Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The art of portrait

I never was interested in the portrait art, until I went to BP Portrait Prize exhibition in 2005 and while I didn’t like all of the works, I found all of them interesting in one way or another. They made me think about different painting styles, choosing the best pose, dress and background to represent the sitter and how much thought and love had to go into the paintings to capture the individuality and character of every sitter. It was fun to compare my impressions of the painted person to the information about them in the little notes beside the paintings. Often I found myself wanting to find out more without feeling that the paintings needed more explanations (I’m not a big fan of art that requires A4 page of text to be understood).

So yesterday since Cat only slept for one hour in the morning and sun was shining I went to the National Portrait Gallery to check out this year completion. I think this year’s selection was more uniform and there was less variety (though it could be that my memories of 2004 aren’t 100% correct). But there are still many interesting works to admire and study and think about. I loved the works that won the first prize and the young artist award. My other favourites were Kate by Vicki White (how I miss having a spontaneous cup of coffee with friends), Redhead (self-portrait) by Amanda Hext (reminded me my sister's hair), Amelie by Cassandra Szekely, Organia by Anastasia Pollard and actually many more.

On the way back I decided to walk to Green Park station and found out that Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition is only on until 19th of August. Anyone wants to join Cat and I on the outing to it before it ends?

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Purple of the fields

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it
Alice Walker "The Color Purple"

Clive was finally home all day yesterday after working previous two weekends (20 days of not having another parent in the house during daytime hours is a very long time). So we had fantastic day, which started with buckwheat pancakes and banana smoothies. Later Cat and I took Clive to the local park to show him the beautiful field flowers that are numerous after the recent rains. He brought his old SLR digital camera and took some wonderful photos. Now I’m on the mission to learn how to use it as it so much more advance than my one, but has some quirks and problems due to the age.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

If there are no hats around

If there are no hats around try using a piece of cheese instead. Few weeks ago Cat discovered that she can take her hat off. Now I put her hat on and straight away she takes it off - makes a very fun game, except than the sun is shining brightly and there is nothing to protect her pale skin from it. At home, since hats are not always handy, I put her tiny socks or her smaller toys on top of her head as she loves taking them off – they are a bit more challenging than the hat due to the smaller size. Recently she started trying to put objects back on her head and yesterday she finally succeeded with a piece of cheese. And I thought meal times can’t get any messier*eye roll*.

Friday, 20 July 2007

One day of sunshine

Yesterday the sun was out for a change and Cat & I went to Regent’s Park. Such charming place - tranquil, yet full of life and stories: romantic couples, group of young people relaxing with some guitar playing, kids practicing yoga, old men reading the newspapers, dog walkers with all sorts of dogs and the artist in residence selling his work.

Today MetOffice issued weather warnings for heavy rain with some torrential, thundery downpours. Therefore we’ll be sticking close to home, but will enjoy the weather show from our balcony.

But what’s up with the weather this summer? Hope you are having better weather wherever you are.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Punctuality, schedules and predictability

I used to be punctual type of girl, I’m so no longer. Now I don’t even set the exact time for meetings. Instead I provide the time interval, which can be as wide as 1 hour.

In the last few weeks, after Cat switched from three naps to two, we were able to establish reasonably consistent routine and working around her napping and feeding times I could predict the times of leaving the house down to 20 minutes. Until yesterday – I was looking forward to having a midday lunch with my dear husband at the Slug and Lettuce (ah, the memories of the free life, of drinking cider and beer with Ozzies and the food - I love their honey roast ham & French brie sandwich). As usual I put Cat down for her morning nap at 9. At few minutes past ten, I rejoiced that it looked like she’ll sleep for longer than 45 minutes, at few minutes to eleven I started listening for sounds of her waking up, at 11:20 I emailed husband to let him know that we’ll be late, at 11:45 I started playing out different feeding/afternoon nap scenarios in my head as it was getting close to her lunchtime, at 12 I called my husband to cancel lunch and at 12:15 she finally woke up. Three hours and fifteen minutes! I can’t actually remember the last time she had a nap longer than two hours.

Today she only napped for 45 minutes, so we made it to lunch and had enough time beforehand to visit Museum of London

and to see few old cars, buses, trucks.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Lovely book

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet"

The Prophet is a wonderful book full of beauty and wisdom. Nearly every line is a quote and speaks to my mind, heart and soul. I recently got a collection of Kahlil Gibran’s other works and looking forward to reading it. Hope your life is full of lovely books and wise words.

Saturday, 14 July 2007


I picked up some knitting wool at the local charity shop – totally an impulse buy: it was cheap, I needed something to crochet with, but it was pink. Since I don’t really like pink (except the very pale kind) I stared at the three balls of wool for two weeks wondering what possessed me to buy them in the first place and what I’m going to do with them. And then I added some purple thread, found the fattest hook I have (think it’s 6mm) and using simple treble crossed stitches made myself a scarf. It was great for practicing the turning chain (it finally makes sense after years of crocheting and eventually reading the instructions in TWO books) and keeping the tension even (still not so good at it).

While making it I gradually grew to like the scarf and think it will work well with a simple black coat with a straight collar. Now I just have to find the said simple black coat – this is one of the top reasons why I hate shopping, I decide beforehand exactly what I want and then struggle to find it. But my best ever shopping buddy (hi mum!) is coming to London soon, so I’m looking forward to hitting the shops with her.

Maybe I’ll make myself more scarves as all the ones I have are in various shades of green and blue. Staring at our white walls and neutral IKEA furniture (flats in London mostly come furnished) I realised that I want more colour in my life.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Beauty on the gloomy day

Since the sky was gloomy with clouds again and I’m weary of getting wet on our daily walks to the park, we hopped on the Tube and went into town to see Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2007: Jewellery exhibition. It is a very small exhibit – two rooms of works by 6 artists. But I still managed to spend 40 minutes in there marvelling at the imagination, craftsmanship and beauty of each item on display (the maker’s profile pages have some pictures of the work). I loved the airiness and muted colour combinations of Yoka Izawa’s work and elegance of Susan Cross' metal weaves. The exhibition is in London until 22nd of July and it is right next to the Tate Modern, so you can always pop in there afterwards, if you want to extend your cultural outing.

We on the other hand went right past Tate Modern to see the man, who we can never get enough of.

Paul, French bakery, opened a shop next to St. Paul’s Catherdral. So my dear husband treated me to a lovely lunch and I got to take home this beauty to prolong the pleasure.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Is summer back?

While it was raining outside, we enjoyed watching Wimbledon on TV.

Now that the tennis is over the weather seems to be improving, so hopefully we'll be able to enjoy some sunshine.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Creative women

Our real illiteracy is our inability to create.

Another reason for less blogging is that I’m trying to reduce the time I spend on the Internet. Reading blogs is tremendously addictive, especially when there are so many creative women around: the ones who are able put their feelings into beautiful words, the ones who can create such cuteness out of a simple sock, the ones who create their own jewellery and the ones who find some free time in their busy lives to create beautiful spaces for their kids.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

The wheels are in motion

I usually fall silent in my blog due to:
a) lack of sleep
b) shortage of coherent thoughts (often as the result of a)
c) too many thoughts swarming in my head

Recently it’s been the last one. I started the negotiations to arrange my return from maternity leave, starting with working on part-time bases (about 20 hours/week) from home. And I’m full of conflicting thoughts and emotions since the questions of returning to the office and to the fulltime work were already asked. There are so many ifs.

I look at how little time my husband has to spend with Cat and I know that I’m not going to be comfortable with seeing my daughter only for 30 minutes in the morning, 30 in the evening and two weekend days. The best moments I have with her are the ones when I don’t feel any pressure to get other things done and have plenty of time to be silly and relaxed. The other day I spent ages trying to get her to smile (think she is teething again) and just as I gave up she looked at me, squashed her slimy hand into my face and started laughing. As the MasterCard ad says – priceless. I want my days to be full of moments like that. I don’t want to pay someone else most of my salary to experience that joy instead of me.

At the same time I know that the longer the break the harder it will be to get interesting work. After working really hard for the last few years, it seems unfair to have to start from the beginning again in few years time.

Maybe the decision would be easier if I didn’t like my company and the people I work with. Or if I didn’t have good career opportunities in my current job available NOW. Or if I knew that I would be able to return to the same level after 2-3 years break. Or if doing plenty of unpaid overtime wasn’t the norm. Or if I didn’t love being able to spend some of the daylight hours outside (it gets dark at 4pm here!) Or if I didn’t enjoy having a reasonably clean house and nice home cooked dinners and baking and having time for myself to read, crochet or just stare into space. Or if there were relatives and friends who could help to take care of Cat.

Or maybe it wouldn’t be any easier. Maybe any decision will be a temporary compromise to be constantly rethought and re-evaluated while I try to figure out my own life values and how they fit together. Fitting them all together seems to be the hard part.

P.S. If everything goes well I’ll be starting parttime work from home on 13th of August.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

The small things

I love good haircuts. Without having a good hairdresser (oh how I miss my brilliant Australian one!) I go through cycles of letting my hair get very long, dream and debate about what haircut and where I should get, finally (after lots of talking) book the hairdressers appointment and get it cut as short as my comfort zone allows me. Yesterday I came out of the hair salon feeling lighter and happier. My hair bounces up and down, I swish it around to enjoy that nice feeling of short hair against my neck and cheeks, I marvel at how much short hair makes me look like my mum. But best of all I feel so upbeat and confident – anything and everything seems possible and doable. Hurray to the small things in life, which make us happy.