Monday, August 29, 2011

Mr Shoestring Does Gardening

This weekend we had to take yet more furniture to Shoestring Cottage.  When The Firstborn departed our shores she entrusted us with the care of much of her furniture - hence the overflow from our apartment travelling to Shoestring.  On the way we called in at Bobbie's place and collected a door she was keen to be rid of, plus two miscellaneous concrete posts.  This door is a little bit grand for Shoestring Cottage and we are not sure whether to put it at the front or back door of the house, but it was free after all and we at Shoestring never look a gift horse in the mouth.  What do you think?

Once the trailer was unloaded the cottage looked like a furniture storage depot.  If you visit us in the near future you will be able to inspect our library/dining room/sitting room.  Not that there is room in there for more than one person at a time, and even then there is a lot of sideways turning in order to be able to negotiate in and out.

So it was very good that the weather was (finally) so balmy and spring-like on Sunday.  I was keen to spend the day gardening, and not only in order to escape the infestation of furniture indoors.  Happily I hung out washing and then proceeded onto the weeding and planting.  Of course this was all the encouragement Mr Shoestring needed.  He immediately fired up the incinerator and started flinging accelerant around, causing flames to soar skywards and the neighbours to cast fierce glares in our direction.  (Actually when I speak of the "incinerator", it was actually purchased as a chiminiere.  I imagined cosy evenings with close friends clustered around the chiminiere, it all seemed so pleasant and civilised.  I failed to take into account Mr Shoestring's fondness for all things incendiary.  When we had a lifestyle block he actually purchased a device which was a glorified flame thrower for destroying weeds.)  Wanting to escape from the flames of the impromptu burn off I set about laying some bricks around a new area of garden.  Mr Shoestring's face immediately appeared at the kitchen window, demanding to know what I was doing.  When I told him of my plans he explained, "Well, why don't you use the concrete post, then it will be done with, won't it?"  I thought it would be "done with" by using the bricks but apparently not.  I didn't have the heart to turn down the offer of the concrete post, so weakly agreed to the plan.

Now I would have to describe Mr Shoestring’s garden style as being dramatic.  By this I do not mean that he likes to create dramatic vistas or plantings in the garden.  I mean that he likes drama, and plenty of it.  Every session must be accompanied by as much noise and chaos as possible, there usually is an injury, and there should be plenty of power tools in use.  Even his choice of words suggests action and drama.  Yesterday when he discovered (of course) that he needed to cut up his concrete posts with a power tool accessory likely never to be used again, he had to “shoot down the road” to purchase it, never mind walking or driving there.  For this reason we are not 100% compatible in the garden, I prefer to spend my gardening sessions in quiet contemplation and try to sneak into the garden without arousing Mr Shoestring’s interest.  That way I can spend hours happily arranging bricks to my liking rather than being forced to listen to concrete posts being hacked to pieces in the interests of more efficient achievement of the end result.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

If Winter Comes Can Spring Be Far Behind?

Well, the answer to this question is a resounding yes!  In fact spring seems to be so far behind that we are beginning to believe it has wandered off the track and will never be found again.  After I confidently asserted recently that the weather was spring like, we had an icy blast throughout the whole country.  The Firstborn departed our shores for her big OE with her partner Adam, and on that day we had the coldest temperatures ever recorded in our fair city.  They certainly picked a good day to leave because we had snow in the CBD, and the remaining whanau went on an op shop tour as a consolation after they departed.  I bought a new cross stitch kit featuring birds, also an embroidery project book full of bird projects - only afterwards did I realise that there was an obvious leaning towards birds as my first fledgling flew the nest!

Now, speaking of The Firstborn and her partner, that word "partner" always seems very odd to me.  I imagine people with partners coming home from work of an evening and greeting one another with, "Howdy pardner!" as they remove their chaps and unstrap their gun holsters.  Perhaps they clap one another on the back or shake hands to greet each other, then set up old tin cans on their balconies (on the 10th floor of their inner city apartment buildings) and have target practice.  We could speak of "significant other" instead of "partner", but that makes the "significant other" sound like a very important accessory, perhaps a favourite handbag.

Anyway, last weekend Mr Shoestring and I were not able to go to Shoestring Cottage, so we were very pleased to return.  We had freezing frosty mornings but lovely day times and discovered a new walk through the wetlands near the cottage.  Under the walking bridge to the wetlands the pigeons have made a nesting place and it was obvious that some of the pigeons there had escaped from their owners and were breeding with the wildlings.  The pure white ones were obvious ecapees and their spotted offspring, white with grey flecks, were having a wonderful time swooping out over the river on that first warm day after a long cold snap.  There were had perfectly cut out square holes under the bridge, part of the original construction but ideal for nesting.

It was good to get out into the garden and plan improvements for the spring time.  The freesias are flowering, also daffodils and the occasional Dutch iris, but many of the indoor plants are languishing because it had been so cold.  In celebration of the passing of the coldest of the winter weather (we fervently hope), we bought and planted a stellata magnolia.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What To Do When You're Sad And Blue

Try a walk outdoors - view of a waterfall near Shoestring Cottage

We seem to have had more than usual to cope with in the last year year, with all the fires and flooding in Australia, the mining disaster and earthquakes in New Zealand and the terrible events unfolding in Japan.  Now there are the riots in England and the continuing global financial crises.  Our little corner of the world may have been subjected to more than its fair share of unfortunate events and it we can begin to feel rather overwhelmed by things.  Here are some of the things friends have tried in the past in order to jolly myself along, they may not work for you but could be worth a little thought if you are feeling despondent.  Here goes then, in no particular order. 

  1. Do something for somebody else.  This sounds a bit odd when you are the one needing comfort but even a small “good deed” can lift you up.  I don’t know whether it is the fact that it takes your mind off your problems for a while, makes you feel positive about yourself or whether it is the pleasure you have given to another person but it can be very gratifying and helpful.  Obviously it needn’t be a major good deed, just something small. 
  2. Do something for yourself.  Not a major financial commitment and not something you will regret later such as eating/drinking too much!  Something which will give you pleasure and which you may not usually make time for.  Whatever you feel the desire for, a manicure or a lazy soak in the bath, some little treat you wouldn’t usually indulge in. 
  3. Count your blessings.  You may not feel as if there are any blessings to be counted, but once you get started you will be surprised how many there are.  Maybe even write a list of them.  While you are at it, praise yourself for all your good qualities.    
  4. Get some exercise.  If you are physically tired at the end of the day it is easier to sleep and sometimes just a good brisk walk is enough to get the oxygenated blood pumping and lift your mood.  Also if you are out of doors while you get your exercise then so much the better, you can look at the beauties of nature and enjoy them.  Really look around you even if you are in a familiar location, and look for signs of the changing seasons and interesting wildlife.   
  5. Tidy something up.  (Don’t make this too overwhelming or take on a huge task.)  It could just be one small job you have been putting off such as a drawer where miscellaneous pieces of junk always seem to accumulate but you will get a sense of accomplishment when you are finished.  This is particularly helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed by things.     
  6. Make a list of things which might be causing you to feel “blue”.  Are they problems which can be solved?  We sometimes are not even aware of what is causing us to feel unlike our usual selves and once we pinpoint the problem we can work towards finding a solution.  Also once your problems are identified they may seem more manageable and maybe even less significant.
  7. If all else fails take yourself to a completely different place.  You don’t need to do this physically.  Use a bit of escapism.  Read a book about a different time/place/culture.  Watch your favourite chick flick DVD, even if you know the script off by heart.  It can almost be like taking a break from your reality and having a holiday in another place for short time.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Treasures from Distant Parts

Whenever we leave town we make a beeline for the charity/church/second hand shops.  Our trip to the winter DIY Deco weekend was no exception, and we has some wonderful finds.  Mr Shoestring could not find any red handled kitchen implements but was pleased with this cream and green handled fish slice - very appropriate for the "new" kitchen at Shoestring Cottage, too.

There were a couple of beautiful glass plates which will come in handy for sitting under pot plants

and these very convincing "art deco" earrings were all $2. per pair at a tattoo parlour/jewellery store in Hastings!  It pays to persevere in our quest for the perfect accessory.  Some of them might end up being used on hats perhaps.

I was thrilled to find lots of woollies of various colours which are going to be thrown into a hot wash and then dried in the clothes drier to felt them.  After that the plan is to deconstruct them and put them back together in new forms to make snuggly woolens for winter weekends.  The composition of the fibre needs to be at least 70% wool to get the felted effect, and this is the first time I have tried experimenting with woolies in this way.  More updates to follow.  As well as the knitted woolens there was a good selection of tweed skirts for putting together into a crazy quilt muffler for winter but first of all, to get more interesting colours, some pieces are going into the dye pot.  More to follow on that project in time too.

This old curtain called to me; it needed to be loved and I was the person to do it!  It is going to be transformed into a 1950s style dress complete with full skirts.  More later on this too.  (Perhaps I am setting myself a few too many goals here, even remembering to keep you updated will be a mission.)

When we come back from a holiday it is surprising which things return to us and give us pleasure when least expected.  Since we returned from Napier I have been thinking about the swallows which dived and swooped all along the foreshore there.  For some reason I thought they were migratory birds which fly away in the autumn and return in the spring.  Having consulted up a book about birds in New Zealand I discovered that they actually stay here all year round.  They are self introduced; presumably they were blown off course on their way to or from Tasmania.  Their subtle colours are to my eye as beautiful as those seen on brighter hued birds, and the way they feed on the wing is so skillful.  I celebrated them by decorating a velvet jacket with new buttons and sleeve ruffles and adding a swallow pin.

Not very much is happening above ground in the garden at Shoestring Cottage.  We can only hope that lots is going on underground though; that the lilies are preparing themselves to put on a stunning display in summer for example.

Only a few blossoms in the garden now

The most surprising happening this week was that this beautiful beaded evening purse was donated to the collection of rapidly accumulating relics.  I think the frame may be tortoiseshell, which of course we would never contemplate buying now.  The workmanship is exquisite and I suspect that it is probably Edwardian.  It is very well preserved,considering how delicate the beading is.  The colours are surprisingly strong and intense.