This has been the scene at my new house for the past three months. A tiny, unloved, worn, tatty and unremarkable house with an overgrown, tatty garden has been knocked about, stripped bare and ripped apart. Slowly slowly the house has been put back together, added to and improved, and is nearly ready for me to move into, a brand new clean slate for me in so many ways. Tomorrow my furniture and belongings move out of storage and into their new home, and at the weekend I will follow. There is a lot to do but it will be mine to do with as I wish, a gift. It will be exactly one year since my old home went on the market and life changed shape. A very long year, a very hard year, but a neat representation of the circle of life. I hope to be creative there.
I will be making a Flickr set about the house and the changes that take place there, should you wish to have a look. It's not up yet but will be soon.
I am popping in to say hello, having spread out my red spotted handkerchief at my temporary lodgings (the photo above is not, of course, my temporary lodgings, but the very lovely Crosthwaite House in Cumbria, which I can heartily recommend).
I have only intermittent wifi here so internet activity is sporadic. It's a strange and unsettling time getting used to being a lodger for a while, trying to sort out my new house and garden under pressure of time, and of course life doesn't pause itself when times like this happen, either.
Suffice to say I am rather stressed. I am taking refuge in Pinterest and crochet and toast. I have my art materials here too but they remain untouched for now. A full night's sleep is enough of a challenge for me at the moment.
Don't go away.
In two weeks I will be leaving this beautiful, rambling old house and putting all my things in storage, and the builders will move into a tiny dull house not too far from here and make it bigger, make it lovelier, make it mine. I will rent a room until it is ready and then I will start a new life there.
While I was sorting things out in readiness for this new chapter, I found these embroideries from 1989 which I did for an exhibition (where? I can't remember anymore), shortly after I left college. They are called 'In Memory of Sally Smith Part I and Part II' and were inspired by the gravestone of a young woman I found in a tiny abandoned graveyard near to my then-home in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. I imagined Sally living in one of those tall, top-and-bottom houses, roaming the moors and then dying, perhaps of tuberculosis - the gravestone gave no clue.
Perhaps I am less romantic about life nearly twenty-five years later. Certainly my artistic style has changed. But these embroideries, like all the disparate people, places and parts of my life, make up the person that I am, still am, am still to be.
I took this photograph of winter hellebores in March, which was when I started thinking about writing a blog post. Five months later I've finally got round to it. If I'd had to take another photograph to reflect the changing seasons I'm quite sure it would have been another five months before I wrote anything, so hellebores it is.
This month I've been blogging on here for five years. I blogged for a year before that, too, about dieting and healthy eating and gluten-free stuff, but that got dull so I started Mouse Notebook. So far this year I've written five blog posts... not because of dullness... I'm not quite sure why... a variety of reasons I suppose. What I'm sure of is that I don't want to stop for good. Now that Google Reader has gone to the bottom of the sea I've stopped reading many other blogs and have been out of the loop for a good while, but I've missed it, and so I've set some of my favourite blogs up on Bloglovin' and am settling back into this lovely gentle community of artists and makers once more. I wanted to pop back myself and say hello to anyone who happens to still be out there, but never mind if you're not, because I guess like most of us I've realised that the main person who gets anything out of this experience is me.
So, enjoy the hellebores and I will be back soon.
I made this little string of birds for a friend's birthday this week. I hadn't made anything crafty for a good long while and it was fun to get the fabric and thread out for a couple of hours of snipping and threading. I'd forgotten how absorbing it is to lose yourself in something like this. I used wool embroidery thread for the details and added a bit more colour than I would usually use, as my friend is a colourful person. I was pleased with the result and luckily, so was she.
Next week it's my own birthday and I'm planning a week away in a favourite part of the country. I'm going to take my camera and sketchbook and see what happens. Back soon.
The first of March is the beginning of Spring for me, whatever the calendar or anybody else says. March is about birdsong, rabbits, primroses, the clocks going forward, more light, green buds, the beginning of the blossom, my birthday. All these things are Spring things. Therefore, it is Spring. The words 'March' and 'winter' just don't go together for me. Spring runs from March until the second week in May when it becomes Early Summer for two weeks. Then, it's summer from June until the end of August. The first two weeks of September are either Late Summer or Autumn depending on the weather and then it's Autumn until the beginning of December, and Winter until the first of March. I do not waver from this, not ever. The so-called 'first day of Spring' on 21st March? Pah. You're three weeks late, mate. The over-excited BBC presenters on Springwatch? It's already May by the time they appear and that's Summer in my house. Airline 'summer' schedules beginning on April 1st? That's got to be a joke, surely.
No, it's Spring. There's a little posy of Spring flowers from the garden to prove it, look.
The force for change in a bulb is immense and unstoppable. Only two weeks ago I posted a photograph of this little pot of hyacinths in their stubby green-shooted infancy. Ten days later they were bursting into life and beauty, and today they look like this:
What you can't see is the scent, the pure white, heady and elegant perfume that wafts around the house when it is warm, and is held close and tight to itself when the rooms cool down for the night.
When I was an art student I filled a sketchbook with drawings of tulip and hyacinth bulbs from their tiny first shoots to their final blowsy browning overblown fullness. There is something powerfully optimistic about bulbs and their wilful desire to grow towards the light and then bloom, fully themselves, knowing that this is their moment.