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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No 6 June 2023

June’s come and gone too soon.

I’m really cutting it fine (again!) this month. My reminder popped up last Saturday (June 25th) to collate another Blogpost (to be posted on the 26th!) but I’d done nothing towards it at all. Hey-ho … let’s see what I can come up with. So long as I get it up and posted before Friday (June 30th!) I’m in my self-allotted space/time continuum. I think it’s time to beam me up Scotty!

When last we met dear reader the TT races were just beginning their two week reign. And what a glorious couple of weeks it was. The weather was absolutely perfect from start to finish. Bright blue skies, mild, pleasant, to scorching heat, with flowers, veg and wild life making me feel full of possibility.

I ate strawberries every day for nearly four weeks. They’ve decidedly finished their bounty now but other things are just starting to give their best. We had our first new potatoes this week and French beans have already garnered several handfuls of sweet, tender deliciousness. And though tomatoes are still a ways off they’re all flowering with promise of fruit in the next month or so.

I’ve been pulling up bunches of (sometimes very small) beetroot while the courgettes are just starting to show their gorgeous yellow flowers with fruit promised right behind. As for the red onions, they look amazing … this is my third attempt at growing them and seems this time they’re happy. I’m reliably in formed I have to wait another month before harvesting.

We celebrated mum’s 85th birthday on June 11th. The house was like a high-end florist’s for at least a week. Lots of family and friends turned up to wish her happy birthday. It was a delightful day. She was (of course) quite confused as to why so many people had arrived and each time delighted to learn it was her birthday … small consolation for the loss of short-term memory but we’ll take it if it puts a smile of her face.

There are many stories of strange or ridiculous scenarios with mum on a daily basis but it’s hard to know what’s OK to share. I in no way wish to imply her life is some sort of horrible a joke but sometimes that’s how it seems. She understands less and less and sleeps more and more. Yet there are moments of ordinariness that swell the heart or simply make us smile. These we cherish.The frustration and incomprehensible nature of the rest is best left in a quiet corner wrapped in blankets with the lights turned off. There’ll be time enough to unravel and decipher later. For now we muddle along and give thanks for the sweet moments bestowed.

I have nothing to report with regard to Children of The Sea this month though I’ve been in touch with Nicola Dixon and she is about to begin her artistic explorations. This I am thrilled and deeply grateful for. Next month perhaps there will be more to share.

Musically I have failed to record a new song for this month’s Blogpost, as promised at the beginning of the year, however I’ve searched through the archives and found something I hope you’ll appreciate. It is a demo of a song never performed or shared (perhaps you’ll hear reasons why?!) But I’ve always had a soft spot for the song … you could say it marks the beginning of my exploration in turning folklore into song? Steve Lima who I started co writing with in the early noughties created this much more arranged version of the song starting with my very basic guitar part though we never really finished it as such. I am always grateful for skilled intervention! The song’s title is “Orpheus”:

The rest of the month is a blur of dipping, dog walking, Maggie-managing and a few hours a week where Bob and I remember what it’s like to wander the world relatively care-free, together (we haven’t left the Island for over three years, so this is our world for the time being) . Life is never less than interesting and in very many ways is rich beyond imagining. The natural world holds me spellbound and uplifted. Whenever things start to feel bumpy I simply have to go outside and breathe … take in the sights and sounds of this fair Isle and the bumps somehow even themselves out.

I was unexpectedly asked to sing at someone’s Memorial service on Friday (June 23rd). I say unexpected as it was someone I didn’t know, though their presence on the Island’s community and Political landscape ranged far and wide. Mark Shimmin was a dedicated Civil Servant who rose to become Chief Financial Officer of the Isle of Man Government and was awarded an MBE for his services to the island’s government and economy. He was an honourable and well loved man who was a huge supporter of music and beer! St Ninian’s Church was packed with standing room only. It was a very moving service that included a wonderful selection of diverse music. There was a beautiful live version of Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the incomparable Sandy Denny, taken from a 1978 John Peel session. It really set the emotional tone. There were also some very funny tales told to highlight Mark’s natural, easy and delightful sense of fun. It was an honour to be there and a very powerful experience to sing for him. He specifically asked for Songbird.

From beautiful summer days throughout May and the beginning of this month we’ve definitely turned a corner as far as the weather’s concerned. Yesterday (Wednesday) was deeply grey, with buffeting winds and intermittent drizzle … but still quite warm (20C). Then today the brightness returned … I do love a bit of bright light … it has the ability to instantly change inner and outer landscapes. I love a moody day too … I’m not complaining … but we had five days in a row with greyness as its base note and it starts to effect my mood and I begin to reflect the weather. This too shall pass - and it has - and so it will again. All is well all shall be well.

To end this month’s Blogpost I thought I’d share an old song/video from a few years ago. A co-write with Rob Cross that we performed many times on our handful of UK tours 10-12 years ago. Here is the studio version featuring the wonderful Davy Knowles who has a wonderful new Single out: Broken Time (check it out!). “The Ones That Love You Best” was released on one of my numerous Demos CDs 10 or more years ago now. This was on Feminine Logic. Enjoy the bubble magic :-) x

OK good humans of Earth I catch up with you again next month when I frantically try to beat time as it races ahead of me once more!

Until then take good care of each other, stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.

Much love and endless blessings

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No 5 May 2023 Draft

Ola gorgeous Blogpost reader. I’m feeling light hearted and upbeat, as the sun has been shining and the garden is looking absolutely gorgeous right now. I have been attending to my greenhouse babies and equally, duelling with slimy slugs in the veg patches dotted around and about. Dipping has been adventurous as ever. The sea temperature has hardly shifted so even with slightly warmer air temperatures the water is still a challenge … which is why we do it!

For those not in the know, I attempted a FaceBook Live on Saturday May 13th. I say “attempted” as I had a few technical difficulties. I spent a considerable amount of time, the evening before, setting up in the greenhouse. It looked lush and I was excited to share the glory of my first ripening strawberries with the waiting ethereal audience. And in deed there were 5 glorious uninterrupted minutes of birdsong and strawberries for those gathering to watch the performance. I popped round in front of the camera at the allotted time and said … “Hello! Because we’re in the greenhouse there may be some drop out but …” and sure enough we lost contact with the wiFi! Bob, bless him, who was watching on his computer in the lounge, came running round to to say: “You’ll have to set up in the lounge this isn’t working!” So that’s what we did. Very hastily.

With the rush to get going as soon as possible, the extra camera to record the performance to share on YouTube later, was unfortunately at a very dodgy angle and so I haven’t had the courage to upload it. I’ll look again and see if it’s not quite as bad as I thought at the time. Unlikely though.The original video is available on FB (HERE) but the quality is seriously down graded (by FB!) When trying to share on any other platform, so I won’t be able to simply share to YT. C’est la vie! These things are sent to try us.

However the 7 songs I chose to sing went by so quickly … and even though I think I messed up every song in some way shape or form … I smiled my way through the whole lot, as I was in deed so happy to be singing again. I miss performing. Especially the privilege of interacting with real actual people, so that even an ethereal experience like a FB Live is a pure and simple joy. I truly hope that in the not-too-distant-future I will be able to tour and see you all in person. It may still be a while but I hold tight to this lovely dream. I only hope you still want to come to a show :-) x

One of the songs I learned especially for the brunch time show, was in honour of the passing of Canadian great Gordon Lightfoot. A sweet and wonderful story teller/songsmith whose songs linger long in the heart. I chose “If You Could Read My Mind” … as a result of which I’ve recorded a very simple version for this month’s specially recorded song. Hope you enjoy:

Of course we also lost Tina Turner just a few short days ago. Another unforgettable and inspirational performer. I remember having the audacity to sing River Deep Mountain High in my early twenties, with The Rocking Dansettes here on the Island. And almost 40 years later, in 2019, I recorded a wonderful acoustic version with Michael Fix on our CD North&South. I still love singing it. So in honour of a gorgeous goddess of a woman who no longer graces our beautiful planet, here as tribute and in honour to her sad passing, is mine and Michael’s version:

There have been some interesting twists and turns in our continued journey and adventures with mum. There was a memory test this week. The first since July last year when mum scored 15 out of 30 points. She’s had these tests twice yearly for at least 7 years and I’ve accompanied her to 90% of them, so I feel I know the routine fairly well. I’ve also often thought they were a pretty useless exercise. This year however has seen significant decline in many areas for mum, not least after the fall in February and her subsequent stay in hospital. She has slowly, slowly, regained a little confidence, appetite and general energy but nothing like she was last year. I sat with mum in the little room and waited for everything to unfold. As expected, the day, date and year were a mystery to her but her date of birth rolled off the tongue without hesitation. All as expected. There are other phases to the test which went by all a little less assured than previously. But when it came to: “Now draw a clock face with the hands at ten minutes past five … “ everything went somewhat pear-shaped. All this to say she scored 4 points. 4! I mean I knew she had lost some capacity but the extent of it came crashing down at that moment for me. Mum was blissfully unaware that anything was wrong as she was praised for her efforts ... and rightly so. Bless her! Life can’t make any sense to her at all at this point. It hardly makes sense to me anymore. We continue with kindness and as much daftness as we can muster. When in the land of confusion it’s generally best to laugh as much as possible. In between the laughter are bouts of deepening sadness. Life’s rich tapestry …

Yesterday I planted many tomato seedlings into grow bags. They all looked happy and healthy and ready for their new, grander, richer homes. I have 5 varieties on the go: Tiger, baby bell, cherry, plum and organic beef toms. I’ve also potted on Aubergines and red peppers. The green house is looking fabulous I have to say. I’m equally thrilled by the many flowering plants we now have in the front garden this year (see photos above:). The intricacies of the colour and form of petals, leaves and stems is awe inspiring. I could stare at their beauty for hours. Truly, nature is amazing.

I can just hear the whine of the first TT practice as I type. Looks like we’ll have fine weather for the coming fortnight of racing madness. We live “inside” the course so we have more inconvenience than those “outside” it but at least we have space and access to numerous walks along the old railway lines into Glen Wyllin and along the beach to occupy Sweep. Hopefully we’ll be able to get mum out into the garden for a snooze from time to time.

Children Of The Sea continues its long and meandering journey but it is moving. There are various artworks to consider and decisions on production grow closer day by day. I am so grateful to be partnered with Fledg'ling Records along this part of the track. David Suff (Mr Fled'gling himself) is a font of wisdom and source of great support through these new waters for me. Couldn’t do this without him.

One last sad note before I say goodbye this month and that is to acknowledge and celebrate the life of a wonderful, wise, generous, funny and most beautiful woman: Vanya Anderson. Vanya and her gorgeous husband Graham, have been the most delightful and generous souls hosting house concerts for many years in their beautiful homes. Mine and Michael Fix’s last UK concert in 2019 was with them and we were, as ever, shown such deep love and respect.and had the most wonderful evening. In fact that’s the last time we saw one another. Bless you Vanya. We love and miss you. The memory of your bright beaming smile and twinkling mischievous eyes will always make us smile. Rest now. See you at that great house concert in the sky.

Till next month sweet reader … stay well and keep rising above the turbulence!

Much love

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No4 April 2023

Another month another Blogpost … thanks for dropping by. April has been a breath of fresh air. So much of nature is coming back to life. Trees are bursting with buds that bloom into beautiful blossom. It’s a veritable cornucopia of beauty. I love it.

I’ve been putting off entering the Green House but when April turned up I decided it was the perfect time to reacquaint myself with growing things. Bob, bless him, had surreptitiously cleaned up the winter detritus and so my re-entry was made so much easier. On April 1st , a whole day earlier than last year, I sowed the seeds for peas; French beans; Dwarf French beans, carrots, tomatoes and chanced potting a number of fruit pips and stones in small pots, just to see what might occur. So far, nothing is stirring in the fruit tree department but there’s time yet. However French beans are breaking the surface and I have a tray full of pea shoots that make my heart soar.

A few days later I also planted several beds of potatoes, a variety of wild flowers in the greenhouse, spring onions, different varieties of tomatoes and I dared to sow Aubergines. Who knows what will thrive? In a way it doesn’t matter, as I’m just thrilled by the surprise of it all. I’ve added a few strawberry plants to my already flowering crop, originally planted in 2021, and they’re looking fab. I also had fun planting up 3 wellies worth of Strawberries which make me smile. I gave the pair of wellies/strawberries to my nephew Aaron who last year had great fun tending his very own small but bountiful fruit and veg patch.

I continue to draw every day. I still think I’m no better than when I started out Jan 1st but perhaps there might be a modicum of improvement … alas I’m no budding genius. But the satisfaction is very real and worth the effort. I did faces for March and continue along that theme, though I think I’ve reached the end of my interest for the time being. I might try my hand at details of the face to see if I could maybe get a little more skilled at the whole face later on in a few months? Why not?

Mum is slowly, slowly, recuperating from her fall in February but things in general are not great. The slips into alternate worlds is almost constant now and can take us by surprise moment by moment. The challenge of going with someone else’s, skewed, view of reality is that … second guessing isn’t really a skill you can improve. No matter which way you look at it it’s always a guess. There are no structures with which to hold on to or navigate by. No sign-posts or clear maps to show the way. There are many and varied conversational cul-du-sacs that leave us feeling baffled. Yet mum must feel like that 99.99% of the time, so we pick up our best second-guessing shovels and dig ourselves deeper till we find a way to the other side; only to pick up that bloody shovel again minutes, sometimes seconds, later. It is what it is. There are moments of levity and shrieks of laughter at some of our/her antics and misheard, misunderstood-ness. Mostly there’s bemusement and anticipation, senses highly tuned listening, watching for the next U-turn, space/time dis-continuum. Beam me up Scotty!

The garden is looking magnificent. The cherry tree is in full flouncy pink blossomy bloom and tulips, pansies, violets and flowering plants I have no names for, are vying for attention with their fabulous, flashy, full blown colours. There’s such promise everywhere I look. Even the beach is starting to look more welcoming and less wild than even a few days ago. Today in particular is so still. The reflections of billowy whiter-than-white clouds on the glossy calm sea and wet mirror-like sand this morning, were breath taking. These small moments of joy and wonder fill me up and fuel the rest of my day. They are a necessary ballast. They allow me to feel incredibly blessed. Life is a miracle nest pas?

I am starting to make a list of possible songs for my FB Live on Saturday May 13th 10am (BST). It might be the only Live performance I get to do this year. I don’t want to think about that too much. I’m getting ready to practice. This is not my favourite pastime … when working with other performers you get to rehearse and it’s super fun. On ones own … it turns to practice and it’s not the daft, light-hearted experience a rehearsal can be. But I’m excited to tread the sunroom carpet or perhaps I’ll sing in the greenhouse surrounded by my burgeoning crops? Wherever I am I hope you’ll join me. I’ll only do a short 6 or 7 song set as I know it’s difficult keeping people’s attention online. I’ll be there anyway …

I was very excited to view the efforts of the Artful Dodgers on Thursday this week. They are a small group of oil painting artists under the fabulous tutelage of Anna Clucas. My very dear friend Claire Ormerod, whom I’ve been close friends with since we were 11, is an Artful Dodger herself and she suggested the group might be interested in using The Children Of The Sea to create some imagery I could use in the book. We spoke to Anna and she agreed. So I visited them all one Thursday in January at the IOM College where their Thursday morning class takes place. I gave everyone access to digital copies of the songs and they set to putting brush and oil paint to paper.

Fast forward a few months et voila there are now some amazing pieces of art all inspired by my wee songs! It’s all very exciting and I’m absolutely certain that many of the images will find their way into the book. The only reason everything won’t be used is that several songs have inspired several pieces each and there won’t be enough space in the book to place each of the images. Choosing which work best within the design of the book is a wonderful problem to have. With their permission I’ll share all the artwork on the website once we’re ready to publish. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am by everything they’ve created. Thank you Artful Dodgers!

Instead of a special recording for the Blogpost this month I’ve decided to share a demo of a song I co-wrote with the amazing L.A. musician/producer/songer/songwriter Rob Laufer back in 2015. We wrote a handful of songs around the time but never found a place for them. Maybe one day they’ll find their time to shine? You never know. Hope you enjoy this quirky wee ditty:

Ok gorgeous Blogpost reader of mine ❤️ thanks as always for stopping by to see what's been going on on the tiny isle and in my small but lovely existence. I trust you are well and keeping yourself as upbeat as possible. You matter to me.

Till next month mon amie 🥰 stay well and keep rising above the turbulence!

With immense love x Christine x 🙏❤️🙏 x

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