Monday, April 18, 2011

Being A City Slicker

Once again we were thwarted in our efforts to get to Shoestring this weekend.  Aaaargh!  Why are things conspiring against us?  This week we made it a long way out of town and then the wretched car broke down. We had been so much looking forward to a weekend at Shoestring.  Has the grass seed germinated?  Are the seedlings and new plants flourishing?  Who knows! 

This week we are supposed to be taking possession of our "new" (old) kitchen and taking it to Shoestring for the installation over Easter weekend.  No doubt that will be fraught with unexpected setbacks and difficulties, so a peaceful weekend would have been nice in advance to prepare Mr Shoestring for the arduous tasks ahead.  He has now found two more red wooden handled kitchen utensils to add to his collection, so he needs a suitable kitchen to keep them in.  And not to be outdone, I have undertaken the most difficult collection challenge so far.  I don't think I mentioned that my mum collects fair ground souvenir glass with the name "Elsie" engraved on it?  (Not really a collection because so far she has only been able to find two pieces, but top maks for a valiant effort.)  Well, I am going to outdo her.  I am going to collect china or glass labelled "Harry" and here is the first piece.  It may also be the last, but what a challenge!    

Now there are good times to be had in The Big City as well as at Shoestring Cottage.  One of the highlights of the working week for me is the stitching group we have one floor up in our apartment.  There are six of us and it has to be admitted that stitching sometimes takes a back seat when we are all cackling like a coven of witches over some fresh happening or a terrible faux pas one of us has made during the week.  The generous hostess of our stitching nights is Elle.  (That is not her real name but when I first met her I could only remember that her name began with the letter L.  I tried all kinds of exotic and unusual names but usually not the right one, and I began to feel that some of them were not greeted with enthusiasm.  In the end I thought perhaps she would like to be called Elle.)  She really is the hostess with the mostest and though we are all trying to be abstemious she often plies us with delicious foods which we cannot resist.  We sometimes have a "show and tell" time and she brings out some of the items miraculously stashed away in her apartment.  I particularly love this donkey applique - look at the way the tension between the donkey and the lady who is trying to lead him is so cleverly but simply expressed. 

Last week Elle excelled herself with a fabulous cake - I must ask her if she minds sharing the recipe with us all.  Another interesting thing at stitching this week was that Mrs WOT had just come back from a trip to South America and regaled us with stories of her travels.  Also, she had discovered a shop in Buenos Aires jam packed to the gunnels with art deco clothes and accessories.  She thoughtfully brought me back this wonderful black hat which will mean a new costume for next year's art deco weekend of course.  How well she knows me, and how wonderful to think of art deco artifacts being squirrelled away all around the world.  The workmanship in this hat is very fine; when you see it close up the hand pleating and gathering is more evident and the way the fabric has been manipulated is skillful. 

The mannequin who models hats for me is rather languid, isn't she?  She is so morose that sometimes I fancy I can see a tear forming in her eye.  I did feel sympathetic to begin with but her melancholic mood never lifts.  No matter what delightful confectionery is placed on her cranium, she refuses to cheer up and I begin to believe she is suffering from such a degree of ennui that she never will.  She needs a name but nothing suitably tragic springs to mind.  Can anybody suggest one for her?

Despite my moaning about not getting to Shoestring these past two weeks, all is not dire in the city.  Walking to and from work I am pleased to see the changes in the season and nature's determination to assert herself in the most difficult circumstances.  The other day by a church I spied this seedling tomato which had presumably germinated from a scrap tossed aside.  It was trying its hardest to create fruit amongst a selection of assorted weeds only centimetres away from the passing feet of thousands of passers by. 

And not long now until the long Easter break and surely nothing more can crop up which will prevent us from getting to Shoestring Cottage this time?  

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I had a fascinating tale to tell you this week, but unfortunately we had a breakneck journey to hospital on Saturday night.  One of our daughters had been in a 100K charity walk and had collapsed 47K into the event.  She was taken to one hospital, then another, and was finally admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.  We spent an anxious time with her over the weekend and today while she recovered, and are mightily relieved that she is now returning to normal after a very frightening time for all of us.  It will be good to get into some clean clothes and sleep in our own beds again, more soon.  I promise never again to get aerated over trans-Tasman netball games, and we are eternally grateful for the tender and respectful care our family received from all the people we encountered in hospital.  And how wonderful to have the loving support and concern of friends and family.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Gypsy Room

This guest room at Shoestring Cottage is called “the gypsy room” because it has the gypsy chandelier and that set the theme.  The chandelier should have found a new home when we left our big old house, but we couldn't bear to part with it and eventually it did find a new home at Shoestring.  The gypsy room is full of colourful objects such as the retro flowery mirrors which help bounce the light around a bit. 

Of course all is not as it seems and underneath the bed there is gradually accumulating a large selection of art deco costumes.  I can't fit them all into my sewing room or there would be no room at all for my sewing paraphernalia.   
This old print is a favourite of mine at present.  I don’t think it was originally as blue/green toned as it is now, I think it must have faded with time.  I can’t decide whether it is supposed to represent a New Zealand scene or an American scene.  (There is a tiny person in a tent, very mysterious.  Who are they and what are they doing in their tent?  Composing a wonderful novel?  Nursing an ingrown toenail?  Are they a pioneer in New Zealand or are they perhaps an American Indian?)  Rather expensive for Shoestring, we bought it for $7.50 at Habitat for Humanity.

 For instance, this one only cost $5.00 and is bigger!  More bang for your buck.  It came from the Takapuna markets.

Or this - $10.00 but an original and not a print!  (Bound to be declared a masterpiece at some time in the future.)  St Vincent de Paul.

But back to the gypsy room.  The curtains are the most neutral thing in the room, plain cream to subdue the place a bit.  They were leftovers from our old house too, so no unnecessary expenditure there, true to the Shoestring philosophy.  The old carved colonial dresser is from my mum, as is the mirror with the turned wooden stand. 
Gypsy candlesticks too

And of course the bed is decorated with the silk crazy quilt, a very gypsyish object.  (You have seen that before, I won't bore you with it.  Because this room does not receive strong direct sunlight it should be a good place for the quilt, with not too much fading hopefully.  One day it would be practical to build in some book shelves in the recess on one side of the chimney breast, and perhaps some cupboards on the other side.  But all in the fullness of time, we are having more fun playing in the garden for the time being and the next big job will be to put in the "new" kitchen kindly donated by relatives who are remodelling.  I predict that Mr Shoestring will have a few choice words to say when we are in the throes of that project, it is probably best not to mention any other plans until that has been safely achieved. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Autumn Daze

Two new signs at the entrance to town!

Well my dears, the weekend did not get off to a good start at Shoestring.  I went for an early morning run and tripped on some uneven paving, flew through the air and skinned my palms and knees.  It was more a question of hurt pride and there was that awful moment when you surreptitiously check to see that nobody has witnessed your foolishness.  Never mind, after that I had to carry on and though I have some colourful injuries they will soon heal. 

After that the weekend rapidly improved.  The Squire and his good lady came to visit and stay overnight, and some other friends also arrived so we all sat outside under the trees and enjoyed vintage artisan cheese and delicious drinks, while the autumn leaves fell gently onto the table and onto the ground around us.  Mr Shoestring was quietly proud because his latest grass seed had germinated and I was quietly annoyed because one of the ligularias I planted last weekend was sulking and wilting, refusing to perk up.  I wanted to go over and whisper to it, "Look, if you don't stop this ridiculous behaviour I will be wrenching you out of your spot and turf you into the compost bin.  Who do you think you are, after all?  You are a ligularia, not a tropical orchid!  Get over yourself and behave!"  My guests may have been a bit alarmed though, so I held my tongue and contented myself with sending it sharp looks from time to time.  It resolutely ignored me and it is now on notice to shape up or ship out to the compost bin.  Ungrateful thing.

The lovely old bridge into town (bridge to paradise!)

This weekend we also met the people who are fortunate enough to live in the beautiful old two storeyed Post Office building, which looks so imposing and stately.  Once again we were in the front garden when one of them strolled past and introduced himself; we have been excited to meet so many friendly and interesting locals. 

After our visitors left on Sunday afternoon we dashed out into the garden and I had the thrill of mowing the new grassed areas with the little hand mower.  (I know, tragic isn't it, the things which give us pleasure in our dotage?)  Mrs Peaceable had kindly given me some vegetable seedlings and the time had come to rip out the tomatoes and replace them with some winter veges.  I am seriously going to make an effort to try some broad bean recipes this year when (if) my crop is harvested but I am not sure whether Mr Shoestring will cooperate with me here.  Some disguise may be needed.  We have also put in lots of pansies and daffodil and freesia bulbs.

Autumn mists on the mountain

And speaking of Mr Shoestring, he accomplished the best shoestringery (yes yes, I know it is not a real word but you take my meaning I am sure) this weekend.  I had a wooden stand for holding my tapestry while stitching, and it was missing one of its arms.  He managed to get a free stick of wood from the offcut pile at the local hardware shop and is going to use it to replace the arm.  What a guy!  Of course there will be a bit of tooth grinding and muttering when he uses the saw and drill, but in the end it will all be worth it I am sure.  I have a craving to make a set of tapestry cushions for the dining room chairs and it will only take me a decade or so.  Watch this space.