Re purpose: WPC

This week’s photo challenge is about repurposing? …”discovering an object for which you’ve discovered a clever new use.”

Like Phoebe Anna Traquair?

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent ( National Museum of Scotland)

Art galleries and museums ‘repurpose’ objects all the time to engage visitors, of all ages; to make them inquisitive; puzzled; challenged to compare, and contrast; to critique and make recommendations: to appreciate differences and similarities; to remember images of what they treasured; to open up to wonder. It’s more than just labelling and classifying – they want to get people talking and reflecting on what was most memorable for them.img_1035-1Most Scottish museums and galleries are free. We visited Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum last year for a special (ticketed) Mucha Exhibition. I’d last been in the building when it was a dusty museum/storehouse last century.

fullsizerender Caught a glimpse of some refurbishment and wondered why they put these objects together – a Spitfire behind an elephant? Did you have to guess which is heaviest?

Our tour guide was very informative but I didn’t get time to ask these objects which caught my eye, so I nipped back and took this photo to look at later.

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The curators must have a sense of humour. What do you reckon? These are twice the size of tennis balls and thought to be pre-Viking.

One ‘repurpose’ – You stirred them in the cauldron to help tenderise the meat being cooked.

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PS. An adult elephant can weigh up to 4500 kg. This 1944 Spitfire’s max. weight is 3565 kg. For an image of the completed display, click here.

PPS. Yes. The Mucha Exhibition was pretty. But I got fed up looking at so many draped, ornamental women on posters … time to move on. Spent a more engrossing, enlightening time in the galleries upstairs. I’d go again any day.

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Tea and Truce: Hodja No. 5

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There’s nothing nicer than catching up with a friend for tea and cake: a time for stories, news and reassurance.

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It’s been my experience that drinking tea together has been responsible for many a revitalising conversation. In times of crisis, real or unreal, putting the kettle on for a cuppa has heralded a joint confab to solve a problem, salve a ‘wound’ or have questions answered: a time of friendship.

I’d say, I inherited a genetic disposition to drinking tea from my mother. Here she is as a five-year old, dressed up, having tea with her dolls.

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Coffee just doesn’t have the same effect on me – all that pressured steam and long instructions pitched against the machine like  “Half strength cappuccino with some water on the side.” Ordinary black tea, with its ritual stirring, slow sipping and relaxed breathing has been a mainstay in my immediate family and circle of friends. Being offered the best china, or guest’s cup make’s it all the more pleasurable. (Oh no! Is that orange juice?)

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Of course, tea is not for everyone and that’s fine. We all have choice – of what we drink and who we have tea with.  I remember my mother’s anguish in her forties when her only brother told her that his religious beliefs forbad him taking tea, or socialising in any way, with those who were not a member of his sect. My widowed Gran lost much contact with her son, daughter-in-law, 5 grandchildren and their children: my mother lost contact with her only sibling: one of the two branches of my mother’s side of our small family gone!

Hard to imagine …  Tea is social and inclusive. It is a time to ponder, calm down and gather strength for what’s ahead.

Of course, I do have a choice of teas. Making such a cup last week, I was surprised to read this on the packet. Didn’t it make me daydream! Go on! Put the kettle on!

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You know, Hodja was fond of a glass of tea and good stories in the teahouse. One day a tall man entered who was not from the district. Everyone in the place stopped talking and turned to watch.

The stranger smiled when he caught sight of Hodja, nodded and came over to his table. “You probably don’t recognise me … but I remember you. I was in charge of the border guard at … .”

Everyone listened.

“Ah yes!” affirmed Hodja, looking him straight in the eye. ” It must be twenty years since I earned my living as a trader.”

Hodja invited him to sit down and called for more tea and turned to look at his guest quizzically.

“I’m retired now,” said the tall man, “but I’m glad to speak to you … I know you outwitted us everytime.  We were all convinced you were smuggling something over the border. But all your donkey ever carried was paniers of hay! We always searched and even sifted it. But we never found anything.”

Hodja smilled.

“Tell me now, after all this time,” begged the stranger,  “how did you make money trading hay?”

Hodja shook his head and replied “To tell you the truth … I was smuggling donkeys.”

At this everyone in the teahouse roared laughing, including the stranger.

All photos by Meg.

Hodja’s story adapted from one I heard Ben tell at our local TellTales story circle. (Yes, we drink tea there and the cafe opens up for coffee fans.)

Story Twigs My Imagination: blog by Meg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Making the Change

It’s been a while since my last post.  I have ceased working for my employer of 39 years.

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Here’s the card I got from some of the kids. I treasure their ‘comments.’

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After my refusal to ‘work’ like the good daughter in Grimm’s Mother Holle tale of my last Blog, I’ve stopped and just got on with it .

Just like the golden-haired daughter, I’ve been doing what needs doing –  ‘shaking the apple tree,’ and ‘stacking the fruit.’

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Getting back to sustaining routines and some order in my life.

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I’ve given away all the books I don’t need any more. Like the ugly sister who returns with no treasure, but covered in black stuff that sticks to her for the rest of her days, I’ve let “stuff” weigh me down, most of my working life – data … information …

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 So now I’m into celebrating simple experiences,  like the perfect boiled egg,

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Being home with myself “when the feathers fly” as I make the beds,

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Keeping a weather-eye open for signs of change,

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Cherishing my freedom,

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Friends and fun

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And wondering how it will be now …  telling more stories …

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and singing silly songs as I follow a new path.

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All text and photos by Meg

 Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Diving Into Life

There are certain times in my life when I’ve had to dive right in … can’t hold back  …  and with no idea of what will eventuate.

That feeling of trepidation reminds me of the Grimm’s tale, Mother Holle, a significant story told to children as part of their Steiner (Waldorf) education.

A woman had two daughters, a beautiful step-daughter who was helpful and hard working, while her own daughter was ugly and lazy.

I imagined I was the good step-daughter diving in to retrieve the spindle I had dropped down the well. Here I go head first.

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The good daughter wakes up in a beautiful meadow. And it is here in the story,  that a strong part of me, says “Enough! This isn’t my story. I’m nobody’s household drudge” Just like the ugly daughter! (See Grimm for the remainder of their tale). In truth, at this point of my life, I am feeling lazy; part of me has always loved to be lazy!

I want to stay in the simple pleasures of the meadow. I need to daydream.

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I have loved meadows and wild fields,  since I was a small child. Wading through swishing, long grass pied with flowers, to the sound of bird song, was like being in a dream .

IMG_2476 Spring was my favourite season: buttercups and apple blossom.

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I’ve wandered through clover and dandelions in different countries accompanied by an Exaltation of Skylarks.

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I have sighed over fields in each season of the year.

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I have delighted in wandering again along familiar paths made by other feet.

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I remember being thrilled to get really close to the ground.

IMG_2536Being close to Nature, makes me feel I’m home. I think part of me will always be a Happy Wanderer, no matter where I am.

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Where is it that you feel most at home?

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Sources

GRIMMS’ tales for young and old. Translated by Ralph Manheim. New York, Doubleday, 1977.

All photos, art and text by Meg

 Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

 

 

Why the Rooster Left Home

I’ve been telling the Jacob’s version of the traditional story Jack and the Robbers lately. My young audiences really loved the animals’ antics.

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The kids seemed to have no trouble with the notion that Jack has to leave home “to seek his fortune.” For centuries, tales from different cultures have, as the main protagonist, a boy who leaves home to find … riches? a better life?

Of course, I can think of exceptions. In the Scottish tale, The Black Bull of Norraway,  it’s the three daughters who leave their poor home, one by one, to seek their fortune and all end up marrying a wealthy man.

Paraz points out in her … Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales. There’s a pattern here too,

“Unlike male protagonists, a female character in a fairy tale sets out into the world not to seek her fortune but rather to accept isolation and poverty and to forgo all hope of stability, which can only be brokered by marriage.” (p. 139)

Does this still ring true today?

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I did wonder why the animals all asked to go along… perhaps because they were bored and Jack was so welcoming to each, in turn – “Why of course, the MORE the merrier! and on they went, jiggelty jolt, jiggelty jolt.”

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I found myself giving the cat, dog, bull, goat and rooster all different excuses for being free to join Jack in his quest. The cat’s owner had moved away, the dog was old and nobody wanted him, the goat wasn’t leader of the trip anymore, the bull was for the chop, but the rooster? He wasn’t hoarse from crowing … em … his tail feathers had dropped out.

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I feel it in my bones that he was hen-pecked. They’d all had enough of his territorial swaggering and chased him off.

Next time I tell this story, I’ll add that he was hen-pecked.

Does it really matter? What do you think? It’s only a story after all.

All photos, drawing and text by Meg

Other Sources

JACOBS, Joseph (1974) English Fairy Tales. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Puffin.

MONTGOMERIE, Norah & William (1985) The Well at the World’s End: Folktales of Scotland. Edinburgh, Canongate Press.

PARADIZ, Valerie (2005) Clever maids: the secret history of the Grimm Fairy Tales. New York, Basic Books.

Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

With a Little Help from the Brownies

Before the start of the year, it’s feels good to have a clear-out, a de-clutter and give-away, recycle or dump. It was my mother’s custom to have the house spick and span for the New Year. She would even go out in the snow to clean the downstairs windows! I found myself thinking of her as I cleaned out cupboards recently.

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As I washed down walls, I thought of all the years of housework mum put in. At the time, I was muttering that I could do with a little help. Shame I didn’t have any Brownies in the house.

But sometimes I feel someone’s watching me as I work. Where’s that Blu-tac?IMG_1603

In Scottish folklore, it was believed that the wee folk, Brownies,
would sometimes move into a home and help with house-work. These hob-goblins were very shy and worked at night when the household was asleep, sweeping, washing dishes, keeping things clean and tidy. According to a story in Duncan Williamson’s collection The Coming of the Unicorn, they were small men, in old shabby clothes, often with a long white beard and the most arresting, blues eyes you could ever see.  The only payment they required was a bowl of porridge with milk, left out at night by the hearth.

If you forgot, the Brownie could let you know by making a mess in the house, breaking dishes and the like.  If you offered money, it was considered an insult and they quit the place.

In “The Broonie’s Farewell” Duncan tells of just such an event when the farmer’s wife leaves out a new set of clothes for the Brownie who had helped their farm to flourish. The farmer kept the clothes their Broonie left behind for years, hoping the he’d return.

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In English foklore, Brownies were most likely to help with animals and crops on the farm, sleep in the barn by day, and work by night. Like the Scottish Brownie, they liked to be thanked, with their bowl of porridge, but never be paid.

I wished for a Brownie in the house and remembered I had been one,  joining the local pack, like this, at the age of seven.

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Baden-Powell, who had founded the Scouting movement, co-opted the Scottish Brownie, to create an alternative group for girls. (Thank goodness the Rosebuds idea didn’t stick.) Their sworn promise was …  ” “to help other people at all times, especially those at home.”

Each weekly meeting, we’d all skip around a papier-mache toadstool and sing, ”We’re the Brownies here’s our aim, lend a hand and play the game.” We were taught all sorts of useful skills, like how to light a gas stove and the order to wash dishes in.  For me, the best bit about the Brownies was learning to sing lots of rounds and silly songs.

In my group of six, we also had our own song “Look out! Here we are the jolly Pixies helping others when in fixes” – which rings prophetic if you’ve read the my first post in this blog.

Multi-purpose

According to folklore, they do say some Brownies went bad and turned into boggarts – big, strong limbed, evil looking, creatures doing damage and causing mayhem wherever they lived. They were aggressive and challenged any humans they encountered to a competition, some game of strength, and if you couldn’t beat them, they’d eat you!

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I’ve read several  boggarts’ tales in Alan Garner’s book A Bag of Moonshine. These teach the reader how to use their wits if they should encounter such a beast. Is that a Boggart?

 I’m sure there‘s a Boggart bothering me at work –  in the computer program I have to use. I was at at my wits end with it last week. So I’m reverting to what I learned as a Brownie, not sure what to do next? Let’s sing!

Join in with  In the Brownies! on YouTube – Billy Connelly’s parody of a well-known hit in the 70s. I won’t put the link here because of Copyright but watch it and sing along –  that just might help the Boggart in my computer decide to revert to being a helpful brownie again …

With thanks to Irene for the image of her Brownie pack.

All Words and other Images by Meg Philp.

Story Twigs … ! this blog by Meg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.