Old-Fashioned Fruitcake

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a change or two of late, on or about this blog. I decided, while taking an unpacking-holiday (if such a thing can exist) to spruce the place up a bit. Take it out and beat it like an old carpet, that sort of thing.

I ended up changing the featured image, the about page, my gravatar and the subtitle. (I stopped short at changing my name. One can have too much of a good thing.) Let us review the changes one by one.

First I changed the featured image to Tea Party by Louis Moeller. I don’t know who these old ladies are, but by golly they look like they’re having a grand old time. I feel like clapping on my doily cap and pulling up a chair.


Then I changed my gravatar from the reading jester to this smiley old lady, knitting. I want to be like her when I grow up, with white hair and a gentle smile and plenty of knitting. Also cats (not shown). Knitting and cats are easily come by; a smile takes only a moment; but white hair and wrinkles you have to earn.

I also rewrote the About page, if you’re interested in taking a look at that. It is still about me, though. Sorry to disappoint those of you who thought it might be about cooling systems for nuclear reactors, or how to breed newts. (Please do not try breeding newts in a nuclear reactor. The last thing we need is an increase in the world population of giant radioactive newts.)

Japanese fire belly newtAnd there’s a change to the subtitle: Old-Fashioned Fruitcake. I am, after all, an unashamedly old-fashioned person, a traitor to my time. And I am – I defy anyone to disprove it – a fruitcake. Nutty as a fruitcake, anyway. Although being an old-fashioned fruitcake, I can’t keep currant. (I am so sorry. I would like to say this will not happen again, but we both know it will.)

Yes, the Eccentric Ethic and Æsthetic is no more – although I can assure you there will still be plenty of Ethics, Æsthetics and Eccentricity scudding about the place. Just… fruitier. And, as the label suggests, old-fashioned. There will be LOLs (both kinds – laughs out loud and little old ladies); there will be handwork, housework and headwear; stationery and simplicity; tea and old technologies.

Otto Goldmann Eine gesellige Runde 1887Think of this, if you would be so good, as a non-stop tea-party to which you are always welcome to drop in for a cuppa, a chat, and a good laugh. There may even be scones, and, when the season is right, jam – but please don’t eat the Fruitcake!

Visual Inspiration

I used to have a scrapbook when I was little.

It was actually half a scrapbook, some excessively sensible parent having decided that a scrapbook as large as the child could prove problematic. (Visions of their little darling pasted flat between the covers?)

Big book

Or possibly the number of children involved exceeded the number of scrapbooks. Sharing a scrapbook is best done only with someone who has the same tastes as you; and small children are not noted for their predilection for sharing in any case.

Once I got over the trauma of seeing such an Atlas among scrapbooks (hur hur, sorry…) cut in half, I quite enjoyed the thing. I have vague memories of gluing pictures in to the scrapbook with my father (the gluing happened with my father, not to him.) That was more than twenty years ago, so I can be forgiven for vagueness of memory, I think.

The point, however, is that I enjoyed scrapbooking – the proper old fashioned sort with gluepot and scissors, none of this fancy sticker-studded deckle-edged album stuff you get these days. Proper old-school cut and paste.


So I was quite pleased when the Artist’s Way chapter for May (details to follow) suggested – nay, encouraged – the starting of a scrapbook with images that inspire, encourage, and remind you of the life you want to be living.

In my case, this includes straw bale houses, nice writing spaces, clothes I like the look of, and my own kind of LOL: Little Old Ladies.

Little old lady reading in the park - Orton effect

In a magazine I found a marvellous LOL perched on top of a woodstove knitting, but she looked so comfortable I decided to leave her there. For now.

I’m not entirely sure where the LOLs sprang from, but possibly it has to do with the discovery of my first white hairs and the realisation that what I want to be when I grow up is, in fact, a little old lady.

Visual inspiration comes up a lot in writing, especially for those writers who are visually oriented.

Some have photos of their ideal ‘cast’ to hand while they write, others collect images that evoke the tone or mood they’re going for in their WIP.

The Beaten Path

Some have images more related to writing itself than to the thing they’re writing – an aspirational picture of where they’d like their writing life to be going, or an image of someone or something that inspires or encourages them to keep going.


Some have images of their setting – the more artistic being able to create their own, the rest of us cadging off others – or from the real world. This, for example – ideal fairytale castle for the more realistic sort of kingdom (none of that Neuschwanstein insanity here, thankee kindly):

Fairy tale castle

One writer I’ve heard tell of has a mock-up of the cover of his WIP above his desk so he can see what he’s pushing for.

What about you?
Do you use visual inspiration?
Digital, pasted in a book, stuck on a wall or to the fridge? And do you hunt & gather or grow your own?