Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Around and about chez moi in early September ....

Title says it all really. Enjoy the photos.

New rusting tool glows in the evening sun 

The slow and careful burn of all those dreaded seed heads 

 This stone wall has not seen the light of day for a long while ... hence the need for the bonfire!!!!

Extra large, large and very small tomatoes are all available  ... and are all very delicious.

Thanks for being here.

NB Its still hot. 30C as I write ... what a wonderful summer we've had.

The Beautiful Cure, Harnessing Your Body’s Natural Defences by Daniel M. Davis - a review

This is a book that shows how the story of a complex and vital-to-health scientific paradigm and the pursuit of uncovering knowledge can be as exciting as any manufactured story. In this book it is our immune system under scrutiny, the ups and downs of how its elemental cells were discovered and the development by myriad international scientists of what is now known of the ways those cells cooperate for our good health. 

Davis writes well, reminds the reader when necessary and not too often of the basics. We learn lots about how science is done, how scientists do and don’t work together and the influence of grants and the value of discoveries to both people and pharmaceutical commerce. 

I was pleased to be slightly familiar with many of the terms and some of the basics about our immune system. That made the book an enjoyable and exciting read with valuable insights that increased my already huge fascination and admiration of the way our bodies are built and the way they work or sadly, sometimes don’t work at all well. 

Really pleased to have read this book. Highly recommended. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

It it still Summer or has Autumn arrived ...

... its that time of the year. That back to school time, holidays over and when you need to ask at the start of each day, and sometimes at other times,  which season is it today.

So a few photos from around the garden on that very theme, well, not the back to school one because I'm not back to the Institches School until the end of the month. But the rest are on song, so to speak.

   All ready for the new wood,

Is this enough kindling?

And just in case it gets cold anytime soon ....

Meanwhile in the growing garden  - with credit to Paul for planting, sowing, watching for bugs and all that watering ,,,

Oh, but this one was my work ...

Meanwhile, inside I'm still stitching and I'm saying this very quietly  

I am also writing. Presently simply called Book 2 I've got a small routine going  and four days into it so far so good. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a very nice agent now wanted to represent me and sell my first one (it is finished) to a publisher?

In between the stitches and the words I keep looking at what can only be described as some odd bits of rusted and dyed fabric up on my design wall. Surely an idea of what to do with them will come to be soon. 

  and back to the garden, and the question of the season. The leaves are turning but it is still warm enough to sleep without the duvet. Is there a word for between one season and the other. Perhaps right now we are in sumertumn?  

Supper's ready, and yes, it includes one of those lovely lettuce and lots of tomatoes. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara a review

This is a formidable and lengthy novel. Other reviews say it is set to become a classic. Set in contemporary times yet never stating the years it covers, it is, on one hand, about four friends who meet at a prestigious US college. But they are really just the backdrop. The story is Jude's and it is a disturbing, complex, raw, sometimes horrific story. 

The geography is (mainly) in New York, and the cast is almost all male and they, some from birth and others eventually, have lots and lots of money and fame (of sorts). 

The story is phased well, starting at a significant time in the lives of four friends - their immediate post college years to the end of their lives. Their back stories are woven between the rise and rise of each of them until the one significant back story, the one that makes the book the book it is, is left. This story, Jude’s story,  dominates for solid reasons and Yanagihara reveals its darkness, its reach and its power at a well chosen pace. 

The focus of the writing is a microscopic view of the inner life of a character. Running through all this is the theme of kindness and love, how these impact and influence when given with and without judgement. Overlying this are issues of how we see ourselves, how we think others see us, how and why we keep our secrets hidden, and why this matters.  

Yanagihara also brings to this book the body as character. Its weaknesses, what it can reveal and it’s resilience are all explored. One aspect of the body dominates -the skin. The organ that sits between us and others. The largest organ in our body. The skin can be seen as the way we can be read by others. Perhaps also, in this instance, the way we tell our story and our story is told.

Yanagihara’s writing is particularly fine at key moments when she catches you, as reader, unaware of the turning point that is about to happen.  Overall this is a very smooth read. I found some of the point of view switches confusing and wondered why I was expected to work so hard to understand these sections. 

It’s also of note that the few women characters are there as sidelines, for the purpose of context, for example, to portray heterosexuality or motherhood.  As I was reading the book I asked myself about this choice. What was gained and what was lost by this imbalance. Was it deliberate? How did it contribute to understanding Jude and the way he chose to live his life? So, a good book, often harrowing, often romantic, frequently brave. 

Do read it. Take your time. You will need to! Prepare to be shocked, to weep and to admire. 


Something a little different to end with. Slow stitching as the Jasmine climbs; August 2018.

Thanks to the Craftivist Collective. More info here https://craftivist-collective.com

Monday, September 3, 2018

The pleasure of a rusty box

Great find yesterday, a wonderful place to keep all the "tools' I use for painting fabric with rust.

Yes, I'm easily pleased ...

Somewhere to store all the small things  - screws, bolts, old secateurs, etc. etc.  to make patterns that ask the question what does stitch add?

That question is key for me. But its not sufficient on its own. There is also the necessity of how to make a form of some sort, a piece, so to speak.

Today's task is to consider that for the rusted fabric in my stash ... perhaps in a bigger piece than I  have previously.

Nuff said.  I'm off to lay out the rusted fabric so that each time I walk by it there's a chance an idea will come to mind.

Have a good day

Saturday, September 1, 2018

that last stitch feeling ....

... is such a good feeling. Just when I didn't want to look at the fish on the quilt I've been stitching for months anymore,  it is done!!

Really done, it even has a sleeve on the back to hang it up by and thanks to Paul it will hang with the fish swimming. Otherwise, he says, they look like dead fish on a fishmonger slab. A very good point.

I thought about adding fins, ones that would stand up a little. But, that would make it less than cosy as a lap quilt so these fish have hidden fins.

Its Saturday, the sun is making lots of shadows on the stone walls around me and the air is full of quiet. Have a good day all.  I'll be back here soon.

Oh, forgot to add ...

The fish quilt is mostly my dyed and painted fabrics, it was free motion quilted on a Bernina 750 by me and the edging is faced using a new technique which I will definitely do again.

More details of that can be found here https://weallsew.com/make-quilt-facing/. It is a very straightforward way of finishing a piece without interrupting the overall design.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Worms and experimental fish eyes

 Some days are memorable, on others I experiment with how best to sew fish eyes and fish (!) for worms in the richness of what they make from our kitchen waste.   Ordinary tasks ...

I love that this 'can of worms' is about 20 years old, is very well travelled and always, of course, stays out in the elements.

Yet, it is intact, does its magic work today as it always has done. Magic that means we fill it with kitchen waste and a few worms, and it gives us beautiful compost.

OK, the egg shells don't quite get fully broken down and I did find a piece of string, a plastic label from, probably, an apple. The only thing that stays the same as when it goes in is an avocado stone. What is it about these? Clearly, the worms cannot munch through that tough outer skin.

As for fish eyes, I've been playing with different ways to give my quilted fish a face. I have a large, well, very large, collection of buttons but I didn't like the way they looked. I also discarded painted eyes  ... not really my style.

 Had a go at a hand sewn eye ...  really hard to get a neat enough shape.

The winner so far is a programmed stitch on the Bernina machine ... looks good, will be the same for all 24 fish, and I can add a french knot in the centre. Now to find the right colour thread that will show on all the different colour fish ... back soon, Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rosie by Rose Tremain -a review

Another lovely looking book with good size font, discrete chapters that follow RT’s life from early childhood to her first writing success and lots of family photos with young Rosie. 

This is an open, thoughtful autobiography aimed at giving an insight into the writer’s desire to write, and how that writing has been shaped, influenced and directly taken from early life incidents of note.

I'd already read many of her books, and then this.  A god order of reading.  As the chapters move from the life of RT as a very young child, to school and take in the lives of key people in her life, the writer and her books emerge. A privileged and fascinating picture emerges and there are some great touches. I particularly liked the evolution of her name and the way RT's adult friendships were given their roots.

The style is easy read, in RT’s usual gentle and powerful prose. And it’s a well chosen length. Nothing is laboured. Everything serves a purpose and is contained within the author’s aim to recall a vanished life in order to provide some answers to the question : how did you come to be a writer? 

Posting reviews of the books I've read in the past few weeks emphasises to me that I do read a lot of books. More so when its too hot to do anything else very much. A quiet few moments with one more chapter ... what could be nicer after an hour of clearing a bigger run for our hens!!!! Or, after more free motion quilting. I find this stitching method very intense  -- it needs to be followed by quiet time with my book. 

Do let me know something about your reading habits. I'm always looking for recommendations to add to my to-be-read list.

Find out more about Rose Tremian and her books here https://www.rosetremain.co.uk

Monday, August 27, 2018

Leaves in stitch .... and other things

Good Monday morning ... hope your weekend went well.

We are still eating figs -rocket, avocado, goats cheese and fig salad was great with a from the garden/ market Spanish omelette.  And the fig jam is very good on scones. I have, at last, found a recipe using plain flour. Self raising is not available in France and my previous attempts have been less than light!
So thank you to https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_scones_70005.

I am still stitching ... 24 fish complete and now its leaves and more leaves ....

Next will be the eyes of the fish ... suggestions on how to stitch these please.

And in case you missed my FB or tweet about this great post on journalling, here's the link


I've been thinking for a while that I should combine my morning pages notebook with my daily journal and the other notebooks I have - mainly to lighten my load when travelling. Jan's post has convinced me to give that a go.

I also need to explore more of the entries on Medium and maybe posts some of my thoughts there.

Meanwhile, I have at last found some French language podcasts at my level ... they are good to listen to as I hand sew.

Finally, away from the electronic world I'm going back to the garden to do some gentle and therapeutic clearing rubbish and weeding.

Back here soon ....