Saturday, October 29, 2011


Somewhere along the line I gave up reading books ..... hand held books, that is .... and I allowed that gap of time to be taken up with reading on the internet. Now with all the power failures we are experiencing I am spending less time on the computer and more time finishing the half-read books on my bedside table. I'm also renewing my love for poetry...... Reading a poem here and there in the lamp light before falling asleep.

When Digby arrived he brought with him a little gift the breeders failed to mention. Besides the hernia and tummy upsets he had a ringworm infestation that had to be nipped in the bud before it got out of control.

Thus began the daily treatment baths and re-baths, washing and drying of doggy bedding, extra scrubbing of everything that could be scrubbed (with a little help from Digby) and extra hoovering and lifting of heavy things.

I bet you know where this is going! Of course I put my back out ...... and had no option but to slow down and read books that would soothe my feelings of overwhelm.

With the reading of inspiring books has come a phase of self excavation. These phases come in waves throughout my life and each time I excavate a little more. The excavation theme has overflowed into my carvings .... something that has surprised me.

I've since come to the conclusion that annoying happenings like power failures, water cuts and ringworms are not simply lessons in patience but they can also be positive catalysts for renewal and change .

Sighhhh ..... Well I have to think that or get completely bogged down with bitter feelings toward shady dog breeders and inefficient service providers ;-)

"There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic" - Anais Nin


  1. Oh dear, still its better than the mange that one of my bitches managed to pass on to two of her litters of 7, despite the vet saying a different dog would do the trick, couldnt sell any thing until about 4 months old and even then at a huge loss. Most were given away as I couldnt really be sure it wouldnt come back. It didnt.
    Love these post office hole offerings, glad you are back reading but sorry about the power outages. Must nearly drive you mad.
    Oh and what are in the post it holes?

  2. Hi Penny we must have been commenting at the same time :-)
    The pieces in the niches are old African pot shards. The power outages do drive me nuts at times especially when power surges blow my appliances. An expensive exercise!

  3. I love this! And the quote! How clever and beautiful your piece is. Digby, what a poppet. I've just visited a English Heritage warehouse full of stone fragments, it was a revelation but they weren't as beautifully displayed!

  4. Oh dear but I guess it has been a good bonding experience for you and the handsome Digby......mind your back though ....take it from someone who has spent the best part of the last 3 months unable to stand or sit ....I am upright now ......interesting work too .....x

  5. quelle chance de trouver encore des vieux bois .. pour faire des sculptures et objets si intéressants..le chien est un amour!

  6. Robyn - your optimism, your strength and you amazing creative ability never cease to amaze me. However, I have to say that Digby does look well worth the trouble he has caused. What a lucky dog he is.

  7. I agree that Digby is one lucky dog. He is a cutie too. I hope soon you will be saying it was all worth the effort. Sorry to hear that your power company is so inadequate. What frustrations. I certainly know the feeling of not having enough time to read all you would like to. Love the quote. Your carvings always make me itchy to try one. I still have a piece of redwood just awaiting the chisel. I like these pottery shards. I keep such shards thinking I will do a mosaic with them. That hasn't happened either. Of course they are ancient. Just interesting looking to me. I hope your back feels better soon. Happy reading.

  8. I really got a lot out of this beautiful post. The quote, your wonderful work - bare but heavy with meaning and, the tale of your excavation of self inspired by testing conditions all resonate with me deeply. I always approach winter with dread, yet this year I have been able to reframe it as a period of hibernation in which to carry on my writing and self-excavation too. Reading this post has made me less apprehensive about the coming months. I've even shared dog dramas not dissimilar to your own. And the back problems too! You seem to be handling it all with such good grace. I hope you will soon feel better. penny

  9. R- sorry to hear about your back; and the Digby challenges - but happy to hear you have had the opportunity to discover paper books; and the fragments in the box are just so full of people. Go well. B

  10. Thanks Jennifer! I've just popped over to your blog to read about your visit to the English Heritage warehouse.

    Oh poor Artymess! I can't imagine being flat on my back for months. I hope your back heals quickly now that you are upright.

    Elfi, I really enjoyed creating this piece. Digby is going through his eat-everything-phase but he is still extremely lovable.

    Weaver, thank you .... though I must say I don't feel particularly strong at the moment. Digby is a darling and definitely well worth the fuss. None of it was his fault and I just feel so sorry for him being left out of children's games because of the contagious ringworms. He has turned a corner and I think we have cleared up the ringworm. Keep your fingers crossed!

    Lisa at Greenbow, it has definitely been worth the effort. Digby is a laugh a minute and very loveable as well as being a very good little watchdog. It's time to get out those chisels and try carving the redwood.

  11. Heavens2Betsy, thanks so much. I'm very heartened to read that you gained something positive from this post. I worried that it might seem like a moan. Our climate is obviously different to yours. I dread the heat of Summer because it makes it very difficult to carve but thrive in Autumn/Winter.

    Barry, all the reading I've been doing almost makes the bad back worthwhile.I'm happy that a life long habit is renewed :-)

  12. Thank you, there's a lot of wisdom (and a dash of humour- nice balance) in this post. What you said about catalysts for renewal and change is so true, and Anais Nin's words are going in my quotes journal.

  13. what a wonderful post ! The fragments in the box make me envious! Digby is looking wonderful and I know he loves you to pieces!Good luck with the electric. maybe you should try propane. we lived with that for a year in the carribean. no choice except oil! gave great lite! I'll be back to reread later on after some thought!

  14. Hi Robyn - I hope your back is getting better; it's no fun being incapacitated, but as you say it kind of forces you to slow down and remember things, or rediscover things... Digby looks like he is worth it - and I really really love the piece with broken pot bits, and the idea of excavating oneself...
    Go well

  15. the shardwork is a delight
    and as for Digby
    he's gorgeous.
    i miss having a dog in my life
    think the travel may have to wind down a bit [a lot]
    so there'll be time for a hound to find me

  16. Oh my I can sympathize with the power failures damaging appliances... it has happened here several times, especially when the easterly gales blow in from the ocean..
    ...and it is amazing how the care of man's best friend takes the thoughts away from ouselves... we can't get rid of our motherly instinct... and I do love dogs so too.

    and books, actual paper, bindings and ink... I think there is almost nothing better..I just brought home a little stack from the second hand bookstore and my most comforting thoughts are to settle down with them as a reward as soon as I finish my work.... Take Care!

  17. I enjoyed reading your post this morning.Learning about your dear dog, viewing your art and reflecting on the Anais Nin's statement.

    Thanks for sharing

  18. sorry to hear about your back. i think it's easy to be overwhelmed by the difficult things life throws us. if your work moves forward you will have much to show for this hard time.

  19. Robyn, Such a beautiful post! I love your work, so deep and powerful and of course I love Digby. I am training Bella and I know how much time a new dog takes.
    Sorry about the power failures and
    your sore back. I love this quote and it is true. I believe everything is a gift, we just have to be able to see and feel it, the thought keeps me sane. Hugs to you. Kisses to Digby. xoxo

  20. It has been too long since I've read your lovely posts. I'm sorry for your back and power troubles and glad that your new beautiful dog's ringworm is clearing up. The cellular wisdom quote of Anais Nin hit me just after reading a papery book called " People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks about the history of a Jewish manuscript called a haggadah. It is those small steps in life that we have to cheer for and that are truly hard won. Your beautiful shards in their own cells visually represent steps to me. I too find Autumn more inspiring than any other time even though I'm in rainy Washington state in the U.S. !

  21. It's interesting to see how your inner excavations have metamorphosed into your work.

    Sorry about your troubles though. I hope they improve soon.

  22. Wise words... definitely agree that the things we think are obstacles can turn out to be advantageous, though, I can't think of anything redeeming about a hurt back, other than forced rest. The work looks amazing, as does dog. Take care!

  23. It all sounds like quite a trial... but with a fortuitous twist. That piece is superb!... and reading books is one of the great jpys of life.

  24. Robyn, A perfect title 'self excavation' for this post. A test of patience for sure. You and Neva (openings connecting) have given me a morning of grace reading each blog about levels of wisdom.
    Beautiful shards.

  25. I love/Love your excavation piece, Robyn; multilayered and textures and story/his-tory (her-story). So sorry about your back pain, though. Digby will grow with a nostalgia for bleachy mop smells and bath treatments wedged up into his loving mind towards you. He has gotten so big.

    Am babysitting a friend's little dog this weekend, he's cute and howls at the sky during dusk, its kind of funny.
    Here's to those sweet little "annoying happenings" and the attitude that can see, and turn them into new vistas, adventures. i've opened so many new doors, and wanderlust for exploring these days.

    Glad u r reading poetry, its one of the richest landscapes i've ever entered. Keep singing, Robyn. Keep inspiring. You're a joy.


  26. What a wise posting, Robyn. How true Anais' words are. I love your excavation pieces and am sorry to hear that you put your back out...and about the other little hindrances you've experienced. Exasperating yes, but look at the silver lining of those clouds! How great that they have fed into your art.

  27. Wonderful post of your moments in time, your sweet, cute and troublesome dog (hope his messes end soon) amidst your beautiful carving and shards. Happy reading to you...

  28. This reminds me of your post about Doors, with Margaret Atwood's poem.

    The door swings open,
    you look in.

    Excavations. Sound track provided by poets. Fueled by circumstances.

    Love, love, love your new totem and its juxtaposition with that yummy painting.

  29. How nice to see some of your work here again! Digby is very photogenic! Hope your back improves soon!

  30. Hi Robyn, good to hear your back is on the mend. Oh Digby he is just so adorable <3 I owned a bully named Bud, even though he was brindle, he looked just like Digby and lived to 15yrs - I still miss him dearly. sigh! Bullies are so loyal.

  31. These things are sent to try us...apparently. I always say to myself if you don't laugh you'd be in a heap on the floor. Still looking for the 'perfect' fragment tho...

  32. I'm so sorry to hear about all of poor little Digby's troubles! I hope he feels better soon, and that you have regular electric and water services again soon, as well.

    Isn't it wonderful, though, to find pleasure in the simple act of reading a real book? I've gotten back to reading more again, as well, and find it much more relaxing to read a real book, than to read the same thing on an electronic device.

    Your piece with the African pottery shards is beautiful! I'm really loving what you've been posting on tumblr, too!

  33. I'm glad your troubles have led to "self excavation"; what a beautiful piece they have provoked from you! I'm sorry about your back, though; I put mine out by lifting two 35-lb. bags of dog food into a cart, so I can sympathize with your dog-related injury. And I'm writing that quote down right now!

  34. What a sensational carving. I absolutely love the fact that it's content so reflects where you are in life.

  35. Excavations...what wonderful work Robyn and a lot of meaning there. The shards are amazing and I like that they are placed in the cavities, treasures again.
    That Digby is so handsome and its reassuring that he is such a good watchdog. Looking out for his family.
    Yes, I can relate to the power outages and the brownouts that wreak havoc on our electrical appliances. I hope they are remedied soon.
    I'm an avid reader, cant go to sleep at night unless I have read my book!

    Jacky xox

  36. I'm so glad to have found your blog a few months ago. Your timing and comments on life fall in sync to my experiences. The connection is comforting and reaffirming. And shown through your art and words.
    I love poetry too. I think because I have so little 'me' time I can read and ponder it while doing other things.

  37. Hi Robyn . . Digby looks sooo sweet . . a nice companion for making art. Sorry about your back. I too know about physical challenges (kee & hip for me). One doesn't want to slow down, but the body tells us to! Is that your painting next to your beautiful sculpture?

  38. Oh Robyn-little Digby looks soooo sweet and...just a little bit of a mischief-maker:) Just what you need to keep your spirits up.... a little soul that needs love and care:)
    Oh! that is terrible to have power outages and such...but I love how when these things happen, we can get a different perspective, a sudden turn that ends up being just what we needed.
    I hope your back heals fast! have you tried yoga?? there are some positions that can work wonders. xxx

  39. Shayla, I've been finding so many wonderful quotes lately.... too many to write them all into my quote book.

    Lyle, we are considering different options. We do have gas lamps and are wondering about getting a gas stove... maybe solar power since we have so much sun over here.

    Fiona, my back is feeling better today so I am in high spirits.

    India, when you do have time for a hound you will wonder what took you so long.... but I do understand that travelling as much as you would make it difficult to leave a new dog.

    Gwen, happy reading! That pile of books sounds inviting.

    Art at Chesterbrook, dear dog is having a wonderful day today since the sun is shining for the first time in a while. There are so many wonderful corners to sniff and mole hills to dig.

    Velma, it has been a long stretch but my back is definitely feeling better today and I'm looking forward to getting back into my work.

    Thank you Annie, your Bella is a lucky girl! Have you noticed the spots on Digby's nose? When he's been particularly wicked I just look at those spots and my heart melts.

    Hi Lrc, I googled People of the Book and found an interesting post about it on Another book for my wishlist ..... which has grown considerably in the last month.
    I like the fact that the shards in their cells/niches represent steps to you.... thank you.

    Stevie, so great to see your comments! I've been very tardy in keeping up with my blog list. Will pop over to catch up.

    Thanks Valerianna, in retrospect we do see the redeeming features in setbacks ..... though it sometimes takes time.

    Jo, we've turned a corner and are all feeling that things are getting back to normal. Digby has puppy school coming up!

    Mary Ann, yes I've been over at Neva's, enjoying her post. Thinking about the excavations in your posts too.

    Thanks Mansuetude, can you believe how quickly he's grown?! I'm wondering why your friend howls at dusk. Happy wandering/wondering to you! Thanda.

    Debrina, many silver linings.... and looking forward to carving my next piece.

    Roxanne, with all the warm and wonderful comments here I am feeling very buoyant. Dear Digby is peering through the glass door at me as I type, wondering when i'll be ready to play. Just give me one more minute Digby :-)

    Leslie, I'm glad you reminded me about the Door poem and very happy you love the totem side by side with the painting..... though I will have to carve another. The totem will soon be flying overseas to a new home.

    Caroline, Digby has some very photogenic moments .... if only he will stay still for long enough!

    Kim, we've had Bullies all my life. They certainly have character. Maybe you will think about looking for another? BTW, Digby was nearly a Bud. As it turns out Digby suits him very well. Dig-digging as we speak.

    Emma, we are having many laughs at Digby's expense. He keeps us in stitches with his antics.

    Angela, I think when one feels fragile it's an opportunity to slow right down and appreciate the simple things.... but we do need reminding don't we?

    Sharmon, I know someone who put his back out brushing his teeth. we had a good laugh about that one!

    Seth, thank you so much! Reading your comment I can't help thinking of the artists pulse.... our lives reflected in our work .... the fuel that feeds what we do. Not too long now :-)

  40. Jacky, a friend gave me the shards and I wasn't sure how I would bring them into my work. Without thinking much about them the time just seemed right to use them.

    Robin, it is heart warming and comforting to read your comment and know there are parallels in our lives. A poem is short enough to fit into busy days and perfect to ponder over while doing ones art.

    Jann, the painting is by a local artist Simon Addy. He is inspired by old photo albums with loose brown pages, sepia photos with photo corners etc and this painting refers to a bird (raptor)watchers album.

    Soraya, I do a few stretching exercises that help. The one is a yoga exercise. My chiropractor is getting me back into shape too.

  41. I love the new direction I see in your work! Indeed, problems are often blessings in disguise as they force us to re-examine what we actually consider "right." And that Digby is just adorable, even if he had ringworm! Hope your back feels better soon.

  42. Robyn, Oh my yes, what darling spots :-).xoxo

  43. Wishing you and Digby both the fastest possible recoveries! Love your excavation carvings. Digby is so cute.

  44. I find often shards on the beach and collect them for "later" ;-)
    I'm shure you recognise this.
    Anaïs Nin was (is) o so wright.

  45. I'm so sorry about all your troubles, Robyn. I wish you and Digby a fast recovery!

    Hope your back feels better very soon.

    Take care!

  46. I am moved to comment because of many reasons in this amazing post.

    The main one is the self revelation that comes when you are forced to slow down and take stock, and when you read.

    Reading about art and ideas, reading poetry - those are necessary I think. I love that you read poetry before sleeping.

    And I love your piece.

    About your dog - well, I think he sounds like too much work. I hope he gives you lots of comfort for your trouble. companionship. sleeping on your feet type love, etc.

  47. Heather, new directions but I'm still attached to those niches!

    Annie, the spots continue to keep me focused on loving him. There have been moments!

    Thanks so much Jala.

    Wim, I always seem to find the right words at the right time. Anais Nin's quote felt like a gift.

    Gaby, thank you. My back is feeling so much better.

    Judy M, yes.... reading is so necessary (I have always known this but suffered a temporary lapse)and I am wallowing in my re-discovery of poetry. As for Digby... we have our moments but the good out weighs the bad.

  48. I'm so glad I didn't miss out on this post Robyn!
    That situation with Digby is a biggie... all that daily effort. i can see how you would have put your back out. Water, power... all these things would really test us ...and there you are rising above the complaints to the best of your ability. Reading is pretty amazing in that context and although you have no choice in a sense you are making the best of it, step by step, and reminding us in the process...

  49. Hi Sophie, for the last few weeks everything seems to be back to normal. A good feeling!