A little Halloween art and a story for you

Tales from The Museum of Mind Manipulation

The first time we heard of Sulphur Rumenum it was only a whisper, an evil, little malicious rumour, which suggested that the Museum of Mind Manipulation had been discovered after all. We began our search at once, sent out queries and letters and then, just last month, our plea for an audience at the museum was granted.

We spoke with Sulphur at length, and discovered that he took enormous pleasure walking about the catacombs of the museum listening to the artifacts whisper their stories.

We asked Sulphur how long he had been the curator of the MMM. He replied that he’d rather lost track of the years. He recalled his previous tenure as professor of epistemology at Oxford. He wasn’t sure of the year exactly but made a reference to the St. Scholastica riot as the turning point in his career path, by which time he had gathered enough curios to begin cataloguing full time.

We asked to be allowed around the museum…in the name of professional research.

He answered that, whilst professional research is all well and good, walking around the museum is a task which requires a subtle sensitivity and tremendous inner mind control.

After much diplomatic bargaining, (and a small amount of pleading), we were allowed to visit one of the least dangerous parts of the museum – the Transgressor Guidance Circuit Control Bank.

We must say that, while the terminology he used was a bit recondite, we have developed a deeper understanding and a deep fondness for Sulphur Rumenum.

Our camera managed to capture a few images before it mysteriously stopped working.

We did everything possible to repair the camera and worried about not being able to bring the images to you, dear friend.

Sulphur proceeded on through the Control Bank not noticing our camera predicament.

He conducted us to the exit, thanked us for the visit and asked us to come and see him again at some point in the future.

Then he looked at our poor non-functioning camera, smiled his half smile and reminded us not to worry as these things tended to sort themselves out…

We thanked him and, clutching the museum map, we stepped out into the light without any apparent side effects.

Miraculously, our camera began to work again and we found that we had recorded four files which we are proud to share with you:

The circuit board from The Queen Anne’s Revenge. We understand that Blackbeard comes round for tea every now and then.
Queen Anne's Revenge

The circuit board from Dr Frankenstein’s lab. Apparently the good doctor builds a new model for every…er…new model.

The circuit board from the Magic Mirror on the Wall. Unfortunately the fairest of them all shattered this version and has had to endure seven years of bad luck.
magic mirror

The circuit board form The Nautilus. Apparently we just missed the good captain as he’s gone on a fishing mini break.
Captain Nemo

And now, as we recall our inner transgressor, we must allow ourselves an evil Machiavellian smirk…quite out of character…err…we may have been slightly affected…

Art: An old circuit board plus found objects built into the back side of a deep square canvas (making it function like a drawer) painted black. A little Photoshop manipulation of Dr Frank’s circuit board to make electricity flow around it.

Happy Halloween!

When you think of France, what do you think of?

Paris? Provence? Bordeaux?

Today, the lovely Anita from Castles, Crowns and Cottages invited me to share what my France is.


My France almost always is the High Savoy.


One of my ancient family seats is the village and the Castle Allaman in Switzerland, on the north side of Lake Geneva, (Lac Leman).


As a matter of fact, my maiden name is Von Alemann, a gentle spelling deviation thru the centuries since my family began with a strong Saxon tribe in 1218, but the same name none the less.

I’m drawn back to Geneva, where I’ve lived for great lengths of time in the past and each time I do, I spend every second day in France. France is just a short drive across a simple open border and then suddenly you are in the glorious Haute-Savoie.

I’ve been dragging my children around from village to Alps and back to village since they were very little. Hiking, swimming, eating… living.
I think Chloe’s fondest memories might be of a great big St Bernard named Lou-Lou and raclette, (it’s a long story).

The French side of Lake Geneva has two special villages so close to my heart. Yvoire and Thonon-les-Bains.


Yvoire, the magical, medieval village with the spectacular le Labyrinthe Jardin des Cinq Sens, and Thonon, in which there is a pool right beside Lake Geneva, is where I can be, normal to me, and suntan topless with the other moms while our children play in the crystal waters. Chloe still has a friend she made at that pool when she was nine who she corresponds with today.


But then it’s always into the mountains we go. La Clusaz, Chamonix, Mt Blanc. Where the most delicious mountain air makes for the most delicious hikes and small chalet lunches.


My most favorite has always been the complex salads of that region and a baked potato, lardons, reblochon dish called Tartiflette. I make it where ever I am and instantly bring my France back to me. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll make it tomorrow and post the recipe.


So please go dig up your treasured memories of France and tell me about them. :)

france button

I really, really wanted to write this post but I’m so moved that I’ve been staring at a blank page for an hour.

I dropped in on Dalyce’s book store today and, being my friend, she handed me a book she saved for me.

I didn’t even question her choice for me, she knows what I love, I had a good mooch, found more books, we had a little chat and off I went.

This evening I opened the book and it’s then when I realised what a treasure Dalyce gave me.

I’m absolutely humbled and speechless.

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I feel like I don’t deserve to own this book. Like I haven’t done enough in this world to warrant a book like this belonging to me.
It is extraordinary and has completely taken my breath away.

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It’s a 1941 book called 12 Million Black Voices written by Richard Wright with photographs by the most amazing photographers of the day including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein.

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It is a simple book beautifully written in poetry with passion and love. Powerful and startling showing everything from joy and optimism…


…to horrible poverty and despair, and the most horrible, gruesome, outrages injustices, (which I can’t bring myself to replicate).


It is the story of the Great Depression and the migration of oppressed people.

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It is full of voices and faces which will never be forgotten. “Deep down in us,” the voices say, “we are glad that our children feel the world hard enough to yearn to wrestle with it.”

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Reading thru this book, seeing the faces, understanding…it’s life changing.

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Loving the Bay

I feel very Canadian some days.

Yesterday I walked thru The Bay’s signature department.

There’s something about those four colours that feel comfy and warm.

They are called Queen Anne’s colours but I prefer the old First Nation’s folklore: green for nature, red for the hunt, yellow for sunshine and indigo for water.

The truth is that those were the dyes that had the greatest colourfastness in the early 1800s.

Now those lovely stripes are painted on everything and anything. Just look at these silly nutcrackers!

The points, (those indigo stripes) woven into the blankets were used to measure size and weight without having to unroll, measure and weigh each individual blanket each time.

The first blanket ever ordered was in 1798 and made by Thomas Empson in my very own market town of Witney, Oxfordshire. The order was for “three points to be striped with four colours (red, blue, green, yellow) according to your judgement.”

The vintage Bay blankets are so collectible these days.

I only own one vintage Bay blanket, circa 1945, but I’m always looking for more. The trick is finding one at a price I can afford. Mine is scarlet and has three and a half points. Right now it’s on C’s bed for the winter keeping her snuggly and warm.


Kerstie is coming for a visit at the end of the week with our little girls.

I think it’s time to introduce them to the theatre.

The marionettes and their theatre have been mine for maybe 30 years. I guess you could call them vintage. They have performed for tons of children and been loved and loved to pieces. They’ve had broken strings, bent wire supports and the occasional foot or head has fallen off, but they’ve been repaired and maintained and stored away carefully for their next performance.

I love that my children call them Loutky; Czech for marionettes. I brought them from Prague.

There lives a king, his queen, their beautiful princess and her friend, a jester. They live on the castle stage. Usually the princess ends up in a pickle.

There lives and an old mum, her handsome young son (who doubles as the prince), his little sister, (who doubles as little red riding hood or Gretel). They live on a cottage stage.

One day, the handsome young son learns that an evil witch has captured the princess and will give her to the Hasterman (evil water spirit) in exchange for magic powers. The Hasterman will drown her and put her soul into a little jar he keeps under the bridge and she will be trapped for ever. The handsome young son says goodbye to his sister, his old mum and the rest of the villagers and leaves the village for the dark forest.

There he defeats the old witch and the Hasterman, rescues the princess and they live happily ever after.

Then, the Loutky take a bow.

And then they will perform again.
And we will play and play and play.

“Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.”
William Makepeace Thackeray

More play today, linked to TALU and this post: Kind of like little red riding hood…but different

Funny story…well, not the part about the dead goose

Yesterday, as I sat on the beach, a “no dog” area of the beach, a small b/w French bulldog ran up to the log I was sitting next to and peed on the end. I looked around to see the owner and saw a blond “Real housewife of West Van” looking woman, with four inch heels and nails probably just as long. She gave me a scowl and went back to her texting.

How can women text with nails that long? She was trying to push the correct button with the pad of her finger while trying to curve her acrylic nails out of the way somehow. Ridiculous…just saying.

Anyway, doggie ran off to my left and right at a very funky Canada goose carcass where he proceeded to make a complete pig of himself peeing on it, rolling in it and trying to drag it away by the neck.

I watched for a while and looked back at the woman who was determined to completely ignore me, and her dog for that matter.

I got up to go and walked to her and said, “Your dog is into a pretty funky goose carcass just there.”

She said, “SH%#!!!”, and pushed passed me.
“Gucci, Gucci, Sh%#!!!”
She turned to me, “Where?”
“Just there, between the logs to your left.”
“Sh%#, Gucci, Gucci, no, bad dog!”
At this point the doggie started to growl.

Ok, I must admit to a slight smirk and a suppressed laugh.
Last I saw she was trying to pick the doggie up while actually not touching it. Wonder how that went.

Karma’s a bitch.

Linked up to TALU

This is how it goes…

You all know Theo, my sweet, older British cat by now. This is how things work in his little cat brain:

In the evening he snuggles up at the foot of my bed and looks away as if to say, “I’m not bothering anyone here…am I?”

Then thru the night he twists and turns and slowly creeps up the bed till, in the morning, he’s practically on my pillow!

Then he gives me his innocent look which means, “you know you want to feed me!” and has a stretch.

He’s such a ham!
Not nearly as much of a ham as my friend Gerry’s cat Oliver. Have a read of this lovely, silly story and tell me about your cat. :)

The ideal gardener’s shed

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’m in love!

Got to get me a gardening shed like this one.

Actually, this is several small sheds in a horse barn at the pleasure gardens on the Blenheim Palace estate, but we can imagine, can’t we. Wouldn’t it be just dreamy to spend your gardening time here? Using these beautiful things?

Just imagine next spring and you…

Choose your seeds from the drawers on this floor to ceiling seed cabinet.

Walk with your precious packets thru your cold fruit store; still full of yummy autumn fruit.

Pot the seeds up on your potting bench.

Cart them out to the garden on your beautiful wooden wheel barrow.

Come back in and wash up.

Have a cup of tea…and take an afternoon nap. (Under a soft feather quilt – which is just airing out on the wash line of course.)

Can you just imagine?
I can’t resist…putting more photos on Facebook. Come be my friend and have a look.

Free verse to Clover

Lynn Daue has asked for a new book spine poem. This time I raided C’s bookshelves. Give it a try…it’s addictive.

It reads:




What looks like crazy on an ordinary day

Taking time off, into thin air

Power over stress, sex, drugs and cocoa puffs

How to become ridiculously well-read in one evening

I was told there’s be cake, ham on rye

Now you know more

Seriously…I’m kidding

Now you know almost everything.


Flashy fiction

I’ve become a little addicted to flashy, flashy, flashy fiction. Ok, it’s only Flashy Fiction but it’s the name, such fun to say, isn’t it. Go on…give it a try. Today De Miller Jackson posted a challenge to use all the words in the following word tornado…terrific fun.








 Here it is:

“Look,” the photography instructor said,

“The juxtaposition of those two items is all wrong.”

“What the hell am I doing here?” he murmured

“Look, see and learn. The photogenic aspect of food can only be achieved if you think a little and put some muscle into it; yes, your brain and your vertebrae. Move that table to the other window…someone bring me an aspirin…Oh my God, not there! And those lacy napkins certainly don’t work. Whose stupid idea was that? Be a little more inventive people! ”

Some of the students moved some items on the table and nodded their heads and generally tried to overcompensate for their lack of experience.

“Now, cameras at the ready, look for the light…wait for it…wait for it…”

“Oh, God, you all missed it!” he shouted.

He reached for the table and plucked up the soda can and shook it at the students in an absentminded way.

“That’s it,” he screamed, “You’re a bunch of incompetents; I can’t possibly teach the fine art here.”

As he walked away, he opened the can of sasspirilla which foamed and streamed right into his face. He tripped on some lighting cords, let out a single vowel and began to tumble across the floor and into the food table.

Several cameras clicked away as students wholeheartedly sniggered and learned that setting up photo shoots is really counterproductive and kills spontaneous creativity.

P.S. That particular class won all sorts of photography awards that season.