Sunday, 21 January 2018

1,2,3, Wheeee!

It’s January, the start of a new year. People like to bring some appropriate words to this season. Perhaps remind you of the King’s Christmas Broadcast of 1939, where he famously quoted that passage by Minnie Louise Hastings “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year ‘give me a light’... But he told me ‘put your hand in the hand of God’ etc..” But whilst that was an apposite and well chosen piece as our nation stood trembling on the brink of WW2, it didn’t feel quite what I want to say now. 
One of my delights over Christmas was time with all my family. We enjoyed a whole week with our darling Rosie, and on New Year’s Day, we all drove up to the Norfolk coast and walked along the beach. We took lots of photos!

For part of the walk, Liz and Jon played the game which our family call “1,2,3,wheee!” You know it I’m sure. The child walks along between her parents, holding hands, and then they count and start to run, lift her up and swing her in the air, then let her down again, and the walk continues. Rosie adores this activity.It struck me that if I am honest about the year ahead of me, I don’t really think my journey will be like that of Miss Haskins, tentatively stepping forward into the darkness, hanging on bravely. It will be more like Rosie's walk on the sand at Holkham – sometimes walking, sometimes running, sometimes my feet will leave the ground, but always with my loving Father beside me.
I watched Rosie, she was happy, and confident, then anxious, screaming with excitement, exhilarated... Overcome with joy, giggling with happiness. But above all, confident and secure in the knowledge that Mum and Dad would keep her safe.

If you visit Spurgeons College, where Bob trained, you will see, above the main staircase, a lovely stained glass window bearing the college’s Latin motto “Teneo et Teneor” – I both hold and am held. 
Like Rosie, we can be sure that as we enter this new year, with its ups and downs, uneventful days, or scary nights, joyful times, unexpected blessings or disappointments, and those moments of breathless excitement when our feet don’t touch the ground... Whatever 2018 brings, we can be confident that just as we hold the hand of our Loving Father, so He has us firmly in his grasp. And Scripture promises that none shall pluck us from His Hand. 
So let’s move on, confident that He is beside us, let us be faithful and fearless. As Rosie says, 1,2,3... Wheeee ! 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Vive Le Français!

Since I posted about my French soap, I keep noticing other French stuff. I hope to be among those lining up to gawp at the Bayeux Tapestry when it finally gets here. This French Embroidery has fascinated me since childhood.
Then yesterday, Liz alerted me to the work of French Canadian artist Elise Gravel. She has produced a great poster celebrating women scientists.
To my shame, I have to admit that I can only tell you things about half of them. More research needed there...
Liz said she'd like to put up EG's posters 'boys can be' and 'girls can be' in Rosie's bedroom. So I went onto the Net to find this, and found the French ones.

 My French isn't that good, so I was glad to discover that there are English versions available.
Who knew that in Quebec, the word is Prout

I love the sentiment of these posters- and if I was a class teacher, I would love to pin them on the wall of my classroom [probably in French, for added educational benefit!] 

My final bit of Français came with the delivery of my latest Marie Claire Idées magazine [thanks Steph!] 
Lots in here to get excited about... once I have translated it.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Clock... Not Working, Otherwise OK

About 30 years ago, an elderly gentleman in his 90s died. He belonged to my Dad's church in Norfolk, I remember him as a happy, determined chap, bright and alert till the end. He had left instructions for my father to take his funeral, and for my parents to clear his rented home, and distribute his possessions among his friends. His tiny one bedroomed place was very tidy, and spotlessly clean, but there was a lot of stuff in there.

One dear lady used to call each week and collect his pension book. He'd put it in an envelope with his shopping list on the front. J would collect the pension, buy the food, then write the amount spent on the envelope, and put all the remaining money inside. She did this for years. 

He would take the envelope, remove the book, and the banknotes- and place the envelope containing a few coins back in the drawer. There were hundreds of these envelopes, neatly lined up!
In another drawer were lots of little boxes, beautifully labelled - including one full of cogs and screws - "Clock- two parts missing, not working, otherwise OK"
His niece's husband owned a department store in Sussex, and they sent household linen each year for his Christmas gift. There were stacks of sheets and towels, still in their wrappers. Mum gave me a white bath towel ["for Bob to use at Baptismal Services"] I still have it!
The whole process of clearing took quite a while - Mum and Dad took it all home, and then distributed things among his friends, and sent the money to his chosen good causes. "I am not going to get like this" said Mum "Why keep those clock parts- it was never, ever going to work again..." Sadly, Mum herself died within a few years, aged 66 - she never reached her 90s, and Dad and I sorted out what few 'personal' items she had - but of course, Dad continued to live in their home, so much of their possessions were shared. He later downsized, and was pretty ruthless with 'stuff' - but left his tools to my brother and his books to Bob.
This week I listened to a Womans Hour Podcast about 'dostadning' - a Swedish word meaning 'death cleaning'. Margareta Magnusson, a Swedish lady 'somewhere between 80 and 100' has written it to help us declutter now, to save our loved ones the task after we've gone. One of her daughters is a journalist and suggested Mum put her principles into print [the cynic in me says 'jumping on the current Kondo/lagom bandwagon - and ensuring Mum's eventual legacy is more cash than clutter']
"Start the process somewhere between 60 and 65", advises Margareta. I am 62-and-a-bit, so approximately half way through that age bracket. Long time blog followers will know that I have struggled with decluttering for years. I hope that within a few years, we will retire to Norfolk [assuming I don't die first] But Cornerstones already has beds, a cooker, bedlinen and crockery. I cannot fit all the stuff in the Dorset Manse into that bungalow, but will need much of it up right until I move. How do I decide what things should be discarded now
Please don't mention my haberdashery and the Great Stash - whilst I am still fit and able to sew and craft, those items are constantly in use and being turned into other things. 
Any helpful suggestions as to where to start?
[I have already thrown away the broken, cheap watch from my jewelry box, and a faulty alarm clock which wouldn't reliably wake anyone. "Clock... not working, otherwise OK" is a ridiculous label!]

Thursday, 18 January 2018

I Am Speechless!

When I began this blog I didn't think I'd keep it up. Now nearly 10 years later, I've passed 2 million hits. 
This picture is one I found online, but it seemed appropriate. Diverse fabrics stitched together by an elderly machine, to make a useful, beautiful quilt. I try to take the random things that occur in my life and put them together, redeeming things which others have discarded, making and mending... and by God's good grace, trying to make my corner of the world a better place.
Thanks for all your comment. I've made so many new friends here, and learned so much. While folk seem to enjoy my scribblings, I shall go on writing! 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Better Than Soap On A Rope!

Here's James Martin in his kitchen making pastry. Yes, that is his home. unlike other cooks, who film in a TV set on a West London Industrial Estate and pretend it is their kitchen and their table etc, JM is actually in his own house.
Notice behind his right elbow, a bowl of lemons - but what is that behind his left elbow? It looks like a lemon on a stick!
Well, it is, sort of. It is a ProVenDi soap. In 1950, on the shores of Lake Geneva, a French, family-run soap business invented these novel soaps. The owners, expert 'savoniers' realised that bars of soap left by the sink can easily become slimy and slippery - and slide out of wet hands onto the floor. Why not drill a hole through the middle of the soap to make a bar that rotates on a shaft?
It was a stroke of genius- schools and public washrooms across France loved the idea. Just rub damp hands round the moisturising Marseilles soap to create a creamy lather. And teachers and janitors do not have to fish disintegrating bars of soap from the floor, or out of basins of water. For almost 70 years they have been in French schools. I have no idea why we didn't have them in British schools [my school had those horrid dribbly liquid soap dispenser, which were always empty anyway] I love Marseilles Soap, it is a real treat when friends and family return from holiday with a little bar for me. 
My Futility Room Plans included dreams of French my Christmas Present from Bob was this - a lovely lemon soap on its own stem. You have no idea how excited I was when I opened my gift on Christmas Day! He's mounted it behind the FR sink [although I know it will have to come off temporarily when we eventually do get round to painting] Thank you Bob.
I am not sure that having soap like JM will improve my cooking though...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Buzzing With Excitement!

In March 2019, the Women's World Day of Prayer Service will be from Slovenia. That seems a long way away- unless you happen to be on the WWDP National Committee and have been preparing materials for this event since 2017. [I am in London this week for WWDP stuff]
I confess to almost total ignorance about Slovenia until I started the preparation. I couldn't even locate it on a map. Then I discovered [to my shame] that it is bordered by 4 other countries - and I have visited every one of them - Albania, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. But the great thing about Slovenia is the bees. This nation is passionate about them - nearly 5% of the population keep bees. 
For three centuries, since Slovenian Anton Jansa studied bees and became a recognised European expert in apiculture, this nation has recognised the vital importance of these insects to our survival on the planet. May 20th is always marked in Slovenia as AJs birthday.
The Slovenians have been petitioning the UN - and have finally succeeded, last week it was declared by the UN that this year, May 20th will be recognised globally.
Watch this space, there will bee more information soon...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Did you sing this nursery rhyme as a child? Mulberry bushes have been grown in England for centuries. There is much debate about where the original mulberry from which inspired the song was grown.
Here are some nurses dancing round the Bethnal Green  Mulberry, growing in the grounds of the London Chest Hospital back in 1944.
We know this particular mulberry is extremely old.

This tree was around in the time of Bishop Bonner, who was Bishop of London in the 1540s and 50s. In fact, the Hospital has a wooden inkwell which has a brass plate explaining it was made from a branch of the Mulberry beneath which Bishop Bonner sat while deciding which heretics to execute, confirming that the tree was already considered to be ancient over than a century ago. Bishop Bonner used to live in Norfolk before he got his episcopal mitre- and his cottages in Dereham are now the town museum. 

The tree has survived for over 400 years- including the ravages of WW2 - don't let it be destroyed now! It still produces a fine crop of fruit each year, despite bearing the scars of one of Hitler's Bombs. Sadly, developers want to cut down the tree, and build a block of flats, despite protestations from every quarter. The developers, Crest Nicolson, say it must be moved, because it is apparently in poor soil. There is no evidence to bear out this statement - just lots of mulberries each year! They have also taken cuttings. How jolly helpful of them!  Read the full story here - and if you feel able, please sign the petition to save this wonderful, and ancient tree . Thank you