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Breathing Space

I don’t know about you, but I find that the beginning of April to be the breathing time. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Winter is sleepy and deep and quiet, while the Equinox is a bit turbulent – all that pulling into balance – its a cross between a menopausal woman and a bad hair day. well it is in my world. Which is a worry. 

But April, ah, that new unfolding time, the breathing time. you lovely month (yeah, I know, short memory, it snowed this time last year) – the month when I think “oh yes baby, the sunshine is here, the blossoms are around the corner, dust down your shorts, we are nearly there”. I take full responsibility if my premature enthusiasm tempts that pesky fate into sending us blizzards next week.

Enough talk of weather, enough I say. Let me talk stitching. Oh let me…..well, you see. It goes like this. When you are feeling completely overwhelmed with emails, and parcels of pink knitting, and your hormones, and housework, and illness and life – well, here’s what you do. You make sure you discover a new obsession, in this case English piecing, and spend literally hours peering through your spectacles like some crazy cat lady, at the tiniest stitches on little wee pieces of fabric. It’s a winner.

You can lose literally days of work, to this timeless art; meanwhile the little work pixies take pity on you, hop up onto your laptop and take over the management of your to-do list, like those cute little elves who made shoes at night. Only this lot are a highly trained crack team of admin specialists, and they have sorted your life out in a nano second. O.K, I’m getting a bit weird. It’s all that April fresh air.

Truly though, stitching is the very best. And my friend Cindy knows her way around fabric, let me tell you. She is responsible for me haring down this quilty road when I have so, so much else to do. You Queen of Badness. Those of you who are local, check out this fabric shop to end all others.

And seriously, going slowly, making tiny stitches in a way our grandmothers would’ve done, quietly, slowly by hand, is my way of breathing out, slowing down, getting out of my busy head. It’s got to be good.

Breathing space means that you slow down, and suddenly take a look at the moments you find yourself in. You may be surprised to find that your little boys turn very big, that celebrations with a houseful of teenagers and other family is actually quite enjoyable. (note to self: even the most incompetent adolescent can be taught to knit when the pressure is on – don’t let them fool you for one minute into thinking that those little pinkies can only work iPhones, oh no sireee)

Lucky girl that I am, I am about to journey to both of my oceans – first the ocean of the west, and then all the way across the land by train, to my ocean of the east. I am feeling very lucky that my work can travel with me, and my needles and thread, and camera. I am set. I have dear and lovely friends to see at both ends too, salty air to walk in, and pebbles to collect. I love you April, there is much to breathe in.

With apologies for the ridiculous number of photos this week, here are some outtakes, incase you are tempted to think this is all a bit Mary Poppins……





April 4, 2014   2 Comments

Faith is knowing….

Every moment of every day there are choices to be made. And thank goodness for my poor overloaded brain, that I make these choices quickly, instinctually and without too much rumination. I was always a bit freaked out by the film Sliding Doors, where there is one tiny moment – she misses a train – that changes the whole course of her life. If I choose a peppermint tea and the triple naughty chocolate brownie in my favourite cafe Black Books, am I doomed? Well, my thighs may be, but what about the rest of my life?

Holding on tight to these thoughts, I travelled to my ocean of the west before I made any more irreversible changes to my shifting sands in Stroud. There is nothing like a quiet shoreline and a new day rising golden, to help you feel better and make your 65 year old self say to your 45 year old self “listen honey, you’re gonna make it through. Relax, it all works out”.

So I may well be feeling like a bit of old frayed rope washed up on the beach, but the earth still smells good, reminding me that different things are always quietly being composted and remade. The world keeps turning. And, as my soon to be 16 year old said, in a sudden moment of wisdom “to make an omelette mum, you have to break the eggs. By the way, whats for tea, I’m starving?”

I’m feeling so crowded and over exposed, which makes me snort and laugh at myself as I share yet more personal thoughts on the book of Face and a blog that can be read by absolutely anyone. But I always love reading about the ins and outs of other people’s truthful stories, it helps me remember that we all pretty much work through the same issues, feel the same anxieties and fragility; we hurt each other in similar ways, love and hold each other and mend in the same ways too. It is just life, it is what happens.

Pathways can be fraught with things you didn’t expect though, coming out of a bag at ya….one minute the way is solid, next thing you know someone’s carelessness, or their own pain, can have you right down there, wondering who turned the lights off. Turn towards the sunshine, feel your way right outta there sister. All things pass.

I’m not really sure where I am going with any of this, its just one more pathway in my head, one more meandering thought to carry me through March, towards spring and warmth, blossoms, more travelling, more pink scarf.

If I am very lucky my oceans of the West and East will be blue and sparkling when I reach them, my hometown midpoint in Stroud will remain lovely and friend-filled, and my wayward hormones will be kind to me.

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.” Patrick Overter

March 16, 2014   5 Comments

Getting through

Hello February, you scoundrel of a month.

I remember my father trying to talk to me when I was a know it all teenager of about 15. He gently tried to explain that often life gets tough, and that sometimes beyond circumstances that you can control, it just is unexplainably hard, with pressure building and hopefulness fading. I thought then that most adults, particularly my parents were idiots. I couldn’t wait to be a grown up, and what really could be so very hard about it? Big bunch of whingers I remember thinking.

I’ve been a grown up for a few months now, and finally I am just getting it. I feel beyond sadness that he is no longer here for me to tell him he was right. But many of his words stay. Blue February days can be toughies. You know those days. Nothing is technically wrong. All the bills have just about been paid, the house insurance is up to date, you haven’t missed a meeting or dental appointment. You and your partner are speaking, and the children are sort of behaving. Yet its hard to make it through, and you astutely avoid all internet images of kittens lest you start weeping, and never stop. Oh dear. 

So never mind what puts us there, what gets us through? The thought that winter is passing? A long hot bath? Brand new girl boxers ordered off the internet late at night? I really have no idea. 

I do know that attempting to knit slinky jumpers on circular needles with under arm cast offs, when I can barely knit a straight scarf, is not the cleverest. I also know Netflix and 82% dark chocolate is a no-no after 10pm. 

I want my dad. I want him to finish the other part of the conversation that he started 35 years ago. What is supposed to happen next? Do I just carry on? (keeping calm obviously NOT being an option; I have my Mars in Leo for goddsake). 

My default setting is clearly a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Doris Day – bracing walks in the countryside are embarked on, and plenty of good, wholesome food (ignoring the bad influence of best friend eating family packs of chocolate bourbons, I shall not fall madam….).

I bury myself in work, and try to stick to the surprising and quirky. Like finding badgers painted on gateposts, stacks of old letters from the 1930′s in the community recycling, and a gorgeous ginger cake mix sent spontaneously in the post by a lovely woman I’ve never met. 

And if it weren’t for the fact that I’m often held to ransom by a jack russel terrorist then its possible that February could be quite dandy after all……

February 21, 2014   3 Comments

Time, loss and change

Oh hello! Did you think I had been eaten by gnomes? or my pets? or that Scotty had finally beamed me up and beyond to the blue yonder? Disturbing thought.

No, here I am, all is well, sort of. But this New Year time through January and February has been more intense than I ever remember it being. I’ve had to resort to tidying the odd cuboard to calm my nerves on occasion. This is what I found in the latest poke around a dark drawer – last year’s intention list – ha, ha, let’s see how I did….

Hmmmmm, not bad on balance, but slightly disconcerting that I marked myself on my own list…at least it wasn’t in red pen.

The hardest part about January was losing someone I loved.

I have always considered myself to have come from a world of women, to have been surrounded by women – mothers, godmothers, girlfriends and daughters. They nurture me, hold me, inspire me, they are my life.

And yet I have been blessed to have had the most wonderful men in my life too – father, uncle, godfather, partners and sons, who, now I look closely, have been interesting, thoughtful, and funny and who have also gently shaped who I have become.

To have lost one of these men suddenly seven years ago was heartbreaking. To be losing another, in slow motion, even more so. But to have been given this time with them, in the first place is surely the best treasure that I have been gifted.

Saying goodbye to someone has made me take a long, hard look at this thing we call time. It is so hard to measure, and yet that is what I am trying to do. Suddenly, it is more precious almost than the breath in my body, and I really don’t know how much of it I have, for my own life, or for any of the other precious people in my world, and there are many. How can it be that life is so very long, and hard sometimes, and then it is over, in the smallest moment, with that final breath?

In the middle of the saddest time of this last 6 weeks, I was able to get away for a few days. I sat in a roundhouse with my sisters, and passed on my blessing for strong endings and brave new beginnings. It went into a cauldron tended by a beautiful woman land guardian, along with the spells, prayers and wishes of nineteen other women. It was stirred in, mixed together with ocean totems and we have each taken a jar of it home. Mine is sitting here expectantly, waiting. In a way, I guess that is what I am doing. Sitting, waiting, for what, I do not know. But there is a space growing, so we will see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work and organising to be done with Wool Against Weapons – 25 weeks left! And I am counting all the small blessings that are keeping me going in this winter time of change……

the best rice pudding in the world – you clever girl, for nailing the ultimate recipe and sharing it with me -

……a funny beast to share it with, he makes me smile (when I am not wanting to kill him for his bad deeds)

….sharing the best and maddest time with gorgeous women, preparing food together and laughing A LOT…

….the gentle smell of Suzi’s beeswax melting slowly in my kitchen, to make balm and honey…

…..finally seeing two years worth of ocean treasure collected up and ready to make into totems by my ocean sister…

….and because Imbolc’s light has quietly crept in to this winter grey, the making of Brigids crosses and the wonderfulness and pale green of spring bulbs – the sweetest blessing. May we all slowly unfurl ourselves, mend and stretch in to this new time….

February 10, 2014   5 Comments

We Were Made for These Times

Thank you Clarissa Pinkola Estes for your inspiring words to carry us in to 2014

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

December 31, 2013   4 Comments

Skin Weaving

oh hello….November’s busyness claimed me, sorry I haven’t been around for a while. I was waiting to see what it would send my way, and I wasn’t disappointed. It has been really quite magical. Draw closer to the fire, I will tell you…..

If there is to be a midwoman initiation, then it may as well start at the beginning of a vast and untamed ocean, laid out before her. She will sit on a hard granite rock high up, with the cold blue singing to her at dawn and wonder about her life and the pathways that bought her to this place. She will honour this past, but will quietly know that the time to step out has come. An ancient mother, with eyes as sharp as a buzzard will sit by her, and she will know that her teacher is fierce and not to be trifled with. Her name is Twisted Braid.

Together they will journey inland, away from the blue, to the wild moor. It is the moor, after all, that holds their stories, the old magic, the secret pathways. It is the place of beginning, for this soon to be Salmon woman.

They travel with stitches, lots of them, woven into a book. A book telling tales of sisterhood and paw prints. Telling how they each arrive on quiet wolf paws and leave on soaring eagle wings. There is a box, a treasure chest, filled with the dreams of witch women, known only to a few, its magic so potent it would burn stars into the deepest night.

What will she find there, as she arrives at dusk down a small track? A small hobbity cottage, guarded by wolves and ash and pine. Kettles warming on a stove, food cooking in the kitchen, and sisters, wild sisters, there for the magic of skin weaving and the twisting path of initiation.

She will rise at dawn and quietly tiptoe past sleeping bear women into the sharpness of a cold morning, and the dreaming of a hare. There will be blessings fluttering, season on season of coloured rags and songs, hung on the wishing tree for the breeze to carry them far into the sky. There will be the ancient Roundhouse where later they will gather to bear witness to their stories, and to show the ancestors their scars. And there will be bones, singing and clacking, in the morning, while Salmon waits, patiently, to journey with her little warrior sister.

And what of the initiation? The midwoman will meet the pain and her trembling with a song of strong blood, indeed this is blood magic most sacred. As the needle weaves into her pale skin, she will watch her sisters drumming, and foot stomping, and singing by her side. She will be held by crone women, crow women, buzzard women, and many mothers…and it will feel strong, and good, and a call to roar. And roar she will…..

And all the while, Twisted Braid will sit quietly, unblinking, wordless and deeply witnessing. Midwoman will know in that moment, that she may well have Salmon etched into her skin, but it means nothing until she can earn it. To earn it she must follow the this new warrior path, with discipline and focus, and dance fearlessly back out again to that vast ocean, gathering sisters on the way, remembering that one day she will turn, and head for home and quiet moorland pools. The tattoo fidgets on the inside of her wrist, restless to be begin……

November 23, 2013   3 Comments

Balm for Beginners (Clippers for the clueless)

One thing you should never do, my friends, if you are a middle aged woman and you suspect that you may soon be menopausal, you should never, EVER be tempted to tritty trot like a ‘my little pony’ down to Argos and buy yourself hair clippers. Should you inadvertantly do this, don’t then get those clippers out in a 10 minute window before teatime and without reading the instructions, go for broke, set it to zero and have a go Joe…..

No sireeee. Because your children will laugh themselves into a stupor and declare that you are now balder than Grandpa on one patch near your left eyebrow. And if that wasn’t shaming enough, you keep on going the next day, trying to even it up, and pretending that hair clippers isn’t the female equivalent to men buying a zoomy zoom motorbike at 50.

Right. Enough of sad things, lets get on with something completely different. Witchy balm. I thought we might have ourselves a little tutorial…you up for that? Then lets begin (bearing in mind I never measure anything, and am a little left of insane right now)

The simple truth about making balm is that it is really just melting together oils and beeswax and then letting them solidify in containers. Getting the proportions right is fun to trial and error (not a lot can go wrong, it’s much like making jam – keep testing for thickness and set). You will need – oil (olive oil, or sweet almond, or sunflower, you know, something oily) and you will need beeswax (order online from Neals Yard or pick some up locally at a farmers market).

What would be really super whizzy to add to that, for extra silkiness in the balm, is coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. These you can buy online, and the very best company in my mind is Shea Butter Cottage – who are a small scale, ethical, fairly traded company run by a woman from Ghana called Akua Wood. She rocks by the way.

Find yourself a double pan boiler – what are those things called? My brain can’t find the right word – those pans that you melt chocolate in – bain marie? – well, nab one of those, or failing that, put a pyrex glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Keep the water at a rolling simmer, and then pop in your oil, followed by your beeswax and whatever ever else you are adding. Let it all melt together while you enjoy the gorgeous honey smell of beeswax filling your kitchen. Have some clean jars to hand, and a small jug.

When the beeswax has melted into the oils, it’s time to test it out with a wooden spoon dipped in the mixture. If it sets nicely on the spoon and your finger – soft but not runny, moveable and not waxy, then you are done. (if not, fiddle with the proportions a bit more). This is the time to add any essential oils your little heart might desire. Go for it. (I love a company called Baldwins who do mail order oils, herbs, jars etc)  Then, pour the mixture in to the jug and carefully into your waiting jars. Leave to set.

Et voila! You are done. You are nearly an official witchety witch. You are most certainly a kitchen goddess. You now have balm to put on your skin, lips, sore knees, anything wooden that needs polishing. Grab some kitchen roll and wipe out the saucepan, and use it to rub into wooden chopping boards that have seen better days. Before you start panicking, I am going to list below some approximate measurements, and if you’re really on a herby, balm making roll, then I suggest you cast your eyes over Susanne Fischer-Rizzi’s book “Complete Earth Medicine Handbook” for inspiration and direction.

Making my own balm is one of my lovely, calming quiet rituals that I save for certain days. A bit like baking. It sets your world a little straighter. And you don’t need much – a little goes a long way. My children have grown up with it slapped on them to cure anything from ‘ouchies’ on knees, to stinging nettled legs, from sadness to homesickness. No matter what ails them, they know that my balm has their name on it. Now they are older and bigger and they’ve learned to duck when they see me coming for them, balm in hand. Good job I still have the loveliest of Goddaughters to smother in it, when her chin needed a little patching, after a wonky broomstick landing….”balm on” baby, it’s all good.

One cup of oils (I use olive oil, or sweet almond)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
2 teaspoons of cocoa butter
1 teaspoon of shea butter
1 tablespoon of beeswax (this is hard to guess as its solid, but be bold, give a go)
20 drops of essential oil (I have to tell you that I often use double this amt. but then I am queen reckless)

September 27, 2013   2 Comments

A Stitchy Tale

A short stitchy story. You know how it goes. September comes around, the kids go back to school, you twiddle your thumbs for a couple of days, wondering what to do next, because clearly you do not have enough going on in your life. Then, ah ha! You have that lightbulb moment, sitting in the last of the summer sunshine, when you think, ‘well, it’s nearly Christmas, I had better crack on with some present making’. All in the name of actually avoiding knuckling down to some real, live, paid work, so your family doesn’t starve. Hurrah. Present Making it is. 

Next thing you know, you have persuaded your ex-husband to cut down his entire crop of lavender, although the scary man-tool strimmer was waved a little too close to your head for your liking, but hey presto, you have a tonne and a half of lavender to process before the sun leaves for another 8 months.

So you sit there weeping a little, feeling like what-was-her name when Rumplestiltskin said she had to spin an entire attic of straw into gold. Too big a task for one wee, mad girl. Never mind hey, because that is what Facebook is for – to send out a call for help. Which you do, and before long your garden is filled with lots of fab, mad girlies who spend an entire morning destalking your lavender and gossiping. Your ears nearly fall off their talk is so scandalous.

Well, this isn’t very stitchy yet, sorry. O.K, so lavender is deliciously procured, and made into lavender bags for Christmas, thus saving you a small fortune, funds instantly diverted into a better cause, namely books, chocolate and fun days out.  ”And your 15 year old will be delighted with his lavender bag” a friend wryly points out. For shame. Don’t be telling me the truth now, lady.

Alright, spurred on by the success of the lavender mission, you will naturally feel that your stitching talent is boundless and that you really are rather foxy when it comes to needles and thread. Oh you foolish girl. Around the same time you will be mercilessly talked into making a rather wonderful pouch for a special carving, and being a textile goddess you will enthusiastically agree. Oh my god. Did Martha teach you nothing in your sewing classes 3 years ago? Did she really tell you that a tape measure is a complete waste of time, that pins are for wimps? I don’t think so, she would have you horsewhipped for the short cuts you figure you can take.

Even so, you forge on, and as well as the pouch, you attempt to make a quilted hot water bottle cover, all nice and witchy, and magical. Because you can. But maybe, you actually can’t, and by day 5 you are rifling through the bathroom cabinet for diazepam to take away some of your self inflicted pain. I promised you honesty my friends, one blog back – well here it is. This is me, praying, no begging my Husquarvana to have mercy on me. It is pitiful, no?

Well, I need to wrap up this sorry chapter….the pouch got made (I was thrilled to discover my hairy white jumper had moulted all over the black fabric) and the hot water bottle cover just about made it through too, after I had a strict chat with myself and dug out some pins, and even a tailors chalk. The tape measure never quite got used, but lessons were learned. Oh yes they were. Namely, I must remember that learning to sew is best done slow; that one lavender bag made does not make you Mama Soule, far from it. Lavender is more soothing than diazepam and better for you, and JAINE: GET ON WITH SOME PROPER WORK….with this is mind, I am heading off to my Cornish ocean, to build up my strength and take a little break. Back in a week……

September 19, 2013   3 Comments

Local is as Local Does

We live in a little corner of Stroud called Trinity. It is also known as the Museli belt, on account of the high proportion of hippies, artists, musicians, allotment diggers and dreamers that dwell here. It’s a fab little corner, on the north east side of the town, up a hill, bordering the edge of countryside known as the Heavens. And in what feels like the middle of Trinity, is party central – our Local. Otherwise called the Septic (although those shady days are long gone) or the Hat and Stick.

It’s run by the mad Mr. Rodda Thomas, and is right on the corner of our very sweet park on a hill, called the Daisy Bank, where the children play all summer long, and where we all congregate when the snow comes. This pub is the nerve centre of all that happens and is talked about here in our corner of Stroud; if its out there going on, then it is up for discussion at our Local.

How could you not love a pub with leopard skin walls and a faded photo of Elvis to greet you as you arrive? I love it’s huge wooden kitchen table, always with fresh flowers and a lit candelabra, where we gather to put the world to rights. I love its funny corner with the piano and horns on the wall. It has a blokey corner where big matches play out and are cried and yelled over. It has a corner where the knitters gather and clickety clack with busy needles.

It has casino nights, legal advice nights, ‘Up the Workers’ food nights, and Sunday roasts. A notice says ‘Well behaved owners welcome if accompanied by their dogs…children also welcome if accompanied by well behaved parents” (that’s us out then)

Best of all, it is the place to hang when the Fringe (Stroud’s music festival) comes to town. Rodda puts up a big marquee in the garden, and the festivities begin with a dog show the week before (I am sure I have told you about my prize winning beast – a first in the scruffiest dog category – so proud – until he bit the judge and we had to make a hasty exit….sigh)

There is music, dancing, local ales and a Country Fair where we all get a little crazy over our misshapen vegetables and allotment offerings. Not to mention the baking….and the sloe gin category that is the source of more than a little conspiracy. Lights twinkle, the bass is cranked up, the vintage crockery is dusted down, and it is all very local, very lovely.

Festivites are still going strong in October with a mean ‘Pickle Off’ – not for the faint hearted, this is chutney gone haywire my friends. Then there is Halloween when sugar hyped kids bash a pinata to death, hanging from the pub ceiling; all watched over by the king of Horns Road, Rodda the Insane.

Yeah, it’s a good place to be, our little local, even though I may not get up there as often as I could, despite it being only a 3 minute walk away. But I do think it’s pretty cool, with its baskets of strawberries growing over the front door, a place that takes on local kids (one of our daughters included) and its sure sense of who it is – a place of community, where our lives play out…local is as local does.

September 7, 2013   No Comments

NFS….Normal for Stroud

I’m home, I’m teenaged out…and I am due some normal time (please? someone point me in the right direction?). It feels good to be back in Stroud, and immersed in our green valleys again. It feels good to be doing what I usually do at home – knitting, working in the garden on my laptop, herding cats… you know, the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect in this circus we call everyday.

Over in these parts we even have our own facebook page called ‘Normal for Stroud’ and the disturbing thing is, it looks completely reasonable to my eyes. Sigh. It was no surprise to see that a photo of our pink scarf pitched up on it this week, randomly. O.K, in this last week of August, here is a little roundup of goings-on in my ‘Normal for Stroud’ life…..

First up, no sooner had I landed home, we were carted off to Treefest, sweet little local festival, with a healthy dose of axe and chainsaw tomfoolery for obsessive woody people. And why not. Whatever floats your boat. What was floating mine, big time, were the churros with cinnamon sugar and hot chocolate sauce. Here is concrete evidence that you can distract these woody people in a nano second with the right sort of carrot….ha ha ha…..

…not so focused on your woodturning now, are you, my little sawdusty friends…..

Back at the ranch there was plenty of time to dust down the old jazz classic ’78′s (and torment the dog with the promise of a biscuit on a turntable); mix up a jug of ‘Mushion Moules’ (a ridiculous and less sober interpretation of the better known Moscow Mule), and to round off the evening’s entertainment (after the fun of teasing the dog had waned) a little game of “tie a doughnut on a string and torment our blindfolded guests” – my how we laughed…..

Other noteworthy distractions have been: meeting a wizard with some rather interesting potions and resins; getting a little ‘makey’ with some blackberry and currant liqueur, stitching a couple of hops and lavender sleeping pillows; and rolling out an 80 meter piece of peace scarf down our road as you do, for a little pinky try out.

Is this normal for Stroud? I don’t know, all I am beginning to realise is that it is normal for me. As regular as these green wooded hills that we walk, and as fab as the people that pitch up at a moment’s notice – whether it is to hold up meters of knitting or to protest another awful war in our struggling world. Happy normal weekends to y’all…

August 29, 2013   No Comments