Monday, January 30, 2012

Aerial Adventures

On Saturday morning I awoke at Shoestring Cottage with a sinking heart, despite the fact that I was comfortably tucked up under my rose-strewn duvet.  I had resolved that I was going to help Mr Shoestring paint the roof, having boasted to my girlfriends all week that I was planning to spend the weekend sewing glamorous art deco weekend evening dresses.  But in all conscience Mr Shoestring could not be left to paint the roof alone, especially as it is a well known fact that he is terrified of heights.

So up we both went, and part of the reason for my dreading the experience is that these joint working parties with boys usually do not go well.  Boys (and men) have a nasty habit of being very critical of one's workmanship and no matter how hard one tries, there usually are tears before bedtime or at least one or two harsh words.  Well do I recall the painting efforts when they come along behind you and point out that the paint has been applied too thickly/too thinly, there is a run or you have "missed a bit just there".  Also their pursuits always seem to have a rather violent tinge to them.  I can still remember having to help my father "bleed" the brakes on his car.  (Poor brakes, it sounded just ghastly for them.)  Also there was the issue of "choking the hammer" whenever I tried to help with carpentry, another rather violent and unpleasant sounding thing.  So early on in the piece I asked Mr Shoestring, "Is this alright?  Am I putting it on too thinly or too thickly?"  He muttered through clenched teeth, "Just slap it on, if we need to buy more paint we will."  After a while though he questioned, "Are you really fine about going over into those corners?" and I could tell he was secretly impressed.  So I would scurry crab-like into the far reaches of the roof and paint those parts with the brush, while he used a roller with a long pole on the parts he felt comfortable with.  It was a scorching hot day and it became burning hot if one's nether regions should happen to make contact with the roofing iron so extra care was needed.  After the second time my sun hat flew away cheerfully into the wild blue yonder I gave up retrieving it; I feared that once I clambered off the roof I may never return.  There was one nasty incident when my paint container made a bid for freedom and flung itself off the roof and onto the grass below, but luckily there was not much paint in it and amazingly it did no damage to the lawn or the garden, apart from a splash of paint on one of my treasured lilies.  Once I got into my stride I rather enjoyed myself.  The dear little nails which hold the roofing iron in place looked to me like top hats, or was it boaters?  (I did not share this pleasant thought with Mr Shoestring, not wanting him to suspect I was not taking my task seriously.)  A passerby called out cheerfully, "It is so wonderful to see people loving that old villa again and taking care of it" and I have to admit I badly wanted to invite her to come up and share my brush, but bit my tongue.

At the end of the day I gratefully came down the ladder (the most frightening part of all for me) trembling slightly with fatigue or relief, and gladly went inside for a clean up.  I have recently decided to let my hair go grey but when I saw the chunks of grey paint all through my hair I knew that was not quite the effect I had in mind.  Mr Shoestring told me the best way to get the paint off my skin was to use a scouring pad from the kitchen and it gave a whole new meaning to the concept of exfoliation, I must say.

That night as Mr Shoestring lay on the couch groaning softly from time to time (his bad back had a relapse on account of the roof painting) Sir Lancelot telephoned and announced his intention of paying a call the next day.  I was rather surprised (but pleased) to hear Mr Shoestring encourage him in this plan, rather than put him off until another time.  So we did not get the second coat put onto the roof after all, which was probably a good thing as it was lovely to catch up with Sir Lancelot and his good maiden.  The roof will await our further attentions; I do not hold out much hope that there are any roof fairies who will come in the dead of night and paint it for us.

Luckily before I embarked on the roof painting mission I did have a lovely coffee with Mrs Peaceable at our favourite cafe.  We goddesses generally find that coffee appointments (we prefer to think of them as Summit Meetings) will put most wrongs in the world to right - and I am not sure whether I would have had such a resoundingly successful day on the roof if I had not first had my Summit Meeting with Mrs Peaceable.

The lilies are continuing on their wonderful blossomy progress.  Here are the new ones for this week:

You can see a spot of dark grey on one of the petals on this one - it is from my paint disaster

And this week before clambering up onto the roof I had to call into the local op shop where I could not resist these bargains for a grand total of $8.

And then, seeing the shoe, I remembered another shoe I already possessed.  I fear another collection may be in the offing.
My mum has gave me this lovely pink art deco powder bowl this week, she knows I am on the hunt for the elusive pink and green glass now.

I had a similar one which my Nana used for decades, and I think it must what sparked the passion for old pink and green glass.  I always remember the smell of my Nana'a powder and the Oil of Ulan she used religiously.  Sadly I cannot find my Nana's green powder bowl now;  I think it was lost in the big move to our small apartment, but perhaps it will reappear one day.

These two treasures came from a second hand shop.  The little cup doyley is similar to another one I have - more collections!  The tablecloth was rather marked but the marks have all come out after a good soaking.  It is in perfect condition and the paving stones, lupins and hollyhocks are all beautifully worked on  linen.  The edging is hand crotcheted lace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Visit From The Canucks

This weekend The Canucks came to visit at Shoestring, and it was a good thing they came on Friday night and Saturday because the weather was rubbish on Sunday.  We went for a walk in the wetlands and enjoyed the sunshine.  Mrs Canuck had cleverly presented Mr Shoestring with this lovely old porridge bowl featuring "Sergeant Dan, the Creamota Man".  Not only an old kitchen item, but featuring red, it couldn't fail to please!

Crossing over the river on our way to the wetlands we have to pass over a paddock where there are lots of rabbits.  It is strange but true that we fuming beans have a compulsion to count things.  I cannot for the life of me understand why this should be, but the first time we noticed the rabbits I found myself silently trying to count how many I could see at one time.  Some people passing us by happened to say, "How many can you count?  We can see 15."  This made me realise I was not alone in this odd behaviour.

Rabbits, rabbits everywhere!

Also on the way to the wetlands there is a place where the pigeons roost.  I love pigeons, I used to keep white ones and was besotted with them.  But I have to admit they are not the brightest of birds.  Look where this one has laid its egg - and what a pathetic excuse for a nest!  The casual attitude to the hatching and rearing of offspring leaves a lot to be desired and Mr Starling would be horrified.  (Mr Starling's babies have all grown up and flown the nest now, by the way.)

A casual approach to nest building, to say the least

On the far side of the wetlands walk there is a paddock where some people keep their pet llamas.  What curious creatures they are!  One in particular fascinates me, it has a beautiful brown coat but the most startlingly white eyebrows which give it a very odd expression.

On Sunday the weather may have been disappointing for outdoor activities, but the rain was good for the garden.  I got soaked while planting some alstromerias kindly donated by a work friend.  There were also some alpine strawberry plants to put in as an edge along one side of the garden.  The gardenias  have produced their first blooms

and the lilies also are looking good.

This one is called Cherbourge and it was the first to open

Candlestick from the op shop for twilight 

The new mandevillea vine which will hopefully scramble into the plum tree and smother it in blossoms

This gladioli is my current favourite - my mum saw some in a vase and accused me of using fakes!  The colours are so unusual, pale lemon and pale plum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bursting At The Seams

Over the holiday break more and more treasures found their way to Shoestring, so many in fact that it is bursting at the seams.  (Perhaps we will have to change the name and call it “Treasure Magnet” instead of Shoestring?  Nah.)  Some things were Christmas presents and therefore it can truthfully be said that I was not technically responsible for their acquisition, but many of them I have to admit to having purchased myself.  We may need to introduce a policy of “one thing in, one thing out” at Shoestring.  Otherwise there will be no room for us there. 

My sister (who obviously knows me better than I know myself) gave me these beautiful navy blue hand crocheted gloves for Christmas, which has necessitated the creation of an entirely new art deco weekend costume.  They appear never to have been worn and it seems a pity that somebody went to all the bother of making them, and possibly never wore them.  It would be sad to let them go to waste, after all.  So they now have a navy hat, blue and white shoes and navy costume to go with them.  The accessories can really make or break an art deco outfit after all, so we wouldn’t want to let any slip through our fingers would we?

Also a present from my sister are these

I have a collection of china with violets and these are so dainty and delicate, they are different to anything else in the collection so far.

And speaking of collections, I fear I feel another collection coming on.  When I found this lovely article in the Salvation Army store and dragged it home

 it just begged to go with these ones which I already had.  

Don't they look pretty together?

Since then I have seen several more items which would be good additions but so far have resisted the urge.  (Though I am secretly hoping that they will still be at the market next time I go back.  If so it was obviously meant to be.)

And in the garden we have this (also a Christmas present from somebody who knows me so well)

For now it houses cuttings of my favourite pelargoniums, but I am on the hunt for some suitably flamboyant and vibrant “potted colour” for the three pots.  

And just in case you should think Mr Shoestring has been entirely neglected in this frenzy of acquisition, he is grinning like a Cheshire cat every time he sees his Michelin man bakelite ashtray.  He saw it months ago in the antique shop up the road and has visited it on a regular basis ever since.  Eventually a kind benefactor took pity on him and purchased his heart's desire for him.  Now he just needs to polish up his new treasure and it can join his other bakelite.  Bliss for Mr Shoestring. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kindred Spirits - They Are Everywhere!

Because the weather was so ghastly at Shoestring during our holiday I had the idea of dragging out an unfinished quilt top started years ago and beginning to quilt it.  I remembered that the inspiration to make this quilt had actually come from an expert quilter who had a gallery near Shoestring Cottage, where I had travelled with Mrs Peaceable to take a course in machine quilting.  When I admired a quilt on display in her gallery the kind owner of the gallery (Madam La Poste) had shared with me the secret of how to make my own version of the quilt.
And here it is in the process of being hand quilted - probably about 10 years after it was commenced

While Mr Shoestring and I were walking round the town on our holiday we happened to spot the lady herself, and I felt I must thank her for her help and let her know that I was (finally) in the throes of quilting my own version.  When we fell into conversation it emerged that she was a mad keen crazy quilter also, so we arranged to meet the next day to compare notes.  I was astonished to find that we had so much in common, even down to the sorts of quilts we had made and the techniques we preferred.  (Madame La Poste's work was fine and detailed where mine is rather coarse, slapdash and hasty by comparison.)  She showed me several techniques to add variety and interest to the crazy quilt I am working on at present.  Her work includes beading, which I have not used so far, and as soon as she said goodbye I was furiously adding some beading to my blocks.  Also she presented me with these beautiful motifs which are hand dyed or even entirely hand made, and she told me how to go about dyeing my own notions for including in quilts.

These are all notions which Madame La Poste has created or dyed herself

A hand made bead butterfly - how skilful is that?

It was difficult to contain my enthusiasm and it has to be admitted that there was a lot of interrupting (on my part) in case I couldn't get out my thoughts in time, before we moved on to the next important topic.  We exchanged books and magazines with inspirational articles in them and it seems that there is yet another kindred spirit close by - bliss!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Onwards And Upwards At Shoestring Cottage

The weather was relentlessly dreadful during our holiday at Shoestring.  It got so bad that I got into the habit of putting up my umbrella and walking down to the culvert to despondently watch the storm water flow swiftly past.

As the days went by and I counted down those remaining until the resumption of the working year the weather remained dreary and dolorous.

The mountain was constantly shrouded by storm clouds and mist. That was a shame because it put a dampener on plans to climb to the top of the mountain and spend time outdoors, but it was good for progress on the home improvement front.  Sadly for Mr Shoestring, he slipped over on the back steps early on in our stay and had an enormous bruise on his nether regions to show for it.  Resisting all suggestions regarding pain relief and medications, he preferred to treat his bruise as though it was some kind of exotic visitor and followed its progress with daily inspections and admiration of its ever-changing hues.  It truly resembled a tropical sunset on some days - perhaps to make up for the sunsets we were not seeing.  (I think Mrs Peaceable was rather horrified when he showed it to her late one night when we were enjoying a soak in the hot pools, but she is a very accommodating and tactful soul and made suitably admiring comments.)

Here is the end result of Mr Shoestring's labour.  He has created new "floorboards" for the kitchen, toilet and laundry, made from plywood but very authentic looking.  On New Year's Eve Mr Shoestring and Lord Raglan had a slight disagreement about the best method for creating these mock floorboards.  Mr Shoestring worships and reveres Lord Raglan and usually follows to the letter any suggestions Lord Raglan may care to make regarding carpentry, so it came as rather a surprise to those assembled to hear him disagree with Lord Raglan's opinions on this subject; only time will tell whether or not Mr Shoestring was correct in his approach to this problem.  In the meantime Lord Raglan is trying to usurp Mr Shoestring's position as lawn grower, and is constantly sending messages regarding his superior lawn and the fact that tuis are nesting in it (ha, a likely story).

Here is the beautiful little Singer sewing machine hand basin so kindly donated by The Dancing Queen, all plumbed in and ready for action.

 Laboriously picked out lettering

Because things took so much longer than we expected he did not do the new flooring for the bathroom but that is a good thing in some ways, because I am very fond of the black and white flooring there and would have been sad to see the last of it.

After all the trauma of the renovations Mr Shoestring somehow hurt his back on our very last morning at the cottage and I am ashamed to admit that I couldn't help thinking what a blessed relief it was that this didn't happen at the start of our stay, heartless creature that I am.  Now that the bruise is starting to fade we have the sore back to contend with and I don't think the two conditions together would have made for a very relaxing holiday - not to mention the lack of progress on home improvements.