Wednesday, 25 November 2009


I have been thinking today of all my blogger acquaintances in the USA, and all the blogs I follow. This is for you.

"Light a candle
Kindle a Flame
Eat and enjoy
a festive meal
With family
or friends
Peace and Love"

Thankyou for all the pleasure you bring me, and for sharing your lives. May your day tomorrow be joyful.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Blowing My Own Trumpet

a fabric angel with trumpet and banner, cut from printed muslin and applied to a scrap of furnishing fabric

Sometimes such serendipity occurs in my life that I have to stop and take a deep breath - just in case such a moment does not come my way again. What with the de-cluttering (to make room for more clutter! - to create space for personal uninterrupted art); making a fabric keepsake and actually completing it, on time; and the long dark evenings when I can plan the changes needed in the garden to meet my 2010 deadlines: there is hardly time to take stock let alone breathe.

Serendipity this time crept up on me unawares. Ten years after 'retiring' our joint publishing business - and deciding one month later to pursue a new, freelance, writing career, I am thrilled to have three articles appearing in different magazines in one month; all just published in December issues. As any writer will I am sure confirm, it's not easy, launching yourself as a writer: you have to be creative and simultaneously 'sell yourself', wear two hats. It was only as each magazine dropped into the letter box that I realised the significance: three in one month. 

I loved working on them all, and Ray took all the accompanying photos: 'Ludlow & The Shropshire Hills - a Taste of the Good Life' for 'Practical Caravan' magazine; a short review of the edible garden competition at Malvern in 'Kitchen Garden' and a four-page review in 'Grow it!' of all the aspects of productive vegetable growing which so caught my fancy at the same RHS Malvern Autumn Show (a celebration of nature's harvest). 

the first page of my four-page review on the the RHS Malvern Autumm Show which has just been published in the December issue of  'Grow it!' magazine. Click on the image to see it at a larger size.

Housework, Gardening, Travel, Writing and Art-Making often collide, with each clamouring for attention, not to mention family, and my dear husband without whom my life would stumble. I so often watch Raymond painstakingly making immaculate dovetails in the exquisite furniture he makes in his own spare time, and trust that somehow I likewise can harmonise my own activities. Then there just might be more moments of serendipity. "The trumpet shall sound!" - again - but right now I have the excitement of combining art and writing: a ten-month project making a hand-made garden journal and subsequently writing an article to encourage readers to create their own. Follow its story in my other blog, Journaling the Journal; it begins in my post of Saturday 21st November.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Throwing away the past

It was Friday 13th - I had decided to take a day off work which was just as well for it turned out to be a hellish day. Why? Why should the 13th falling on a Friday be considered unlucky? From whence has such a superstition arisen? (I 'Googled' it later; enough details to form a whole post on its own). It has never caused me a problem before, though I usually mentally cross my fingers, just in case!

Anyway, this particular Friday, just gone, was certainly different. For a start I announced that I would spend three days 'throwing out the past', starting with the contents of the chest of drawers that holds  my clothes. Drawers stuffed so full I can never find the shirt I want or the trousers (pants). This is because I will not throw things away, will not discard.

At this point, R. decides that throwing out is a GOOD IDEA and opts for the boiler room, which houses two central-heating boilers: one enormous - you can just squeeze past it -  in which we recycle wood obtained for next to nothing from the junk yard, the other an oil-fired back-up. The room is so small there is hardly room to move but nevertheless it is also full of junk. Well not actually junk, but all manner of useful forgotten properties.

a load of wood like this can be obtained for a fiver

Row no. 1 - R. is throwing 'my' stuff into the skip! How dare he decide what I want or don't want. It's raining and I berate him; 'my stiff' is getting wet! So he dumps everything else onto the hall floor all covered in boiler ash, where we are sure to fall over it. Another sorting job, as if one was not enough. Most of it IS junk; I retrieve what isn't - a heater, empty egg boxes in which to sell my surplus hens' eggs, a log basket in which I could / will store onions, one walking boot (where is the other?); the rest is binned or put out for recycling (wellies that leak, bin them;  a mountain of old newspapers).

I go back upstairs to sort clothes. 'Sorting' in our household usually means looking at things, then re-arranging and stashing away somewhere else. Why is it so hard to discard the past? I steel myself this time. I will no longer keep thread-bare T-shirts just because thy are comfortable, or trousers size 10 that haven't fitted for years, or shoes that pinch my arthritic toes. I finish with a pile on the floor for the recycling / charity shop, and a pile on the bed which I divide into 'best' (hardly ever worn), 'everyday' and 'garden/building' - the largest pile and distinctly scruffy.

Now I have to sort the hanging rail on the upper landing - dresses, coats and jackets I will never wear again but so hard to say goodbye to; it feels as if I am throwing my life away.

The jacket doesn't fit now, but I made it and can't decide what to do with it  - though I do still use snippets of left-over fabric; can't bear to part with fabric either!

Row no 2 - I can't recall what that was about. I made scones for R's tea; he sat reading whilst I journaled (I have begun a new fabric book and ideas are bursting forth). Peace returned, for who could argue over cream tea by the fireside? By the end of the weekend, the recycling bin was full, clothes are now neatly folded and put away, and the car waits with a load of stuff to take to the charity shop. I have dusted and washed and cleaned and am BORED STIFF. (Oh, and the next Friday 13th will be in August 2010 and May 2011, then on three occasions in 2012). 

Though I say it myself, the scones, cream and home-made strawberry jam were good. Books in the background were positioned to hide more 'to-be-sorted' clutter. It's never-ending - result of living in one place for so long (40 years) and hoarding.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Where have all the poppies gone?

I will be poppy-less on Armistice Day. The poppy lady did not call this year, selling the bright red remembrance of wars long past, and ones still claiming lives. Nor when I went into town this morning were the usual flower sellers there; no tin into which to place a donation, a personal 'thankyou'. Something is very wrong here.

I trawled my photo files for poppies to post; the first I found, amethyst-tinged and silky, paled into insignificance - and yet it is an 'Opium Poppy' far from the fields of Afghanistan where trauma must run rife amongst the brave soldiers.

And then I found this photo taken last year in France - fields of poppies though not in Flanders Fields. They seemed curiously orange, and so I looked at more shots in the 'Poppy' folder and found one of my Shirley poppies blowing in the garden a few years back. So red, the brightest of them.

And whilst I was searching, it brought to mind a poem I wrote in anger last week, hearing of the death of six soldiers in a single day, out there near what I guess may be eastern opium poppy fields (correct me, please, if I am wrong). I was going to post that poem on the day I wrote it, but it coincided with an horrific and unnecessary killing in the USA; I thought it would be insensitive of me to post about my anger on such a day.

And so I offer it now; for tomorrow, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember, stand in silence for two whole minutes and give thanks for all who sacrifice their lives for a more stable and peaceful world.

(One should never write in anger, and these words show that emotion overtook skill. I apologise.)

I realised that all my poppy photos were actually taken to create a collage, transferred to fabric and stitched, with the shapes of the seedheads standing proud. Alas, these too are the double version of the 'Opium Poppy', grown in our garden not for drugs but to utilise in works of art, the seedheads dried for decoration. Every object seems to have multiple uses, and words a double meaning.

Monday, 2 November 2009

November, Blogging Friends and a Birthday Gift

"Only a single leaf left * on our tree on the Green * as the rain beats hard  against the window * and the wind howls. * Now the bare tree, * all its Autumn glory gone, * enters the deep sleep  of winter, * and we wish we could, too. * No chance!"

I normally associate November with cold, freezing fog - and it may well come to that - but as of this moment, I am in buoyant mood, looking forward to a raft of activities, and back over the last two weeks of pure holiday (the first for many years). Week one, on the idyllic Shropshire/Welsh border .....

along the upper reaches of the River Teme - Wales to the right of the bridge, and to the left, England (Shropshire)

..... and week two, messing around at home. with the added treat of meeting a blogging friend. I hope that dear Cocoa & Blankets, Mr B and sweet, Sweet P enjoyed meeting us as much as we loved greeting them in our chaotic home.

Raymond slices bread for my lovely blog friends

The previous few days I surprised myself by actually completing a stitched gift for the birthday of one of our grand-daughters. This is just one of the pages I made of a little keepsake; and for those who have become used to my 'Poetry Monday' postings, it incorporates one of the poems I wrote for darling eleven-year old K. The rest of this keepsake will appear later this week on my journaling blog.
Click on the photo above if you cannot read the text at this size

And now back to work, house and garden improvements and some small measure of personal 'creativity', which began by searching for some old fabric in the roof-space to edge the pages of my next fabric book.