Category — work
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
Does November know what it is this year? I know its bonfires and sparkly skies. All a bit glitzy after the darkness and gentle Samhain quiet of my Norfolk ocean. It’s a wee bit of a mash up in my head…a mixture of things that don’t seem to go together, but there they all are anyway – rolling around in my life. It’s somewhere in between autumn and winter – squeezing the last drops of sunshine out of summer, and pulling on the woollens at the same time. Eating the last tomatoes and basil, whilst chopping up the squashes for winter soups. It’s feeling radical at a feminist conference, then a week later lying on the floor praying for Scotty to beam me up. Hey ho. November, you can be a bit tricksy. We will see what you bring.Yeah, so where did we get to? Oh yes, I left you a while back after I had decided that clippers were a fantastic idea. Even better then, after a vicious bout of pmt, to go the whole hog and do a Sinead. Hurrah. Listen up, all you mothers of teenagers, I have been banned by my children from the school A’level information evening. At the time of writing this, I am luxuriating, LUXURIATING, on the sofa with a glass of wine, while unfortunate partner is slugging it out in a sweaty gym hall filled with spotty youths and leaflets. I may be a cliche, but no-shit-sherlock, I’m a happy one.
November also brings the candlelight, and the beginning of the official ‘cosy time’ when my bad ass gets glued to the sofa. This can last, if I time it right, from November through to April, sooooo good.
It’s a wonder I actually get any work done at all. Although you would be proud of me – I have at long last had some of my original artwork mounted, and got together some of my stitchy things, and put them in an online shop here. And even more cunning of me, I have gotten that very clever girl, sister of badness, cake, and ocean dwelling, to carve some stunningly gorgeous crochet hooks and other lovely things, to put in the shop too. Yay. Do take a look and check out what we’ve been up to.
And from stitching to sisterhood – the Feminism in London Conference 2013 was a blast – a massive thank you to the organisers, speakers and workshop facilitators. I am still on a total high from meeting some fab women, hearing some great speeches, and well – just looking around a packed auditorium of women (and some men and kids too) – seeing strength, resilience, intelligence – and thinking wow! We rock sisters….
There are people putting the world back together again…piece by piece….hope by shining hope.
Happy November to you all out there….may the leaves you swish through be extra crunchy, may the stars twinkle magically above you….may the dark time gently come to rest in your sacred spaces.
November 7, 2013 1 Comment
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
Today is Thursday, perhaps a good day to check in and say hello. There’s not been any bigness to my week really, not any grand adventures to make you swoon. No big excitements or scary bits (apart from Tuesday’s mad wind) to report. But it has been pretty nonetheless, in a frothy, blossomy sort of way.
A beautiful quietness has settled in our valley today, and I woke up hearing the sound of swifts in a cloudless sky. Herb and I meandered our way up to the Cemy, a nature reserve, to bliss out under the blossoms (and chase a few balls)
Following on from last weekend, I have been thinking about parenting and all its myriads of choices. Sadness for pathways not taken, children not born, and a love for what is. These ideas have woven their way into my artwork unconsciously and into a new small booklet that I am working on called Blessing the Way. It’s my journey into the land that is parenting, from birth through to the heroic act of letting them go. All from my shed at the end of my garden.
I’ve been squeezing in other jobs between the work of everyday too – this morning making a nettle tincture, from nettles picked earlier. With dropping iron levels and a lecture from my doctor about burn out, I figured this was a good start. No doubt it will taste revolting. Then I will know its working
I’ve been following the sun around my house like a woman possessed…working in whatever little slices of sunlight I can find, and where the wifi will grace me with its presence. A good spot was discovered today, perched on the front doorstep, where I can survey vast swathes of my property – all 20 feet of it. Second big advantage is that I can keep perfect watch over the newly transplanted squash that Cath and Sally gave me – like a sentry – that baby’s not getting eaten on my watch – oh no siree.
And finally, I have been painting a roof panel for Kesty’s Red Hearth which will open for the summer next month. My thoughts keep turning to honey bees and the communities that they create together. So too, the women in my life, and the circling that we do together.
It’s a message I keep coming back to over and over. Together we are stronger. Invincible. One of these days I will perhaps stop trying to go it alone, and actually share the load, delegate some jobs. But for today, there is blossom to smile over, a to-do list to tick off, and the merry month of May to love and be loved
One last word: nettle tincture alone will not deal with anaemia. I’m sure you already know that….but just in case! If you think your iron levels are dropping, get yourself checked out. I’m told cake is especially helpful in really dire cases…..
May 16, 2013 2 Comments
Yes siree, this is panning out to be a strange time….where did those strong roots that I was telling you about disappear to? Never mind being grounded, I seem to have been rushing around all over the shop, and not really achieving very much at all. But I have been having fun, I think, in the meantime, and I have been to Wales and back…yahoodie to that then.
Oh, how badly lost do I always get when I venture out alone to Wales? It is pitiful. I always end up sitting on the verge of some remote lane, weeping, while sheep look at me suspiciously. I don’t blame them. Its a sad sight. I am way too impractical to take a map, so usually just rely on my girl guide instincts to get me outta there. They are long days, those Welsh days. But listen, my instincts were sharpened this time – I was on the way to Wonderwool on the other side of them there Black Mountains…and I tell you, my friends, I can sniff out exciting yarn from 100 miles away
Yeah, thought that might make you sit up….nice huh? And you know? There was miles of the stuff….never seen so much wool crammed into one cow shed. These Wonderwool people were not messing around. Mind you, neither was I…I rocked up with a whole load of pink peace scarf and a plan to
brainwash nicely persuade woolly punters to join me in my plan of gureilla wool fare – which I did, with the help of a few friends.
There was plenty of time too for a stroll around to drool at gorgeous yarn and people doing weavy, woolly things (I clearly have all the technical jargon up my sleeve, such a pro) – take a look:
I feel I should be able to tell you exactly what they are doing in those pictures, particularly the woman with the baby…but you know, I didn’t really like to ask, so walked around looking knowledgeable and stroking my chin a lot…oh, I’m so rock n’ roll (not).
Hey, talking of rock n’ roll though, I did meet a very wonderful folky girl and her guitar, singing songs of protest, paganism and knitting – yay to Talis Kimberley, check her out!
Right, so that was the wool bit done and dusted. Back home (I made it back eventually, via a ridiculous detour nearly to Hereford and back) and time for a bit of gardening. I have an exciting snail plan to reveal to you soon. This is my world in the summer months. THE SNAIL ISSUE. Do you think I don’t have it in me to bore the pants off you for the second year in a row about snails…oh think again sweet friends. There’s plenty more where that came from. So, a wee tidy up in the front garden, planting of beans, salad, flowers, squash, tomatoes.
And look at this little cutie-pie found near our pond…I was seriously tempted to have a little go at kissing him….you know, just to see…..
The other thing thats been going on in my valley is a call to hands to get our Red Hearth ready for its opening in June. I will tell you all about that soon. For now though, witchy women and moon daughters gathered to sing and paint signs to mark the way up the woodland path. We were tempted there by lots of cake (a given).
I was lucky enough to meet Jackie Singer there too, a musician and author of Birthrights, a book of ritual and celebration. Lots of good things to check out.
Oh dear, have I been nattering on for too, too long? It’s the Beltane energy you know, a time when everything speeds up and there’s just so much whizzing around. Time to trot myself back up to that art studio and get on with some work……
….content in the knowledge that there is beautiful wool in the world, beautiful people, and that the plan of pinky badness is coming along just fine jimboy…with the help of my new and rather goreous P.A….meet Rose….my latest recruit. Go on. Ask her what she’s knitting.
May 4, 2013 2 Comments
The bareness of January is so good. Simple. Yellow. It is a yellow month for me.
A month that can be edged in to gently, lest nerves be frayed. A quiet month, a getting through month. A back to work month
Working from home can be a bit lonely and dispiriting sometimes, watching the clock for when I can light the fire or sneak over to Facebook. So, far better then to head down the hill to my other office, aka The Black Book Cafe.
It’s a fab old building, Art Deco, with lots of light flooding in through its windows, and it always makes me smile that the other half of the block is a turquoise launderette called Soap and Suds (warm in winter, perfect to sit and read a book in or gaze at the views of Stroud while your undies do their thing, round and round…)
Reasons to love my other office – the books of course (to buy or borrow), pastries, jazz playing quietly, lovely smiley cafe owner with coffee and tea on tap, wifi connection, great views, comfy sofas, chess boards and lots of people to play with, did I mention pastries??
There is a table by the window that practically has my name carved on to it, does that sound a little territorial? It’s a great spot to
people watch get tonnes of work done, as I contemplate my next chess move/pastry/author to rummage for……
I love noticing the different waves of people that float in and out during the day – mums & toddlers, other workers, beat poets, friends gossiping over coffee, campaigners, artists & writers, the lunchtimers, and the teenage after-schoolers. There’s room for them all, and the good news for me is that I have lots of opportunities to indoctrinate people into my pink plan of badness. Hurrah.
Meanwhile, back at home, all is still lovely, still quiet, still yellow.
My favourite January tablecloths get shaken out and laid on the kitchen table, catkins and old buttons sit by companionably side by side, and there is a long out-breath after the mayhem of Christmas.
Outside, my witchazel silently unfolds it’s tiny yellow curls. This is January work.
January 10, 2013 1 Comment