Tuesday, 27 December 2011

crimble crumble

Our Christmas wasn't quite this jolly, tho it has the right number of contestants.

Ma sat stolidly in our new armchair for two days[not that anyone would notice as it was draped in the same scarlet fabric, but I knew that if it slipped it would no longer reveal dirty, worn arms.] Took 4 months to arrive, one would think, that needing the business, firms would get their hammer and nails out pronto, but no.

K [from Denmark] gave me some prints of some Danish? dancing ladies [maybe a calendar originally] which really tickled me so I have started making these, only hand sized .....actually more difficult than I thought to get something zingy. Dunno what to do with them, maybe make cards, maybe make a dancey pic a la Beryl Cook.

No Book Tokens so far! Outrageous. Ma decided she was down with the kids, and I wouldn't need them now I have a Kindle. Not true, a book is a book is a book. A Kindle is a convenience.

Son and daughter however were pleased with theirs and we got several extra phone calls as they fought to set them up. Daunting Daughter then complained she was up till 2.30 a.m. reading her first download Val McDermid.

RP knowing me better bought me the new Belinda Bauer in Hard back [at full price, there's dedication] which I am romping thru, wanting to go slower but also wanting to reach the denouement. Was reading Camomile Lawn as I have Mary Wesley's biography; it's a strange collision of the refreshingly but ultimately rather repetitious sex scenes, an un-nerving variety of couplings amongst somewhat priviledged the young people during WW2. Didn't see the TV series.

MW started late into authorship so maybe I should be encouraged. I have to write the outline and beginnings of a novel for my Open University................oh dear. It's like opening the gate onto a huge empty field and thinking which blade of grass do I need to pick. Or I can do a half hour film script/stage play. same problem tho.

Maybe as I get older I have lost the strength of belief./opinion/something. I would quite like to write a scenario involving an irascible old woman, Stephanie Plum's grandma, a grouchier Miss Marple..........dunno.

Have to go to Diamond wedding celebration of the in-laws this week, with associated family. That should mean I return twisted lipped with all the words I couldn't say marinating in bile. Mount that horse and ride it ............

Thursday, 22 December 2011

cat trix

Still besotted with the cats.

Gertie has a fairly amazing trick where she jumps up at a closed door handle [horizontal bar shape] and clings on till her weight pulls the handle down and the door opens

Wish we could catch her at it for YouTube but she chooses her times. Last time was opening the bedroom door at 5 a.m. this morning.

Daisy's only oddity, so far, is that she runs into the bathroom whenever I am on the loo and sits purring on my lap.

Got to go and do the veggie shopping tomorrow, doubtless the shops will be very busy as folks seem to panic and act as if they have to stock up for a siege, where actually the shops hardly shut at all.

Turkey is waiting for us until Saturday at the village butchers.

Bought a cheap reprint ppb of a Jonathon Kellerman,- The Web - at the Co-op, goodness knows where they get them from. It was only £1.99; not much cop IMO, so possibly overpriced after all.

Also chose new Belinda Baeur [that doesn't look right] as a pressi when I wandered into Waterstones [some kind of magnetic field Hadron Collider should investigate]wrapped now so can't check. Her last two were excellent, so couldn't resist, which was silly as I can smell Xmas Book Tokens coming my way. Going to need a good book to get me thru.

Walked by river today, sunny and mild and many oyster catchers and redshanks and curlews and LBJs to keep us company. Can't take a cat for a walk, which is just as well for birds, Gert and Daisy still gnash their teeth daily at the window at all feathered friends. So far they have only caught spiders in the bathroom, which is very laudable .

Saturday, 17 December 2011


I guess because I have always drawn women, even when I was a kid, then as a teenager taught myself to draw the very skinny clothes horse types with high heels and pencil straight skirts.

Now I mostly want to avoid the stereotype of the celebrity aspirational, the thin but sexily curved image that isn't real. Most women by that standard are "fat" and so my women are everywoman, they resist judgement because they revel in their female shape, even if they are sad sometimes. But mostly they celebrate.

Sometimes especially when I work in clay I find myself making thin fragile women but I think they represent early puberty to me, and when I come to think of it old women in my mind are also skinny usually, maybe with a tummy, so I guess to me us fat women are strong women.

And sometimes I do flowers!

Friday, 16 December 2011

waving mostly

Cold and wet outside, a bit of snow mixed in but nothing to make it pretty yet. We have a full compliment of oil and coal for heating and did a big shop yesterday. I have three jumpers on, the cats are sitting as close to the radiator as they can physically achieve without actually being on top.

I have been working on another Dancers piece, am a bit stuck at the mo as to how to proceed, thus various false starts or Samples as we call them in the trade/profession. NB The multi dancers piece is about a dozen times bigger than the next one. This is the smallest one [pin size is a clue].

I am thinking along the lines of Waving not Drowning..........

Christopher Hitchens has died, he gets two ticks on my mental lists of those who go before me- cancer and old age. A very irritating curmudgeon but always engaging. Him being a celeb I have "seen" him infrequently, lately in a mag article still arguefying and then suddenly he is gone.

Better get on with my ladies while I have time. Strangely knowing this I waste oodles of time, watching the gog, reading books [just read an excellent one by Tana French] and am really pleased when trying to write my script for homework that I have eaten up another hour without noticing it.

I guess it is the empty times when I am bored or brooding I am trying to avoid; always pushing myself along. Definitely faulty potty training. Glorious Grandson is 3 and still resisting, goodness knows how that will turn out.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

No snow, just wind and rain and grey grey skies.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Xmas - again. Not much to look forward to really, just more life [hopefully and which can't be bad, I am grateful, honest] but no Daunting Daughter, Gorgeous Grandson or Cycling Son. Just him indoors, me and mother. Plus the cats of course. We have opened the cat flaps now, but so far they have taken one look at the outside world and declined. They would rather sit in the window and continue to promise the birds what they will do to them - one day. Loudly and with much tail twitching and teeth chattering.

Gerti has discovered Fire.

I have down loaded the pattern for the jumper Sarah wears in the Killing, as I have actually finished my Jayne Hat on same mysterious knit in circles needles [shorter ones]. Obviously it is too big as the pattern was for a pin head, so I added some stitches, then some more, maybe too many. I know I can undo and knit up again as it takes very little time, and even at my age I have some time to spare. But, I can't make myself frog it, note technical term learnt from Heidi.

It does suggest tho, that if I attempt Sophie's jumper it will not end up the right size, as usual...............and I do have other things to cock up first.

Friday, 9 December 2011

fight/flight club

Had my last social engagement [Xmas lunch with SLAPPERS] today, no outside jollies for a month, so no excuses about getting some work done.

We had roast pork at Jimmies Rare Breed Farm, poor piggies looked very happy in the fields, little did they know. Hopefully.

No I remember now we have one more engagement, supper out with P&R, very festive.

After that it is just him, me and mother; plus the beautiful cats, as long as when we let them out tomorrow, for the first time, they return to base..

This is a piece being worked by friend Ruth, based on Kew. If you enlarge you can see the excellent design. Sadly she wants to cover this with a transparent layer with embroidered flowers.

I am fighting her tooth and nail.

Have been struggling with my script for the next Open University assignment, each time I come back to it I tweak, probably I should blitz and start again. It is due in after Xmas, but I am aiming to get it done before as it would be nice for no-one if I was still whittling about it. Xmas celebrations may provide me with Pinteresque plot I suppose.

I am working on my sketch of dancing? woman. I have cut a printing block and done various bits of her which now have to come together, but obviously I am fighting tooth and nail with that too.

It was extremely windy oop North yesterday apparently........165 mile an hour gusts, [ on top of Ben Whatsit] not much down here, tho the river was over the road in three places when I tried to drive off the peninsula to piggy heaven this morning.

Many birds when the tide goes out, always lots of oyster catchers, geese, ducks, a heron and cormorant or two but now there are zillions of little dunlins, or knots or plovers -whatever, little tiny brown jobs anyway.

They look like scatterings of little white bellied pebbles on the sand till they all rise together and fly in a twinkling cloud two yards further down the river. Easy to love the world we live in when I see such sights.

Sadly it is all Euro crash and save the Libraries/NHS/ anything worth while and all is doomed.

Merry Xmas all.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Thursday, 1 December 2011

knitted brows

Serendipitous Opportunknitty blogged that she is making Jayne hats, apparently featured in a SF series Firefly, haven't seen that but am taken with hat so this may solve my need to "knit" as it descends each winter. I did explore the possibility of knitting Sofie's jumper from The Killing as featured in Radio Times. However the wool comes from Denmark and goes round long circular needles, no can't be doing with it.

Hat also needs circular needles but I have hopes...............
Ma knitted this helmet for the Gorgeous Grandson for his third birthday which the Daunting daughter believes may stay on his head longer than usual as it fits under and round his chin and neck.
His waistcoat is my knitting contribution which will probably only appear on this occasion no matter how much she says s/he likes it, but it is the thought that counts. Ma also knitted him some squares which I made up into a kind of tabard. DD found this hilarious. Can't please everyone.

I am now lusting for knitting wool, I Need it, but enough to drive into town........................?

Monday, 28 November 2011

under whelming

After young Grayson I tootled along to the Tate Modern to see the Tacita Dean installation in the Turbine Hall. It was a lovely day, sun shing, crisp and bright, river all ashimmer, however I had been tootling for some hours and rapidly running out of steam.

Finally took my courage to the sticking point and hailed a taxi so that I would get back to the station on time for train.

I guess it was the right thing to do as I would probably have washed up in the next tide if I had tried to walk back to Embankment Tube station, but even tho there are bus/taxi lanes there are also Road Works, cost me £15 to sit in the middle of them for what seemed like hours.

Finally jumped out and ran the last 50 yards.

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman[&woman]

Left the cold and misty river to struggle up to London on Network Express.

A great massing of gents in black coats with lap top bags and a coffee.

Being unpractised these days I sat in a nicley empty seat pointing the right way only to be turfed out as it was ticketed as booked.

Ended up at a table for four, two of which discussed office politics all the way as I sat muttering to myself with my back to the engine.

Arrived on time however, but Ruth assumed I would be late and went looking for me outside the British Museum, while I rotated inside looking for her. We never did meet up. She hadn't my mobile no. and couldn't hear her own!

However Grayson was well worth it. The collection of BM artifacts, placed with his own responses made me see everything with shock and awe. Much the best kind. I have been trying to add Brian Sewells review which says exactly the opposite and so astringently. I half agree with him and am half besotted with the exhibition.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

two beauties

The cats have landed. So great having them around. They have been fostered, very caringly for about 6 months we were told, nobody wanted to take two cats together. The foster mum had two big boys of her own who will be relieved to see them go, it took me some time to realise she meant two tom cats.

She is deeply into cats, said she had to move from one house when her previous cat died, she just couldn't stay.

Her husband is Spanish, so presumably thinks it is an English affliction.

She claimed our new babes didn't really seem to know their names [Immi was short for Imogen she thought] but I have taken the liberty of re-naming them Gert and Daisy.

They were two comedians during and after the WWII, that I presume I remember from Workers' Play Time, a dread comedy show on the wireless when I was a kid. They were played by Elsie and Doris Waters, sisters to Dixon of Dock Green.

Daisy is the big beautiful black and white one, Gerti is the slinky beautiful tortoiseshell.

So far [day 2] they have explored the house but are a bit nervous of eating, either that or they disapprove of my choice of cat food.

They do eat it at night, I suspect Daisy has first dibs.

Cooing these names at them at every opportunity seems to be working, already they come when called, and so far it hasn't driven RP mad.

They do seem to like walking on my key board, sleeping on my stitching and last night one of them must have walked over RP's switch board and turned all his computers off. Energy saving too!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The cat woman came today, from Cat Protection League, to check us out as future cat owners. apparently we passed and hopefully can pick these two up on Monday.

We picked them out because their pics looked so delicious and their back story intriguing. Ebony [the long haired 1 year old] has lived all her life with Ibbi 2yr old [?] the strangely marked one in an upstairs apartment.

As usual when the new baby appears it disjoints the family arrangements and these two were turfed out.

Immi is somewhat opinionated, [bites] so they have been in foster care for some time as the League of Cat People didn't want to split them.

I reckon they are lesbians and Immi is obviously the butch one. What on earth can Immi be short for?

We will have to keep them in for a while and then introduce them to the idea of a cat flap.........and the two dogs that live next door, and the bossy cat that lives below the bank. He has become very smug since Agamemnon left him the extra territory to strut around in.

Still no sign of a puppy, we have been drifting, making a change seems more and more distanced and I guess we are getting used to having the freedom to go out without a backward glance. But coming back to an empty house is horrid.

Once I looked at these two however the whole enterprise seemed possible and I am now very impatient for their arrival on Monday. [ Foster mum is away over the w/e]

Cat woman kept saying well if you don't like the look of them we have others, in a worried way, so i don't know what she fears, but we are firm.

Can't play Goddess with these things, have to take whatever turns up.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers

Try clicking on title below to see the video of Japanese contemporary work, a bit different from what we do round here.
However in the main it doesn't excite moi, beautiful but ?soulless...........or at least doesn't connect with my soul. Great to have as part of the jolly old pantheon tho.

Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers

looking for inspiration

I was at a workshop with my SLAPPER pals [Stitchers Lacemakers and Patchworkers Practise Embroidery Regularly] where we used ......I was going to say pesto but that's not right, Gesso that's it. Painted on fabric then when dry roller other paints/dyes etc lightly over it so it shows thru, and generally over lay and print up a fabric until it is ready to be finished with some stitch.

Now I have several lovely lengths of cottons all ready for action, but can't think what to do that isn't facile.

Think this might be a Gauguin print, that I took a pic from at some point to stimulate a birth of a design thought.

I don't think I can get away with something quite like Gauguin's but maybe more like this one from the Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

French trippers

To try and celebrate/forget the fact that I am another year older we caught a Euro star from Kings Cross to Lille.

Closer than Findhorn C!

Done Paris a few times, most people shocked that we should reject a return visit for a provincial town in the Nord, but we thought that the train goes there, it must be OK.

I don't like going underground and even worse under the Channel [very dark out there] but it is quite quick and I had my kindle.

I had downloaded the new Connelly, PD James and Lee Child. It can be deduced that I didn't sleep well on French pillows as I came home 4 days later having read them all. Wasn't "thrilled" by any of them but they did pass the time.

The hotel had been built in the seventeenth century as a convent for the Minimes order, quite a rigorous group who may be somewhat surprised by the luxury of their accommodation now the cloisters have been covered with a glass roof and a piano bar and restaurant inserted.

We took the Metro to Le Palais Des Beaux Arts, and were amused by the cocktail lights twinkling in the ceilings but not so much by the huge Broken Glass chandeliers, very lumpy shapes.

I did have my birthday money burning a hole in my pochette, but French shops are Very Expensive. I took one euro as one pound which isn't quite right [specially in these Crunch times] but served for me, as I am in-numerate. Many of the shops were the same as in London, if more sparkly clean, but the prices were often twice as much.

So I returned home mostly still clutching.

Bought the new J Grisham at Liverpool St, cheaper in hardback than Kindle!

The trains from Liverpool St station had been in total disarray all day, but had largely been sorted so we arrived home only 10 mins late.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


K gave me a jar filled with walnut .....what are they called, not the shells, the green outer fruit type covering. Anyway if soaked, boiled and strained thru muslin they are supposed to make walnut ink, like the monks used.

I looked up some recipes on the webby [not surprised to find what I needed, the surprise would come from not finding the info] and set to.

One is supposed to throw in some rusty iron, vinegar and some gum arabic. Had to do without the latter.

I let it boil away for some hours, giving the very smelly potion a suspicious poke every now and again. It smelt a bit like when I used to boil up lights for the puppy dog until RP [he was Working Person then] threatened to leave home.

Eventually I got bored and sieved it thru a square of RP's precious wine making muslin. Being a textile artiste I have plenty of muslin lying about, but he had to buy his own, so i thought I would make use of it too.

The result is a half jar of dark brown fairly translucent liquid, that paints paper in a golden brown. Not really dark enough for monks, but probably useful to me on paper and fabrics, and quite good fun. I could have boiled it further to render it down more, but am going to see if I need to after having used it.......for something.

Maybe these old world recipes will come in useful when the Euro collapses, America bombs Iran and the "deadly flu virus" has swept thru.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


At one of my stitching groups we did a workshop between us on how to make a vessel, this is Textile Artist speak for a container.

I started this one by sticking parcel tape round a small space hopper. Other more sensible people chose smaller objects to work on. Once the object is securely covered we had to cut it off the base in 2 halves and then stick them back together.

On this shiny brown bandaging we then glued tissue, lace and fabric. Perhaps over aspirational we attempted to make it quite fragile and maybe see thru in places.

Next we cut it off the parcel tape in 2 sections

My mistake was to join these 2 halves and then try to stitch, battering the poor sphere horribly, would have been easier to stitch before joining them.

There is still stitching to do but only when I am feeling patient and gentle.

I would like to make a Grayson Perry like pot with appropriately contemporary comments and pics on it.

I hope to go and see his show at the British Museum soon maybe that will give me the impetus..

I am also doodling with this Woman under a Waterfall and when Ma visits I add a few flowers to the garden to deflect me from matricide.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

plots & nots

It hailed today, very heavily.
As I hear it Bangkok and Dublin have been flooded, not two cities that have much else in common, I would have thought.
Retired Person is quite happy as the garden needed watering, but he would prefer if his potter down for his evening pint was in the dry. This exercise used to include Hattie the dog, now he plods bravely down the hill on his own.
We are going to France on the Euro Star for a birthday outing soon and when we get back there will be a serious search for a puppy and kitten.
Just read the new Ian Rankin, quite good, probably better than the previous book; down loaded it for half price onto the Kindle, at least it won't have to balance precariously on the book shelves for ever after. I am supposed to be distributing extraneous books around town but don't seem to get round to it somehow.
I see they are going to do the Million Book Give Away again. I suppose it is a good idea, except I seem to have read most of them, and so have the people I know.
Apparently they asked Harper Lee for permission to set her book free, as it won top of the vote, however she didn't reply. They put it down to her old age, 85. Hmmmm I guess some 85ers are older than others. My mother at 90+ would have replied in an instant, and at length, to any query.

Instead they are using Jane Austen's P&P, presumably they didn't use a Ouija board to ask permission.

Had a visit from D this week, she used to clean our house weekly, until she slipped into clinical depression. See what too much housework does to you. I maintain unhealthy chaos with the occasional dusting just to maintain my own health.

D disappeared into the NHS after some months refusing to leave the house or brush her hair.

They took her away, were patient for 6 weeks then gave her a bath and cut her matted hair off. She is a stubborn woman however and spent some months refusing to respond.

So nothing for it but ECT. Gulp.

She told me cheerily that it was all to no avail, but on the 18th [!] shock session her mind started to clear. Of course her memory isn't so good.

They continue to plug her in, but she is now allowed home on leave

Listening to someone being jolly about their anguish, at length, is not easy, in fact it is totally distressing.

More difficult for D, no doubt.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

travels with my daughter

Daughter has beaten the monsoon dampening Bangkok and returned home to drier Nevada.

She says there were few visitors this time of year so she got to go on the trips solo with just a guide, and thus ended up driving the elephant from the front seat.

She climbed over 2000 tall stone steps to greet the Buddha above the city.

Bangkok is apparently dirty, hot and humid, and has too many pasty faced Europeans sporting beautiful young Thai women on their arms.

Most of the city was under water, but the bit she was staying on was frequented by bankers and such who had the high ground, to keep their feet dry. No change there then.

The islands and the people outside Bangers were lovely however and friendly. probably i will never be able to verify, long haul - not tempted.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Chain Reaction strikes again

This is the Hat of sighs, made by my clever friend Frances and stitched with worries by moi. I have put it in the exhibition with a copy of Elizabeth Parker's sampler [in the V&A] She was a maid in the 19th century I think, to a household in Fairlight [near my lovely Hastings] and was assaulted by the master.....it would seems. She didn't know what to do, felt guilty in the way that victims can do and thought she would go to hell.

Frances made the hat and I stitched phrases round it [easy bit], as if they were buzzing her head. Don't ask what, I have forgotten and now I can't read them on the photo. Apparently the local paper has picked up on the show so maybe Elizabeth will make it into the news. Poor lass.

I love this vessel Carol made, why didn't I think of it!

We have had good remarks so far for the show, so fingers crossed we all make a fortune

Monday, 10 October 2011

exotic aromas

On Saturday I went to the Knit and Stitch show at Alexander palace, three Huge Halls filled to the gunnels with knitters and stitchers. A bitterly cold morning became tropical as we grazed around munching on the exotics on show and transferred much dosh to the stall holders in exchange for fripperies and other urgently needed magic potions.

Some lovely work on exhibition to marvel at. Beryl Dean's ecclesiastical gold work was by turns amazing and traditional. We were forbidden to photo but the piece I liked best [above] was a poster of her work from some august cathedral or other so I could snap it.

Gwen Hedley

has been making series of these strange little votive offerings for some time. They had all sold before I got to them, £20 - £30 each, I am not surprised. They are 3" _ 4" maybe long and I reckon could be worn also as brooches. I suspect they are more difficult to make successfully than one would think. Of course they are donated gravitas by being displayed on a wall amongst other Art, context is so influential when ever it may be a case of the emperor's new clothes.

I was also very taken with these two long hangings of textured patches of old? fabrics, about six foot long each, somehow they were very resonant of something subtle. dunno that one could buy one to hang in the home somehow. Maybe they need to be shown only on Gallery walls. Or maybe I haven't got a big enough house..........or maybe I don't live in a subtle enough way.

Anyway it did me good to get away from Death Row for a day, tho unhappily there is still an aroma of dying cat around, and not in a subtle way.