Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Year With Beatrix Potter & Friends - May

Folks, you'll be glad to know Jemima has hatched her four ducklings and is ready to begin our tour of the Lake District.

I've provided our map once again just in case Jemima gets sidetracked, as she so often does.  She'll be taking us down the path from Hill Top, turning left onto to the main road, then a right up Stones Lane past Belle Green and Castle Cottage to Oatmeal Crag. . . .

Jemima informs me the reason we are going up Stones Lane to Oatmeal Crag is because this is where Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock live.  It was a special place for Beatrix.  She first discovered it on her first holiday at Lakefield (later called Ees Wyke and now an Inn) in 1896.  In her journal she wrote of sitting on Oatmeal Crag where she imagined that "a myriad of fairy fungi are singing, bobbing and dancing in the grass, laughing and clapping their hands."  Later she would own the surrounding landscape as well as Moss Eccles Tarn where her husband, William Heelis, kept a rowing boat so he could fish in the tarn. . . .
photo credit:  Peter Rabbit on Twitter
Beatrix wrote The Tale of Mr. Tod in 1911.  It begins, "I have made many books about well-behaved people.  Now, for a change, I am going to make a story about two disagreeable people, called Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod."  Mr. Tod, you will recall, first encountered Jemima in our February story when he duped her into laying her eggs in his shed and then invited her for dinner. . . .

Jemima says she's ready.  Do you have your hiking boots on?

as told by Jemima Puddle-Duck

Pit pat, paddle pat! Pit pat, waddle pat!  Quack!  Quack!

I met Mr. Tod a while back.  He seemed like a very nice gentleman to me, and I am quite sorry that I have lost his company…..although Kep, the collie, assures me I am better off.  I will take you down Stones Lane up to Oatmeal Crag to show you one of Mr. Tod’s houses.  He has several I have been told.  Tommy Brock, a badger of bad repute, apparently took up abode in Mr. Tod’s house, causing quite a fight.  But I shall begin my story at the house of Benjamin and Flopsy Bunny.

It happened that Flopsy had left her 7 bunnies in care of old Mr. Benjamin Bouncer, her father-in-law, when Tommy Brock stopped by.  
This was his first mistake.  The second mistake was his fell asleep. 

Because this is when Tommy Brock gathered up the bunnies and put them in a sack! 

When Flopsy arrived home she immediately smelled Badger and ran to the basket only to find her bunnies were gone.  She was very angry with her father-in-law.  Meanwhile, Benjamin headed off to look for the bunnies.
Along the way Benjamin came upon his cousin, Peter Rabbit, who told him he’d seen Tommy Brock carrying a sack. 
So Peter joined Benjamin in his search.
When they got to Mr. Tod’s house they peered into the bedroom window.  They could hear someone snoring, but it was too dark to see who was in the bed.  Peter whispered, “He has gone to bed in his boots.”
Then they went around to the kitchen window and peered in.  They could hear noises coming from the brick oven.  The bunnies were alive! 
They tried all the doors and windows but could not get in so they began to dig a tunnel under the kitchen.  Then they heard Mr. Tod approaching.
Mr. Tod was furious to find Tommy Brock in his house and in his bed, no less.
So he devised a plan to dump a pail of water on his head.
But Tommy was all the wiser to the plan and slipped out of bed while Mr. Tod was outside rigging up the rope.
Mr. Tod heard the pail drop but he heard no scream.  He thought he must have killed the badger.
When Mr. Tod discovered Tommy Brock had slipped away he found him in the kitchen.
Soon a struggle ensued. 
When Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock rolled out into the yard, Benjamin and Peter rushed in and saved the bunnies!

Thank you, Jemima!  For the entire story you can read it HERE or watch it. . . .

If you are interested in the background and commentary on the story, go HERE.

Oatmeal Crag is known for the fairies that live there.  Beatrix Potter wrote in her journal:  

"I think one of my pleasantest memories of Esthwaite is sitting on Oatmeal Crag on a Sunday afternon, where there is a sort of table of rock with a dip, with the lane and fields and oak copse like a trough below my feet, and all the little tiny fungus people singing and bobbing and dancing in the grass and under the leaves all down below, like the whistling that some people cannot hear of stay mice and bats, and I sitting up above and knowing something about them.  I cannot tell what possesses me with the fancy that they laugh and clap their hands, especially the little ones that grow in troops and rings amongst dead leaves in the woods.  I suppose it is the fairy rings, the myriads of fairy fungi that start into life in autumn woods.  I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child.  What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense, to fear no longer the terror that flieth by night, yet to feel truly and understand a little, a very little, of the story of life."

If you half-believe in fairies, too, you might want to rent this delightful British movie, "Fairytale: A True Story" on YouTube. . . .

These are my practice drawings this month. . . .

I decided to paint this Beatrix Potter illustration of Mr. Tod walking through the green woods. . . .

First I drew it (and forgot to take my photo before I started painting!). . . .

One of the things I learned in my on-line Craftsy watercolor class is how to use a gum eraser to pull up some of the graphite from my sketch.  As you will see, the pencil lines of the trees will not show after I paint them.  The other thing I've learned is how to make a color chart by mixing 6 pigments to get all these colors.  Here are the various colors created by combining the last color to the first color on each line, adding a little more each time. . . .
This way I can create any color I want.

This is my version of Mr. Tod walking through the green woods. . . .

The lesson learned this month. . . . .

"Going to bed in one's shoes and dirty clothes is a slovenly habit.  If you insist on wearing boots in bed, at least be sure to sleep between your own sheets.  No doubt the smelly, snoring Tommy Brock will compound the insult by neglecting to wash Mr. Tod's blanket and make the bed when he awakes."

.•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•
Take Joy!


  1. Cathy a wonderful endearing post. Your sketches this month are amazing and I was impressed with your Mr Fox. Take care.

    1. Thank you! I'm always a little nervous about what Brits think of my meddling with their beloved Beatrix Potter! 😅

  2. A heart warming post. And aren't we thankful for BP's amazing imagination. That comes through in the videos that show her beginning to write a story. Your fox is really good--and all your sketches, and I enjoyed seeing your color chart. Look forward to your next post!

    1. Thank you, Dotsie. I loved doing the color chart. I'm realizing that the multitude of colors that watercolor allows is what draws me to the medium. Now, if I can just learn how to get them on the paper in a pleasing way!

  3. Your drawings are always so impressive, and I love your watercolour of the fox! Craftsy classes are wonderful for learning new things, whether it's drawing, painting, sewing or knitting. I've even done a class on cooking with pressure cooker!

    1. Thank you, Kristie. My husband put me on to Craftsy because he's been taking some of their baking classes. I love that I can buy them when they are on sale and then do them later. I have 2 classes waiting for me after I finish the first one.

  4. Sweet Cathy, This is all JOY!!! :-)
    Love you dearly!! XX OO Linnie

    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! ❤️

  5. Cathy, your Mr Tod is terrific! You really captured the expression on his veddy proper English face! :>) And aren't gum erasers the handiest things too? No kidding, but I love how they rub off - and not the paper! So much better for the artwork, whatever it is. I never knew about them until I took a university course in calligraphy, back in my 20s. I certainly wished I'd been introduced to them when I was in school, but then I never took much in the way of art. I graduated high school with 3 majors - music, French and home ec - so there wasn't much time for art. And now with every post you do on your art and the world of Beatrix Potter etc, I wish I had more of a background in drawing and painting. I should check out some of those Craftsy classes. I never even heard of Craftsy before you mentioned it here. They certainly have a wide "menu" of classes. And they have sales too! Even better. Can't wait to see what you do "Beatrix-wise" next month? PS - I love to bake too, though I've never taken classes. It's the most delicious way one can be creative, IMO - LOL. Does Ken have any preferences - such as quick breads over yeast breads etc? Just wondering...

    1. Thank you, Janet. I hope you will take a look at the Craftsy classes. You can go at your own pace, rewatch as much as you want, even ask the teacher questions. Plus, I like the closeups of how the teacher is using her paintbrush. Ken prefers yeast bread baking, from rolls/breads to desserts.

  6. Your Beatrix Potter posts always delight the child in me, Cathy. Your Mr. Tod is a handsome rendition--how far you have come! We assume Tommy Brock raided our baby bunnies in their sweet nest. He did not take them away, but left them alone on the ground. Watching nature can be heartbreaking at times.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my musings and drawings! I'm sorry to hear about your bunnies! Are they OK? We had a nest of bunnies a couple years ago that Gabriel alerted me to. I wouldn't let him go in the front yard after that. When we came home from our vacation the nest was empty. I didn't think they were old enough to leave it yet. I hope the mother had moved them. I know they don't stay at the nest so that prey don't find it because of her. She only returns twice a day to feed them.

    2. Sadly the baby bunnies were not alive. So tiny and naked, but well formed with little ears. The nest was in a flower bed about a foot away from the poor things. We wondered if maybe something happened to the mother and they were left alone. Grayden buried the five babies. The nest is still there and full of the mother's fur.

    3. Martha Ellen, that must have been a very sad sight to see.

    4. Oh Dear! Poor little buns. Mothers are sometimes very careless with their young, it seems those bunnies just wandered from the nest and had no one to warm them. I found a 1 day old duckling alone in the grass today, the mother duck had completely forgotten about it and waddled back to her nest. Good thing I found the baby and placed her back with mom. I so admire the way Beatrix's mixed a sense of humor along with the reality of what animal behavior truly is. She never sugar coated the true nature of Mr Todd or Mr Brock. You are doing well with your painting!

  7. Hi Cathy, this was such a delightful story to read. My little grandson was here yesterday and he too enjoyed seeing all the pictures as I read Beatrice Potter to him regularly. Your drawings are delightful and your painting of Mr. Fox is perfect. I hope you have a wonderful day. Pat xx

    1. Thank you, Pat. I'm delighted to know your little grandson enjoyed it! If you're familiar with The Tale of Mr. Tod you will have noticed my version is rated "G". Her version should be rated PG-13 in my opinion! It's the scene where Flopsy confronts her father-in-law for having lost her babies.


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