Frayed Edges, Bare Bones and Evolution

It is quite odd how an inanimate object has brought several things into sharp focus for me this week.  Perhaps my mind is open to learning from past mistakes, maybe my meditation and mindfulness practices are beginning to pay off.

Whatever it may be I am very grateful that this battered and unloved chair found it’s way home to me.

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I picked this chair up for a song on the Austrian equivalent of ebay a couple of weeks ago.

I went off to the other side of Salzburg to pick it up. To avoid the tolls I drove through the centre of Salzburg. My sat nav told me it would take me just over an hour, it actually took almost two thanks to the traffic in the City Centre. I got quite frazzled with the bumper to bumper queues and realised what it is that I dont like about city living.

Eventually I made it out to the other side and headed up the mountain overlooking the city and arrived at the most beautiful apartment sitting on top with stunning views overlooking Salzburg. I clambered out of the car and stood at the edge of the path looking down on the city, breathing in the mountain air deeply and then releasing the tension from the commute I started to see the city as a beating heart and it suddenly occured to me that all those years of working in the city and blaming my job for the stress was a complete mistake. What I had in my job in the city was my beating heart. What I lacked all of that time was that ability to retreat from the stresses of the day and regroup. For years I walked out of  the office and  into another drama every day. IMG_0104

I started working on the sorry beast this weekend. Putting it up on the table I sat looking at it whilst I drank tea. I was lacking inspiration.

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As I looked at it I thought about what it was that had attracted me to it in the first place. It wasnt the dowdy fabric nor the scuffed deeply depressing dark woodwork. No it was none of those things, it was it’s potential.

I had seen so many wonderful renovations of these chairs and longed for one to do myself for some time.

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As the sun was shining I decided to take it outdoors to start work on stripping it in the hope that inspiration may hit me in the face.

This is my first attempt at proper upholstery so I am doing it on a budget. No fancy tools for me. Just a hammer and a screwdriver to get me started.

As I stood looking at the chair,  hammer poised, I thought about how much it reflects my current state of being. Frayed at the edges, stuffing falling out, scuffed, scratched and joints coming unstuck. Faded grandeur just waiting to be loved and nurtured back to its former glory.

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Thinking of it in this way changed my mindset and I decided that I needed to do this job properly (all be  it with the wrong tools) and give it love, care and attention. So, I started slowly, taking each tack off carefully. It took me over an hour but I got there in the end.

And then the rains came so I retreated indoors where I continued to remove the fabric IMG_0110  With each piece a mountain of dust and grime cascaded onto the table, eventually exposing the makeshift foam seating that had obviously been an attempt at makign it more comfortable.

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Finally it is down to its bare bones. I am aching all over as I had stood for over 3 hours. My hands are stiff with pain and my fingers are tingling with pins and needles but it was all worth it.

Time now to start building it back up. Washing it down, glueing the joints and giving it a light sand is as good a starting point as any. Now I just need to find my staple gun and buy some staples. But next is a paint job.

Still no inspiration as yet but at least, for now, it has some breathing space and time to just be its basic self. I am sure that it will let me know who it dreams of being when the time is right. After all I sit and look at it every morning whilst drinking my first cup of tea of the day.

Watch this space for the next step in its evolution.

Remember Me.

Ever the one looking for inspiration to help me to improve my writing I went in search of some challenges on DailyPost. and came across the Recycled Book Challenge over at Life Experiment Blog. I am a big lover of books and pick up second hand books from all over the place. I have quite a stash to get through and I keep being told that to be a good writer I need to read more so this seemed like the perfect challenge on many fronts.

I also love a good excuse to curl up on the sofa with my best pal and a good book.

 

 

sunday afternoon pursuits, sophie kinsella, bookclub, reading for fun,
a dog, a book and a comfy sofa. Bliss.

This month I had already read one of my second hand books before I found this challenge and so I hadn’t taken a photo of the book I lifted this one direct from Amazon. I will do better next time.

remember me, sophie kinsella, book review remember me,
Remember Me – Sophie Kinsella

I have never read a Sophie Kinsella novel before. To be honest I don’t really know why as my friend had given me several of her novels some time ago. I sent a lot to the charity shop before moving to Austria but somehow this one survived.

A couple of weeks ago I was perusing my (now depleted) bookshelf for an easy read and happened upon this. The book certainly delivered on the easy read requirement, it was fun and quickly hooked me in.

Lexi is down on her luck  and life is definitely not going her way with a deadbeat boyfriend and little recognition in work the only thing she is “looking forward” to is her father”s funeral the next day. I immediately felt an empathy to the character and a sense of wanting her to move on, leave the boyfriend and have some fun. Lexi wakes up in hospital and discovers that she has lost three years of her life. Her scatty mother announces that she is married and in breezes the most beautiful man who, just happens to be a millionaire. Life just seems to good to be real and it turns out she is right.

I really enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s style of writing, chatty but not overly so, it flowed and I felt as if I was there in the scene with the characters. There were some really laugh out loud moments in this book, such as discovering the meaning of the  Mont Blanc references but I felt that there could have been more. Whilst I liked Lexi I wanted to love her but there was never enough space or time in the book to build her character fully. She discovers that her best friends no longer like her and it would have been good to hear more from them as to why this was. Her new best friend Rosalie seems like a hoot of a woman but again we barely touch the surface. I am hoping that there will be spin offs from this book to develop Rosalie and maybe some of the other characters in the book.

Having never read a Sophie Kinsella book before I can honestly say that I enjoyed this one enough to want to find others. I might even succumb to the Shopaholic series now.

 

 

If you enjoy reading books and want to join in on the Recycled Book Challenge then head on over to Life Experiment Blog and check out the guidelines.

 

Reflections

 

Seewirt Hotel, Bad Reichenhall, thumsee, bavaria, bavarian vacation, eagles nest, berctesgaden, lakes and mountains, austrian lakes and mountains, holidays,
Calm Stillness

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago in Thumsee when I went for a walk around the lake there. I love a photo that makes me see things differently.

It has been a strange old week in my old house. Well, strange is probably the wrong word. Fraught. That is the word. Life takes us on a journey and we never really know what will be revealed down each path. I arrived at a crossroads some time ago and chose a path that was far more overgrown than I imagined. I have spent many years attempting to cultivate the path, changing its direction, cutting back brambles to open up a new walkway, only for more brambles to spring up in a different place, treading in the shadows and basking in the sunlight. This week I think I emerged into a clearing, slap bang in the middle of a rainstorm. Still I believe that dancing in the rain is far more important than hiding under a shelter, who knows what you find when you step in puddles.

puddle art

 

Maybe the puddles will reveal a whole new direction.

It is hard to think of that at times but a couple of years ago I was in a restaurant celebrating a birthday and this poster was on the wall right next to where I sat. I photographed it and come back to it often.  I often think about the dream and if I truly owned it for myself or was I chasing somebody else’s dream. I have to remind myself that it is ok if I took the wrong path and, no matter how others think or feel, I have to be true to myself.

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So, back to this last week and all the fraughtness and tension that have been building for some time finally came to a head. Not pleasant but evolving can only bring pain if you are to reach the giddy heights of pleasure. The best way I know to deal with pain is to recognise it, acknowledge it, and then READ.

I often find myself alone pottering around the house and this can be one of my greatest joys or biggest frustrations. Last Sunday being the latter of the two for many reasons but last week, rather than get upset, I  decided on a  diversionary tactic. It was the perfect opportunity to finish reading a book that I had started some time ago and so  lazing on the sofa  with Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, a hot cup of mint tea and a great dane curled up at my feet I immersed myself in a fun and easy read. Staying there all day until the sun went down and not actually moving was pure luxury as Barney slept through after the excitement of visitors the week before had worn him to a frazzle.

sunday afternoon pursuits, sophie kinsella, bookclub, reading for fun,
a dog, a book and a comfy sofa. Bliss.

Life turned on it’s heel on Monday and the fraughtness began. I have stumbled through each and every day, walking Barney, journaling, cleaning and painting furniture. Life is all about change and I am sure that there are many changes coming I just need to work out how best to effect those changes in my life in a way that is positive and caring.

Yesterday I returned to Thumsee. The sun wasn’t shining so brightly and the reeds had grown tall. I sat on a bench with Barney laying beside me and thought about the numerous changes I have been through over the years and how I am still here, still standing and still ploughing on. So, maybe the reeds in my life will just be a protection from the winds of change, a place to rest and to prepare for the next big push.

Thumsee, Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria, Eagles Nest, Berchtesgaden,
Hidden by the reeds

 

I believe

part 1 can be found here

 

“I’m starving Jean, what time is my next appointment?” I shout as I head through reception. “twenty minutes and you have a telephone consultation in fifteen” Jean called back. “Great, I can’t believe how behind I am. I’m just going to the garage next door for a sandwich”

As I reach the door it flies open catching me full on in the face sending me backwards crashing to floor. In rushes an old scruffy guy who steps over me as he shouts that he needs help urgently. Turning onto my knees and about to push myself up,   I catch sight of a jewelled buckle attached to a purple suede boot out of the corner of my eye just a second too late as it’s owner crashes through the door behind the guy. I duck but not fast enough, she hurtles straight into me and falls onto me then crashes onto the floor by my side. “Oh no, I don’t believe it. Not you again”

It seems to me that this woman is fast becoming the bain of my life. Not only does she have a habit of knocking me over but she is usually accompanied by some poor animal who she just happens to have found needing emergency care. I stand up quickly and hold my hand out to help her up. She shoves me away and scrabbles around on the floor attempting to push herself up. “Oh for goodness sake woman” I bellow as I bend over and pick her up by the arms. “Never mind her what about the bloody dog” screams the old guy at the counter as Jean reaches out to take the bundle from him.

Jim she calls, I think that you better take a look. I head over and lift the little guy from her and realise that it is Tinker who belongs to Jean, he had been missing for a few days after the last incident with Purple Boots woman and he was rather worse for wear. “Wait there the pair of you. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT go anywhere do you hear me” I shout as I point at Purple Boots. “I need to speak to you”.

After a quick examination and a cuddle from Jean I establish that Tinker is fine if not a little weary. No broken bones, which was more than could be said for the ginger tomcat. Just a little shocked and perhaps more than a little hungry after his adventures.

Wandering back into reception I find Purple Boots and Old Guy sitting patiently and looking rather perplexed. “So, what happened this time” I look square on at her and she slides down the chair looking sideways at the Old Guy.  “She was just making wishes on dandelions when she was interrupted by your girl’s dog there” says the Old Guy. I look from him to her and notice she has slumped further into her seat and is rather pink. “Wishes?  on dandelions? Really? And did it work?” I fire  the  questions at her. “It doesn’t happen that fast” she mutters under her breath  “and besides, even if it has worked I wouldnt be telling you now would I?”

“So who are you?” to the Old Guy

“Nobody special, My names Will I was crossiing the marsh when I spotted your friend here in a spot of bother and thought I should help her out”

“Look” she pleads, “I really don’t make a habit of finding injured animals.  Or of knocking over the only vet in town” she continues. “It’s just been one of those weeks”

“OK, I believe you. I am a bit busy this afternoon but I really do need to talk to you about the cat and what we are going to do about him. Can you come back at the end of the day and we can have a chat”

She seemed to blush again at that suggestion and got all fidgety but agreed to calling back later. Standing up she turned to Jean and apologised again for any trouble she had caused. Jean, understandng as ever waved away the apology and wiped away her tears. “Im just so pleased to have him back. Thank you”

She backed out of the surgery still apologising and narrowly missing knocking over Mrs O’Leary who was heading in with her guinea pig, Celia. “That woman is a liability” I mutter to Jean as I head back into the surgery with my belly rumbling. Through the window I spot Will skulking along behind Purple Boots in the direction of the park. No doubt they are off to make more wishes. Lets hope that I don’t get mixed up in them.

 

to be continued.

 

 

 

 

I believe.

dandelion, wish upon, blow

 

She didn’t really believe that wishes came true but it couldn’t hurt to give it  a go now could it? Sure what was the worst that could happen?

Closing her eyes and thinking on the current problem that was taking up her whole life right now she pondered on what she could wish for. She needed to be sure that whoever heard the wish and had the power to grant it would fully understand her need to find a way out of today’s latest disaster. After all, it isn’t like the powers that be could be fully akin to what was going on now could they?

After what seemed like a lifetime pondering, when in reality it was a mere few seconds, she took a deep breath, held it, thought of the words and then blew with all of her might as she spoke them in her head. Quickly opening her eyes she watched the dandelion flower heads scattering their minute florets on the breeze, drifting off to settle into the meadow and plant their seeds to help grow more wish enablers.

It occurred to her that her life had been much like the flower head of the dandelion for quite some time. Each decision she made had drifted on the breeze, settling, pollinating and creating yet another disaster.

Suddenly a shuffling noise caught her attention and she noticed a pair of deep dark brown eyes peering out of the azalea bush regarding her with trepidation. Clambering up from the grass where she had been sitting cross legged for way too long she limped slowly towards the bush looking around to see if she could see a wayward owner searching for their lost bundle of joy as she shoved her hand into her pocket looking for the biscuit that she had stuffed in there at the coffee shop earlier. Hoping that the treat may coax out the scared little dog.  All of a sudden the bush exploded and a golden ball of fluff hurtled itself towards her launching into the air and crashing full pelt into her legs. She felt her whole body lifting in the air and twisted in an attempt to make sure that she landed as softly as possible before finally feeling the pain searing through her body as she crashed to the ground and passed out.

“Hello, are you ok?” she heard a faint voice in the distance.

“I don’t know” she replied, slowly lifting her arms to her head to check for blood and then pushing herself up slowly. Blinking into the sunlight she gazed up at the old man bending over her. “I think I am ok, I can move my arms and my legs and my head seems to be in one piece” she muttered with an attempt to smile at him.

“Well, that is good ” he snapped, “pity the dog isn’t as resilient then isn’t it” pointing at her side.

Turning her head she noticed the bundle of fur whimpering and lying curled into a ball on the grass.

Oh no, this was not what she needed right now. A dog needing a vet was not how she expected her wish to be granted. Not at all how she imagined she would meet him again and try to explain.

 

To be continued…………

inspired by two Daily Post Word prompts Disaster and Breath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halfway Down the Stairs

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King

stairs, quotes, motivational quotes
One step at a time  – photo courtesy of quotesgram

I am on the “how to do it” stair right now.

As a child my Saturday morning chore was to sweep the stairs. I would be handed the wooden brush and asked (or rather told) to get on with the task. I hated it. I didn’t see why I had to be the one doing it.  Starting at the top of the stairs I would slowly and surely brush down the dirt of the week onto the next step,eyes filled with dust and feeling more and more grubby with each step I would try to focus on each individual step rather than the whole task. Once on the bottom step I would sweep all of the muck to the hall floor and, standing amidst it all, wonder how one week could generate so much mess and dirt. In the ensuing years I had forgotten how I used to feel when made to do this task, I had also avoided ever having to be the one who took up the brush to sweep down the stairs.

The other day, out of nowhere, I decided to sweep my stairs with the handbrush. Taking my time and starting at the top I slowly worked my way down. The stairs in my house are on three seperate levels so there are quite a lot. Upon reaching the mezzanine level I stopped and sat on the stair. After a while I realised that I had been sat there for some time pondering life. It occured to me that sweeping the stairs was giving me the space to work out some of the things that have been bothering me. A mini meditation. I laughed to myself as I thought about the scene in the Karate Kid  “wipe on wipe off” and then out of nowhere the Martin Luther King quote popped into my head, followed swiftly by the words to one of my favourite songs.

It seems that sweeping the stairs clears up more than the dirt from the week, it clears my head and allows me to think more clearly. Now where did I leave that brush.

 

 

 

 

Snap Decisions and Photosnaps

 

hearts and flowers, beachcombing finds
beachcombing beauty.

Wandering along the seashore I spotted the pebble glistening in the tidepool, calling to me, urging me to pick it up and enjoy it’s smoothness. I have a penchant for finding heart shaped rocks and this was no exception. Sitting on the sand watching Max (my Great Dane) running  in and out of the surf I turned the stone over and over in my palm. Feeling it’s cool hard surface warm up and take on my energy. Beachcombing, for me, is a way to immerse myself in the here and now. To forget all the stresses of the day and to quieten my mind from all of the rushing thoughts and questions that it throws at me constantly. I have made some of my most important decisions sitting on a beach surrounded by my days gatherings. That heart helped me to make a decision that, sadly, I now recognise as being a mistake but still I’ve come a long way since making that decision and still I have new roads to travel and new decisions to make.

Normally I would cart my finds home with me and place them into a box waiting for their fate.  As I meandered my way along the beach I spied a  little nook of rocks where daisies were growing. Inspired by the daisies and the lichen covered boulder I placed the heart in amongst them and started to snap photos. The heart seemed so at home there among the weeds and moss, reflecting how I felt at that moment in time,  that I felt obliged to leave it and with that I took some photos to remind me of the rock and the feelings that it evoked that day. I have a box full of driftwood and a jar full of shells all waiting to be used in one creative way or another but to this day I have never been able to create something as beautiful or thought provoking (for me) as that photo of the heart.

 

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I live in landlocked Austria now but I found myself a very small beach by the river. The beachcombing is nowhere near as wonderful as in Wales but I still manage to ponder life and make decisions. Lets hope that the decisions I need to make over the coming days and weeks are far more reasoned than that snap decision in that snapped photograph. Still whatever decision I do make I will live with it (right or wrong) because it will take me down a new path to new adventures.

right decisions, wrong decisions

 

 

inspired by Daily Post Prompt SNAP