Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A Shift in Thinking

A shift in thinkimg. Sometimes something in your mind just gets stuck, and that state can remain for a very long time, years or even decades. Every time you discuss the topic you use your intellect to argue your point and that belief becomes more imbedded in your brain. Then one day talking with a like-minded person, who has the same point of view as you, you hear yourself speak a sentence that changes everything. It is not immediately obvious that a long held believe has been shaken in its foundations; that your mind has taken a slight sideways shift, but as you drift of to sleep all the pieces fall into place. This happened to me this weekend; I have always maintained I am a lacemaker first and foremost and an artist second. Always. Fervently. No doubt in my mind. That is until this weekend. I was at a weekend mentored by Michael Brennand Wood, an artist working in textiles, and my friend was explaining she wanted people to understand the lace making process she had used to create her work. Michael suggested she let the work speak for itself and not worry about the fact it is made by lace. This friend and I shared a room and we were later talking about our sessions with Michael. It was during our discussion I said something like, “You could describe the process as weaving with an unfixed warp,” I was still firmly a ‘lacemaker’ at that point. As I was continuing to process the day before falling asleep it struck me, bobbin lace is just a name, a name for the process. Names change all the time for all different reasons, the name is not important. I use the bobbin lacemaking processes, sometimes it looks like lace and sometimes it doesn’t. Wikipedia says - an artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art. This sounds like ‘artist’ is a very generic term, I can live with that; I guess that makes me an artist.

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Monday, 24 October 2011

saying god bye

I said goodbye to my brother today, not in a terminal way, but in a, I don’t know when I will see him again sort of way. I should be used to saying good bye to him not knowing when I will see him again, because I have been doing it since he was a teenager. At a time when not every house had a telephone, and if they did it would only be used for transatlantic calls for special celebration days and bad news, my brother moved to America. He fell in love with an American girl in his class at school aged about 14, and followed her when her family took her back to Oregon and broke my father’s heart.

As some of you know my mother died when we were all young, Paul, the only boy, but not the youngest, was only four years old; but our dad was determined he would keep his four children together as a family and he worked hard to keep that pledge. We grew up a very close family because of it, and he felt all that hard work had been dashed when my brother decided to follow his heart and leave these shores.

The last time we were all together was in August at our father’s funeral, and I didn’t know then when I would see him again either when he returned home. That visit was bitter sweet, and as lovely as it was to see him the reason he was here was to share a tremendous sorrow that changed our world, which also served to reminded us all that we are now the older generation and we none of us know what our allotted amount of time will be. We are all hovering around the age our grandfather and uncle had been when struck down with heart attacks.

Then a friend with masses of spare air miles offered them up to enable him and his wife to attend our nephew’s wedding in Preston last weekend, and they spent a few days with us here in Cornwall afterwards. Even after all these years he still gets horribly home sick for England and a little bit of him would like to stay, also Lostwithiel has woven its magic in his heart.

There is three years difference between my brother and me and because he was the sibling I got on best with in the later part of our childhood, and despite how revolting he could be, that was the age gap I chose for my children. He has an American wife (his childhood sweetheart) and is the father of four sons and grandfather to three grandsons and that will keep him in the states, he is a loving, kind, thoughtful, funny, handsome, talented, and hardworking man (and he will laugh at me for saying it) and despite him having been gone all this time I miss him everyday he is not here.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

eldest sons wedding

I have the most amazing red finger nails and they have been this way for over two weeks now. For the first time in my life I went to have a proper manicure and to have my nails ‘shellacked’ at the ‘Beauty Lounge’. But then it is the first time I have been the mother of the groom too. I had decided I was going to enjoy every single bit of this monumental occasion. I had bought my outfit in Bath on a shopping trip with my sister, and I had my shoes made to match by the shoemaker in St Agnes. I was ready.

Having sons I always knew I would never have the ‘mother of the bride’ experience but I have been so lucky because in my son’s new wife I did feel very much the mother of the daughter-in-law, that sounds so lovely I am going to say it again, my daughter-in-law, I have a daughter-in-law. I never thought I would share the experience of going shopping for a wedding dress for a child of mine, (he may not have been wearing it but it was very much for him too) so I had never wondered what that would feel like, and I have tears in my eyes now as I remember standing in the shop so full of emotion as the dress was selected; I felt so special and privileged, I cried then too. This lovely girl had given me this wonderful gift of helping her choose one of the most special garments she will ever buy; and on her wedding day I helped her put it on. One hears of friends having that special joy with their daughters, and although Kate is not my daughter, it was no less a magic thing.

Two days before the big event my son was every bit my son as he panicked because he had left some important stuff to the last minute. As soon as I arrived up country the day before ‘the Day’ we had the most perfect shopping trip, ever. It was as if someone had laid out the exact things we needed even thought we didn’t know what some of them should be, we were inspired; we got everything that was needed, not only got but were really pleased with; with a hair cut and lunch to boot and time to spare before the shops closed. This was my baby all grown up with a baby of his own, the step he was about to make somehow felt more grown up than anything that had gone before and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it

We all spent the night before at the hotel, and it was decided that my sister and I, with our husbands, would take Lee out to dinner. We chose a pub that served Thai food, it wasn’t the poshest place but the food was very authentic and very good, down to the sticky rice being served in little wicker baskets. The food, the lay out of the place and the atmosphere all reminded me of when Lorna and I had joined Lee for a couple of weeks when he was travelling many years ago, this was when I first noticed my boy was in fact a man and not only capable of looking after us, he did. That was a life changing holiday in all sorts of ways and here we were again with another life changing event before us.

My son and his wife to be had very clear ideas about how their special day should be, what they were doing was very important to them, they were very committed to the step they were taking and they wanted to share it with the people that were close to them. They didn’t want a ‘staged’ wedding, they wanted a celebration; and that is exactly what they had. I took a photo of the bride as she walked up the isle and it is one of the best wedding photos I have ever taken; she looked radiant, her excitement and joy shone out from her face. And who could blame her because waiting for her was this incredibly handsome man who had loved her even before he had asked her out; this man of whom I am so immensely proud. What made it such a family affair is that the ceremony was conducted my brother-in-law, my eldest grandson was the ring bearer and this little three year old took his job very seriously and preformed his duties without fault, he was a star.

If I believed that fate gave us signs on these auspicious occasions then she smiled that day; in between wet miserable days we had one glorious real and proper summer day with the bluest of blue skies and warmth one imagines when thinking of the perfect day. And a celebration should include a feast, a feast were everyone can eat all they want of delicious food until they can’t eat anymore, and we did; and laughter, provided by Luke taking full opportunity to tell stories of their growing up and working together, at Lee’s expense. Children ran around and had a ball, family events need children and they were provided for. There was a piñata for them full of toys, cars, dinosaurs, spiders, clickers, and water pistols, and as the shopping, fell to the ground and the children descended upon it, my eldest grandson stood up with such a look of triumph on his face, with all and only the water pistols in his arms. How I love boys. The only concern was their poor little son who was not feeling too well and was not so happy. And presents, given and received, I had managed to maintain my composure throughout the ceremony but when I was given a bangle with their names and the date inscribed on it for my bangle collection I was unable to hold it together any longer, and I cried.

When I look back on the day I feel I should have talked to more people, but I wanted to remember it all, to store it up to bring out on other less exciting days. The staff at the hotel commented that it was a very relaxed and laid back wedding, and they see a lot. When I went with the bride-to-be to see the wedding organiser at the planning stage, she said how very much in love they seemed, and added she dealt with many many couples, and didn’t always feel that.

When walking to work the day after meeting my husband, I could not feel the pavement beneath my feet, the sun shone just for me, the birds sang just for me, it was as if the world had somehow shifted on its axis, everything was the same but looked and felt different. I know not everyone experiences that in their lifetime but I wanted it for my children, and I believe my son and his new wife had that magic, and the very best of my wishes go with them into their new life together.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

friends reunited

People come in and out of our lives all the time, some stay for long periods others fleetingly; with some you are not quite sure how you lost touch and others you know full well what ended your association. What ever the circumstance there are things that happen in you life that make you think of those you have known and you wonder what sort of lives they had, are they happy, have you walked past them in the street ever and not recognised them? This is probably more a generation thing because the young are growing up with social networking sites that link people together and keep them in touch. The first of these, I am sure you all know, was Friends Reunited which is now out of favour. However those of my generation who signed up to see who was out there still get the occasional message from someone who would like to get in touch. Sometimes you cannot remember who these people are, other times it is a blast from the past so intriguing that you are unable to help yourself replying.

This happened to me recently, did I remember him he asks, how could I forget him, he broke my heart. Twice. I find it so interesting that you know almost nothing now about someone who was at one time the centre of your universe. It fascinates me that time passes almost without you noticing, my children are now older, by half again, than we were when we saw each other last. Also as hard as I try to imagine him as an older person, the image that is firmly in my head is that of a very young man. After all there is more of some bits of me and less of others and gravity has done its worst.

The other thing that interests me is that if things had worked out differently, if I hadn’t already met my lovely Tom when reconciliation had been suggested, I would be a different person to the one I am now. The opportunities I have had may not have presented themselves, circumstances may have prevented me from taking them if they had. Then there are my wonderful sons and grandsons, there are no grantees that there would have been other children to love equally. It is the experiences we have that mould us to who we are good or bad, I know I would not miss who I am because the person I would be could not imagine this life I have. I have been lucky enough to have had several careers and learnt valuable life lessons from some amazing people. I would not change it, I have had the most amazing life packed full of interesting chances grasped, and achievements I could not have dreamed of as a young person. We never know were even the smallest decisions we make in life will lead us, that’s what makes it such an exciting adventure!

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Tom washed the kitchen floor yesterday and the colour of the water was similar to the colour of the water from the clearing up of the flood. It bought it home to me that how ever wonderful the clearing up process was, the evidence of its destruction is still on our streets; along with the sandbags and the bridge, we are still here.

I wrote the following at the time and then posted a less wordy account;-
Water, it is one of the greatest forces of nature; we all know this. One has seen the damage it can do on Wthe television, we know it in our heads. But when it rages out of control through the place were you live you know it in your heart.

Like Boscatstle our flood started on the higher ground surrounding our valley. They say between 2 and 3 inches fell in a short space of time and the trickle of water that bleeds out of the ground of the hill, and forms a pretty little stream that runs down beside Tanhouse Road, turned into a monster. A fearce and frightening monster that ripped boulders from the ground and cars from their parking place; that bursts through locked doors and leaved a calling card of thick sticky mud.

It was described to me as sounding like a volcano; it came in the dark of night turning a road into a torrent, rolling boulders and tossing them in the air as it tries to find its way to the river. Cars were carried away and discarded, as they piled up with scattered rocks, soil and tree branches to dam the way forward along the road; on it surges bursting through the front door of a house and out the back: there was no gate so the stones of the wall are exploded apart to be used as further ammunition by the water to smash and forces it way forward. It was as if it panicked when it reached the main road, another rush of water was coming from the stream that gives whispering Waters its name. It too has picked up souvenirs of it journey, pea shingle from the escape lane, which it carried all the way down to Quay Street. Being unsure of which way to go the water spreads out carrying its brown sludge through more locked doors spreading it murky waters into shops and houses. Finally it carried on down South Street continuing its destruction bursting open our back gates and depositing two inches of mud and flooding the little cottage next door. It pounded through the medieval arch with such force it hit the house opposite and rolled back on itself like a wave. More flooding occurred as the water spread out on the even ground along the river, up to waist deep at its worst. It was fast, furious and deadly.’house restoration,log burner

The advent windows progress day by day (I am number 13 this year) and the street Christmas trees are up and decorated with lights, I love that each shop (or in some cases private houses) are responsible for their own lights and therefore they are all different. It all underlines the fact the calendar is telling me, it’s that time of year again.

My Christmas letter has become an excuse for me to indulge myself the time to reflect on the year that has just passed and to record it as a kind of diary that I always enjoy reading at a later time. One of our great excitements is that after living in a house without an open fire for the first time in our lives, that has now been rectified and at last we have a log burner and warmth. As lovely as this is it is not our biggest or best excitement this year; that happened the day of our annual arts and crafts festival in May. As with other years I had offered my services and I was committed to seeing stallholders to their allotted spots down on the parade first thing in the morning. We were woken in the dark early hours by the telephone, I sat up instantly awake to hear the voice of my eldest son, Kate was in labour and I had promised I would have a case packed ready to leave when this call came. Never has a sense of duty and personal desire been so opposed. So I heard of Jacob Zachary Watts arrival into the world standing in a marquee in the early hours of the morning with a face wet with tears of love mingled with tears of frustration; as soon as someone else was there to take over my responsibilities I was on my way. I once read a quote by someone whose name I can no longer remember which was; ‘Grandchildren are your reward for not murdering your children.’ On a visit to see them recently I passed Jacobs slightly ajar bedroom door in the evening, and as I peeped around it I saw Kate sitting cross legged on the floor feeding him, and as she did so she was looking down at him as only a mother can looking at her child as she gently stroking his face. It was one of those moments where I felt so full of emotion I am surprised my body can contain it.

The restoration of the house is still on going, sometimes its two steps forward and one step back, for example the moving of some light fitting on the ground floor turned into major electrical work, resulting in floors of rooms we had finished being ripped up. However at last we have heat in the house, our lovely log burner, well one room really, but it does permeate the ceiling and take the chill out of the bathroom above. Hopefully the rest of the work in that room will be finished by Christmas as we will be 15 for dinner.

At the moment of writing 19 going on 20 year old Totty, our lovely old cat, is still with us but we are not expecting her to still be here Christmas, she will be sorely missed.

www.lostwithiel.org.uk will give you pictures of the advent windows and the flood.

Sitting here with town’s brass band playing in the street we really do believe it will be a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and we wish one and all of you the same.

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Cornwall's floods, Lostwithiel

We are fine. The bottom of the garden had 2" of mud and had the car been parked there it would have been a write off. The force of the water burst the back gates open and caused some damage to them but I think they only stayed together through habit anyway. Talking of the car, Tom usually parks down on quay street but since he had to put his wellies on to get in it a few weeks ago, (it often floods a bit on a very high tide) he parks it by the church when he can and that is where it was.

It was a flash flood, one home had been condemned, seven shops are closed through having all their stock damaged. They are not missing much, the town is very quite, everyone thinks we are still covered in water. Traditionally the next two weeks are among the busiest of the year, that is not going to happen this year. We miss the bakery the most. The clean up was fantastic by Friday afternoon all the town streets were clean, they carried off hundreds of tons of mud, rocks and pea shingle from the escape lane main road that had washed right down as far as Quay Street. Dozens of cars were ferried out of town to be scraped. Skips have come and gone for all the furniture and flooring that has been thrown out of peoples houses. The poor bridge is still waiting for a proper survey and closed as an unsafe structure. The two huge long armed diggers and HGV lorry that dealt with clearing the debris washed down with the flood did not cause its collapse, but we are not allowed to walk across it. It divides the town in two. Going to the dentist, station or collecting my grandson from nursery is now a long walk around.

The force of the water is what surprised everyone, crashing through locked doors and carrying off cars or slamming them together or against remaining solid objects; dismantling stone walls and the mud, how everyone hated the mud.

Tanhouse Road is still closed as it is blocked with rubble. (This is the road the flood came down.)

Stories of insurance companies suing the environment agency because of drains not cleared abound.

However good things often come from bad, and it is not until you are about to loose something you take for granted that you realise how much you love it, so if our lovely bridge survives we have plans to pay homage to it.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Somewhere in my ancestry there must be a tree because at this time of year my sap rises and I become a different person. There is also the added anomaly of picking up from the Morphic Resonance the feeling of holiday from the people on the street.

Waking this morning to a beautiful blue sky with the lightest wispy clouds, the sort that would be the white of the paper showing through the wash of blue in a water colour painting, warm sun, bird song and the occasional gull call, it felt like a holiday. I have been waiting for weather like this all winter with greater anticipation than usual because our new kitchen is downstairs. It gives us the sort of access to the garden I have not had since the house I grew up in. Lostwithiel is in a valley sheltering it from the wind and in our south facing garden there is a corner, up against the house just outside the kitchen, which is a perfect sun trap even first thing in the morning. It is here that we have had our breakfast the last few mornings; made more magical by the braver of the birds that have come and shared this spot with us at the bird feeder situated about four feet from the garden table, the robins, the lonely ring necked dove and the occasional blackbird. On Friday I was in my workroom above the kitchen, gathering together my lacemaking kit to take to the Lace Guild Convention I was attending at the weekend, and I could hear my lovely Tom in conversation with my two and a half year old grandson accompanied be the gentle sound of spoon on bowl. Their gentle voices drifted up and although I could not hear what they were saying I could imagine them together sharing breakfast and I had one of those moments that touch the very core deep inside your being with feelings of love and contentment so intense it feels almost to great to bare, and you know the only way to store it for those dark days that sometimes just have to be got through is to write it down.

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