Thursday, 28 January 2016

28 Jan : Iris

Iris cross-section
Lilian Snelling (1879-1972)

My pot of iris burst into bloom yesterday, exploding from their tight green sheaths. I have put the pot on a ledge where I can see it from my dining room window and I stand there, wondering at the exquisite colour and markings of the petals. In my next life I will have a woodland garden full of iris - people will travel across the world to see it and I will be known as The Iris Lady. But just in case there is a problem with that plan I will plant more bulbs in my small, perfectly formed but not very woodlandy garden next year.

Monday, 25 January 2016

25 Jan : Snowdrops

It's Monday and I can't stop to chat because must make fudge for MasterM. He assures me it is essential for his physical and mental wellbeing. I'm going to put dried apricots in so that I know he is getting some vitamins. I have discovered that you don't stop being a mother even if you are no longer tripping over their shoes. I expect you all knew that already. Anyways, I just wanted to mention that the snowdrops my parents gave me from their garden are looking stylish and so I am going to persuade them to donate a few more clumps. I'm taking them out to lunch on Friday and I hope they don't realise I have an ulterior motive. Also you need to know that tomorrow is Windowbox Tuesday because I am so over the red cyclamen. It's nearly February - time for a new look - bring on the miniature daffodils. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

22 Jan : Teal

Laura Tarsi, 'a Grecian lady'
Jean-√Čtienne Liotard

Forgive me - I have been London-ing. Exhibitions, the-ay-ter, dining out and suchlike. It is all hard work and I am now collapsed on the sofa restoring my natural equilibrium. I need to fit in as much fun as possible because in February the part of my brain that notices the garden wakes up from hibernation. Also New Job - although I am not going to allow that to get in the way of fun. I would normally include ironing in my list of woe but when I mentioned it to my lovely neighbour she said firmly"Ironing? That's for other people."

Portrait of the artist’s wife, Marie Fargues, in Turkish dress
Jean-√Čtienne Liotard

On Friday night I wore my new teal coloured dress and went to see the Celts exhibition at the British Museum with MrM. I didn't know that Rennie Mackintosh was influenced by the revival of interest in Celtic designs so I learned something there. We stopped off for dinner at Polpo in Soho and I concluded that MrM must be persuaded to wear a black polo neck to achieve the Soho look. We ended up at the Royal Academy and popped in to see the Liotard exhibition before it closes. I have seen it before and was overwhelmed by the use of the colour teal in the portraits on display but somehow was not clever enough to choose another dress to wear. Major wardrobe error. I expect the other visitors thought I was a marketing gimmick.

Jeanne-Elisabeth de Sellon, Lady Tyrell
Jean-√Čtienne Liotard

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

20 Jan : Hedge

When I walked past last week this hedge was just a pile of brushwood. I stop and admire the skill of the hedge-layer, the confident cuts and twists, each branch supporting another, warp and weft of springy green wood. I wonder if the hedge-layer sees it as I do, a vibrant work of art, or if they are so critical of their craft that they are distracted by imperfections as I am when considering my own work. 

"...The hedges of hawthorn yearn to become trees. They grow
with their young legs splayed. They sway with ripening buds.
A pleacher reaches for its root through its bark and sapwood
which is all in our cut and our angle and our taking of its toe.
Lie fallow there, poet, and you will grow young with the hedgerow."

from 'Hedge-layers' by David Morley

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

19 Jan : Renew

Mallard Duck
John James Audubon (1785-1851)

My mother says... 

"I've been very busy with my ducks this week. Do you remember that little duck that was left by the fox? Well, she sat by the edge of the river and waited and waited for a handsome wild drake to fly by but he didn't. They don't, do they? In the end I felt sorry for her because she was very lonely so I bought a drake at the market. He's extremely good looking and she fell head over heels in love immediately but she's the one in charge because she knows where everything is so she is showing him around at the moment."

Monday, 18 January 2016

18 Jan : Refocus

This is my first camellia blossom, imperfect because it was caught by frost over the weekend but a very welcome sight. Soon there will be snowdrops under the cherry tree and daffodils in the pots outside the kitchen door. Tantalizing images of Spring float before my eyes but then I remember that I must enjoy today, frosty and grey as it is, because I love wearing warm gloves and soft scarves which I can only do when it is cold.

Today was the first day since Christmas that I have had a chance to think, to write lists, to organise, to plan. It was like a mental spring clean, clearing out the brain-clutter that had accumulated during the busy weeks and poking in corners to make sure that nothing important had been pushed out of sight. Now the mental pencils have been sharpened and I am ready to go again. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

14 Jan : Sunlight

The kite was soaring high above the trees, wings flaring in the sunlight, and my heart beat with joy at the sight. So much to think about and be thankful for today because I have a new job which starts in February. This time I will be working with Geologists so I'm planning to invest in some executive fleece tops. I hope that you will come along too because I have a feeling it's going to be fun.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

10 Jan : Adventure

The Tale of Pigling Bland
Beatrix Potter (1913)

We have been helping MasterM get organised for his next adventure. He is starting a course of study and this time the lectures and feedback are in English, much to our relief. Looking through his luggage I found stationery heaven - so many pens, pencils, highlighters and sticky notes! I wondered if he would notice if I 'borrowed' the '80s Glam pack of Sharpies but decided that as I could remember the actual '80s I was too old for such things so, feeling just like Aunt Pettitoes, I packed him up a little picnic and sent him on his way.

Friday, 8 January 2016

8 Jan : Routine

It is always hard getting back into a routine after Christmas and this year it has felt like trying to grab the reins of a runaway horse. I am not sure how many good habits can go astray in two weeks but I think I have achieved a personal record. One by one I am bringing them under control with strict rules : no mince pies after epiphany, less wine more water, no chocolate for breakfast, porridge is the way to salvation.

There is so much to look forward to this year and I want to be ready, not weighed down with bad habits. Bring on the vegetables, a sensible bed time and regular exercise. I have started walking again and yesterday, watching the sun set behind the trees, I realised that I relish the sense of well being this brings me. A road to Damascus of sorts.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

7 Jan : Garland

Imagine coming home from a December shopping expedition, wet and frazzled, and finding this piece of Christmassy loveliness on your front door. I wondered for a moment if there had been a mistake and then I realised that the other Jenny, my lovely flower lady, had left it for me as a surprise in retaliation for a book of photos of her beautiful flowers that I sent her as a surprise. What a treat! It was so carefully made that it was still fresh and green when I reluctantly took it down yesterday. My mother said "It's not a wreath, it's a garland. A wreath is what you put on a coffin." so I didn't mention that I have signed up for Jenny's wreath making class next year.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

4 Jan : Resolution

On the first day of January MrsM packs away the large cable throw that she has been knitting with a sigh. It has just got to the stage where it covers her knees while she knits which makes the whole experience very cosy but MrsM must leave her comfort zone because there is a knitting emergency to attend to: the Lovely Jenny is expecting a baby. MrsM turn to her Motivation Guru who advises small, achievable goals so MrsM is going for four rows a day. Leo also suggests an Accountability Crew and MrsM co-opts MrM to keep her on track although she is not sure that MrM will permit her to dump a bucket of ice over him if she misses her target for the week. Finally, Leo emphasises the importance of being curious about failure but MrsM is not going to allow herself this luxury because there are only two months to splash-down in March. Thank heavens it is a leap year and there is an extra day in February.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

1 Jan : Peace

My mother says...

"Did you like my Christmas card? I decided to draw them all myself this year and of course I didn't leave enough time so some people will get their cards in the New Year but I think you appreciate cards more then because you haven't got so much to think about. The birds came out quite differently and some of them look more like pigeons of peace than doves but I don't think people will notice. I did yours last and it is so fat that I don't think it could fly at all but I hope you liked it."

I tell her that I loved the card and that it was the only one I put on our mantlepiece. My mother looks quite pleased.