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Monthly Archives: April 2016

‘Mauve is just pink trying to be purple.’ James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

pencils-in-a-cup-clipartLast Christmas my ‘Secret Santa’ gift from our staff Christmas party was one of the new adult-colouring books and a pack of coloured pencils.  I was chuffed and looking forward to ‘playing’ with it over the holidays.  As it turned out I started sketching again instead and never got around to even opening up my new book, so when my friend Pam told me that some of her other friends had taken up ‘colouring’ and she wanted to give it a go, I regifted that book to her.  She has been making good use of it ever since.

Pam is in good company.  You can’t look sideways in a bookshop now without seeing row upon row of these new adult-colouring books (Amazing Animals, Beautiful Botanicals, Fabulous Flowers, Tribal Karma, Positively Zen) but is it really such a ‘new’ craze?  Or has it just become socially acceptable now to actually admit, out loud, that you really liked to colour when you were a little kid and (shock, horror) you still do!   (I bet there are more than a few mums out there who, when the kids are at school or sleeping, have quietly sat down and secretly finished colouring in the folds of the princess’s dress or the flowers in that secret garden . . . )

man drawingMy dad loved our kiddie colouring books—and this was 40-something years ago, long before it became a cool pastime.  I have very vivid memories of Dad sitting at our kitchen table, a cigarette in one hand and a pencil in the other, carefully choosing which picture he wanted to work on and then concentrating hard (the tip of his tongue always used to stick out of his mouth when he was concentrating hard) to make sure he didn’t colour outside the lines.  (Dad didn’t care to cross those lines.)

colourThe colouring books we (and Dad) played with then were not a bit like those available now. They weren’t—and I quote—‘complex-yet-calming, theme-inspired, adult-colouring-books (for artists and colourists of all levels), printed on heavyweight, acid-free paper (to prevent bleed-through), with perforated pages (for easy removal and display of your artwork)‘.  WoW.  Way to make a colouring-book sound like one of Da Vinci’s lesson plans.  Who wouldn’t want one of those books—even if you never actually got around to colouring it in?  (And, by the way, don’t you wish you had discovered that gaping hole in the book market?)

But not having access to one of these new fancy-schmansy colouring-book fantasies would not have bothered Dad at all.  In fact, they might even have been too fancy for him.  The new books are indeed very beautiful (even before they are coloured—some of the original drawings are fabulous) but the drawings are also very complex and take time, effort and patience to complete.  outside_the_lines1I think it was the utter simplicity and un-complicatedness (is that even a word?) of our kiddie books that Dad enjoyed.  The drawings were simple, with lots of white space.  You could just colour the shapes in if that is all you wanted to door you could get creative. We used to draw our own clouds in the sky, and put our own birds in the trees, and add necklaces and earrings to the forest animals (as you do). There was plenty of room in those old books to colour ‘outside the lines’.

The new adult colouring books don’t give you much room (if any) to colour outside their lines.  That is what is missing in them for me, because, unlike my father, I think being able to consistently and unreservedly step outside any rigid line laid before you is a marvellous thing.  I wish I had done it more myself as a child and later as a young woman (ah, the benefits of hindsight) and then perhaps I would not find it so difficult to do so now (and I am not just talking colouring-books now people).  umbrella_purpleI have always had a great admiration for people for whom lines are not seen as somewhere to stop, but merely things to cross over, bend, or go around.  The purple people.  The people who dare to be different.  The movers and shakers. The innovators and inventors. (The artists who splash colour around with absolutely no (seeming) desire to make the final result look like anything in particular.)  People who colour WAY outside the lines.

In spite of that admiration, I don’t believe I have it in me to ever be truly purple, because it turns out that lines (both inside colouring books and out) are important to me.  (There is obviously more of my father in me than I know.)  Some lines I have been easily able to bend and stretch, but there aren’t many I have been able to just completely break through.   And, although I have made several short forays (of bright purple squiggles) outside the lines of my life so far (and hope to make at least one or two more) that purple squiggle always tends to recede into a soft and comfortable mauve.lilac dog  

But you know what?  There are worse things to be than mauve.   Even if I am ‘pink trying to be purple’—at least I am trying.  You never know—those lines might still get colour splashed across them yet . . .

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.’ Doug Larson.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . . 

Every day, sometimes twice a day, for the last 12 years or so I have walked past the dock where the Canopus resides.   Two or three days a week the Canopus takes people out ‘deep sea fishing’ and you can set your clock by her.  At 6.30am on the dot on the days she is chartered I can hear her distinctive rumbling engine (from my house several blocks away) heading down the river towards the sea—and at 12.00 noon I can hear her again, making her way home.

I have never been out on her myself (not being a fisherperson’ at all), but my girls get very excited when we go past as the passengers are starting to boardlots of new people to wag tails at, get pats from, and plenty of bags and fishy gear to check out.

On a couple of occasions I have had to rescue one of them from some jolly wag who thinks they would make good ‘bait’ for their trip (rude!) but, being good natured, we assume they mean it all in good fun. . .

Canopus‘.  North Haven.

canopus

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I wanted to be a veterinarian until I saw a video of a vet performing surgery on a dog. Then I decided I wanted to be a pianist.’ Amy Lee.

badbackThis week at morning tea at the college we had a lively discussion about medical diagnosis, alternative treatments and the importance of getting a second opinion.  I can’t quite remember how the conversation started (somebody’s bad back I think) but at one point it was suggested that perhaps that person might be best to get a second opinion from our local vet, as whatever their doctor was doing for them definitely wasn’t working.  We all laughed of course, but I am not sure that the suggestion was entirely silly  . . .

sick catI have a huge amount of respect for vets.  As you might imagine, having had many dogs and cats over the years I have spent a lot of time at my local vet surgery.  I’ve been very lucky.  For the most part our visits have been for the ‘usual’ yearly checkups, injections, nail clippings and minor infections, and only once or twice for something more serious, but I have always been amazed at the depth and breadth of knowledge that a vet has to have.  Not only does the vet have to be a general practitioner (and very probably also their own radiologist, surgeon, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, nutritionist, allergist, groomer, business manager, and legal expert) but he (or she) also has to be a general practitioner across multiple species.  (I guess a human doctor could say that too on occasion—but he’d have to be very careful who he said it to . . . )

And, unlike most human doctors, the vet has to be able to diagnose an animal who can’t, at least in words, give him any indication of what the problem is.  In addition, the vet’s patient may also (no matter however cheerful and docile at home) be just as likely to kick, bite, or scratch (or all of the above) the hand that is trying to help it—even when visiting for something very minor.

crazy dogA case in point.  My Maudie loves everybody and everything.  She is the happiest, lickiest, waggiest little dog I have ever owned—but it regularly takes three grown adults (and very stern words from her mum) to keep all 6 kilos of her under control when I take her in to get her nails clipped.  (I am sure our lovely vet Gavin and his team (CamVet) have seen it all before, and probably much worse, but I do find it very annoying.  Does it really have to be such a drama every single time??)

BloodhoundShakingOffWaterLeft_Med And it was because of these drama-queen antics that I had to take Maudie into the vet again this week.  She’d had an ear infection several months ago and although I’d had ear drops to administer (8 drops in each ear, twice a day, for 10 days—oh dear God) I was pretty sure I had ended up wearing more of those drops myself than ever went near her ears.

(I did take her back to Gavin at one point to tell him the issues I was having putting the drops in but she sat there like a lamb (smiling sweetly at me the whole time) and let Gavin put the drops in with no problem at all.  Gavin looked at me like I was the diva.  Sorry Gav, but you did.  The next morning when I tried to administer the drops again, the shrieking and thrashing reached epic proportions.  Maudie’s shrieking and thrashing—not mine—although . . . )  

Anyway, although she never complained out loud, over the last couple of weeks I had caught Maudie a number of times with her back foot gingerly probing her ear, so I was pretty sure the problem was still there.

sedatedSo it was back to Gavin to get those ears checked out.  Happily, this time Maudie did her little freak-out in front of witnesses (yay!—see it is her, not me—I felt thoroughly vindicated) and it was decided that as she was obviously not going to let me (or anyone else) anywhere near her ears ever again, the best course of action was to keep her in the surgery for a day to be sedated and have her ears thoroughly cleaned out and treated while she was out for the count.

That meant no breakfast that morning (wow—and that is a whole other story) and all the extra fun that goes with trying to get only one dog out of the house and into the car without becoming homicidal (dogicidal?) with the other two, or becoming totally deranged and incoherent myself in the process.  (Tricki Woo going ‘crackerdog‘ has nothing on my three girls.)  But we got there, of course, as we always do, and as crazy as she makes me sometimes, I fretted about her all day.  Not because she wasn’t in good hands, because she was—just because—well—you do . . .

Maudie

Maudie

When it came time to pick her up that afternoon I was told she had been ‘good as gold’ and had just ‘sat quietly smiling at everyone’ all day.  I was not overly surprised at that—my girls are all much braver in a ‘pack’ than they are as individuals and Maudie is a big smiler anyway—but I do also think it might have something to do with the sedative which was obviously still in her system.  After a brief but riotous reunion with her sisters, (and after she had finished her dinner, of course—no breakfast, remember?) she settled cozily into her favourite spot on the couch, still a little bleary-eyed and unfocussed, and happily hummed a little tune to herself until she finally fell into a deep, deep sleep.

It had been long, exhausting day for a little dog (and her mum).  I wonder if those sedatives are available on-line . . .

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘One of the worst mistakes you can make as a gardener is to think you’re in charge.’ Janet Gillespie.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . . 

grim reaperThinking I was in charge of my own garden was a mistake I made very early on—but I was immediately (and thoroughly) put in my place when all the lovely new plants I planted died a horrible shrieking death almost as soon as I put them in the ground.  (Well, judging by their remains it surely looked like their death had been painful.)

proud plantI had done everything right.  I had checked whether they were the right sort of plant for the area, and whether for sun or shade.  I was planting them at the right time of year.  I watered them as I instructed.  To this day I have no idea what I did wrong.  I tried again. This time with different plants, in different aspects.  Same result.  Sigh.  (Weeds—now those I can grow—in abundance.)  It was mystifying—especially as I have always been able to grow really healthy indoor plants.  (These I have to watch like a hawk as they have become so prolific as to threaten to engulf the house.)

succulent1And then one day I discovered a group of plants which seemed almost unkillable (by me, or anything else).  Succulents.  Hairy, furry, smooth, bumpy, green, brown, yellow, multi-coloured succulents.  Fabulous.  And, over a period of time, and a little trial and error, my succulents and I have now come to a tentative alliance.

lookAs long as I don’t break the rulesit’s all good.  I plant them each in a lovely new pot, place them in out in the garden in cheerful little groups of like-minded friends—and promise to never, ever go near them or touch them again—and they thrive. Garden sorted.

So, as promised in my last post, I have decided to add here a quick drawing from my sketchbook of some of the succulents in my garden.  (And, just to be clear, the pots are actually standing on a garden of bark chips (not just a patch of concrete)—but I have no idea how to draw bark chips so I just pretended it wasn’t there.  I also ignored the rest of the garden—the back fence, the Hills Hoist, the three madcap dogs chasing each other in and around the pots—and anything else that was too hard.  I think that’s called ‘artistic licence’ . . . )

succulents

‘My rule of green thumb for mulch is to double my initial estimate of bags needed, and add three.
Then I’ll only be two bags short.’

Author Unknown

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I’m a perfectionist with a procrastinator complex. Someday I’m going to be awesome.’ Anon.

29-1I have never considered myself to be a ‘perfectionist’.  At all.  Near enough was always good enough for me.  Or so I thought.

And I never really thought of myself as a ‘procrastinator’ either.  Sure I would put the occasional thing off until later—who doesn’t do that sometimes?  But not as a general rule.  Or so I thought.

But then last weekend I actually caught myself, on several occasions, deliberately putting off something I really wanted to do, by doing a whole host of other little jobs I didn’t want to do at all.  Weirdhuh?  I mean—who does that?   So I sat down and thought about it (like that wasn’t just another attempt to procrastinate even further) and could only come to the conclusion that I might be (shock horror)procrastinating perfectionist.

PerfectionismAccording to the dictionary, a perfectionist is ‘a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection‘.   Pffft.  Now that really doesn’t sound anything like me at all.  In fact, I would go as far to say that I am much more inclined to do things a little bit half-arsed than I am to be overly anal.  (Anyone who saw my lawn after I had finished mowing it would have to agree.  As long as it is ‘tidy’ I see no reason whatsoever to go around every single edge and border or pick up every errant leaf that has blown on to it.  Likewise with the housework.  I like to keep my house clean and tidy but with three dogs underfoot my home is never going to be pristine. As long as there aren’t tumbleweeds of dog hair floating down the hallways I can handle it.)

dinosaursThe same dictionary also states that a procrastinator ‘is a person who delays or puts things off—like work, chores, or other actions—that should be done in a timely manner.’  Well—okay—guilty—sometimes.  But it is not usually very long before I suck it up and get on with what needs to be done.  I prefer to get onerous chores done and dusted and out of the way.

And that’s when the penny dropped‘onerous chores’.  I have no issue with onerous chores (other than them being onerous, of course) because they don’t matter much to me.  Half-arsed is good enough.  The ‘perfectionist procrastinator’ in me only seems to kick in when something does matter to me.

So what brought on all this self-reflection?  What was I really wanting to do but avoiding with all my might? Sketching.  (I know, I know.  What’s the big deal right?  Sigh.)

Those of you who have read my earlier posts you will know that I have recently started drawing and sketching again. (Note the ‘again’ there.  Methinks I have had these issues before.)   But, truth be told, I have talked about sketching more than I have actually sketched.  Oh, I’ve done some.  I have.  But not nearly as much as I wanted to—or said I wanted to.  I enrolled in two online sketching courses and thoroughly enjoyed them.  I even participated in the on-line forums and uploaded some of my homework drawings, and got really nice feedback from the other students and from the tutors.  But I am still not sketching every day.  Sometimes I am not even sketching once a week.  And, the thing is—I really like sketching.

no inkSo what’s the problem?  Why am I still so anxious about getting the sketchbook out and putting pen to paper?  It seems pretty obvious doesn’t it?  And I’ve probably known the answer the whole time—I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.  I’m just afraid.  Afraid my sketches will be crap.  Afraid I’ll spoil my nice new pristine sketchbook.  And I don’t want my sketches to be crap.  And I definitely don’t want to spoil my nice new sketchbook.  So I look for reasons to not start at all.

happier dog(Dogs don’t have these issues, you know. Dogs don’t not dig a hole for fear it is not going to be the right shape or angle.  They don’t not play with that new toy in case they get teeth marks in it.  Although, on the procrastination side, I could name at least two little dogs who have gone to great lengths to delay going outside to use the bathroom because it was raining . . .  HA—see what I did there—classic diversionary statement.  It would be so easy to just veer off and talk about dogs now . . . )

So what am I going to do about this ‘first world’ problem of mine?

drama queenWell the first thing I am going to do is acknowledge that if this is really the only issue I have in life to be fretting over at the moment, I should be roundly ashamed of myself (and in truth, I am somewhat mortified to even acknowledge it out loud.)  Then I am going to go back over all my notes from my art classes and re-read the advice given on this very subject by nearly every one of the teachers (which I blithely skipped over because it ‘didn’t really apply to me’.)  And, finally, I am going to try really hard to just ‘get over myself’ and stop being such a drama queen about the whole thing.

feeling pressureSo, although I have already talked myself out of this twice already, and can already feel my resolve wavering again, I have decided to give myself a real push out of my comfort zone and have set myself a task of uploading a sketch to this blog once a week—just to see if I can do it.  (And let me say that at this stage I have NO idea what kind of sketch you might get—but if one day a quick scribble of a balled up piece of paper appears on this blog, you may at least have some idea of the sort of week I’ve had . . . )

I am going to have to push to ‘Publish’ button real quick now, before I change my mind again.  See you in a couple of days . . .


P.S.   Out of curiosity I took The Perfectionism Test and am pleased (I think) to let you know that I ‘possess a healthy level of perfectionism’.  (Mmmmm.  I wonder if the author of this test was the same person who wrote the ‘Personality Test’ in one of my earlier posts?)

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Every dog should have a boy.’ Mr Peabody.

boy runningWe  had a little visitor to our house last weekend (and no, unlike most of our visitors, he did not have four legs.  This little man had only two legs—although he often moved fast enough to make you believe he might have had four).  His name is Ryan.

Ryan’s nanna, Pam, is good friend of mine and her daughter Emily and grandson Ryan were in town visiting for the Easter week, so we had some fun ‘catching up’.  I was struck at how much Ryan had changed since I last saw him.  He is looking more like a proper ‘little boy’ to me now—although at 2-and-a-half years I imagine he is technically a ‘toddler’?? (Not having had children of my own, I am happy to stand corrected.)

pets welcome(For those of you who don’t know me, I thought I would just point out that not having children was a deliberate choice for me, and one I have never regretted.  I don’t want to offend anyone but, as a general rule (and with notable exceptions of course) I just really prefer dogs to children.  A copy of the ‘Pets Welcome . . .  ‘ sign, left, really is on my front door.)

Anyway, during the week of the visit we were all chatting and decided it might be fun if Pam, Em and Ryan all came over to my house so that Ryan could meet ‘my girls’.  Pam is a regular visitor but Em hadn’t been over in a long while, and Ryan never. I was curious to see how my girls would react.

As you might already have guessed, my girls are not used to children.  We see them when we are out and about on our walks of course, and because the girls are all so small and cute, children often come running up to us to ‘see the puppies’. dog paws on headThe sudden onslaught of a group of children (i.e. more than one child at a time) will often send them into ‘silly as a box of frogs’ mode and scatter them in all directions, but they will, on occasion (and if I hold on to their collars and cajole them a bit) deign to be patted . . . if the children aren’t too big or too loud . . . or on bikes . . . or scooters . . . or skateboards . . . or carrying fishing rods . . . or wearing red . . .

But even though they are often jumpy and nervous around children, I have never worried that they might bite a child.  Experience has shown me that when they get scared Maude will stand her ground bravely (directly behind me) and bark like a maniac, Mabel will try desperately to climb up my leg until she is picked up, and Molly will turn tail and run for her life.  Biting (happily) does not seem to be in their repertoire.

nobarkAnd, true to form, when Ryan appeared in their living room, Mabel begged to be picked up, Maude set off a volley of barks worthy of a dog three times her size (all the time making sure that either I or the coffee table was between her and the small scary person) . . . and Molly ran and hid under the sofa (and also barked, just in case Maudie wasn’t getting the point across).

They needn’t have worried.  As it turned out Ryan was much more interested in the house itself than he was in them, at least to start with (perhaps they have a budding designer or architect on their hands?)  While we adults chatted (and attempted to calm the dogs down) Ryan took himself off on a little inspection tour of the house and garden, pottering in and out of the rooms and making mental notes, with Maudie shadowing him (from a safe distance) the whole time.

Ryan's Notes

Ryan’s Notes

Having completed his visual inspection he then set about ‘collecting’ items from around the house—a couple of pens, a notebook, my glassesand disappeared down the hallway happily humming to himself.   We laughed, wondering was was going on in his head, until his mum got a little nervous when it all went very quiet (even I know that can be a bad sign) and went in search of him.  We found him sitting quietly on the couch in my office, still humming to himself, wearing my glasses and writing in my ‘blog’ book.  (I had a look in that book later.  He has made copious notes but I am not quite sure yet if they are notes on the state of repair of my house and garden, or new ideas for my blog.  When I decode them I will let you know.)

So, although I am not sure my girls will agree with Mr. Peabody’s statement just yet—the visit turned out to be a great success.  And I could tell that my girls, albeit reluctantly at first, were actually starting to enjoy themselves.  When Ryan had finished compiling his notes he came back out in the living room and started to interact with the dogs.  Very funnyand very loud.  My girls don’t seem to be able to ‘play’ quietly. Maudie even managed to learn to bark with her ball still in her mouth. Quite a feat I thought.

apology(And here is a good spot to put in an apology to Scott, Ryan’s dad, who rang his wife hoping to get a lovely ‘facetime’ chat with his family while he was away on his trip overseas, only to be met by a scene of absolute bedlam with Ryan running, dog’s barking, spray-bottle squirting (and that’s a whole other story) and no chance of making himself heard above the din at all. Sorry Scottie.)

snoopy kissAs the visit wound down, and in calmer moments, Ryan did manage to get sloppy kisses from both Mabel and Maude (in his eye and up his nose) which he seemed quite happy about.  Molly got pats from her favourite Auntie Pammy and I myself got to have several long chatty conversations with Ryan which I enjoyed very much. 

(Thankfully Ryan’s mum and nanna were on hand to help with the trickier translations.  I am fluent in several dialects of ‘dog’, and have a smattering of ‘cat’—but ‘toddlerspeak’—not so much.  If I were more fluent I would have asked him the next day why all my drink coasters (which I hadn’t even realised were missing) were later found arranged in a very intricate pattern around the bathroom floor. Perhaps there is something about that in his notes . . . . )

snoreAnyway, I am not sure how Ryan slept that night but the afternoon’s excitement was all too much for the girls.   The three of them were fast asleep and snoring almost before Ryan was even packed up in the car and out of the driveway.  And, as lovely as the afternoon was, I know exactly how they felt . . . .


P.S.  Sad news yesterday that Ryan’s great-grandfather, Bobby, passed away this week, aged 85.
I met Bobby several times over the years and he was a lovely, sweet and gentle man and will be missed by all his family and friends.
RIP GGPa.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.’ Arthur C. Clarke.

horoscopeI have just had a birthday so, in a quiet moment, I thought I’d sit down and read my ‘birthday stars’ and see what I can expect to happen in my life for the next 12 months.  Oh well, okay—you got me—I actually read every different version of my yearly horoscope I could lay my hands on, trying to find the one I liked best.  And then I read everybody else’s horoscopes for 2016 too—because I wanted to see who was going to have a better day/week/month/year than I was.  (Don’t give me that look.  I know you do that too.)  

And . . . surprise, surprise . . . from the ‘overviews’ it looks like I am in for an all-around-great-year—as is pretty much everyone else on the planet, Aries or otherwise . . .

aries1In a nutshell, it seems that I (and therefore presumably everyone else born under the sign of the Ram) can expect the rest of 2016 to be steady, chaotic, challenging, positive, volatile, passionate and erratic.  Phew.  I’m exhausted already.  So, a bit of everything then, but not really anything there to get too upset about.  But, thinking back—I don’t recall ever reading a birthday horoscope that told me that I really ought to brace myself as I was in for a really, really, crappy year . . .

Even if I did receive such a dastardly ‘horrorscope’, would that stop me from continuing to read future forecasts, I wonder?  Probably not.  I’d just do what I did this morning—keep looking for another one that told me all the good things I wanted to hear and ‘believe’ that one instead.  So sue me.

I enjoy reading horoscopes—there—I said it.  I read them all the time.  I even like to read the ones in the tatty three-year-old copies of mags in the doctor’s office or hairdresser’s salon and wonder whether the advice given actually lined up with what was going on in my life at that time.  (As if I would actually remember.  I have trouble remembering what happened last week, let alone three years ago).  It doesn’t really matter.  Two minutes after reading, be it old or current, I have usually decided it was all either ‘too good to be true’ and therefore never going to happen, or ‘so not how I wanted this week to go’ that I have blithely dismissed it all as a load of old rubbish and moved on to other things . . .

manreading(And just while I think of it—do they have astrology pages in men’s magazines?  (Seriously—I’m asking.)  Do Golf Digest or Muscle Car or Fish Life have a full page in every issue devoted to resident astrologers doling out advice to their (mostly) male readers on how they can expect the coming week to affect their personal relationships, career or financial status?  Or do the men who desperately want to know these things have to resort to sneaking a look at their wives/daughters/sisters Woman’s Weekly or New Idea (or one of the kazillion other women’s magazines) on offer?)

So why, in spite of my obvious scepticism, am I (and millions of others) driven to read our horoscopes on such a regular basis?  I guess one reason is that the majority of the ‘predictions’ given out are positive (at least in the women’s magazines)—and in newspapers and other publications full of doom and gloom at the moment, that makes a welcome change.  We like to think that things are ‘looking up’, and it’s nice to have someone else tell you that you are going to get a (possible) promotion at work, or (maybe) receive a financial windfall, or (in all likelihood) meet the love of your life (providing you are paying close attention to all the opportunities out there of course). The fact that these prophecies are so generic that they could apply to anyone, on any given day, at any given time, has very little to do with it.

pt_barnum_picApparently this temptation to read personal meaning into a general description is a recognised ‘thing’. (But you knew it would be, didn’t you? You’ve read enough of my scribblings by now to know there was going to be a ‘thing’.)  This particular ‘thing’ is referred to (by those in the know) as either the Forer Effect or more commonly (cue the circus music) the ‘Barnum Effect’ (after American showman PT Barnum’s famous line, ‘We’ve got something for everyone’).  We are all surprisingly willing, according to psychologist Bertram Forer, to attribute even the vaguest and most generic personality descriptions to ourselves.

predictionIn 1948, Forer gave each of his students a personality test, telling them they were receiving a unique outline of their character and asking them to rate its accuracy.  In fact, the outline each student received was identical, but each person rated it as an excellent description of themselves. This experiment has been repeated hundreds of times over the ensuing years, always with similar results, and this ‘wishful thinking’ human trait is what horoscope writers (and psychics, mediums, fortune tellers, mind readers, and the like) still rely on to this day.

So, if that has made you at all curious, why not have a go and take the personality test in the link above (go on, do it—just for a lark).  I did, and I have to say that the results did sound awfully familiar . . .

But will finding out how gullible and easily duped people apparently are stop me from reading any future horoscopes?  Not at all.  In fact—after that little exercise I might even contemplate starting to write my own!  Although then again, as fanciful as I can be at times, I don’t think even I could have come up with today’s offering—so I’m going to sign off now because I am expecting ‘Some beautiful dreams or visions, perhaps involving angels, spirit guides, or other such beings . . .‘ and, as you can imagine, I’m really anxious not to miss them . . .

Oh yes.  One last thing, and a timely reminder . . .

‘The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.’  
Mark Twain.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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