Friday, May 25, 2007

A blogger's break

I am taking a 'blogger's break' this coming week to go on a little vacation. We are traveling to the Mosel region in Germany followed by a stay in a little village in The Alsace in France. We love to travel to The Alsace and see all its charming villages. We love the warmth and atmosphere which greet you there. We hope to enjoy some great Alsacian cooking while sipping their wonderful wines. I wish you all a wonderful week and will be back next Friday to share some photos of our vacation.

This photo is one I took back in 2002 in one of the villages.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tea, roses and a good book

This past weekend, I found this pretty tray in a small gift shop in the village of Dwingeloo. I loved that it was the same cream as my dishes. I also thought the roses on it were so cheerful. I made myself a cup of tea on Monday and took a photo of the tray.
I sat and enjoyed my tea while reading "Dickens' Christmas" which was a gift from my online friend Joanne while we were season sisters. (Thanks Joanne! I really do love this book.) I have found my thoughts going towards Christmas lately since I am planning projects I need to work on for Christmas gifts I want to make.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When clouds cover the seasons...

This has been a trying week so far. We are having problems in our neighborhood with grade school boys throwing stones at the houses here. There seems to be very little we can do about it even after talking to the mother of one of the boys. I really pray that this situation will be resolved in that the boys will stop now but time will tell. What a shame that kids so young already show this kind of agression and vandalism.

Then last night, I had just fallen asleep and our radio was on with the news. My husband woke me up to tell me they just said that there was a huge fire buring out of control in the village of Appelscha where our weekend cottage is located. We got up to look for any current news on the computer. It started around 8:30pm and was still buring out of control at 1am when we finally tried to go back to sleep. Smoke poured out into the neighborhood directly behind the supermarket where people were told to keep their windows and doors shut. We felt really pulled by what was happening. Since we were lucky enough to find this cottage, we have really begun to feel like we are home there more than here. We find the people in this area very friendly and really enjoy the relaxed feeling of lifestyle there. The only supermarket in this village is totally lost along with a small clothes shop. I have not found any information about the drug store or home shop next to it but they are all connected in this small building so I imagine they have some damage also. My heart goes out to those working there and living in the immediate surroundings as there are four apartments next to the supermarket that had to be evacuated. The press photos are frightening to see.

I am reminded of my good friend Joanne's latest stitching finish. She made a beautiful pillow to give as a gift to her daughter's university professor with the quote "All will be well...". Clouds come and clouds go and yes, all will be well.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My lace schwibbogen

Nancy asked me which of the lace pieces in the hutch did I make myself? It is the schwibbogen. I was so proud of myself for finishing this piece which was very difficult. If you click on the photo, you will be able to see it in more detail. I purchased this pattern while visiting in the Erzgebirge region (Ore mountains of former East Germany) in a tiny handwork shop. I contacted the designer, Sigrid Hackel, of this lace pattern and ordered the wooden frame which her husband makes especially for her patterns. She herself lives in the region and teaches lacemaking there.

A schwibbogen is an arched candle holder with contains a scene in the arch. Now the schwibbogen are made with electric Christmas lights and are most often made of all wood although they are sometimes also made of black metal. These lights can be seen in the villages of the Erzegebirge. Many houses have these wonderful decorations in their windows at Christmas time. Some of the schwibbogen contain the people which were symbols of the area ~ the miners, toy makers and lacemakers or the church and carolers of Seiffen. Nowadays you see many of these arched decorations with a religious scene. These lighted arches date back to the 1700s when miners supposedly made the arches to place at the mouth of the caves in the dark winter months.

Friday, May 18, 2007

We have been talking about hutches on my homekeeping Yahoo list and I thought it would be fun to show mine. We had to hunt for some time to find one I liked as I was not happy with the idea of only three shelves in a hutch. It makes it much harder to set up your dishes in a cozy way with less shelves. Yes, you do have the height then for larger items but I really wanted the extra space instead. This hutch is German made using old oak to give it an older feel even though it is new.
The hutch has a section with double doors to the left side and a single section with a door to the right side. I used to have all of my Wedgewood dishes displayed in place settings in this section you see pictured above. I decided to take those dishes out and start using them everyday. I found having them set up so nicely in the hutch meant my never taking them out and using them. Now I have the specialty items like the tea sets, two pieces of depression glass that belonged to my grandmother and decorative items I have picked up along the way set up in the hutch. I plan to add more lace among and under the items as it is too stark looking at the moment. At this time, only the schwibbogen in the bottom shelf is my own lace work. I would like to use some of my own bobbin lace and have a tablerunner that I am making at the moment which I will display on a shelf.

It is fun to see what people place in their hutches or china cabinet. I would love to see yours so if you blog, why not share yours too. We may all get some wonderful ideas from each other.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Darling buds of May

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

~~ William Shakespeare 18th Sonnet ~~
Painting by Johannes Grenness "Woman in the Garden"

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flowers in our garden

Sharing some blossoms from our garden at the weekend cottage up north and wishing you all a very joy~filled weekend!

The month of May was come,
when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom,
and to bring forth fruit;
for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May,
in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.
For it giveth unto all lovers courage,
that lusty month of May.

~~ Sir Thomas Malory ~~

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The common sparrow

Yesterday, I mentioned that the sparrow was on the endangered species list here in Holland. Nan asked if I meant the common sparrow and yes, I do. It is a very sad fact that due to the lifestyles we now lead, the sparrow is endangered here in Holland and also in some areas of England. We are taking away more and more of this and other birds habitat. We no longer want to keep hedges around our garden but use high wooden fencing. We no longer use a tablecloth that is then taken outside to shake off the crumbs. We no longer want trees to block the sun. We no longer want plants in the garden but bricks and low mantainance planting if any. Sparrows are disappearing and once they are gone, we can never get them back.

That is the reason that my husband and I created a garden here in the city with big hedges, two large trees and planting and pergolas that encourage and attract the birds and food year round for them. We don't have many varieties here ~ blackbirds, great tits, the occasional blue tit and sparrows. This time of year, we get so many sparrows. I think they spread the word that it is a safe place where they can come and sit to rest and the food is plenty. It is so sad that man has not left space for the birds. They bring such enjoyment to us and I sit and write this, I gaze out the window onto that pergola to see three chubby and fuzzy little sparrows waiting for their mother to feed them. I would not miss this experience for anything in the world. So let my neighbors think our garden is overgrown and the trees are creating too much shade in the street. I know what they are missing! I pity those who cannot see the beauty of common things.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Joyous springtime

The year's at the Spring,
The day's at the morn,
The Morning's at seven,
The hillside's dew-pearled,
The lark's on the wing,
The snail's on the thorn,
God's in his heaven,
All's right with the world.
~~ Robert Browning ~~

I showed you our wisteria which is one of my favorite things about the spring season. Here is another of my favorite things ~ birds feeding in our garden. We have a very tiny garden and this pergola is central in the garden to give the illusion that the garden is larger. It also provides us privacy as it fills up with a canopy of clematis. I love its extra function which is to be a landing place for the birds. Each year, the sparrows, which are now on the endangered list here in Holland, come to feed their young from our garden. We keep food specially for this and so enjoy watching them. The young birds sit and flutter away excitedly as their parents approach. If you click on the photo, you will be able to see these birds in better detail. I love watching birds all year round but it makes for a joyous springtime to be able to watch the young birds grow.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I've been tagged

Lynda (Hedgerow Hollow) tagged me to reveal 7 weird or random things about myself. This is harder to do than you would think.

1. I cannot get through a day without working with a needle and thread be it through quilting or stitching.

2. I never read just one book at a time. I have five books I am reading right now.

3. I love everything that is autumn and winter. I love the colors of the season, wearing clothes like nice thick wool sweaters and turtlenecks and scarfs and mittens, comfort foods that go with the cold weather, sitting by a crackling fire, drinking hot cocoa, walking in the woods while hearing the fallen leaves rustle under my feet, weather like rain, wind and snow......

4. I am addicted to pure chocolate ~ the darker the better. I like to have a square of high cocoa content chocolate each day.

5. I love getting hooked on a 'topic' and researching it until I know as much as I can. Right now I am working on a Beatrix Potter sampler and loving reading up about her and the story behind the stories.

6. I have lots of nicknames that my family has given me but my favorite is 'Miss Pickles the Elf' this for my love of Christmas and always working on things for the holidays.

7. I HATE spaghetti bolognese (you know the stuff with ground beef)! I had to eat it as a kid and it made me gag. Sorry Mom, but this answer is your fault since you just told me that you are making it for dinner. YUK!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A love of Wisteria

Welcome to what I think is one of the prettiest moments in my garden. I took a series of photos this year to show you our wisteria as it comes into bloom. My husband and I both love this blossom not only for the pretty almost grape~like flowers hanging heavily from its vine but also for its sweet fragrance.
One unusual thing this year is the blooms appeared a bit faster than the hedges started to turn to leaf. Last year, it seems they were father along with leaves.

We had unusually warm and sunny weather in April which made the season for our wisteria blossom come quickly.

The Victorians acknowledged a language of flowers. Well choosen flowers spoke in a 'hidden' language. You could convey a message through a bouquet. Wisteria means 'welcome' so what could be better than having a vine draped around our front door.

Within one week's time, the blossoms started to fill out and the leaves finally started to appear on our red beech hedge.

A view from one of the upstairs windows down onto the pergola.

The flowers and fragrance peek but it is short lived at the most normal of times and this year even more so. We had much wind the last weekend of April and our wisteria took a battering.....

.....and all too quickly, this is the result. I do hope we have the good fortune of seeing extra blossoms yet this summer as we did last year. We had three rounds of flowering, although the first round in the spring is the fullest.

Zen poem:
Alone in my zazen
I forget the days
As they pass.
The wisteria has grown
Thick over the eaves
Of my hut. ~~ Muso (1275-1351)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Meet my sister

On April 25th, I had written about remembering my sister as it was her birthday. Two online friends who I have known for some time asked me if I would tell them more about her. Thank you both, Terri and Vicky, for asking and it is not painful at all to talk about her. I miss her very much as she was my only sister (I have two brothers) but I think of her with all the fond memories we were able to build in her short 36 years.

This is difficult for a different reason. Where do I start to talk about her? There is so much I could say. I first talked to my mother about writing this and she immediately said I needed to post the photo you see. She and my brother search for it and emailed it to me. My sister was a very beautiful woman. No she did not dress like Raggedy Ann every day. I will explain this photo in a moment. She was very fun loving. She and I could sit and be silly and laugh at the most simple things. She loved to play jokes and try to scare me. She loved to cook. She and I loved to spend time doing all kinds of crafts together except cross stitching which she never understood how I could stand sitting there for hours counting x's but always loved picking out stitching for me to make for her. She loved traditions and antiques. She was the mother of two beautiful daughters and a grandmother to three now. Her spirit lives on in her daughters as I see things that are so much of her in them both.

Her favorite holiday was Halloween. She loved everything about it whethere she decided to be funny or spooky. This photo was taken at the dentist's office where she worked on Halloween. It was a children's dentist and her very favorite thing from childhood was her old and tattered Raggedy Ann. She dressed as Raggedy that year.

I will always miss her but if someone offered me a new sister tomorrow that I could have in my life until I grow very old in exchange for my own, I would say thanks but no thanks. I would not want to have missed the memory of having Fawn as my sister while I did!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day!

The first day of May is known as May Day. It is a celebration of Nature's beauty at this time of year as the spring sets over into summer. In order to invoke a feeling of the old~fashioned Victorian celebrations of this special day and its traditions of dancing around the May~Pole, here is an excerpt of Washington Irving's "Sketch Book":

'I shall never,' he says, 'forget the delight I felt on first seeing a May-pole. It was on the banks of the Dee, close by the picturesque old bridge that stretches across the river from the quaint little city of Chester. I had already been carried back into former days by the antiquities of that venerable place, the examination of which is equal to turning over the pages of a black-letter volume, or gazing on the pictures in Froissart. The May-pole on the margin of that poetic stream completed the illusion. My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers, and peopled the green bank with all the dancing revelry of May-day. The mere sight of this May-pole gave a glow to my feelings, and spread a charm over the country for the rest of the day; and as I traversed a part of the fair plains of Cheshire, and the beautiful borders of Wales, and looked from among swelling hills down a long green valley, through which "the Deva wound its wizard stream," my imagination turned all into a perfect Arcadia. I value every custom that tends to infuse poetical feeling into the common people, and to sweeten and soften the rudeness of rustic manners, without destroying their simplicity.

Indeed, it is to the decline of this happy simplicity that the decline of this custom may be traced; and the rural dance on the green, and the homely May-day pageant, have gradually disappeared, in proportion as the peasantry have become expensive and artificial in their pleasures, and too knowing for simple enjoyment. Some attempts, indeed, have been made of late years by men of both taste and learning to rally back the popular feeling to these standards of primitive simplicity; but the time has gone by—the feeling has become chilled by habits of gain and traffic --the country apes the manners and amusements of the town, and little is heard of May-day at present, except from the lamentations of authors, who sigh after it from among the brick walls of the city.'

Happy May Day to you all!