Saturday, 31 July 2010

A bit of nonsense for the Poetry Bus.

I'm a bit early with this actually, but as a busy weekend looms I thought I'd post it now. Our task this time was to collect those weird and wonderful word verifications and create a poem around them. I've typed my words in capitals but don't think there is much doubt as to which they are. Here goes:

I came downstairs this morning -
ate my bowl of healthy SKAIN
then grabbed my lightweight LARIACK
and headed for the train.

It was a busy morning
and there was much to do -
a quick DOOMATTI for my lunch
then I worked on, right through.

are very well EPLECT.
I've worked for them for many years -
they all have my respect.

All three are so JOUTOLLY
and very RATIONE.
I think SOLTU is an EXPOLE
and mad on rigatoni.

The other two are slightly VOCYTH -
Quite SADLOLIK in many ways,
but very far from dim.

The motto of their firm is
which very roughly translates as
'What a load of rubbish this is'!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Bits and Pieces.

This lovely cosmos is one of my babies. I'm not very good with growing things from seed, but these are a real success. They were free with a magazine and this plant must be almost 6ft tall. I have grown them before so know they have a long flowering period - this patch will see me through the summer. There are 5 or 6 plants in this group just outside the kitchen window and another 4 or 5 in the front garden.
This sunflower is a present from the birds. It grows right next to the cosmos and will probably clash horribly with them when the flower comes out. It looks as if it will be a good specimen and I haven't the heart to pull it up, besides, a ladybird has moved in already. I usually only get strange straggly plants or tough grasses from the birds but they've done me proud this time.

The clump of borage - which was another present from the birds (I'd forgotten that) - has looked beautiful for quite some time but recently succumbed to an attack of blackfly. There are several ladybirds doing their best to get rid of them for me. It's beginning to look a little mildewed inspite of plenty of watering. I shall be cheating and buying instant plants from the garden centre to fill the gap if I have to pull it up - I have two lots of visitors to impress during August!

These are so cheerful and decorative for such an ordinary commonplace plant, I couldn't resist taking a picture of them. They perk up a boring salad too.

I have been making trees and shrubs for my quarry today. Here are the free machined shapes worked on soluble fabric which will now be dissolved away.

Here are the little shapes drying out on an old tea towel................................

............................... and here they are placed around the quarry, ready to be sewn down, though I suspect I will spend ages moving them about before deciding on their final resting place. I think I shall need several more and maybe a few larger pieces especially where I want them to drape over the edges. I've been doing machine embroidery for more years than I care to recall but still have to remember to breathe and relax my shoulders! It's as tiring as gardening.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Can you tell what it is yet?!

I have started work on my third Google Earth piece and here is my interpretation of a local quarry, in it's preliminary stages. I think this section of the quarry may now be disused. I plan to add bits of greenery by working free-machining on soluble fabric in irregular strips and pieces to be applied round the edges, here and there. It will be mounted on an artist's stretched canvas, the edges of which I have painted in similar colours and the greenery will drape over the edges in places. I was going to add tiny beads to suggest loose rocks and stones, but even they looked too large, so I mixed accent beads (those very tiny ones without holes) with acrylic matt medium and paint and applied it to the lowest level - the section just above the pool. There will be one more layer to go around the outside which will widen the piece slightly. I have used acrylic paints on pelmet vilene, and the pool is four layers of chiffon over a piece of painted vilene which was then place behind the cut out shape. The water must be very deep and looks as dark as this. I have stitched the edges down on the lefthand side of the piece but left them to stand very slightly proud on the right to give the illusion of shadows and hopefully depth.
I intended to post this yesterday but things were going on behind the scenes on my laptop and the photo would not be loaded onto my blog. I knew it had gone from my camera to the laptop but there it stayed and all I got was 'Error on Page'. I tried several times without success and then this afternoon it has worked like a charm.
I am hibernating indoors with all the windows and doors open as it is so humid. Luckily I got a lot of gardening done yesterday so can afford a day off. I just don't function in humid conditions. The sky is full of quite dark clouds but I have a feeling I shall be watering again tonight. The things in pots dry out so quickly.
I have discovered that the white butterfly I posted on my blog a couple of weeks back was a Small White or a Green Veined White. To my untutored eye they look almost identical. I knew it wasn't large enough for a Cabbage White but couldn't think what the small white ones were called. Small Whites - of course!! They may not be colourful but have rather nice delicate markings. I had to rescue a gorgeous peacock butterfly which had come into the kitchen the other day and we've had a few commas, small blues and little brown meadow butterflies in the garden but there have been noticeably fewer colourful butterflies about in recent years. I haven't even seen any on the buddleia.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

At last it's finished!

I thought I'd never get it done and spent hours stitching down all the little strips to hold them against the backing but to look as if they weren't stitched down! Please ignore the ugly bit of dowel rod - the proper batten will not be visible from the front, but I have yet to buy it.
I made a simple loosely twisted cord and couched it round the edge which was stepped along the bottom to make a more interesting shape. I used a soft sage green Colinette yarn and several very fine weaving threads to give contrast.

From each side at the top I knotted the cord so that a length hung down, and along that length I threaded a few handmade paper beads. I remember my original plan was to have about 15 strips! Thank goodness I didn't need all those - I'd still be making it. It was difficult to find a suitable place to hang it for photographing, and again today the light was not good.

I was taking a breather the other day when there was a thud against the window. When I looked out I saw a tiny bird lying on the paving stones. I went out and picked it up, fearing the worst. It appeared to be breathing but it's neck was very floppy and as I looked at it it's eyelids closed and I said out loud 'Oh, don't die little bird'. It must have heard me as it's eyes opened and it flexed it's wings a bit but still lay in my hand. I dipped my fingers into the pond and let a drop of water fall on it's partly open beak, which it seemed to swallow. After a moment or two it stood on my hand, holding firmly onto one of my fingers. It was wonderful to be able to observe a bird at such close quarters and I was longing to fetch my camera but afraid that if I took the bird indoors it might fly about and bang against the window in it's efforts to get out. I decided that the covered bird table was the best place for it - out of the reach of cats, sheltered from the next shower of rain but open on all sides when it felt strong enough to fly off. I carefully placed it on the feeding platform and it just sat there, obviously still shaken but able to support itself. After a few minutes when I checked, it had turned round to face the opposite direction and a short time after that it had flown off. I checked the ground underneath the table in case it had fallen down, but no sign of it so I'm assuming it made a complete recovery - what a relief. It was quite a young bird and hadn't got it's adult plumage yet, but I think it must have been a great-tit as it was a lovely soft grey/green all over.
These birds are as much a worry as one's own children!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

If at first you don't succeed.......... and a quick trip on the Poetry Bus.

I don't know how many years I have been trying to grow bergamot, but this year my patience has been rewarded and this plant is just coming into flower with lots of buds to look forward to. It is a gorgeous colour, quite a bit richer than this picture suggests.

I couldn't resist taking a couple of shots of this cantaloupe melon. I just love those shapes and the ridged texture ...........

.........not to mention the subtle blue bands against the very pale green background. It's almost too lovely to eat, but I expect we'll manage it.

I was going to leave these in the garden for the birds to enjoy the seeds and to see them sparkling with frost in the winter. Our garden doesn't seem to know about that, and seedheads just go soggy and dark brown when the summer has gone. These would never have survived and I rescued them from torrential showers and strong gusting winds for me to enjoy on the mantelpiece in a vase. As it was, two of the stems had almost broken but I straightened and strengthened them by pushing an old knitting needle up inside each one.
This week's poetry challenge has been set by Argent who suggests we write about unrequited love or something with a humourous theme. I think I have incorporated both in the same piece.
A True Story of Unrequited Love.
She moved majestically through the shoulder high summer grasses.
He followed, trying frantically to catch up,
even though he kept losing sight of her.
She was young and very beautiful
with long slender legs and creamy blonde tresses -
oblivious to his advances.
He was middle-aged
with very short legs and wiry dark grey hair -
besotted and distraught.
But then, she was a Pyrenean Mountain dog
and he was a Cairn terrier -
it would never have worked.
I have finished the allotment piece but can't photograph it yet as I need to get a batten so that it can be hung. Also, the light is very bad today and it has just begun to rain so there is no chance of photographing it outside. I am so relieved it is completed and have spent too much time looking at it, I don't even know if I like it anymore. Like many other projects - it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Rain at last.

A couple of days ago, the rain was soft and gentle, and the tiny droplets looked so beautiful especially on the bronze fennel. I could have taken dozens of photos from every angle.
If the sun had shone too, they would have looked like diamonds.

Every plant seemed to have it's own adornments.

The sweet peas were harder to photograph, but the droplets accentuated the tendrils on them to perfection. My photos don't do it justice.

Since then the weather has gone much wilder and I have spent ages rescuing one particular iris plant from the margin of the pond. She is hell bent on drowning! I tried achoring her to a wire coathanger with paper clips - no good. So then I resorted to bulldog clips - success, I think. I had the wire coathangers fixed in place before the stone capping was done, so that the small pots that the plants came in could be held within the shape of the hanger, and the wire of the hangers could be moulded to the shape required. Until this awful gusty wind started, everything was going well.
I have some longish oval mesh pot/baskets which I will put some of the plants in when they are larger. These can then be topped with heavy pond gravel or chippings which should solve the problem. We are surrounded by tall trees, houses, fences, and walls so I would have thought our garden would be sheltered but this wind is blowing everything about and I have had to stake things that normally wouldn't need it.
We went out yesterday and managed to stay dry all day as it only rained when we were either under cover in shops, or in the car. However, on the motorway the rain was torrential and visibility was down to a minimum at times - it was quite frightening and fortunately only a very heavy shower which didn't last for long.
I am being very bad and blogging instead of (a) doing housework and (b) getting on with my entries for the next exhibition. I always find it difficult to finish things off to a good standard - the creative decorative bit is the fun part but there is sometimes just as much work involved in finishing a piece off. I'll just do the kitchen floor first!!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Birds, Bees and Butterflies.

I was sitting with my feet up having been shopping this morning, when I heard a lot of 'peep peeping' through the open french windows. I looked out to see a small flock of long-tailed tits feeding on the fat balls. There must have been seven or eight of them but I managed only to get three in one shot. They are such pretty little birds.
I gardened myself to a standstill last week and have been useless this weekend. The saying 'Be careful what you wish for' came to mind as I am reminded of saying back during all that cold spring weather "I'm looking forward to complaining about the heat!" I find that high humidity levels make life very difficult so have been resting on my laurels and sitting enjoying the garden. I can't find my butterfly book - is that a hairstreak feeding on the lavender in the photo above?
The marjoram is flopping all over the place and looks really untidy, but as the bees love it so much I won't cut it back until the flowers have finished. The garden seemed full of bees yesterday but they are difficult to photograph as they are on the move all the time. We seemed to have a good variety of sizes of bee - I didn't realise until recently how many different ones there are.

Mrs. Blackbird is still on her nest and popped up to see what was going on when I went upstairs to see if there was any sign of her babies. Our front bedroom has the best vantage point.

It's our group meeting tomorrow so no energy required for anything more than rather a lot of tongue wagging and oohing and aahing over other people's work. It's always a good day.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A bit early for the Poetry Bus.

Dominic Rivron is driving the bus this week and suggests we write a poem on something. Yes, I thought when I read that, of course we'll write it on something. Then the penny dropped - actually write it ON something. That's my offering above.

The little dark smudge at the centre top of this golden privet is a blackbird sitting on her nest. My husband has recently been reducing the height of the shrubs in the front garden. He was working away with the hedge trimmer when a hen blackbird flew out from almost beneath the blade, exposing her nest with eggs in it. He stopped work immediately and fortunately she returned and has hatched the eggs. He must already have cut over the nest on his previous pass with the trimmer. We didn't like to try to place any covering over the nest in case we put her off returning so the poor thing has had to sit out in full sun for days. Fortunately blackbirds seem to like sunbathing. To compensate for his disturbance and Mrs.Blackbird's trauma, my husband has kept Mr. Blackbird supplied with mealworms for him and his family. The bird has stuffed his beak with them and taken them back to the nest with amazing regularity. He looks as if he has a walrus moustache when he flies off. I should think his babies will be overweight and unable to take off for flight when the time comes. We now have a shrub with a very strange 'step' in it - the next cut would have sliced right under the nest.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Finished at last!

You need a magnifying glass to see the plants round the edge, but when they have filled out a bit more the hard edges will be softened.
It's all coming together nicely and the sabbing around the edge only needs to weather a bit for our new pond to look more natural. I think maybe a couple more marginal plants might help too, to disguise the shape of the liner. I am really pleased with it but still need to build up more soil behind the 'waterfall' to integrate it with it's surroundings, then I think I will be satisfied.

I can't believe how much work it has involved, considering we got people in to do the work for us! I had to dig up loads of plants around the old pond to make room for the larger pond as well as creating some working space for the men do the work. The patio was lined with pots which had to be watered daily through all the hot weather and then, of course, they all had to be replanted. While I was waiting until I could do the replanting it was a golden opportunity to lick the rest of the garden into shape so there has been much compost making and tidying. Now it is all done I have a lovely place to sit and relax, and rest on my laurels.

Last Saturday there was a Vintage Textile Fair in Chipping Sodbury - not far from us - and I bought these lovely yarns (not exactly vintage). The silk ones I will use in my next project, which I am not supposed to be thinking about yet as I haven't finished the current one. I bought the purple wool to finish a jacket I am knitting. I am reknitting a previous one and the new pattern is using more wool than I had originally - panic stations. I'm not sure the purple is the right colour so will have to find something else to do with it and find a better shade.

I did find this vintage lace and shared it with my daughter who will use it on some of her costumes for the re-enactment group she belongs to. The Fair had so many beautiful old fabrics that I wished I was a quilter.

My daughter has loaded the photo of my grandmother on the previous post for me as it goes with my poem. It is a favourite of mine, of both my grandparents as you will see, and I believe it may well have been their wedding photo. They make a handsome couple and were both lovely people.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Poetry Bus contribution.

The Weaver of Grass is driving the bus this week and suggests we write about a person. The person who sprang to my mind was my grandmother. There should have been a photograph to accompany this, but the procedure has changed and I am having problems loading my photos. As it used to say on my school report 'Must try harder'!!


Tall and striking - warm and loving -
deepset blue eyes and soft white hair.
She was like a second mother to me and we -
her grandchildren - all adored her.

She could do anything, or so we thought.
She knew everything, or so we thought.
Always busy doing something but
always made time for her family, and others.

She raised six children, had nine grandchildren,
kept bees, hens, goats and was a keen gardener.
She knitted, sewed, crocheted, made bread and
even made butter sometimes, and more besides.

In her forties she was gravely ill and almost died
but lived another forty years to
share her love among us all -
there was always enough to go round.

There was a time when I tried to model myself on her
but fear I fell very short of the mark.
She was a remarkable woman - ordinary really,
yet extraordinary and very special - even to this day.

I will try and load the photograph another time but would really have liked it to head this post.