Miniatura.

What a lovely show.  The feeling in the hall was so happy.  There is nothing quite like a hall full of likeminded people, getting together to celebrate a hobby and doing it in such a super show.  Several people remarked on the quality of the exhibits to me.  It’s one of the main reasons I exhibit at Miniatura and not anywhere else.  I think if you are taking the time and trouble to get out to a show and paying good money to get in to it, then every single table should be something worth looking at.  There are lesser shows that are larger because they are filled up with cheap imports or things that are not really miniature related but I wouldn’t exhibit there.  If you only have a weekend or a day, then every moment of your time should be used for the reason you have come out.  I also would not exhibit at a show that did not cater for everyone, meaning full wheel chair access and facilities; toilets and restaurants in the hall and a place to sit and think if you want to.

Miniatura has it all, it really does.  And it has free parking, at the NEC this is quite a consideration, as I discovered visiting other shows in the summer.  £16 out of my budget before I even got out of the car park was a bit of a shocker.  The parking for Miniatura is free, you just ask on your way out of the hall and they will give you a paper hat, or a voucher, or stamp your boot or draw kisses on your face or whatever they are doing this time round for you to show at the car park booth on the way out and not be charged.  Hooray!

However the benefit of Miniatura that I love the best, is meeting up with old friends, both exhibitors and collectors and making new friends, both exhibitors and collectors.  It is such a pleasure to hear someone gasp with pleasure because they’ve just discovered I make porcelain dolls under three inches tall fully articulated and jointed.  It makes me so happy to encourage people to pick the doll up and have a good look and see just how very small and lovely they are in the hand.

I also love to hear where my dolls are living and how well they are cared for.  They make people smile.  Collectors do smile, often I think without realising they are doing it, when they tell me all about their houses and what my dolls are up to.  Everything about the show is positive and happy.  It’s just lovely.

When I came home, after a couple of days off I began to have a big clear out of the sun room, ahead of the builders knocking a wall down.  In the sun room live the wheeled bags I take to the show.  And a ton of junk.  And for lo!  behind it all I found a huge plastic bag that I had forgotten all about with paper pictures in it.

I began painting oil paintings in miniature, probably ten years ago.  Then I painted oil portraits of visitors.  I took a photo at the show and by the next show had the portrait ready.  They were not much money and I got quite good at it but they were not a success because people forgot they had asked and didn’t come back, sometimes they did several years later, when I had stopped doing it.  So then, when I got good at making silicone moulds I began making bass relief pictures in paper clay.  I had only just started, quite successfully as I recall, partly because the method of production enabled me to make several of the same at once, rather than having to start from scratch with each one, though they were painted individually. This in turn meant they could all be very reasonably priced for a hand made item and, as they were made of paper they were very light for hanging on dodgy walls.

I was just getting under way with these, when my father died and I became carer for my mother.  So shows were fitted in with everything else and the big bag with the pictures in never saw the light of day again.

But it has now.  What treasure trove!  There is an entire stand full of pictures and I have  a head full of ideas for others.

I always feel inspired by Miniatura but I think this is the first time I have been inspired by the clearing up afterwards.  Pictures next post if I have finished the new ones by then.

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Fairy houses

I thought you might like to see what I am taking to the show.

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Lit and decorated with Graphic 45 papers.

There are two fairy houses.  Although they are in mushrooms I have done flat wall room dividers, so you can have fireplaces, or stoves or anything else that needs a flat wall.

I was originally going to offer them as a shell and then I realised that the strange nature of the structure would make them difficult to decorate once the roof was on, difficult to light too without the wires showing, and also hard to curtain.  So I have done all the tricky bits, you just have to furnish, fairy and fly in.

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There’s a green one and

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a purple one.

Both have insides and outside toilets.

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and wells and chimneys and also and early warning system of eyes on the roof, which I reckon you need if your house is likely to be picked and eaten.

And they and all the usual suspects (who I am just busy packing now) will be at Miniatura with me this weekend.  See you there!

www.miniatura.co.uk

They don’t come with a pencil, that’s to show non-miniaturists the size. (24th scale to you and me.)

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Toilets

I am still busy with the fairy houses, there will only be two, hopefully.  I am currently struggling with the lighting.  As the houses are so irregular, well they would be, they are mushrooms, I had decided to offer them as much done as would be difficult to do once they are constructed.   They will come stuck to A4 canvas boards, which enables me to make them irregular and arty and mushroom-like.  I know you are muttering ‘toadstool’ I can hear you doing it under your breath, but there isn’t mushroom in them at all, which is why I am offering them wallpapered and lit.

I am papering with Graphic 45 papers because I love them.  I am lighting them with fairy lights because when I was looking for lights they were actually called fairy lights, therefore ideal for a place with not mushroom.  I have put room dividers inside, mainly so there will be a flat wall in the middle, easy to fasten fireplaces or cooking stoves to.

It is all going down to the wire a bit, as usual.  So far I have finished the toilets.

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Once they are glued to the canvas board you won’t be able to see that the toilets have proper header tanks, but, of course, as they are my porcelain toilets they do.

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With only two weeks to go I don’t know what I’m doing chatting to you, I’d better get on.

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Well at least you’ve got something to go on.

www.miniatura.co.uk

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Der

I got started yesterday on some fairy houses for Miniatura.  Having spent the usual time faffing around, prior to actually tackling the thing I wanted to do, I thought it a good plan to get an early night and get started first thing.

It is now three in the afternoon  and first thing has still to occur, despite getting up at seven, because it’s been one of those days.  Had I known it was one of those days, I’d have had a lie-in.

First off I wanted to post back a mail order item of clothing that looked wonderful on the model but made me look like a recently deceased elderly auntie of a zombie.  So I brought it downstairs, in the plastic bag, located the outer bag and sought the returns slip.

Where him slip?

Not on the counter top.  Not on the table.  Not on top of the microwave with the plastic disposable dishes that are too nice to dispose of (they fitted three chips in the three chip compartment perfectly – had someone grown potatoes to the exact size?).  Not behind the stack of papers on the edge of the top.  Not in the cupboard.  Not in the bedroom on the side.  Not in the bedroom on the dressing table.  Back downstairs.  Not on the stairs.  Not in the kitchen.  In the bin?  Not in the bin (which was wet.  I was wearing an absorbent top.)  Back upstairs.  Not on the dressing table.  Put the wet top on the radiator.  Not on the radiator.  Back downstairs, not on the stairs.  Not on the table.  Give up, will type letter.  Make tea, wash spoon, soak top.

Upstairs.  Not on the radiator.  Not on the dressing table.  Back downstairs.  Not on the stairs.

Into the lounge.  On the desk next to the computer where I put it last night.  Fill in returns form.  Make up parcel.  Get in car go to post office.  Park car.  Go in.  Post office shut. (Computer meltdown.)

Back in car down hill to supermarket garage.  Up to entrance.  Entrance blocked off, forecourt filled with men in high-vis vests.

Back home.  Made tea.  Third top of the day joining others on radiator.

Search for twenty fourth toilets for fairy houses.  Not on first shelf though I had a good look when everything fell out.  Not on second shelf, involving crawling on floor.  Everything fell out.  Everything fell out of third shelf spontaneously, did fourth shelf, didn’t feel lucky enough to do top shelf, heavy boxes.

Find three other things, put them on welsh dresser find toilets there.

Have lunch, fall asleep in chair, miss show on Internet and now it’s now.

I am going to the post office now if it still exists in this reality.

Miniatura 30th and 32st March details www.miniatura.co.uk *

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*31st.  Don’t go on the 32st it doesn’t exist.

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Thank you

We went on the train down to London because the OH wanted to see the orchid display at Kew Gardens.

Like idiots, especially like retired idiots, we hadn’t realised it was half term.  We had not realised either that at half term absolutely everyone with school age children would be keen as mustard to take them on a train to London.  It wasn’t exactly Tokyo bullet train in rush hour but it wasn’t far off.

So it was that when we entered the train at our stop there were no seats.  The OH arranged himself against a metal pole thing and I stood in the aisle, hanging on to the handle on top of the seat.  I’d been doing this for about three quarters of an hour when the gentleman from the family behind me very kindly offered me his seat, as he appeared about thirty years younger than me and looked strong, I accepted gratefully.

So for another three quarters of an hour I sat in the bosom of a strange family, trying not to eavesdrop.  When we approached London I stood up and said to the gentleman that he could not have known when he gave up his seat that I had recently had quite a bit of surgery and probably couldn’t have stood all the way and I thanked him very sincerely, and told his teenage son that his dad knew what was what.

The sun came out, locally, everyone smiled, everyone was happy.  When I saw them later leaving the station they looked bouncy.

A proper thank you is such a simple thing that makes such a big difference.

Thank you for reading, I wouldn’t be here without you, well there wouldn’t be any point, really.

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Watching.

We do a lot of watching.  I sometimes think that we are defined by what we watch.  Moreover there are more places than ever to watch.  One of the entertainments is watching people who are busy watching hand held devices walk into the tree on the pavement outside my kitchen window.  I like watching that because they are always surprised by it and it’s a tree.  It’s quite big and it’s never moved and yet it surprises them.

The OH watches a lot of television.  He enjoys almost any programme involving goodies and baddies killing each other.  He likes people getting blown up, people getting shot, bows and arrows, intercontinental ballistic missiles, any film about any war, anywhere, detectives working out who shot whom, forensic pathologists working out why who shot whom and assorted dead bodies.

I don’t but we live in an open plan house with the television right in the middle.

I like to watch shopping channels and craft channels on television while I am working out.  I am getting back to physical fitness again and very happy to be having the strength to do an hour in the morning because I want to, not just because if I don’t my arm won’t work.  I have managed to do the exercise thing which is two wheels and a handle that you roll along the floor, for the first time in two years and was pleased to watch the carpet in close-up while I did it.

On a shopping channel I discovered Matthew Palmer, a watercolourist who has his own Internet art show at www.watercolour.tv and I like to watch him paint pictures.  I have been having a go at watercolour, which I think is interesting.  I’m fairly competent at alcohol markers, inks, oils and acrylics but watercolour is a very different medium with much more subtle effects.  So far I’m rubbish which makes me feel cheerful, I do enjoy a new challenge of something just sufficiently out of my comfort zone to make me keep going.  Meanwhile I find watching Matthew paint a picture to be very de-stressing.

I just spent the morning having my hair permed which involves me watching myself in a mirror for a couple of hours.  Horror film, not to be watched by the faint hearted.  I only go every six months, which means you get the opportunity to watch yourself ageing.  I have done this fairly rapidly over the last few years, when I began looking after my mother I looked OK, I thought but five years as carer, two broken arms, cancer and a husband with drinking issues can give you the opportunity to watch yourself slide downhill.  Not good.

What I am enjoying watching most at present is my novel growing.  I am up to 110,000 words and have only three, I think, chapters to write and then I’m finished.  I still have to do the illustrations for inside.  I like to read the kind of books that have line drawings of things pertaining to the story, so I think I should do some.  I drew the cover in the autumn before last, when my broken arm wouldn’t type easily but I could wield a pencil, providing it wasn’t a heavy one.  I took the cover along to the copy shop so I have copies to colour or not, depending how I feel about that.  But it has been very enjoyable watching it grow.

And soon I will be able to get back out in the garden and watch that grow, which is my favourite thing of all to watch.  I have not been able to watch it much.  Five years followed by broken arms, garden reconstruction and the OH’s woodworking shed meant I could only do bits, though I have enjoyed painting the fence.

What you watch says a lot about you.  What do you watch?

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In print.

I don’t suppose for a moment you imagined that the broken printer saga would end with just buying a printer, did you?

Me neither, though I was hopeful that, the OH having ordered the identical printer to the one he had so easily utterly destroyed by ripping a paper-jammed envelope from it, life would be simple.

I have been writing this blog since 2009.  It has mainly consisted of my surprise that nothing has proved as simple as advertised, except, perhaps, me, as I am clearly not learning.

The new printer arrived and I left it in the hall for the OH to unwrap and deploy as he had paid for it.  See?  Not learning.

So I was upstairs writing and I could hear the exclamations of frustration through two closed doors and a staircase.

This is how global thermonuclear war will sound at the beginning:  So I have downloaded a new set of printer drivers, I have made my machine the default, I cannot get it to speak to your machine so I have fiddled with your machine and I cannot get it to work, so I have been online and read all the manuals and I have soaked my fingers in every pie I can find locally and I am getting very annoyed, I may just…………….

We agreed. We said.  We will buy the same printer and just plug it in and the machines will know no different.  We said.

But one of us had forgotten that, besides which he was a man with a need to fix stuff.

I gave it an hour or two.  I retreated and indulged in minding my own business.  When appealed to:  All right you fix the bloody thing.  I remained calm and suggested that the OH rang the S&H who went expensively to university for five years of utter penury to his parents and some months of sofa surfing afterwards that frightened the life out of his mother, to learn this stuff.

And for lo they laughed upon a conference call and were boys together against the machine.  At one point the S&H had to take over my machine remotely, yes indeed my son appeared in my computer from another town altogether.  And after an hour, he fixed the printer, which was not broke and could have worked if someone had just stuck to what had been agreed and had a bit of faith and, thank the S&H, it works.

So the OH laughed in a manly all men together sort of way and I popped out to the post and sent the S&H some money and a lot of kisses and breathed out.

You can print this blog off if you want, and so can I.

And the OH satisfied his need to fix stuff by trying to take the old printer to bits and retrieve the envelope corner so we have a spare printer and he did it for some hours and then he found a thing on Russian YouTube that said it couldn’t be done and believed them.  So the partially deconstructed old printer is sitting in the hall waiting to go to the dump.  Well, I’m saying old but it was only a few months old, so the OH has registered this one and says we will use this properly as it is his printer.

I try to rise above these things, I do.  It will all be the same in a thousand years.

Mind you, that’s what they say about global thermonuclear war.

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Milestones

I have been neglecting you.  I am sorry.  I have a really good excuse.  I’ve been writing.  It’s the novel.  It’s getting very exciting, I begrudge time sleeping, you would when it’s this thrilling, I do but I have to, to write good stuff in the morning.

It doesn’t help that I am married to the man from Porlock.  Oh Yes.  Yesterday I had got to such a good bit when he appeared at the bedroom door.  (I write in the spare bedroom in what I presume is the normal way.  I don’t know really, where do you write?)

I know you’re busy but where are the envelopes?’ 

Behind the phone where they have always been.’

Write write write write.

‘You’re busy I know but where are the long envelopes?’

‘Behind the phone.’

‘OK.’

Write write write write

‘Behind the phone exactly where?’

‘At the back.’

Write write write write

write write write

‘Do you know how to get a paper jammed envelope out of the printer?’  (That would be my printer that I bought.  The OH has never bought an envelope or a printer in his life.) ‘Can you come and have a look?’

The machine tells you there is a paper jam.  It tells you to open the back.  When you have opened the back there are pictures.  Big pictures.  They show you how to pull the green tabs so that the rollers eject the paper.  The diagram the OH followed, the one where you grit your teeth and heave the paper out, ripping it, is invisible.

After about an hour fiddling the conclusion was reached that A) I had lost the thread of my writing B) the OH could ring the repair shop in the morning or the manufacturers on Monday and C) he had found one on  the Big River online shop the same so we would not need the S&H to install it for us (we hope).

So I stopped and had tea.

B)is no good.  A) I re-found  C) will be delivering early in the week

BUT I have still, despite this and numerous other similar distractions, reached 100,000 words.

That’s a milestone that might even turn into a novel.

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Third week January.

For lo ’tis the third week of January, the antidote to Black Friday and those nights you lay awake wondering what meaningful socks to get your uncle and whether you should succumb and buy another little something for yourself.  Now here you are in January, wishing that instead of a silk blouse which is too tight after all that eating and likely to rip with the shivering, you just had the readies now for nice din dins.  You may even have seen those news reports where some boffin has worked out how little we need to eat to save the planet.  One third of an egg a day.  Someone will come up with a two thirds of an egg keepfesh item which will only cost £87.63 and come payday (yes it will, eventually) I will have a blue one, or a yellow one or not.  I may even continue eating an entire egg at a go because I am simply reckless.

Gym?  No.  Why does no one ever buy anyone a gym membership as a Christmas present?  One you could return, saying it wasn’t in your colour, get their money back and have some reduced price boxed chocolates instead.  I had some of those at the health food store, they were so reduced I bought two boxes.  They were fat free, also gluten, soya, chocolate, and dairy free.  Yet, amazingly, they still managed to taste horrible.  So that was why they were so very reduced. 

For lo the third week in January.  If we bought clothes a size bigger in November, would that make us feel better, fatter, in January, or just less inclined to us the gym membership we were given for Christmas and haven’t got round to taking back yet? (‘This doesn’t fit me, I need one with less treadmill and a bit more sitting around.’  ‘I am sorry fatso, would you like to swap it for something else?  We have a two for one dumb belles offer this week, would fit you perfectly.’)

This is the time to stop shopping and start using all the stuff we were given.  I will now unwrap the hand made soap and give it a go.  My cousin’s son’s children bought me strawberry hand cream, I will actually unscrew the cap and spread it on my cracked digits.  The OH bought me a wooden art box, I will now fill it with the watercolour stuff I bought myself and actually paint a picture.

Wear those socks?  Wrap that scarf!  Struggle into those leggings!  Break that toy!  Leave that boot scraper outside!  Try really hard to get everything used this week because next week is payday and, thank goodness, we are all back to normal.

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Writing

I have little time to write because I’m writing.

I was a bit stuck, mostly because the one year cancer check up was looming and I couldn’t think.  The doctor was no one I had ever seen before but he answered a question.  I know that if I survive five years the risk of recurrence is the same as the rest of the population.  The OH was convinced that the risk must be decreasing as time goes by; I had no idea.  So I asked.  This, in itself was a good thing.  Normally I only remember the questions on the way home, or often, the next day.  The answer was not what I’d hoped, it is that the risk continues until the last day of the five years and there you are suddenly, bingo, OK.

So despite a good report I was cast down.  I haven’t really been able to write since before Christmas, knowing this was looming.  I have tried very hard to have a positive mental attitude, to count my blessings, to separate my feelings about me from my worries about the OH.  This is difficult.  The OH is going in for surgery on his gouty foot with the holes in it, which he is convinced is entirely due to eating cauliflower.  If he cannot get to the pub he will go into withdrawal, which last time was frightening to say the least and, I am certain, has an impact on my health.

There’s a lot in the news at this time of year about diet, exercise and all the stuff that is good for your health.  Nobody ever writes about the impact other people have on your health.  Taking care of insane people, for example.  Living with addicts, for example.

In some ways I am lucky.  I am not a child carer.  There are many children who are care givers, many become so good at it they turn it into a profession;  hospitals are staffed by people who had to be care givers at home and those who were so marked by family illness they wanted to help others with the same problem.  I have recently met quite a few.  So I am not doing anything other than counting my blessings.

Nevertheless worries and doubts make it hard to write funny stuff, and if it’s not funny it’s not me.

However, I am writing again.  So finally, Happy New Year to me.  (And you)  For the next four years I will be glad that January is a long month, it gives me time to get over the check up and then get on with the next six months.

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