Friday, October 31, 2008

Long Ago and Far Away

That is the title of a song by James Taylor that I used to play over and over and over again...way back in "the days".
It came into my mind this morning as I awoke and looked out my bedroom window and thought about today.Here we are with the grass cut in the paddock and Ian making baylage when he used to make hay.
The same view and the same activity thirty years ago to the day when my Mum was told she had a tumour the size of a grapefruit lodged in her brain.

Her future wasn't certain then but Mum was determined to live.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating her 80th birthday here in the garden...the weather forcast is for rain and winds...not nice...but we shall have it anyway, the forecast isn't always what we end up with , a bit like a dire medical prognosis !

I have been baking cakes and Mum's favorite foods all week and just want the day to be really special for her.

Tonight our youngest daughter Sarah is flying to Boston. She is spending three months over there caring for three little girls. In February she will have a few days on her way home with her big sister ( tiny happy ) in Norway.

Alexander flew to London last night from Auckland, so my thoughts are with him as well.

I am FULL up with different emotions and such strong feelings today. I wish my Dad was here to give me a hug and a smile.

Yesterday I was in the car and stopped at an intersection not far from where my parents lived when Dad was alive. A car drove past with an elderly man that had such a similar profile to my Dad that I gasped, and for one brief second I believed it was him. He was wearing a knitted vest and a vyella shirt that could have been my father's.

Yesterday was Tristan's ( eldest son) birthday and he will be here for Mum's birthday, if he isn't making silage on his farm ( nothing waits for haymaking and silage...not births or deaths and certainly not important birthdays !)

I will have a birthday surprise for him too. I finished the Cobblestone Pullover last night.

It feels so good to have this finished, actually it has been rather a marathon to make. I had to make it very long and the sleeves are much longer than the standard size, because Tristan has very long arms. I can't wait for him to try it on.

Now I can think about the Tangled Yoke Cardigan for me. I have had this lovely felted tweed wool for a year and have been longing to start.

Maybe a few rows of this and James Taylor, will make me feel better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Labour Weekend

What a great three days we have had.
Labour weekend's weather forecast was for wet and cold days with intermittent showers and instead here in Nelson, it was fine and warm and sunny.
We were able to show off "our place" to our visitors .. Alexander's new family. A great time was had by all and there was lots of talk about the wedding, bouncing ideas back and forward.
Ian and I are standing on the right, Robyn (Kristin's Mum), Alexander, Kristin, Jamie and Matt (Kristin's sister and her boyfriend ),and Hayley, Kristin's other sister in front, Graeme (Kristin's Dad) is taking the photo.

Alexander is flying to London on Thursday by himself...he won the Dyson Kiwi Young Designer of the Year Award and is off to enjoy his prize. His boss is meeting him in Dublin and they are going to watch the All Blacks against Ireland. He is also going to Italy and Germany, so he is very excited.

He is an industrial designer but has an interest in all design...he designed Kristin's ring.

Well, it is such a beautiful day that I am now going to sit in my garden with a cup of tea, reflect on the weekend and the lovely people that we have got to know better and enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lilac Time

Lilac to lighten the heart.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I couldn't resist taking a photo or two of this restored villa as I walked past the other day.
I love to imagine the stories and history, laughter and secrets it contains from the present and times past.

I thought I would share some photos of other homes that I have enjoyed taking snaps of on our travels to the other side of the world.
This house is on the street that Melissa walks by most days from her home in Norway.

This one hides in a little village in Hampshire, England.

By a loch in Scotland. Perhaps you pass this one from time to time Caireen ? I have a feeling it is near Loch Lomond.

Found this notice by the thatched cottage above, what a lot of stories this home could tell !

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random Thoughts

Our youngest son Alexander became engaged over the weekend. There was a very romantic proposal made, a beautiful diamond ring and a "yes, yes, yes"

The happy couple are coming home this Labour weekend along with Alexander's new family to celebrate.

Already I have found myself making lists of food to eat, shopping to be brought, things to be done before Friday but in amongst all this mind activity, I awake in the middle of the night to thoughts of when all five of my children were tucked up in bed here at home.

When the thoughts in my head were their timetables, Melissa's cello lesson at 4.00pm on Tuesday, Tamsin has swimming at school...take togs..maths on Wednesday, Tristan will need to be picked up after school on Thursday, not catching the bus, drop his violin off, Alexander wants a friend home on Monday afternoon, Sarah has a school trip to the airport and her teacher wants parent helpers. Busy, busy.
Before the children when I used to help in the old cowshed....on the little piece of board next to the milk vat....numbers 62, 41, 35 on the bucket today, 52 needs a penicillin injection and 18 has sore feet.
Lists and information, facts and figures stored away never to be used again. What happens to it all ?
It gets brought out in the middle of the night to keep me awake and restless.

Another list, Mum's birthday invitations. Hope I didn't leave anyone out. The party food list...on and on.
Time rushes by doesn't it,
except when you are at the dentist, and that is where I am taking my Mum this morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A mouse in the house

After the three performances of Carmina Burana I needed a little calming time of creating something small, and some different music to listen to while I was mouse making.

This one's for you Phoebe !

Friday, October 17, 2008

Raindrops on Roses

And cobwebs,

And flowers,And leaves

Today I feel as if I should write a poem of thankfulness for this rain, soaking everything thoroughly and giving a drink to the perennials and plants newly planted.
All week I have weeded and mulched, planted and pruned,
rain is just what I wanted. Perfect and lovely.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Navajo Way

There is always something new to learn, and an elderly friend once told me that she didn't consider it to be a good day if she hadn't learnt some truth, fact, skill or technique before she went to bed at night.
I certainly agree with that, and today at the Creative Fibre Group I belong to, we learnt how to ply from one single bobbin instead of two, which is the way I have always used for too many years to count.

I couldn't wait to return home to have a go on my spinning wheel, and that is what I did this afternoon instead of working in the garden.

It was most enjoyable, Uncle Alan came to visit and sat for a couple of hours recounting his war stories again to me. He only needed a couple of prompts from me and I was transported back in time to 1942, in Italy....Mussolini, partisans, and a love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman ... Mary...the love of his life.
He doesn't usually wear his war medals on a random visit, but he wanted a photo with them to show to a young relative.
Well, back to the spinning..........
The 2ply usual way.

Now this is the Navajo way of plying, using one single.

For me this navajo way of plying and making a fibre was extremely exciting. it involves a technique of making a chain...just like finger crochet.

My first attempt wasn't as even as I would have liked, but I know the next bobbin will be OK.
Today I have learnt the Navajo way AND some fascinating family history!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Walk Around the Garden

The last few days have been glorious and I have been working hard in the garden, weeding and mulching and planting out perennials for the summer months.
The flowers are soaking up this warmer weather and so am I.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Making a Basket

Over the last three thursdays I have had a fun-filled time with a special group of friends. The three of us have learnt how to make a woven basket.

Our teacher is a weaver and a basket maker and comes from the USA. She put all her tools and cane, knowledge and skills at our disposal and today I have the finished result......

The design is called a Penland Pottery Basket .

We dyed the strips of cane and braided them into the basket once we had made the frame.

This was the model that we tried to match ours to,

The bottom of mine

the inside of the basket,

and it manages to perfectly match the colours in my kitchen....funny that !

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knitting a Unicorn

Our granddaughter Esmae adores unicorns, and she has done for several years now. She is quite obsessive about her love, rather like her cousin Arlo, who has a similar fixation on trains.

I know that if I am to be in their good books and be a wonderful "Supergran" then I should continue to feed these little obsessions. :-)
That is why I stayed up until the early hours of this morning putting the finishing touches to this little chap.

Ian thinks that he looks more like an "Eeyore" than a unicorn. He certainly does have rather a sad, but resigned expression. His one redeeming feature is definitely the handspun wool he is made up with. The wool was beautiful to spin and knit, so the little unicorn is very, very soft and cuddly and smells delicious. I won't be able to hand him over to Esmae's waiting arms until I have knitted a mermaid and a mouse for her little sister....aargh, I don't like knitting toys, or rather I don't like the sewing together and stuffing bit !

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Not Another Sock !

As I was getting into the car for an hour long ride yesterday evening, I had another sock moment, which meant that I had to race back inside the house, go to my much drooled over stash of wool and rummage around until I found what I was looking for. ............
which was a beautiful big fat ball of Noro Sock Yarn in bright wizard-like colours. I had originally purchased it from a little wool shop in Battle in East Sussex in the UK, when we visited there in July.
Because I knew I would be a passenger for at least a couple of hours over the weekend, I gleefully cast on for another sock, leaving Esmae's unicorn and Tristan's Cobblestone pullover behind...aah it felt sooooo good!

Knitting socks is the ideal travel knitting when you are sitting in a car for long periods, or boring committee meetings, well actually you don't even have to be sitting, you just need both hands free !

The lovely lady that sold me the wool in The Battle Wool Shop said that "this colourful wool is reputed to be able to produce a pair of socks and a pair of gloves...all from the one skein!"

I am not sure if mine will, I am making the socks extra long. There might be enough left over for fingerless mittens though.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The other night I was driving home from a rehearsal in town. We are now rehearsing for Carmina Burana and I was very tired and a bit cold, and thinking about my bed and my pile of library books waiting for me. Our little town is beautifully lit up at night with twinkling lights strung up in the plane trees along the main street and my eye caught the reflection of a blaze of orange in the bookshop window..

This morning I went in to have a look at all the penguins that were being promoted this week.

It brought back a nostalgic memory, as a small child I remember my parents and Aunts and Uncles reading these much loved books.

English seaside summers, flasks of tea and fruitcake, my Grandad burying threepenny bits in the sand for me to dig up, polo mints, tiny Union Jack flags for the sandcastles, Punch and Judy shows, deck chairs, white hairy legs with the trouser cuffs rolled up, orange penguin books ( with NO pictures) stuffed into bags with knitting and warm cardigans, and hankies, oh, and the slightly sicky smell of the inside of our Morris Oxford on the way home.

They first came into being in 1935 and sold for sixpence each. Read all about their early beginnings on Wikipedia.

Of course I couldn't go into my favourite bookshop and come out empty handed and I chose this beautiful classic.
I thought it was a very good buy at $12.95 and I was given a bag to carry it home in. How lucky was that!
I've always loved penguins.