Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Well Rounded Weekend

Well, upon my word what a well rounded weekend Mr Shoestring and I had this weekend possums.  There was a surfeit of delicious comestibles including fresh fish from Thames by the sea, the first of the mysterious berry fruits (possibly raspberries) which we managed to salvage before they were stolen by the birds, and some catching up with the dear mama and the sisters, a coffee with Mrs Peaceable (during which we came to the conclusion that we could put the troubles of the world to rights if only we were in charge of most things), and of course a bit of shopping.  Not to mention a day in the garden wrestling with coffee grounds and compost, very satisfying!  In Thames these wonderful art deco style earrings were on the market stand and begging for a new home with somebody who would appreciate them.

After a lunch with the sisters, the dear mama and the nieces (poor Mr Shoestring being the only male present but putting on a brave face), the dear mama gave me this beautiful silver piece which I think is half of a traditional nurse's belt buckle presented upon graduating from training and becoming a registered nurse in England or possibly Scotland.  Somewhere or other the other half is to be found (I had to insist to the dear mama that I do not posses it, and she has not given it to me in the past), but I am sure if I do some research I will be able to discover what part of England or Scotland it comes from and what year it was issued, using the hallmarks for silver.  I love the look of the little cherubs though the one on the left looks decidedly more sombre than the one on the right, who has a cheeky grin.  It could quite easily be worn on a chain as a necklace.

One of the sisters has recently moved to a new home so we all got to play that wonderful game where you descend on the garden of the poor defenceless new home owner and trail through it, looking for interesting and unusual plants which you can uproot and transport to your own garden.  We came away with a couple of new irises (one a very nice yellow and one mystery specimen), plus the obligatory "pity" plant.  I don't know whether other people have "pity" plants but I suspect I could easily end up with a "pity" garden.  This week's candidate was a monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant or "delicate monster", which were wildly fashionable in the 1960s but like so many other unfortunates have fallen from grace).  My sister only wanted to be rid of the wretched thing, so we have carted it back to our garden and given it a spot in the hope that it will survive.  These are the plants you put in your garden not because you love them or have a suitable spot for them, but because they deserve a place to put down their poor tired old roots.  If there is any sign of gratefulness from the delicate monster it will make itself at home and put on a good show, but if not nobody needs to feel that they haven't done their best for the orphan.  

I managed to wheedle this interesting bromeliad from the dear mama.  It actually will climb up the trunk of a tree and I am fully prepared to cosset it and give it anything its heart desires

Everything in the garden is thriving and I was very pleased to see this rose flowering.  I bought it last year from the bargain bin at Le Maison Rouge and I didn't remember what colour it was supposed to be, or its name.  (I can't bear to put the name tags of plants in the garden, because if they die as they sometimes do, you can be left with a dreary collection of little markers which give the garden the appearance of a graveyard with tombstones spotted all around the place, very dreary and disheartening.)

The hydrangeas which were tiny cuttings last year are starting to flex their muscles and I am thinking that some culling might be in order - what with the magnolias, the Australian frangipani, all the hydrangeas plus the philadelphus and other shrubs.  

These lavatera trimestris I grew from seed last year and they have proved to be a great success.  The interesting thing about them (apart from their resolution to thrive and put on a good show) is that some of them have a slight green tinge around the edge of the petals, as the one above, some are pure white, and some have a slightly pink blush.  Perhaps it depends upon how much sun they receive?

I badly wanted a philadelphus (mock orange blossom) for the perfume but this one didn't offer up a single blossom last year - after a severe pruning to show it who was boss if has fallen into line and given us some beautiful scented flowers this year.  

The most exciting find this week was the Christmas present Mr Shoestring gave me.  (Very early for a Christmas present and we will wrap it up and put it away until Christmas.)  It has everything to recommend itself to me.  Black checks, golden touches, roses and a hint of green, could anything be more perfect?  A French antique canister set, I am in paradise.  The one sad thing is that I might have to retire the more pedestrian cream and green enamelled ones (in the top picture), but perhaps we could have a rotation system going on.  That would seem fair.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Got My Mojo Working ...

I have to admit that I hadn't given much thought recently to the fact that my blogging mojo just wasn't working - until Monsieur La Poste said to me last weekend that he was convinced I had taken up line dancing on Monday and Tuesday nights!  I was somewhat perplexed by this confident assertion as I could by no means be described as a boot'n scootin sort of gal.  Then I realised that Monday or Tuesday were formerly blogging nights, but had not been so recently.  (Though it must be said that I was a trifle concerned as to the state of Monsieur La Poste's mental acuity as he had just spotted a Madonna and Christ child in the froth of the coffee Mr Shoestring had served him - but that turned out to be a reality, which we all could see!)  Anyway, it transpired that Monsieur La Poste had decided that the lack of blog posts from me indicated a passion for all things Western, which in fact was not the case.  It was true that Mr Shoestring and I had recently taken a few swing dance lessons and I had gotten out of the habit of blogging, but rather than have Monsieur La Poste strike me from his favourites list I am determined to get back in the saddle - as a real boot scootin' line dancing gal would!

Apart from the swing dancing Mr Shoestring and I have been on a wonderful trip to Wellington to see the World of Wearable Arts show, catch up with The Dancing Queen and her King and also Ma'am.

Colour co-ordinated birds live in Wellington where everything is more stylish

We have caught up with The Squire and his good lady wife (who have moved to luxurious new seaside home) and we have heard from Lord and Lady Raglan that they are also moving to a more salubrious seaside environment.  Mr Shoestring has struck up a new friendship with a devoted home coffee roaster so has a new obsession, that of roasting coffee beans and experimenting to obtain the best roast for our morning coffee.  (This has to be done outdoors because the odour is overpowering.  Mr Shoestring has destroyed several of the appliances used for coffee roasting but it gives him great pleasure to roast his own beans, so who am I to object?)  Also, Mr and Mrs Peaceable did us the honour of attending the ceremonial opening of the quince vodka, after its six month gestation period.  My word, what a delicious libation though I say so myself who should not.  It is very fragrant and aromatic and I think in the summer time after a hard day's toil in the garden it might be a near perfect aperitif.  The colour is a beautiful golden gold, because of the quinces.

Miss Figaro has ventured forth to her first beauty pageant, (the annual Te Aroha Cruise In) where she was slightly out of her depth amongst the V8s and powerful motorbikes.  However she retained her composure and looked most fetching in a retiring, demure kind of way.

The spring weather has been soft and accommodating and the garden is thriving and blossoming each week.

Of course I am favouring the acid yellow plants and neglecting the poor wildlings like this seedling rose (though of course I secretly hope the rose will turn out to be one of those featured in gardening books which was an unexpected "sport" having popped up in a garden and becoming a prodigy of the gardening world).

The bees are drunk on pollen and can hardly lift themselves off the blossoms because their pollen sacs are full to bursting

To be honest though, there have been a few disappointments.  The birds (who used to be such firm friends of mine) have taken against me and are doing their best to undo all my efforts in the garden.  I had just planted some small plants when I discovered that the avian assassins had dogged my footsteps and carried out what I realised was a ritual assassination by the footpath.

The poor innocent plants were tidily laid out on the concrete, having been mercilessly plucked from the earth.  Is there no end to the cruelty of these birds?  And I think they are the very same ones for whom I provided nesting boxes!  

 Finally a success with lily of the valley - it is usually far too warm
 A bumper crop of passionfruit is expected - note to self, is there a home made sorbet recipe for passionfruit?  Or perhaps some kind of liqueur?
 The roses are thriving
The irises are relishing the change of position (even though they were a bit confused at first, having been constantly relocated)
Ever dependable Graham Thomas, so disease resistant and such a little trooper!
The first of the lilies blossoming

On the stitching front I am very pleased to proclaim that the tumbling blocks quilt is finally complete, though there is a sad ending to that tale.  Feeling very proud of my achievements there I climbed up to the very heights of the storage cupboards in the sewing room to retrieve the next quilt awaiting completion ... only to realise that there are at least 10 quilts in the queue.  So no more projects to be started until they are done.  

Instead of calling this quilt tumbling flowers, I was about to call it "The Infinity Quilt" because it seemed I was never going to come to the end of it, but now that it is done I feel very fond of it - you know that feeling you have when you make a quilt, every one you complete is your new favourite.

In between the social outings there has been a fair bit of flea marketing - look at these works of art!
 This one reminded me so much of the way the light falls on the trees in the wetlands where we walk
 This one is another one of those where the artist was determined to use every colour in their paintbox, but more in an impressionistic style
and it suits but also contrasts so well with the other one using similar colours

Happy days at Shoestring Cottage, even if I have not mastered the intricacies of line dancing I am well pleased with life in the here and now.