The Gift.

Indian Spice Box and Little Cotton Bud.

I sincerely hope I have compassion. I’m a nurse. So? I definitely hope so. But. Tonight? I believe I actually do. But difficulties still exist. Why? I’ll explain.

Having rescued my long forgotten Indian Spice Box from a corner of the attic I noticed wood worm holes. The Spice Box? Having been in the attic for about 5 years or possibly years upon years more? No dust. Which shows, hopefully, no activity of said little worms that make a house collapse around your ears. As usual I attacked Google search for answers.

I found this:

‘What Attracts Woodworm? Different species of wood boring beetles like different types of wood. Some prefer softwoods like pine, spruce and cedar. While others prefer hardwoods such as oak, ash and mahogany’.

Oh! Unsure now. So. Have they recently invaded the wonderful Eastern promise of aromatic wooden Spice Box instead of boring (sic) alternative wooden happen upon’s? Or. Have they left this Eastern promise for a Pinewood preference? Whatever the story, the situation needs instant action. I have some Woodworm treatment liquid in amongst my collection of highly powered and toxic liquids that comprises of rusty ancient tins of cure all’s. So. I grab one of my beautiful little organic cotton buds (the type you stick in your ears) from my aromatic splendour aromatherapy box. Cotton bud? It was amongst it’s fellow cotton buddies probably discussing which of the lovely surrounding bottles of beautiful smelling essential oil it was going to be dipped into in order to be wafted under the nose of a human being. It could of danced it’s merry olfactory tune under a nose that would delight in it’s presence. Cure the conundrum that existed in the human being it was being presented to. Now? It was sacrificed to ‘go kill suspected house eaters’. If the woodworm were not there? Wasted journey and the cotton bud would feel a wasted existence. However, if woodworm are present. It becomes a hero.

Ain’t life like that? You never know how much your presence can change outcomes. Even in if you exist as a beautifully designed and hopeful cotton bud. Or as a human being? As said, do I have compassion? I do feel for little cotton bud. He/she could have been dipped into drops of Sandalwood Absolute, Geranium Bourbon or Sweet Marjoram. Or the ultimate Rose Otto absolute. The dream of all cotton bud uses in their short brief lives. But it went out, into the bin afterwards, soaked in toxic killer juice. I said sorry as I threw him/her into the bin and whispered ‘Thank you Good Buddy’. If that is not compassion, then I don’t know what is.

Yeh! Admit….once again……too much Jack Daniels. But JD does bring it all into some kind of weird reality focus.

Aphantasia

Hi all you wonderful people. Hope you’re all happy on this fine and beautiful day.

Put one of my black and white photographs on my blog yesterday. It got me thinking again, properly, why I indeed actually added words to certain of my photographs. I knew in a rational way. It simply helped link to the memory of my taking it. But why so important. Deeper thinking and what I had put on the back burner of my lack of seeing visually behind closed eyes demanded further investigation.

So. Last night I sat and wrote more to add to yesterday’s blog about why my mind cannot visualise an image if I close my eyes. Simply put. My world of any form of imagery ceases to exist the moment I shut out reality. So, as said, I give my photographs titles to link tentative discovery that it does actually exist when it is not being looked at by myself. The bigger picture? Joke there! I cannot mindfully record anything from my past history. So my life does not have fullness and beauty.

For example. Those little Mindful sessions when you are supposed to close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting next to a beautiful running stream or high on a mountain top looking at the views? Nope! No way. No how! I cannot bring past memories of walks, holidays, places visited or my past houses, places I’ve lived. My imagined imagery is one of inherent profound feelings from experiences.

I remember, as a small child, swinging on a washing line tied up to the frame of the coal outhouse. I sat on a pillow on that washing line…..and promptly, when swinging, fell backwards, smacking the back of my head heavily on the concrete floor. About an hour later, I suffered profound concussion. Donkey’s years later, a heavy chain from an engine lifting device smacked me full on the head. My friend called my Mum to let her know and she said “Keep an eye on him. He get’s easily concussed”. Now? I’m wondering if that childhood event actually started the whole ‘close my eyes and see a black void’ phenomena.

A doctor friend, who came to my Mindfulness teaching class, once told me that there are people who have this condition. I stated this fact about my condition when asking the class to close their eyes and imagine. I explained and asked if anyone else in the room experienced the same. Nope. Not one person. The doctor told me “It’s called ‘Aphantasia’ ‘’. (Just realised now…..Doesn’t come up in predictive text).

From Google:

“Close your eyes and imagine walking along a sandy beach and then gazing over the horizon as the Sun rises. … Most people can readily conjure images inside their head – known as their mind’s eye. But this year scientists have described a condition, aphantasia, in which some people are unable to visualise mental images”.

“How common/rare is Aphantasia? Aphantasia is not very common, and it is believed that only about 1 to 3 percent of people have aphantasia, however, there are also some neurologists who believe that approximately 1 in 50 people or 2- 5% of the population are non-visual imagers”.

That’s why I am not able to paint or draw with the freedom of seeing images in my mind’s eye. I draw or paint images parrot fashion. In reality? It means I see none of my friends’ or familys’ faces once they are not in my presence. Give me a person’s name as a patient and I have no recollection of who they are. I cannot link words or names to the memory of who that person is readily. There has to be a dramatic or memorable link to bring that feeling of their existence back. But I simply cannot give that person a face in my mind’s eye. Even more importantly emotionally? That is a very isolating feeling.

Some strange phenomena.

One…I do dream vividly at times. Extraordinary dreams of massive imagery. Like a feature film. But cease to remember or recall the dreams upon waking. I remember the happiness or dread though.

Secondly. About half a dozen times in my life I have closed my eyes and a series of images run amok one after the other. Each in split second imagery.
There are hundreds of images in about a 2 minute episode. Sometimes it only lasts 20 to 30 seconds before the neurological link breaks. Disappointment after this event is profound. After one particular episode of this happening….I cried I seem to remember.

Thirdly. An activity, like a wax crayon, cut grass, or sharpening a pencil, (essentially a present odour under my nose) leaps me back to, for example, a school day. But it is a frozen image. A huge arched window in a classroom was once an experience. Can’t ever recall it again however.

Fourthly. I hold my hand over my eyes to totally stop any light entering and with all the will in the world to seek the simplest image of line or circle…all I see is the equivalent of the picture of the black square above. A void of emptiness. And that, whilst it is totally calming, does not stop the quick introduction of mind chatter. The thoughts of dilemma in worrisome intrusion. I have nothing to bring forth visually to stop this chatter. So word mantra is my escape technique. Usually the Medicine Buddha chant……in full.

My friend of childhood days once said to me that he was very concerned that once people were out of his presence he imagined that they did not actually exist. He felt the World and Life were playing tricks on him. I now wonder if it was because he had the same condition as myself. He was expressing exactly how I’ve felt all my life in a very imaginative way.

It’s probably why I feel either happiness or dread in expectations.

Places and people take on emotional extremes. Driving to work gives massive butterflies in the pit of my stomach. No visual imagery of good times there cause worriesome thoughts. Seeing my family and friends in the flesh after months of not seeing them makes my heart leap with happiness. No visual memory makes me see them anew all over again. Sounds extreme and over the top. Trust me. It isn’t.

At the same time. It makes me tentative and frightened though. I have to create a connection again. It’s a strange thing in reality.

This realisation upon reading this link to this site has me re-evaluating my life’s memories that do not exist. That is why, I realise too, I’m such a cold fish. If you do visit the fantastic link below……Thank you for taking the time.

https://optimistminds.com/how-common-is-aphantasia/

Mindful Doodles in Oodles.

Mindfully doodling little word thoughts on my strange little photograph.

When the photographs reveal themselves on the little 35 mm negatives then on to paper you sometimes wonder ‘What? Where? When?’ This is one of those. Can’t remember where this was. But you always try to think of a name or title for any of your photographs that actually made you stop and look a little longer. This is to link the image simply with a few chosen words. But sometimes a photograph leads to a chain of thinking. As above. Holistically speaking many of my photos have simple titles. In the form of small phrases. For example, ‘Flight of Angels’, ‘Small protection from the Sea which Drowns’ or ‘Myst and thoughts of Flight’.

Photograph titling is not just an affectation. It’s a necessity. That way I can remember them. Not in totality. My brain does not allow visual recall when I close my eyes. I simply have no visual memory. My eyes close and I see blackness. Or more accurately, blankness. Dependant upon the light entering through my eyelids. It is simply uniform colour behind my closed eyelids. So a title gives me a tentative connection to the image. If the photograph is not in front of me? It never existed.

So I use holism of the tentatively shadow mind imagining of film/paper image (it floats ethereally and ghost like in a different part of my brain but never shows itself); real words; memory of procedures at the time to produce the photograph; memories of background music, radio dramas/plays, discussions or nature’s sounds at the time of the take; sometimes a hint of nature’s odours experienced, again, at the time of taking it and finally; the emotional response I have on seeing latent imagery negative film status become transformed into actual solid evidence of the positive image. This is how I can summon a photograph into my reality. 

Mind you. Never Doodle on my photos normally. But this one needed a little extra. Title? Mindful Doodles in Oodles. 

Aromatherapy.

What do essential oils mean to Gray Summers?

Aromatherapy is both Sister Sun.

And the Tin Moon.

And the ability to create limbic memories as opposed to episodic memories.

It’s seeing Moonbeams as the Midnight Sun.

It’s catching Shadows and Smoke. And holding each One.

Oils Connect. Are……..Connecting………..Aromatherapy is individualism. The Strength of Each One. Akin to how strong we are as Individuals. Aromatherapy is synergy. Synergy of oils that blend well together. Akin to how we interact as family, friends and upon first meeting of strangers. How we ‘blend well with’…..or, sadly, the how we do ‘not blend well with’ opposite.

Oils that fade over different given periods. A beautiful heartfelt embrace. Never in a blink of an eye, but lasting in the memory……for life. Generosity in specific given time. Disappear into the air like a Will ‘o’ the W(h)isp…..er. Or linger like Old Friends. Spoil you with the gift of a quick ‘Hello!’. Or sit in deep Conversation.

Oils in light greens, ochres and ambers. Oils in deep and dark brownish blacks. Oils in airy lightness. Oils in sticky resinous. Oils that are Base Notes, Middle Notes, Top Notes. Oils that are Night. Oils that are Day. Oils that are Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter….. inherent Nature of Mother Nature.

Oils bring Smiles. Bring Euphoria. Bring Serenity. Bring Ambition. Bring Life and Contentment. Bring Thoughtful Reflection. Bring Hope for a Brighter Future. Appease the Rankled Senses. Bring Well-Being. Bring Love and Friendship. Essential oils valued properties? Just like ourselves as unique individuals. It involves fleeting or lifelong friendships/relationships that carve themselves into our hearts.

New Nurse role on the Horizon?

I’m seriously thinking of starting a Podcast/Wordpress marriage blog endeavour sometime next year. Calling it ‘Nurse in a VeeDub Bus’ or ‘Nursing from a VeeDub Bus’. It will involve my local West Coast Mid Wales surroundings initially and then maybe move a little further afield to other Welsh locations. Meeting up and talking with people. Theme? Complimentary and Holistic Therapy and all it’s inclusions. Complementary in the nature of seeking well being through:

Art/craft therapy (photography, pottery, painting, etc.).

Complementary therapies (biologically based-aromatherapy, herbal, homeopathy, foods and nutrition, etc.).

Energy and Biofield therapies (healing touch, reiki, massage, exercise, etc.).

Self healing body and mind therapies (music, yoga, meditation, prayer, writing a journal, animal friendship, etc.).

Holistic in how in simple pleasures and pastimes we achieve a better outcome for well being.

There has to be a quirky undertone in all of this alongside the serious aspect of how to keep well and sane. Talking and discussion. Chatting and reflection? It cannot, in all reality, ultimately enlighten. It can only open up possibilities and ideas for others to go and explore and search for answers themselves. Receiving information from others does not heal. Experience itself heals.

Chatting to people involved in what makes they themselves feel well holistically is a good starter. A positive vibe. Hence my title re: ‘Nurse in a VeeDub Bus’….or ‘Nursing from a VeeDub Bus’. The VeeDub Bus is the most basic healing therapy to go to in my life. It and all it’s inclusions. Guitar, Djembe drum, books, aromatherapy, music, film SLR camera, ability to make a few basic meals, sitting mindfully at a lake, river, woodland/forest space and beach/dune visits. Gathering flotsam and jetsam to make art with. The 1972 iconic VeeDub bus (also known as a campervan) that I own and treasure. It is central to the storyline. In the past, simply parking the VeeDub brings people to her. (Yes, the Bus is a female called Billie). Extended chats after the ‘Ooohs and Aaaahs’ when they look at the VeeDub. They sometimes extend to directional chat concerning health matters once they find out that I am a Staff Nurse. Talking to people I steer them into finding their own answers and skills.

(Billie Bud the 1972 Type 2 Crossover Bay)

Why?

Because when I studied Chronic Illness Management in Swansea for 3 years, the ultimate aim was not the term ‘A Patient’s Self Management…..’. But as ‘A Person’s Self Management of Long Term Health Conditions’. To become what we know as The Expert Patients Programme to go from Patient to Person’. So chatting to people? Can they reflect, chat positives that arose out of the negatives and ultimately, pass successes as well as the fights and tribulations on to others? Therapy? It can come from anywhere. And linked to radio listening and holistic blog writing? I can but dream of successful outcomes.

So. I’d love to record conversation and music with intent and direction (sound). And write, draw, photograph the imagery (sight). Smooth out these two of the senses. You’ll have to pour yourself a beer, spirit, coffee or suitable tea for smell, taste and touch). But that’s the first step just there. Mindfully drink a cuppa or bake a cake.

Appointments? Ad hoc or arranged beforehand with purpose in itself and it’s agenda. To achieve? A Radio Blog, a photograph supported WordPress written blog. YouTube? Nah! My moniker is not one to put out there really. Scare too many people into switching off. I prefer the mind’s workings anyhow. The settling back and listening to voices over airwaves. Radio 4 style imagery always made me feel relaxed and comfortable. Alongside photos and words. This project? It would feel nice to try. An aim. A purpose. I’m keen to start an aromatherapy advanced practitioner course. My Nursing degree has given me the understanding of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology. These three are the basis (actually, whole content) of the aromatherapy diploma level. So I feel safe in going straight into Advanced Aromatherapy, which is where the essential oils and all the ‘considerations and what to avoids’ begin to get taught.

And so. How to get a Radio blog started. Buy machinery for decent voice/music recording. Not one jot of an idea yet. And. To plan and seek out interested parties. Machynlleth has many unique characters. Many unique endeavours. Hopefully, 2021 may afford a better Covid avoidance situation. But………safety in all thinking things through. So may not be January. Or months after that. But could well start off very low key………

Picture Artwork after the title above inspired by the VeeDub that is Billie…..by Jonathan Gross.

From the poetry book ‘Off Road to Everywhere’ by Philip Gross. His Dad.

Synergy and Holism.

In short? After the year we have all had and all it’s problematics, it has seriously challenged my role as a Health Professional. Some of you may think ‘Oh! Here he goes again!’. But, I don’t believe I’m doing my full potential. I don’t feel I’ve made or making a difference nowadays. And…I live in a marvellous environment here in Machynlleth and surrounding countryside area. We, as a community, are one of ‘inquisitive analysts and triers’. So. I want to re-study aromatherapy again…but more professionally. My Staff Nurse training alongside a new adventure. Attempt to understand the deeper foundations of alleviating anxiety, stress, worrisome thoughts, catastrophizing, pain, uncertainty.

Am I keen? Well…These are a very small sample of my books regarding Complementary Therapies in order to provide evidence for my Master’s essays on 8 different subjects re: Holistic Approaches in Chronic Conditions. And a bit of the writings I put down to get information into my old little grey cell diminished brain. So. It will be really nice to revisit these old friends again. Haven’t opened them in years. I used to read them in a quiet spot in the old VeeDub campervan and write notes and sip coffee and Earl Grey tea. Then a gentle stroll in the dunes, forest, woods, riverside. Just building an image again to give myself impetus.

Why think about this now? Considering my time a fair few years back studying Chronic Illness Management for 3 years in Swansea, I began to remember gentler times and the normality of study. My main focus was on Pain Management with considerations to Complementary Therapies and holism of the Biopsychosocial make up of us human beings. During and after the course, myself and two other nurse colleagues went through a 3 year period of teaching a twice a year 4 week course based in Mindfulness to the local Machynlleth community. So. It is accepted by the NHS. Now we are Worldwide suffering a great deal of stress/anxieties in the 2020 situation we have found and still finding ourselves in. I’m seeking answers to alleviate my own claustrophobia. Both in isolation and in frustration at working in an environment I keep questioning. I can imagine, four/five years down the line thinking ‘How on Earth did we consider those approaches to have been the true answers to all we went through’. Good fortune all.

Sister Sun, Shifting Stars and the Tin Moon.

A long time ago, in the 1970s, I dreamed of owning a mythological craft shop here in Wales. I wanted to call it ‘Sister Sun and the Tin Moon’. It would have a few tables out back for people to drink coffee, read books, listen to poetry on vinyl and generally chill. Inside? The crafts from a plethora of friends I’d met over the years at Craft Shows and worked alongside in my Exhibitions. I was busy being both a musician and a potter at the time.

Recently? Whilst looking for people on YouTube who went on road trips in their VeeDubs. There were a few who simply showed their holiday experiences. But, knowing of people who gave up their whole lifestyle of 9 to 5 job work experience, I found others that went on these permanent life changing trips. I’ve spoken about marrying my love of life’s experiences regarding my times as musician, potter, photographer, writer, aromatherapy and complementary therapy treatments champion and vegetarian. Writing a book, drawing simplistic pencil drawings and including photographs.

Recent isolation times for my family and friends and work experience for myself and my wife and my work colleagues on the hospital ward have caused us all anxieties that can break your spirit if you allow it to. I will admit. My spirit is officially broken to ‘almost’ beyond belief. This morning I have been seeking synergy through anti stress essential oils. 4 drops each of clary sage, lavender, sweet marjoram, petitgrain and ylang ylang. Additional 2 drops of Neroli Absolute. Initially I thought of Sweet Orange. But Neroli is king. Powerful and heady.

I have many books on Aromatherapy and their effect on the limbic system is profound. So, apart from working on the biological systems due to their inherent chemical make up. Their effect on emotional needs is mind blowing.

So….back to current Covid 19 reality. Myself and many others I know? Anxieties inherent beyond a simple repair now. Essential oils change effectively. But longer planned measures have to be considered. Life has to be reconsidered. I have realised now…..I NO LONGER WISH TO BE A STAFF NURSE. Capital letters because that will be my decision after all this current nightmare. The fact is. I don’t feel safe for my own well being in my role as a nurse because for years upon years the Government and Health Boards have let us down. They think short staffing, laughing and cheering when we have wage rise considerations refused, never think of acuity and the enormity of us looking after ‘more than we can physically and mentally cope with’ patients with high dependency needs.

Also…lack of training or ignoring our own paid for it myself chased Masters level training to improve my knowledge extensively and recognise this admirable seeking to expand skills far and beyond in accrued evaluation to maybe pay a little bit more! They give no consideration whatsoever to ambitions to learn at higher levels. They don’t even give consideration to giving you a few days to actually apply to that learning. Do it in your own time. So ‘Chronic illness/disease management 3 year part time course is not worth recognition to my nursing skills? Oh. But they’re happy enough to use my knowledge within their system. ‘Become a Mentor for student nurses’ they said. 10 days training. We will pay you for 5 and the rest you have to do in your own time. Oh! And you have to travel to the training with a 122 miles round trip. But that’s not part of your pay. And travel in your own time. Across country roads that take an age to transverse. And no recognition of any kind concerning input overtime. You should better time manage your shift. Even though there were/are many times where it felt like you were/are doing the job of two people. And different examples aplenty folks. I’m done with injustice. Change career? I’ve done it many times in my life. Left my jobs to head down a completely different road.

Bit of a rant. And sad it’s the fact of how I have felt. Nursing was going to be the highlight of my lifelong experiences…….I truly believed. So, back to seeking a different pathway.

So? It’ll take Billie Budd the beautiful VeeDub I’ve had since 2009 to link down to the very foundations of my life and provide holistic healing. It will be her journey and I’m sure she’ll share her splendour that exudes both calmness and the ability to provide myself with euphoric laughter. My bus is currently with the local Guru known as Paul. He is working on her engine to get her running smoothly. Great bloke. Very knowledgeable and an oasis in a desert.

The dreamers YouTube and website links? In blue below.

I love this couples‘ phrase “Orange is Optimism”. Their web site is 

http://www.idletheorybus.com/

and well worth a visit. 

Also. These 2 dreamers who have made it happen for themselves? Go check out their beautiful 3 minute videos below.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fjdJeXgUvaQ&t=1s

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8qNnOe8vCe0

Wales is an extremely beautiful country. I can begin my blog and intentional book writings by driving out to local beauty and mystical spots whilst chatting to people and sharing with them our individual dreams and hoped fors. What people have done to provide their own dreams of Nirvana.

My future tag? A brand new Web/blog site? And it’s name? Well….maybe…..since I’ve had it in my mind’s thought dreams since the 1970s………

“Days and Nights under Sister Sun, Shifting Stars and the Tin Moon“. 

Cloud Atlas. Iconic Book/Film

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The long established question. Which is better? Book or Film? Invariably, the question exists like this because ‘books’ are made into ‘films’. Are films made into books?  Don’t ever recall one……..ever! But, maybe there is one out there. Certainly, stand alone/stand out films written by script writers exist. But my three favourite books of all time exist in film. A Christmas Carol, (my favourite number one book) has many adaptations in film with modern takes just about bearable. Re-telling of the story in film having either a non altruistic (I despair) or altruistic (I smile and applaud) link to the beauty and sentiments of Dicken’s original vision linked to embracing Christmas spirit with the result of Ebenezer Scrooge regaining human dignity and achieving personal transformation which is told so eloquently within his original wonderful storytelling. Number two, The Lord of the Rings, has an unfinished project of creating a full cartoon version film of the book (only Part One, an Unexpected Journey, of the books, being realised). What followed was very satisfying. The Peter Jackson trilogy we all love and know. Number three. Cloud Atlas. I read the book three times and literally finished it and read it again, finished it a second time and then read it again. Not since my annual visit to re-reading of both Dickens and Tolkien has a book got under my skin.

I don’t really have the skills to put down thoughts of analysis as to what this book is about. I can explain what this book does for me. It’s a joy of 6 different format styles. It’s unique in it’s Russian Doll take apart and rebuild format. The first story simply stops, as do the next 4 others until the 6th middle story (which is read in full) and then it continues with the stories which sequence 5,4,3,2,1. That is….the first story becomes finished at the end of the book. Chronological order. Written in a chained ongoing sequence of different eras from past times to the future and back again to the past.

It’s a puzzling, challenging and complex book which requires a few readings really. And David Mitchell, in this and his other books, includes various reappearing characters from different stories. In other words, the same characters or people linked to characters appear in different books. The following link is essential reading from David Mitchell’s thoughts of this application to his writing.

https://www.waterstones.com/blog/david-mitchell-on-reappearing-characters

As a David Mitchell fan? It’s a club. He’s the only author I actually look to the internet to check if any more of his work is available. Tolkien, Conan Doyle, Richmal Crompton, Stephen King, Murakami, Andrew Miller, Agatha Christie and very many more authors I have read can weave within their words a visual extravagance that sits in my psyche. David Mitchell does this too. But, he somehow transcends the imagery and I leave his books having experiencing a total immersion in the world/worlds I’ve just visited. I’m there, within that story, watching it all develop. It’s like the film exists and plays out there and then.

And so……the film adaptation of Cloud Atlas by the Wachowski siblings.

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An atmosphere all of it’s own. Completely different format to the book. The various stories interweaving with each other with a jumping back and forth experience. I knew the story so well that it was not an issue for me. As with all visually presented film characterisation, I had that so familiar experience of thinking, ‘Nah! That’s not what I thought they’d look like’. Also, the Wachowski’s used the same actors/actresses in various different guises/disguises to play various parts. Some crossing genders even. Men become female characters and females become male characters. An extension of the life changing decisions of the Wachowski brothers, who are now sisters. Whilst this ‘actors in various roles’ happened, I found myself not comparing the film and book. But got caught up in the film precisely because it took itself off into an individual Wachowski philosophical presentation. It became awesome of its own accord. A fascinating development of guessing of the actors, who was who, then sitting back and enjoying the film for all its holistic presentation on second viewing, and then spotting the Easter eggs in subsequent viewings. And I keep watching the film or dipping into it from time to time to get a ‘hit’. The philosophy of Buddhist links just simply resonates. It’s like carrying around a familiar book of quotations that ground the mind’s wandering. A smile at familiarity and logic. The atmosphere presented in both book and film is a beautiful experience. I treasure each now as classics/cult status in their own right.

Cloud Atlas is a book I always recommend to family and friends. Some are as enthusiastic after reading. Others scratch their heads. Not quite Marmite qualities of love or hate. But, worth a try. Like Marmite. You may discover a whole new challenging and good feel enhancer. I recommend the film too. Again the same scenario as mentioned. I have three situations. My mind’s eye of characters from my own visualisation after reading the book. The actors’ presentations in the film. And the environmental imagery created by both David Mitchell’s words and the Wachowski filmed experience. Akin to the beauty that was inherent in the Lord of the Rings film filmed mainly in New Zealand.

David Mitchell is simply a genius in his skill regarding the written word. The Wachowski siblings are geniuses too in the visual format. The Arts are much richer for these people. Yummy.

A VW bus is a lifestyle.

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I’ve just realised the answer to my current state at the end of a fourth triple Jack Daniels. Or maybe more? Pasrpt (Ha, Ha…) caring. Passed caring. Whoah! Passed? Past caring. I can type. Yippee! The fifth will render me past focussing. The sixth and I’ll be snoring. So get on with it. But why JD? It just feels nice. Right! My Blog…..focus!

My VW bus is, like JD, my perfect lifestyle. It really, really matters. I seem to have forgotten how much I loved the bus. But, I’ve put it on a back burner. Pushed to the back of my mind due to the fact that if I thought more about it….I’d go nuts. I’ve been without it now for four years. Now? I’m on yet another holiday. Yet again, from Friday I’m making stuff up as I go along. No holiday purpose. Just what I’ll do I’ll just do. My brother and one of my best mates are arriving with their wives on said Friday. When I knew they were arriving about a month ago, I had visions of all 6 of us popping to a local or near/far off destination to have an experience of the VeeDub chill factor. This chill factor was a vision of bus with inherents. The comfort of Billie Budd and all she provides in psychological comfort. Basically, my bus, a stash of needful stuff and the kettle on. Still not a realisation. But hey! That’s life. Then I thought of stress. My workload is dynamic. Being a nurse I have a shed load of emotional turmoil in my day. Every day is linked in some respect to other’s worriesome thoughts. Also, medically and clinically I have to keep people safe. In keeping them safe, they keep me safe. The pressures are relentless. In the past I have never felt so pressured as I do so now.

Then? I suddenly realised. Why did I cope then? When I drove into work every day in a ‘put-put VeeDub engine sound’ of lovely bus and not like now of ‘listening to car revs engine sound’. Now, just jumping in, starting the engine and simply driving to work. John Muir wrote about philosophy of driving a Dub. The thought processes required in ‘Keeping it Alive’. And Robert Pirsig wrote about Motorcycle Maintenance and it’s affinity with eventual answers to ultimate calm. Their vision, both of them in different approach, was Zen like and enlightening in the qualities they proffered and discussed. They are not book/author/philosopher best sellers without reason. They have also changed people’s lives completely. Mine included.

Work is work. Preparation in going to work is vital. A cigarette on the way. A bus or train journey of visual escape in the surrounding views. A time of reading a favourite novel or listening to a catalogue of music on the MP3. Or the knowledge that in 5 days you’re on holiday.

But actually thinking now…..when did I actually have holidays I enjoyed. My holidays have been a conundrum of planned visits to seek catch ups and resulting chaos involved. Not a number of days of relaxation selfishness. They have been a rush of inclusions. In other words. Feeling guilty you need to sort out the “Haven’t seen you for ages and must rectify this” situations. I don’t do selfish seeking. I try to seek calm in what ever presents itself. But I realise after years of not having a proper full break, my health may well be at risk. Maybe psychologically or biologically. A week in Tenerife and a 10 day holiday in Palma over the last 10 years is my only time of actual total relax.

But. Back to the subject of the VeeDub.  The bus helped me to survive. And in an everyday sense. Luckily I live near the coast. Billie Budd gave me the chance, on days off, to just pop down to the sea edge and truly seek life’s needed switch off ability. You’ll argue, ‘Get a life and just go for a walk. You’re lucky to live where you do!’ OK. I bow to your reality check. But, the bus gave and will give purpose to me. Others? A different focus. Many of us can’t see the woods from the trees. Focus is a needful and blessed thing. Sameness, tradition and the uniform approach matter. How many of us sit and watch the ‘soaps’ to escape? Or do other distractions in watching a documentary, football, Netflix or seek a chat on the phone. A phonecall full of nonsense chat that just blows away the tangled angst. My answer? It was the bus. Before I owned it? Music. A guitar and the ability to write my own or sing others’ songs. But now I’m all sung out.

So. The VeeDub. When I drove it to both work and for pleasure it was the same. Trundle to work for long day shifts and trundle home. Hectic at work so needed the bus to provide the thoughtful approach, chill factor driving to the hospital. It was calm preparation there. And separation back. Wind down and drive along in procrastination involving leisurely and the ponderous thought, with an eventual wind up to relaxation over the 10 mile journey after the day’s chaos. I’m in a car at the moment. No comparison. Maybe it was the VW engine singing to me. Like one of those new age cd’s that provide brainwave patterns. It’s like I’m on holiday in the VeeDub and I’m one of those tourists that point at everything in front of me. Wonder and delight. So slow is whoa and stay in status quo. Miss the bus. It’ll be nice to see her back. And 50 to 55 mph is perfick. Now is different though.

What is happening now is that I feel fraught in going to sleep, usually at midnight or later, knowing I’m in work next day, waking  up at 05.45 (or, in reality. often at 04.00) realising with a gulp and a downward spiral gut wise that today, yes…..I am actually on shift……fought with a ‘please NO!’ and a ‘maybe not’ with a vocal outburst of ‘shit….yeh…..I am in work today’ realised with my memory through the sleepy fog. The way the heart leaps when you realise that you have a day off is actually fairly worrying. No gentle knowing of life’s calendar. It’s chaos of shift work and hoped fors. Forever getting into a pattern of work that is the same old, same old, but with the gut wrenching adrenaline driven ‘Hope I make it through the day without making a mistake’. I love being a nurse. The NHS, as everyone can see, has Doctors and Nurses and other essential professional NHS inherent roles, living a life of challenges. Is it pathetic to seek answers in yearned for lifestyle to balance the difficult tasks? Not really. Life is very hard sometimes. And you need those times of escape. Maybe the musician that performs a night of singing to others on an open microphone event. The swimmer that visits the sport center and receives water’s regeneration properties with swimming a number of lengths. The pub up the road, a pint and the opportunity to talk to locals full of chitter chatter. The bath tub filled with bubbles and surrounded by candlelight. Me? A bus. Simply….a bus. And a fifth Jack Daniels.

Iconic ownerships. #1 The Ninth Gate Bag.

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How many items do you own that are there for the whole journey? I owned the bag photographed above. And now own a different one which is slightly more deeper khaki olive (See below). I gave the one above to my daughter’s partner. A Musette French Infantryman bag from World War 2. What history? What attached involvement? Am I worthy to look after something that holds  unknown experiences that could rock my senses if I had the full picture of the person and their story that carried this bag through ‘who knows what unimaginable  hardships’? History, all be it named ‘antiques’, but in reality the unknown story inherent. I feel humbled when I carry this bag. I also feel that, just maybe, I can carry peace in it’s presence too. Carry on the ambitions of it’s original owner. A gentler existence that was the dream of the soldiers that put their lives at risk for others.  As a Buddhist there are questions regarding ‘possessions’. I always thought of the philosophy as two camps.

First consideration. The Buddhist monk was allowed minimal belongings. However, would they suffice amongst new ideals? Too complicated to explain survival in the modern world. The 8 possessions of historical emphasis, their robe (3 pieces of fabric), a begging bowl, girdle, water-filter, a needle to repair their robe, and a razor to shave their head, has changed due to new world considerations that is a modern phenomena of daily fast paced technological change. Living in self harmony and separation whilst watching the world evolve in it’s destructive hammering must make the old ways so perfect. The way we Life travel and afford the basics a reverence in that we use them everyday. ‘This is now’. But now? This relentless minute by minute change, and it is exhausting. Which means physical self removal. Akin to a sample of experienced Vision Quest or Soulcraft or equivalent Escapismology (me made up). A few days experimenting with back to basics. Talking to Mother Nature. Not whole choice forever lifestyle in itself, but a little window of time giving greater insight into the basics. Hopefully giving long term answers within a short lived out of your ordinary experience. Sitting out on a hill top whilst Mother Nature smacks your senses akimbo. Like Native American youth to adulthood. Or a Buddhist enlightenment. My reality? I can never stop learning however. Everything harmonious just out of reach?

http://en.dhammadana.org/sangha/monks/belongings.htm

The second consideration. My basic understanding and yearned for belief of Buddhist philosophy. As a layman, a believer and hoped for follower of lifestyle and keeping just about on the right side of application to Buddhist belief ? Buddhist monks are meant to be. It is their calling. Not mine. But this bag means focus. My wife said ‘Your life is in that bag’. Nail on the head. But a changing ‘daily life needfuls’ nail on the head. Gentle of nature. Not even close to the needs of the soldier that relied on this piece of ‘kit’ to get him through war.

My contribution is that lifelong principles of mental attachment and cravings should not be considered. But every so often some things attach to my psyche. And to everyday needful.  An addition to promotion of well being. A necessity? No. But. My necessity.  Pieces from history which become staple to the day in their attachment which inspire ongoing learning and add quality to life. Music, reading, eating, drinking, written recording experiences.

A VeeDub bus. A Pentax LX camera which houses film. Rolls of said black and white film. A Gaggia coffee maker. A Depose magnifying glass. A hand made leather journal to keep memories within. A 1970’s Eko dreadnought acoustic guitar I can write songs with. Three fountain pens which are a Mont Blanc, Mabie Todd and an old Osmiroid from my school days. Scheaffer black ink. A huge hand thrown stoneware bowl that I could eat every meal from. An old favourite spoon to eat stuff with. A Mercury German shaving razor. A small hand thrown bowl to mix Scottish Fine shaving soap in with a shaving brush. To cook? One Rose Elliot, One Gail Duff recipe book and a Madhur Jaffrey. A couple of pans and a small skillet to cook with. To read? Current read and pass ons or read and keep for life’s. Three, and now Four, Deaf School albums, three T. Rex/Bolan albums and Three Harry Nilsson albums I simply could not live without. The list grows. But. They are one off/three/four off choices. My creme de la creme of what is inherent in my life? Like the Amish. It exists to serve. Shaker in it’s minimalism? Not quite. Would it all house in a VeeDub? Oh yes. (Well…not the electric coffee maker). How to strip back and exist in peace. Creating a larger version of the Altoid tin survival considerations.

DIY: How to Build Your Own Altoids Tin Survival Kit

Altoids Tin Survival Kit DIY

So. How to separate craving or obsession from recognition that a beautiful, life attachment object is just what it is? Or is class timeless? Certain items are so iconic, robust and never wear out that you have to sit back and just accept the fact that items become part of your life and exist alongside you which create comfort. Break down your day. Work for me is a uniform and inherent and ongoing learnt knowledge. It is also….Stressful. Which needs………Relaxation, which is within the arts/hobbies, family/friends meetings or meditation. You meditate with no acquisition adage and simply sit or stand with the wind in your hair and the sound/smell of the sea or forest in your ears. Or you burn candles, joss sticks, resins and/or look at a piece of art, nature or mandala. This then involves attachments. Hobbies…..attachments. Basically you just need attachments. Albeit of a simple and basic nature.

For example….bag choice. And examples of iconic bags from the movies? Mary Poppins and that carpet bag. She brought her life to the wealthy, uptight and materialistic Banks family in that bag. Then sang to a robin-like unreal bird and bought the tuppence a bag to feed the birds to explain the priceless-ness of simplicities. Hermione  Granger’s purple draw string beaded tassel bag. Needed for survival for the trio whilst the Horcrux episode of life existed. And that refugee/seekers  situation leading to life changing realisation of their friendship dynamics. Both Mary and Hermione pull out the most unimaginable survival items from their bags with Tardis like qualities. And this leads to survival of the soul for others. Will Smith’s Belstaff Colonial 556 in ‘I am legend’, Indiana Jones needs his to house antique artefacts (the bag is a heavy canvas World War II-era “MkVII” British gas mask bag with the original cotton web strap replaced by a leather strap with a metal adjustment buckle).

http://www.indygear.com/igbag.html

Me? I loved the Johnny Depp bag from the film The Ninth Gate. It was a continual presence in the film. It has become cult. Rare. Like hen’s teeth. So, in many ways I should not have wanted or yearned for it. It was and became a craving. I never thought of it as something to carry everyday. I loved it for its aesthetic value. But then, on receiving it, I remembered David Carradine as  Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. People travel, live day to day in need of housing necessities. So, comfort and practicality are required. This would serve with a purpose. It felt immediately like an old friend. I’ve given that old friend away now to my daughter’s fiancé. Why? Because I saw another on French eBay and due to rarity value, bid for it. I have this latest one now. So, it made me think. If I can give one away then I value not the experience of ownership. But the value of sharing. I used to have two medical folding magnifying glasses from the 18th Century. I gave a good friend who is a doctor/GP one of them. This extends to many things myself and my wife have. We simply give items and time away. Mach Swap Shop, equivalent local ethical sites and charity shops are the eco way. The Green way. The proper way.

Other bags? I have a camera bag (Billingham 550), a Hidesign 1980s canvas, leather and brass travel bag for holidays and the bag for everyday use which I have highlighted for this blog. Why these bags? They’re timeless, robust, practical and I love them. The daily bag? It is a French military mle 35 musette used by infantrymen. Inside it houses my everyday needs as required for particular days or constants. Changes with needs. It has metal clasps on the end of the strap which jingle and jangle in a medium high pleasing sound. If you watch the Ninth Gate in which Johnny Depp has this constantly at his side, you’ll hear what I mean. It’s like a portable wind chime Buddhist put in trees to catch wind music. Not the resonance of continuous singing bowl harmonious notes. Not quite the joy filled tinkling nature of water either. Just a gentle reminder that music can be heard in all things surrounding. The richness of any calming sound, is a wonderful thing. But this bag sound indicates seeking and an ever whirring mind. Which also begs me to ask. Please listen to the Ninth Gate soundtrack. The soundtrack to this movie is exquisite. Wojciech Kilar wrote some deep rich and beautiful thought provoking music over his lifetime. Go on…..YouTube ‘soundtrack Ninth Gate’. Below is a link to some stills from said film. And bag of course.

https://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=177815

Currently housed within this bag? I’m looking now. Handmade Indian paper housed inside a burgundy velvet  pouch; three fountain pens; deep black ink housed in an ancient ink bottle which is housed in an aluminium screwed to secure outer ink bottle carrier to avoid spillage; three soft/medium/hard grades of pencils; an 18th century medical folding brass magnifying glass; Filofax for disciplined organisational lifestyle; pipe/tobacco/zippo lighter; a small ‘handmade by myself’ leather booklet/journal tied with an ancient bootlace; a Swiss Army knife; my two pairs of spectacles; a booklet of song lyrics/poetry/thoughts I have written; the ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ book to re-read; chewing gum, a packet of three Lotus Biscoff biscuits tops covered with Belgian chocolate, a packet of KP salted cashews and Victory V lozenges; an old chemist tin filled with survival kit considerations (needle, thread, buttons, plasters, sudocrem, safety pins, alcohol wipes, small piece of emery cloth, etc…); moisturising hand cream (a Mindfully balanced synergy of clary sage, frankincense, myrrh, patchouli, Rose Otto, rosewood, rosemary and geranium absolute mixed in paraben free cream housed in a small silver lidded 1920s glass pot); a beautiful small Indian hand made wooden perfume pot filled with aromatic sandalwood paste; an old original 1980s MP3 player with decent earphones and hundreds of songs to tap into; a pair of burgundy paisley and plain handkerchiefs to polish my glasses or wipe away tears; photos/messages/cherished memories memorabilia; my lifestyle as possibly related need required. In essence….A man bag. Tomorrow. Maybe my olive Shemagh scarf, my bakersboy hat, a vacuum flask full of espresso, Lotus Biscoff biscuits and the said ‘ZatAoMM’  to read on the beach. The former items from today……chucked into a hessian bag kept in the dining room.

Imagine, sitting on a beach/forest/lakeside delving into the bag to get at a pen/pencil and paper, read a book, fill a pipe, pour a coffee, listen to music, grab a knife to whittle piece of wood, pick out a camera to shoot a few frames of film. Then back to the VeeDub to cook a meal. Brew some coffee. Pick up a current craft/hobby choice. I don’t know. Maybe knit/crochet/sew. Paint a picture. Collect beach flotsam/jetsam and create a piece of driftwood (et al) sculpture with some glue and lots of imagination. Basics. Bliss.

So. Amongst this beautiful positivity? What ‘Negativity’ exists in the form of owning a bag as a simple attachment. Crime. When I’m out and about….no money in it, no iPad, no debit/credit cards, no mobile phone, nothing worth stealing really. Why? I do fear crime and, subsequently, it’s impact on personal loss.  I wear a coat with a few pockets to carry items that thieves may desire. The bag is just a bag carrying essentials and memories. And this brings up something of a conundrum. If anything was stolen. Thieves would target the bag, believing valuables exist inside. How much does ‘it’ have impact on your life? ‘It’ equates to ‘Loss’. An irreplaceable old black and white photograph faded and torn at the seams. A cherished anything inside the bag. Simply, a cherished belonging other than a memory. Modern life. Fear of crime. The moped crimes. Stealing of historic vehicles. Breaking windows into your abode. But it isn’t only physical objects. Nowadays……Stealing your actual identity. You aren’t safe anymore. There’s something to be said about minimalistic ownership to those Buddhist monk 8 items of ownership. And they could fit into a bag. Oh!……..that’s 9 items!

 

Visitors.

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I took this a while back. The blur was intentional because it could be anyone of many visitors.

When visitors come to Wales, either family or friends, they love to walk at Ynyslas. We first arrived in Wales about 23 years ago and were constantly down on the beach for the first two years. After that the first choice for visitors was to go to the lakes at the back of the village. I don’t believe we had a month go by without at least two or three visits from someone, family or friends. They would stay for either a weekend or one/two weeks. We saw all the local tourist attractions over and over. It cost us a fortune. Whoever arrived would look and plan their days here. But, they wanted us to go along too. We both work, we had the children quite young then and the one to two week stays of visitors were when we were on holiday. Weekends usually saw arrivals on a Friday night, with goodbyes after Sunday lunch. Work began the next day. Our lives for a very long time seemed to revolve around our area here on the Welsh coast. We never stopped. We prepared for visitors and the cleaning of the house, food buying and meal planning ruled everything. But the visits were treasures.

Of course we didn’t and don’t mind one bit. Now? We have few visitors. Maybe three or four times a year. It seems our working lives have changed our whole impetus. We are so tired, myself due to the NHS philosophy of low staffing levels on busy, heavy workload wards. Also, long day shifts and shift patterns that start really early or late. All over the place. You simply do not stop. My wife from running a successful business and the responsibilities involved. We’re so stressed at the end of our working days that we just collapse at times. Add to that our ages now. With the best will in the world, you get past the age of 60 years and the bones and muscles kind of groan. Visitors? Tiring times, enjoyable times and the very fact they visit makes you actually go out there and ‘DO’ things. Stay active physically, psychologically and socially. Also spiritually.

The next stage of life? No retirement yet. But something needs to begin. The VW bus back and central to trips out and about. That will definitely do. It’s been four years without the bus. Far too long. It was central to life. Strange that an attachment matters. Really matters.

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Why does it matter? Because…….it joins all the interests together somehow. It brings everything to collective basics. A small driving/living/cooking/relaxing/sleeping space where considerations of what to include are important. Film to load into the camera, a bunch of favourite vegetarian recipes to shufty into a Moleskine journal which have to be ideal for outdoor experimentation, two bicycles at the back of the VW, leaflets, maps or the iPad to guide regarding taking visits to other places and their historical and interesting spots, special books to read for the first time or loved books to re-read again, music to listen to on an old 1970s car cassette player, the Buddha, temple hand Bell, joss sticks, resins to burn of benzoin, frankincense, myrrh and candle flame for meditation periods taking either a short minute or longer minutes over the days to enhance calmness and well being, aromatherapy synergies to mix and discover from a plethora of essential oils and pencil and paper for words or/and images. These are the activities which combat the daily stresses belonging to nursing. And they sit there next to each other in a lovely metal bread box on wheels which is the good old VeeDub.

Of course, all this focus on quality ‘time out’ is mainly based on a small group of two or even singular one, i.e. me. But, me on days off. As said……seeking answers to combat the stress of nursing experiences. Longer holiday spells? Family and group outings have been amazing in the past and have usually been stay in one place for the day type experiences with loads of chat and chill. Like those visits to Ynyslas. Early sun, settling in and breakfast on the go to the days end of developing dusk and moonlight, where drinking wine, beer or spirits (bourbon first choice) and lighting imagination enhancing wildfires as part of the experience. Stories told, fictional or non-fictional, poetry, mantras and music sung. The journey involving simple mindful visions which in their here and now will collectively build memories. Something to hark back to if needed. Positivity building and a quest for the good life. Giving the experience to family and friends that allows them to shake off their own stresses. Don’t seek a haven. Let the haven just evolve without expectation or prejudice. What will be, will be.

So, I find myself alone. Me and the VW and it’s a day off work. The first step…….? The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step. First step…..Choosing a simple breakfast recipe, cooking and tasting the resulting food Mindfully whilst the smell of nature surrounds you and stove top espresso coffee bubbles and ends with that whoosh when it’s ready and tea leaves seep out their green, red bush, bergamot, PG Tips or smokey lapsang aromas which starts off the humming of surrounding life tunes. Second step………choose Murakami from the bookshelf and immerse. Third step……..grab the Billingham bag with a loaded camera inside and set out to greet the unsuspected and unlooked for awaiting out there. The day will evolve and it will wash over you. And…..to be associating this with thoughts that a green VW bus of charm and antiquity will be the bedrock is akin to realising you have a place to lock yourself away.

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My Photography: The Shock of Latent Imagery

The Shock of Latent Imagery Non-Imagined.

 

 

I use black and white film in a Pentax LX SLR camera with 3 core lenses. I have more but use the 50mm often, the 120mm for portraits of which I take very few and a 28mm sparingly because it tends to bring in too much information from the surrounding scenery. Every so often I am presented with a photograph I have taken which produces what I call ‘The Shock!’ The shock is what we have all experienced.

Older, as I am, I was brought up seeing film based photographs. My Dad was a keen photographer with an Olympus OM 2 that he always took photographs with/on. I remember putting a film through a Brownie bought from a charity shop when I was about 18. But that was my one ‘attempt as a photographer’ experience right up until I was about 48/9ish. When I was child/teenager I remember the slap of a packet of photographs as they hit the floor from the letterbox and my Mum and Dad, on looking excitingly at the photographs individually as a snap in that fragment of time, either letting out a laugh, a ‘wow, that’s a peach of a photograph’ type comment or a groan of disappointment or embarrassment. Nowadays, a button deletes disappointments and embarrassments, if Facebook doesn’t get them first! And a small telephone screen doesn’t portray the complete splendour of a Godsend photograph. That moment of ‘Did I actually take this?’ exists, for myself, in the form of film still. Yes…..For me it was when the film, housed in the enlarger negative holder, shed its darkroom enlarger light on the ancient photographic paper and the developer/stop/fixer solutions brought the whole ‘hoped for’ to life. It lay in the water wash tray as solutions were being removed and the “the photograph” was forming it’s own magical solution by cementing itself into my mind. I remember looking at them as little treasures I knew I would love for a long time. Is it pride? No, I don’t believe it is. Wonder hits first, then satisfaction. I didn’t grow the grass or produce the grains of sand and then blow wind strength breath onto them to create shape, rhythm and collective beauty. I pushed a button on a camera that let it all be captured on a little negative piece of film. There in lay the wonder of it all. Pride?

Zen Master Yuanwu:

”If you have the idea of superiority and are proud of your ability, this is a disaster”.

Modern digital thoughts? I’ve took the odd photographs on my phone. But, invariably I delete them. My wife, daughter and brother-in-law are the expert family portrait takers. And their work just rocks. They use digital and it’s format affects emotional senses. Kipling wrote,

“Smells are surer than sounds or sights to make your heart-strings crack”.

My interests are photographing the outdoors. So, the smell of salty sea air or a deep, damp, dark, musky woodland smell may influence the timing of the button as the grass, sand, water and trees whisper their ethereal songs to the subconscious self. That or a fairy sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear, ‘Take the photograph……NOW!’ Whatever the answer, it’s firmly fixed on paper in the end.

Kipling’s second line reads:

“They start those awful voices o’nights that whisper, “Old man, come back!”

But, I digress, when you see the darkroom tray produce a photograph with what I like to call ‘Shock of Latent Imagery…….Non-Imagined’ (SOLINI), it produces one of those sprinkled fairie dust moments that sends a shiver up and down the spine. Goose-bumpy and brings a smile to your face. Strange though, because my work is pretty Gothic in nature. Not true renditions of sunshine and grass. But, nevertheless a moment that has crept into the psyche of my artistic soul.

So, what is a SOLINI photograph. I have about 10 out of thousands. Not a top ten. Just ones I’d put in a journal, akin to “ Sleeping with Herodotus as in the film The English Patient”. Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes et al.. The pages would include my own history, photos, ramblings and experiences whilst cutting and collecting others’ materials that knock you sideways when read or seen. A personal sanctity of memories rather like a travel journal, but a lifetime’s journey in one journal. It’s like an equivalent survival kit that you put into an Altoid box. Pull out a photograph, a bit of poetry, or your Grannies secret recipe from within it’s pages. Emotional survival existing in memories from a carried treasure book. If dementia comes to me, I’m a nurse and have to be realistic of what-ifs? A journal would be there to jog my long term memory whilst my short term memory struggles and grasps at straws. Maybe I’ll choose a favourite book and keep those memories within. An antique, rough around the edges, earthy smelling splendid tome that itself can be read countless times. A book that can be considered to bring enlightenment at each dipped in perusal. Or a simple life changing inspirational tale or story that never tires after countless reads. So many……..

So……..the Latent Image.

A latent image on photographic film is an invisible image produced by the exposure of the film to light. When the film is developed, the area that was exposed darkens and forms a visible image. In the early days of photography, the nature of the invisible change in the silver halide crystals of the film’s emulsion coating was unknown, so the image was said to be “latent” until the film was treated with photographic developer.

Having taken a photograph using film, the latent image that exists before development is truly a mystical entity. As said…….Everyone has a photograph that has taken them completely by surprise once developed. I am sharing this experience with others and picking the photographs I have taken that have made me go “WOW”. See below

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey…..

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You don’t need an engine to begin a journey. Remaining static and in the same place daily can provide a wealth of experiences. This gentleman has a bicycle, well two actually. The imagination starts to fly. The spade? Small excursions to a garden plot? Has he someone close who uses the other bicycle? He looks quizzically. He looks enquiringly. Self sufficient and able. Tom Good comes to mind. The Good Life, a sitcom from the 1970s told the story of Tom, who in midlife crisis is searching for the conundrum he calls “It”. What is “It” and how may it change his, up to now, materialistic and boring life as a draughtsman who draws designs of plastic animal toys to put in breakfast cereal packets. His solution is to become self sufficient in Surbiton. It’s Tom’s choice and he’s lucky to have an understanding wife, Barbara Good, who’s keen to get involved too. Maybe that second bicycle provides this imagery too. They swap the car for a digging machine and churn up their life in the form of the front and back gardens in preparation for growing vegetables. Lifestock is involved too.

Their life is one of claustrophobic comfort. Waking up, sometimes with the early morning birds (too early for the next door neighbours suffering the noise involved in the garden), in their house and getting on with their dreams and ambitions. Tom, a roller up of sleeves and bullish nature and Barbara with her insightful characterisations enabling them both carrying the dream through. She scrubbed the old rusty range, whilst he cut out paper bird shapes of birds of prey to create shadows in order to scare the birds off from eating their seeds. Whistling merrily at his new found splendour of a life, she’s getting on with the nitty gritty of the basics. The basics to keep them alive.

A bit like people thinking nurses hand out tablets from a drugs trolley and sit and write in the notes. There is an actual reality of Fundamentals of Care. People need toileting, washing, feeding, etc. Rough with smooth. The gentleman above sitting on the steps of his lifestyle has that spade and bicycle. There is his nitty gritty. Journey should be considered as such, I suppose. The nitty, the gritty, the calm and the inspiring nature of what’s all around us.

I loved the Good Life. It just made me happy. It reminds me of my time when I was making ceramics in a cold garage, handling cold clay and making Celtic travellers, warriors and other pieces influenced by the surreal. Starting the day with hot black sugary coffee, honeyed porridge and radio 4. I’d be planning pieces for upcoming events such as craft fayres or exhibitions. Getting ready orders for shops and craft galleries. A time of peace and contentment.

Then, my nephew was born profoundly Deaf. We, as a family, attended a British Sign Language course, and my career changed. I began supporting people. I took up a career role supporting Deaf students in further and higher education. Five years for me to train in Sign Language, note taking and lip speaking skills. More than my staff nurse training. And that involved a lot of learning too. So much clinical knowledge to learn. Anatomy, physiology, pathology, ethics and law. A veritable minefield of inclusions adding to my inner turmoil of ‘what if I make a mistake and it all goes wrong?’ I can’t bash it down like a piece of wet clay and start over. Mess up once and the nursing journey would be over!

It was at this time I realised my anxiety started to rear itself. Am I good enough to support these people in their choices educationally? Will I let them down? People said I was a good signer/communicator, but you’re your own worst critic aren’t you? Nursing has added to this burden. Anxieties become even more profound. The modern NHS is a contributing factor. Anxiety isn’t born from your skills base. It comes from looking at the holistic principles of their health situations. Biological, psychological and sociological considerations in the modern world are really frustrating. Anxiety is seeing the hierarchical systems of support belittling it’s staff, watching the nurses struggling. But……you get those wonderful moments of witnessing human tenacity. Patients, families and the multidisciplinary team. All have that tenacity. So, the end of the day and reflection on them give a sustenance that makes you get ready for the next shift.

But I still yearn for my old artistic life. Yes, I can pick up my guitar and write songs, pick up my camera, load a film and take photographs that may deliver the shock from latent imagery that may produce a little gem, create a perfect synergy of essential oils that provide a complementary aromatherapy to ease pain, stress, anxiety or depression or Mindfully cook and eat a vegetarian meal that has aromatic splendour. Sometimes succeed, lots of times fail. But it doesn’t matter. It’s the journey that counts. They all begin, as Buddhism says, with the first step. Artistically, my hobbies are little oases of calm amongst the turmoil and anxiety that can exist.

Just like Tom and Barbara’s ruined crops after a night of stormy weather, and Margo and Jerry coming to their aid in gathering and saving the salvageable. It’s like an exceptionally bad day on the ward and your colleagues supporting both yourself and each other. A little oasis of human generosity. I loved the Good Life. I loved it’s stupid humour. It was a bit like Lovejoy (the Ian McShane antique dealer role) and that other life of focus and intent on very British humour. A settling down place on the settee and escapism over a one hour episode. Now? Netflix mini series minefields that blow your brain into uncharted territories and give you the collywobbles.

Hey ho…..my VW Crossover will be ready soon. And I have a bike. Well a couple actually. One belongs to my wife. I also have an old beaten up Tilley hessian hat and a spade at the back of the shed. I have a plot of land in the form of a beautiful back garden, which presently has gone absolutely bonkers wild. But does attract all forms of nature. It has ancient apple and damson trees which badly need attention. It has the ability to marry controlled plots and the freedom of meadow naturalism. Eco natural married to systematic production of plants and vegetables. I was once familiar with many plant, herbs, vegetable insights and grew vegetables and herbs for a few years at my parent’s house and in various houses of myself and Angie’s. Now…….what would it be like to actually become a gardener again?

 

And here we are……what’s in a name, a title or one’s own imagery.

Author: graysummers

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I have often wondered who we are. A name, job title, personality characteristics. How to define the individual. How to explore our inner selves. Words say so much, but somehow limit essence of self. Describing oneself or the observations of others.

“The treasure house within you contains everything, and you are free to use it. You don’t need to seek outside “. Zen Master Dazhu.

Living in Wales is a fantastic experience for someone that carries a camera in the pocket. I’m not into photography as a hobby in a big way at all. I just take a walk now and again with said camera (sometimes use a flimsy old tripod bought from a boot fair for £2 that folds down to coat pocket size too. Nice and light.) and capture a few pics of the local spots. Nursing is a busy job so it’s nice to just relax, take a stroll, point the camera at something interesting and snap. About the pictures on the blog site? A few years back I picked up some secondhand darkroom equipment from a boot fair. Very basic stuff and the local recycling shop had a batch of old dusty Kodak/Ilford papers from the 80’s. So I had a go and the results you can see. I’d like to give it another go but the small cleaned up log room out the back back I used at the time has to be de-spidered and cleaned up. Can I be bothered?? I always was a bit bad on the technical front and need to relearn how to develop film all over again. Black and White is very atmospheric and I like to see the results in this format. Don’t take anything with a colour film at all. The photographs I’ve taken over the last 2 years are stuck in the fridge still on the roll film. Maybe it would be good to see whats on them! I use a Pentax LX with a couple of lens and it’s sturdy and built like a tank. It’s a wonderful piece equipment and a classic camera. I use a Pentax 645 too from time to time. Also, I wouldn’t even begin to think about changing to digital. Forget it! The mystery of the latent image is just about perfect. The Silver stuff every time.

At present I’m having my old Volkswagen T2 Crossover Bay Bus, named Billie Bud, renovated. It’ll be back soon. And it’s inclusion will be amazing. So, a lifestyle of work and out there balance is waiting. I’ll use as my daily drive. Good to hit the open road and wide open spaces as well as those hidden gems that exist in these beautiful isles. A mix of music, photography, writing, drawing, creating aromatherapy synergy with a plethora of essential oils and a bit of basic vegetarian cooking to stretch and push the limits of the abilities of a Cobb cooker and a double gas hob…….all await.

Music, photography, cooking, art…… whatever our interests, we’re lucky people to be able share our interests on this world wide level aren’t we? And I for one am overawed by the talent that exists out there. Culturally it is a stunning adventure.

So I’m made up of the following. I have my various professional statuses………budding ‘hoped for and yearning learning how to be something/one new I aspire to being with eventual beauty ‘ ……….or successful in realisation that now, with a commitment attached, I can carry on and build upon what I find was always deep in my soul as an essential requirement which allows me to live the life that saves my soul. A vegetarian, a nurse, a musician, a Buddhist, a teacher, a British Sign Language user, a potter, a photographer, an aromatherapist, an artist, a cook, a Husband, Father, Grandfather and friend.

I am these, yet none of these.

As Zen Master Linji says:

“If you want to be free, get to know your real self. It has no form, no appearance, no root, no basis, no abode, but is lively and buoyant. It responds with versatile facility, but its function cannot be located. Therefore when you look for it you become further from it, when you seek it you turn away from it all the more “.

And so the story goes……

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And so the story goes,

to where?

No one knows.

Borne from out dated promises,

and worn out kisses.

I’m a Staff Nurse. Capitals on the S and N. I’m proud to be a nurse. It was hard won. And is still really hard to win on a daily basis. I have loved my life so far. Every 10 years I would subconsciously change direction career wise. These changes would just creep up on me. Left school in the early 1970s and picked up a guitar (musician).

10 years go by touring, playing, dreaming and writing my own songs singing to audiences of 2 to thousands. Toured with my band supporting the Specials, Selector, Madness, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Lived above a Whole-food Shop, which had a Potter supply his hand thrown stoneware coffee/tea pots and domestic ware, who gave me a lump of clay, and ‘hey’ I started making Raku and St. Thomas White stoneware Celtic travellers and warriors. Now a ceramicist in earnest. Couldn’t call myself a Potter because I couldn’t throw anything on a wheel. Completely useless.

10 years go by. My nephew, born profoundly Deaf, means we all go to college to learn British Sign Language. I took this up as a career and supported Deaf students in higher and further education. I move to Wales in this role and…..

10 years go by. Sitting having a coffee with a lecturer in Aberystwyth, I bemoan my age of 50 and say I’d love to do something different. “Become a nurse,” he says. He takes me onto his Access to Nursing course, which allows me into the degree in Swansea (well the Carmarthen site of the three University’s sites), and there you go.

10 years have gone by. Now? I’m 61 and it seems my 10 year change has stopped. I have my Volkswagen T2 Crossover 1972 Bay Bus, “Wow, an old camper van!” as people call it, nearing renovation completion. I used it as my daily transportation (that’s Daily Ride Dude to the younger population) and it will once again become my ‘daily ride dude’ when I get it back home very shortly. I’m thinking I may use it as a central life changer. It’s name is Billie Bud and it will carry my interests including guitar, djembe drum, Pentax cameras (LX, 645, MX), lots of black and white film, my aromatherapy essential oils (120 plus) to create new synergy concoctions, decent pencils and art paper and my small collection of beautiful fountain pens (1930s to 1990s) to write thoughts and songs.

So the story goes, to where? No one knows.