Over in our CLMOOC Facebook Group we post lists of daily doodle prompts. Some of us are better than others at daily doodling, but whether or not I’ve had time to draw anything I enjoy popping in and seeing what others have posted. We have three sets of prompts for August (not that anyone is expected to do all of them every day, they’re there to dip in and out of).
A year ago Mugdock was a place we knew about, but never really thought to visit. When lockdown relaxed last year it became our escape from our computers and our work. A year later, it is the place we go to stretch our legs. At this time of year, if we are lucky, there are damselflies flitting around, catching the sun.
On Monday I passed my PhD viva. This thesis has been a long time cooking – I began on Jan 7th 2013, took a year out due to ill health, had two changes of thesis title and lost three supervisors along the way. At times I thought I would never finish, that my research was not serious enough, that I was not cut out to be an academic. I’ve been through redundancy and two job changes, I’ve got married and moved house. And, despite a pandemic, I finished. Somehow, over the last few months, I have cobbled together enough words of sufficient quality to be able to call myself a doctor. I have a few small revisions to make (including far too many typos!), and then I can work out what I want to do with all this research.
But for now, as I want to thank the community that made it possible. Thank you CLMOOC for all the fun and inspiration. As soon as my revisions are approved I’ll share a copy of my thesis with anyone who is interested.
As travel restrictions lofted, we were so happy to be able to travel up to the Highlands again. As usual, we stopped at Inveruglas to stretch our legs. We were surprised to see show on the top of the mountain.
Onwards to the ferry for the short journey over from Corran to Ardgour
Strontian itself was wonderful. Here’s the view from the pub beer garden
And the view from our cabin windows
We did so little – just sat and enjoyed the scenery.
Another line of flight from the lines of thought. As I was playing around with papier mache for the plate, I remembered the flippy clicky things we used to make when we were children – a bit of thinking and Googling revealed that these are called paper fortune tellers or chatterboxes. I found some simple instructions to help me remember how to fold one. These are often done with numbers and colours, so I looked at the words in the poem and found that there were exactly four colours that I could use: green, greens, silver and turquoise. I decided to use nouns instead of numbers, and allocate them randomly to number between 1-8: bird, child, cat, snowdrop, wings, human, seeds, trees. The final panels in the game are “fortunes”, so I looked back to the poem and chose some appropriate phrases:
hope springs eternal
you notice gratitude
you glide, introspective
your mind shifts to stars
invisibly lifted, you soar higher
will you help us fly?
will you knit our thoughts together?
I wrote those into the appropriate panels and folded the clicker together. I had planned, at the beginning, to draw this all on my PC, type in all of the words and print it out, but I like the retro look of this version. It now sits on my desk, in one of my in trays, reminding me to pause and ask my fortune.
T.S. Eliot wrote in his poem The Waste Land ‘You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images…’. Add your line of thought to this Shared Google Doc #DS106 poem and see if we can get to 106 lines of thought that are a collection of images, not broken. Or tweet @wentale.
And then it took off. Kevin made a word cloud
People sampled the poem, a stanza echoed in my head:
Take this hammer, take this chisel Take some time to work alone Shatter the surface of intentions Surface this collaborative poem
I needed to make this tangible – why did I start thinking about papier mache? … And so the idea was born. I printed the poem and ripped it up. I found a saucer and diluted glue. Over a few days I pasted and pasted. I saved my favourite stanza and glued it to the middle. I painted with fountain pen ink, I sprayed with varnish.
Sometimes we don’t know what we need until it happens. This grounded me, relaxed me, took me out of myself. It’s on a shelf in my line of sight to remind me to pause sometimes and simply be.
Some collaborations keep giving and giving, making me smile and giving me hope. Last year some of us put together a calendar on the theme of hope – pictures we had drawn, photos we had taken, words we had written. I have it printed out and pinned to my study wall, reminding me of my friends, and my collaborative community. This is the image I submitted – a swan with their cygnet looking out over our local pond.
When I saw the call for submissions to the OERxDomains21 conference, I asked Wendy if we might submit something based on this calendar, so we did. That was last week and the recording is here.
As an additional activity, Wendy and I also asked participants to submit words or images to a Google presentation so we could put together a collaborative Zine (see slide 2 for the finished Zine).
I printed a copy out for myself – here it is.
These projects keep me going – they sustain me and remind me of the power of creative playfulness.