I’m not sure which task was the more worthy – yet another huge tidy up of the sewing shed, which had again become atrociously cluttered (it seems that should I not visit the sewing shed on a daily basis, everytime something needs to find a new home, it is unceremoniously dumped in there … rollerskates, waiting-to-be-repaired parts of Abby’s dressing table, unwanted desk fans, boxes of old school supplies etc. etc. … with me just as guilty as the other members of Bootville) – or the finding of the long finished, long lost Christmas cross stitches I remembered yesterday. How very lucky, then, that the two could be tackled simultaneously!
Alas, I did not find the ones I described yesterday – only their pattern. Man, I could visualise them – in everything. At one stage I became so excited, so convinced was I that this particular receptacle did indeed hold them, that I gave it to Julian and asked him to check. He opened the box a crack, peered in and pulled a sad face. I was so delighted – convinced I was right and he was teasing me – that I did a little jig and clapped my hands. Only to be laughed at and told no seriously, there’s nothing in this box – it’s empty! What!!!!
However, I did find the first three of the 12 Days of Father Christmas, the merest of beginnings of a solo Father Christmas, a wallhanging of the nativity that only needs one more row of embroidery and it’s done, and pretty much all the Christmas cross stitch patterns I’ve ever bought. I’ve kept them close by – just in case I grow several more arms in the next three days so as I can cross stitch, cook, and sew at the same time.
I also found some other in progress sweeties, as well as some hand knitted lace, that I’ve popped into the newly arranged drawers of currently-in-use-fabrics that are freshly lined up on the sideboard which now lives in the sewing shed (replacing the small sofa which has moved into the spare ‘oom). Goodness – even I lose track of our every shifting furniture. I’m already imaging post Christmas days spent in the back garden, a jug of icy water and lemon at my side, spectacles permanently on my nose, and cross stitch on my lap.
And now – the sewing shed is IMPECCABLE, the Christmas projects are neatly lined up waiting – gingerbread men ready to sewn onto their banner cord, nativity cross stitch – ready for one more border and then some quick quilting, the notions for a fabulously quick and gorgeous (I hope!) dress for me, a pair of mostly made secret nighties that shall be waiting upon pillows when we return home from midnight mass on Christmas Eve, Christmas pillowcases for the little girlies … and the trousers I’ve long promised to hem for Jules.
Yes, the sewing table is wonderfully clear, which means you’re one step closer Julian, one step closer. And we are one more sleep closer to Christmas – three days to go. Wheeeee!
:: we puzzled ::
I’m not sure if I mentioned this last year – but last year’s advent calendar was a puzzle I made from 1 inch square blocks (bought as a long stick of one inch and chopped up with the jigsaw) and pictures from a thrifted copy of “The Little Donkey” (Bootville rules say you can only chop up a book you already own – well lily rules do – my son-of-two-librarians-husband winces in pain when he sees me doing it!).
I created a puzzle like the kind I had when I was little – all six sides of the block have a different picture, and if you roll it carefully, row by row, you can change the pictures without having to redo the puzzle. At least that’s what I thought I was doing – four rows turned out perfect – the last two – they get muddled. Oh well.
And the board they are resting on – whipped up this morning – a square tile of cork that I had in the laundry (bought with a long forgotten idea in mind) that I smothered in aquadhere and then smoothed some pretty fabric across – the edges taken round to the back where they too were smothered with glue and firmly stuck. Makes the perfect travelling puzzle tray.
The illustrations are so beautiful and it is surprisingly peaceful to stand and turn those blocks over and over until you’ve made a picture, whilst Gerda Scheidl’s whimsical story, memorised over 14 years of Christmas reading, is whispered in those oh so quiet words where lips barely move.
:: we built ::
… the nativity scene that Abby and I bought together at Myer, Indooroopilly when she was just one year old. For the first few years, I spent Advent convinced that Baby Jesus would be irretrievably lost as Abby carried him around in her pockets, buckets, and dress up bags. Whatever she was doing, he did too. And then, miraculously, he would find his way back to the crib just in time for Christmas Eve. Oh and that sheep there – Simon chewed her front legs off when he was a pup – thus, each year she is forced to play the presumptuous sheep who’s butting her way in without an invitation.
… however, as we set up the playmobil nativity scene under the Advent Tree – we realised Mary AND Jesus are missing. Look at that – kings, roman soldier, Father Christmas, animals and Joseph all completely mystified. I can SEE her! I just don’t know where. Hmmmm …
:: we wrapped, hung and sighed with delight ::
… presents and tomtens. I adore the look of brown paper and red ribbon – I adore having my presents wrapped well before Christmas Eve even more! And now, the only person left to wrap presents is Julian – get to it boy!
The tomtens – they are from the first year we celebrated Advent with a tree. Inspired by the tall pointy hatted fellow from Astrid Lindgren’s beautiful book, I stitched them up from a Christmassy charm pack – appliqued and embroidered felt faces, printed a sheet of calico with red numbers (you know, the sort you put through the printer) and made covered buttons with them – 1 – 25. Each morning, there was one hidden somewhere in the house for Abby to find, then she would hang it on the tree.
The Advent tree was a joint effort – my design and orders, Julian cut and drilled, I painted it and wrapped the branches with fabric. Its wooden star broke off the top this year- must remember to put its replacement on the list for tomorrow.
As for the sighing – well that was me :-) I adore hanging the hand stitched ornaments – I started making them the very first Christmas Julian and I shared . We had a much smaller tree with just three strands of gold beads and less then ten cross stitched decorations – I’ve added new ones each year – different fabrics, different colours, almost always Prairie Schooler designs – they are my all time favourite. I have so many memories of stitching them – in my lunch breaks when I worked at the University, during the long quiet night shifts in the boarding school, always in a basket within reach when Abby was little so as to be ready to take advantage of those moments when SHE was busy. And there are more finished that have never been sewn up. That’s it – they’re on tomorrow’s list too – there’s a whole series on mushroom pink linen, stitched in 930 – that dark Prussian Blue. First I’ll have to find them …
:: we lit ::
… and then sat back and smiled. Many years, December seems to race in and before I know it, it’s the night before Christmas … and not much is ready. This year, whilst the first two weeks were indeed hurried and otherwise occupied, this week – it’s been the loveliest week. Each day at home with Abby has been a treasured gift. And to think – there’s still four days to go :-)
Well – not quite. This wee crocheted and needlefelted and appliqued Mary was stitched on Sunday afternoon. But today, I have crocheted Joseph – there’s just no pictures for show and tell. So here’s a sneak preview of Mary and her wee babe. It truly feels – looking at this picture – that she is holding her wee little felt arms out to take her babe from me, and looking down at him with such love. And here she is – resting after the birth – and like all new mothers hope, her babe is content to lay snuggled, asleep against her tired chest. I so loved making Mary and her babe. To me, the miracle of birth and love is the message of Christmas. These days, I don’t get overly excited about the more Victorian or Northern Hemisphere/winter features of Christmas. They are lovely in their own right and I have incorporated so many of them into our celebrations over the years. But as I grow older and find so much more joy and contentment with who I am and where we are, it’s the creation of this new, small family along with the love, hope and resilience it comes to symbolise that enchants me. I only have to hear the exquisite words and melody of Silent Night and I am all aglow – even if it’s while pushing the shopping trolley down the aisles of the supermarket :-)
One week til Christmas! I so adore this time of year – a week ahead of us, full of making and singing and reading and cooking and preparing. Eeeee!
The first sound that greeted me as I threw open the front door, letting in the sparkling blue summer morning – the young gas repair man (working on I-know-not-what on my front footpath) singing lustily along to “All I want for Christmas is you!” on his radio. Oh – he was so cute, I had that sudden rush of hot sentimental tears! How I wish there was a soundtrack so you’d know just how hope filled and wonderful it was :-)
Abby had to be dragged out of bed AT MIDDAY with the promise of lunchtime crepes, but once I had her at that kitchen table, such good Christmassy things happened. We cleared the shelves by the back door of their pretty coloured china – looooooooong overdue as you can see. But I swear, it’s the result of living on a tramline. Couldn’t possibly be slack-assed housekeeping. No, absolutely not.
And whilst I washed and china dried, Abby drew, cut and buttoned the Christmas bunting that we all of sudden decided would be just the loveliest thing to hang on the china shelves once they were fresh and sparkly. Truly, I’m a bit hopeless with planning – no matter how hard I try, I seem to always work on the spur of the moment.
Had I any thoughts of gingerbread bunting before 1pm today …. nope! But, with appliqued gingerbread men laying upon my lap tonight, smiling up at me whilst I embroider the holly leaves above their heads … of course! Though, in deference to Julian, we shall hang them on the piano rather than across the china. It must be a boy thing ’cause I can honestly say, reaching through the bunting to reach the china has never bothered me ;-)
Before we knew it, 3pm had arrived – the table was swept cleared of its morning activity – gingerbread that is, not the china, thank god. And it was off to fetch the little girlies for Christmas stories, carols and pomanders. Whilst they collected the eggs – woe betide me if I bring them in before they arrive – I set the table – a lovely, fragrant Australian Valencia, a bowl filled with cloves, a big plate to catch all that sticky juice, and a skewer each. They adored it. Including my big girl. Did you know you could create a Mr. Snippy from Romantically Apocalyptic pomander? Why yes you can!
As for that storybook – well, it just might be our favourite ever Christmas picture book – so perfectly funny and witty and gorgeously illustrated and – brings those hot sentimental tears to your eyes kind of book. Highly recommended.
As are pomanders – if you’ve not made them before you just get your fresh orange, ponder your pattern (all-over, lines from pole to pole, round the equator, Mr. Snippy) make the holes with the skewer (saves your fingers from the unmercifully sharp cloves with their rather blunt ends), stick the cloves in, pop the finished orange into a bowl, smother with a spice mix of powdered cinammon, nutmeg and cloves, keep turning it in the spice mix until it is thickly coated and begins to cure – a couple of weeks, then dust it off, add any ribbon that takes your fancy or leave it plain, and put it in a pretty bowl in a corner of your home where you will delight in its spicy, orangey fragrance every day for the next few years – yum!
So – that’s seven sleeps left – who knows what tomorrow will bring :-) As long as Christmas is still arriving on the 25th, Abby is by my side, and the sun is in the sky, I shall be a very happy and content lily.
p.s. sorry for the blur – it’s that outdoor zoom lens we are STILL using almost a year after our lovely lens hit the bitumen – perhaps I might find its replacement in MY stocking!
However – I didn’t ever get around to making a portrait of St. Lucia for myself. The original was part of a seasonal giveaway and I hope the family she lives with still love her and think of her on her feast day. So this year – with party preparations and celebrations finally over – I settled down on Friday and Saturday and at long last created a St. Lucia portrait for Bootville.
She’s a cushion! I used one of those lovely feather filled cushions from Ikea and the prettiest blue velvet cushion cover from Ikea as her background – along with a bit of grey check from Ikea. The applique is in pure wool felt from Winterwoods and the pleated border is a sweet floral seersucker print from Spotlight. It was such sheer delight stitching her and I am very pleased with the finished goods.
For her introductory photo shoot – well, Abby says I need to shake things up at block-a-day – add a bit of quirkiness – reflect where WE are and what WE’RE at right now – and folks, despite my day dreams and wee vegetable plot, it is urban all the way to the back teeth. So, needing to hit Ikea today we decided to take St. Lucia along – we knew she’d feel right at home.
And do you know – it was the most delightful and giggly way to spend an hour or so with my girly. It’s so true that you don’t need to do something complicated, time consuming or expensive to have a good time. I mean, check out the smile on St. Lucia’s face!
[edited at 12.24 pm to correct statistic on assault and mental illness - it should read ASSAULT not kill. ]
Friday’s tragedy in Sandy Hook Conneticut was truly horrific. The loss of those dear little children and their dedicated teachers was so utterly unnecessary and completely inexcusable. My heart breaks for the families who have lost their children, daughters, mothers and wives. I cannot even begin to fathom the pain and sadness they must feel. And I ache too for the little children who didn’t die – those that will now associate primary school – a place of excitement, friendship and fun – with death and horror for the rest of their lives.
As for the United States’ bizarre attitude towards guns – it just leaves me speechless. A humane society does not tolerate such murderous action. Nor does it tolerate members of the public purchasing and keeping assault weapons used by the military as part of their “gun collection”.
But gun violence is not what I want to talk about. One aspect of the public conversation regarding Adam Lanza and his hideous behaviour that has been gathering momentum since Friday is the issue of mental illness. And trust me – this isn’t going to be one of those conversations where I shed tears whilst imploring you to consider Lanza as a victim. No, no, no – not at all.
From the moment the media started their reporting on Friday’s horror, an increasingly wide spectrum of people have commented on Lanza’s mental health. People who went to primary school with him, people who never spoke to him in high school but just knew, people who lived on the same street, the man who mowed his mother’s lawn. They all had something to say about Lanza’s mental health and the media was quick to report their uninformed opinions.
Just this morning, the Washington Post published an extract from a parent’s story about her son’s “mental illness” (she actually went on to write that doctors had NOT been able to diagnose her son and were thus failing to come up with any solutions – umm – that might mean he ISN’T mentally ill – just bloody awful) and the terrible danger he poses to his family and the wider community. Readers’ responses – “we shouldn’t let the mentally ill walk our streets!” ”they should be locked away for ever!” ”they are a permanent danger to us and should be drugged for life!”.
Really? Really? You want to reopen the large, terrifying and abusive institutions of yesteryear that were used as tools of social control – the ones where some families tucked away their gay son, intellectually disabled daughter, or nephew with Down’s Sydrome, and thousands of people suffered lives of horror and abuse?
To those people who feel so comfortable expressing their opinions on mental illness I say, have you really stopped to think who you are talking about? Have you given even a moment’s thought to the large group in our society you are tarring with the same brush as that you are using on a mass murderer?!
Are you talking about your aunt who had terrible postnatal depression? Or would you be talking about your father who has lived with depression for the last 30 years? Are you thinking about your cousin who – along with his family’s constant support (but clearly not yours) – has struggled to carve out a life of meaning and happiness alongside his schizophrenia? Or perhaps you are thinking about your grandmother, who after living with terrible trauma as a child in a war torn country, has such awful anxiety she cannot leave the house? What about your neighbour with bipolar – she shops compulsively, throws wonderful parties, organises your local community events and then when the depressive side of her illness strikes, drinks too much wine and can barely move for a week.
Oh I know! Are you talking about your college roommate who smoked too much dope with you at too many parties and now lives with permanent brain damage?
Are these the people you are talking about? Are these the people you want to be drugged for life? Locked away? Not allowed to live amongst us? Because these are the vast – vast majority of people with mental illness. And you – with your angry words and misinformed opinions about mental illness – are working to increase their social exclusion and life-debilitating stigmatisation.
Do you know how many people with a severe mental illness ASSAULT another person – 0.01%. Do you know how many people with a severe mental illness kill themselves – 10%. Yep – if one of those “mentally ill” people work in your office or live on your street they are MUCH more likely to kill themselves than you.
But guess what – there are very real and very successful ways of treating severe mental illness – and it starts with acknowledging that mental illness can affect all of us and just like when we are diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, we are all worthy of compassionate and respectful care when we are sick.
Do you think a mother and father are likely to seek early intervention for their son when he’s decorating his bedroom with aluminium foil if they know Cousin Dave and Aunt Linda - and the rest of the folk on the block – think like the bigots who wrote into the Washington Post? Who believe whole heartedly in the “mentally ill” line trotted out by the media and those who do not want the status quo challenged?
Do you think the government and those designing public policy are going to be encouraged to put the time, effort and funds required into providing best practice health care for those living with mental illness when the loudest voices demand such backward thinking rubbish as the appropriate solution to community needs?
Now, don’t get me wrong – if a person with a severe mental illness kills another person – or a classroom of children – that is horrific and society needs to be protected from that person. No argument about that.
But instead of sweeping that mental illness broom around so widely, let’s talk about those people who DO kill. Are they mentally ill? Not often. Are they ordinary people like you and I? Sometimes – especially given that over 80% of people who are murdered are murdered by somebody they know.
However – sometimes, these people who kill are just horrible, broken, evil people who do not think like you and I. This does NOT make them mentally ill. This makes them horrible, broken and evil.
The roots of much of their behaviour may be found in appalling parenting, the suffering of sexual or physical abuse as children, the experience of severe neglect, war or torture – and their current condition is often summed up as a “personality disorder”. When they’re really dreadful, we like “psychopath”.
To the majority of mental health workers - and this is reflected in current best practice regarding the admission of these people to psychiatric facilities – a personality disorder is not a real mental illnesses – it is the consequence of a series of events that results in people growing up to be seriously nasty.
And it’s not something that can be treated with the talking therapies or medication. These people careen around our community in destructive and terrifying ways and when or if they eventually hurt someone – then we process them through the justice system, and lock them up. Just like we do with any other member of the community.
We don’t lock people up just in case. To those who wrote in to the Washington Post – do you want to be locked up just in case you do something awful one day?
Why are we so reticent to talk about bad people? Are we hopeful that by pretending they are ill, we can better control them? Has our faith in the magic of modern, pharmacologically dependent medicine rendered us blind to the fact that not everything has a simple biological answer?
When we refuse to talk about some people being bad and insist on describing their atrocious behaviour as “mentally ill” we stigmatise people who live with real mental illness. We lose the ability to protect our community when we kid ourselves like this. We become incapable of putting in place real strategies of prevention because we are too busy pointing the finger at a group of citizens who are already MUCH more likely to suffer violence than we are.
When we scream “We need to be protected from the mentally ill!” we are ignoring the fact that Lanza killed 27 innocent people – 20 of them dear little children – with the guns bought by his supposedly mentally healthy mother.
People are incredibly complex beings who are shaped by so many forces – their genes, their time in the womb, the manner in which they were parented, their nutrition, the neighbourhood they grew up in, the access they had to education, employment, housing, and healthcare, the pollution in the air.
Sometimes they turn out bad. They turn out violent, impulsive, cruel, thoughtless, manipulative and cold. They are not the kind of folks you want living next door.
But thankfully, most of the time, despite everything people endure throughout life, they turn out loving, considerate, mostly cheerful and forward focused.
Until we receive further information, let’s talk about BAD people and how best to prevent THEM from acting upon their violent and antisocial impulses. Let’s demand they accept responsibility for their behaviour, not write it off as an illness we haven’t yet found the cure for. Let’s talk about how best to protect our society – our children – from them.
Let’s not have a “mental illness” witch hunt.
… and oh what fun we had! The day bloomed bright and hot and as I stumbled sleepily into the early morning kitchen, needing to bake and ice the birthday biscuits, the beauty of the world outside my window filled me with such anticipation. I LOVE birthday parties :-)
By the alloted time, a friendly fellow stood by the porch, waiting to greet the guests … why it’s Turnip Head! Gigglingly crafted by Abby, Emma and finally, because of his extra whacking of the stake into the ground skills – Julian.
Then it was off to the back garden …
… where the early arrivals garnered the shady spots, the birthday girl (trickily disguised as Totoro) finally took her place upon her birthday “throne” …
and even the iced biscuits sweated on a hot, hot, hot afternoon …
Wonderful, silly party games were enjoyed by all … there was “goldfish” catching – a traditional Japanese game in which we substituted grape tomatoes for the goldfish and chopsticks for the nets …
Another Japanese favourite was accompanied by hoots of laughter and shrieks of horror … blindfolded watermelon bashing …
the end result of which was thoroughly enjoyed by both the fluffy and the feathery …
Then, as the heat intensified (serious Melbourne heat folks with that scorching, dry, wilting wind tumbling in from the north west) these gorgeous girlies settled on the picnic quilts under the oak for the less rambunctious games – guess that quotation (all from Studio Ghibli films) and celebrity heads (ditto!)
After prizes were won and eaten before they too could melt, the girls headed back to the table for sushi …
… and finally, admitting defeat, into the relative cool of the house. Origami was folded, the birthday cake was lit sang to and gobbled up, studio ghibli films were watched, eight girls and two excited doggles slept on the floor of the family room – chattering and laughing well into the wee hours of the morning.
I stood in the kitchen, their merriment filling my heart, No-Face and the spirit statues observing me quietly from the garden …
Oh I was hot and weary but there was a second, icy cold beer in my hand, my husband and mother by my side, and nine very happy teenagers in my home. The birthday party that took so long in coming had been very very well worth the wait.
:: an exquisite summer’s day … cerulean blue sky, the prettiest light that fills me with happiness and gratitude that I am right here, right now … driving around collecting last minute supplies and frozen cokes whilst John Mayer & Walt Grace remind me of summer afternoons on Nanny and Grandad’s porch listening to the Eagles on their old record player
:: Mum, Abby, Emma and me … pottering with purpose … armchair almost-finishing, cake baking, statue painting, toffee apple dipping, christmas tree decorating, plate finishing, spirit house lighting, gold fish party game making, turnip head scarecrow dressing, … such summer birthday goodness
:: heading to bed now … dreaming of tomorrow … we are so excited … oh it will be such fun … I do so love a good birthday party
Mum came down last Wednesday for Abby’s birthday party. Thursday, was to be dedicated to last minute party preparations. Sadly, the best laid plans can go astray like that (clicks fingers)!
Instead, Abby came down with a terrible tummy bug in the wee hours of Thursday morning and spent the last day of the school year at home, vomitting. The party, which was to be held the next day, is postponed until next week. Friday, whilst Abby slept, Mum and I found ourselves at Wondoflex with the latest issue of Interweave’s Crochet magazine, each choosing cotton colours for a summer cardie.
Mine is red, with cream, aqua and cocoa embroidery. Mum’s is aqua with red, cocoa and blue embroidery. It’s been a bit of a race ;-) Who can decipher the yoke instructions the quickest? Who can rip out the most rows when we realise we’ve been seriously mistaken? Who can crochet back through their ravelled yarn the fastest? Whose increases form the neatest lines? Whose yarn has the prettiest lustre? How many balls have you used so far? Who will make it to the hemline first?
Saturday, the heat whipped in from the north west and we crocheted our little fingers to the bone in the cool front room. My crochet fuel – cinnamon coated almonds. Mum’s – sugared almonds. The status of those jars as night fell and the promised cool change crept in – empty.
This afternoon – after a lovely bout of gardening in the cool morning sun – we settled down on the front porch. It was extra nice because my lovely mum had taken home the red and white checked fabric I’d bought to make the chairs fresh new cushion covers at the end of her last visit and brought them back all stitched up. What a gem! Now if I could just coerce her into picking up the paint brush …
Our afternoon was measured in drinkware – water glasses whilst gardening, summery cups of orange and soda whilst the sun warmed our crocheting tootsies, cups of tea when the cool wind from the south swept in. Now, we are back inside … still crocheting.
Abby is all better – thank goodness. And I’m halfway to that hemline – hee! hee! hee!
Yes, it’s that time of the year – the giving of Christmas and thankyou gifts to Abby’s teachers. She compiles a list – teachers she LOVEs and wants to give a handmade gift. Teachers she likes and wants to give a small gift and card. And – the teachers she doesn’t like and gives nothing.
In 11 years of teacher gift giving there’s only been 4 that have made that final list – the Year 3 teacher from hell, the Year 7 PE teacher, the Year 8 Cooking teacher, and this year’s winner – the Literature elective teacher – bizarre but true. Abby’s strongest subject has always been English, she’s been in the English extension group for the last 3 years, she excels at English – not with this woman. I found her condescending and arrogant – she was one of those uninspiring teachers that demand you think her way or fail.
As for having such a list – I’m fine with it. We follow the Mr. Incredible School of Thought – when everybody is special, no one is special. Abby is a well behaved, witty, keen to learn student who generally likes her teachers. If she presents a thoughtful gift and card to Ms. Condescending as well as fabulous Mr Wilson, she is either lowering Mr. Wilson to Ms. C’s status, or elevating Ms. C to Mr. Wilson’s well deserved status as a kind, generous, and enthusiastic teacher who makes a positive contribution to Abby’s life. So there you go Ms. C – a lump of coal for you!
But I digress, we’re here today to discuss “the true purpose”. You see, to those outside my way of looking at the world, it might seem that I have a bit of an obsession with fabric, with patchwork, with colour, with pattern, with creating … you know what I mean. And this leads to sudden urges to put this together with that and come up with something that makes my heart sing and needs to find its place in Bootville. This can happen with cushions. I love making cushions. We have many cushions. We have more cushions than we have armchairs and sofas to put them on. This is a shame. One I regularly try to remedy by bringing home the lost armchairs and sofas I find on the side of the road. Y-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-s. Last year, Zach declared that I should open a “sitting” cafe – rent a simple shop up at Elsternwick, put all my sofas and chairs (reupholstered of course) in there and invite people in to sit – ha! ha! ha!
However! This morning I discovered the true purpose behind random (and excessive) cushion making. To meet the demand of unexpected and ran-out-of-time teachers’ christmas presents. I made the cushion shown here for the wonderful Ms. Borley – what a gem – sensible, creative, quirky, funny and totally gets Abby. But I didn’t get a chance to make one for Ms. Mara – gorgeous woman who knows so much about teenagers and is completely unflappable. Ta-da! We’ll give her the freshly made Spring Swing Cushion – perfect!
Then, as she finished writing her card, Abby looked up and asked where Ms. Lewis’ – her passion and delight in Abby makes my heart squeeze with joy – cushion was. Ahem. Thinking, thinking, thinking …. ta-da! We’ll give her the delicate white linen and yellow floral with the indian styled running stitch cushion – just right!
See Julian! See! That’s the TRUE purpose behind making lots of cushions. So’s that when the time comes that there’s a beautiful gift needs giving to a beautiful person, we HAVE one ready and waiting! See! See! It’s called being prepared. In fact, I think I’ve heard some folks refer to having things prepared in advance as … ORGANISED. Ha!
Oh, and there was Christmas peppermint bark for the rest of those marvellous teachers (and Bob, the crossing man – an exceptional fellow who chats with Abby every afternoon, wanting to know what she’s been making, what she’s been up to, admiring her art – his friendly sincerity brings tears of thanks to my eyes more weeks than not) who contribute so positively to my dear girl’s days - in wee cellophane bags, tied up with gilt edged ribbon. And Abby shovelled the leftover bark into the biggest preserving jar we have and carted it off to school to share with her friends and classmates.
Phew! Done for another year! Good thing I love making cushions … in advance :-) And a very Merry Christmas and peaceful, restful, lovely holiday to the many wonderful people at Abby’s school. I am so very grateful for – and regularly in awe of – the care and love you extend to my daughter every day.
:: Saturday dawned early – there were last minute birthday gifts to paint (which then had their finishing touches embroidered on at 2am the following morning/night!) – good thing teenagers sleep late.
:: doors were re-hung by she who is the most adept at wielding the screwdriver, glass was polished and polished and polished and polished until we gave up and bought Windex (oh my, this sure does work!) and Lotte was given a moving time bath and carefully stacked in her new home.
:: a very late birthday present (only found on Friday afternoon, side up on the nature strip of Dandenong Road – 4 lanes of traffic either way) was discovered, claimed by the daughter as the perfect addition for under the window in her new room, stripped, and DRIED after it was inadvertently left in a freak shower of rain (whilst I drove the daughter and friends to the movies – oh how I cursed every rain drop and every car on the way home to my drenched chair).
:: the loveliest of birthday breakfasts – cloth wrapped, home made presents, hydrangeas from the garden, the birthday wreath reminding me that fifteen years have passed since that first love filled birthday morning, poffertjes with melted butter and icing sugar … and Julian, straight off the plane and into the candlelit kitchen just in time.
:: whilst the papa-daughter team raced Mario Karts, the birthday dinner was prepared to the accompaniment of button making, button pulling and general upholstery – what everyone’s kitchen looks like on a birthday afternoon.
:: and now, the day after the birthday, the daughter is at school, the husband is at work, the dog is at my feet, and I am left to bang the last pieces into place (don’t you love my high-tech upholstery gadgets – a wee antique silver salt spoon used to locate the screw holes for the arms) before getting stuck into teachers’ gifts (patchwork for the most-loved and peppermint bark for the little-bit-loved) and party decorations.
Sooooo looking forward to Christmas preparations – they will be so relaxing after all of this :-)
That would be Mr. Hayao Miyazaki – the Boot family’s absolutely favourite maker of films – My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, just to name a few. He creates films of such beauty and truth – encouraging his audiences to care for the people around them – no matter who they are or how they appear because no one is ever a simple caricature of good or evil, but a complex being who longs to be loved and accepted. Stories that remind us to shun violence no matter how glorious and exciting it may seem – the cost is always too high. The constant reminder to nourish our environment because without it we have nothing. And my favourite feature – strong, independent, resilient and creative heroines. Oh they may, at first glance, seem like simple children’s animations, but Mr. Miyazaki offers us such a refreshing and enriching view of life. If you haven’t seen any, you simply must rush out and find one to watch – you’ll be delighted.
So I couldn’t be more thrilled that Abby chose a Studio Ghibli (Mr. Miyazaki’s studio) themed party to celebrate her 15th birthday next week. Oh my, I do so love birthday parties – deliberating upon the theme, planning the games, making the decorations, preparing the food. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to bring the whole family together in a joy filled creative burst that we can then share with our favourite people! And I’m ever so pleased that my girl and her friends still think a themed birthday party, choreographed the old fashioned way by the mama and papa, is the most fun way to celebrate.
This afternoon, after school for Abby and a day of travelling ’round collecting supplies for me, we settled at the kitchen table and made the table accessories for the party – Totoro plates and Howl’s Moving Castle drink bottles. Abby drew the Totoros, I cut them out and we glued them onto the back of simple glass plates from Ikea. I used an Australian glue that promises it will stick the most difficult surfaces and after curing will provide a water proof coating. It’s terrifically thick – I started off using a foam brush, but as Mr. Jobs declared, our fingers are the most useful tool we have, and this proved to be so with this gooey glue.
Eeeeee! Such fun! Tomorrow we have large sheets of ply and the jigsaw at the ready – spirit statues (as seen in Spirited Away) for the garden :-) Oh yes!