Monday, 9 January 2012

Me, David Hockney and Small Stones

I had an amusing realisation last night as I watched Country File on the TV. Me and David Hockney have something in common. Hockney spoke about the way that people don’t really look at things. As an artist he takes in every fine detail of the world around him and transfers it onto canvas. I'm trying to look at the world around me for the January small stones project and I'm transferring it to the computer screen, which brings me to another similarity. Hockney is into modern technology too. He uses an iPad which he says does the job far better than the old fashioned sketch pad and pencil.

But now we come to the differences. Apart from the obvious fact that he's amazingly talented and world famous, he sees colour where I see black. He sees fine blades of grass where I see a patch of green. I’ve a way to go before I’ve grasped this small stones activity but I’ve stuck with it. I’ve been tweeting them out each day this month and one or two have even been retweeted by kind followers J

Thanks to Fiona and Kaspa for running this project at Writing our Way Home. I’ve listed out below my first 9 of 31 stones [it's only for the month of January] and I’ve chosen two of my favourites to talk about.

Waving arms together, clapping hands, hiding under the table and… boo! The joys of skyping with my 21 month old grandson.
I'm not sure if this is, strictly speaking, a small stone but it was such a precious moment that it had to be included. My little grandson has been seriously ill. In December he was rushed into hospital and spent five days in the High Dependency Unit, what we used to call Intensive Care. The doctors diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. He now has to have four injections a day. For a start it was traumatic for him, and for his Mum, Dad and sister, but the jabs are now called ‘tickles’ and he’s accepting them as part of his life. He’s grinning and playing and running around again and, with much thanks to the Doctors, we have our lively little grandson back... but sometimes life seems so unfair.

A furry grey paw, chenille-soft, stretches across my lap. I stroke it. Mabel purrs and, if I could, I would purr too.
When Mabel arrived from the cat rescue centre last March she was traumatised and spent all her time hiding under the table. Her sister, Charlie, was traumatised too but she's more trusting. She’ll sit on anyone’s lap and insists on being stroked the whole time [like now while I'm trying to type this!] Mabel is more suspicious. She has not yet sat on a lap but she’s gradually moving closer. She now sits either next to me on the settee or on the back of the settee by my head and every now and again a cart-horse sized paw [she’s a big girl!] reaches out and she lets me hold it and stroke it while she purrs contentedly.

My First Nine Small Stones 

1st Jan Bamboo canes, sturdy and black against delicate lime leaves, move to the rhythm of the wind like arms at a rock concert.

2nd Jan The smear across the microwave door, a rainbow drained of colour.

3rd Jan A hazy potato print against a marine blue sky. The moon has insomnia again.

4th Jan With eyes closed the wind in the trees becomes waves on a shingle beach. 

5th Jan A sparrow wipes his beak on the branch once, twice, fluffs out his sodden wings, nibbles a feather and he's away 

6th Jan Metal wings slash white lines across a blue sky, tally marks to record yet more pollution.

7th Jan A furry grey paw, chenille-soft, stretches across my lap. I stroke it. Mabel purrs and, if I could, I would purr too.

8th Jan Waving arms together, clapping hands, hiding under the table and… boo! The joys of skyping with my 21 month old grandson.

9th Jan With Hockney's words in my head I looked at small stones. They are grey, white, yellow, blue, black, orange and green. They are shiny, rough, flat, oval and round and everything in-between.

A small postscript for those who are interested: JOur local newspaper, The Leicester Mercury, rang me up last Friday and interviewed me about my opinion of David Cameron’s statement regarding his intentions to see improvements in hospital care. This is the resulting article here: Plans to improve nursing


  1. I have type 1 diabetes too and I really feel for your grandson and his parents. Mine was a rare adult onset case, I was 49 when I got it. I feel so blessed to not have gotten it as a child or young adult. It will be a struggle for them and I know you will be there to lend your support. I loved hearing about your kitties. You are so patient with them. So sweet. Take care.

  2. Hi Rosalind,

    I'd like to see a picture of Jan. 6 with that blue sky!

  3. Oh, I love your small stones. I saw this on DJ Kirkby's blog earlier, and thought it was a great idea. And congratulations on appearing in the Mercury!

  4. Roz,
    I'm so sorry the little tyke has this medical affliction. I sincerely give my love to your whole family. I've been absent and I guess I don't understand what the stones are, but you wrote some nice and meaningful sentences.
    I put some old family pictures on Facebook lately and one was of my youngest son when he was very young with the 2 cats. I had even forgotten we once had cats. A calico and a himalyian (I don't know how to spell it. I'm a terrible speller) The calico liked to hide under the bed, too. She had kittens on top of my daughter's bed and we didn't even know she was pregnant as she never went out. Or else someone sneaked in. :)

  5. I'm doing Small Stones too, thanks to your post about it, and it's rather difficult to get them right. And mine are all too long to tweet. XD But I certainly enjoy thinking of them.

  6. Your stones personify powerful writing captured in few words. Simply wonderful. So sorry about your grandson, but thank goodness he was diagnosed.

  7. Re your grandson - my friend's dau had this diagnosed at a few months and she is at University now - took it all in her stride.

    The small stones idea is a great one - frees you up to be so creative - you might even miss it on Feb 1st!

  8. So many beautiful, vivid stones--I particularly love the sparrow wiping his beak on the branch. And I'm so glad your grandson is doing well!

  9. I'm sorry for any child that has to endure serious illness. I'm not sure I quite understand about the stones, but your thoughts here are lovely.

  10. I like the stone about your grandson the most because your delight in him is so clear.

  11. Hi Inger, thank you for sharing the information about your Diabetes. It helps to know that you’re not on your own in this type of situation.

    Hi Sally, I didn’t take a picture on that occasion. We were in the car and I caught a glimpse of it but I can see that it would have fitted very well with your Blue Monday post ;-)

    Hi Talli, it’s even more useful than I thought it would be. I didn’t realise how bad I am at observing.

    Hi Manzanita, how funny that you forgot you once had cats. I’ve had cats just about all my life. They’re good friends but like a little independence too. I’ve added a link to the Writing our Way Home website in my post if you want to find out more about the small stones. It’s a fascinating project.

    Hi Gwen, glad to have been able to point you in Fiona and Kaspa’s direction. It’s a good discipline, isn’t it, especially for writers.

    Hi Susan S., and thank you.

    Hi Susan C., thank you for that information. It’s helpful to know that other babies have survived and thrived through all the injections and food checking. And yes, I suspect I will miss it and though you think you can carry on with these things without the group support it never happens, I find.

    Hi Amy, thank you. I saw the sparrow just as I was getting my breakfast. I do love sparrows.

    Hi Melissa, thank you and I’ve now added a link to the small stones website on my post.

    Hi Bridget, it’s my favourite too but then I’m just a bit biased!

  12. Sorry to hear about your grandson it must have been an upsetting time for everyone. Your small stones are so descriptive. Two are the same subject as two of mine but you say it so much better. I nearly did the microwave one too as I noticed rainbow colours on a smear. What is it they say about great minds?

  13. Sounds like your grandson is a tough little guy!!!

    I actually really like your stones so far.... keep up the creative work!!!

  14. Your stones are wonderful, Rosalind! I love the idea of this activity. I'm going to have to check out the source and give it a try myself, I think :) Thanks so much for sharing. And I'm glad your grandson is feeling better!

  15. These are lovely, inspirational stones. I especially like the ones from Jan 1st and 4th. Will be popping back for more!

  16. Hi Ros .. don't much like the presenter - but when I caught this half way through she looked like she'd done a good job. I expect they'll show it again sometime - and I'll catch his interview.

    Amazing what he did with his camera takes too ... your ipad note - I'll be interested in.

    Gosh - so sorry to hear about your grandson - but so pleased his "tickles" are helping ... I would hope that new developments will occur that will make his life easier.

    Love your stones and stories .. thanks for sharing with us all .. here's to stones - Hilary

  17. I love your small stones, especially the one on Jan 7th about your cat. You are doing very good with the project.

  18. Your small stones convey so much in a few words. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandson, but with the support of your family, he seems to have such a positive attitude! I hope that his "tickles" continue to make him stronger. As for your article, you did an outstanding job, and thank goodness your mom had you to fight for her every step of the way! You clearly haven't stopped fighting for others! Julie

  19. Lovely stones, Rosalind.

    I am very sorry that your grandson has diabetes, but I am glad he is coping ok with the injections.

    Mabel sounds adorable. I bet it's very emotional when she makes these hesitant steps forward.

  20. So young to have diabetes. But I hear they are making great strides. My prayers to your grandson and your family.

    I absolutely adore the idea of small stones and will begin to collect my own, today!

  21. I love the small stone about your grandson and am sorry to hear he is so poorly. I hope that he continues to adjust to this and that his health stays on a level now.