"

The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all."

I hope I can give some pleasure to others in a simple way. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Love of a Giver.

 My Christmas Card to You 

I was looking at a Facebook page where people were remembering Christmas time during there youth. How simple things were in those days and the contrast of desires of people between then and now. I am not going to make any contrast here  I will leave everybody to do that for themselves. I just thought I would share a story with you  and a little thought to go with it.

I know this is a busy time and few people will read this but I was asked by a friend to start blogging again and this is my first little venture to maybe doing just that. 

Here is a little story for you.

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. He didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin shoes he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. 

He had been sitting thinking, and, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend. 

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. 

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence. 

All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and when he reluctantly turned to walk home, suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny pound coin. 

Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as he felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a pound. 

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the pound and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his coin. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you." 

As he waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers. 

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, he began to feel alone and afraid. 

Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box. 

"That will be one pound young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the coin. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his pound. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his pound! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for a pound for a dozen. Would you like them?" 

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son." 

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?" Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one pound. 

When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me some money. 

When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and Iput together a dozen of my very best roses." 

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all. 

It is the little acts of kindness that bring warmth to the inner being not the great big public gestures.