Friday Thoughts

I have been having trouble with my hearing.  I think six times up and down in planes in a ten day period was a bit much for my delicate Eustachian tubes and they have become resolutely and immovably blocked.  I have done steams, nasal sprays, ear sprays, all the exercises and then some, hung myself upside down and hummed loudly – you name it, we’ve attempted it!

As I hit the ten day mark and if anything the hearing loss is worsening, I am resorting to chiropractic care to try and get everything moving again.  This is a man I have an enormous respect for and his ability with understanding the body and what happens when it is even slightly out of whack is quite amazing.  My body is apparently quite a lot out of whack!  Time will tell if he has success.

In the meantime I am gaining a whole new respect for and understanding of, what being ‘hearing impaired’ is like.  I used to think a slight loss of hearing maybe wasn’t such a very bad thing, given the inordinate amount of noise in our daily lives – which just goes to show that I equated deafness with silence.

This world is not silent!  It is accompanied by an on-going high pitched hum that only I can hear.  It is like listening to people talk while six feet under water.  There is a ring of exhaustion around my head from having to listen carefully and work through the constant high pitched hum.  I am aware of the space between my ears in a new and quite unpleasant way.  There is a weight in my ears I never knew was there.  I can hear my bones creak and crack, every swallow made in my throat. the sound of myself chewing food.  I hear the throb of blood moving through my head that keeps pace with the beat of my heart.  I am forced into a noisy, internal world that is quite solitary.

I noticed today that I was relieved I met no-one on my morning walk with Siddy.  The intensity required to conduct a simple exchange of pleasantries is getting too much for me.  I understand now why some people just give up on the polite, phatic exchange and opt for avoidance of others.

How many ways can you say ‘I’m sorry, can you repeat that?’ in any conversation without driving the other person bonkers.  Lip reading is an art I am quickly learning and guessing what is said also forms part of it.

It’s not a pleasant world to be trapped in!  And as there is always a silver lining to every experience we have, mine is that I shall have much more understanding and empathy for the deaf and hearing impaired from this point on.

My enforced solitude means I am making good progress on my Lace Leaf KAL which is over on Mollie and Claire and I am up to date I think – these photos were taken a few days ago.

KAL2 15 4

I am knitting with a bamboo yarn that is deliciously soft and silky.  The Indian Silk yarn didn’t suit this pattern so I am saving it for something else.

KAL1 15 4

I love the pretty leaves and now I know where I am by sight in the eight row repeat pattern things are moving along quite smoothly.  Though I have just spotted there is a mistake in the centre leaf on the left side…………  I am not frogging again.  I have frogged at least three times back to the beginning and any imperfections can now stay in place!

I want to show you my beautiful sea dragon, Arthur.  He arrived soon after I returned home from my American Interlude.  He comes from Wales and was made especially for me by the divine Dr. Snail of Happiness fame.  These are her photos and you may admire her pristine work and delicate finishing touches all you wish and if you want to see more, go here.

The photos on the dark background are true to colour, the last two shots give you some idea of the detail that has gone into this magnificent beast.  Just look at those cute webbed feet – I am a little in love!

dragon2 dragon1 cropped

dragon13 dragon12

And for those of you who love him – here is the first photo taken of a happy and exhausted puppy the day his mumma came home to him

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I must remember to take my camera on our walk tomorrow – the weather is beautiful and autumn is at her best.  I love having the images of spring still in my head and knowing that we live in harmony – autumn really does reflect on the youthful vibrancy of spring, only in an older, wiser more muted version of what once was.   It is quite lovely!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

American Interlude: The Journey

I live in a country whose main claims to fame include periodical world domination in the game of rugby,  being the first country to give women the vote [in 1893], steadfastly and obstinately remaining nuclear free since the Act of 1987 and a population of sheep almost four times that of the human count.  We are a people of humble outlooks, given greatly to ‘doing it ourselves’, surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and generally pretty well travelled.  Apparently we are considered ‘up there’ in owning the latest technologies and are fairly consistent in contributing great personages into any given field on the worlds stage.

Well Known NZers

This post is not about any of those things or persons.  It is a simple story of a simple country girl who goes to a land far, far away and the adventures that befall her on the way.

Thursday 2nd April:

Wake at 4.30 am, farewell sleepy kitty, bundle happy puppy into the car, drive to YD’s place and bundle her into the car.  Hurry to airport to catch the red-eye to Auckland, transfer to International Departures and wait patiently for flight to LAX.  Flight to LAX is almost an hour late departing due to some missing information in ‘the paper work’.  Eventually the missing information must be found, for we set off with a cheery pilot who is pretty confident he can get us there not too far behind schedule. It is now just after 4 pm.  We fly east over the Pacific Ocean, soon descending into darkness.  There is just an almost full, brightly glowing moon to keep me company.  It becomes light some ten hours later and in another two the vast city of Los Angeles is beneath us.

 

We fly over LA for what seems hours as the gigantic quilt of roofs and straight lined arteries unfurls itself beneath us.  The unchanging, greyish vista seemingly goes on and on forever – but of course, eventually we land.

LA from the air

Disembark, get through passport check, customs check and change terminals again – be a bit anxious due to the late arrival, but make it through okay.  Wait for flight to DC, enjoy a spot of people watching and give a silent cheer when the flight leaves on time.

Snuggling in my window seat and flying in cloudless daylight for the first time I enjoy the aerial views offered of a vast vista of undulating red ground, grey mountainous terrain and widespread patches of snow.  I have no idea where I am as my individual TV doesn’t work and the days of in-flight magazines appears to be over.  I guess maybe the Rockies, or Colorado – I realise my intuitive knowledge of American geography is not as sharp as I maybe thought – and then I simply become content with admiring the scenery.

Colorado from air

Thick cloud gathers as we approach Washington DC and I lose my view, but we have arrived early due to an over zealous tail wind.  And now, 36 hours later, here I am finally, standing inside the airport, wondering which way to go now – and it is still the evening of the 2nd of April.

And I am tired, thirsty and need a bathroom NOW!

I spy the sign and make my way in.  I’m the only person there.  I use the facilities, throw cold water on my face, look at myself in the mirror, shrug and walk out.  There’s nothing to be done with that degree of exhaustion!

There is nobody on the walk way.  It’s empty.  There’s only me, wondering where to go to find my bags and my friends.  It dawns on me we never actually said where we would meet.  I had assumed that like home, it would be when I wandered off the plane onto the walk way of the airport.  Apparently I was wrong.  Everyone else knew where to go and has gone there.  Undaunted I set off at an almost brisk pace.  I follow a tiny yellow sign that says ‘baggage’ and points to an escalator.  I go down and find myself on a train platform.  I don’t want to catch a train so I go back up.  I walk the walk way looking for signs.  There appears to be no more that say ‘baggage’ so I way lay the first person who has appeared wearing a high-vis jacket and ask.  He looks at me oddly and points to a small yellow word hanging high above my head.  ‘Baggage’ it says and has an arrow pointing straight up beside it.  He speaks to me, but his accent is thick and I cannot understand – clearly he has also not understood me as my accent is equally thick – and he took a lucky guess.  I smile and say ‘Thank you.’  He frowns at me and hurries off.

dulles walkway

 

I walk less than briskly back the way I have come.  I feel I walk a long way, I am very tired but I keep my eyes up, watching for those little signs and finally find one.  ‘Baggage!’ it says firmly and has an arrow pointing to my left.  It is pointing straight at the escalator I have been down before.  I know there is a platform down there and a train and nothing else.  Once again the hall is empty of helpful looking folk.  I do not fancy asking the two kids who are roaring with laughter over something on a cell phone and who look like they might be nine or ten.  So I sigh and descend the escalator once more.  Simply because I don’t know what else to do.

dulles train

There is a man standing on the platform.  I say to him querulously ‘Do I have to catch a train to get to baggage?’  Like it’s his fault.  He nods and scampers away.

The train comes and I get on.  I realise I have no idea when to get off but I figure if the worst comes to the worst I will just stay on and catch a nap.  The train stops right beside a sign that says ‘Baggage’.  I get off.

I know which carousel to go to, for that was announced on the plane.  I wish they had thought to say ‘Catch the train to the Baggage stop’ as well…….  My flower painted suitcase is sitting on the floor beside the empty carousel.  My fellow travellers have all been and gone and I have obviously missed my welcoming friends.

Now what?

Any body else in this situation would have already whipped out their smart phone and called their friends, quickly arranging a meeting place.  I do not have a smart phone.  I only have a moderately average phone which I thought I would not need to use here as I would always be with people.  I forgot about this bit.  My phone is not loaded with any useful  information, maps or numbers for a dilemma such as this one.

I look about for a help desk, a person who looks in any way ‘official’.  There appears to be nothing and no-one.  I know I am too tired to be thinking straight – and I wander up and down looking for somewhere to sit and collect myself.  There are few seats and all are occupied.

I go outside to the pick up and drop off point and lean on various of the giant concrete lumps that litter the pavement.  I talk to a woman with a thick Spanish accent who assures me everyone waits here.  She is soon whisked away happily in a small car. Other folk lean also and eventually a car swoops in and whisks each one of them away. I watch the quiet or joyful reunions and meetings and cheer myself up, sure there will be one for me soon enough.  I study the cars looking for faces I know – but they aren’t there.  Finally, all my fellow loiterers are gone, over an hour has passed since we landed and I just know I have been forgotten.

I hunt for Julia’s address and can’t find it in my trusty organiser.  I groan at myself – I can’t believe it, I’ve forgotten to enter it!  I pull out my less-than-smart phone which I thought I would not need to use here, turn it on and send a text to my daughter in New Zealand. Now, after years of being told I will one day regret not ‘up-grading’ like the rest of the country, I regret!

But, as always, good fortune is with me.  My daughter, working night shift, receives my text immediately and she sends a text to Alys.  Alys receives that text immediately too.  She calls Boomdee.  ‘Something awful has happened’ she says to Boomdee, ‘Pauline is alone at the airport….’    In this same instant the airport PA system roars into life and a disembodied voice urges me to take myself to the baggage carousel where my friends are waiting for me.

My friends have been waiting for over an hour.  They have found the only official person in the entire airport and have been trying to talk him into putting out the call for at least a half hour.  He keeps telling them to wait, I will be here soon.  They keep waiting inside and I keep waiting outside.

Boomdee is on the phone with Alys as I stagger around the corner and, recognising her immediately, lift one hand in weary greeting.  ‘She’s here!’  I hear her say to the phone and Julia comes rushing towards me, arms out, scooping me into a warm hug, words tumbling, so relieved the wayward traveller has at last revealed herself!

There is a joy that surges forth in a happy dance when you find your friends after a long wait.  I feel it there and it wants to bounce about joyfully, but extreme exhaustion has set in and it flutters aimlessly inside me before settling down quietly for a wee rest and a cup of tea.

I have arrived!  Julia and Boomdee are here and even more delightful and beautiful than I have ever imagined and our Bloggers Funfest will begin – just as soon as I have a wee sleep ……………..

woman-sleeping-on-suitcase

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Bloggers, Cherry Blossoms, and Memorials

thecontentedcrafter:

I loved spending time with Lisa – she is a delight and so knowledgeable about DC! I think her next career choice could be DC Tourist Guide ….

Originally posted on arlingwords:

In the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people whose blogs I follow. It’s been amazing. They came from nearby in Virginia as well as California, Canada, and New Zealand. We began with a lunch party organized by Laurie of Life on the Bike who then whisked Alys, Kelly, and Pauline away to Radford for a few days.

The blossoms that have their own festival! The blossoms that have their own festival!

On their return to DC, they wanted to see the Cherry Blossoms down at the Tidal Basin, so I met them at their hotel in Dupont Circle and proceeded to walk their legs off. First we visited Einstein at the National Academy of Sciences. Since I work nearby, Einstein is often a lunch companion in good weather.

Kelly had some things to impart to Einstein.  He seems to be listening. Kelly had some things to impart to Einstein. He seems to be listening.

Then Alys took this photo of Pauline, me and Kelly schmoozing with the great man. Then Alys took this photo of Pauline, me and Kelly schmoozing with the great…

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Bloggers: The Most Incredible Gathering of Friends!

thecontentedcrafter:

Hi all! [waving happily from South-West Virginia] We are so happy here! Our days are spent talking, laughing, eating, [drinking some too] meeting so many great people over good food in great dining establishments and wondeful homes …….. It is just like meeting up with old friends and picking up on old conversations – I feel so very fortunate to be part of this adventure! Have a look here to see some photos of the gang …………….

Originally posted on Life on the Bike and other Fab Things:

We’ve all said it, and many of you have as well.

WordPress Blogging has become so much more than we ever thought it would be.  What started out as travel diary, forum for writing, sharing of photography, enlightenment about art, gardening, or crafting, or keeping up with family has become a community of international friends.

Over the last several days, 8 WP bloggers from 3 countries and 2 states, have met in various locations to continue in person, the relationships that have been forged through the world of blogging.

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Laurie, Boomdee,  PaulineAlys, and Julia in Old Town Alexandria.

We marveled that while most of us had never met each other, we talked and laughed as if we’d known each other for years.

Which, of course, we had.

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Laurie, Stacy, Boomdee, Alys, Lisa, Pauline, and Patty in Georgetown

What might have seemed unusual to…

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Friends of the Heart

If you read this soon after publication, I am on my journey somewhere between the far South of New Zealand and the East Coast of the USA to spend ten days with four other WordPress Bloggers.  During this time there will be opportunities to meet up with other bloggers who will travel shorter distances to spend some time with us.

It’s very exciting, more than a little amazing and somewhat magical!

Before I go I just wanted to say thank you and to share a few thoughts – which for some reason, I feel are important to say at this time.

Thank you to all of you who have left messages and shared in the fun and enormity of this short, unexpected and totally spectacular adventure I am about to undertake.  None of us have said much about it – but this is a trip that has been gifted to me by the incredible generosity of a group of fellow bloggers.

The word ‘lucky’ is often offered up to me these days.  It is not a word I choose to use very often.  I prefer the word ‘fortunate’.  I have come to see that I live a most fortunate life!

Here is what is in my heart to say:

I live my life very simply and quietly these days.  I’ve been there, done that, in terms of making my mark on the world, from needing to prove I am worthy of the air I breathe to more latterly, wanting to make a difference just because I can.   Those of you who read the first installment of my memoir back in September 2013 know I’ve travelled a route from hardship, anger, frustration and blame to one of acceptance, responsibility, forgiveness and love.  I work hard at it!  I struggle, I fall down, I get it wrong again and again – then I get back up and stumble on….   I have been gifted a life that allows me to understand that life is what I make of it and that there is more depth and magic to all our lives than the modern western world would have us believe.

My life has taught me many things – these are some of them:  I believe that as we sow, so we reap.  I believe life is a circle and that life is also a classroom.  I believe all life is connected from the particles of the big bang, to the silent creative energy that preceded it that we collectively know as God or the Void or Nothingness or the Inversion  –  or whatever other shape, description or scientific term [or sci-fi term] you prefer; to the commonality of our basic needs and feelings and talents.  I believe we are here to learn the dynamics of being a soul living a physical existence and it is not easy.  A sense of humour is necessary!  I believe we need each other to know who we truly are and who we can truly become.

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I also believe it is imperative that we not try to make any body else think, feel or see the way we think, feel and see.  We all walk a different path.  We come from different cultures who raise us with different values, different spiritual beliefs, different religions.  We have different life influences gifted genetically, environmentally and socially.  It makes the world a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place.  None of it is wrong – it is just different.  We should cease judging people based on age, gender, preference, religion, culture, appearance, education and perceived ability.  We should walk a mile in another’s shoes – or bare feet!  We should travel and meet these other people in other cultures and experience their life styles.  We should stop thinking we are best, better or superior to any body else – or any animal for that matter.   It simply isn’t true.  We are just different.

[And I should stop saying ‘should’!]

As the French say say so eloquently “Vive la difference!”  [Please put on your best French accent for that quote to atone for my lack of written accentuation.]

I learn slowly. I learn by examining my feelings, reactions and behaviour at the end of every day.  I take responsibility for the good and the bad events of my daily life.  I sigh and forgive myself for the million blunders I made, the judgments that were too quickly and harshly made and the words that were unkind.  I know I will have better days practising these skills.  I know hard times will pass and I know easy times will also pass.  I look for the joy and try to be grateful for every day and if not everything in it, at least something!  I know life is not about pursuing or finding ‘happiness’.  I know happiness is already here if I remember where to look for it.  It is all about CHOICE ~ about choosing to be happy, right here right now, no matter what.  I know that the voices in my head, those things we refer to as ‘our thoughts’, often lie to me.  They have the power to make me unhappy, sad, angry, fearful or depressed if I do not challenge the message they put out.  I know that when I turned down the volume and challenged the messages sent by the ceaseless blither in my head I found peace and a quiet joy.  And the more peace and joy I felt, the more of it life has sent me.

It’s all about changing the firing patterns of your brain – nurturing those neurons – which ones are you building more of, the angry ones the fearful ones or the happy ones?  ‘Use it or lose it’ applies here!  

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This is the big secret that folk are seeking.  It’s not about garnering wealth, power and material goods.  You truly won’t be any happier at a deep, fundamental level when you have that new car, new husband, new job.  Studies have shown that within a short amount of time happiness levels return to where they were before the material event that granted your wish occurred.

Basically we have two feelings coursing through our systems – fear and love.  Anger, hatred, bigotry, control, nervousness, just to name a few, are all fear based.  Serenity, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, empathy, to name a few more, are all love based.  We have the choice where to base our attention, which to feel.

It’s really about choosing  to be happy with what is and who we are, right here, right now.  In any given moment our lives are just fine, if we do not feel okay, it is only our thoughts that make it less than perfect.  Being regretful or angry about the past or fearful of the future stops us experiencing how great Now is, or how great we are, coping with a less than delightful Now.  And then we miss the opportunities to know ourselves better, learning and growing through our experiences in life, walking our paths to become the best possible version of ourselves.

Sometimes we suffer really awful things – the loss of loved ones, attacks on our bodies or souls, things that make us question the purpose of life.  It is hard to see any joy in that right?  For myself I know that though it can take many years, and be a long and pain filled process, I will eventually find myself again, richer for having survived, endured and grown through the experience.  My empathy factor is deepened and I can, at the very least, be there for someone else.  And I am often grateful for that!

This is why I say that our experiences – the good and the bad –  are opportunities for growth. Sometimes bad stuff happens to release something for us so we can move to the next level – ‘there is always a silver lining’.  Sometimes it takes a while to find it.

When we understand that we move into trust.  And living in trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to work out just makes everything so darn easy!

Here is a recent example from my life:  I get in a blither when having to travel alone.  It doesn’t matter how short the journey, I am uncomfortable and the level of my discomfort rises according to the length of the journey.  I know where the fear comes from, but that doesn’t seem to help.  It seeps upwards slowly but surely and begins to tinge the adventure with a sour hue.  The fear is often voiceless, but when I dig a bit and uncover it, it is all about ‘what if’ and ‘back when’, ‘look out’ and ‘don’t trust’.  When I hear that last one ‘Don’t trust’ there is an enormous shift in me.  Fear evaporates and a sort of peace descends once more.  Because ‘don’t trust’ is anathema to me.  That is the path to insanity.  I acknowledge the past and it’s many hard adventures in trust and know I have moved on.  No need to go back.  Whatever happens will happen whether I go fearfully or confidently.  I have the power to call in the experience I will have and the manner in which I will deal with it.  I’d rather follow the advice Nanette gave me in the comments of the previous post and look up and out, prepare myself, ask for help as required and trust that this part of my journey will be just as wonderful as the parts where there are friends travelling with me.

I’ll let you know how I do on that!

But really, where I am going with all this is that I have been surprised by the extent to which blogging has corroborated my life choices and beliefs.

The world is full of wonderful people and many of them blog!  I have met so many amazing folk.  In many ways when we share  bits of our lives, our thoughts, our feelings and experiences it is like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and doing what women are really good at – sharing!  It doesn’t matter all that much that it is done virtually.  Back in the ‘good old days’ we did it via letter writing with the responses taking weeks to make it across the miles, be read and the next missive written, mailed, received and read …..It was called having ‘pen pals’.

Here in our speedier modern world we ‘blog’.  For me it has widened my quiet world out again and brought in your amazing personalities to brighten my life, make me smile, frown, think, empathise, sympathise, reach out, condole, laugh, share my thoughts, opinions and feelings and begin to uncover you – the real you.  Getting to know you is a very real joy for me.  Friends of my heart.  You all have encouraged me in my journey as an artist, the encouraging words, the patronage, the enthusiasm have been wonderful gifts to me.  I have blossomed and bloomed beneath your kindness and eloquence.  You have encouraged me to return to old crafts and pick up new skills.  I have read books you recommend and listened to music you sent my way.  I follow your adventures and misadventures with interest and applaud when you arrive somewhere wonderful……..  I am so grateful to be getting to know every one of you!

And now I’m off to meet up with a small selection of my special friends and to have whole days when we can just be together and drink coffee and tea and maybe a wine or two and enjoy each others company, pick up on some of our on-going conversations and deepen our understanding of each other and share whatever is in our hearts.   Magic!

It is my first trip to the USA, my first time living amongst American accents – my travel agent warned me some would not be understand my broad, flat Kiwi twang.  I am practising trying to remember to speak higher in my throat and with a bit of a lilt and quite a lot slower than I normally do.  I’m rather afraid I sound a little like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara  :-)

There are cultural differences and social differences and language differences.   I’m looking forward to exploring them all with these women who are so dear to my heart!

And again and again I ask myself, how does it get any better than this?

Here, to finish, are my beloved babies, my little fellas, my boys.  Wrapped in warmth and love and trustingly placed into the loving care of my equally beloved YD while I swan off on my latest adventure.

pets collage

Forgive me if you don’t receive an immediate response to your comment or if you don’t see me on your blog posts for a couple of weeks.  Normal service will resume soon.  :-)

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

On This & That – and Mitten Winners

Once again the weeks slip by and my good intentions of getting a blog post written and published keep getting postponed until tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow!  Elaine sends me an email ‘…. I’m looking for your latest post …..’  Oh dear.  ‘It’s coming.’  I reply.  Four days later and here it is.  What is it they say – ‘Good things take time’  :-)

Here is Orlando suffering his morning smooch from Siddy

Morning Smooch

“Finished smooching now.  Breakfast please mumma!”

Breakfast?Even though I am very busy, I have absolutely nothing to show you.  I am not painting, everything in that department is on hold for another month.  I am crocheting and getting myself organised to take part in a most fab KAL [‘Knit Along’ for the uninitiated] over at Mollie and Claire  [Claire’s the knitter, Mollie is the beautiful black lab.]  [Claire is also beautiful :-) ]   I am making my own version of this – this is Claire’s ‘Lace leaf Shawl’ isn’t it gorgeous!

Lace Leaf KAL

This is my ‘yarn in use’ basket, a laundry hamper really.  I will not disclose how much other yarn is tucked away in bags and drawers and boxes for fear it may incriminate me as a yarn hoarder ….

Yarn Stash 3 15

Despite that pile of yarn, I have ordered some more gorgeous silk yarn from Silk India – I wasn’t going to and then I thought why go to so much trouble to make a beautiful shawl and not do it in the most gorgeous silk yarn ever?

Silk Indian SIN 05 Beaded silk yarn

If you are a knitter, come join us.  It won’t take long …….   Needles hit yarn on April 1st, but I won’t be starting until I get back from the US in mid April.

I was thinking the hours spent in airport layovers on my upcoming trip could be profitably whiled away by plying my knitting needles – then I remembered that no needles are allowed any more as I might decide to use one as a weapon on some poor pilot and end the flight importunately……. so I shall just have to spend those hours doing nothing crafty – and there are as many hours waiting for planes as there are actually flying!  I’m sure withdrawals will set in.  Such a waste of potential knitting time!

The suitcase is out of storage and I am sorting through clothes  – trying to decide the minimum amount to meet the changeable spring conditions of DC and Virginia and yet not look too shabby while at it……  and trying to fit a few secret extras in without hitting the overweight mark on the suitcase scale!

My suitcase has been decorated in honour of the northern Spring

Suitcase 3 15Thank you to all the folk who took the poll in my last post – it was so good to get your thoughts and opinions!

I even forgot to make the draw for the mittens and in the end read all the comments and, abiding by my own rules, decided that all the folk who indicated they would like a pair for themselves or a little relative would get a pair!*

*Provided they had commented by the time I made that decision on March 15th.

Here is the winners list:

Jenny – 2 pairs for your nieces

Claire – 2 pairs one each for Jessie and Megan

Fran – 1 green pair

Jem – 1 blue & white pair

Lisa – 1 green pair

Kerry – 1 fancy flounced pair

Sharon – 1 orange pair

If you will all bear with me the gloves will arrive on your doorsteps in due course.  I thought I would send the Southern Hemisphere ones first seeing as how winter is knocking gently on our doors and send the northern climes ones off slowly over the next three months or so.  No postage required, but addresses are if you have never received anything from me before.  My email address can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page.

If you would like yours sooner please just let me know.

Lisa I will personally hand deliver yours :-)

Here is my daughter ‘modelling’ her new mittens and matching infinity scarf, made for her birthday.

Bday11

Here is Siddy looking all ‘Bad to the Bone’ in his new winter jacket – especially for Jill

Badtothe Bone1Back View – he did not understand a photo pose that did not have his smiling face in it

BadtotheBone3

 

So we have this also

Siddylaughs

Here is the latest picking from my tomato crop – another two bowls like this and we will be done for the year.  Not a bug or a mildew or a mark to be seen on any of them.  So proud!  Companion planting and wicked water tubs rock!   Thanks Fran and Robbie!

tomatoes 3 15

If I’m not always visiting your blog, or not commenting as much as usual, please forgive me – I am a tad over committed at the moment and just trying to keep on top.  Normal service will be resumed soon.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Mimi’s Mittens

I love opera!

Maybe I should qualify that – I love Italian opera…….

But please, don’t hold this against me – I just discovered at an impressionable age that opera has the ability to be ‘more than’.  Take any emotion you can think of: falling in love, falling out of love – pain, hurt, jealousy, broken heart, lost love, betrayal, death – and then multiply it by ten and you have the heights and depths of emotion the operatic aria can take you to.  It will wash you clean if you listen at just the right time in your life!

Of course you have to suspend any association with real life.  Very often when the voice is mature enough to sing the role, the singer is past the first flush of youth and most operatic leading characters are young and nubile …..  I remember seeing Pavarotti at his heaviest playing the the mighty Egyptian soldier Radames in Aida.  He stood stock still, centre stage, like a rotund statue while the entire cast moved about him.  But oh that voice!

In this day of filmed operatic singing it is hard to stay in the moment when chests are heaving and mouths are working overtime to get those notes out.  You have to so admire opera singers, they have to sing and emote at the same time.  It works much better when it is on the stage. The lighting, set and costumes – the vivid colour and acoustically perfect orchestra and soaring voices take over and the distance between you and the on-stage performance allows for the suspension of belief – one can be quite transported by the event.

Because of course the other thing about operas is the sets and costumes.  One should never simply listen to an opera – it is a feast for all the senses.  Rich in colour and grandeur and theatrical presence.  The orchestra and voices soar and mingle with the colour and movement – it is a sensory explosion.

Not everything about operas is good.  Many of the stories are just plain rubbish really. Sometimes the music misses the spot.  But, just like modern musicals, every opera has at least one ‘hit tune’.  And when aria and the emotion collide it is indeed a spectacular thing!

Even if you have never seen an opera and even if you have and say it’s not for you, I’m sure you will be familiar with these wonderful pieces.  Have a listen as you read on.

This is one of my favourites, a chorus from Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ – even if you know nothing about the story, you cannot help but be taken into the tragic denouement.

The Hebrew Slaves Chorus from Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’.  Can you hear the hopeless exhaustion throughout this hymn of loss for their beloved homeland?  From the opening ‘Va pensiero’ I am always caught, no matter who is singing.  I recommend biggifying this, and just enjoy –  it is great example of staging and emoting while singing……..

One of the most popular operas today is also, in many ways, [and purely in my opinion, you understand  – feel free to disagree] one of the worst operas of all time.  It’s another Puccini opera, ‘La Boheme’ and it is in part, truly terrible!  The plot is all over the place and some of the music is less than memorable.  But there is a lovely romantic story running through it and it has to be admitted, I love a good romantic tragedy!

The real story is about Rinaldo, the writer and Mimi, the delicate embroiderer who lives above him.  All the rest just tends to get in the way.  This is one of the versions I have on DVD……..

La Boheme 1

In much abbreviated form it is the story of some young students –  an artist a writer, a philosopher and a musician – all living in poverty in their garret quarters, hiding from the landlord because they can’t pay their rent.  It is Christmas Eve.  [Which reminds me, the modern musical ‘Rent’ is based on this opera.]

La Boheme 4

There is a knock on the door and Mimi enters.  Mimi is a neighbour living in the upstairs attic, a poor girl who embroiders flowers for a living.  Her candle has blown out and she has come seeking a light.  Subsequently she loses her key to her door. Rinaldo, the writer, goes with her to look for the lost key.  The sneaky beggars finds it and pockets it without Mimi seeing.  Moment later he is declaring his undying love.

La Boheme Villazon&Netrebko

They get together, then he ditches her claiming he can’t stand her cloying jealousy but confides in his friend he thinks their poor living conditions are making Mimi ill. [Why he thinks kicking her out will make her better is beyond me and just another hole in the story.]  Many scenes are out in the snow to ensure you get the ‘frozen’ message.  Mimi coughs dramatically whilst singing beautifully and with her last remaining strength comes to find her lover again.  She dies in his arms.  Despite all my cynicism I always shed a tear!

La Boheme 3

Now the upshot of all of this is that even though I dislike the story – just between you and me, I feel I could have written a much better version ……. when the music is good, it is very good – in fact touchingly beautiful.  This is why it is one of the most popular operas after all.   And I admit it is the romance, the bohemian lifestyle, the starving artist in a garret syndrome that has me in its thrall.  I am such a sucker for romance!  Did I say that already?  And bohemian artists in garrets …… sigh!

Here’s quite a good version of ‘La Boheme’ if you want to watch it

So when I had the opportunity to rescue some black fingerless gloves from the landfill because they were imperfectly finished or had minor faults and began to play around with them of course the very first thing that came to me was this aria from La Boheme ‘Che Gelida Manina’ loosely translated as ‘your tiny hand is frozen’ which Rinaldo sings to Mimi right off the bat!

I played around with colour and made Mimi many mittens so her hands would be forever warm.  To accompany the theme there are little darned patches in some of the gloves, whether the mitten needed it for real or not.  These are true bohemian mittens, colourful, different and ever so slightly well worn looking.

Pizap Mimi

pizap La Boheme

Mimi Handwarmers have flowers on the back.

La Boheme do not have flowers, they have a fancy ridge instead.

While the black gloves are made using acrylic yarn the additions are made with New Zealand wool or kid mohair.  Every pair is different because I make it up as I go along.

I am enjoying making them and enjoying knowing something has been saved from the landfill and given the chance of an appreciated and fun life on someones hand.  I am giving these mittens away.  There are six pairs of handwarmers.  However, I’m sorry to say, you do have to pay postage if you want to win a pair – my funds won’t run that far.

*New Zealand people postage is $NZ4.50

*The Rest of The World postage is $NZ10.00

*  If I find I can get it sent to you for less I shall reimburse the difference.

Here’s how it works:  If you wish to go in the draw you must be a follower of this blog and you must leave a comment.  And I would really like it if you would take the poll – please, take the poll….. [I’ve been blogging for two years, I just had my anniversary last week and this is my first poll and I would love your feedback!]

Also mention your first and second colour and style preferences in your comment.

Even if you don’t want a pair of fabulous Mimi Mittens you can still leave a comment – you know I love to hear from you –  I know bohemian isn’t everyone’s style!

At the end of the week I will draw names and publish the winners.  You will then have to contact me via the address on my ‘Contact Me’ page to make arrangements for the payment of your postage and to give me your address.

Here’s the poll:

I hope you enjoyed listening to some of the music on offer – Orlando is asking me to turn it off – he votes for Bruce Springsteen, he’s not a fan of opera and he loves the late, great Clarence’s sax – we usually have a bit of a dance ……

YGM6

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!