Thursday, 31 March 2011

bad hair day?

Looks like this young lady has had a bad day in the studio. Trousers, lost in the search for artistic integrity.  Hey ho.  Tomorrow's another day.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

on reading

I love to read.  I'll read magazines, leaflets, even magazines that don't belong to me and could be about anything, for example, barges or chartered surveying.  I'll read other people's newspapers over their shoulders if the opportunity arises and I love a good poke around in someone else's bookshelves.  I belong to a book group (more later) and one of the main reasons I decided to do a degree was the reading opportunities it offered in the very good library at Swindon College (I know, you didn't know it was there, either).

What I'm not very good at is reading things that don't interest me straight away.  I'm a skimmer, a picker-outer, a nugget seeker.  I can happily read an article on the bio-whatsits of frog faeces if I'm engaged with the writing and think I might be learning something.  However, give me a book that has a boring blurb or a first page that either dulls my senses or (at the other extreme) is too complicated and high-falutin' for my particular brain cells and I won't read it.

Libraries were made for people like me.  I have trained myself to use the library for potential books, especially where book group goes.  Our book group takes it in turns to choose a book for each session, we all read it and then discuss it when we've stopped talking about everything else in our respective lives.  We've discovered some real gems along the way and everyone takes care to choose something they think the group might enjoy or that they want to share.  Most people are very loyal and read the entire books.  I have become non-compliant and, if any of them read this, which I know maybe one or two do, I fear that one day there will be a book club cull and I will have to answer for my actions. 

My problem?  I truly believe that life is too short to read a book that I don't enjoy/doesn't inspire me/doesn't teach me anything and I'm not prepared to invest time that I could be using to read a book that does tick all my boxes to gamble on a book that might or might not beyond page 10 or 12.  Is that a terrible confession?  Should I add this to my list of failings?  Please forgive me oh patron saint of book reading, I cannot read a book just because one of my friends has recommended it?  Should I concentrate on doing the right thing and reading the book my friend recommends just because they're my friend?  I contemplate this question every few weeks, about 24 hours before book group when I have to admit to myself that I've ignored the proposed book for something else I've chosen.

This year's book group reading so far has been scuppered by Jonathan Franzen.  I received 'Freedom' for Christmas and then immediately bought 'The Corrections', his previous novel to go on to.  I've loved them both.  Love his language, love the dysfunctionality in it all.  Love his point of view on most of what he writes about.  I only read before I go to sleep so I can't read more than one novel at a time.  That would be too confusing and have unpredictable effects on my dream patterns.  I have about 50 pages of 'The Corrections' to go and our next book group book 'A Fraction of the Whole' on order at the library.  I'm going to have to time it right and make sure I have AFOTW right there when I finish Franzen, otherwise I'll be on to Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance' before you can say 'you shouldn't judge a book by its cover'.

Monday, 28 March 2011

spring has sprung...

It takes me a while to wake up after winter.  This year has been a little different.  I seem to have perked up a little earlier than usual although, thinking about it, Easter is later than usual.  That might be why I'm feeling a little more with it than I usually do by the end of March.

Most of the excitements in our house happen around autumn (birthdays) and winter (Christmas).  I'm often berated for looking forward to the nights drawing in and the fire going on.  I love the cosiness of winter and the home-centred-ness of it all.

Spring and summer, on the other-hand, give me a mild sense of panic.  There are so many things that need to get going and be done from the garden to the housework to the summer wardrobe.  I often feel quite overwhelmed by this time of year. 

I never have any suitable shoes to wear having lived in boots since September 1st, every window in the house needs a thorough cleanse, tone and moisturise,  the garden threatens to burst into life at any moment and then there's the allotment - a time gobbling monster all on its own.  The kids seem to need something new of everything and there's nothing worth watching on telly because the BBC thinks we're all growing our own and enjoying cider out on the patio.

I like spring but, if I'm honest, I'm over all the sun and warmth by the time the the bluebells have arrived and gone.  For me summer just creates tricky sartorial and heat-related issues.  I'm always hot, full of hayfever and wondering whether to undergo pedicure boot-camp.  I'm a shade lover, not a sun worshipper, not least because as soon as I expose my lily-white, woollyback skin to that orange globe in the sky, I develop what the Worker lovingly (?) calls my doley tan or, rather stripes.  I get brown arms, slightly milky legs, deeply bronzed chest and a slightly pinker face.  I look like a battenburg cake that's been left in the cake tin to go a little flaky.  Summer sun is not my friend.

Yes, I know, there's sunblock and I'm a big fan but no matter where I put it or how much I put on, there's always a stripe developing somewhere.  Stripes do not help on the sartorial level either.  Little strappy top?  Inadvisable pour moi at the best of times, any time from Whitsun half term and it looks as if I'm wearing two.  Not a good look.

So, this week I am looking for a panama hat, palazoo pants and a kaftan.  The new season of fitflops is also available, I see.  Roll on summer!

Monday, 21 March 2011

the plot thickens

You may have noticed I've had a little spring clean on the blog, just to wipe away some older links and add a couple of new ones.

Last year I had a blog about the allotment I share with my neighbour, H.  It somehow got left by the internet wayside although I really enjoyed writing about our wranges with weeds and pigeons and dog *&^%.  I've finally faced up to the fact that more than one blog is beyond my time management capabilities although I still keep my craft blog together so that I can find all my favourite knitting links in one place.  A selfish use of the interblog ether but...well...what can I say...until they start charging for it, I'm there.

I hope you won't mind but there will be an occasional horticultural post here.  Please feel free to pass quietly by.  I won't mind.  Having had my little global wobble last week, I spent the weekend sowing seeds, digging up nettles and plotting the plot.  The sunshine added its little extra magic and I slumped into bed last night with a sense of achievement, however small.  The allotment is right outside my kitchen window so, with a little effort now, I get to see the results from a few feet away.  It's all very pleasing.  My horticutural posts in June, however, are likely to be a little crosser as the weeds will be in full sway and the pigeons will have eaten the tops of my sprouts but, for the moment, I can spend a few minutes admiring the freshly dug earth and hoping for the best.

My Royal Wedding Waistline Plan is not going as well as I'd hoped.  There would be many more posts about losing the pounds and doing the zipper on my wedding skirt up a little further each week.  No matter, I've still got about six weeks.  I can always put the skirt over my head and wear it as a snood.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

best foot forward?


I have to say this blogging lark is feeling a little superfluous at the moment.  Not least because I'm having a little private panic about global calamaties.  As a teenager, I was most disturbed on a weekly basis by Panorama and scenes of impending nuclear destruction, civil wars and famine.  Recent events have somehow re-ignited these feelings.  I feel self-centred and nonsensical blathering on about not very much when what I really want to do is concentrate on keeping our little bubble as protected and safe as it can be and appreciating our daily life in all its drama-less glory.

I'm not a person who prays - perhaps that would help - but my usual domestically-centric thoughts are flinging themselves to places and events around the world and I feel useless that I can't begin to comprehend the daily horrors that other people are facing or help or support them beyond texting my donation (usual message charges applying, of course).

The rational tactic is to "keep calm and carry on" and that wartime slogan seems more appropriate as every day passes.  Moaning and complaining about day to day life just seems wrong and selfish.  Writing about my random thoughts and sharing minutiae feels uncomfortable when images of destruction, natural or man-made are beamed to our laptops and TV minute-by-minute.  I don't feel the need to lie on a sofa and cry at the horror of it all but I do feel the need to stop babbling and piffling about. 

Perhaps I've got a dose of blogger-itis or post-fluenza.  We shall see.  In the meantime - best foot forward and as my Christmas present picture says 'If in doubt, brew up'.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

cupboard love


One of my favourite (and easy to access) past-times is to watch out for lovely cupboards, particularly of the office variety.  This one, at the STEAM museum in Swindon is a particularly fine example.  We possess a couple of such cupboards at home, picked up from Greenwich Market (sadly, no more)  but they're not quite as shiny and, unfortunately, vintage cupboards rarely turn up with drawers the size of A4 paper or CDs or, dare I say, wool.

They are lovely to look at though and a joy to see on tv, often in the background at a particularly emotional scene.  'South Riding' had a few and 'Downton Abbey' was a big thrill in the cupboard department.

Apologies for the rather random subject matter.   We went to STEAM as part of our 'site specific' module.  Railways aren't really my thing and the cupboards and suitcases were some of the few things I found interesting. 

As I've had time to think a little more about my course this week, I've been trying to work out why I was so uninspired and I've come to the conclusion that the museum, although, beautifully laid out and very informative was just so sanitised, making the manufacture of steam trains look like some kind of rural smithy - too clean, too tidy.  I suspect it was a hard, dirty, brutal, deafening place to work and, instead, it was all made nice and 'heritage'.  Hence my interest in the cupboards and suitcases.  Places of information and carefully collected belongings - writing and numbers and travelling things. 

And of travelling things - the honorary Spaniard is home and glued to the sport on the telly.  The skiers are on their way back.  Big breakfast tomorrow morning and roast dinner early evening.  A proper Sunday.  Yum.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

proof I am a goldfish

Conversation with tutor went something like this...

"so, where are you?"
"just about where you left me last session."
"what are you working on?"
"same as before, am thinking about textile-ing the whole thing up a bit"

DEATHLY SILENCE FROM MIDDLE-AGED MAN WITH BEARD (TUTOR)

"I thought you were going to concentrate on doing some close observational drawings"
"I would, if I had more than 10 minutes to concentrate on anything at any one time"
"I can see that in your sketchbook ......(drum roll here, please)....you don't actually have to finish a drawing in ten minutes, you know, you could spend ten minutes, leave it and then go back to the same drawing."

Now....correct me if I'm wrong....I would say there are two types of people:

people A - people who do ten things at once, scattering and accumulating time on them continuously
people B - people who do one thing at once, spending consecutive chunks of time on each thing sequentially

I would fall into a third category

people C - people who try to do ten things all at the same time, get all those ten things to a point where they might just about be finished but not quite and then abandon them mid-doing to attend to something far more urgent.

This is not working.  If you read a similar post to this in a couple of weeks time, please add a comment and prefix it with the word 'goldfish'.  There is no alternative.  I need to close observation.

Monday, 7 March 2011

home alone 43

I am alone in our house and will be all week.  J went to Spain on Friday and The Worker took E skiing on Saturday. 

I have painted the shoe drawers I have had in my room since July.  I have attached handles and put them in the cupboards which The Worker painted and assembled in July.  They now contain shoes!

I have organised a salsa night for a school fundraiser and made several mojito/nojito pitchers.

I have been working on this month's articles and am nearly, so nearly finished.

I'm off to Bath today to draw in the Fashion Museum and I don't have to get back for pick up.

I have become the world's best texting mother.

Yes, it is strange being in the house by myself.  I haven't had the dishwasher on since Saturday afternoon.  I almost don't want to go out although I can, whenever I like.  I'm enjoying it, but not.  It sounds very sentimental but there are three pieces of me that I know are missing. 

On the upside?  I've also lost 2lbs and I have no need to buy biscuits until next weekend.  I may be safe.  Hurrah.