29 November 2012


Fencing that reminds me of bunting on top of sheds, Mile End, Spring 2012
A couple of weeks ago I watched Everyday, the best drama that I have seen all year.  Filmed over a period of five years and set in rural Norfolk, it recorded how mother (Shirley Henderson) and children in the family of a prisoner lived while the father (John Sim) was in prison.  The children were played by a family of children who grew up considerably over the five year period.  There were few dramatic scenes; primarily this was a narrative of how women left at home by feckless partners manage everyday - feeding the children, getting them to school, taking them to visit their father, the tension of visiting times, the door closing on the father after every visit.  The music and the haunting Norfolk countryside marking the changing of time were enough to grip the throat, let alone the loneliness of mothering a family while your irresponsible husband is in jail.  It was quite magnificent.  All week I could not stop thinking about how people just get on with stuff, all the while hoping for a time when things will be better.  If you haven't watched it, you might still be able to catch it if you have an hour and a half to spare.  Have some tissues nearby, just in case.

None of this is a precursor to a gloomy post, quite the opposite.  Your quilty comments were delightful and uplifting, and reminded me that I wanted to share other moments of fleeting everyday pleasures that have helped to bring some brightness into this gloomy November.  Like...

:: satiating a craving for greens with sharp saladings from the allotment - mizuna, spicy rocket, the baby leaves from the last beetroot left in the ground, radichio leaves that the birds so kindly decided not to peck.

:: after many years of abstinence, finding guilty pleasure in ironing shirts, still a source of some surprise, and cutting up for patches those too worn for collar turning.  There really is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing a neatly folded pile of pristine checks and stripes.  And once I've finished off my wip quilts, I'm thinking these may go into a new one.

:: seeing a snipe hiding in the reeds, the delicate feathers of female gadwall, a teal arse-upwards looking for food, and a seal wallowing on a mudbank, all through a high powered telescope courtesy of the RSPB volunteers, bless them, at Rainham Marshes.  Apparently there were waxwings there the day before. I'm desperate to see one but as the likeliest location is in the berry laden bushes of the  car park at Lakeside Shopping Centre, I may very well miss out.

:: a new kettle, a red one that cheers up a cold dark corner of the kitchen.  We had a couple of weeks using our camping kettle before it arrived, very jolly whistle before breakfast, but took soooo long to boil.

:: on Monday, watching from my bath the last of the very yellow leaves on the mulberry tree blowing in the wind against a grey-mauve sky.  They've almost disappeared now.

:: reading about the journey of wool from fleece to yarn and fabric on the Wovember blog.  Some great posts about the process of making yarn and lots of new words to learn.  You can even see my mum on there wearing a 1970s Burberry.  Thanks are due to Felix and Tom for all the work they have put into curating the blog in all its wondrous woolliness.  Such beautiful sheep, lambs, yarn, darning,

:: starting  to think that maybe this year a 2012 Advent Calendar is in order.

14 November 2012

out of kilter

"At five o'clock in the morning I would be awakened by the clank of a full bucket being set down in the kitchen sink immediately opposite my room... And out I hurried.  But the fire was already blazing, fed with dry wood.  The milk was boiling on the blue-tiled charcoal stove.  Nearby, a bar of chocolate was melting in a little water for my breakfast, and, seated squarely in her cane armchair, my mother was grinding the fragrant coffee which she roasted herself.  The morning hours were always kind to her..."
The time came... Earthly Paradise, Colette

I have been trying to become a morning person for many years, because morning people, supposedly, get up and at it and get a lot done. The end of British Summer Time would help me, or so I thought, but it didn't, not at all.  That Sunday, the cats woke up at five, I got up, read for a while, fell back to sleep until nine and it has been a struggle since then to get out of bed.  It was the beginning of a few weeks of being totally out of kilter.

Normally I embrace the grey skies of autumn on the principle that it is no good struggling against something you can do nothing about and it's always a good time to get on with indoor stuff.  This year I have had to work at it much harder.  So I started sewing.  A few repairs here and there to start with, then, I thought I would give this free pattern a go.  Something strange happened once I started to sort out my odds and ends and cut the strips.  I kept delving back in the cupboard to find ever brighter, splashier fabrics.  It became clear that my preference for muted colours was being completely overwhelmed by a need for the sea, the sun, warmth, light.  I became totally focussed and worked on like a demon until all the strips were sewn into squares, all the squares sewn into rows, all the rows sewn into a giant square that covers the top of our king size bed.  This piece is bright, very bright. You almost need sunglasses to look at it.  It has yet to be quilted but when that is done I have no idea what will become of it.  

The soon-to-be-quilt seems to have worked a little bit of magic.  This morning I woke before six, early for me, and instead of hiding beneath the covers got up and went to an early morning yoga class.  On the way home, the streets were full of golden leaves.  Now the sun is out, the washing is on the line, and I've managed to write a blog post.  Back in kilter now I hope.