A lump of coal

In the Harry Potter books, a hat sorts persons based on their personality into one of four houses.   But at Christmas time, one is sorted (presumably by Santa Claus or some other authority) into one of two categories:  Naughty or Nice.   The Nice are promised that they will receive lots of lovely presents as a reward for being nice, and the Naughty are threatened with only getting a lump of coal in lieu of a present.   But is a lump of coal really such a bad thing?

Here is some coal near my house, free for the taking (sort of).   In fact at one time there were working coal mines right in the city limits.   As the sources for heat were either wood or coal, this was probably a good thing.

Many of the old houses here in town have a little window to the basement and coal was tipped into the cellar to be shoveled into the furnace by the householder.   But in London, there are these splendid covers out on the pavement that were the access point for coal deliveries.

Rather than being drab, utilitarian things, these covers are little works of art.

I suppose that someone had to deal with the business of actually carrying the coal to the fireplaces, etc.

This cover which features mugs of beer was by the Truman’s brewery.

A radiant sun is nice, especially when one has gone a day without seeing it.

And some are just pretty.

As I am possibly on the Naughty list, I expect I shall have rather a lot of coal to burn.   😉

Art Day

I always enjoyed going to the art museum when I was a child:  it was mysterious, beautiful and scary, always an adventure and free.   The local museum is tiny and expensive, except on free days, so you can guess when I am likely to visit (I have forked over money on occasion).  So I was there for the most recent free day, just having time enough for a quick look see.

I took scads of pictures of this display the  last time I was there.   What’s not to like about floating invisible people spiraling down an empty corridor?  This is also I technique that I would like to explore someday (but not today).

The upper gallery displays change from time to time, and today featured a video installation with four screens of waving trees that changed color in a darkened gallery.   Interesting, but what does it mean?   The other gallery featured everyday objects, like a shovel or typewriter, made of glass.   Another gallery had bare speakers hanging from the ceiling playing random noise sounds.   It’s all very artistic I’m sure.

A different sort of glass art is by this guy.   I have seen his stuff in many different places, in the V & A, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Tacoma, WA and here, so his work gets around.   I like the color and form in this piece, it reminds me of the worm in tequila (I’m not saying how I recognize them).

This would be the interactive part of the exhibit, one could write a postcard to one’s mentors and the museum would mail them out.   It’s rather interesting that they chose this old-fashioned format (snail mail, really!).

Then it was on to the next thing I had to do, although I lost all my lovely photos due to user error (so no other pics).  🙁


I think that my love of dinosaurs must have started before I could even read.   My big brother discovered the topic first, and I always tried to do everything that he did.  He made little books about his favorites (or perhaps it was just the ones that he read about.  I’m sure he liked them all).   I suspect that all children are fascinated by dinosaurs (at least before Barney came along and ruined it for the others), because they were gigantic and now they are all gone, disappeared off the face of the earth. 🙁

Leaping lizards!  I even signed the petition to keep Dippy the diplodocus in place at the Natural History Museum, but it did no good (he’s gone on tour for now and was replaced by a whale,  a mammal of all things).  The age of dinosaurs is over, I guess.  However, they still have a bit of things to entertain dinosaur lovers like myself.

Of course artists renditions of dino life are de rigeur, because we can only infer what they looked like and what they were up to.

And the newest thing to make dinos come to life are animatronic dinosaurs, like T-Rex here.   He was quite popular and scads of people took selfies with him (including me!).

These animatronic Deinonochus, a species made popular in the Jurassic Park movies, are simultaneously adorable and quite scary.

All of this makes a skeleton seem rather ordinary.   It’s hard to appreciate the time and love required to find the bones in the first place, pry the bones from solid rock in the lab, replace the missing bones with what was probably there, and assemble it together again.

Then there is this newspaper, which was delivered to my house courtesy of a local church.

While I can’t agree with a single one of their conclusions (being largely fact free), it did have some rather nice pictures of my favorite creatures. 😉



You know that I have tried to limit the number of books that come into my house, and if you know this, then you also know how very bad I am at this.  So here are a few of my newest books.

These lovely books were a gift from my friend GA (not George Ashley), whom I met through the internet.  East End Vernacular is the most recent publication by GA, a collection of paintings of London’s East End.  All of the paintings are previously unpublished works, which just goes to show that talent is not enough to make it in the art world.   The next book,  Traveller’s Children in London Fields, was the very first book that GA published and it is a collection of photographs taken by the late Colin O’Brien.   And then there is A Hoxton Childhood,  a  reprint of a memoir of a working man reflecting back on a long life (and a really wonderful book).   Thanks for the good reads GA.

These books are also from people that I know through the internet.   The Daily Coyote started out as a blog, and Shreve published this wonderful record of Charlie’s life.   Too bad if you see this and want a copy, it was available by subscription only.  Dogs of Avalon is a much more challenging book, and it covers the evils of greyhound racing, and the sanctuary that helps these dogs recover their spirit.   I “met” Laura some years ago after she published her second book “The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, New Jersey”,  which was a memoir with recipes.

I’m including these calendars in this post just because they come from the internet as well.   I have previously bought a book from The Mincing Mockingbird, but he didn’t have anything new this year, so I just bought his calendars.  And I do love Charlie from The Daily Coyote, he’s actually the only coyote that I like (and he is super adorable).   But, I swear that these are the last books I’m buying (at least for this year, maybe).


Shop Windows

I love walking along the street and looking at the goods on display in shop windows.   What are they using to make one say “I must stop in and buy something”.

Hardware stores are the best places to browse.   Full of enigmatic and useful things, a shop like this that is crammed to the gills with stuff can never fail to inspire one.   Whatever one might need, perhaps a fresh coat of paint, repairing that thing that one has been ignoring, or just handling the various specialised tools; it leads to thoughts of what might be. (So get on with it!)

This window had these lovely antique, hand cranked sewing machines as a backdrop to the standard sort of trendy clothing that the shop sells.  I have been sewing for years (lots and lots of years) and yet I have no idea how to sew a straight line using just one hand while furiously cranking with the other.  So bravo to those who originally used these machines.  This display was the most interesting part of this shop.

Then there are the Christmas displays meant to fill one with the Christmas spirit (or at least the urge to spend money on one’s family and friends, if that is the same thing?).  When I was a child, I remember making special trips to the shopping district just to see the windows.  This store chose to use cartoon figures of Italian designers rather than the more traditional elves to flog their wares.  If it wasn’t for the tinsel and party dresses I might not have known this was a Christmas display.

And of course what says Christmas more than rockets and little green men ( a very traditional look for aliens).