Proverbs From The Gym, The Books of The Dun Cow & New Still Life - The June Beagle

Welcome friends and pilgrims to June's Beagle! I wasn't sure I'd get one out this month as life is full of visitors from overseas, new projects, exams for my son and the usual stuff of life, but here we are and hurrah for summer's approach!


I spent a wonderful day yesterday with my American friends in the Cotswolds and was ambushed by the most spectacular display of crimson poppy fields as I made my way there.

We walked 19k steps on our hill and dale adventures, it was glorious weather until the last half hour when the heavens opened and we got completely drenched! Or as I say 'wet to my knickers' lol. I'll include some more snaps at the end of this letter.


I can't promise a July Beagle at this point as I'm working on a writing project which requires all my attention but like this month, I'll do my best and hope that my loaves and fishes multiply.

 

Still Life

Something Magical


I'm so happy my roses have begin to blossom, I have many, for which I very grateful. I created this piece very spur of the moment and wanted to include Isabella sparrow. I wish you could smell them, they are the most exquisite lemon, citrus scent. I popped a glorious Rhododendron in the middle as she was too lovely to ignore and I've not shot them before I don't think. I'm going to be updating my backdrop this month to a slightly different tone so this may be the last image we see in this colour palette.



Still Life

Fire Dance I



Fire Dance II

I've shared a favourite poem before, one which inspired my parrot tulip images from 2021, Flakes of Fire. And so as with these I am drawn to those words again yet this time see the petals as a sort of thrown flamenco skirt, it's panels fanning and dancing mid-air. You can read the poem here.

 

Watching

Life In Colour series with David Attenborough, Netflix. The Peacock Mantis shrimp carries a built in club that packs the most powerful punch. Set aside your creation/evolution theology and you can still appreciate the beauty and complexity of God’s creatures. How the flamingo gets its colour, they’re born white. A new mother who goes grey raising her child. Beautiful cinematography and funny scenes like the cowboy style stand off between two poison dart frogs. You will find this charming and Sir David Attenborough as always is a delight to explore with..


Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. I can't for the life of me remember if I've shared this show before and I'm too tired to go check, but this is my tonic when I need a happy lift. Phil's wonderful childlike outlook and humour is so heart warming. "The world can be a beautiful ,delicious and friendly place when we travel and eat great food together" - Phil. Phil was/is an actor and writer and creator of the very funny show Everybody Loves Raymond.

 

Artist

Dorothea Sharp, UK (1874-1855)


Dorothea was an English artist. Her images were idilic and filled with light. They often depicted children at play usually by the seashore and occasionally in the countryside. I think her work is beautiful, it reminds me of Monet at times.


A Summer Stroll


Over The Hills and Far Away


Girl With a Shrimp Net


 

Listening

My playlist for June, some gems in here, especially American Idol contestant Leah Marlene's song Flowers.


Enjoy 5-year-old Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani from Italy performing some Mozart.

 

Encouragement

This is a post taken from Instagram with words by Dr AmyOrr-Ewing, a British author, speaker and apologist. I had the privilege of hearing Amy speak at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford in March. She was incredibly compelling, insightful and engaging, it really felt like such a treat and I've been following her ever since.





 

Poetry


Resurrection

by Vladimír Holan

Czech 1095-1980


Is it true that after this life of ours we shall one day be awakened by a terrifying clamour of trumpets? Forgive me, God, but I console myself that the beginning and resurrection of all of us dead will simply be announced by the crowing of the cock.

After that we’ll remain lying down a while… The first to get up will be Mother…We’ll hear her quietly laying the fire, quietly putting the kettle on the stove and cosily taking the teapot out of the cupboard. We’ll be home once more.


Vladmír experienced much turmoil and tragedy in his life. His much loved daughter, Katerina, suffered with Downe's Syndrome and passed away at the age of 28. Vladimír ceased to write and became a recluse. I think this information is an important backstory to his imagining of the afterlife and how heaven will arrive. He steers away from pomp and circumstance, the noise of the trumpets, and instead pictures a gentle, homecoming scene filled with those he's loved and lost. This is a very quiet domestic scene and speaks a deep comfort. It seems life will return to normal, the rhythms, the heartbeat will be restored.


I couldn't trace the painter of this piece so if you know who it is, please do let me know.


 

Gymisms: Proverbs from working out

For several weeks I've been committed to going to the gym (yuk!) I honestly find the gym so boring and have had many off-putting experiences. I'd rather be out in nature or actually doing something such as tennis, cycling, frisbee, than running static on a hamster wheel staring at a brick wall painted grey. But I am reformed. The need for a regular routine and my entry into the 50+ bracket has necessitated a more intentional program to rebuild muscle and gain fitness. Often when I go I observe some insight and jot them down on my phone in between panting or rubbing a sore part. I hope you enjoy them, they came by sweat!


These are the pictures I send my PT (my hubby's cousin) to prove my effort 😅


These Gymisms often appear contradictory which I think is very much in line with the book of Proverbs at times. My take away on this is that following Christ is organic, fluid and relational. We need to listen to the Spirit and follow what he says in that moment and, it could change next week. We need to listen to ourselves and trust our ability to know what to do and have grace when we make mistakes.



✨ I want to see women who look like me.


✨ The gym is no longer a male dominated space.


✨ Stop judging others by the 'party script', this causes the most issues and legalisms.


✨ Some can do exercises back to back while others need a longer period of rest. That's ok. We each have our own capacity, our own grace.


✨ Some people are doing things which just look plain weird. That's ok.


✨ Try lifting that heavier weight, going harder, you might surprise yourself, don't let fear stop you from ever trying.


✨ In a group class where one-size-fits-all someone is going to get hurt. That's on the teacher.


✨ Resist the urge to correct people you see getting it wrong, they're working it out and that's how you learn best.


✨ Beware of watching other's people's techniques and copying, they might have read the instructions wrong.


✨ Sometimes you need a mirror to check how you're doing. Sometimes you need to smash the mirror.


✨ Some days you won't be feeling it. That's where past training and habit formation will carry you through. Do it anyway.


✨ Make your habits and your habits will make you.

✨I need a guide at times, for when I get stuck. Don't flail alone, ask for help.

✨When I'm shaking most is when I most want to quit.

✨Some people are faking it. They look the part but…

✨The young go at it with lots of energy but very little knowledge, they're also shy about asking for help, or too proud.

✨I can always go that extra mile when I’ve got someone who’s got my back (can spot me).

✨Some people do just look the part.

✨Some people are dressing for where they’re going.

✨Less weight, more tension. Sit with it. Be patient.


✨ Stay hydrated and feed your muscles if you want to maintain strength and make it.


✨Allow adequate recovery time between exertion.

✨Often The people with the least trendy gear, gear that looks worn out and ancient, are the ones you can learn the lost from.

✨It’s not always going to look pretty.

✨Trust your trainer, be patient, it takes time. They know this.

✨Sometimes it will hurt.

✨Your advice isn’t bad it just might not be good for me. We all need our own PT, we have different bodies, ages and stages, aches and pains, strengths. Please don’t give me your advice if it’s not right for me. Ask me what I need.

✨Some people are doing a lot of flapping but aren’t achieving much.

✨Others look like they’re doing nothing but they’re actually in a state of rest following and preceding heavy lifting.

✨Some people want a PT others want to do it themselves.

✨I pushed myself more when no one was watching me.

✨I pushed myself more when I looked at the progress of others but without comparing.

✨Some people are wearing the worst gear, old, out of fashion, but are working hard.

✨Some people are wearing all the right gear but don’t break a sweat.

✨Some people are sweating hard but look like they’re doing little. They’re pulling what they can.



 

Recipe


Oh my!! I love Jen's recipes, they're usually easy to follow, homely and delicious.


 

Reading

The Books of The Dun Cow - Thoughts

* * * SPOILERS * * *


This is not a book review. I consider myself a student of these books. I'd love to hear your comments.


I had no idea what I was getting into when I ordered The Book of The Dun Cow after hearing it recommended for a Lent read. Always on the look out for literature which can unfold spiritual truths and which has theology woven through the narrative I didn’t hesitate. I’m not recommending you jump so quickly. Let me explain.

I remember when we were Home Educating coming to understand that studying certain texts and periods of literature can help you access other layers of texts and literature. For instance, reading the classics, old English language, Shakespeare etc, can open doors to works in the same vein. It can be difficult to engage with some works without first warming up your lingo muscles. But after a while you become more attuned to the language and so the reading becomes more enjoyable, a delight.

Having now read all three books in this series I think having some understanding (or being willing to research names, history, medieval mythology, cosmology) will enhance the accessibility of the story. Going in as a novice left me often confused, attempting to pinpoint allegory and archetypes. I felt as if the goal posts kept moving. In fairness this is due to my lack of understanding of the above mentioned. Some of the descriptions of violence in book three are graphic. In some sense I appreciated that evil wasn't Disney-fied and in another the imagination can be more powerful than actually seeing something, so images haunted me.


That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the narrative, most specifically the first book which. If any of this is a recommendation I would really only suggest the first book. The second, The Book of Sorrows, is not so different but the third book, Peace at The Last, I found to be a great departure in tone and language, in fact, I found the first chapter of book three quite horrifying and questioning what had happened to Walter Wagnerian Jnr. I almost quit after that first chapter. Book three was written 28 years after the first, and honestly, I don’t know what happened in that time but the depictions and descriptions of sexual violence was way too strong for this English muffin. When trying to find reviews was hard to locate a trusted commentary who'd read all three


The first book however painted a quite beautiful and complex world.


“Canonical crows.“ They told all the world – at least that section of the world over which he was Lord – what time it was, and they blessed the moment in the ears of the Hearer. By what blessing? By making the day, and that moment of the day, familiar; by giving it direction and meaning and a proper soul. The creatures expected his canonical crows, and worked peace when they heard them. “Yes, yes,” they would say, “the day is our day, because Chauntecleer has made it ours.” That they would say in the morning, grateful that by his crow the day should hold no strangeness nor fear for them. And at noon: “the day is halfway is over; the best part is still coming.” It was a comfort to be able to measure the day and the work in it.

When Chanticleer crowed his canonical crows, the day wore the right kind of clothes; his Hens lived and scratched in peace, happy with what was, and unafraid of what was to be; even wrong things were made right, and the grey things were explained.


I think Walter’s skill at world-building is one of the reasons I stuck with it, I wanted to see how things panned out. The conclusion at the end of book three, Peace at The Last, was beautiful but felt hurried and short, I wanted more and I wanted it sooner than the last chapter. Maybe it should be called Peace at The Last Chapter. You really can read books one and two and skip the last and not lose out I feel.


I think I'm sounding very negative, book three definitely left a bad taste in my mouth but book one is truly beautiful and has some gripping imagery and themes. It is complex, it is a masterpiece and deserved the Book Award it received as all as the hype.


I love the choice of the Rooster, Chauntecleer, as the hero, the shepherd of the simple flock of various humble creatures. He with his community are the Keepers who hold evil at bay, Wyrm, under the earth. They are the good restraining force in the world. Chauntecleer finds himself as caretaker of souls in need of refuge, shelter, provision, healing. Walter Wangerin deals with some difficult issues such as trauma, abuse and PTSD in sensitive ways, you find yourself reacting to emotions through the animal's stories..


Chauntecleer could get the widow to talk about her children any time. But every time he turned the conversation to her trip down river, he saw all over again the staring little Mouse whom he first met in an open field.

“But why would you take that trip?“ He would ask in the middle of another sentence. “What could make you do such a thing?“

Then the Mouse would grow silent. Her body would seem to shrink; and she would only look at him. She would step backward, as if there were a punishment to coming to her from somewhere. And when he talked softly, assuring her again and again of his kind thoughts towards her, the look would only change, filling up with many questions as eyes fill up with tears.


I fell in love with the characters, I mourned losses and willed good outcomes for each of them and this little congregation of quiet survivors. Chauntecleer is a character you grow with. You follow him on his arc and see him progress as a leader, a husband and father, a pastor, a king. You share his struggles, joys and temptations.

This is a classic tale of good versus evil and I found many parallels with the church and the work of evil in the world.


Deep, deep under the oceans and the continents, under the mountains and under the river which ran from them to Chauntecleer‘s land, Wyrm crawled. He was in the shape of a serpent, so damnably huge that he could pass once around the earth and then bite his own tail ahead of him. He lived in caverns underneath the earth’s crust; but he could, when he wished, crawl through rock as if it had been loose dirt.


He lived in darkness, in dampness, in the cold... He was powerful, because evil is powerful.


He was angry. And he hated, with an intense and abiding hatred, the God who had locked him within the earth. And what put the edge upon his hatred, what made it an everlasting acid inside of him, was the knowledge that God had given the key to his prison in this bottomless pit to a pack of chittering animals! Oh, it was a wonder that Chauntecleer the Rooster, that a flock of broody Hens, a Dog, a Weasel, and tens of thousands of such like animals – and even that Ebenezer Rat – should be the keepers of the Wyrm! The little against the large. The foolish set to protect all the universe against the wise!


There is so much I could say and this highlights how deserving of study and research this book demands and why others are still talking at length about it. Maybe you all need to go read it and we can have a book club 😁 The Books of The Dun Cow are much loved but also very divisive for the reasons I mention. I wonder how this series will sit with me in the coming years and, if I’ll go back and re-read once I understand the text more.


A podcast series which Close Reads put out was very helpful in processing my confusion and helping me understand the text for book one. Sadly they only read and discussed book one but it was still very helpful. You can find them here: Discussion 1, Discussion 2, Discussion 3, Discussion 4 Q&A


Another podcast called The Bookening also discuss book one here. I didn'tt enjoy these so much, they tended to digress into other books and films too much, were irrelevant on occasion but I felt also didn't understand the text as well as Heidi White from Close Reads. But you might enjoy them. Discussion 1, Discussion 2

 

Art


I wanted to include this as a little extra. I am drawn to the quietness and stillness of this scene. The simplicity of mother and her new baby, both resting, mum probably in an exhausted state of awe and wonder. Baby, rosey cheeked and snuggled blissfully.


Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) Mother (1895) (his wife and baby)

You can see more of Sorolla's work here. A beautiful write up on this peice here also.

 

Snaps from home


I love playing the tourist at home when visitors come from overseas. We've had some fun adventures this month and more to come with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations this week. Here are a few snaps from our travels.


Oxford: Magdalen College where C.S.Lewis had rooms. The Natural History Museum. The Ashmolean Museum and some wonderful Dutch Still Life by Ambrosius Bosschaert. The Bodleian Library.



Westminster Abbey: This was first time visiting and there was so much to see, too much in the time we had. What a glorious and beautiful day though. So many people memorialised here, from politicians to poets, musicians and martyrs.


Amazing, incredible, awe inspiring workmanship.