Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy Days At Shoestring

This weekend Mr Shoestring and I went off to the monthly markets where so many treasures are to be found (and resisted).  I couldn’t believe my luck when I spied these two green glass vases, the round vase has a green glass top to hold flowers in place.  I have never seen one quite like this before.  The Dancing Queen will be jealous, bwa ha ha ha!

Looking down on the top of the vase you can see the clever arrangement for holding flowers in place

Then there was this more usual looking cone shaped one, which will look fetching with the other green glass treasures in the sewing room. 

This little plate was begging to be taken off the stall where it was languishing and now it has joined the other saucers on a piece of trellis in the garden.  Isn’t the bird pretty?  

Looking somewhat startled, or is it waving its wing in farewell to some unseen companion?  Hard to tell really.

The detail and the colours make it special. 

This mirrored picture will join the others in the gypsy room.  Actually there isn’t much space on the walls there now and this had better be the last one to find its way home.  (How often have I said this recently?  No more, no more.)

From the man who sells plants I bought two new hydrangeas.  They are such obliging plants, they seem to need no attention and though they used to seem rather dreary and only come in a few varieties, there has been an explosion of new breeds in recent times and the garden at Shoestring is in danger of being taken over by them.  Look at the interesting shape of the florets, and the colours are so subtle and soft.
This one is called Romance

This one was unnamed

After planting them in the garden at Shoestring it occurred to me that if there is such a thing as a hydrangarium/hydrangoretum, then we are in danger of having one.  These baby hydrangeas are going to grow into very large ones and there isn’t much space at SC to begin with.  Perhaps a vigorous annual cutback will keep them in check, but I doubt it.  One of the best things about them is that there are variegated varieties so that even when they are not in flower, there is still be benefit of variegated leaves, something nobody surely could object to.    
Interesting variegations which include shades of yellow

As an interesting aside, the man who sold them to me cautioned me against propagating them, he bought them from a licensed seller and apparently there is some kind of legal protection forbidding buyers from reproducing them.  This is good in theory but I have to say that it would be very difficult to enforce.  When I plant them I might remember for a year or two which ones are protected in this way, but after a time and with a garden full of different varieties of hydrangeas it is likely to slip one’s mind.  Gardeners in general are very generous and like the idea of giving cuttings to all and sundry in the belief that it beautifies the world!  So I am not sure how successful these kind of restrictions are in the long term. 

Now you will be rather tired of an endless succession of lily photos but just look at these beauties!  I promise there will be no more now.   I located the identification tags from the bulbs so I can confidently assert that the names are as listed.  Sometimes I astonish myself with my organisational skills7!  (And sometimes, not so much.)  

 This one is called Starfighter (I feel sure a more fitting name could have been found.  Does it look as though it is about to engage in combat?  Or even capable of such a thing?)
 Dizzy - I kid you not, this lily is called Dizzy!
This one is Exotica

Mr Shoestring was very happy with the purchase of a damaged concrete water trough this weekend.  (Cost of $65.)  It is circular and the plan is that when cut in half it will yield two semi-circular pieces, one to make a fountain and the other to make a sort of arch above the fountain.  It has long been my dream to have my very own fountain and maybe even some water lilies and fish.  Preparations have commenced and Mr Shoestring toiled away in the blazing hot sun preparing the place for the fountain.  He hit a bit of a snag when he unearthed this large root,

which took a very long time to loosen and remove from the soil.  You will be very much surprised, but I suspect he uttered one or two uncouth phrases in the process.  I kept well away at this point, observing from the safety of the kitchen window.  The water tank weighs over 230kg and it hasn’t been delivered yet.  Mr Shoestring plans that we shall move it from the front of the house to the back garden, where the fountain is to be located, next weekend.  I am rather dreading this already but somehow it must be accomplished.  There may be more cross words during the process but no doubt it will be done eventually.  Possibly it is too late now to commence a weight lifting programme in order to be up to the task and Mr Shoestring can be somewhat critical of feeble efforts with heavy objects.  I shall give you a full report and just hope that I don't disappoint him.  

One of the best things this weekend was that I finally completed the pansy needlepoint.  The colours aren't quite right in this photo, the background green is a more yellow green but on the whole it isn't too bad.

Now it is ready to be turned into a cushion, probably for the "new" sewing room.  Having a brain wave (yes it does occasionally happen), I thought how pretty it would be to have the pansies cushion with the new round pansy vase nearby, full of pansies of course.  Or would that be pansy overkill?  A bit too try hard and naff?

Now that the pansies are complete I am allowed to start another canvas.  I don't know whether I mentioned that I was on a search for natural coloured tapestry canvas for a long time, because the pale brown colour looks much better than the white canvas, which is rather bright and shows through the stitching rather.  In an op shop Mr Shoestring located an entire roll of the stuff at a bargain price, so I may well be stitching away until I die without ever using it all up.  I have had an enormous supply of surplus tapestry wools donated to me so the challenge is to use them all up - it is astonishing how far they go, so far I have made no discernible inroad into them.  It is going to be dreary when I get near the end of the stash, if I am not careful I shall be left with all the shades I don't much like and probably a lot of dull colours, browns and greys.  

The Empire Book Of Favourite Songs


Last week my mum presented Mr Shoestring with this old song book, which she suggested he could cut up and paper walls with.  It is full of old imperialist and traditional airs, and I can remember singing some of them at school.  We didn’t think overly hard about the lyrics of the songs in our school singing sessions and some of them are rather questionable by today’s standards.  But it did give us a sense of enjoyment and pleasure in singing.  

As a family we used to sing a lot as we drove around in the car.  We were a family of three sisters and in between slapping each other and squabbling over who got the horrible position of having to sit in the middle of the back seat (the "window" seats were always the favourites), we had a lot of singing sessions.  In fact as soon as we got into the car we seemed to begin singing and our songs included roundelays and harmonies.

 I can’t say that any of us were great singers, but it helped to pass the time and we enjoyed ourselves. 

When my own children were young I would try in vain to get them to sing, but they always seemed embarrassed and said their voices were terrible, which wasn't the point from my perspective, but they would not be moved.  I figured most people can enjoy singing but there I was wrong.  For instance, Mr Shoestring tells me that he was a foundation member of one school and because the roll was so small all pupils had to be members of the school choir – except Mr Shoestring and two other boys.  The leader of the choir told them to mouth the words to the songs, but on no account to utter a sound!  Apparently their voices were so flat as to be a positive hindrance rather than a help in the choir.  Poor things, wouldn’t that scar you for life?  Perhaps our children inherited Mr Shoestring’s fear of singing after hearing this, who knows.  Whatever the reason, singing has died out in our family except as a strange private idiosyncrasy, which is a pity.  I suspect it is the same for many families, perhaps we need to attempt a revival but there would be strong resistance from the non-singers among us.