Thursday, April 26, 2012

Inspirations: Springtime, a Dear Friend, and My Big Brother

I've been thinking often of my word for the year: inspire.  I'm feeling incredibly inspired lately, especially now that spring has arrived in full force here in Portland.  I have a huge writing project to finish, and for the first time, I can honestly say the end is in sight.  So, thank you soft spring air and blooming cherry trees, and cheerful muscari.  Somehow all this growth and renewal gets me to writing.

Photo by prairie girl studio
I also am feeling inspired by friends both far and near.  One friend in particular is on my mind today.  Her name is Aeleen, but perhaps some of you know her better as prairie girl.  She is back to blogging these days, and her gorgeous photos and words are more inspiring than ever.  You can visit her here. Also, Aeleen was the winner of my London Treasures Giveaway, so if you're curious about what goodies I gathered while on my trip, she and one of her sons have created a wonderful post about the package.  When you read it, you'll discover that Aeleen has been through a great deal in the past several weeks.  I'm holding her and her family in my heart as I write this.

The photo above is of one of the Murano glass eggs I included in the parcel.  I think she and Jesse have taken a pretty object and turned it into something spectacular.  That's what Aeleen does with everything she photographs.  She notices detail in a way that never ceases to amaze me.  She also has a heart of gold.  Truly.  Perhaps that is what inspires me most.

And finally, the photo above is of my big brother when he was a wee lad.  Mark celebrated his birthday this past week.  He's now just a few years decades older than he was in this photo.  I've never mentioned him here on the blog before, so I hope he doesn't mind.  Ever since I can remember, my brother has inspired me with his artistic talent, his quick wit, his insatiable curiosity, and his deeply caring soul.  When we were kids I loved to watch him draw ornate pictures of houses and flowers and fantasy race cars in his sketch book, and I would follow him pretty much anywhere he would let me.  I especially liked searching in the woods with him for treasure . . .  or hanging blankets in the attic to make a fortune teller's tent . . . or building elaborate sand castles encrusted with shells and sea glass at the beach.  No matter what we did, everything with my brother felt like an adventure.  I love this picture of Mark with our kitten Sharon in his arms, because it captures who he was then and who he still is now.  He has taken in countless injured, ailing, and homeless animals over the years, providing them with shelter and boundless love.  He has also offered incredible support to me whenever I've asked--and often when I haven't.  We've lived far apart for most of our adult lives, but no matter how many years pass, I can just close my eyes and he's in the bedroom next to mine, Led Zepplin or Janis Joplin cranked up to 10.  I can just knock on the wall if I need him, and I know he'll always knock back.   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Walk

The redwing blackbirds are back and chattering overhead.  The males choose the highest branches, the very tips, or the tops of cattails--always the impossible perch.  Their glossed black wings are capped with scarlet flashing and stripes of toy-box yellow, all the better to swoop the meadow--my heart's own superheroes.

Far below them the females pose as sparrows, brown and busy with the muddy work of spring.  Weavers and builders, they flit from grasses to bulrushes with neither pomp nor circumstance, but  purpose.  

And all around them, the meadow blooms.  The forest floor rustles with the sound of groundhogs gathering dead leaves for their dens at the edge of the woods.  Forsythia spill their gold tresses along the hillside--they've two weeks to be divas, then it's back to the chorus line.  

I walk the path between field and marsh, marking the progress of wild roses.  Long after I'm gone, the owls will take flight, but I like knowing they are here now.  I see them in my mind's eye as I circle back to the woods where the daffodils will reign for another week.  The peonies wait in the wings.

None of them care that I am here, which is just as it should be.  In my hand is cupped a tiny pine cone, its scales thin as parchment.  The wind picks up and the branches of pine trees rustle like petticoats.  The whole world seems on the verge, and yet this moment right now is the only one that counts.

At the last turn around the meadow a redwing sparks in the branches of a birch.  His song is the last thing I hear before I head home.   

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Afternoon at Home

I wrote all morning.  I'm working on a writing project that takes up most of my heart, mind, and soul right now, so please forgive me for a wee bit longer as I am less attentive to blogging--my blog and yours included.  

This afternoon my brain needed a break, so I took a few shots around the house of flowers and books.

Anyone who knows me well understands why this blog is called The Magpie's Fancy.  I am a collector of many things; books, keys, and ribbons are among the things I treasure most.  I found this stack of J.M. Barrie's works for a couple of dollars at a used bookstore last year.  An avid Barrie fan, I scooped them up and have loved them ever since.

This antique salt-glazed pitcher is actually my sister's, but she lets me keep it, because she knows how much I covet it.  It has a large crack and can't hold water, so I simply fill a glass with water and slip it inside.  I think these pink stock don't mind one bit.

I allowed a bunch of white ranunculus to dry out over the past few weeks, and I am taken by the graceful curves of their dried stems and the papery wrinkles of their petals.  

The whole city is filled with light today.  Spring has decided to let the cherry trees bloom.  The air tastes like a promise.

I have so much to share with you--a post about John Keats, photos of my beautiful city, thoughts about fear and writing . . . and so much more.  I'm anxious to learn what you have been up to as well.  In the meantime, the weekend is sneaking around the corner.  Hope yours is full of the best kind of surprises.

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?"  
~Oscar Wilde

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Street Shots

What I take away from every journey, more than all the requisite tourist sights I visit, are unexpected moments, chance encounters, and second looks at things that could be easily missed--but shouldn't be.  So, along with shots of cathedrals (like the one above of Southwark Cathedral) and castles, my scrapbooks contain street art, alleyways, signs, and strangers I meet for a brief but memorable moment.    

On a wall near Columbia Road

In the window of one of the many bookshops on Cecil Court

Near Brick Lane Market--I loved her spirit!

An alley in the West End

Street art near Brick Lane

I've shared photos of this same building with you before.  I am just drawn to it!

There is so much interesting street art near Brick Lane!

Fab boots in a shop window on Columbia Road

Buddha in the window above Neal's Yard

Fox door knocker on Columbia Road

Mr. Magpie and graffiti

Gorgeously redone facades

Those blossoms were clinging to the trees outside the John Keats House in Hampstead.  I'll have more to say about Keats very soon.  In the meantime, I'm dreaming about doorways and alleyways and streets I've yet to wander.  London has me thinking about the next journey I'd like to take.  How about you?  Any plans for travel?  Where does your heart long to lead you?