now i shall have to sew

needlepoint cross stitch scarf ostheimer mandarines jasmine chickenThere’s a sort of stillness to the house at the moment.  A sense of waiting.  The much longed for change of seasons is almost here.  Yes, there’s still plenty of shivery cold, but every morning the sun rises that bit earlier and I throw open the windows, declaring it fresh.  Just this morning, I noticed the jasmine dressed in her spiky pink buds, mere days away from bursting forth with her beautiful perfume.  The old hibiscus is popping out bright green leaves (the first in years) and the gnarly magnolia’s furry buds are slowly opening.  I want to ride my bike to the shops.  Bake fruitcake.  I always want to bake fruitcake in spring.  Set up camp in the back garden.  Plan for Christmas. Ditch the stockings! Wear sandals!

But not yet.  It is only the first week in August.  There’s weeks and weeks to go of winter yet. So, I shall keep savouring the days just as they are presented to us.  Wrap my hands ’round another cup of steamy tea.  Tuck a quilt ’round my lap, heavy and warm.  Admire the bare elegance of the tall planes and elms that line our streets.  Enjoy the sharp slap of the air on my cheeks when I step outside.  Layer up with wool and shawls and sheepskin slippers when I’m at home.  Make the most of that lovely, safe feeling of cosiness that comes when the sky is dark, the rain is constant, the air is frigid, and the family is all at home, curtains drawn, candles lit, warm and busy.

mandarin holly hobby tea boxes inside

And today, with all the DMC7928 stitched up, I turned back to a quilt top I started way back in summer when the days were long and hot.  One filled with bees swirling their way round and round the garden, little puffy golden chicks and an unexpected red cross in the centre.  I had all the chicks and bees stitched up and I don’t know, it just looked a little too simple.  So I chopped out the middle – literally – and added a little red (no matter how hard I try, I always end up adding a little red).  Then I loved it.  Now, just a few weeks away from graduation it’s kind of funny – I’ve made the perfect nurses’ quilt :-)

ribbon pieces sewing machine stitching rumpled

After snapping it on the line, I laid it on our bed and do you know what – I think it may need one more border – a nice wide one – maybe 5 inches deep.  In red?  Then it will be extra cosy for our bed.   And even more suited to being tossed over a teepee of sticks and opened as a first aid centre :-)

finished corner pegs chickens with the chickenTomorrow – with the forecast filled with grey and rain – I shall find this quilt a blanket, turn the kitchen radio to Classic FM, eat more mandarines, and get squiggling.  It will be a lovely winter’s day.

~ loveliness found ~ 11/52

if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
… & I would so love it if you did …
please leave them in the comments or share a link to your place!

prettiness of seams

little bit of stitching

~ making some time to put one little square of fabric with another
& finding just as much prettiness in the finished piece’s
thickly layered seams as the richly pieced front ~

clouds that hsve been piped into place

~ marvelling over clouds that look as if they’ve been made of
a good, stiff icing & then piped into place ~

knitting

~ allowing the peace of knitting to soothe my frazzled nerves ~

abbys new craft project

~ full of awe and admiration for Abby’s latest crafty experiments
this time, iron on paper transfers ~

boxes of photos

family photos

 ~ so grateful for my lovely, lovely Julian who has spent the best part
of his weekend scanning in hundreds of my funny old family photos
providing me with heaps of giggles and lovely moments of “ohhhh ...” ~

abby restaurant

bento box

~ after twelve days of everything Australian, we celebrate the end of a lovely
homestay experience with a little bit of local Japanese ~

casting on second sleeve

car knitting
~ making the most of long drives in the car, very much needed airconditioning
& obliging/long suffering daughters  ~

cosy inside pouring rain outside

~ giving thanks for an afternoon of good drenching rain,
whilst enjoying the warmly lit cosiness of inside ~

swedish folkart

~ relishing the creativity shared in this bloggy community
Kate’s new/vintage Swedish folk art book …
& dreaming of ways to interpret such quirkiness ~

leftovers for breakfast

eggs

~ the feathered girls swoon over homemade pesto pasta for breakfast,
& I almost cry with relief/joy that they have recovered
enough of their oomph to lay an egg ~

lost thongs
soft

~ putting a pair of abandoned/lost thongs to good use
on a late evening, soft, grey beach wander ~

battling the red queen

Winston had his black dog.  I have my red queen.  Melodramatic I know.  But Kim, you hit the nail on the head yesterday when you commented on hormones.  Part of me truly hates to say this … I feel as if I am playing into every patronising, patriarchal notion of the hysteria of women … but, before the tangible arrival of the red queen each month, she sneaks up on me with poisoned sceptre and my spirits plunge from really cheerful and energetic to horribly glum and slothful.  And, as I age, I’ve noticed the pitch becoming ever more obvious.

When I feel the sadness descend, at first, it feels as if life is grinding to a halt.  Everything around me seems difficult, I become so focussed on what’s inside my head rather than the everyday loveliness and normality of what’s around me.  Then I remember to remind myself, no.  This is just my period about to arrive.  This feeling will last a day or two (hopefully not three), and then I will bounce back and everything will be perfectly doable again.  And it is.

I’ve even come to the realisation that I have to share with Julian and Abby.  They are so sweet – they smile sympathetically, nod knowingly.  It’s a secure feeling, knowing that they know.  And I don’t just fall down into a heap.  Instead, I plough on with everyday things.  Waiting for it to pass.  So that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days.  I’ve MADE myself cook dinner.  MADE myself make the bed.  MADE myself vacuum.  These things don’t banish the red queen, but they give me a small feeling of competence and control.

Yesterday morning, I started at Ceres – and it was sooooo good.  I spent a lovely morning in the autumn sun, harvesting the last of the little tomatoes, making up plumply fragrant bunches of basil for the market, pulling out the spent cucumber plants and chopping up the remaining, battered cucumbers for the chickens.  It was very therapeutic with so much to learn, the people lovely, and I’m looking forward to next week.

dutch cream potsbasil

When I could feel myself becoming VERY frazzled, yesterday afternoon, I slipped out into our back garden with some handquilting.  Letting the needle slide in and out, and in and out.  Feeling the lovely cool breeze of the much longed for change wash over me.

yarn and scissors

made some linesedges

 

Listening to the increasingly crunchy leaves rustle.  Noticing our little feathered girls regaining some of their confidence and feathers, as they chatter and bustle about, delighted with their succulent, seedy cucumbers.

bits of brown

cucumberswahts this

nogs funny feathers

Last night, I finished one book – Sally Vicker’s new novel “The Cleaner of Chartres” which I loved – Agnes is such an endearing character and the setting is beautiful.  And had a long, warm, sweetly scented bath with a new book – Beth Gutcheon’s “More Than You Know” – utterly different time and place and story, but certainly intriguing thus far.

Do you find your hormones wreaking havoc on your emotional state?  What does it feel like for you? What helps you move through these times?  Do you hate admitting it!?

 

fox

phew … it’s been a big week here in Bootville.  Classes started afresh for the academic year.  All 7am starts – very tiring for this out of practice would-be-nurse.  And in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a fox broke into the chooks’ house and killed Benny and Souffie – ripped out their throats.  It was my fault.  I’d been leaving the door to their house open over summer as the nights have been so hot and still.  I didn’t want them to feel hot and yucky.  Now two are dead instead.  So stupid!

Oh my.

It was so horrible.  We were woken by the terrible noise made by the first of our girls to be killed – she cried out in such terror and agony whilst her sisters went bonkers with fright, banging and flapping about the house.

By the time Julian had exploded out the back door and raced through the garden to their enclosure, the next girl to be killed cried out in the same horrible way.  Meanwhile, poor Nog and Lettie had managed to get out of the fox’s way and were frantically trying to get out the gate – in fact, they ran out as Julian ran in.  We found Nog pretty easily – she was hiding in the Vietnamese basil, but Lettie secreted herself so well, we didn’t spy her again until well and truly after the sun had risen.

Poor, poor Benny and Souffie.  I know death is part of keeping animals, and anyone who’s ever kept chickens has experienced Mr. Fox at least once.  But boy oh boy … when Julian carried their still warm bodies out of the enclosure to put them somewhere safe until morning when we could bury them, I cried.  When I cracked my next egg, the following day, I cried.  Abby cried.  It was awful.  But the way of the natural world I guess.  My Uncle Keith used to lose his chooks to carpet snakes – ugh!  He’d go down in the morning and there’d be a carpet snake – too fat with all the chooks he’d eaten to get back out.  Family consensus is, if we were chooks and the occasion arose when we were about to become another animal’s dinner, we’d rather a fox than a carpet snake.  Though scant comfort at the moment, I must say.

As for Mr. Fox – we didn’t even see him leave he was so quick and sly.  We have carefully searched along the perimeter’s edge – we think he got in where the chickens had themselves dug a small hole under the wall of their house, where it butts up against the sewing shed.  The fox could have gotten under the sewing shed – as does Fu, but the thought a fox would do it simply hadn’t crossed our minds because he would have to have gotten into our garden first, which has quite sturdy 6 foot fences – and then, with a bit of wiggling, through the hole and pop! into the house.

I’ve since read that foxes can spring over a six foot fence from a standing position on the ground.  Good grief.  I’ve also read that the end of summer is a prime time for an increase in attacks as the spring born cubs learn to hunt for themselves.  And here in our neighbourhood, an abandoned house which was home to a huge number of foxes, was pulled down last week – maybe those foxes have found new homes closer?

Extra mesh has been dug in, heavy rocks have been laid on top.  Regardless of the heat, that chook house door will be securely shut every night for ever more.  And – just in case it works – we’ve taken a leaf out of Hugh F-W’s book and are peeing on the fence.  Well – you know, peeing into a container and throwing it on the fence.  Folk wisdom suggests the scent of urine – especially male – deters foxes.  Others say it does nothing at all. Might as well give it a go.

Meanwhile, Nog and Lettie are stumbling on.  Nog lost a lot of feathers – you can imagine that the fox grabbed her by a clump of feathers and when she jumped, they just came out – she has bald patches between her shoulder blades and around her tail and butt.  She looks a wreck – but seems pretty confident still.  Nog’s always been a bit dim.

Lettie, on the other hand, has no visible signs of attack at all, but is a nervous wreck.  She’s always been very sweet – always talks to me when I go near, drops herself at my feet ’cause she loves to be carried and stroked, a very friendly and relaxed chook.  Now, if she was human, she’d be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.  The first day, she stood by the water bowl with her head drooping and eyes closed.  It was so sad.  The next morning when I opened the door she stood in it silently, and every few moments, would put her head and look one way, then the other.  She did this for a good five minutes before deciding it was safe to come out.

But today, Lettie’s made herself a dust bath and is dozing in the sun.  And Nog’s being Nog – bumping about, chattering away to herself and munching grain.  No eggs since the attack – I’ve read this is very normal.  And they may never lay again.  We’ll see.

So – big week.  Tiring week.  Sad week.  Oy.  By Friday, I needed something to soothe my spirits – some new wool from Wondoflex’s bargain basement (only open Fridays and Saturdays and literally in the basement) – 12 ply for $25 for a bag of 10 balls.  Perfect for knitting Abby her 2013 jumper – Kate Davies’ Owls.  Round, and round and round – and on those 6.5mm needles it’s rising like well yeasted bread.

Hopefully next week will be a bit more gentle.  Autumn has certainly arrived with a jolt.