Ring out the old, ring in the new

It is the last day of 2011 and I feel the pressure to call you all to arms, to go into the New Year armed and ready to make it a year to remember.  Go forth and tick those dreams off the bucket list! Resign that job, toss the disinterested partner, learn to swallow flaming swords! Follow your dreams!

Except life isn’t always that easy, is it? We can’t all have independent means, lifestyles free and open to whimsy. We have parents who need us, children to raise, or grandchildren to get to know. We have ill health, and fears and phobias and issues.  We can’t all freelance from the west coast, the east coast, or an island in the Pacific. Complications entwine us, and the list can be so long that it dwarfs any bucket list we might craft.

And maybe, just maybe we are totally happy with our lives. Where does that leave the New Year? Languishing in the waiting room, waiting for its number to be called? What do we do with it once it comes through the door and sits in front of us, demanding our attention?

I suggest inviting it in gently; make friends with the New Year. See where it seeks to go. Maybe divert it with plan, or a goal; two or three. Or none See how it feels, get to know it. Watch it every day. Then work with it. Make it yours.

May 2012 be truly yours. May you treasure it, and it treasure you.

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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the good news is…

Mr FD and I are proud to announce that we can still walk today, after our afternoon of great physical activity in the garden, yesterday.

I was so impressed with our efforts that I may have just stood at the upstairs bathroom window in the middle of the night trying to discern the difference that our efforts have made to our unruly garden.

If rigour mortis doesn’t set in over lunch, we intend renewing our efforts this very day. The feeling of superiority is too much to resist.

The star jasmine arbour awaits, but I need to don a hazmat suit for that endeavour, as I am allergic to the milky sap.

Then again, a nap sounds very nice…

beauty, brain and brawn

Eugene von Guérard | A View from Mt Franklin towards Mount Kooroocheang and the Pyrenees (detail) c.1864 | Oil on canvas

It was a day of contrasts. The morning was beauty and artistic pursuit, while the afternoon was physical and existential; spent working in our garden.

A morning visit to the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art provided us with first a Matisse exhibition  (Matisse: Drawing Life) and then a Eugene von Guérard exhibition ( Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed); while an amble next door to the State Library brought a smile of glee to our faces as we got in touch with out inner child by viewing Look! the art of Australian picture books today, an exhibition celebrating the artistry behind some of Australian’s most treasured picture books.

All three were a delight, but though I must admit that I fell in love with Matisse’s botanical drawings, few though they were, we were left wondering what makes an ” artistic genius” and what denotes common mediocrity?

I am no doubt wearing my ignorance in public now, but what is it about his work that marks it different from the efforts of the common folk? In fact much of it, if I had produced it, I would not have had the confidence to proclaim  as worthwhile. Where is the line crossed?

Matisse

As a teacher, I must admit that I have regularly instructed students to cease creating very similar images inside the covers of their books. Have I been stopping a genius at work?

It is an interesting question – what makes us value one person, style or thing over another? As I wrote previously, where is the artistic line crossed?

I can paint and draw. I believe this myself and a few other people say that they believe this too. But I’m not certain of whether it’s true.—        Gustav Klimt

in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings

New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to one or more lasting personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit, and no doubt as 2011 draws to end  (and none too soon as far as I am concerned!) many of us are drawn to reflect not only on the past year, but to anticipate the freshness of a new year.

I have never been a big one for resolutions. I have never really considered that the first day of a new year is a real motivator for anyone to shed weight, get fit, or learn something new any more than any other day of the year. If I didn’t do it yesterday, why would I do it tomorrow?

This year I have already committed to some resolutions, goals – change, for the new year:

I must change.

I must remove all the excess. 

I must get rid of all the clutter.

I must eat healthier food.

I must exercise.

I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

I must watch less TV.

I must be more active in my own life. 

It is one thing to write this neat list of intentions, but if I fail to think about how I am going to achieve these changes then it is all going to amount to nothing  except another pile of empty words.

So, as part of my reflection and planning process I have been trying to visualise what I want my life and 2012 to be.

1. I must change.

2. I must remove all the excess 

Discreetness and minimalism heralds the point of ultimate luxury. Less is more in 2012!

3. I must get rid of all the clutter.

4. I must eat healthier food.

5. I must exercise

6. I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.

7. I must watch less TV.

8. I must be more active in my own life.

and

the spirits of Christmas

DISCLAIMER: Flamingo Dancer may have been in the process of swishing down a large goblet of red wine in the process of writing this blog. If you agree with stated opinions, FD claims full copyright and ownership, if you do not agree with the opinions thus expressed, well, she disclaims her said opinions and heartily disavows them. If you can’t decide if you do or don’t agree, for heavens sake get a life and stop fence sitting.

We survived not only Christmas Day (my family), but also Boxing Day (Mr FD’s family). . We survived MIL as well, without her throwing up in the car on her way here, and back to her care facility (The HOME, the site of her “incarceration” as she declares at every available opportunity, spreading guilt as Santa does joy ), or any failure on her part to totter to the bathroom on time. Apparently, according to the Scripture of SIL, we attained some kind of record, keeping MIL together for some 6 hours.

In recent years, the Grandmas have come to have a dominant aspect of Christmas. My Mum is somewhat vague and a little deaf, though she denies both. She participated in a somewhat memorable conversation with Daughter 2 on Christmas Day on whether to “scratch the scratchies {lottery tickets] on your scratchie tree [ a small Christmas tree with lottery tickets attached] that has already gone down in Christmas history.

“Grandma, do you want to scratch the scratchie tree, now?”

“Yes, I scratched the scratchies.”

“No Grandma, those were the scratchies I gave you, I mean the scratchie tree that Dee gave you”

“Yes, I scratched the scratchies.”

“No Grandma, those were the scratchies I gave you. Remember how Dee gave you a scratchie tree too (pointing at the said tree) do you want to scratch the scratchies?”

“Yes, I scratched the scratchies”

“Grandma,” through clenched teeth, “would you like to scratch some more scratchies?”

“Do I have more?”

“Yes, Grandma, the ones that Dee gave you. Do you want me to get them for you?”

“Oh, should I? “

“Only if you want to.”

“I don’t know. Do you think I should?”

Look on Daughter2’s face communicates that about now she is considering cutting her wrists and ending it all with the carving knife on the ham platter, replies “Yes, I think you should Grandma, it’s not like you have anything else to do right now!”

“Well, then maybe I will.”

“I’ll get it for you then.”

Daughter 2 brings the tree over to Grandma.

“Oh, are these for me?”

“Yes, Grandma, Dee bought them for you.”

Cue in Son laughing in the background.

This afternoon, Daughter2 and I went to the movies to watch  The Women on the Sixth Floor. I loved it, but D2 felt it was slow. I suspect I was the demographic audience and she wasn’t, as it is about a midlife crisis and living life and love. Walking down the stairs afterwards, an old man with a cane was walking in front of  me, using the stair rail as support, when a group of young teenies barged up and forced him to relinquish his grip on the rail. The old man soldiered on, but I could see he was very unsteady and just as I said, “Are you ok?” he tottered backwards towards me. I put my hands out to catch him, but he swerved towards the rail and saved himself. Then, someone who may have been a son or a grandson came back up the stairs  and said “I’m in front in case he falls.”

Old Man was as unimpressesed  as I was, and muttered, “Fat lot of good that does me!” and so I turned and  said “Maybe you should hit him with your stick!” to which Sonny Boy replied, “Don’t worry, he already does!”

Obviously, not often enough.