Archive | October 2015

Not Doing NaNo? You’re Not Alone!

Too true on many counts.

Allison Maruska

A few have asked me if I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year (that’s National Novel Writing Month, for anyone scratching their heads). It’s a really big freaking deal among writerly types. So much so that not participating can make one feel left out. Alone. A little loser-ish. But everyone else is doing it, they think. Maybe I’m not a real writer if I don’t do it. 

notebook-933362_1280That said, this is my answer when someone asks if I’m NaNo-ing: No. I’m not.

My home and life will be NaNo-free this November. And in all likelihood will be NaNo-free every November.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some great reasons to participate in NaNoWriMo (see Chuck Wendig’s post here). There are also some great reasons not to do it (see the same post). I don’t need to rehash all that. I want to share the reasons why I personally…

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Sixth October Blog


Sixth October Blog

Friday Blues

A long long week is closing,
I feel hung out to dry,
Lost in time’s miasma,
From my lips, the solace of sigh.

A tiring force has grasped me,
A weakening of the soul,
Temperate though the weather,
Weak as a new-born foal.

If I could be bothered somehow,
The tears would flow from my eyes,
Streaming melancholy daydreams
And longing for some reprise.

The blues keep hanging around me,
For I am easily led
Into an habitual abyss
Of stride, turmoil and dread.

Never a sunbeam shines on me
In this, the eternal grey murk,
No brightness to seek and deter me,
No happiness for me to perk.

I seek a new great adventure,
One to depress all my gloom,
To lift me up in cloud heaven
Dragging me from darkness and doom.

Copyright. Evelyn J. Steward. October, 2015.

OK, Saturday. Drizzly, melancholy, gloomy weather. Like that song, ‘Gloomy Monday’ ( it was Monday, wasn”t it?). Anyway, going out earli-ish this a.m. was like autumn here usually is. Like “Fletcher”, in the old series ‘Porridge’, grey, grimy, lumpy and lukewarm. Typical English weather at this time of year.

So, on to writing. Have been reading posts where an author tells that her characters are telling a different story to the one she mapped out. Do many writers here have characters that take over a plot, causing the writer to rethink what they have to write? Can’t say it has happened that way to me. Not as strongly. I feel my characters leaning on me a bit, at times, but not forcefully.y

Perhaps my characters are less strong, perhaps I am the stronger, and they know this, and keep shtum to a certain extent, feeling I might succumb to less stringent cries? Who can tell? I mean, you, the writer, must start the ball rolling by having an idea in mind, in the first place, ergo, also picking characters with certain traits, certain weaknesses. Have to have both for balance. And also, the plot may develop because if these traits, together with unavoidable conditions, lead in specific directions, is it wisr to change the plot accordingly! Can then the characters put their stamp on the plot in this way? Who can tell! Rightly ir wrongly, it appears to be a fact that one may influence the other.

I wish all to have the characters they desire, or the plot subdued by thw writer’s intentions. Either way, get lucky, get creative and get their ‘juices’ flowing. Whichever the case, I wish you all strength to persevere.

Keep safe out there”


This entry was posted on October 25, 2015. 6 Comments

Fifth October Blog


Fifth October Blog.


Rough mountains,
Jagged fingers seeking
Wistfful clouds hanging by,
Crumbling, down – sloping,
Reaching below to
Beautious valley rocks.
To pastures where sheep
Graze, cows laze
And marsh-flies daze.
Where willows droop
In laguid pools,
Fish gulp to catch
Fast Mayflys in aeriel
Jutting peaks,
Lonesome, austere,
Stalwart bastions
Of the scenic year.
Winter snows, bleak,
Find crevices to hide,
To seek.
Oh tell me tales
Of bygone days,
You who have stood
Time’s chariot,
Galloping toward
The infinite apocalyps.
We salute your cragginess,
Are humbled by your eternity.

Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. October, 2015.

This last week or so has not been easy. Health issues, culminating in a sore throat and then chest infection.

Feeling unwell has taken all my energy. Even drawing has been temporarily dopped from my scheule, sadly. Though, I have managed to watch quite a few Youtube demos on pastels, water-colours and, more excitingly, Pan Pastels, a form of pastel work until recently, unknown to me. So my mInd has been occupied, if my hands have not.

These demonstrations by professional artists/teachers are very useful in showing the amateur how to paint/draw the somewhat harder subjects, like sea, clouds, distance, combinations of.

As yet, these pictures they produced are only in my head. But that is good enough to start with. I can always go back to the Youtube Demo and look again.

There are tips and tricks which can be very useful. OK, OK, it isn’t writing again, I know, but some of you might find these things of interest, even if not an artist, nice to see!

Some artists, dependng on the paper they use, will do a water-colour base before adding pastels on top. Others, I have seen, with lay down a base of alcohol over pastel, then will complete the picture with pastels, but I have only seen that on UArt paper ( which, depending the grade of UArt paper used, cn be like rough sandpaper), see, I am learning new things, new techniques, should I wish to go that route.

As my previous use of pastels was animal heads, flowers and Still Life, landscapes are fairly new to me as a pastel medium. I need to learn all the techniques I can so that I can produce reasonable works.

Be good to yourselves, and take care.


This entry was posted on October 22, 2015. 2 Comments

Fourth October Blog


Fourth October Blog.

Winter’s Song.

Turning leaves, yellow to gold,
Orange, red, colours so bold,
Ushering in the cool time of year,
Carpet the ground, frost soon, I fear.
These are the portents,
This is the way,
Seasonal changes,
Shortening days.

Gathering harvest, pumpkins all ripe,
Apples and green pears, such a delight!
Gathering wood for firelight’s gleam,
Woodsmoke is curling, autumnal scene.
Winter’s coming,
Overcoats, don,
Warm woolly boots,
Be quick, put them on.

Cooking hot dishes, to warm us right through,
Roasting of meats for me and for you.
Hot cherry pie, or rhubarb or apple,
Tasting and testing, with cooking we dabble.
These are the joys,
Coming together,
Laughing and talking
Whatever the weather.

Crisp chilly nights, bright stars in the sky,
Pinpoints of light when nighttime is nigh.
Bare branches brittle as winter comes near,
Some want the snowtime to reappear.
Jolly times,
We sit by the fire,
Enjoying the tales told,
Of which we never tire.

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. October, 2015.

A busy week for me, nothing horrendous, just everyday things that get in the way of artistic pursuances. Life that always gets in the way of what we really want to do with our lives, most of us anyway.

So, I make no bones about this being a short post. I have to fit my artistic dabbling into a full life of humdrum nonentities. We all do this from time to time. Shopping has to be collected or ordered in, deciding what we need to fill a few days. Appointments to keep, whether they be tor the sake of our health, taking a Pet to the Vet. Visiting aunties, picking up children from school and a hundred thousand other things that eat at our time.

Have a great day, be very careful. Accidents easily happen.


This entry was posted on October 16, 2015. 4 Comments

Third October Blog


Third October Blog

The sun slants lower in the Northern European skies. At least, it does, in my part of England. Fairly southerly, though not at the coast.

It is gorgeous as it slices between the still green leaves of my cherry tree so that the colour range stretches from a pale yellow, through all the shades of leaf green, right down to the much darker, more shaded leaves, hiding from the sun’s incandescent light.

Sounds like I am on the old paintng track again. But then as I mentioned in my last post, I deemed that writing WAS painting, only with words. It has been my philiosophy since writing more fervently.

So, without further eloquance (I quote from ‘The Quiet Man’), I shall write a small piece and hope you, those of you not interested in art or painting, will forgive my artistic references occasionally.

******* Sareena stepped back and surveyed her work. Hmm, she thought, even if I
say so myself.
It was as if all her experience, as an artist, had suddenly reappeared after losing her abilties when her car was slammed into a few months ago.

Doctors at the hospital, feared she would never be sentient again. The coma, tney put her in, went on for many weeks whilst her body rebuilt itself.

OK, so her hand still shook a little. Only to be expected. Her wrist had been smashed and surgeons performed three operations so that she might have some movement.
Her memory was not that good yet, but they assured her that it would return, virtually as good as new. Though she herself was a little sceptical on that pronouncement.

Her current work had no finess, but it held promise, she thought as she cleared and cleaned her brushes. It was enough for today. The pain came back from time to time. Like a pressure point in her mind. When that started, it was best to stop what she was doing, get a cup of tea and sit down for an hour or until the headache ceased.

As she passed it, the grandfather clock boomed out one p.m. When the chimes finished tolling, the regular tick tick of the mechanism seemef to her like a gentle old uncle, clicking its way through the day. The sound becoming one with the regularity of the house, droning its way through another twenty four hours.

A comforting sound. One she had lived with for decades; through the hard times, the war, her children growing up, the passing of a dearly loved husband. Each tick of the clock could trigger old memories. Not the most recent memories that after the accident, had flown away, like a bird disappearing away to Africa, or some foreign clime, leaving winter behind. Her mind now was somewhat like a winter landscape; bare trees, their branches sticking out in all directions. Whereas in summer the leaves clothed the branches, rounded the shapes, eased out the sharp corners.
She had no round shapes now, just bare limbs.

In the kitchen, the kettle hummed as it began to heat water. Another instrument plucking a tune from her memory. Of happy days, of sad times. Times when Ronan came home from school, his knees bloodied where bullies knocked him down. Times when Ellia brought her prize home from cookery class, and the cake she had baked to deserve it.

Then, when she and Blake suddenly gave in to impromptu sex. The sweeping of plates and cutlery from the wooden table in their lust, only to have a quick clear up so that the children never knew. They were not so modern that they both wanted their childrens’ eyes opened to worldly pursuits just yet. Time enough when they were older to learn the ways of happy parents.

Sareena lifted the kettle and poured the hot water into her giant mug, watching the teabag bubble, oozing black liquid. Tea, the sustainng drink, the blessed nirvana of all mothers. Mothers who need sustaining when things go wrong at school, or your sons’s football gear is missing a boot, or special socks. Could be that your daughter has to have that yellow dress, and it has not been washed yet because the machine went wrong. All kinds of problems can be solved or eased along by a bountiful cup of tea, Sareena though.

The only slight problem, and, it was not so bad at times, was the trembling of her hand lifting the kettle and the cup. But that would pass.

A biscuit went well with the tea at this time of day. A time when her tiredness was at its peak. The settee called. A stool under her feet, a magazine in hand. Yes, she was getting a little better, day by blessed day. *********
October Joy.

Sentient days of the season drift by,
Summer is ending, winter is nigh.
Enjoyment of apples, fresh from the tree,
Of orange green pumpkins, soft soup for me,
Or carved for the mystery of scary Halloween,
Of choosing a costume, just setting the scene.
Trees turning golden, leaves drop from the bough,
Turning to brown leaf litter, autumnal now.
‘Tis the turn of the season, all misty at morn,
Lowering sun in a glowing late dawn.
Soon the chill times will greet each new day,
We don our coats, and in hoar frost, we play.
Hunching down necks in cold biting chills,
Watching sharp snowflakes, bite-wind giving thrills.
Darkening mornings, how glad we will be
When the New Year brings, spring herald, February.

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. October, 2015.

Take good care everyone, be safe, and stay happy.


Second October Blog


Second October Blog.

For those who are artistically inclined today.

Some pastels did finally artive this a.m., 2nd class post. So I think I should be grateful they did not take longer!

I am also waiting on a few more, more colours. And yet,still, I do not have enough colours to draw all the landscapes I want to tackle, before the weather sets in and I am reduced to hugging the fire.

I seldom used pastels for landscapes, until now. So this is all new territory for me, in this medium. Oils, pencils, now water-colour, but not chalk pastels. I stipulate Chalk because there are Oil Pastels available, but I have never tried them. And, like Acryllics, would not know how to go about using them without a great deal of studying. At my time of life, TIME is short, energy even shorter, so I will stick with what I am somewhat conversant with, i.e. chalk pastels.

This is a medium whereby I can ‘layer’ the colours, similar to how I used oils. This is what I know! This is what I am, and have been, used to working with for decades. Why change the habits of a lifetime if you feel there is not enough time or energy to learn too many techniques. A few at a time now becomes my motto.

The abiding factor also is, the cost. I had sets of very old pastels, to make a start with. Not many colours, I grant you, but enough to lay a foundation, to sketch out the drawing and lay down colour bases.

So far, I am happy. However, as usual, I have nowhere near enough colours to satisfy my urge to render a lifelike ( or likeable ) picture, ( this current picture, that is). I have said I will do another picture of a photograph an I ter et friend has kindly allowed. This means a heck of a lot more different greens, to start with. The plot, as they say, thickens!
I am expecting another order, possibly tomorrow. Even so…….! Still need more lavendars/lilacs for distant landmarks ( mountain, crevices, rolling landscape etc., ). Be that as it may, there are also all kinds of for and middle ground colours. I can make do, at a pinch, but prefer to have a choice of colours a, unlike water-colour, the basics are not really mixable, only top layers can create depth with different shades.

I am in the process of drawing/painting a pastel piece, first in many a year. It is a landscape, from a Youtube Tutorial, so, not my own design. Only a WIP at present, so nowhere near completed. I have laid out the baic olour and structure, as near ad I can remember it. There will be lots wrong with it, of course, but handling the materials, which have changed over the years to a certain extent, only comes back with practise. Early stages, and, I, by no means, have all the colours the professional artist on Youtube used. In fact, the tutorial had no verbal infirmation and it was filmed in fast motion, or speeded up. This made it very watchable as the picture came to life within about ten miinutes, but because of this, one had to guess about colours, techniques etc.

However, I liked the colours and subject, distant ( lilac) granite outcrops, middle ground, an old mis-shapen tree, and dry grasses foreground where the sunshine caught the tips of the grasses. As I have not finished yet, I will post as is for the time being, to go with this blog. But there is much more to be done with shading and enhancing of light tones.

I apologise that this has nothing to do with writing, or does it? I have always thought that writing is just ‘painting’ in words. That is my take on it. I have written the poem below on the basis of the WIP picture above.
Rainbows of The Mind.

I touch the grey, a papery screen,
Lilac, lavendar, distant scene.
Catching raw sunlight, golden, like wheat,
Oozing from parched earth, and dust at my feet.
Ochres, earth tints, browns, different hues,
Parched straw-like grasses, paying their dues.
Ancient and leaning, a bare-limbed brown tree,
Standing the dryness, the edge of the scree.
Shadows of sparce leaves hang in the breeze,
Waving, gently, olivian petals, like a Roman frieze.
Pastel rocks gleaming as sunshine hits home,
Out in the scrubland, under pale blue sky dome.
Catching the brightness, the heat penetrates,
Where lizard and rabbit and gopher debates.
Peaceful, quiet, lonely, serene,
This is the painting, the scene of my dream.

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. October, 2015.
Enjoy your days, my friends, be safe out there.


This entry was posted on October 9, 2015. 5 Comments

First October Blog ( retry)


First October Blog.

September has given way to, yet again, a bright October start. A touch cooler, though the sunshine would have you think differently. Children, and not a few adults, from the American Continent, will be girding their loins (metaphorically speaking) for the end of month, upcoming, Halloween shennanigans.

The idea came across the Atlantic a few years ago and revived some old, old customs of our own, in that area. Still, we modernise quite well. Took the celebration to our hearts, in many respects, though not as fully as our US cousins. Perhaps it is a sign of modern times. Especially in cities where most people have no idea who lives next door to them, these days. ( Once upon a time, you knew your neighbours, joined their parties, spoke over the fence – having a good old natter, chewing the cud with them – but now people have moved away, passed on). Neighbours are either unfriendly or do not want to be involved with people they do not know. It is a safety precaution, never letting your guard down. What a sad old world this is?

For a while, we had a few kiddies coming tound with parents, but I guess they have grown up a lot. Lately, no one has knocked on All Hallows Eve! In our house we light a plastic pumpkin, and this year have a small ceramic pumpkin. I used to make pumpkin pie. Sadly, I can no longer eat the pastry, let alone the sweet pumpkin filling.
‘Er indoors has already been watching the new series of ‘Scream’. Not to my taste ( no more than the original Scream films were).

Just a short piece:-

****** The old Cemetary Lane runs at the rear of the house. It is tree-lined, not very wide. It didn’t have to be. Just enough for a horse to amble slowly along with its cart carrying a sad burden. A ditch runs along both sides. An unwise track for a car. The only turning point would be at the gates of the Cemetary and church. Here there is just enough room to turn a hearse. Not that many are buried there nowadays. Only very old locals who have previously bought a grave, can use it.

I use the Lane to walk my Frisson. She loves scuffling in amongst autumnal debris, searching out creatures, trying to hide beneath the warmth of tree litter. The walk gives her a chance to exercise her legs. At home, all she does is curl up in her basket or, when it is colder, snooze in front of the fire. She is a lazy little darlingi, but I love her to bits. Since Douglas passed, she is my companion, my soul mate. I have no idea what I will do when it is her turn to pass out of this world. Eight years old, and I try to put the thought behind me.

Dogs, like the rest of us, I suppose, do not live forever. Some have longer life spans, it is true, but theirs are much shorter than ours. Could I bear to spoil her memory and get myself another dog? If I did take another on, it would mean that, as I grew further into my seventyeth decade, I too might pass on, leaving it uncared for. I would feel very guilty about that. And if I stayed the course, would I be fit enough, as time went on, to take a younger dog for long walks? I very much doubt it. My knees already give me a lot of pain, though I try to put up with it. After all, my Daisy is no Labrador and she stays pretty close to me, never running further than a feet feet away. With no cars to worry about, we can take our ease. *******

Something to think about.

Be safe out there. Happy Weekdays.


This entry was posted on October 6, 2015. 4 Comments