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Archive for July, 2013

P1010385I love the green of England and miss its healing charm to calm and nourish the soul. This picture was taken in Devon(UK), between the Lace town of Honiton and Cullompton.

As a child, we would visit here when the wild, untamed, rhododendron bushes were in full bloom, their splendid array of colour impressing even my child like imagination.

The fence in this picture, although new, reminds me of life growing up on the farm and my ability to vault over wooden five bar gates. They held no power of containment for me as a child. In a fluid, gymnastic like movement, I could fly over the barrier and keep on running.

I was nimble back then, athletic in the true sense of the word and school sports days saw me winning awards for obstacle races and hurdles. Even the long and high jump held promise, although my short legs often let me down.

Jumping a gate, rather than opening or climbing over it was how I faced life. Full on, ready to jump over any hardships that got in my way. Some days however, a gate became my resting place, rising above the ground on which I stood. From there, life and circumstances took on a different view, my surroundings becoming my friend and counsellor.

Age has slowed me down, my lifestyle placing me on an office chair, in front of the computer for much of my day. The walking that brings me so much pleasure is missed, due to a long list of excuses. Now I tend to lean against the gates and peer into a promised land, remembering the past and still believing the future holds good things for me. Some days I think I need to embrace those childhood memories and jump over the various situations I find myself in, rather that think, ‘Oh well, that’s life’.

My random thought to go with this Blog Post is………

Sitting on top of a gate is a bit like sitting on a fence. You catch a better view of all the sights but you never get anywhere. Maybe it is time to make a decision and climb down, then race off to accomplish the things I/we/you have been destined for.

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A recent writers group activity was to create a character based on a collection of objects. My eyes were drawn  to an ebony pointer, reminding me of countless stories I have heard and read, where teachers have ruled classrooms by fear and intimidation, rather than generating a healthy atmosphere for learning.

My own schooldays are fondly remembered in most instances, with some teachers remembered for their creativity and others…….. Well, let’s not go there, not today anyway.

The piece written below is not attributed to anyone in particular, but a product of our group activity. Proving that sometimes an object can inspire us to create a credible character.

intrepid

 Class Rule

The wooden pointer is dark and foreboding, like the extension of an arm, with the ability to pierce to the heart. Its age is unknown, yet it feels Victorian, the kind you would expect to find in the hands of a school master back in the late nineteenth century.

***

Bernard conducted his lessons in every way, shape and form. The dark timber baton, ordering the classroom to perform to the tune of respect and authority, for the position he held. Chants bounced around the room to the beat of a tap, words repeated in multiples, if the annunciation was incorrect. Each child was terrified of the ebony stick, its power holding a greater influence, than that of Bernard Billings himself.

They didn’t see the wizened old man, with failing eyesight, arthritic joints and a balding head. Instead they felt intimidated, prisoners in their box like class room. A half drum roll on the ancient oak desk had the ability to bring a deathly silence, where you really could hear a pin drop.

When the tip was pointed in your direction you grew by inches, rather than centimetres. Decisive answers had to be produced in an instant and debate on current issues would not be entertained. Pounds and Pence have since become Dollars and Cents, yet Algebra, Fractions, Times Tables and Logarithms were everyday currency, during long tedious maths lessons.  It was an era where errors in factual information, grammar and spelling were marked in red, the pain of correction bleeding off of everyone’s page.

Then there was that heavy-handed thwack of the cane, which caused a global unrest. Where eyes stole glances over blurred pages, imagining the frightened faces of their peers.

Horror stories ran rife among the student population and even though no one knew of anyone who had actually suffered at the hands of this man, no one was willing to put those tales to the test.

Now I have the character. One day I may have to put him into a story.

©Sandie’s Snippets

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The ocean has alway been an important part of my life and this image show a beach in Melros, Western Australia, which is a place that we often visit with a group of friends. Cheap accommodation enables us to stay with another three couples and we enjoy endless beach walks, the challenges of 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, games of scrabble and Red Wine sunsets.

P1050092

I grew up on the East Devon coast of England, near the Regency town of Sidmouth. It is a beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty, sitting a short drive from the Dorset border. A twenty-minute walk, through hedged pathway and lush public open space, could have me sitting on the pebbled banks, hankering over some of my wildest dreams.

When I stare out to sea, I can be anywhere in the world and generally feel more connected to the place I still call home. It has the universal ability to tune me into an amazing creator God, enabling me to reach new spiritual depths. Problems and concerns seem to magically lighten, as the reflective waters twinkle, dancing in delicate footsteps on the ocean’s surface.

On a daily basis, the skies and oceans work collectively to bring some of the most amazing scenery. People like me revel in taking happy snaps, photos that attempt to capture an aura of the Divine and choosing just one to share was hard, as many also include magnificent sunsets. I decided on this one, as it links in with a ‘Freestyle Poem’ that I wrote at Writers Group this week.

The prompt was to write a poem linking a favorite place to an emotion. Even I was surprised by what I wrote in the time-frame we were given.

Freedom Coast

My prison holds no walls

Emotions creating their own boundaries.

Escape is a road trip

Fueled by dark days

Powered by the need for sunshine.

Sand snatches at my feet

Grabbing at my stability

Until solid ground holds firm.

Distance is unfathomable

And waves roll to my heart beat.

Space and rhythm

Washed up debris

Working to erase the shadows.

Lighting my spirit with inspiration

Encompassing all things beach.

(c)Sandie’s Snippets 2013

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UK September 2008 023This image was taken back in 2008 on a visit to the UK.

It is special because it is the front door of my family home, the place where I was born, navigated childhood and left as a young  bride.

Inside the awkward door and the thick cob walls is a small room with flagstone floors, framing a threadbare carpet square. An old Inglenook fire-place, complete with bread oven and blackened by centuries of use, is carved into one wall. The recess is over looked by a mantle, holding treasures of a bygone era along with family photos, cobwebs linking each object together. An Aga, covered with fatty grime, dirt and dust sat to one side and the smell of old soot always seemed to hang heavy in the air. Furniture consisted of a square table with four chairs, a Victorian sideboard, two armchairs, a small desk and lots of paperwork and clutter filling every available space.

There was another large door on the opposite wall to this and that is the one that was in constant use. The inside and outside space sadly looking rejected, reflecting the life of my father, an old farmer, refusing to leave his home of sixty-five years in anything but his ‘wooden box’, his words not mine. He lived contentedly amongst this chaos, suffered unnecessarily with a stubbornness that kept everyone at arm’s length and verbally abused anyone who tried to help.

My trip that year coincided with a hospital stay and like a good daughter I rolled up my sleeves and started to clear the mess, strip back the dirt and even cleared a path to the front door. What was a quaint old door with mystery and intrigue became a sterile mess that needed even more work once I had finished, producing a picture that is not on my favorite list. The once highly polished brass door knocker, now tarnished, suddenly became visible, filling me with a sadness that couldn’t be polished away. Layers of paint were also peeling, revealing a long history of colours and shades, reminding me of all the highs and lows I had experienced in life.

Then, rather than appreciating my long hours of labour I was chastised, his anger never abating or forgiving. An attribute I had grown up with over the years, making it so much easier to emigrate to the other side of the world.

Now as I look at this image it always brings a smile to my face as I think of a father who succumbed to the revenges of time. Age slowly creeping up on him, just like the ivy and its tendrils gripping every part of life and ability. He was well-known for his eccentricity, quick temper and dark moods. Every village more than happy to have that one character that sets themselves apart, so long as they did not belong to their family.

It reminds me to leave some things alone, not dig too deeply into the past, or attempt to do the impossible. I wanted to clean up my dad’s life, create a healthier environment, find his better side, feel loved and valued. Instead the great divide became wider and regret became my friend.

My dad has passed away since that time, the room was cleared and worm-eaten furniture along with so much of his life was burnt, my brother more than happy to strike the match. We both mourn and chuckle at our attempts to please this man, reminding ourselves often that some times we just have to let things be.

My thought: A leopard can not change their spots, but we can choose to view them through a soft focus lens and move on.

(c)Sandie’s Snippets 2013

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