Friday, October 22, 2021

The tangled threads of life -



transitive verb. 1a : to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle.
 b : to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of. 2 : to resolve
the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up unravel a mystery.

Life has had many moments lately where I've felt tangled in a web of 
unhappiness, loss and pain. I don't like to use my spot here in the blog
 world to 'air my dirty linen', moan and groan about aging and health
issues, disparage family or friends, or write reams about negative
 pandemic issues etc. 

I strive to make this my 'happy place' where I can share good things.
Nature, travel, the garden, decorating, photography, fashion, cooking and
 baking. During the past few weeks the deaths of two much-loved
 travel friends, one in the UK, the other in Arizona, and then last
 Friday a dear family member - a second cousin in the UK - have brought
 me great sadness.
My thoughts have been for the families of those three special people.
 All will be so missed by so many.

My own current personal mobility issue, due to what seems to be a
 major right leg hamstring strain, is making walking, bending, any
 type of movement, so painful. It's definitely knocking me for a loop! 
I started PT two weeks back and have to admit I've yet to receive
 any relief. I'm good about doing the exercises at home on days when
 I don't go to the facility, but I still have excruciating pain.
Anyway, I'll keep going and hope this condition will eventually be resolved
 and I can get out of bed and stand up in the morning without screaming!

********************

Leaving you with some pretty Autumn peeks for the weekend. . . . which
hope will be enjoyable for you and your loved ones. 

Autumn Collage - 2020


My house - Autumn 2021


Monday, October 18, 2021

Autumn winners -


First and foremost, as promised, today Bob drew the name of the winner of 
the knitted cowl!  There were 22 comments however a few of you passed 
on wanting your name included for one reason or another, which was fine. 

I'm happy to announce the winner is VEE a long time blogging 
friend at A Haven For VeeShe is located up north in one of
 my most favorite states, Maine!
Congratulations Vee - I will get started on your choice of cowl (brown)
 asap. I know it will get cold up your way very soon! So listen for the
 click clack of my knitting needles down here in still balmy North Carolina!
I'll get your address later and then let you know when your little gift is
 on the way. . . .arriving before it snows perhaps.



I purchased beautiful freshly harvested butternut squash on the recent 
pumpkin farm visit. Hoping they will be as tasty as the ones from there
 last year - much more flavorful than any bought at the grocery store!


Speaking of cold days and nights ahead, one of our favorite homemade
 soups is roasted butternut squash. . . . . . I'll be in the kitchen later this
 week preparing a batch for supper and the freezer.

Thanks to all of who participated in the drawing for the knitted cowl.

Just so you know, Bob and I decided to draw a second name which we are
 going to keep secret for the time being! Once I finish Vee's cowl I'm sure 
I'll have plenty more long, cold winter evenings for knitting . . . . . so
you may be a winner also!

Enjoy your week - we are having perfect October weather here, 
and especially colorful sunrises . . . . . worth waking early to view.

 



Sunday, October 17, 2021

Celebrating emigration and friendship. . .

Yesterday marked the 59th anniversary of my
arriving in America!  It was to be just one year of working
and seeing the wonders of this vast land . . . however, because
 I met and married Bob, it turned into almost a lifetime visit.
Yes, I'm a legal immigrant and have dual citizenship with
the United Kingdom!

I gathered an armload of flowers from Trader Joe's on Thursday in
 preparation for friends visiting.........and because I like fresh flowers
 for the dining room at the weekend.


Now here it is Sunday and I'm taking a rest!
It's been a busy last few days around the house as I prepared for 
yesterday's visit from our Oregon friends, Marilyn and Jim.
We last visited with them in Portland in 2016.
Where have all those years gone?
They were passing through Raleigh on an East Coast visit and it was
enjoyable to have them stop here for lunch with us at a nearby
 restaurant, followed by a quick visit to the the cottage for dessert prior
 to heading west to the North Carolina mountains.


 On the front porch with my longtime blog friend Marilyn ~ visit her at
where you'll enjoy beautiful words, nature, the Oregon coast, flowers,
 and learn a lot about tea, her specialty!


P.S.  Last chance to enter my knitted cowl giveaway - drawing will be tomorrow.
Leave comment on that recent post to be included.



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Travel memories and the fabric of life -


This time two years ago we were on what was to become our last overseas trip prior to the arrival of the pandemic.  Looking back through my blog posts from that trip to Morocco, Western Sahara and the Cape Verde Islands, I am noticing that many of my photos on that exciting and enjoyable journey included colorful fabrics.


Our colorful friend Kim preparing for a camel ride.



Today I'm starting to change over my wardrobe ready for cooler weather - although that won't be this week as we're due a heatwave!
I'm amazed that much of my personal wardrobe has nothing quite as vibrant and eye-catching when it comes to colors!  First things out of the storage boxes today are an unbelievable number of black jogger pants and basic black long sleeve tee shirts . . . . . . . which will now be my going to physical therapy uniform!

Perhaps COVID had me over-buying comfy, boring clothes these past almost two years.  After all I didn't travel anywhere to throw caution and neutral color dressing to the wind. I didn't pull out the portable clothes rack to assist in organizing a travel wardrobe for an expedition or cruise ship to a colorful location far from home.
Other than a small suitcase and a brief flight to New England this year, I didn't pack everything but the kitchen sink for a real adventure! Crossing oceans, and visiting colorful venues where one can buy bright swirling caftans, soft pashmina wraps, and silk scarves never happened.
Will dressing change back to how it was prior to COVID?
Will masks be my only splash of color for much longer?

********************

Regarding the knitting giveaway - love that so many of you have
 already left a comment on my previous post for the drawing next week.
Several of you are overseas but that's OK, posting something light 
is not that expensive.  
Also, some of you want the pattern to knit your own cowl. 



It's so easy that I really don't have a pattern, and you only need to know the 'knit' and 'pearl' stitches. . . . . . . 

On a pair of size 8 (US) knitting needles, cast on an odd number of stitches, I usually do 49.  
Knit first two rows into the back of the stitches for a neat edge.
 Next row, knit two stitches also into the back for a neat edge, then pearl one
knit one across the entire row to the last two stitches and knit those two into the back also. 
Turn and repeat the same on each row until knitting is about 25 inches long.  
Knit into back of one last row all the way across, then cast off - again knitting
 into the back of stitches for a neater edge.
Twist the knitting one turn and line up the two short edges, pin together, and 
hand-stitch them together (I use a crewel needle) with a length of your
 remaining yarn.

Voila - you have a warm cowl for your cool neck - and perhaps,
 like me, you feel you actually didn't completely waste all those hours
sitting in front of the TV!!!!!

I'm off to decorate with my pumpkins and potted mums!
Also to bake an apple and blackberry galette.
The sun is shining ~ the grass is growing - granddaughter is 
coming for supper and hopefully will share those Alaska 
wedding photos she took!



Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A bit more about knitting, and a "gift" for you!



An autumn and winter color palette of mossy green, Merlot wine, and warm brown is part of my own cold season wardrobe. These colors, along with basic black, charcoal, grey, navy, cobalt blue, are what I now enjoy wearing. Since growing out my grey hair - my one positive pandemic happening - I find I can wear even more colors comfortably since saying au revoir to red hair!  I believe even my red 'holiday' coat will look better with silver hair which I can honestly say I'm enjoying.

I also love to have something warm around my neck once the weather turns
chilly . . . . . . but it can't be itchy!  

I see so many beautiful yarns for knitting but have to steer clear of many I know will cause discomfort and annoyance rather than warmth.  I found this particular yarn a couple of years ago at JoAnn Fabrics and have used it for scarves and cowls ever since. It's 100% acrylic, smooth, washable, knits up really well and is inexpensive. I mostly knit these neck warmers in moss stitch which looks almost like a textured tweed when completed. They are simple, straightforward, with one twist prior to hand-stitching the ends together, so sit neatly around the neck.
I knit mostly while watching TV in the evenings - but you may find me picking up my needles when I want to sit, relax, and think about life during the daytime. I've been known to knit on a car ride, in an airport, in the lounge of an expedition or cruise ship, and sitting on the front porch. When caught knitting in public there is always someone who asks, "what are you knitting." Little girls often question you and tell their moms they want to learn how to do that. Hopefully the moms, or grandmas, can knit!  Now and then a little boy will also ask. . . . . I have always loved boys who not only can knit but embroider, needlepoint, quilt etc. and then grow up to design and sew amazing clothing - think Kaffe Fassett!!!


Well, enough rambling, I could be knitting lol!

I still have some of this particular yarn and would like to knit a cowl for you.
If you would like one as a gift some time this winter, and don't mind waiting a while, I'll draw the winner next Monday. Leave me a comment on this post and tell me which of the three colors shown above you would prefer - mossy green, warm brown or Merlot wine. They are one size, fit all gals or guys, and you just pull it over your head. I wear mine with crewneck sweaters, jackets and coats outside, and have been known to keep one on around the house when the cold weather arrives . . . . . . and which I'm anxiously awaiting.

We actually made it to our favorite pumpkin farm over the weekend - more on that always delightful annual trip coming soon.



Saturday, October 9, 2021

Wet Saturday -





I wasn't going to post today as I had a lot to catch up with.
  I was so busy yesterday, starting PT for my right leg pain with a nice
 therapist named Kenny. . . . . . . .then a trip to the airport to pick up 
granddaughter Jasmin, and her boyfriend, who returned from a
 five day trip to Alaska for a friend's wedding! 
Jasmin was the photographer and I can't wait to see her photos.
From info gleaned from two very tired overnight travelers - with flights
 delayed several times, today's norm - the wedding took place
 outdoors, on a mountainside, in snow, rain and very cold temperatures!  
According to them it was a marvelous adventure . . . . . thoughts of
 'roughing it' like that made me feel really old!!!

 
Today long awaited rain here. Fortunately not too heavy which we hoped 
would be the case so it wouldn't wash away the newly sewn grass seed
 now germinating.
Our resident all grown up rabbit - no longer a baby bunny - was busy this
 morning. Luckily he chose a breakfast of tender new grass which was
 accidentally sewn beyond the lawn perimeter. . . . . . .which works out fine
 for him and us!
Chomp on bunny, it's yours for the nibbling, just stop this side of the bricks please!


Robert Louis Stevenson ~ 1850-1894
A Child's Garden of Verses



Thursday, October 7, 2021

Knit one, pearl one. . . .


Purchased on my way to Antarctica ~ January 2013


Do you knit?

With cooler air flowing - here still only after sunset as days are still in
 the 80's - the click clack of knitting needles can be heard in my head.
 Now I just need to get my fingers loosened up.

I have to admit I'm just not up for big projects such as a really chunky, cozy
sweater or cardigan.  Following a pattern, usually printed in smallish type, is 
too hard on the eyes now. 
Store-bought, or an online purchase if you prefer, is much easier and much
 quicker.  A garment such as these can take a long time!  Winter would
 definitely be over by the time I completed something similar. . . .I'd be
 pulling the summer linen tops back out of storage. . . . .the ones I'm
 busy putting away this week!


As for cost, good quality yarn is not cheap. 
Buying a readymade sweater can be expensive if you're leaning toward
 good quality cashmere (my favorite), smooth, classic Merino wool, or silky, 
soft Alpaca, also a favorite. However, if you shop around there are some
 wonderful sweaters out there at more reasonable price points in blends
 of wool, acrylic, polyester, cotton, even yak fiber.

Way back in my teens I was quite a good knitter, making many sweaters
 and cardigans. Nowadays I'm knitting only scarves and neck cowls, usually
 while watching TV in the evenings. I can do this without having to bother
 with any patterns - plus I feel like I'm staying busy creating something rather
 than just wasting time staring at another screen - you know what I mean.


In all honesty, right now sitting at the computer, or in a chair with a heating pad
 is all I'm truly up for! Tomorrow I start physiotherapy which I hope will help
 with the pain in my right lower back/hip/leg. It's a month now since something
 went wrong and walking/bending has just become more painful, sleeping
 harder, and feeling good has been missing from daily life.

Yesterday Bob and I received our COVID booster - #3 Pfizer - at a local
 hospital. No side effects other than warmth and a slight ache at the injection site. 
We still go away from the house masked at all times - mandatory here indoors
 in public places, and we even keep them on when passing people outdoors.

After the hospital yesterday we headed to the mall to run a couple of
 errands - before my Tylenol wore off!  Amazed at how many, mostly young
people, were not wearing masks in the shops, even though all store 
personnel were!


Leaving you with something pretty. . . . . . . this lovely pumpkin/fireplace
 setting. Not mine but I do need to start doing something soon to make mine
 look more seasonal.  I'm hoping to make it to the pumpkin farm this weekend.
Have a wonderful weekend - it's almost here.




Monday, October 4, 2021

Collections, shelves and pumpkins!

 


I think I'm a pushover when it comes to open shelves. 
I have a lot of them and I really love them!
My biggest problem is that all are loaded with collections, and those items 
require constant TLC. Yes, vignettes and stacks are dust collectors, they do 
require dusting and frequent washing, but also bring happy moments and
memories.  



These are the shelves in the dining room on a Welsh dresser purchased
 30 years ago as bare wood. I've painted it in different finishes at least three times. 
This current antiqued/distressed blue-grey was done many years
 ago and will remain - no way can I paint anything of this size these days!

My collections of antique and vintage English and French china fit well here. 
I move items around some days, take a few away then add something new
 for the current season.

Small decor changes are now my norm. Over the top decorating is no longer
 an option as I try to downsize. 
I am finding I really like just a touch of something different for a few weeks. 
Currently it's just one natural papier-maché pumpkin - I have two more which
 will be placed elsewhere. I also added the fabulous pumpkin painting I found
 last year at SuzAnna's Antiques.

Speaking of pumpkins, we hope to make our annual visit to our favorite
 pumpkin farm soon - I still would like some real pumpkins for the front porch.
Days are a little cooler, I feel a chill in the air at night, so pumpkins will enjoy
 being outside now.


Are you decorating for this new season?
Do you buy real pumpkins?
Will you decorate for Halloween?



Friday, October 1, 2021

Nature books and my English childhood -

 


A few years back I discovered British author John Lewis-Stempel. 
His amazing book titled MEADOWLAND had won the annual
 British Wainwright Prize for nature writing back in 2015. 
I didn't even know that then, but the book called to me and I purchased it.
I fell deeply in love with that book and it rests on my 'favorites shelf' and
 will be re-read many times in the years to come. 
Since then I have collected more of his books, most recently this one, 
THE WOOD. I am enjoying it as I have the others.



Since reading Meadowland I have come to love many other
 books about nature, especially those focusing on the British countryside. 
This is really not surprising as I grew up there and spent much of
my childhood and teen years wandering the lanes and fields of Devon.
With a bicycle and a book bag, I covered a lot of ground. In summer, 
with a sketch pad, a somewhat soggy tomato and cheese sandwich, 
and a Thermos flask, my days were filled. Many starting early
 mornings gathering mushrooms with my mother, afternoons 
often with my best friend in tow. We cycled off to farms, 
fields and villages, my little 'nature books' such as Warne's Observer
 Series at the ready to identify flowers, trees, leaves, fruits, nuts, birds, 
insects whatever - nature was entertainment and I loved it all.

I just wish I still had those books. Instead I'm reading new writers of
wonderful nature notes books. Much of life has changed since I was
 out there, roaming free in fresh air, in exquisite landscapes so close
 to my home. Fields, woods and farmland within walking distance, 
historic, brooding Dartmoor just a short car ride away.

It was also only a short hike, bus journey, or bike ride to the shore. 
My parents never owned a car, but we could soon be swimming in the
 ocean, discovering sea creatures along the beach and in the rock
 pools - yes there were several coastline Observer's Books too - picnicking
 on the rocks, discovering caves in the cliffs etc. It was truly a wonderful 
life. . . . . .and nature books made it even more exciting.

The Observer's Books were a series of small, pocket-sized books, published by Frederick Warne & Co in the United Kingdom from 1937 to 2003. They covered a variety of topics including hobbies, art, history and wildlife. The aim of these books was to interest the observer and they have also been popular amongst children. Some of them have become collector's items. For the dedicated collector this could be a lifetime's work as there are over 800 variations, some of which are now rare. The values of the books can vary from 50 pence to hundreds of pounds........Wikipedia


***************



Photos of amazing women during my visit to India.

While on the pleasing subject of reading a good, sometimes very good,
book, I am also about a third the way through this one and finding it 
really superb. 
Although my only visit to India - Mumbai and Cochin - was a much too
 quick stop in 2012 as part of Cunard's Queen Elizabeth cruise from
 Singapore to Dubai, memories of that country have always stayed with me. 
Since then I've read many novels set in India and found them interesting, 
sometimes disturbing, but always enlightening, and they have taught me
 so much more about the vast differences in daily life in other countries.

Are you reading anything marvelous right now?

With the arrival of October I'm feeling happier - it's my favorite 
month, my birthday month. Today I started it well with coffee on the
 front porch in sunshine, a slight breeze, and a feeling that perhaps
 this will be the beginning of better days ahead. . . . . . .days such as
 these described in my favorite October quote by the great 
Canadian author of "Anne of Green Gables. . . . . . . .



Now if only I could run through those rustling leaves, 
little nature book in hand, and spy the "amethyst, pearl, 
silver, rose and smoke-blue" colors of the valleys.

Happy October days everyone.