Friday, 16 March 2012

Sunday, 19 December 2010

'Tis the season...

Thank you, friends, for your messages of seasonal cheer following my previous post. It's true, I was feeling un-characteristicly gloomy, but a few kind words make all the difference. A special thanks to Deb who wrote me a couple of special emails about her experience of Christmas. Sharing is a powerful act!

Although I've been stuck at work, I've been snatching moments to celebrate this season's gifts as they occur here in the tropical world. Here are a few of my favorites images to share.

A Jicaro tree (Cresentia alata). An tropical twist on baubles!

Scarlet flower of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.

No snow. Fallen flowers.

Late afternoon clouds.

The sun sets. New horizons!

I am thinking about moving to Typepad in the New Year, and wonder if anyone has any advice or comments about that idea? Pro's and con's?

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Letting go of Christmas

On Friday morning it finally sunk in that, for work-related reasons, there will be no Christmas for us at all this year.

As hard as I'm trying to ignore this fact, and focus on my professional duties, I have that horrid wrenching feeling, that comes when one is forced in a direction that is clearly not of the Spirit's choosing! Which manifests, first as anger, and then as profound sadness.

I'm reminded of a story that my mother recounted to me when she one day tried to take my older son, Eben - at that time a young toddler - into town in his stroller, and she had taken a different route than I would normally have taken to make that journey from her house. He threw a massive tantrum, and began screaming "Wrong way! Wrong way!".

I was raised in a home where Christmas was a big deal. It was a time of wonderment (is that a real word?) and family tradition.

About 2 weeks prior to Christmas day, my father would take me to buy the tree and then he would lug it home over his shoulder, as we never had a car. I wasn't usually allowed to get involved in decorating it, as he was -still is - very particular about the way he likes things done. I respect that about him. And certainly as far as tree-decorating went, he made it look perfect!

My mother would bake a cake (based on a Dundee cake) a few weeks in advance, and feed it with brandy in the meantime. She could do that without needing to follow a recipe or cooking instructions. She was an amazing cook! My father would line the baking tin for her with brown paper and string. I loved the smell of the paper as it baked. He was also responsible for mixing the ingredients, which, with so much fruits and nuts was very hard going, and also for the iceing and decorating. A hard white iceing over a marzipan base brought into stiff little peaks, inevitabley with a little sledge ornament and some holly. And I remember something odd about that, when they mixed the iceing they added something called "blue bag", a laundry blueing, which made the iceing stay whiter than white. And although I never liked that cake, it was still an important part of Christmas for me.

My mother also baked homemade mince tarts. She made the fruit mincemeat herself, adding real farmhouse "scrumpy" cider (you have to remember, that we are Somerset folk!) that my father would procure from a nearby farm. The house filled with the smell of baking and spices and fresh pine tree and she and I would get a little bit tipsy sipping scrumpy as we baked.

These are just a few of the wonderful memories of this season that I have. Most of which are visual and/or olfactory in their nature. And more than anything, are about that indescribable magical feeling of cold, dark Winter evenings, lights and sparkle, sharing and excitement.

When I moved to Costa Rica, life changed alot! I have never been able to come to terms with the fact that Christmas falls at the beginning of Summer here. Forgive me, but the thought of hanging out on a tropical beach on a stifflingly hot Christmas day, just doesn't do it for me! Then there's the fact that there can be no replication of traditional meals as it is not possible to find any of the ingredients here, and no tree will survive more than 3 days in the house even if watered.

Add to that the impossibility of leaving the Peninsula to shop for Christmas presents for Nilo, who has just turned 8 years old, or , more so, of creating that build of excitement that comes through craft making and preparation together, I realize that, somehow, I have to let go of Christmas altogether this year. I'm not sure how to do that! I wish for the Spirit of Christmas past to manifest itself and lift us off into the "how it used to be". But instead, I am working long hour shifts, with no real breaks, in the blazing sun, full on, until the day itself, and then starting all over again on the 26th!

Friends, please continue to sew holiday cloths... bake as much as you can, go do late night shopping surrounded by pretty lights and pretty window displays... make homemade christmas cards... beautifully wrap presents... relish every sprig and sparkle... enjoy the company of your friends and family... take lots of pictures... and blog about it all!

Snowy egrets roosting in a bare tree, lake edge yesterday evening.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A few hundred stitches later...

It's strange to be reading about everyone being so cold, as I am sitting here stitching and sweating, sweating and stitching!

A few hundred stitches later... following on from my previous post... this is how the little cloth is looking. I haven't thought too hard about it. Just having alot of fun letting it take me where ever it wants me to go!

Hope everybody's had a great weekend!

Little time, little cloth

I have so little time these days, I'm finding it hard to settle into something that I really want to work on. I also forgot to bring the iron again!

It has to be little. So I have the sense of possibley finishing something. For me that's become important somehow.

I found these scraps, which looked pretty nice together. Many are just thin strips an inch or so wide. What to do with them?...

I notice that alot of you lovely people have been busy weaving cloth. So I thought I'd try my hand at it.

Not to copy... but to learn more about technique.

I know so little, and it's easy to find oneself doing the same old-same old thing.

I'm playing with this pale little cloth. Maybe as a gift for another friend who has a birthday coming up? Lots of raw edges.

Some simple outlining.

I want to show you the amazing moths that have appeared here over the course of the weekend. Someone might find inspiration here!

The perfection of carved wings...

The vibrance of color and pattern...

The smokey rainbows of shadowy scales.

On a black moon in summertime, we get hundreds of beautiful and bizarre looking insects. And I often look at them and wonder how many of these have ever been seen before!

The Summer is finally creeping in here, and now we can see again the blue mountains of the Cerro Rincon.

Just look at this from Arlee and this from Karen.

I have so much to learn!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cloth doodling

Cloth doodling?... Well, I can't think of a better name for it! It's what you do when you just pick up the cloth and thread and without really knowing where it's going, you start something ;)

It's what you do when you forget the iron and your sketchbook!

Calico and two strands of DMC embroidery thread.

A design outline sketched in graphite and then stitched using blanket/buttonhole stitch.

Couldn't resist peeking! Reverse applique using a scrap of hand-dyed, upcycled silk, in a slightly darker tone as the under layer.

For successful reverse applique it's important to do the stitch so that the passing of thread through thread happens on the inside of your design, where you'll be cutting through the top layer of cloth.

Intricate designs are hard to stitch in this fashion. It's diffiuclt to get around all of those complex corners!

This is how it's looking so far.

Reading through missed posts on Jude's blog yesterday, I was introduced to Manya Maratou's blog Mythcolor. If you don't know Manya already, I recommend that you visit her soon! Have a lovely Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tropical Botanical Miami

Back at the farm and only just catching up.

I really like this from Sandra at inanna shamaya.

Waterlillies at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Miami.

The Fairchild gardens have become one of my favorite places on the face of the planet.

I was there last Wednesday. But due to the Thanksgiving Eve traffic, only for 30 minutes before the gardens closed.

And it seemed strange to us that they would close the gardens at what might well be the perfect moment for viewing them. During the cooler hours, with a soft golden sunlight creeping along the pathways...

And the shadows are growing long...

And things get kind of hazy...

And magical!

Do you want to know if everything glittering will turn into the gold...
Heart of Mine by Peter Salett, & clip from one of my favorite (shamlessly romantic!) movies "Keeping the Faith"
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