Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

To all of you.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Seasonal

Again I am feeling the pressure of the modern day commercialized Christmas - all the emails from my online shops saying "don't miss Black Friday, don't miss Cyber Monday, hurry up, promote yourself (which I actually hate to do anyway)", etc. The high street shops shouting their seasonally loud mantra of "spend, spend, spend". Plus the worries about presents, running out of money, business unfinished before holidays, a Christmas tree to buy and carry home and so on. Plus the sun is low, the weather is often gloomy...

I really have to tell myself "STOP!" Why not just enjoy the season? Yesterday we spent the evening with my daughter creating a new playlist. She almost always goes to sleep listening to the music, usually Ancient Egyptian, Tudor, ABBA, violin or piano. This time its mostly Christmas carols & songs:

http://www.last.fm/user/linandara/library/playlists/3mxly_christmas_1

(we still are working on it).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Frost & free speech


First, its the first of December and we just had our first frost! Quite late this year. Anyway, death to all the nasturtiums!

I suddenly remembered how much I like crispy cold weather. My cheeks are red, my mind is clear, I am happy and exited. My mom always told me I look better in winter.


Second, here is a new community on LJ dedicated to the free speech:

Debating religion, politics, spirituality, and social controversies.

Show Off Your Big Brain
Absolute Liberty of Speech On Our Four Topics
Freedom from Childish Moderation
Elitist Scumbags Welcome
Educated People Highly Desired



VIA LICENTIA Is a Live Journal Community filling that special need- a need for a community that you can speak freely in on important and controversial issues, and which FOR ONCE doesn't have "moderated" membership at the top of the description, and a list of "DO NOT" Rules a mile long underneath.


Sounds interesting but it will work only if enough people with full spectrum of opinions join in or if some kind of autories won't close this down for not being politically correct.
Why I need this? a) To understand how and why others people's views differ from mine; 2) to learn how not to get easily offended; 3) hopefully find answers to my own questions & dilemmas.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Post office blues

I do unfortunately depend on the nearest post office. And now there is only one in town.

It wasn't always like this: there used to be a little one near the swimming pool. It was inconvenient for me to go here so I never did, till one day an elderly lady knocked on my door and said that they collect signatures against the proposed closure of the little post office. Of course I signed and also decided that next time I will go here - thinking that having one more regular customer will probably help. It happened that next time I had quite a lot of parcels with me, including horrible pictures and curtains which the previous owners left in the house. I've sold them on Ebay for 5 quid + postage, then being clumsy as I am I broke the glass and had to pay 5 quid to a framer for its replacement (I am a great business woman, I know!) I also had a large life drawing I've sold for about the same price to America. It was done on thick card so at first I send it as it was at my regular post office. It came back (to my enormous surprise) with note that it's too large for the Airmail. Now I've been sending paintings and drawings of this size for years and never had a problem with that. I went to the main post office and they (a bit unfriendly for my taste) told me that the rule always was here... Surprise again. And its my fault that because I pay the postage online. I managed to roll the drawing and was ready to pay the postage price for it again.

So I entered a small post office smiling to the lady who was behind the counter and putting my numerous parcels in front of her. And then I've seen an evil flame in her eyes. Apparently the reason was that I bought half of my postage online. I've been doing this for a long time - since living in Long Eaton where extremely nice people at that post office never told me there was any issue with this. I repeat the people were really wonderful and helpful at that place but... unlike in Wales I had a number of parcels which were never received by their recipients.

The lady with evil eyes was refusing to accept my parcels because she didn't like the idea of online stamps which people print at home. She thought the post offices are closing because of this (forgetting that the people still HAVE to handle their parcels and letters to post office workers). I don't drive and I just walked to that little place, tired, loaded like a mule with my profitless load - and specially to help her... If she told me "could you please buy you stamps from me next time?" I would certainly said "yes"! Instead she brought me to the brink of bursting into tears by her angry words in front of silent but curious queue. I bet they haven't been on the side of a strange lady with foreign accent and a horrid word "Ebay" almost written across her forehead. Ebay keeps of mounting hidden fees and treating low-profit sellers like unwanted dogs - and then you also get this looks at the post office. Yes, I know I could just take things to a charity shop, but 1) I have this crazy hope that something we've got but don't need may actually turn to be valuable for somebody else (it actually happened twice with books); 2) kids love to get some pocket money after their old book or toy is sold (they were unlucky with that since Ebay introduced its "free postage" rule), and 3) lot of our stuff is too unusual if not weird for a little town charity shop to handle. Finally the post office lady agreed to take parcels and they all (to my disbelieve) arrived to their destinations OK. Yes, I can't stand hostility and I know its bad to be so sensitive to it. But that's the way I am...

I never came back to that little post office. I even wanted to file a complain because I'm sure it was illegal to refuse posting things on that ground. But then few months later, walking to the pool I've seen that post office have been closed for good and I couldn't refuse an evil smile...

Now we only got one post office in the town. They have a strange practise here: a large shopping trolley is put in the middle and, after stamps have been put on parcels, they are thrown across the room to that trolley, including ones with red tape all over and large letters saying "FRAGILE" on them. Recently the glass on one of my paintings I've sent by post was broken and I wonder if this was what did it. But what can I do? Putting things in large boxes, going to another town or using alternative postal service would increase the cost of postage a lot, and with my artwork not being too expensive it will just put an end on selling it.

I do mostly sell artwork unframed to avoid high postage cost and broken glass but there is another danger - parcels get bended. Once even a thick framing mount, which I though will protect the drawing sufficiently, got bend in half. Few years ago I've accidentally got from my framer a couple of pieces of white corrugated plastic: lightweight and easy to cut with scissors yet very difficult to bend. I've been told this is what state agents use for their "for sale" boards. If anybody reading this post know how to buy this (but not in industrial quantities) - I would really appreciate.

Meanwhile I'm stuck with my only post office. As far as I know any alternative postal services are only suitable for businesses with high volumes of mail and SOME profit (maybe I'm wrong?) I can't really argue with my post office staff for fear - perhaps irrational - that my parcels will be damaged on purpose when I don't look. Add to this also that I'm horrible at doing things neat and tidy - like good package should be, I'm slow, and I have little accidents with tape and scissors all the time. At home we haven't got a special table to do packing so I just kneel on the hard floor for an hour 2-3 times a week to get the job done.

Yet I am actually glad that I am where I am. I don't have to seat in office all the day and I am home when kids are back from school. My artworks find their owners and I get lots of happy emails from people. I've even found a first exhibition venue after two years in Newtown, so a couple of my narrative figurative paintings should be at the Hafren Theatr at the moment. Perhaps I should think more about exhibitions (but memories of having to carry by myself about 30 framed artworks to 3 personal shows I had in East Midlands still a bit scary). Anyway it is really great to be a "free artist" and I am sure in any occupation there are difficulties you have to learn to overcome - blame to the imperfection of the world!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Godless Gloom

I think atheism leads to depression and then even to a possible suicide. At least for people who think, who are honest to themselves and who perceive the world in therms of good and evil. But in atheism there is no good neither evil... One can flex his understanding of what's right and what's wrong depending on who's benefit he is acting: an individual, a race, species, whole life on Earth, etc. It also doesn't help that our honest atheist knows that his experience - hard learned during lifetime - and all the fruits of his labour eventually will disappear. There is no anchor in space or time.

I can feel this gloom in many ethical-oriented yet atheistic or agnostic sci-fi stories. All these horrible Prime Directives, "I can't help because it affect the future"and so on. It almost makes me scream: "do what you heart tells you, only God really knows the future!"

I won't say that religion can't make one depressed. For example if one comes to be religious because of strong feeling of good and evil but latterly may reach a point when he is not sure if God shares his ethics, if God is really good on his terms (I'm thinking about people suffering on Earth or eternal suffering in hell in which many believe). But at least there is some hope.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Art Calendars for 2010

Distant Lands Fine Art Calendar calendar
Distant Lands Fine Art Calendar by Linandara

My Russia by A.Cook

My Russia by A.CookMy Russia by A.Cook (calendar)

Print: £12.49

This is 14-month calendar for 2010 illustrated with my own paintings and drawings dedicated to landscapes, people and buildings of my native Russia. Contains British and US holidays. If you would like other / custom holidays please let me know before buying and I'll create additional version for you. I hope you'll enjoy my calendar!

Distant Lands by A.Cook

Distant Lands by A.CookDistant Lands by A.Cook (calendar)

Print: £12.49

Welcome to the Distant Lands! Nineteen of my artworks (mostly seasonal landscapes) are included in this 2010 14-month calendar. It has British & Christian holidays (could be changed - just send me a message). I hope you'll enjoy it!

Fantasy Lands by A.Cook

Fantasy Lands by A.CookFantasy Lands by A.Cook (calendar)

Print: £12.49

This it 14 months 2010 calendar illustrated with my fantasy artwork. It contain British & US holidays (this could be changed - just send me a message). I hope you will enjoy it.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Dream House

Etsy site is having maintenance at the moment so they put this video for people to watch:


That's probably the closest thing I've ever seen to my imaginary dream house. Being a child I have been daydreaming about 3-4 families of friends living self-sufficiently in a very close tied community (but it looked a bit more Siberian, less Californian!). Even now, when my daughter got Sims3 game and I sometime play it, I desperately try to build a homestead like this. What if I found some like-minded people and we could build something like that near Aberythwyth?... Enough day dreaming, back to work!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Pelargonium Sanctuary


Is it just me, or somebody else feels sad looking at perennial flowers being dumped at the end of summer by numerous gardeners? Even hardy ones. Recently I found (on brambles-covered land locally known as "dump") a couple of perfectly healthy Pelargonium/ geranium plants and rescued them. I bring my geraniums indoors in winter to save from the frost and because I think the are SO beautiful against the background of fresh falling snow outdoors.

(the pretty photo is not mine - I've got similar ones somewhere, but they are a bit difficult to find at the moment).

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Nepal Cinquefoil Flower in Watercolor, Pen & Pencil

A recent artwork:
A bright outdoor painting done in my garden in August. Featuring a single scarlet flower of Potentilla nepalensis, common name: Nepal Cinquefoil. Done on white card with watercolour, gouache, pencils, pen and pigment ink. Unframed (so you can find a frame which will suit your home the best). The size of artwork is approximately 9 x 12 inches (23 x 30 cm).


I love these bright little flowers, they look very natural among grey flat pieces of rock in my organic hilltop garden. They also associate (for me) with the Scarlet Flower from the Russian version of "The Beauty and the Beast".

For sale here.

Wild Food in September: Himalayan Balsam and Cherry Laurel fruit

Both invasive (but beautiful) plants are abundant by the river where I live (Wales). Cherry trees have plenty of fruit, and the balsam has flowers and seeds on different stages of ripening at the same time. After reading the articles here and there, I collected some wild food (under surprised glances from some locals) and made cherry laurel and Himalayan balm petals jam (I added to it a little bit of orange juice and plenty of brown sugar). I had to do quite a lot of skimming. Now I am very happy with the jam, its dark (apart from little bits of chopped pink petals) and doesn't taste too sweet, in fact it reminds me of true cherry jam cooked with pits (mine one was without pits). We don't eat much jam at all, so I made just a little, mostly to use later as a middle layer in cakes. As for Balsam seeds I found them very tasty, sort of nut-like, but they don't need shelling. I hope to collect more before the winter. Happy foraging!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Crime and Punishment

I hear around me lots of angry voices about al-Meghari early release (e.g. look here:Lockerbie Bomber Treated Like a Hero)
Just want to write down few thoughts.

Sadly, whatever you do to this person (IF he committed the crime indeed) won't return the victims from the dead. They don't need any revenge. I do not really believe in Government's compassion (sorry) so I realise that its just a political game. But I also think that compassion can't be inappropriate.

People call for more punishment and I hear them (without realising this) begging for some medieval torture. Imprisonment is a mild torture too, but we need it, first - to show the criminal and everybody else that what he's done, we think, IS a crime, and second, to prevent the criminal from re-offending and endangering more lives. Eight years in prison and terminal illness did that.

Also in any case we never can be sure for 100 per cent if we caught the right person (that's one reason why death penalty is evil). The only possible punishment may be imposed by the persons own conscience.

Absolute justice (from a human hand) is impossible. If somebody killed many people we can't kill him back many times. We only can help him realise what he has done and prevent him from doing this again. And if God would punish us for all our crimes: committed, dreamed or only possible in future... Who would be left?

And also there is another thought: have all mass-murderers been punished "properly"? What about Colonel Paul Tibbets who killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima? "Tibbets expressed no regret regarding the decision to drop the bomb. In a 1975 interview he said: "I sleep clearly every night." You say he followed the orders? The same they say about that Libyan, I'm sure. And what about former terrorists from Northern Ireland?

I think the only way to battle evil is to live with love and compassion. Any anger, calls for revenge, torture and executions only make things worse (here I agree with "Surprised by Hope" by Tom Wright which I am reading at the moment).

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Back from Russia


Just to let everybody know that we are back from our summer holidays and getting used again to life in rainy and windy Wales.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

In Moscow

I'm back online after my holidays in a holiday village in Russia. Having the Internet & Cable TV is nice but its nothing comparing fresh air, starry skies and freedom of the countriside...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Crisis @ school

I've received a couple of letters from my kids' school:
"We have been fortunate for a number of years to be able to subsidise the instrumental tuition from the school budget. However this year the Governing body has to make significant cuts in the budget which means that as from September we will no longer be able to do this...."

My daughter is learning to play violin & recorder and my son does guitar. That's triple the cost. I really don't know if they will be able to continue doing this... I'm trying to hope for the best of course. By the way, its interesting to me that given a very big choice of music from various genres, my daughter definitely prefers Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, John Williams & Enio Morricone. She falls to sleep listening to them plus traditional lullabies.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Web

If you have a page at Yahoo Geocities (my first ever one was there) it will be useful to know that they are closing down after the summer. Also Auctiva stops free image hosting for Ebay...

I've started with Live Journal - there are many interesting communities and blogs all under the same roof - which is a very good idea. For the moment I just duplicate there everything from Blogger and read lots of posts about natural living and philosophy.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Royal Air Force Cosford Air Show


Thats were we've been last Sunday. More photos in my photo album. We were surprised to see such a sea of cars. I think some people with tickets haven't been allowed to drive in because there already were too many cars. Plus traffic jams on the way.

Although I felt some envy to the car people with big umbrellas, chairs, blankets, tents, comfortable seats on top of their motocaravans, big baskets with lunches - which we obviously couldn't had - I was saying to myself that unlike them we won't have problem leaving the show in the evening. Hm... We haven't been even allowed to the platform at the time when our train was leaving - because of the crowd of passengers. So we ended up coming home very late... You just can't win! At least the weather was fine - if you don't mind heat and sunshine (I do mind:).

Unfairness

It often happens to me that if I have a burning question the answer comes from outside world. Few days ago I've got involved in an unpleasant discussion on the net. There was a place where people were answering a simple question "Do you belong to the Orthodox Church?" Then out of the blue three persons appeared saying again and again that all Orthodox Christians are layers, pretenders (unlike me clever agnostic), infantiles, never have any religious experience (unlike me clever Buddhist), dream about world domination and generally some sad and ugly creature, not proper human being (unlike me rude student). When I told them that you can't say this kind of things about a very large amount of people (simply because it's impossible to prove) they accused me of enforcing Western political correctness. Me and the other people tried to reason but we were overpowered by these people who seemingly had nothing else to do rather that denying millions of people their beliefs. So I was wondering: If something like this happens in future should I pay any attention? I get very upset at unfairness so I wonder if it is worth to get involved?

And here comes Dr. Laura blog:
"I just don’t like life’s unfair qualities, and I have generally stood up to them no matter what."
"we both still maintained the bulk of our differing opinions. We did, however, agree on one point of ethics, morals, and values: you defend who or what is being attacked unfairly, and consequently, we both defended responsible free speech."
"And I’m left wondering if you’ll stand up for others (or values, morals, ethics and principles) when most others around you will turn their gaze away."
Good for you, Dr. Laura!

Another point of that discussion was that its unreasonable to be good to people. Funny that the lady who was the biggest advocate of this keeps of giving life organising advices online without realising that it is spending time and energy for the sake of others - that is, being good to other people!

Also I've been thinking that they teach how not to offend in schools now. It good, as long as kids will understand that sometime if they have to do or to say something important they will offend others - who disagree (plus sometime our absolutely innocent actions can offend people with different system of views). I think its very important also to teach the children DO NOT GET offended and upset easily but defend their opinion calmly and reasonable. I have feeling the kids to much used to run to the teacher at a slight sight of any disagreement now.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Derbyshire


An oil pastel over acrylic artwork has been sold. The place is Draycott in Derbyshire, not far from where we used to live.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Floods, Romans & Celebrations



Life was busy by local standards in Newtown during last two days. Yesterday there was a celebration at the train station with lively accordion music, mayor coming, children waving flags, Welsh cakes for everybody, etc. Lots of useful information on traveling by trains. I wish they were also running on Sunday mornings!
A week or two ago all the station windows were broken by vandals - twice. Fortunately, I've heard, they've got caught by security cameras.

Today I've seen the first proper thunderstorm in Britain (after more than 5 years living here). Real loud thunder and many bright flashes. There also was pea-sized hail turning everything white for a short while and flash flooding . Lots of fire engines all over the town and people walking trough the water. Brave people at the post office were still open when water reached their doors.

Oh, yes, and Tesco started building their supermarket and apparently they found a Roman road!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Journalists say

Few days ago, when we were watching morning news with kids, there was a story reported twice: Male penguins raise adopted chick

The reporters seems to forget that animals also sometime eat their youngsters, don't mind incest and don't care for their old ones. Some of human beings do the same. Should we put animal behaviour as an example to human race?

Another thing about journalists that often if there is a tragedy, they follow grieving relatives and keep on filming them again and again. We normally switch to another channel. It is just wrong.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Late spring holidays

Twins in stereo.
We have been to Norfolk again. The weather was good, I even managed to swim in the North Sea for about 30 seconds... My son had spent about half of hour in the water and was very happy.

We were lucky to had about a week of hot and sunny weather here in Wales.

I've done some outdoor sketching and gardening including planting jasmine (which I always wanted to have) and sorting my seeds. I had a very nice American-styled quilted pillow cover which has got too old, so I attached 12 net pockets to it with letters for different months. So I'll never forget to plant something in time. Also useful for dentists appointment cards, newspaper cuttings about upcoming events, etc.

We also visited Iron Bridge world heritage town, the site of former industrial hell. "The world's first cast iron bridge was built over the River Severn at Coalbrookdale in 1779". I thought it would be bigger when I first seen it in the booklets...

Only bad experience was seeing a puppy being run over by a car, which reminded me again how hard is cats and dogs life in towns: either they suffer being locked up or they get killed. Well, I've also encountered online a couple people who honestly though that being kind is a waste of effort and time - that's another bad experience I wish I could forget.

Anyway, I hope to visit my mother and grandmother plus many friends in Russia from mid-July to late August.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pen and pencil people



Two of my imaginary characters (their portraits, sorry!) sold recently:














I like imagining people and some of their environment and then let viewers continuing the story in their minds.

Three thoughts about religion

I feel upset when somebody says that only people from his religion will be saved, the other will go to hell for ever. I always imagine a young girl from the "X" country who is kind and helpful but dies say at 15 without any chance to find out about the "Y" religion. That would be a complete waste of a human soul, and I think a human soul is the best thing in the Creation. If God is really kind he will find the ways of saving everybody.

Another thought came from my socionic forum where people were discussing how different types perceive God depending on their mind "operating system". For some, He is an absolute Order, for others - emotional Love, the Law, an ultimate Force, ultimate Comfort, ultimate Mystery or sacrificial Love as a relationship to the Creation, etc. Its like that even among the people going to the same Church an individual would understand better one aspect of God, but not another.

And the third though is about what I call "religious uniform". No, its great when people wear traditional clothes during Church services and ceremonies or if they are priests or monks. But it feels quite different when (I think) some people wear their outfits for the sake of being recognized in their everyday life. Here in Newtown there are many ladies and girls who always wear little symbolical scarves and skirts. I don't know who they are. My kids used to be friends to some of the kids form these families and on few occasions they tried to invite their schoolmates to our home. The parents always objected. For me its just feels like they silently say "We are so pure. You will spoil our children". These people always seems to talk to each other. And I wonder, if two people simultaneously ask for help, would they rather run to the one of their own kind? Is this "uniform" a tool to divide human beings and treat them differently? I am sorry if this attitude offend any of the readers but its just how it feels.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Expenses

Lots of noise (far too much) about MP expenses at the moment. Of course it's wrong to claim porno movies as business expenses which should be paid by taxpayers. But just imagine an average person who has been told at work that he can claim anything and nobody will find out... How many would resist? (I dont just mean the movies :)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Freedom

Today when me and kids went to school, other kids told us that a little girl, the sister of one of the pupils, just has been hit by a landrower. A week or two ago there was this story on the news:

"Boy killed as car mounts pavementAn 11-year-old boy has died after a car mounted a pavement and crashed into a group of pedestrians in Bristol. The female driver of the white Ford Focus left the scene of the incident in Eastfield Road, Westbury-on-Trym, leaving the boy trapped underneath. A man was treated for minor injuries, while three other children at the scene were not injured."

I'm sure there are lots of stories like this, with the double horror of families loosing their loved ones and somebody accidentally becoming a murderer. Kids do behave silly and even experienced driver can loose the control sometime.

Perhaps not so tragic but still very worrying once was my ride along a small countryside road when an artists gave me a lift to a workshop. All the road was covered by killed rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes. I didn't really felt like admiring "scenic road".

I should admit, I do often dream how great it would be if I could afford a car and we all could go to exiting places and never fly again. A good friend of mine once told me that she was really happy that she had started driving: it gives such freedom! Yes, but at what price?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Solanum muricatum

A very interesting & useful plant database:

http://www.pfaf.org/index.php

Planted Solanum muricatum (bought from Lidl) today. Sound too good to be true - perennial tomato which tastes like melon, an Ancient American crop plant. I hope it will survive!

I'm doing my gardening in an non-intrusive manner, encouraging useful plants which appear by themselves and with the ones I plant, I'm not forcing them to grow in my garden if they don't want to. Certainly no pesticides or non-organic fertilizers. My biggest problems are slugs and snails plus the fact that the compost bags in most shops are too heavy to carry without a car.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Replying to e-mails: tip of the day :)

When I reply to a non-urgent (and usually a non-business) email I always wait some time, a day or two. Because if I reply strait away the person on the other end might fell obliged to reply quickly too, even if he or she likes to think a bit before writing. Just to give people some breathing space.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Toxic fumes

If you smell something, it means there are some particles or droplets in the air. We inhale them.

Its good that smoking doesn't regarded as harmless anymore. Yet its difficult to avoid the second hand smoke. Very often here in Newtown, when I'm at the playground with my kids, I can see a mother and a father with a pram coming, sitting on the bench and... starting smoking. Or it rains cats and dogs, we are waiting at a tiny bus shelter and suddenly a person next to us is starting smoking... Its not so much the government to blame but the people who doesn't care if they cause discomfort (headaches, coughs, etc) or even are harming others health.

And its not just cigarette smoke. I remember starting to have a terrible headache several times when somebody next to me obviously used lost of synthetic perfume in public transport or gym. Its probably just as harmful. And all this room-fresheners, tumble-dryer additives etc.

Anyway, its such a joy to create an unique smell with natural essential oils instead of buying something with ingredients totally unknown to you. And there are plenty of books with recipes for this in libraries.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Commenting 2

Continuing previous post (why I don't like commenting on other people's blogs): if you praise somebody for being good after reading a post, that person may feel that she (or he) did presented herself as being good, which, as she knows, is far from true. Which may make her feel guilty. Or (if you, say, praise her work) she might think you are just being polite or try to cheer her up...

Anyway, I often feel I write my thoughts in English in the manner of that "Russian Professor Vooshka" from the Carry On Behind (1975) movie. Probably quite often the meaning is not what I really meant. And somebody has a great laugh reading all this nonsense... No comments, please! :) (just joking)

Commenting

I don't do much of it. Possibly, because I really have to know a person or at least see her or him live to post an adequate comment, which will convey an adequate reaction.

A little advice to fellow bloggers: never post a comment like "I don't want to know about this" to somebody you do not really know in real life. Nobody forces you to read blogs or comment on them. And for some people its really hard and scary to write anything personal. The comment like that will really hurt.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Fans and Fanatics

I sometime can like or dislike something (e.g. an opinion) very strongly. But I CAN'T imagine myself being one of the people who think that if a human being doesn't share all their important beliefs, tastes and opinions he or she is always a bad person, evil, empty space, hell bound, enemy, doesn't deserve listening. My heart just can't accept this. In fact, its normally looking for ways to redeem people. And thanks goodness for that!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Monsters on the beach


We've been to Norfolk during this Easter holidays. We spent most time walking along beautiful beaches and building sandcastles with kids. Everything was perfect, except dogs. And the noisy vehicles shown on the picture (forgot the name). Several times a day a real monstrosity (e.g. Rottweiler or German sheep dog) would run to us scarring everybody to death. Then in a few minutes relaxed owners would appear and we would be lucky if they say something like "he won't bite". No apologies for the fright, spoiled clothes and ruined sandcastles. I've actually seen (in the past) some dog owners who enjoyed scarring people with they "pets". Anyway, I think all dogs should either be on a lead or wear a muzzle when out of their owners garden. Even at home, there are stories of small children being killed by family dogs appearing on the news all the time. They are animals and predators, after all. And that horrible mess they live on the streets and in the parks... No, its not that I hate the dogs, not at all, its just would be so much better if some owners been more responsible. Sometimes you can see notices "no dogs on this beach" but it seems that lots of people do not really care.

Also we discovered a beach walk of horrifying beauty between villages of Mundesley and Overstrand (don't attempt it in high tide or you will drown and keep as far away as possible from the collapsing cliffs). The scale of sea erosion is astonishing (a destroyed narrow-gage railway on the picture), and freshly exposed colorful cliffs remained us the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert. I'm wondering, if anybody cared to slow the erosion down, maybe the solution would be to plant lots of native bushes like sea-buckthorn, blackberries and wild roses. They also produce edible fruit although I've never seen anybody picking it in the UK, which is a great pity. Sea-buckthorn fruit is stuffed with vitamins and also makes a great cordial and a liqueur. People grow it in the gardens and sell the berries in the markets in Russia.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

MBTI / Socionic Type Names

I've been using MBTI type names in this blog for a while as they are more familiar in the West but now I've learned that there is some controversy to which one corresponds to which in Socionics. Well I'll be using the latter system now, e.g. EII, ESE, etc. Sorry for the confusion.

Lady Nebula


One of my Hubble-inspired pictures has been sold. Its a fun idea, to see shapes in Nebulae, like some people do in clouds, so I'll try to do more of this in future.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Best type of society (for me)


would be a scatter of small independent settlements amongst beautiful and not very dangerous wild nature where people are free to choose to which "village" they are going to belong. Like some happy little colonies on other planets with wise, peaceful and independent-minded inhabitants who use all past human experience and modern technology to live in harmony with their environment. Not an anarchy, but rather some sort of post-industrial society, very individualistic and without any bureaucracy. The trouble is, I can't imagine (at least not in our times) any state allowing self-governing people to chose by themselves different laws to obey (like in the movie "The Village").

Friday, 3 April 2009

Little Shops

Its a pain to see many little shops closing down. We counted something like 17 last time in the center of Shrewsbury. Yet, I think, one of the reasons for this is their working hours.

Many mothers and fathers, like me, are probably doing their shopping just after taking the kids to school or just before picking them up. Yet lots of little shops are still closed in the morning. There are some without clearly indicated working hours on the window, and ones where the shopkeeper is almost always late... There is a very nice little gift shop in Newtown, Vanilla Rose, but its tricky to get inside. Few days ago I went here in the afternoon and there was a sticker saying on the door "back at 3". I did some shopping (looking for some presents for my relatives), went back... and found the same piece of paper saying now "back at 3.15". I couldn't wait any more and bought everything in another shop... Most shops do close early, even more true to say this about the market stalls - they owners already have packed half of their staff when I go shopping in the afternoon.

Also most of this little places don't accept card payments. Because of this lots of shoppers will be very careful not to pick up too much items. Its good for buyers but not so good for shop owners.

Anyway, I think last few decades have seen too many people buying things they don't really needed (like new clothes when old ones were still wearable, or new furniture when old one still was in one piece... yes!). It was unnatural. And I feel it is unrealistic to expect this to carry on forever. So, unfortunately, some shops (and factories) have to go for good.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Shopping trolly

It would certainly increase the number of people shopping without using their cars if we were allowed to take standard BIG shopping trolleys strait to the doors of our homes.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

School curriculum

I think there are three important things which should be taught in school from the earliest age possible but they are not (as far as I know): first aid, survival and self defence. Hopefully kids would never need to use them but if they do it would help save lives.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Trouble writing

Recently I keep having feeling that all people around expect me to be somebody else. No, rather that I expect people to expect me being somebody else. Couldn't write much here because of this too. I don't want to write what's already expected from me and I don't want to disappoint anybody by writing things they would think as being out of my character and their interests. Plus my uncle died recently and kids had a long virus infection (which is fortunately already over) so I didn't really feel writing much. And since Google Reader started to misbehave itself I wasn't reading much blogs for which I feel guilty too. Anyway, despite all that plus wind and rain, daylight is longer, winter is over and hopefully there will be something nice to write next time... Post tenebras lux...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

New shop

I've joined CafePress today:
http://www.cafepress.com/linandara

I've also had an idea for Delta Quadra group on Last.FM:
http://www.last.fm/group/Delta+Quadra+-+Socionics




INTPs got their own group, so why not?




Anyway, I'm also working on a very strange painting (in digital sketching stage at the moment), incomporating my love for music and some socionic ideas. My husband already christened is Abbagonewrong... Sounds sort of Welsh... (my preliminary name is Shadow Walkers)




Also I've found some funny socionics-inspired art:

http://www.iztkanirukami.ru/cats/socion01.html

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Music


I've found out on Last.fm that apparently my "mainstreaminess" equals zero (great news) and this is the list of the most common tags from the music I listen to.

Etsy & Ebay update

Few more things in Etsy shop:
Spring in the West Park, Long Eaton
Three green apples - a retouched still life print
Folk Festival - framed acrylic painting
Little Lady - Rag Doll in Medieval Style
Monstresse 63 Unusual Rag Doll
A Set of 3 Dark Brown Canvas Bookmarks

Also it is now free to put items under one pound on Ebay.uk. Helps with spring cleaning...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Word Clouds



I had some fun with http://www.wordle.net/

This is the essense of this blog:









And this is from my art page:

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Probably the last snow of this winter


Just on the hilltops.

Last Sunday some very kind people from Romania gave me a lift to the nearest Orthodox Church where I met some very nice and interesting people.

And I've found another INFJ blog:
http://harrietmwelch.com/
I still have problems with Google Reader, I guess I bookmarked too many blogs, so they keep disappearing or changing folders...

plus another find - the Beatles songs turned into Gregorian chants...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Sold and selling

A little miniature with a red apple has been sold on Etsy and two more artworks are listed for sale: a ginkgo alley in Alexandria, VA and Camomile and Tansy.





Thursday, 26 February 2009

Outdoor season started


The spring is in the air. Yesterday I've managed to make an ACEO sketch of the Newtown bridge:

Up our street

Its a pretty small cul-de-sac. When we just moved in I thought "great, kids can learn to ride they new bikes here". Naive me. There was a car passing every five minutes or so. I watched in great surprise how (in the middle of the day) people were constantly driving in and out going somewhere. And that's in a town where EVERYTHING is in walking distance...

If its cool or rainy we have to wait long time before crossing every street on the way to school because all other kids are driven by their parents. Once we had a lift on the way back and it took us longer than walking because of traffic jams.

Also on the way to school we have to walk under a railway bridge. Its a VERY narrow path between protruding stones of the wall and a busy road, plus a crowd of kids walking in both directions, some of them even trying to ride their bikes. I actually seen TWICE kids falling down on the road in front of cars (fortunately the drivers managed to stop in time). When a big bus or lorry is on the road you really feel like being sandwiched.



Countryside is beautiful. But I (being brought up free range in Russia) feel SO trapped, like never before. There is nowhere you can walk. OK, two designated footpaths. The rest is forbidden. I wish I could climb every hill with my easel but... "keep out, private property". There is an ancient moat, the rest of a hill fort, we tried to visit last weekend. Its all (a national heritage?) completely blocked by its "owners". If you want to see something in the Mid Wales you just have to drive.

Even trains don't stop (as they used to) in the mountains on the way to the seaside. All old stations are turned into houses. There is no local buses on Sunday and trains start running after lunchtime on that day. Once, desperately trying to get to my church, I checked National Express website, found that there is a bus suitable for me and went to the bus station. Guess what the driver said to me. "Sorry, I'm not allowed to take local passengers. Use your local buses"...

I hope this will change. I also think that (sadly) people won't change the way of their life willingly.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Gloomy picture

Plenty of this on TV now. People loosing jobs, sitting at home, desperate, playing computer games or getting angry. No positive advice to people like "try to learn new skills" or "try to turn a hobby into a new job" (for stories like this look on Etsy ), "try to move to the countryside and learn self sufficiency". Its just like somebody wants people be gloomy and desperate...

Friday, 20 February 2009

Rollo May "The Discovery of Being"

Few words from this book:

... a crisis is exactly what is required to shock people out of unaware dependence upon external dogma and to force them to unravel layers of pretense to reveal naked truth about themselves which, however unpleasant, will at least be solid...

(citation from Nietzsche)... the spirit grows, strength is restored by wounding...

... one must have at least a readiness to love the other person, broadly speaking, if one is to be able to understand him...

About loneliness, isolation and alienation in our society:
... a vivid and gripping picture of a man, who is a stranger in his world, a stranger to other people whom he seeks on pretending to love; he moves about in a state of homelessness, vagueness, and haze as though he had no direct sense of connection with his world but were in a foreign country where he does not know the language and has no hope of learning it but is always doomed to wander in quiet despair, incommunicado, homeless and a stranger.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Moth drawing

Its was done with permanent ink pens and colour pencils quite a while ago. I love working in this media because I can achieve lots of details, texture, and its so easy to start and stop working when needed - no paints to squeeze out of tubes or brushes to wash afterwards.



Spurge-Hawk Moth

on a piece of tree bark with some lichen

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Hello again, Big Brother...

Its just as bad as during Soviet times. Political correctness, spin and citizens constantly spying on citizens. Day after day there is something on the news - neighbours being filmed secretly over the fence, so called "friends" reporting private conversations and so on. Yes, real criminals should be punished, but at what price?

I am actually a person who, unfortunately, could be easily offended by any word (but also fast to forgive & forget) so I just can't understand how any even slightly "politically incorrect" unintentional word is considered almost a crime nowadays. Somebody always will be offended by one thing or another. But its presumably OK to hate your neighbours, spy on them and report them. And to have one-sided national news coverage on many occasions - that's not politically incorrect. And to deny showing a charity appeal because the poor kids have a particular country's army to blame for their suffering... So contradictory.

"Oh, Hello!" - just waiving to the next door camera pointing directly at our kitchen window. And this is probably one of the most low-crime places on Earth...

Arches

Yet another artwork in oil pastel:

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Stefan Morrell - Dream Cities

Just a link to an artist site:

http://stefan-morrell.com/

Very moody dreamy cities. I wouldn't want to live here but certainly love to visit...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Car industry

So much is said on the news that it's so unfortunately that people don't buy many cars any more. The car industry suffers and that's so bad. Well why nobody tells that perhaps people were buying too many cars before? Several per family - used mostly just to get to local school or shops. They say its so sad that the borrowing stopped. It seems to me that the global economy IS in this mess because of overborrowing and overspending...

Strange doll

Unusual Handsewn Rag Doll
Unusual Handsewn Rag Doll
by Linandara

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Spring Comes Early Every Year in acrylic

I've put another fantasy painting for sale on Ebay:

Trees with pink blossom, petals floating in the air, the sky above is golden yellow. Two women in unusual clothes are talking, one is sitting in the cart. The horse is waiting. Open to your interpretation.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Zoo Principe

Its almost everywhere now. Any party, committee, members of staff, artists on exhibition, every kind of people has to be represented everywhere. "We haven't got enough women firefighters" - we hear on the news. And there should be a person from every race or ethnicity or ability for every group. Why? To tick the box? If there would be real equality nobody would ask which type of person you are, the only important thing would be if you can do you job well. Having "Women in Art" museums and exhibition is not an acknowledgement but patronising.

Dragging crowds of woman into army, police, government, etc. is plain stupid. There are less of us here because we don't generally want to be here. Men, I'm sorry, can't breastfeed of get pregnant whatever governments are trying to tell us. And if all women are gone firefighting, who's going to take care of kids and homes? Also you may be happy when governments tell that women can go to the army now. Well, don't give them a finger or they eat the whole hand: in a generation or two it will happen that all women have to go to the army.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Andrey Chulovskiy - organ recital

We visited a very nice organ concert in the village of Kerry last Saturday. This is this Russian composer's web site:

http://www.chulovskiy.com/

I am impressed: few years ago I've heard some modern organ music and frankly it sounded like a tummy rumbling but Andrey Chulovskiy seems to master writing modern music for traditional organ.

Only one complain (yes, I just can't go without them :) - this village is in walking distance from Newtown, but we had to take a taxi: its a busy road without any sidewalk space again!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Empty Eyes

I used to take part in many artists fairs, markets, carnivals, open days and so on. I'm sort of glad I'm not doing it anymore. The sight of people continuously passing by with their empty eyes and tight lips was heartbreaking. No, there were some friendly and interested looks, but still... Maybe many sought the art was a waste of time altogether. Maybe they really hated my style, maybe they felt sorry they didn't do anything creative in their life. I shouldn't judge them too harsh as I probably often have the same gaze passing by other artists demonstrating their work... I'd hide my feelings even if I really like what I see. It's cold, cold world...

Once I've been sitting from 9 am till 5 pm next to a model fairground exhibition with loud repetitive silly music going on and on and on. I though I'll get mad. Yet now, being in isolation of my home for quite a while, I feel I miss seeing live humans. So I made a wallpaper for Windows with several dozens faces I like starring at - family, friends, artists of all sorts, etc. At least it's something!

Funny kids

They are SO funny...
"What's your Barbie caring in that container? - Antimatter."
"Why are you so angry? - She has stepped on my Alexandria Library and broke it!"

Friday, 9 January 2009

Poor doggy

Kids were watching children's channel CBBC yesterday:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00gnskf

The program was about designing an outfit for a dog... And the winner proposed to put MP3 player and loudspeakers onto it. And NOBODY mentioned that it probably would damage dogs hearing as its much more sensitive than ours and generally may make the pet very uncomfortable (and I'm not even a dog lover or animal rights activist to notice that!). So the moral was: 1)Its fine to have you music on loudly on the street; 2) it doesn't matter that a pet is alive, its just a cool gadget... And that's taxpayer-sponsored channel for you...

Balley Dancer

An artwork sold recently.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009