Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First of all I must mention a blog auction that is going on this week at Hidden Haven Homestead run by Peggy, please pop over to her site and see what is going on, perhaps you can donate goods or put in a bid for some items. It is all in aid of family that Peggy knows who are really going through some hard times. Go on over and have a look, she explains it all a lot better than I can.

We have just had our last public holiday until Christmas, so now I have drawn a line under Summer. Unfortunately, the weather has been dreadful over the weekend, but I put not being able to go into the garden to good use and set upon a marathon decluttering and sorting blitz. I have made piles, sub-piles, clipped and saved, made more piles, ripped up and thrown out until I was a totally dizzy Daisy Lupin, spinning from craft table to piles like a whirling dervish. Had to end the night with a lovely large glass of red wine, to recover my energy [hee hee]. I am just so pleased with myself and the amount I have done. Of course, now I have started doing a lot more collage means I have to think extra hard whether to throw things out or not, 'Would they be useful for collage or not, I wonder?' I kept asking myself, but even though I kept a lot of 'maybe useful' I also had a thorough sort. I feel I had to do this because by October I hope to be ensconsed in the spare room. Also I seem to have an eruption of creativity at the moment, like a giant wave swelling within ready to pour out and crash on the beach. I am in a flustered, crazy, estactic mayhem of creating, so better keep on going whilst I am inspired, it might not last. I have also, heard that my order of toy fillings will be arriving within a few days, so then it will be upward and onward with the Daisy family. Daisy Fae, herself will be making her blog debut, hopefully by the end of the week when my films are returned.

These two photographs, above right and above, are how my sweetpeas finally ended up, I was worried as they were very slow to grow, and I thought they were not going to amount to much this year. In the end they managed to have a short but colourful
blooming season. I haven't seen the swallows that live in the village for a few days, I wonder if they have set off for warmer climes? They seem to have left earlier this year, I hope this is not a portent of bad weather in September. Apart from that, I find it strange that I have missed them going, I usually watch them lined up on the telegraph poles, nudging each other and chattering about their journey, some of them getting over excited, probably the first timers,having a quick fly round, before their parents tweet for them to get back into line and behave themselves.

It's been a strange summer really, both weather wise and in plant and animal behaviour, I do think it must be the consequences of global warming. I know most people do their bit to try to help the environment, none of us are perfect, but even sorting out waste is step in the right direction. I, honestly, believe it is the governments of some countries that are being negligent in not taking being green seriously enough, but that is down to the usual offenders, it is big businesses that call the shots, and it is not always in their interests to be green. I digress though, it was the summer I was talking about, all my plants seemed to be blooming on the wrong dates and plants that usually flowered at the same time didn't seem to partner each other this year. I think, should I be taking this in consideration when planning next year's garden or will I just have to accept variations in flowering?

It is officially Autumn now according to my tiny world, so watch out for a brilliant low hung orange harvest moon in a few days, if the sky is clear. I always get a huge energy buzz at this time of year. I think I let things slide in the summer and try to live in the garden as much as possible.

Autumn means, first and foremost, cleaning rooms, organising curtains and cushions, getting the throws back out of the linen chest, lots of scented candles and insence. A pile of new to me books ready to read on the low drawered chest in front of my chair, winter crocheting or needlework to do while watching some dvds I have saved from the summer sales, especially the boxed set of Audrey Hepburn films, that I found in HMV for £12.00. Nights getting dark earlier closing the curtains lighting the lamps and candles and enjoying everything I mentioned in the last sentence. Adding drinking chocolate, back to my shopping list and beginning to buy in ingredients for christmas cakes, puds, etc, making warming soups and casseroles. Finally being frantically but happily busy during the day, designing and making artwork and crafts to sell at Christmas events. That's what Autumn means to me, what does Autumn mean to you?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - The Monster

Long, long, long ago when everything was fresh and new and man had just begun to be able to speak, there was a time of great cold and, as a consequence, great famine. Small tribal groups hunkered down in caves around fires and did their best to exist by hunting anything that was worth eating. Many died, but the more advanced tribes found ways to survive and it was the hairier not quite upright groups that suffered most of the loses. One of these groups, that still had not properly found their voices came across a fire dwelling cave group and saw that they seemed to have food and warmth. The leader of the semi-upright beings, was slightly more advanced than the rest of his group and he had cunning too. He communicated to his group and told them that if they attacked and killed the smaller cave dwelling group they would be able to snatch what food they had. They attacked and overcame the tribe with the cave.

Way out in space in the Milky Way, an explosion occurred. A small hard crystalline lump appeared and within it was something receptive to thoughts.

The huntsman had a magnificent animal pelt that he worked on until it was cured and he had a wonderful hide that he could wear when he was cold or could cover him whilst he slept. He was the tribe's best hunter and all admired his skill and the skin he had prepared. One of the lesser huntsman of the tribe, felt angry everytime he saw the skin. He coveted it, he wished it was his to keep him warm and he wanted the admiring glances that the other huntsman receiced. He thought about it often and imagined himself wearing it and turning up at another tribe proud in his skin carrying a carcass he would offer to them in return for letting him join their group. They would take a look at his magnificent pelt and realise his worth as a hunter. One night it all became too much, in the dead of night, he brought down a large stone on the head of the huntsman whilst he slept, then he rolled up the skin and disappeared into the night.

The mass in space had grown, it was hard and glittered and the kernel receptive to thoughts felt happy and stronger.

A king in the sandy desert wished to build a vast edifice that would celebrate his greatness. He spoke to his highest court officer and told him his ideas and demanded that the matter be acted upon immediately. Builders rushed to the Chief Court Officer's side producing plans for a vast structure. 'How will we be able to build such a monument in the King's life time?', he thought to himself. He mulled this problem over and needed to find a solution as the King was becoming impatient and it did not do to upset the King. Out of nowhere an idea burst into his head. An army could be sent into the next country and capture many strong men and bring them back in chains to work on the edifice. He went to the King, who immediately told the Head of the Army to arrange this invasion. The invasion was successful and the building work began.

The mass was becoming vast, the kernel was becoming more powerful and realised it could send out waves of energy containing thoughts.

A wounded soldier limped along a dusty road, he had been left for dead on the battlefield, his horse nowhere to be seen. In the distance he could see a village,did he dare approach it, he never got to make a choice. He collapsed at the side of the road. A man with a donkey came across him, picked him up and put him over the beast and led it into the village. The soldier awoke, he was lying on a pallet his wound dressed. A young man holding jars of healing salve accompanied by a mullah in his flowing robes approached him. The soldier stiffened, but the young man smiled at him and began to change the dressing on his wound as the mullah placidly watched and then indicated to a second boy who had entered to help the soldier eat from the steaming bowl.

In space the mass shrunk slightly and at the kernel a voice howled in pain. It felt angry and frustrated. Goodness was not beneficial to it.

Much time past, on the planet below there were huge wars, pestilence famine, people committed cruelties towards each other and lost respect for each other. Kindnesses were done, but as time passed there was more and more greed and jealousy. People became intolerant of other people's beliefs and ideas and money came to mean power. Forests were cut down, seas were polluted and terrible weapons were invented. Within this morass of anger and hatred occasional bright lights shone but never strong enough to diminish the irrationality of the most important people's anger, subterfuge and trickery. It was time for these solitary flames to stand together and condemn the greed and waste before the planet ended by dying.

In space there now hung this vast mass of bloated gaseous material that moved towards earth, its voice boomed out louder at every act of meanness, it gibbered in its insanity 'I am the monster, I am your worst nightmare and I am coming to get you'.

[Please excuse any inaccuracies regarding space in the above modern day fairytale, I just needed the vastness space to set the idea.]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I had such a lovely day yesterday. It all started in the morning when I was reading my emails, I had commented on a blogging friends site about her wonderful drawings, and I received a lovely email in return. This email made me start thinking, although I have made collages and applique and sewn items, I haven't seriously drawn since I left art college. When I was designing theatrical costumes, of course, I drew the designs but over the years I seem to have convinced myself that I wouldn't be good enough to draw anymore. LIke a bolt of lightning I suddenly realised, it didn't have to be wonderful right away, I should just let go and do it. I did everything I had to do in the morning in a sort of mad fever and finally sat down in the afternoon and made myself put something down on a sheet of paper. Once I had made a couple of marks on the sheet, and remembered to let go of my breath and breathe again, there was no stopping me. I finished a drawing using felt tips and watercolour pencils. The drawing represents what I hope to achieve by going back to pens and paper. I know it's not fantastic, but I felt I just had to post it as I feel I have overcome some sort of mind barrier that I had put up. Oh, and by the way, of course, I had to add a sprinkling of glitter to it. It was a perfect afternoon, sitting totally absorbed in my work, Joni Mitchell blaring away on the stereo.

After I had finished my drawing, I started sorting out one of the many boxes of photographs, clippings, articles, old theatre programme and art gallery catalogues, that I am determined to organise. I came across some photographs of a couple of the many theatrical costumes and scenery designs I had made. The productions were all amateur productions, but very interesting ones. The first three photographs are from a production of Alice, which was a ballet combining elements of Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass with interludes of the life of Victorian Children. The characters from Alice all wore lyrca catsuits on which I actually painted on the costume, such as a tailcoat for the mad hatter. This was to make everything look like comic book illustrations, I designed all the scenery to be made out of cardboard that was painted. The photograph on the left shows Humpty Dumpty sitting on his wall, the white catsuit was stuffed at the back and front to make it egg-like.

This photograph of the Mad Hatter shows what I mean about painted costumes, they are bit like those joke tee-shirts that were round a few years ago that had evening jackets and bow ties printed on them. These costumes contrasted with the scenes set in a park where the Victorian people wore ballet styled traditional Victorian Clothes which were to show the difference between reality and the fantasy Alice scenes. The best fun was designing the caterpillar's costume. The ensemble dancers wore red or white cat suits with tabards over with applique card signs on to portray the playing cards, with little red or white pillbox hats on their heads. Therefore, they just had to remove their tabards to become chess pieces. The last photograph from this production shows Tweedledum and Tweedledee and they wore padding underneath their catsuits so they look extremely plump when they turned sideways. The costumes for this show were a marathon undertaking, as I had to design and make all of them. It kept me occupied for weeks.

The other two photographs I am posting are from a production that was based on Longfellow's poem Hiawatha. This production was a mixture of dance and drama. Once again I designed the costumes and all the scenery. Although the scenery was quite minimal, mainly hangings that divided the stage into areas and two totem poles, one each side of the stage. I made the hangings by painting Native American Imagery straight onto canvas and these were hung up around the stage. An important part of the production was a long dance sequence with the dancers wearing masks. I made the masks and here is a row of some of them waiting for the glue to set and the paint to dry. I also costumed a contemporary version of the Jungle Book, musicals such as The King and I and Oliver and many other dance productions. Looking back now, I wonder how on earth I managed all that work, I remember how fraught everything was as the time for the production drew nearer and the last few days you were almost working twenty-four a day.
I did love the work and the buzz researching and finding inspiration for the costume and scenery designs, but when money gets tight in the Arts, groups find it more and more difficult to put big productions on because of the finance it requires, and tend to not be able to afford to have productions that need difficult costumes, plus, of course, costumes are then reused, or there is a trend for simplicity or a tendency to try to keep to present day settings. I think I could only ever get involved in something large scale again, if I just designed the costumes, and picked the material, but after that there would have to be the finance for people to sew the costumes for me. I am glad I have experienced making theatrical costumes, because it all adds to the rich tapestry of life.

I hope I haven't rambled on too long in the above post, but I do tend to get carried away when I talk about costume designing and making. I am also so pleased that I have lost my drawing inhibitions after all these years.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I am thinking a lot about Autumn today,next monday is our late Summer bank holiday in England. I always think of it as the last day of Summer, and tend to draw a line underneath Summer on that day. This is just a personal thing, and Autumn, to me, always begins on the Tuesday, even if it isn't quite September. I look forward then to some wonderful mild autumn days, with the trees beginning to turn and the hedgerows and lanes full of berries ripe for the picking. A time to go and search for autumn treasures, pine cones, acorns, seedheads and grasses to dry to use in decorations for both Autumn and Christmas. Although I love Summer and tending my garden, what can be better than walking along kicking at piles of crunchy Autumn leaves and the delight of coming home to warm room and a cup of hot chocolate. Although, I have to admit that is a late Autumn activity. I am showing two photographs, the one to the right and the one below left, that my husband took last year, just as a foretaste of what is to come. They are of the village church looming out of the Autumn trees.

I will take every opportunity from next week, whenever the sun shines, to jealously steal time to sit in the garden with my cup of coffee, drinking in the late Summer fragrance of the flowers. I love my garden at this time of year, it's a quiet time, a time to relish what I have achieved in the Summer, a lull before the time comes to uproot the annual bedding plants,after collecting their seeds, cut back the perennials and begin planting bulbs for Spring. Also a time to note where plants are and to workout what will stay where it is and what I will move next Spring, and to think of additions I want to make. Every morning I walk around my garden and see if anything new is happening. This morning a beautiful deep purple dahlia was opening, one I had only planted earlier this year. I think this dahlia is the last of my plants that has to bloom. There had been a heavy dew and by the time I walked around the paths my skirt was damp with brushing against plants laden with dew. Late this evening I went into the garden and I could smell woodsmoke from a bonfire a neighbour had had earlier and the most wonderful earthy smell was eminating from the ground. As the moon begins to wax in a day or two I know this time the full moon will be a rich harvest moon.

Thinking of a harvest moon hanging full and fertile in the sky a rich golden orange colour, such a magical moon, makes me think of one of my favourite painter's Samuel Palmer, an English visionary from the 1800's. His paintings of cornfields, people leaving church under the moon's gaze after evening song, and tired rustics wending their way home always make me think of Autumn. It also reminds me of how modern agricultural methods have changed the times of harvest. Harvest time used to be any time in August until near the end of September, but nowadays with modern crops it can be early July. I love the idea of the old time harvest supper after the last crops have been carted home and everyone sits in the twilight to celebrate the bringing in of the harvest, drinking cider and eating a harvest home meal. I know it is a romantic vision and I have probably being reading too much Thomas Hardy, but the quintessential idea of a harvest supper is the one in 'Far from the Madding Crowd' both the book and the film.

Thinking about harvests and cornfields also reminds me of my favourite wild animal, whom I have great respect for, the hare. In Ancient Britain the hare was sacred to the moon goddess Andraste and for the Celts the hare was symbolic of the goddess Cerridwen. I love my moon gazing hare that I have in my garden, a photograph of which I posted a few posts back. There is a custom in some parts of Britain, when reaping the harvest of calling the last sheaf left standing 'the hare' and the cutting of it is called 'killing the hare'. Sometimes the reapers would throw their sickles at the last sheaf before cutting it down.

I am always looking out for myths and stories about hares, so if anyone knows any please let me know. I think I have loved hares since I was a child and read 'Little Grey Rabbit' books by Alision Utterly, if anyone knows them. I have a little grey rabbit ornament on my kitchen dresser, she was the ultimate country lady to me with her herbs, potions, May day customs and kissing balls.

I think I have now made myself realise that Summer is almost over for another year and geared my self up to enjoy Autumn, if its Autumn or Fall in your part of the world enjoy, whilst our friends on the other side of the world are heading towards Spring, so let them enjoy their season too.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - The Inner Life of Pets

I don't know what has happened to me, my people, I tried to tell them but they didn't understand, I am lying here with these memories going through my head.

I remember the day I went to live with them. The man who looked after me scooped me up out of my pen and the older of the two females took hold of me and cuddled me. I sniffed, she smelt kind, she was stroking me and I felt warm and comfortable, the younger female, stroked me too and told me I was sweet. Then the man took me again, put me inside something that was cold and dark, it bumped about shaking me I backed into the blackest corner and made myself as tiny as possible. Through the walls I could hear the younger female talking to me saying that we would be home soon. The bumping stopped the air smelt different, light engulfed me, the older female's hands brought me out and put me on top of a table in a room. There is a man there as well, he tells the older female what a good choice she has made. I look slowly around, its a lovely bright room, I can see a bowl of food, one of water, in a corner a litter tray and on a shelf between some baskets a furry nest and a soft cushion. The younger female says 'Lets name her Pixie.'

I know there is another cat outside the kitchen door. He is a very important cat, runs the neighbourhood cat group and goes on travels to communicate with other cat groups. Mainly communications regarding important things such as, where the best hunting is, new cats seen, new kittens born, which people are kind to us and might give us food or a bed if we can't get back to our own people one night. This cat seeks out my mind and tells me that the door was always open for him to come and go but my people have closed it in case I get out and get lost. He tells me he is looking forward to meeting me properly, he gives a plantive meow which causes consternation with my people. The older female picks me up, the male opens the door and a large toroiseshell cat meanders in looking as though he owns the place. The male picks him up and we meet nose to nose. The other cat says, 'we'll meet when you are older and are allowed out, after you injections and operation.' I don't know what these words mean, but I like that cat.

I never met that cat outside, something really bad happened to him, he doesn 't live with his owners next door anymore and they are sad. I often see him in my house though, he is vague in what he tells me and says he is waiting here until he is called elsewhere. He also seems to appear and disappear. As for the injections and operations, I don't ever let myself think of those, they were bad scary times, although I sense they were done to help me be healthy.

My people play with my every morning I can jump really high and hunt and pounce we all have fun together. One morning I am taken outside down into the garden and they place me on the ground, what smells, what textures, what wonderful things to explore, I am estatic. One time I go out and everything is white and when I run round my paws get cold and wet and the white is cold on my nose, but I like to run round and see my paws making prints.

I am allowed out anytime in the day now, but have to come in at night. I do not have to use the litter tray anymore, I hated that, the back door is always slightly open for me to come and go. I can explore the whole garden and lie and sleep in the sun. I realise now that I am an adult my job is to organise my people because that is what we cats do. I sleep at the bottom of my human's bed but when it starts to get light, I check by sitting in the window the degree of lightness, then I get my people organised. I always get the male up, I move onto the bedside table, tap his arm and say, 'Come on organise yourself mate, busy day ahead, food to eat, animals, to hunt, cats to see.' When he doesn't respond I just extend my claws a little bit and gently press them on his skin, he knows the game is up and he must get up and feed me. Then later I run back upstairs and get my female person up by the same method, I don't know how they would cope without me, and my final morning task is to check that the humans next door all get to work properly.

Three cats have arrived to live on the other side of me and they say there are eventually two more arriving, how lovely to have some friends. The big black cat is the boss cat, they all have to do what he says, the other two are female, like me, but he needn't boss me around like he does them. He tries to frighten me lurking outside my back door hissing and pouncing. 'Can't catch me slowpoke,' I shout, as I hiss at him and dart under the fence, 'ha' he is too big and slow to squeeze under. The other two cats arrive, one by one, both ginger toms, they are nice, one with shorthair and one with long. I like the one with short hair very much, he tells me about all the times he has been left behind and had to survive by his wits and how he likes to go a wandering off on adventures. Sometimes at night, he stares up a bedroom window and whispers to me to go to window and we have long conversations there. The cats show me a lovely secret place where they have their meetings and parties. Down at the end of the scrubland, behind the hedge is a disused orchard and a small pond, no people can get in and we can really live our true lives here. Other cats pass through staying here every so often, they tell you wonderous tales of the world.

The people with the cats have gone, they have only taken the black cat, the others are cold and hungery, my people are organising food for them and I hear them talk about shelters, and good homes for them. One by one the cats are taken by the kind man that looked after me as a kitten, so I say bye to them and hope they have better luck with their next homes. I do feel lonely. I have made a new friend the dog next door, she misses her friend, that was the big tortoiseshell cat, we rub noses together and walk round each other and we begin to take turns at calling for each other and lying in the sun together. I find her talk difficult to understand at times, but we manage.

I've seen some other cats, I was sitting in the dining room window and across the road I could see two cats in big house yard, I must meet them. I have met the cats, though they tell me it is dangerous to go over to them, bah, I'm quick and young I can make it. It's just such fun having friends again, I wish I could make my people understand I love them but I need cat company, if I could make them understand that maybe they would bring me a friend to live with me.

I do not feel right this week, I know, that I have not got long to live with my people, the black vague cat that appears in the house, along with the tortoiseshell told me, I feel unsettled, I'm jumpy and my people feel it too and keep saying 'Whats's up Pixie?'

My memories are going, I'm confused, I feel a presence trying to calm me, its the vague black cat, everything is fading, whats happening. Oh I am standing beside the black cat looking at myself lying on the road, the black cat leads me away and my big old tortoiseshell friend is there with me as well.

The above is in memory of the late beloved Pixie, if you have read any of my earlier posts you will know about the demsie of two year old Pixie, the five cats we saved and about the ghost cats that inhabit our cottage. Yes, Pixie, does make her people aware of her presence every now and again. She is now one of the ghost cats.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I have been thinking a lot about the Corvid family recently, there are a lot of crows and rooks around my village. I awaken every morning to the sound of the rooks in the rookery. It used to be a much bigger rookery when I first lived here but the old nunnery was converted into apartments and some houses were built in the walled grounds. The builders silently and sneakily cut down some of the magificent trees and the next spring the rookery was only half the size. Though there is another rookery just past my cottage beside the church and that one is now the largest. Sometimes when I am sitting in the garden I watch a buzzard flying high above the rookery causing the rooks grave concern, the noise they set up and the flapping, flying about and the tricks trying to lead the buzzard astray and away from the nestlings are amazing to watch. Another corvid activity I love to observe is what I call the morning display. Behind my cottage and beyond the piece of scrubland is a playing field, early every morning the crows and rooks patrol in a long line up and down this field, they all march to the right and then they turn and all march to the left. They remind me of an army on the parade ground. I presume they are coming and going to search for fat juicy worms that emerge at that time, it's just the way they form up to do it. Occasionally, they are joined by a couple of bold seagulls, although they tend to march in the opposite direction, which makes it quite complicated.

When there used to be a hen run in the scrubland the crows used to all congregate on the posts and wire of the run, casting beady eyes on the hens, or more likely the hen's food because it used to happened when the eggs had been collected and the hens fed and watered. Once in a while a bold crow would flap down towards any food spilt and what a furore that caused with crows cawing, hens squawking. At times the scene did start to resemble a clip from Hitchcock's The Birds. All the same I do find them fascinating birds and wonder if they deserve their dark reputations. I like to think of them as trickster figures, they treat you as they feel at the time, kindly or craftily. Apparently, crows are supposed to be very intelligent.

I'm not a girl who can't cope with spiders, I actually like spiders and have often voiced the opinion that I would quite like a pet one, this was inspired by a family visit to London Zoo, years ago, where I delighted in being able to strok a tarantula.
Now snakes, they are a completely different matter, I am not a fan of snakes, and what has made me think about them is a trailer for a film I keep seeing advertised, about snakes loose on a plane. I used to be quite terrified of them but that changed slightly.

Before Christmas last year I was at a party in the village, my neighbour's son came up to me and said 'Have you met Ace? come and I'll show you him', and he took me into the next room where there lying in a glass tank was a coiled up snake, not an extra large snake or a very fat one just about two feet in length. I looked and backed out the room saying something like 'oh yes very nice'. I did not think much more about it until later when the owner of the house emerged with Ace in his hands and said 'Does anyone want to hold him' A lot of the youndger kids were really keen to have their turn, and then it was my neighbour's son's turn. He turned to show me, I was at the other side of the room and he asked me did I want to stroke it. Taking a gulp of wine I thought well its now or never, went over and tentatively put my hand on the snake's body. Now I know snakes are not cold and slimy and I was prepared for that, in fact it felt of room temperature, but what I had not anticipated was when you touch its body you can feel its muscles sinuously contracting and rippling. Well a quick stroke is all it got, it was not pleasant but it was definitely not terrifying either. I stroked it on one further occasion, at a later date, when my daughter was present as she hates snakes as well. Now, I am not a snake fan and I wouldn't like to hold it nor do I want to seek their company but somehow, I am no longer as terrified as I used to be.

Daisy Fae, prototype No 1 was finally photographed yesterday, so when I get the film back from developing I will be posting her photograph. I am desperate to start making some more, as after making her I know what I want to do to improve her and I have also designed my Lupin Elf, but I have ordered a large amount of proper toy filling and will have to wait for the mailman to deliver it. I am not wasting this time, however, I am cutting out bits and pieces for the Daisy Lupin family, and other soft baby toys and also some felt Christmas ornaments and some brooches I want to make. I am deliriously happy, creating and crafting. I will be decorating the spare room next month and moving all my craft things into there, as the floorboards in the spare room are stained wood, where I am working now is carpeted, and I am such a messy crafter flinging glitter with abandon and snipping and dropping threads that I will be much better off in there, also I will not have to clear up and move everything when visits are imminent.

After talking about my Teddy Robinson, I think I must take a photograph of him in his present state, for all the loving and hugging he has had off me and my children, I think the old bear should have a bit of the limelight.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I have been so busy these past few days. Every spare moment has been spent preparing for the first Daisy Fae's entry into the world of humans. I have experimented with three different bodies and decided that the third will be the style of body I want. There are so many small decisions to make, such as, she is an adult fairy, so should I stuff her to give the impression of boobs from within or should I add boobs on top of the body? Ah, decisions, decisions! At the moment she is made of a lightweight cloth but I have an idea of trying her in felt, also I may try one with wires in arms and legs. The first prototype is almost ready, I will photograph her in the next day or two, she says she needs to have her hair done before a photographic session [she is a very vain girl], I have a film in the camera with just enought shots on to capture her, then I can send it away to be developed. I would imagine around 1st September she will make her debubt.

One of the main problems, I found, was that although doing sewing and patchwork, I had not made dolls, for a good few years, well about twenty years, but I try to ignore that length of time. Therefore, there is a lot of makedo in this trial fae, I had to tear and crumple quilt batting to stuff her, and really she is made out of bits and pieces I had in my workboxes. She will always be my favourite as she is the one I worked out my designs on but I am afraid, in a short time, she will be outshone by later glamourous sisters. I know once I have finalised how Daisy Fae's look they will not take as long to make, thank goodness, because I still have prototype Lupin Elves and Daisy Gals to make. Next step is to order some proper toy filling, other materials and equipment.

I noticed not too long ago that one or two blogs had posted about their childhood teddy bears, I left comments on some blogs, but thought I would post here about my favourite bear, apologises to anyone who has read any of this before. I still have my teddy bear, he is a golden yellow and about one foot tall. He is almost as flat as a pancake, from being hugged, loved and children rolling on top of him in bed in sleep. He has hardly any fur left and is bald with all the hugging he has had. He is blind as well, unfortunately, and part of his paws which were the softest brown velvet felt have been eaten away by moths at some stage and he lacks stuffing in one arm. Both my children at different stages in their lives took a shine to him and he accompanied them to bed for many years, but now he is back in my room and I still love him dearly and he knows more things about me than anyone, even myself, as I have forgotten a lot of my deepest secrets that he has been party to. He is called Teddy Robinson, after a childhood storybook character. I could never renovate him as I feel he has achieved a venerable state and I feel that his shabbiness just goes to prove what a loved teddy he was. The picture above, that I found on a site about Chad Valley Bears, that was his make, shows what he looked like in his prime.

Summer seems to have disappeared for the moment, it is grey and chilly for August. What strange summer we have had, starting with rain, then weeks of sunshine and now you would think it was late September not the middle of this month. Come back sun, all is forgiven, I won't moan that its too hot to sit out, but I have a lot of things to do in the garden which I would love to be able to do with the sun on my back. I also need to store up some sunshine in my bones, sitting reading in the sun, before the long cold days of winter. I am just about to start reading The Time Traveller's Wife which a lot of people have raved about. I have got to admit that I have had my copy a few months but over the past few days I have kept reading references to it and it has made me decide that it's the book I'll read next.

I don't often cut flowers from my garden, apart from sweetpeas, as I think my garden is too small and the blooms will be missed, I know that sounds silly, but that's me. This time of year, though, mid August to late September, I start to indulge in cut flowers, I always have plenty dahlias and windflowers and usually end up cutting the gladioli before early autumn gales attack them. Once the nights start to get darker a little earlier and the sun leaves my garden sooner causing a chill in the air, these are the signs I look for and then bring the joy of the garden indoors, to enjoy in the early mornings and evenings.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Who else can I still be?

She fed some more logs onto the fire and then sat back in her chair adjusting her shawl around her shoulders and took up her crochet again. Her mind was thinking about the Naming Day that was to be held down in the village for Grace's baby boy. Such a rare occasion these days, babies were certainly, a rich treasure to be cossetted. Grace would have no worries about growing and gathering food with such a precious bundle in her life, people from the whole area would take care to make sure she had what was necessary for its thriving, just as they had with Violet, three years ago.

Suddenly, she heard the front door slam and footsteps running along the tiled hall, then the kitchen door burst open and Josh appeared, 'They've lit the beacon on the hill Great Gran, they've lit the beacon, they've lit the beacon' he chanted circuiting the large kitchen table like a whirling dervish. 'The wooden ships are back, The wooden ships are back.' She smiled, that was good the ships had returned before the winter storms. She wondered what longed for luxuries they had found this time, what they had traded. Perhaps some lemons and oranges from Italy, it was so long since she had tasted an orange. This would be her son's last trading journey, until spring, the winter seas were too treacherous and the boats and crew to valuable to risk in those conditions, not that a storm could not whip up in summer and early autumn, but not with anything like the ferocity of a winter storm. A life spent travelling around Europe had made him ideal in these later years to lead the trading expeditions and seek out produce to barter for and to discover new small enclaves of people.

Her Grand-daughter entered removing the scarf from her head. 'I've just finished thinning the winter vegetables and I've tied up lots onions to hang in the barn.' She moved towards the fire and sat in the opposite chair, 'I'll just sit for a minute, say hello to Dad for me tomorrow, when he arrives after the unloading. I've got to get the pony ready and ride over to Orlando's tonight. I'll be staying with him for the next few days.'
'I heard that,' a voice said, and her other Grand-daughter emerged from the pantry carrying a jar of plums.
'Is he your favourite then Carrie? He is a handsome man I wish he was one of my group.'
'Give over, Fern, but I am sure we could produce a lovely child if we're lucky. Perhaps, I am tempting fate, I have Josh already, but I would so love if he could have a brother or a sister and I would so love to be the Mother at a Naming Day celebration again. Well, I better get going. Bye all.' and she stood up and re-tying the scarf went back out through the door.
'Right Josh, come on get ready for bed, it'll be a long exciting day tomorrow, we'll ride down to the harbour to watch the unloading. Come on up the stairs with your Auntie Fern.'

She was left alone with her thoughts again, warm by the fire. It had been to paraphrase Dickens 'the best of times and the worst of times'. over thirty years ago, she had thought 'Who else can I still be?' Never imaging that six years later there would be such a worldwide catastrophe that nearly all human kind had been wiped out, those left, had left the towns and the cities and sought out lonely isolated spots to try and start over again. There were houses a plenty to live in, she laughed to herself, she could never have afforded to live in this old Georgian manor house overlooking the sea. There were vast tracts of forbidden lands where no one dared to go, nuclear power stations, intact but left alone, cities and numerous dead bodies left behind when people fled unable to do anything but save themselves. Those places would be overgrown now and nature would reign supreme there. Those left led a simple live, simple but she had to admit satisfying and enjoyable. She was the matriarch of her family, with her knowledge of past times. The rules of life had totally changed they lived with the seasons, an earlier age's rustic lifestyle, except the older ones still had the knowledge of the lost technological age but not the means to use it. People did seem happier, you didn't really travel further than your next village, except for the seamen who could cross to Europe and trade with the small groups there. She was happy. she pottered in the garden, cooked and there were still books to read, the only sad thing was that children were a rarity, only four of them in their nearest village, and children were needed for the continuation of their lives. That was why there were no marriages, women of childbearing age were happy to take turns with their three men,they had chosen from those they were courted by as young girls. The lucky ones were those that managed to conceive a child.

Josh, interrupted her thoughts again.'Great Gran, tell me a story about the past, before I go to bed.'
'Well' Josh, let me tell you about a little box on which I could talk to people, I had met all around the world. It was called a laptop computer, and I used to write what you would call a diary on it, by tapping the alphabet squares on one side of the box and seeing the words come up in a frame on the other half of the box, then hitting a key and making it all fly off into cyberspace. I made such good friends, I often think about what happened to them, are there any left.' 'That's what I really miss she thought to herself.'

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Opposite is a photograph of my parent's wedding. A few posts back I said my mother had given me her wedding hat and I was going to freshen it up a little bit. My mother said when we were looking at the hat that she had always thought it was bigger than it is now and it does look small. I thought maybe because she hadn't seen it for a while she had forgotten its size, but when I look at the photograph the hat is bigger. I am beginning to wonder if straw can shrink with age and whether if I steam it will the straw expand again. Does anyone know or can anyone help me? Apart from reshaping it just needs the ribbon stiffened so it is upright again, I need to find a bunch of fabric anenomes to replace the ones that are missing and I need a little navy veiling. Then it will have pride of place on the bedroom wall where I hang my straw hats. The hat is navy blue, the shoes are navy blue suede and the dress and jacket were duck egg blue, she must have been a very stylish bride in 1950. I know the jacket is no longer in existence, I had it dyed purple when I wore vintage clothes at art college, It was a light crepe fabric, quite delicate and I wore it until it fell to pieces, but the dress is apparently still packed away somewhere.

I am just so excited,I have been very busy the past couple of days designing a range of items I want to make, I used to make various bits and pieces and sell them at fetes, fayres etc, and have decided I have the time to do that again, the small items I used to make look good again after all these years and won't be hard to do. Apart from these items I have designed a new range of dolls, not for playing with more as art or ornament. They are stuffed fabric and material and fabric paint. I am in the process of making protoypes which will probably take a week or two until I get them right, when I am just about satisfied I may photograph them and post about them. There are three types I have copyrighted, Daisy Faes, Lupin Elfs and Daisy Gals. I am talking about them now because I find the way to make sure I complete these tasks are to talk about them on my blog so blog readers know and then I would be too embarassed if I didn't finish the task. Heehee, isn't that fiendish? Daisy Faes are girl faeries, Lupin elfs are obviously elfs and Daisy Gals, ha ha, these are my favourites are sort of goddess ladies and wise women of a certain age. I am really excited about these mini Daisy Lupin family.

We had the most beautiful full moon last night, high in the sky very heavy looking and a rich golden yellow, causing an aura in the sky around it. It was a windy night and the indigo clouds were scudding past it in fury. I watched it for ages, it was almost a harvest moon, I think the next one will be one, you know low in the sky and an incredible orangey pink. I have been so full of inspiration and designing energy the past few days, scribbling in one of my little notebooks now and then right through the days. I am sure it is the result of sleeping with the waxing moon shining on my pillow and face as I sleep.

After posting about my ghost cats yesterday I thought I would mention the two best books about cats I have read. I don't know if they are still in print but they were published in the 1990's and are called The Wild Road and The Golden Cat by Gabriel King, they are fiction books and the animals talk but just like we would. I am not quite sure who they are aimed at young adults or adults but they have some very pertinent things to say within the story about the destruction of the earth by not being green enough and the effects of big business and experiments on animals. They also tell the history of cats in myths and how the cats in the book relate to their history. They are wonderful books.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Make of the following what you will, it is not a made up tale, it is how it is in my cottage. Shortly after moving into our cottage I was sitting in my chair reading, I looked up and caught a movement out the corner of my eye, I looked and saw what I thought was a shadowy grey cat disappearing out of the room. During that first winter and early spring I would see this little cat flitting about the house. It was by no means solid just a sort of sad grey glimmering shape, always on the move.

When the warmer weather arrived and we had our back door constantly open, I got to know the only cat in our vicinity, a wonderful tortoiseshell tom called Indie. He was a great character, obviously the king cat and he decided that our house was an extension of his house next door and would wander in and make himself at home. He once stayed in the middle of winter with us for eight days, just going out and back to his own home when he wanted a meal, though he was not adverse to begging food off us as well. During the time Indie was around I never saw the little grey cat but would often see Indie watching something along its pathway. Just over two years ago we got our own cat, Pixie, and Indie soon made friends with her. We went on holiday to Cornwall and the day before we came home, I was standing in the kitchen of the holiday home we had rented and saw the little grey cat run across the kitchen. I turned around to follow it with my eyes and saw Indie standing by the kitchen counter, as solid as if he was there. The next day homeward bound, we had got as far as Kings Cross Station, London, when my phone rang. It was my daughter who was house sitting for us. She rang to prepare us for the fact that Indie had been runover the day before and was struggling for his life at the vets, where his owner had taken him. Unfortunately he didn't survive.

Indie started to appear around our house, sometimes just quickly sometimes more leisurely, I would see him in the alleyway sniffing his favourite herb plants, as Pixie grew they looked very similar, but it was not Pixie I was seeing it was Indie. One day I saw a cat I thought was Pixie going out the back door when I was on my way to the living room, in the living room there was Pixie curled up on her favourite cushion fast asleep

Our next ghost cat is even more curious. A year ago a family moved in on the other side of our cottage with many cats, the oldest of which was a large black tom, Merlin, in character he was a bit of an Indie, knew what he wanted and went for it. Sometimes Pixie and him were friends sometimes Pixie would have a quick spat with him. Then one day I had been stroking Merlin on the back wall and returned to my kitchen to see another large black cat walking into my dining room. I knew it was another ghost cat, I can't explain how I am certain these are cats not of our reality, because although they do often appear solid there is just something about them and their movement. The black ghost cat now became part of our lives.

My mother was scornful about these ghosts cats, until one day she was visiting and we were sitting talking and she suddenly looked at me and said that a black cat had walked across the room, and no, it was not Merlin. I got used to seeing this black cat and one day my neighbour told me a strange story. Apparently, Merlin had a brother Arthur who was identical to him, when they both became adult cats, unfortunately, Arthur died, they were so identical that she was never sure whether it was Merlin or Arthur that had died, so the remaining black one she called Merlin.
My neighbours moved away, with reference to them you can find a very early blog story about them and how they abandoned their cats. The black ghost cat didnot go with them but still appears occasionally in our house.

Our latest ghost cat is our own darling Pixie, who was run over on midsummer's day, and died instantly at two years old. At first I did not see her but after a few days I began to hear the little bell on her collar tinkling as I went around the house. About a week after she died I was passing our open bedroom door on the way downstairs and I glanced inside as I often do and there was Pixie curled up on her favourite spot on our bed. Occasionally in the night I can feel her weight lying on my feet or when I am watching a dvd I feel the weight of her sitting on my knee, and put my hand out to stroke her before I remember.

Now I have told you the story of my three ghost cats, I see them in daylight or at night, sometimes they move quickly through my vision, sometimes they are just there, but if you turn and look away and back again they are gone. The little grey cat I have not seen for a long time, Pixie I see the least, the other two cats equally, Indie seems to turn up at times of events, changes or upheavel, either good or not so good, the black cat seems to wander quitely, but sometimes seems to rush around caught up in a happening. They are just there, I don't communicate with them I just seem to share my space with them.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Who else might I have been?

I see a solitary cottage surrounded by hedges, a gap in the hedge is filled by an old wooden plank gate, overhead is an arch from which rambling roses tremble. Beyond the gate is a small winding path of sandstone with moss growing between the cracks, to etiher side of which are a profusion of plants, some with flowers in bud, some in full bloom and some in their blowsy later stages. Hollyhocks and spires of delphiniums thrust upwards through the perfumed mass. The path arrives at an old wooden door with a heavy iron knocker, there is a many paned window to each side of the door and a small latticed window above peeping through the edge of the thatched roof. Scarlet geraniums in clay pots surround the door and a pair of bright green eyes watch from under a bush.

There is a woman, not young yet not old, a timeless face, she wears a long striped blue skirt covered with a snowy white apron trimmed with lace that matches the fischu around her shoulers, a battered straw hat on her head tied under the chin with a bright blue ribbon, her arms are full of herbs and grasses. She turns the corner of the cottage and pushes open the wooden door, inside is a spotlessly clean room with a vast inglenook fireplace, from an iron hook above hangs a large iron pot. There is a highly polished settle adjacent to the fireplace and a dark wooden dresser on the back wall filled with cups and plates and a pile of battered books. The sun streams through the window causing dust motes to dance in the air around the vase of wild flowers that is placed on the table there. There is a latched wooden door at the far side of the inglenook that would lead to the tiny room above. There is a movement alongside the table.

The woman turns left, and opens a door to the other downstairs room, the green eyes watch now from underneath the table. From the beams of this room hang many things, herbs and flowers, hanging upside down to dry, copper pots, an empty birdcage,a bunch of crow feathers and hooked along the beam is a besom. A large scrubbed table takes up most of the space in the room and the walls are lined with shelves full of bottles and jars, containing seeds, herbs and strange coloured liquids, jostling for position with piles of books. The woman lays her herbs and grasses down on the table, beside an open receipe book, scales and a pestle and mortar. A pair of green eyes now watches from the room door that is left ajar, a nose sniffs at the combination of fragrances that infuse the room.

Standing at the table the woman unties her hat and places it on the table, from the profusion of items on the table she extracts a white mob cap which she places on her head coiling her long plait inside it. Thoughtfully she turns the pages of the largest book, and looks at the old crabbed writing on the pages. She props the page she wants open with a stone jar, reads it her finger tapping against her teeth, then calmly begins to pull off the leaves of some of the herbs she came in with and drops them in the pestle and mortar. The pair of green eyes open wider with excitement and with one leap the cat lands on table opposite the woman, rubs against her arm and settles down to watch. Who else might I have been? Am I the cat or the village wise woman?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This is the wedding card that I made for my daughter's friends wedding. I will take some photographs of her in her outfit and post them at a future date. This is the first of her friend's to get married, and she is, of course, very excited about the wedding, and has helped with the last minute preparations. She has whizzed off to the nearest town at 8.30am. this morning to have her hair done for the wedding this afternoon. This is not bad considering none of us got to bed before 3.00am. this morning.

The reason for the late evening was the leaving/housewarming party for our next door neighbours. They have been good neighbours and we will miss them all and their dog who wanders round into our house and garden to visit us. Unfortunately, the family is splitting up and some have left the village completely, but some have moved slightly further up the village, so they are technically still neighbours, just not our next door neighbours and next door neighbours are the most important, so it is nice when you have helpful and friendly ones. There were leaving drinks round the bonfire, on the scrubland behind our gardens on Thursday night, and last night a house warming party in the house a few doors up the village. It seemed very strange waking up this morning and looking out of the bedroom window and seeing next door's garden empty of its garden furniture, lights and ornaments.

I am always interested in the way people move into the village. When we moved here we didn't cause a stir, we went out and about saying hello to people as we passed them and slowly got to know people. We did nothing controversial, and respected the way people in the village did things, and we took care to understand the quirky 'rights of way' that seemed to affect every property. Bit by bit we became part of the village. Some people, though charge in and ride roughshod over the residents, never taking their views into consideration and being quite selfish. There is one person who moved to our village about eighteen months ago and this person has just about upset everyone in the village by not respecting 'rights of way' and turning to the law courts at every opportunity when he does not get his own way. Asking about the village and communication with the long term residents would have eased his way considerably. We all have to rub along together, and it is easier to live and let live.

My Local History Group had its August meeting on Thursday, and it is going very well. I am organising a trip to the County Records Office, where we will have a talk from one of the archivists, about researching local history, which will help the members who are not skilled in research. I am also looking to set up a series of lectures with different speakers talking about the area's history. These lectures will be not just for the History Group but will be thrown open for any one in the village to attend for a small door charge, to help our funds and to pay for the speaker. The building in the photograph is the medieval guildhall in my local town.

The weather was hot and sunny yesterday, but damp and rainy today, but already, and it is only the beginning of August I have noticed we are to have some night temperatures as low as single figures, which seems early to me. Busy collecting seeds to keep for next year, and will have to get some advice about my lavender bush which is getting a bit woody and old.