Hello friends, and welcome.

What you are expecting, from “at home, lettering?”

I ‘ve deliberately not used an image that might give you a clue. Instead I have used an image that could have accompanied a session called ‘at home, messing about’. Perhaps that’s an idea for a future lesson because – like you perhaps? – I have spent time (out of the Coronapause?) doing Just That, messing about.

However I have just taken a few pictures, on my bumpy old phone – and laboriously transferred them to my aged laptop, to upload them here.

Yes, sending out these ‘writing our way whole at home’ posts is a labour of love. I don’t deny that it comes with its costs. I hope that it brings benefits to each of you, just like it does for me.

I really enjoy the connection that I share with many of you, on and off the page.

So, to start off today, let’s flow out some of our expectations, using the letters of our own handwriting in our ThoughtBooks:

I’d recommend you to start (and finish) Brain Dump before you go on any further. Hey you, I saw you peeping!

Brain dump

If something fell through my letterbox just now, I’d like it to be from …

If I chose to write a letter tomorrow, it would be to …

Instead of writing letters I …

If I chose one letter of the alphabet to play with today, it might be …

If I wanted to toy with a particular alphabet, I would choose …

Rather than a ‘Woman of Letters’ I want to be …

The first letter of today’s Magic Word is …

So, have any of these Brain Prompts awakened any sleeping Muses? Tell me what made the [pencil] move for you? (Thanks, Ernest Hemingway.)

And maybe set an intention to share a letter email about it …

frame an intention box


Hatfield Girls’ Grammar School: 1967. Our art teacher John Ewing set my class an exercise to illustrate an letter with something for which that symbol was the initial. Conveniently there were 25 of us in 3W, and I don’t think anybody was allocated X (for X-ray?). And we were using the standard English alphabet.

When I was given ‘O’, you might have expected I would plump for “orange”, but at that time in my life I didn’t enjoy oranges and I didn’t like the colour (until – briefly – in the 1970s) , either. Already inclined to admit to my best friend Pauline that “I might become a bit herby when I grow up”, I chose something less Mediterranean, more local: the English Oak.

And as I remember, the finished image looked rather like this:

O is for Oak – a school artwork revisited Image © Kathy McVittie 2020

(and rather neater), with neat calligraphy in gold ink for the script “is for oak” that emerged from the mauve ‘O’, with its garland of bronze-green leaves. (I joined the National Trust, with its iconic acorn, a long five years later.)

I had remembered this, from all those years ago, and yet had made no attempt to revisit it until recently, when I was being re-introduced to the Ogham Alphabet of Trees by Jason and Nicola from The Way of the Buzzard.

“If I was a tree, which one would I be?” is a question I have asked myself – and others – many times. And I have variously identified with – or been guided by – the attributes of Willow, Silver Birch, Ash, and (lately) Elder.

“If I was a tree, which one would I be?” … Go, write! …

But more recently, I have grown towards the teachings and characteristics of Oak. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I took the part of Oak King at a ceremony on Gog Magog Downs, last Winter Solstice?

And now, as the days grow inexorably shorter again towards December, I have passed my crown – though not my strength – to the Holly King. Until we meet again in a battle of words, next winter.

To pick up another GoldenThread today, you may like to doodle some words – not necessarily tree-related words – around the symbol of a letter. They don’t have to contain that letter, and they can.

Lettering in action: a letter B written during a Movement Meditation class online with Ruth Hirst, my 5 Rhythms Teacher

Golden ThreadWork

  • Choose a letter. If you want some guidance, go for the fourth letter of the name of your Secret Lover, or the Initial Letter of the name of your first pet. Or point at random to a page of text, dip into a bag of Scrabble tiles… you get the idea.
  • Draw your letter on a big piece of paper, and do your own version of the ‘O is for Oak’ that I first explored half a century ago.
  • If you want to turn your letter (say, ‘X’) into the header of a list – maybe a list of all the Xwords that pop into your mental dictionary – that is a good project, especially for the less-than-frequently-used letters.
  • If you want to have your letter at the centre of the page, then you can radiate out from it any words or phrases that emerge from its strong earthing.
  • Words or phrases don’t have to START with the letter. For example’ V’ sits in the middle of CoVid, as well as DaVid and neVer and loVer and helps within aVocet and aVocado.
  • And what you do with these derived words and phrases is up to you! You may want then to lead you into rhyme, which may in turn draw out of you some doggerel or more poetic verse.
  • O is also for Ox. You might like to play with words that rhyme with Ox. Which reminds me to ask you whether you have encountered Chris Packham, the naturalist and environmental activist, in his passionate bid to reverse the UK government’s slaying of ancient woodlands in the current path of the HS2 rail development?
  • Fantastic Mr Fox, the book by Roald Dahl, is associated with Jones’ Hill Wood, one of those irreplaceable woodlands. So please, don’t hesitate to support Chris Packham’s cause, which is being re-examined by the Court of Appeal on 8 July.
  • You could even write a letter to your local MP.

(And I will try to avoid getting political on these pages in future. Though I intend to publish a Fox-themed blog – so come back soon.)

Finally, before we finish off with our “Gratefuls” (which could each be prompted by themes sharing a letter? ~ cake/ ~ calmness/ ~ Cambsdance ),

You might like to think about the first things you wrote in BrainDump today, and write, address, stamp, and send a letter to a real person (and that includes yourself, and also me).

If you email me confidentially about this practice (via the Comments section, which I moderate) I will even send you my mailing address.

I don’t promise to reply instantly nor at great length, but my friends say I can be trusted to respond.

Appreciation for the Alphabet

Today I am grateful for:




Further Resources

My (not very accurate) quotation from Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) is explained entertainingly here. The article also includes some surprising pictures of polydactyl cats, and some of Hemingway’s guiding principles in writing, which are explored more fully in this article from Wikipedia.

I have mentioned the Ogham Alphabet (in which 20 trees are named), and our English Alphabet of 26 characters. Can you think of any other alphabets, and how many symbols they contain?

(Clue to one answer: why are they called alphabets?)

(Clue to a different answer: in which Quebec Hotel did Romeo meet Juliet last November?)