Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting All Touchy Feely

As far as sensual delights go, Shoestring Cottage has been dishing up a few tactile treats for us.  Last weekend while poor Mr Shoestring was dredging about in the bathroom wall linings he unearthed this strange artifact.  It was curiously smooth and beautiful for holding in the palm of the hand and rolling between fingers.  We were mystified as to what purpose it could have ever served and thought perhaps it was some sort of counter for a board game.  It seems to be made of bone, or possibly ivory. Whatever it was originally for it is lovely to hold and roll about.  It doesn't have a hole drilled through the centre, so we discounted the idea of it being a button but perhaps not knowing is best, we can just enjoy it for being perplexing and mystifying.

Then Mr Shoestring found this beautiful moth which though not suitable for stroking just cried out to be touched - so velvety and rich looking.  It stayed in the house for a couple of days motionless and I wished I could reproduce its colours in an embroidery, but somehow I don't think you could ever achieve the deep glowing rich shades.   

At the flea market was a carved nut, which opens up to be a small box.  From this side view you can see the opening but when you hold it in your hand you can't detect it easily, it had to be pointed out to me by the stall holder.  It is so knobbly and rough looking but smooth to the touch, another thing for smoothing and stroking.  

When we visited Mrs Peaceable I couldn't help notice a shelf where she had displayed a group of rounded white quartz stones, worn smooth by who knows how many years of rolling around in the sea, being ground down by sand and other stones.  They had recently been brought back from a much-enjoyed family holiday in the sun.  My hand was itching to feel them and Mrs Peaceable kindly offered me one to take away, but it seemed cruel to separate them from their companions so I left them all together on the shelf.  But what a temptation. 

What I was supposed to be doing this weekend was stitching up a dress from this fabric off the bargain table at Spotty.  

It was not to be though, I was distracted by the oxalis bulbs all popping out willy nilly through the lawn and the garden.  I know you can win the battle but never the war with oxalis but somehow it is addictive, you think you will just tackle one small spot and before you know it you have spent a couple of hours with your favourite pointy trowel, engaged in a hopeless task and fighting the good (but futile) fight.  So the fabric remains uncut and will be a silent reproach to me when next I go forth to the sewing room to do battle.  

I thought I was being extremely clever when I spotted a viola seedling in the lawn when mowing, and transplanted it into the garden - never overlook a free plant.  I was quite disappointed this weekend to see its brassy bright tones shining forth from the carefully colour coordinated border where I had planted it.  

You can see the culprit at the bottom of the photo above

This was the general idea, coleus, fuchsia, white lobelia and impatiens and mauve/purple violas.  Not a trace of yellow in the mix until my seedling made its grand entrance.  It seems heartless to pull it out now though after it has survived the lawn mower and transplantation, so there it will stay.

One more interesting thing which came to light at the flea market was this souvenir plate from 
Rotorua.  It fits nicely with the Te Aroha spa souvenir plates and the South Seas Exposition plate - I feel another collection coming on! (Like some illness or dreadful malaise.)

And as Madam La Post kindly pointed out to me, my little house is so bare and deserted, this is just what I need, more things to fill it up.  She and I spent a happy time turning over pieces of fabric, sighing and tutting over each other's taste in colours but agreeing that really we are a couple of fabric connoisseurs.  Of course there was a fair bit of fabric stroking going on, in keeping with the general touch feely theme of the week.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year (and all that)

Well, the Christmas season and New Year celebrations are all over now, and they seemed to have flashed past in the twinkling of an eye.  Perhaps this is just the grinch in me bursting out because it was back to working life for us today and of course that somehow doesn't have quite the same sparkle and lustre as time spent socialising or sweating in the garden.  Sigh.  It was good while it lasted.

Mr Shoestring toiled away mightily on the improvements he is making to the bathroom at Shoestring Cottage.  The second hand skylight is making a huge difference too, the light really floods in.  (I haven't told Mr Shoestring how many plants would benefit mightily from being put in that room now, it could be almost like a conservatory.  He tends to take a sadly utilitarian approach to these things and would no doubt complain at the lack of space and so on and so forth, in a very unimaginative fashion. If I introduce new plants slowly he may hardly notice.)  The new tongue and groove lining is coming along nicely, the floorboards will be limed and the "new" hand me down vanity has been given a nice coat of white paint.  The clawfoot bath (another cast off gratefully received) just needs to be resurfaced and all will be blissikins in the bathroom.  I won't show you a photo just yet because it looks like a big mess, but eventually it will be magnificent, I am confident of that.  Reasonably hopeful anyway.  (Have to look on the bright side, mustn't grumble, hope for the best etc.)

In the garden things really are fabulous though.  (I know vanity in a gardener is a most unattractive trait, but hard to stamp out completely.)  The gloriosa lily bought with such high hopes last year has survived a winter in its pot and it putting forth blossoms at last.  This poor plant must feel a lot of pressure as over the holiday break I was outside at the crack of dawn, inspecting it eagerly to see if the buds had unfurled.  Also The Duchess of Ringloes would keep on enquiring whether or not mine was in flower yet, so there was an element of competition there.

Though the first of the lilies have finished flowering there are still more to come and the perfume is so sweet that it is a pleasure to be weeding around them, especially at evening when the scent seems to be stronger.

When I planted this one I made a mistake.  At the back on the left hand side you can barely see a white lily struggling to be seen - the yellow one turned out to be much taller and it might be best to try and lift and move the white one to a spot where there is less competition.  To be honest I can't remember planting the yellow one, I had expected only white blossoms here.  

This moonflower was described as being an annual or possibly a biennial when I bought it from the market.  (I suspect the vendor didn't have a clear idea of what the seedlings would actually grow into, it wouldn't be surprising if we had ended up with a Jack and the Beanstalk situation as there was only the most vague of descriptions of the eventual appearance and characteristics of the seedlings.)  I couldn't resist it because the flowers were supposed to be beautifully perfumed though.  The flowers are almost luminous when the light is behind them and if I can save some seed for next year I will be very happy at the end of the season.  

There had to be time for stitching or it wouldn't have been a proper holiday.  I really am pressing on with the efforts to finish all the unfinished quilts, but Madame La Post had given me three nice printed fabric rectangles perfect for the centre of blocks in the "second hand rose" crazy quilt and they were begging to be put to work.  I spent a very happy time playing around with them and making three blocks ready to be embellished. 

Part of the fun in crazy quilting is remembering the history of the fabrics used.  Apart from the three beautiful floral centres from Madam La Post I can see some silk pyjamas given to me by a work friend and a lovely piece of silk sent from Japan by another dear friend.  Each time you look at your blocks you remember the histories of the fabrics.   

Well, another year has passed by.  I hope your Christmas and New Year was every bit as exciting as you hoped and that you had time to do some things to warm the cockles of your heart.  Now it is onwards and upwards for us all, and 2014 is going to be a very special year, of that you can be certain.