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Coming over all creative…

I don’t know if people do this where you live, but here in Poole people put things they don’t want but which are too good to throw away on their front garden walls with notes beside them reading ‘Help yourself’ or ‘Free to good home.’ That was how I found this lovely little cupboard on my birthday. I don’t know what it was used for originally, but I do know that it’s solid wood and all it needed was a good clean and polish to bring it back to life as a home for my most precious old sewing tools. Cotton reels that belonged to my grandmother. Mother of pearl handled sewing tools. Pretty old tape measures and buttons from my mother’s button box. It’s going to stand on the mantelpiece of the little cast iron fireplace in my new sewing room, which is gradually leaving behind its identity as a place where you put things till you had time to sort them out.

Finally I am sorting out, and I know there’s a fair way to go but I gloat over every square foot of floor I reclaim and imagine the day when it is all sorted out and we reclaim the wooden table that was once in the kitchen with wooden benches that long ago became shelves on either side of it. These days, my grandmother’s table has pride of place in the kitchen and it’s covered with two layers of heat proof tablecloth and then red gingham oil cloth. It’s beautiful and old with a leaf in the middle that’s permanently out and it’s where we eat and cook and work and mend things and just are together. The chairs have new covers on the old tapestry drop in seats and I think of other times and how proud my grandmother was of it whenever I look at it and build our own memories around it.

I polish it regularly with solid beeswax polish or almond oil polish. Not aerosols because they make my husband and son cough and they don’t smell nice. Besides, it strikes me that anything that can kill fish is better not breathed in by humans either. So, again, I use the old fashioned methods. Wax polish. White vinegar. Bicarbonate of soda. Fairy soap as a stain shifter. You can clean most things with a combination of those and all the smell leaves me with is a strong urge for chips! If I’m feeling especially fancy I might add a few drops of essential oil, but mainly I like the smell of fresh air, because our little Victorian terrace house is in a quiet road in the middle of a one way system that’s so counter-intuitive that I regularly get plaintive phone calls from visitors and delivery drivers who can’t reach us. If I was in a fanciful mood then I’d say that it’s like living at the heart of a maze, but right now I’m in a practical, nest building mood.

I looked at my diary first thing this morning and saw that a year ago I was longing for a cool day and night because it had been 29c in the daytime and 24c at night. (84F to 74F.) Well, I got what I wanted because the max and min thermometer tells me that it has been a high of 14c and a low of 8c ( 57F and 46.4). It’s almost the middle of June and I’m wearing a warm jumper and socks and the wind’s topping 30mph. That means that sitting out isn’t a good idea and the cats are all snuggly and domesticated rather than the wild cats they become on days and nights that are ideal for prowling. Still, this crazy weather means that I shall finish my first crazy quilt later on this afternoon, and I celebrated National Sewing Machine day on the thirteenth. I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently it is, and I enjoyed trying out a couple of new stitches and how much more smoothly my machine is running after my husband serviced it and I started using it daily. That’s a lot easier now that it sits beneath a pretty flowery oilcloth cover rather than in a cabinet with a lift up lid that’s always covered with my daughter’s university books and course work.

Here's the finished quilt and I'm very pleased with it and have learned a lot from doing it even though I can't quite believe I'm still snuggling under a quilt while I quilt it in the middle of June.

Is it what I expected to be doing? Not at all. Is it what I want to be doing? Yes and no, because being stuck indoors has let me put a dent in my ‘someday’ list and add a whole new batch of dreams to the list. Besides, I firmly believe that the warmer weather will come and till it does, I can always write and dream and escape with my characters to do and be things I wouldn’t want to be in real life.

I can also plan my simple pleasures and enjoy tidying cupboards and creating my dream Victorian House and cook. Today I made peanut butter cookies and remembered an American friend who gave me the recipe. I emailed her for the first time in a couple of decades and was amazed and delighted when she answered. I’ve also reconnected with an old quilting friend via eBay of all places, so this weather has lead to rekindled friendships as well as the new ones I make when I’m out on my small scale adventures.

Just now my physical limits are more limiting and I can assure you that pain does not make my nature more noble. It’s not the pain as such as the amount of planning I have to do so that I can do as much as possible without doing physical damage. Part of that, I hope, is down to the constant low pressure and cold winds, and it brings home to me how much I rely on hot dry summer days to recharge. But rheumatoid arthritis is not going to beat me. Okay, I have to sit down halfway through my walk, but I am still walking no matter how much it hurts afterwards and I get to sew in such pretty places. I shall quilt those quilts this winter and then snuggle under them and remember a good summer because I will not settle for it being anything less. And here’s a picture of what I’m sewing to show you what I mean…

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to escape so soon I shall be back with Lucy Williams and little Gracie and her friends and her tangled not actually love life no matter what people think and her trying to juggle so much. I’ve got ideas for 3 more Amy Hammond books and so much research to do, so life is good, and the peanut butter cookies are very morish! This is pretty much the recipe if you’re interested - but I should warn you that they seem to sneak out of the tin and into my tummy!

Have a good week, whatever the weather and maybe it’ll have improved when we catch up on Tuesday. If it doesn’t, then I shall have finished a few more jobs on my list so I can’t lose, can I?


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