Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Saturday 19 November 2011

embers, infinitas gracias, music to go, lie-in

Before I went cycling, I swept the grate, as I always do early in the morning, and the remnants of log glowed orange and red, and smouldered, and gave off heat that warmed my fingers in the now cold room. As I put my cycling jacket on, an owl hooted outside in the garden. In the countryside there was a light mist and in the sky a slice of moon. Soon the sun rose and on the way back, along Calcroft Lane, there were lots of creamy flowers still out, most sheltering in the ditch by the road. Dandelion, those hogweedy things I mentioned last time, yarrow and meadowsweet are the ones shown above. Although it felt considerably cooler it was still warm--about six or seven degrees C. Strange year. In the garden a late Mexican canna lily has just gone over and the frogs are hopping about in the flower beds.

It's been a busy week. A highlight was a trip to the British Library for a meeting and a visit afterwards to a wonderful exhibition at the Wellcome Collection called Infinitas Gracias: Mexican Miracle Paintings. (I love by the way the Wellcome Collection's subtitle: "A free destination of the incurably curious".) As the exhibition's website says,

"Mexican votives are small paintings, usually executed on tin roof tiles or small plaques, depicting the moment of personal humility when an individual asks a saint for help and is delivered from disaster and sometimes death. 'Infinitas Gracias' will feature over 100 votive paintings drawn from five collections held by museums in and around Mexico City and two sanctuaries located in mining communities in the Bajío region to the north: the city of Guanajuato and the distant mountain town of Real de Catorce. Together with images, news reports, photographs, devotional artefacts, film and interviews, the exhibition will illustrate the depth of the votive tradition in Mexico."

The paintings ranged in sophistication from professional to childlike representations of people and livestock but all told little stories about the individuals, families and ways of life. It was also fascinating to see how things changed over the two hundred years covered by the exhibits--horses and carriages giving way to cars and buses and so on. There was also an extraordinary wall of modern ad hoc votives done on photocopying machines or scribbled on polystyrene plates, carrying on the tradition in new, incredibly personal and moving ways.

Meanwhile, I've decided to delete most of the music from my phone--after backing it up, of course. I've been assembling this collection for over five years and now I want a change. I'll keep the most recent stuff and one or two old favourites and start again. Good feeling.

Looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow.

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