Saturday, June 5, 2010

2 lists

Clearing desk and cutting work of drawing boards and packing things to post I discovered a list of things to do. To my amazement I had stretched that paper, drawn the cuckoo, not only drawn but also painted hare, hart and unicorn. I had looked up the worshipful company of tailors and been sidetracked by frock coats, stratched even more paper ( enthusiasm for that task had led me to list it twice) emailed more than one ceramacist and written the panda story, although it still needs to be written onto computer. Wow.

So, time for a new list.
1. Clean house ( parents arriving Thursday for short visit, will not be impressed by level of filth)
2. Draw owls and prepare a board for Art in Action. ( This will allow me to spend one day gilding which looks sort of impressive but I can do that and talk at the same time.
3. Send off proposal for something to someone. Courage in hand, Just do it.
4. Walk to the hilltop high with thoughts of Tom, the piper's son and the only tune that he could play and visit the moonjar in twilight when the swallows give way to bats and butterflies hand over the sky to moths.
5. Partridge. Pear. Gold leaf. Christmas card.
6. Post MBF card.
7.Draw and paint at least one more spread for Nursery Rhymes, perhaps Baa Baa Black Sheep.
8.Do rough for 4 and 20 tailors went to catch a snail ( tailors in frock coats).
9. Leave room for unexpected happenings.
10. Try and find out about the birds that sang so loud in the night that they woke me up. Were they nightjars or grasshopper warblers?

Above, the skull of a barn owl. A few years ago I saw a barn owl by the side of the road. I didn't want to leave this beautiful creature by the roadside, to be hit again and again by cars and crushed into the dirt so I stopped my car and picked up the body and drove to the garage where I had booked my car in for an  mot. The mechanic did not seem disturbed by the dead bird. 
I took the beautiful barn owl home. Its feathers were golden and soft and i kept a few of the wing feathers for a while. Their edges are slightly barbed to allow the bird to ghost through the night. Hushwing. This is what they used to be called. I put it into a pot, a large terracotta pot and planted some bulbs over the top and then left it for about 4 years. Then I dug it up. What astonished me most was how small and delicate a creature this was. When you see one in flight it seems to fill the mind, the sky, and to silence the world. 


  1. Owls are my spirit animal (bird) and I love spotting them, although where I live they are fairly scarce. I think your owl would be honored that you have kept his skull and that you treated his body with such care and dignity.
    Your sketches are beautiful.

  2. Love the 'hushwing' skull. Do you still have the feathers?
    Nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing off the final task in a list aaah :)

  3. I too, need to clean the house, as the tumble weeds of dust and dog hair are getting bigger. But we are all sick, so it will just have to wait! And there are so many things in my head that I'd rather be getting on with (I've got sewing on the mind now, and a new fairy dress for a soon-to-be-six year old) than housework! I love your story about the barn owl, I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this sort of thing. Some people seem to think it's odd or macabre to have skulls and such around the house, but to me it's just an endless fascination with life in all its guises, and an understanding that death is part of that. And the simple awe and amazement of creation, and an interest in how it all works.

  4. I have a friend with the most amazing skull collection. He even has dolphins and aardvarks. All found, none killed for skulls. The owl was incredible in its golden fragility.

  5. Re. no. 10 - they were field sparrows

  6. I'm getting tired just reading your to-do list, Jackie!

    And there's something strangely-lovely about you taking a dead owl, burying it in a pot with flowers, and then unearthing the remains years later.