Sunday, November 30, 2008

Painting Out the Past

I have been tagged by Speckled Egg to post a book tag.

The book that is closest to hand is Painting Out the Past The Life and Art of Patricia France (1911 - 1995) by Richard Donald.

Last week I had visited my local favorite bookshop to peruse books for Christmas presents and ended up buying this one for me. Very naughty I know, but it was full of wonderful paintings.!

It is a fascinating biography about a solitary woman who started to paint profusely after having a time of deep depression and sadness and not being able to cope with her life, staying in a mental institution for six years and also undergoing ECT treatment. Her life runs on a parallel line to Janet Frame's and they both narrowly escaped having frontal leuctomy surgery. Their wonderful work of creativity is what saved them both.

Patricia became an artist in her sixties and went on to paint with great success until she died at the age of eighty four in Dunedin where she had lived since her illness.

The book tag instructs me to turn to page 56 and copy out the fifth line and the ones following.

This is a letter from Tim Garrity to the author referring to his art gallery that was having an exhibition of Colin McCahon's paintings.

" I hung McCahon's 'Wake' panels, fifteen huge things. McCahon gave me instructions that the title panel ought to be hung separately from the others as it was a thing in itself. Rodney went into the gallery and stormed out and wrote a letter to the Otago Daily Times complaining about the way I had hung the panels. Kennedy and I had a terrific row and he had a terrific row with Patricia too. They didn't see each other for several years."

I could write so much about this book, I am enjoying it immensely, but maybe the book tag is just to give you a tiny taste.
I do love reading biographies about artists, composers and writers and then studying their work in depth...all absorbing and satisfying.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fern's World

When you are a tiny tot newly released from the confines of the pushchair, your world can seem very large and green.

A blade of grass becomes something of wonder,
Maybe I am holding a four-leaf clover ?

Perhaps not.
Time for a quick roll down the anyone watching ?

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Rainy Monday

Lots and lots of rain washing down the windows and obscuring my view,

But it's OK. I have lots of work to do, with this,

For the event at the end of this rainy, wet, week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Pineapple Potion

I have a pain in my lower back.
I think I have over done the carrying of mulch, in many bucket loads, onto the vegetable garden at the weekend. I am finding it to be a "blimming nuisance" in more ways than one.
Uncle Allan came to have dinner with us last night. Because he is 86 yrs old, as you might imagine, having lived and experienced many years, he is a fount of all knowledge, ahem......

Yesterday, as he sat in the easy chair relaxing whilst blowing on his hot cup of tea, he said
" Do you know how to cure a bad back ? " as he watched me move stiffly to lower a dish of lasagne into the oven.( made especially for him I might's his favourite, but unfortunately I haven't got the skills his Italian late wife Mary had..her lasagne was ....lips and finger smacking .... Bellissimo !)
"Uuumm, maybe a long walk would loosen things up a bit" I replied.
" Nope, pineapple is the cure. Just take a couple of pieces of fresh pineapple, and your back will be as good as new", he said, his head nodding emphatically.

Uncle Allan is awaiting the arrival of a book ( I think it's coming from the Reader's Digest) that has a food remedy for every illness known to mankind, and a few others as well. He informs me that it is written by a "proper" Doctor and as soon as he has ingested all the information from it, and has eaten the yummy food the book will recommend, he is planning on taking himself off his heart pills.

I must say that I did feel a teeny wee bit sceptical about the pineapple cure. Some of Allan's other health DIY claims haven't always worked for me. Like the putting a cake of soap in the bottom of the bed to cure restless legs...that works for him every time, apparently. My legs were still extremely restless.... I had thought another very long walk might do the trick.

But what did I find on the label of the pineapple that I bought today ?

There you see, Uncle Allan was right all along....Joints...back pain !!

Now , maybe if I change the brand of soap...hmm ..that could work.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Just lately I have found myself heading off to complete certain tasks and then becoming totally side tracked and on a different route to what I had first intended. This is happening again and again. Is it a sign of old age I wonder, or maybe that summer is approaching along with Christmas festivities, and the lists of things to do grows steadily longer.

Many times I have intended to walk down to the vege garden in search of parsley or some salad leaves for the preparation of a meal and an hour or so later find myself in another part of the garden entirely. Or I go off to the bathroom to give it a clean and collect the washing, and see my violin resting on the unmade bed, and think " I might just have a quick practice of the Allegro" then some while later, the washing is still not done and the bathroom awaits it's cleaning yet another day.

Is this something that just happens to me or maybe it's a universal thing ?
I had a lovely little diversion today in the form of this wee cherub

Fern came unexpectedly with her parents and her sister and stayed for lunch. They turned an ordinary day into a special day. I especially cherish these sorts of diversions.

I am also fairly relaxed about putting aside "just started " knitting projects to cast on stitches for something that hopefully will be ready in time for Christmas, for a certain gorgeous person. She is going to look stunning in this simple summer top.

I daren't show you the other Christmas present that is on the needles...the recipient is a regular viewer of this blog and I want it to be a surprise.

My Tangled Yoke cardigan and Tempest cardigan will both have to wait another day , or a new year.

I have a feeling that there will be more diversions to come before Christmas!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hot Diamonds

I was inspired by the book Kaffe Fassett's Country Garden Quilts
to do a little photo shoot of my own this morning.
Using the hot diamond quilt top that I made earlier this year,

I had fun in the garden.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blackbird Watching and Listening

Our dishwasher is broken. It started emitting strange sounds last week, but unlike the computer which also decided to give up the ghost at the same time, I have been very slow at having it fixed.

With my hands in the kitchen sink, I can gaze out the window and wonder about the activities of these two.
I have been watching them avidly in the past week and I am very puzzled about their nesting abilities. In fact I am even wondering if they have a nest together. I have caught them squabbling over a worm on the lawn, both pulling it at the same time and the male getting away with the larger half. They spend their days perched on our ancient and gnarled lemon tree. Ian has been threatening to chop it down for ages, but I always manage to prevent him with ramblings about his Mum and her lemon meringue pies. A little bit of nostalgia wins every time.

There is a communal nest that has been used for several years now by some sparrows

at the top of the tree, but they inhabit a different world entirely from the blackbirds and don't hang out together.

Yesterday evening I watched them as night fell. I thought I would see them swooping down low into a nearby bush or the stand of bamboo, but no, they remained perched on the same tree, occasionally flying down to the lawn below for a last snack.

So, I am left still wondering, are they a couple? Do they have a nest ? Are there any eggs or little ones? I have yet to find out.

Rachel Unthank and The Winterset ..

We are just a break in the waves We are just a feather in the storm Windward or taken by the tide To places we call home
I know why the blackbird sings A song so pure that comes from his heart He sings for his love who won’t come back He sings because he is sad.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I have a favourite place that I go to quite frequently, by the seashore.
There are many treasures to be discovered and in many years of going to the same little stretch of beach, I am never disappointed in what I find there.

A swing suspended from a native Beech tree, that takes you out over the sea and leaves you feeling deliciously giddy.

Succulents on the sandy pathway,

Precious "gemstones".
When I was ten years old, I used to collect these from this same beach and have them polished at a little shop in town, they made lovely presents for my friends. They became our "lucky stones" and were very handy for swapping or even using for the knucklebones game.

This old boatshed has seen better days but weathered many storms, and will more to come, I am sure.
This is my beach blackbird, he followed me all over the garden as I worked and was completely undeterred by Billie and Basil, who gave up barking at him after a while, and just watched his business with interest.

He is probably my favourite treasure there.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The other day I took my Mum to see youngatheart...a film/doc about a group of elderly people all getting together each week to sing contemporary music and performing as a chorus, touring and giving concerts. We were shown little glimpses of their daily lives, their struggles with health issues and general wear and tear of old age. Their joy in living and singing and learning new songs ( some very different to what they are used in rock and rap ) was deeply moving and inspiring.

I now have a renewed love for Coldplay, I have always enjoyed their music but hearing this favourite Fix You by Fred Knittle, complete with the sound of his oxygen tank providing a steady beat had me awash in tears.

Some beautiful handpainted 4ply wool arrived in my letterbox the other day and I have decided to knit a spring cardigan.

This isn't it's true is much greener than this in reality.

I have to include a photo of this wee sweetie ...Tristan and Sylvia's baby...just arrived on the plane today.

I can't wait to babysit ...that is if Sylvia can bear to part with her.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Things

We have been without a computer for most of the week and, phew, we are online again with a brand new laptop. I have missed my daily fix of blog reading and have been fretting about my lack of posts and all the emails to catch up on.
Thinking about technology changes, and the speed of changes and how that has impacted our daily lives, I certainly wouldn't like to go back 15 years, but I wonder sometimes about living more simply.

amongst the flowers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Party Trick

Today dawned bright and sunny, I donned my gardening boots and went out to greet my garden,
but look what I found,

Very mysteriously some selected roses seem to have acquired some different petals overnight. Hmm, strange happenings in the rose bed.

Yesterday it rained throughout the entire birthday celebration. We managed to squeeze forty people into the kitchen and dining room and that was including Mum and her wheelchair.

But the whole event was fantastic, everyone had a good time and my Mum was definitely the star of the day!

After everyone had left, the sun came out briefly and I was able to get a couple of shots of Tristan in his Cobblestone Pullover.

It fits perfectly and he loves it, what more could I ask for ??

Now, back to the mystery of the roses ......I think a certain little six year old fairy might have been waving her magic wand yesterday during the birthday. When no-one was watching, this wee fairy could have been tiptoeing around in the rain working her magic.

I shall pick these unusual roses and take them to my Mum today. Roses are her favorite flower.