Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Fairy cakes.

The above original abstract looks a bit more like a landscape than my usual abstracts . This one was inspired by a walk last week where the sheltered areas were still under the grips of frost yet to all intents and purposes with the sun shining it looked and felt like a beautiful autumn day.

Inspired by a walk up Falkland estate painted by applying texture and paint using only my fingers.

I had a very busy day painting yesterday, I completed this painting from scratch and I finished the one I did at the demonstration last week, but I want to make one little change to that before putting a signature to it. 

I really do need to get a kettle and a little stash of goodies out in the painting space. Yesterday I nipped back into the house to refill my coffee cup and to have a couple of biscuits to dunk in it. 

I smiled as I slipped them into my pockets feeling like a young boy caught with his fingers in the cookie jar.

A young girl in my parish had done just that, stolen one or two fairy cakes from the cake box.

Her mother knew just exactly how many she had made so was aware that some had gone, and only she could have taken them.

When the girl came back into the house the mother spoke to her. 
"Do you know that God was here, when you were stealing fairy cakes ,from the kitchen?"
"Yes, I do," replied the little girl.
"And do you know that he was looking at you all the time?"
"Yes, I do."
"And what do you think what he  was thinking?"
"He said: There is nobody here apart from us, so take some cookies for me, too,
and one for Jenny."
Now I would call that one smart little cookie. 

Have a marvellous day.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Oh The Noise!

I live right next to a patch of grass with a couple of trees. The ground must belong to the council because they sent workers during the summer to cut the grass and in autumn to prune back the bushes.

It is a lovely is a great spot in the summer for children to play and run around, as they often to. There is something so uplifting to hear the sound of young laughter. 

At the entrance to the park area are two notices. One reads, No Football. The other, No Ball Games. 

Nevertheless we have regular visits from groups of people who arrive with their goal net and do just that.

I really have no concerns as long as they continue to play as they do, my only concern is if the boys get older and the kicking of the ball gets harder. Then I might have to resort to other tactics.

They clearly do not go to a school that teaches reading so any further notices might not be of much use.

I might have to be like the old man who had problems with young boys playing outside his house and making a terrible noise. They were also banging the ball against his wall.

He went out and spoke to the boys one evening thanking them for making such a noise. he told them that the noise brought him much pleasure.

He asked them if they would come back the next night and do it again for them and he would pay them 50pence each.

The next night they were there making an even greater noise. He went out and thanked them and paid them. Then he asked if they would come the next night. They did.

At the end of the night he gave them 20 pence each and asked them to come the next evening.

On the next evening he gave them ten pence each and again thanked them.

When they arrived the next evening he went out to thank them but gave them nothing. They asked him why. He told them he was a poor old man and had no more money.

The boys never came back. They just were not prepared to make a noise for nothing.

There are many ways in life to achieve the desired results and they do not need to involve anger or spite.

Have a great day.

Monday, 28 November 2016

I wish !.

Well thank goodness Black Friday is now behind and I can open my inbox in the morning and find closer to the normal expected number of emails. This was my thought yesterday. Then today I discover we have important another new exciting ploy. 

Now we have cyber Tuesday. So this morning there they were again an inbox full of spam encouraging me to make the most of cyber Tuesday.

How I wish I could avoid all that rubbish that has to be sifted through before you get to the emails from friends and family. It is too easy to miss things in the midst of all the rubbish. 

I wish I had the patience to tell all those people I am just not interested in all there finest deals ever. 

But then, if that wish was granted I suppose something else would come along. 

I remember when I was a prison chaplain the following.

Two men were in the same cell. 

They were in the same conditions, but one of them was unhappy, and the other one was happy.
"Why are you so sad?" I asked the unhappy man.  
"What reason do I have to be happy? I am unlucky. 
Recently I was free and had all that I wanted.  I was on holiday in the sun and there, as you know, is more interesting than here. 
Then the unhappy man turned to the other prisoner and asked him how he could be so happy sharing a cell with him?
The happy prisoner replied.  "Recently I was in another prison, where the conditions are much worse, and here is just like a holiday for me, compared to what it was. 
Many people want to get here, but I am the lucky one."

Everything is relative and has to be learned in comparison. 
If you want to be happy, just compare your current position not with what is better, but with what would be worse.
Have a happy day.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

How Many Friends?

Friendship is such a marvellous thing. A few days ago I listed the qualities of what I considered a friend to be like and many of you agreed with my definition. One or two suggested little tweaks to the list and that is fine because we all see friendship slightly different.

But let us now take that one little stage further on. How many friends do we need? I suppose if we were talking FB then the number on our, " friends," list would be with no barriers.

But there is a little story that is worthy of some thought. 

A student came to a teacher and asked him, “Master, how many friends a person should have – one or a lot?”

“Everything is very simple,” the teacher answered, “pick me that red apple from the highest branch.”

The student looked up and answered, “But it’s too high, Teacher! I can’t reach it.”

“Ask a friend, maybe he will help you,” Master answered.

The student called another student and stood on his shoulders.

“I still can’t reach it, Teacher,” said the disappointed student.
“Don’t you have more friends?” the teacher smiled.

The student asked more friends who started standing up on each other’s shoulders and backs grunting, trying to build a live pyramid. But the apple was too high, the pyramid crumbled and the student wasn’t able to pick the longed for  apple.

Then the teacher called him back.

“So, did you understand how many friends a person needs?”

“I did, Teacher,” the student said, rubbing the injured sides, “A lot,  so together we could solve any problem.”

“Yes,” the Master answered, shaking his head in disappointment, “of course you need a lot of friends. 

So that among all of these athletes there would be at least one smart person who would figure out to get a ladder!”

Have a marvellous day.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Just a Moment.

One of the very first painting I ever did. 

I had a very unexpected visitor yesterday and we sat and chatted over a coffee. We found ourselves talking about how life turns on the little things of life and not the huge dramatic events. 

I have found myself talking about such things a few times this week. It is indeed just the little things on which change can hinge. The unexpected invitation, or visit can have such a dramatic effect and yet at the time seem so small and minimal. 

At the age of twenty I had a visit from a minister and my whole life travelled in a new direction. 

This is like the story of the little gift.

Once upon a time, there was an unfortunate poor man. His home was also very poor – a small and empty house, where mice made their nests and spiders made their webs.

People tried to avoid coming into his house – why should they go into those poor ruins? And the poor man thought that poverty is the reason of his misfortunes – his eternal destiny.
So once, the poor man met a wise man and talked  to him about his poverty and miserable life. 
The sage felt sorry for the poor man and gave him an unusual gift of a beautiful  vase. 
And said:

"This is a magical vase that will save you from poverty."

The poor man took the vase and wanted to sell it at first and then spend the money on alcohol as was his want and way. 
Why would he need such a beautiful thing? 
Then, something strange happened. He started admiring the vase and couldn’t take it to the market. 
He took the vase home, put it on the table and started admiring it.

It’s not right for such a beautiful thing to be empty, – the poor man thought. So he picked some wildflowers and put them into the vase.

It became even more beautiful.

Not good, the poor man though again.  
Such a beautiful thing stands next to a spider web.

So the poor man started cleaning his house from spider webs, sweeping out cockroaches and mice, cleaning the dust, washing the floor and the walls, whitening the ceiling.

And it became clear that his house wasn’t poor, but rather warm and cosy. 
And the poor man wasn’t a poor man anymore, but a hard working host, who had no time for the thoughts about misfortune.
You might not meet a sage today, but you just might having a life changing moment.
Be ready. 

Have a great day.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Butterfly of Life.

Yesterday I took the brave step of standing in front of a group of people and with my gruff voice and spoke about painting and art as I threw paint at a canvas. I was tasked with talking about the use of texture on canvas and acrylic paint. 

The days leading up to the event I must have been difficult to live with. The owner of the painting above gave me words of encouragement as did some very dear friends. But I must still have been difficult to live with.

Now you might wonder why this was so? I have been a minister and stood in packed churches with almost a thousand people in them and preached from just a few notes. I have stood in front of classes of teenagers  and taught them lessons sometimes they might not have wanted to learn. So what was different? What was making me so full of self doubt/

I will tell you. I think for the first time in my life I was very conscious of just how wrong it could all be. Paint does not always respond the way you so want it to. It almost has a mind of its own. I have had no formal lessons or training so I knew just how easily it could all go wrong. 

So for two weeks I was thinking hard about all the things that could go wrong. 

The people I met were marvellous and so understanding  and they were relaxed and full of questions. They made me feel at home and my two weeks of agonising had got me prepared for just what could go wrong. At the end of the evening I had not managed to finish the artwork but I think in a day or two I will and will post it here so they can see it.

This morning one of the people there was up at the waterfall I had spoken of as being my inspiration. he was there taking photographs how happy I felt that he had been inspired enough to make that trek up the glen.

So all of the tension of the  last two weeks was worth it. Thanks to all at Kirkcaldy Art Club and all those who encouraged me. It is a lesson for life. let me finish with a tale of the butterfly. 

One day a young boy was looking at a small gap  as it appeared in a cocoon, through which a  butterfly would appear. 

A boy, who had stopped watched how the butterfly was trying to get out of the cocoon.

It took a lot of time, the butterfly was trying very hard, and the gap was as little as before. It seemed that the power would leave the butterfly soon.

The boy decided to help the butterfly. He took a penknife and cut the cocoon. The butterfly immediately got out, but its body was weak and feeble, and the wings were barely moving.

The boy continued to watch the butterfly, thinking that now its wings would spread and its would fly.

However, that did not happen.

The rest of its short life the butterfly had to drag its weak body and wings that weren’t spread. It was unable to fly, because the boy had  not realised that an effort to enter through the narrow gap of the cocoon was necessary for the butterfly, so that the life-giving fluid would move from the body to the butterfly’s wings and that the butterfly could fly. 

The boy had forced the butterfly to leave its shell fast and easily,  he thought he was giving it a helping hand.

But it was the struggle to break free that would make it  stronger and it  would be able to grow and develop.

If we were allowed to live without meeting difficulties, we would not be viable. Life gives us challenges to make us stronger.

Every challenge adds to our lives experience. 

I know I am late today but I hope you all have a great and challenging day.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The rope or the door?

The above painting was painted after a walk past an old broken down brickwork wall. nature had done its bit and turned the desolation into a thing of beauty. Sometimes the beauty cannot be seen because we are so tied up in the desolation.

This painting was purchased by a couple who had just had a death in their family and said that the painting reminded them of hope and new beginnings. They decorated a room to accommodate the painting I I was great moved by the gesture. I hope it still brings them pleasure. 

Tonight I am giving a demonstration to a group of artists. I have decided to be brave and go for a textured abstract painting. I could easily have gone for the easy option of painting something I had done before where I would be certain of the outcome, but I chose to be brave. 

yesterday out of the blue somebody totally unknown to me took a real swipe at one of my paintings making some really scathing remarks about it. Like always, I listen to that reaction and all the good comments seem to disappear like snow from a wall on a sunny day. 

It was not what i needed at that particular moment, so it is with some fear I face the day, and evening as I prepare my materials and and head out to the appointed hour.

There is a story that I really should go and think upon for a moment.

There once was this criminal who had committed a crime. (Because, hey, that’s what criminals do. That’s their job!) 

He was sent to the king for his punishment. 

The king told him he had a choice of two punishments. 

He could be hung by a rope or take what’s behind the big, dark, scary, iron door. 

The criminal quickly decided on the rope. As the noose was being slipped on him, he turned to the king and asked. “By the way, out of curiosity, what’s behind that door?” 

The king laughed and said: “You know, it’s funny, I offer everyone the same choice, and nearly everyone picks the rope.” 

“So,” said the criminal, “Tell me. What’s behind the door? I mean, obviously, I won’t tell anyone,” he said, pointing to the noose around his neck. 

The king paused then answered, “Freedom, but it seems most people are so afraid of the unknown that they immediately take the rope.”

Right now I feel like I may be facing the rope but you never know there might be a wonderful experience behind the door.

I hope you all have a very good day. I do not suppose the person who out of the blue and unknown to me will read this but I really do hope she has a good day also. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness

Since taking up art in any kind of serious way all I have ever wanted to be was to be an artist. Not really ever knowing just what an artist is it is difficult I suppose, to ever realise that one has arrived at the point where we can say with any confidence, "I am an artist."

So when I was asked to give a demonstration to a group of artists I should have thought that this was some kind of recognition that I had arrived at that point. 

Strangely that is not the case, I am full of self doubt and just longing for it to be over and something positive achieved. 

Are we ever happy? That is one of the big questions of life.

I was thinking of this after over-hearing a number of conversations. The first was a mother. She was bemoaning that as hard as she tried she could not longer bring back the happy times they all used to share together. “No matter what I organise it is always the same,” she said. “They always have things to do and places to go.” 

Hankering after the old days she is missing the joy and happiness of watching them become free beings in their own right. 

The second conversation was a friend complaining that he need a new bicycle. “Why? “ I asked. “This one is out of date.” The cycle he had was at least a year younger than mine, but he had to be up date.  

In reality, both of these conversations were about the same thing. Let me explain what I mean.

If we have a scooter we want a cycle, if we have a cycle we want a car. If we have a car we want a bigger or better one. The list is endless. And so is the pursuit.

I remember workmate who, the minute they got promotion began talking about the next step up the ladder. Or when they had been given a pay hike it was not bringing him any closer to his friend who had also had one. Again the list is endless as is the pursuit.

Even on the emotional and relationships front, our relationships are evaluated on the basis of how many visits, how many phone calls, how many invitations one gets and gives. We seek to create a perfect family of always smiling people around us, and are disappointed if things are not picture perfect. Yet again, the list is endless.

And so is the pursuit.

The pursuit of happiness. This is a well-known and well used phrase. Yet it is in fact a strange term. It in fact makes no sense at all. 

Like many oft-repeated phrases, one repeats it mechanically but it makes no sense whatsoever. 

Happiness is not an object or person that can be pursued. It just is. 

In fact, perhaps it is this very phrase that is often the seed of much discontent and unhappiness. 

The new phone, car, are all part of the pursuit of happiness. 

This morning I was thinking about these conversations and my own pursuit of happiness, and the next better artwork.   The desire to be what I might never be.

When you pursue happiness, it eludes you. However, when you recognise that happiness is the inner beings natural state, all you need to do is eliminate all that comes between your happiness and you.

I think I need to read that again and again in the next two days. Is it complex or complicated? 

Not really, just know that happiness is not out there somewhere it is in there somewhere.

Have a great and a happy day. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


I seem to be the kind of person whom life likes to kick. Let me explain. I care very deeply for the friends I make and would do whatever I can to help them, or even just make a the moment of life better for them. 

The danger of being a person like this is that others sadly abuse what you are. I remember giving a friend a bag of my new harvested potatoes, thinking I was giving fresh new produce. I think there were enough to do for a few weeks at least. 

Later, the person I had given them to pointed out that I had given her one that was bruised and damaged. 

The story of my life really. I try and try to make people happy but continually fail. 

So I was giving some very serious thought to what a real friend was. What is it we mean when we say I am your friend, or even more when you say I love you. 

It is day by day an important question when we live in a world of fast moments and transitory relationships. Life moves faster and faster and relationships are reduced to a few texts, not even spelled with any care or thought. 

So here are my thoughts. 

A real friend :

(A)ccepts you as you are

(B)elieves in "you"

(C)alls you just to say "HI"

(D)oesn't give up on you

(E)nvisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts)

(F)orgives your mistakes

(G)ives unconditionally

(H)elps you

(I)nvites you over

(J)ust  want to "be" with you

(K)eeps you close at heart

(L)oves you just as you are

(M)akes a difference in your life

(N)ever Judges
(O)ffers support
without a thought of why.
(P)icks you up
 when you do not deserve to be picked up.
(Q)uiets your fears
and understands why you have those fears.
(R)aises your spirits
and encourages you do do even more.
(S)ays nice things about you even when you do not deserve nice things to be said about you.

(T)ells you the truth when you need to hear it
even though it might hurt
(U)nderstands you
when nobody else seems to.
(V)alues you
just because you are whom you are.
(W)alks beside you when everybody else has left.

(X)-plains thing you don't understand in words you do.

(Y)ells when you won't listen and tells you to shut up.
(Z)aps you back to reality.

Have a good day.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Land of Oz.

Autumn Days.

I have been teasing my dear friend. He is, as he gets older having problems with his memory. He can remember in detail what happened forty years ago but do not ask hime about what happened this morning. It happens to us all.

Isn't it amazing how things that just came to us so often slip to the edge of the tongue but just do not come out?

We were sharing a coffee and I was teasing him about the scan he was due to have. I jokingly asked him if the scan would show that he had a brain. He laughed and said he had and a heart unlike the straw man and the tin man. We then remembered the lion looking for courage. 

This reminded me of the story of three people much in the news at the present time.

Bill Clinton, Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. They were out in the rose garden discussing policy when a sudden gust of wind sweeps into the garden and takes them up into the air crashing them to the ground later.

They get up and dust themselves off, look around and realise they are in the Emerald City. They are in the land of OZ.

"Oh , boy!" says Quayle. "I am going to see the wizard and ask him for a brain!"

"Yes! says Gingrich, "And I am going to ask him for a heart!"

"Hey!" says Bill Clinton, "Where is Dorothy?"

Now the question is if in a similar situation what would you ask for? 

Have a great day.

Friday, 18 November 2016


Winter Has Come.

I have been very aware of the need to recycle in this day and age of constant waste and over packaging. It just seemed that every where I went in the last few days all I saw was signs for recycling.

The caravan site I stayed on had a large recycling area and when I visited the hospital with my friend there were recycling post all over the hospital. 

I often wonder just how much of all the stuff in those bins ever does get recycled. I wondered about this because if we are doing so much recycling then why are we also rapidly running out of the world natural resources?

This brought to mind a rather old story.

A Glasgow man was in the local cafe having coffee and sandwich with butter and jam when an American man, chewing gum, sat down next to him. The Glaswegian ignored the American, who, nevertheless, started up a conversation.
The American snapped his gum and said, "You Scots folks eat the whole bread?" The Glaswegian frowned, annoyed with being bothered during his breakfast, and replied, "Of course."
The American blew a huge bubble. "We don't. In the States, we only eat what's inside. The crusts we collect in a container, recycle them, transform them into croissants and sell them to Scotland." The American had a smirk on his face. The Glaswegian listened in silence.
The American persisted. "D'ya eat jam with the bread?" Sighing, the Glaswegian replied, "Of course." Cracking his gum between his teeth, the American said, "We don't. In the States, we eat fresh fruit for breakfast, then we put all the peels, seeds, and leftovers in containers, recycle them, transform them into jam and sell it to Scotland."
The Glaswegian then asked, "Do you have sex in the States?" The American smiled and said, "Why of course we do." 
The Glaswegian leaned closer to him and asked, "And what do you do with the condoms once you've used them?" "We throw them away, of course." 
Now it was the Glaswegians turn to smile. 
"We don't. In Scotland, we put them in a container, recycle them, melt them down into chewing gum and sell them to the United States."

Sometimes boasting too much comes back and makes you wonder. 

My apologies to my friend is the USA. I really do hope you all have a good day.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Under the Moon Love Comes Around.

( A work in Progress.)

Heading off today to meet up with friends that I first met about eleven years ago. It is always nice to be able to keep in touch with such people. 

I was thinking back over the years as such meetings always seems to make me do. Friends and meals times together round the table sharing food. 

Strangely enough this brought to mind a true story I heard as a minister for an embarrassed  mother. 

A family were having  people to dinner. 

At the table, the mother turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, 

"Dear, would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," replied the little girl, shyly.

"Just say what you hear Mum  say, darling," the woman said.

Her daughter took a deep breath, bowed her head, and solemnly said, 

"Dear Lord, why the hell did I invite all these people to dinner!?!"

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

What Do You Have?

A work in Progress.

You know you are getting old when the surgery writes out to remind you that because of your age you are expected to turn up at the clinic to receive your influenza and shingles injection.

I had to do just that a few days ago. The place was crowed with people of my age all filling out forms and waiting to be called through. 

I was given two sheets of paper and asked to complete all the questions. I asked, "All the questions?" and was told yes and that if I had any problems they were there to help me. I of course had already spotted the problem. One of the questions asked me if I was pregnant? Now how could I tell if a miracle had happened or not, was there a test? Just to be sure.

It reminded me of a very similar instance.

A fellow walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. 

He said, "Shingles." 

So she took down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat. 

A few minutes later a nurse's aid came out and asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles." 

So she took down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told him to wait in the examining room. 

Ten minutes later a nurse came in and asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles." 

So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, told him to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor. 

Fifteen minutes later the doctor came in and asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles." 

The doctor said, "Where?" 

He said, "Outside in the truck. Where do you want them?"

Have a good day. 

Monday, 14 November 2016


Winter is Not the End of the World.

I spent the last two days pretty much out in the sticks. I am laughing here as I write this because I spend most of my life out in the sticks. But i was away in my motorhome and we stopped in a little place outside that very large city of Aberdeen. 

Even so I felt miles from anywhere in this little spot I had never visited before. I went walking on the Saturday and came across a little inn where the locals gathered. it was like being on a different planet they had such broad northern accents. I had to concentrate hard to make out what they were saying.

Reminded me of the story of the two American hillbillies.

They were sitting around talking one afternoon. 

After a while the first fellow says to the second, 

"If'n I was to sneak over to your place Saturday and make love to your wife 
while you was off huntin', and she got pregnant and had a baby, would that make us kin?" 

The second fellow crooked his head sideways for a minute, scratched his head, 
and squinted his eyes like he was thinking real hard about the question. 

Finally, he said, "Well, I don't know about kin, but it would make us even.

Have a good day.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Questions Questions and More Questions.

I had an interesting conversation just the other day where a good friend told me that an eminent person had told hime something so it must be true. it has stuck with me since and I have been thinking and thinking about how much better life might have been if I could have just listened to other sand believed them.

The painting above was one of my very first ever abstract paintings and it grew from just such a situation. I cannot remember now what it was that was milling in my head but I had this thought that it would be nice if I was not continually bombarded with thinking.

Oh to have the quiet life? 

Then I read again the words of the Buddha. I also heard again the constant words of my father, who incidentally had probably never ever heard a word about the Buddha. 

I read the words again the other day and found myself saying to hang with the quiet life, life would be boring if we were not constantly asking ourselves questions and testing ourselves with newer and better challenges. 

So let me share with you those words again. 

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. 

Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. 

Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. 

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. 

Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. 

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” 

OH dear so serious this morning but go on have an exciting day.  Not sure if I will be able to blog this weekend going away in my motorhome for the weekend.