Archive for March, 2012


Inspiration

C- came by yesterday, and brought with her another awesome present for Bub. Seriously, this child has the most amazing things made by my incredible crafty friends. It’s made me want to create again.

Yes. C- made those foam blocks. Are they not the most amazing bricks you've ever seen?

Since I went on my epic knitting kick a while back, I’ve not been crafting it up as much as I could have been (read: not at all).

There’s loads of things I want to try though, delayed by a few obstacles that are not easily remedied. Firstly, I need to get through my wool stash – or offer some of the odd balls I have to any interested parties? – so that I can dress the little toy cot I’m keeping it in at present. Bub and I have been putting Judith Noreen the Cabbage Patch Kid – and my only childhood doll* – to bed so that Bub can see that it isn’t a big deal being left in her crib.

That’s the theory anyway… in practise, Bub decides that Judith needs to be taken out of her current cardboard bed, get dragged around by her hair for a few minutes and then abandoned in favour of whatever book happens to have been left, broken-spined by the book-basket.

But yes, anyway. Wool. I have 4 projects underway – a tank-top for my dad, a scarf for my American friend’s girlfriend, a cardigan for Bub, and a pair of mittens for myself. Once these are complete, a significant portion of wool will have vanished, but not enough. Either I need to go antique/furniture shopping for some alternative storage (great in theory, but I’m broke) or knit the rest of the stash away. Time consuming. I wonder what there is in the garage that I can repurpose…**

The other main obstacle is much harder. To put the toy cot into Bub’s room, we need to get rid of a dressing table which came with us from the last house. It’s totally out of place here and was just dumped unceremoniously in Bub’s room because we had no space anywhere else.

And it belonged to my Nan.

I can remember sitting in her bedroom as a very little girl, pawing through the jewellery box she kept in the ‘secret’ centre drawer. She would drape all kinds of coloured plastic beads around my neck and I would feel like a princess.When I was a few years older, I would take the crystal perfume bottles that sat before the mirror and fill them with water, replacing them on their tray where they could catch the sun from the window reflected in the looking-glass. They seemed to glow – hazy yellow light spilling out of them into the cool pink room.

It is not a fine piece of furniture. Cheaply made, and certainly not built to withstand four generations, it is rickety at best. I don’t even like the look of it. Veneered and shaped to look older than it is, it is a poor attempt at imitating antique styles. If I saw it in a shop, I wouldn’t even look to comment. It is so innocuous that amongst other furniture it becomes almost invisible.

But the thought of putting it on Gumtree breaks my heart a little bit. I have a few things of Nan’s. I used to have her wedding ring – stolen while I was in Denmark with my own and Nan’s engagement rings – and still wear her St Christopher pendant whenever I travel. It was nice to have something so every day and concrete to touch though – something that can’t get lost.

It’s daft – she would have been the first person to tell me to ‘get it gone’ and spend the money on something for Marian.

And I will. It’ll just be hard though. ^

Anyway – furniture angst aside. With the enormous mirror on the dressing table gone, the back wall of Bub’s room will look pretty bare. So my first make on getting rid of the dressing table, will be this coat-hanger kite.

As Bub has no hair though, she has no hair slides that need organising so I will be using this to mark her height. As her first birthday is coming up in a few months, and as she can now stand unaided – walking imminent – I thought it would be a good time to take her first measurement, charting her growth by stitching bows to the main ribbon. Good, eh? The tutorial, if you’re interested, is from Ruffles and Stuff, my current favourite crafty blog. Hooray.

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* I wasn’t toy-starved as a kid – I just didn’t like dolls. I had lots of stuffed animals which served a similar purpose though.

**As I typed that, I realised that I could make an enormous one of these to sit on top of my chest of drawers in the bedroom. Woo! Cheap! Really need to get that sewing machine serviced…

^  If anyone wants a dressing table and can collect, please tell me. You’re welcome to it. No charge. It’s got no monetary value but with some love, could be very pretty. I reckon a nice white gloss paint, pretty handles and a coordinating fabric on the stool would do it the world of good. That was my plan for it anyway – I just don’t have the space.

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Books

I find myself brimming with pride. For a week now, Bub has been ignoring her toy box in favour of her books.

Fox’s Socks and Postman Bear seem to be her favourites, followed by Norman, the Snail with the Silly Shell. To begin with she loved her Danish flap books, but enthusiasm has rendered them flapless…

As I type, she is sat in the centre of an enormous pile of baby-friendly tomes. I am so proud.

It goes part way to making up for the sleep we’re not having. 5am is not the morning, Bub. It’s still night. And breathing is pretty essential to my standing beside your crib as you drop off, so screaming every time I do so slightly louder than usual is counter productive to your cause. I mean, seriously. If I so much as move a finger, the howling begins.

When she’s in bed, she sleeps really well. It’s just getting her there which is painful.

Any advice is very well received. I want the energy to go back to playing ME2 late into the night. I mean… have the energy to tidy up and do other useful things…

Grass

The car issues with next door continue. After asking me not to park in front of their house – which I did stop doing, despite wanting to set up an elaborate scheme involving parking  a different vehicle  there every day – they continue to make thinly veiled hints regarding the location of Charlie Micra and S-‘s Polo.

I was outside the other day, rearranging the junk in my car* when the lady of the house made her appearance. I chatted with her a bit in a show of No Hard Feelings. Her husband joined her and began washing his pristine vehicle.

“I’m so bad at keeping cars clean,” he said, staring at the bird muck on mine. Bird muck which wouldn’t be there had I not been forced to park under our hedge…

“Me  too,” I said, with a chuckle, “It’s been about two years since this one saw water that wasn’t rain.”

“I can tell,” he sniffed, and proceeded to offer me a loan of his washing gear.

“I’ve got everything I need to give it a scrub,” I replied, “I just have better things to do with my life.”

I keep doing this. I don’t mean to be that cutting but I can’t help speaking my mind – I blame my dad entirely**. It’s like when I was chatting with a couple and their golden retriever – I happened to mention I’d worked at a kennel which bred them and they asked if I had any advice for getting their dog to behave. I kid you not, the following words escaped my lips:  Do a better job of training it. Ouch. Awkward much.

But back to the car thing. Because it all went a little quiet and weird, Wifey decided to speak up.

“We were thinking of removing the end post between our drives so that you can get in easier to park on the grass.” I was astonished. I felt like saying, “Oi – I pay my road tax, there’s no double yellow lines in front of my house and shut the hell up.”

What I actually said was, “I’m not doing that.”

“Sorry?”

“Parking on the grass. I’m not doing that. My front mud guard is hanging off as it is and the bumper is so low that I don’t want to risk it.” She tries not to look affronted and her husband tries not to look a bit smug – bumpers come off if you don’t wash your car often enough, don’t you know?

“Well, perhaps S- coul-”

“You’ll have to take that up with him. I don’t like passing messages along – I tend to leave out important parts.” I try to make light. We left the last house because of insane neighbours – which I probably didn’t cover on here – so I don’t want to end up with any bad feelings between our two camps now.

We parted company with some good-natured words about the weather. I drove off to the shops and came back to find the post between drives removed and my house-proud neighbour using furniture polish on her outside window frames. She does this weekly.

A chill went down my spine. I live next to Hyacinth Bucket.

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*Why not take it out, you ask? Aside from providing balast on windy days, the unusual collection of hats, nappy bins, rope offcuts, disposable cameras and towels has proved useful on more than one occasion. I AM MACUYVER.

**In a shop, next to a screaming toddler and it’s mother, Dad proclaimed these sage words of advice: “Don’t reason with the bugger, just hit it.” While we’re down here, by the way, I’d like to clarify that my definition of ‘better things to do’ probably doesn’t match up with most peoples’. Knitting the Mass Effect Cerberus symbol, the heraldry of the Hawkes from Dragon Age  II and shooting mercs on the PS3 probably doesn’t  seem as important when you’re not me.

Spoilers

So, I may have spent the last 2 days watching spoilers for Mass Effect 3 on youtube… And now I may be going back for another play through so that my girl is no longer tied up with Thane. Garrus’s cut scenes might be painful in the second game, but in the third… *swoon*

Anyway, my internet cut out a while ago and since S- was using the PS3, I decided to take a walk down memory lane. The following is a story I intended to hand in for my creative writing course at university, but I decided not to at the last minute in favour of another. Having re-read it today, I wish I had taken it for marking.  I think it has potential, but I’m not keen on the first italic section. All comments/suggestions thankfully received.

Hope y’all enjoy.

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Cold, like Home

 He sits alone in the corner, huge grey beard twitching as he curls his lip around his paper cup. He thinks secret things and scans the other tables almost as an afterthought.  Eventually his eyes rest on the young woman just across from him who is scribbling her life onto paper as she pushes squares of chocolate into her mouth.  When she sees him, she smiles in his direction because she loves that she is interesting. 

 “Writing War and Peace, are you?” he asks in the way that old people do when they think they’re being funny.

 “No, just a silly love story,” she replies in the way that young people do when they’re trying to be polite. Really, she’s very proud of her silly story and would jump at the chance to explain the plot of it to him in enthusiastic detail.

 “Love story, eh?” is all he replies.

 Disappointed, she responds with a non-committal hum and sips at her tea, awkwardly glancing at the open notebook on the table.

 “I’ll tell you a good love story,” he offers.  She is sceptical and wonders how many other people he has told the story to that day, in hopes of a free coffee.  She wonders why he has chosen her to impart his tale to her and she can not help worrying that he might be dangerous in some way. After all, old men who speak to random young women are supposed to be feared.  Still, conversation has been opened between them and she is curious so she smiles at him in a weak gesture of consent.

***

James had travelled through Europe when David Hasselhoff had yet to sing on the Berlin Wall.  He was twenty-one and his future awaited him back in England.  Young, handsome and clever, his only problem was that he couldn’t leave France.

He’d missed the last ferry from Calais and would have to wait until the following morning before he could sail home again. The woman at the ticket desk had tried to explain to him why but her English was limited and his French was nonexistent.  After ten minutes of arm waving they had somehow managed to agree that he would return at the same time the following day.

This presented James with a problem.  His ticket was not valid for the ferry he now had to take and as a result the last of his money was spent on the fare, leaving him without a bed for the night.  With the indefatigable ease of youth, James resolved to sleep rough on the station platform.  It was warm still, being September, and he planned to spend the vast majority of the night in a restaurant.  Anyway, the whole experience would make an amusing anecdote to tell his friends for years to come.

For the most part, his plan worked perfectly.  He managed to drag a two course meal out for four hours and left the little eatery when the owner locked up for the night.  With a full belly and a light head, James made his way leisurely from the town centre to train station.  Once there he settled down on a bench as far from the road as he could and closed his eyes.  Though it took him a while to fashion a comfortable pillow from his rucksack, sleep came remarkably easily to him.

He was woken about an hour later when the feeling of contentment brought about by dinner abated.  Shivering slightly, he sat up and began to fish through his bag for some extra layers of clothing. As he was pulling on the second of three jumpers he had found he noticed a group of people his age, presumably moving from one discothèque to another.  James smiled to himself – drunken people were the same in every country he had visited.  The men swaggered and the girls’ skirts looked like they had all been cut from the fabric of a single sock.

James pulled on the last of the three jumpers and looked down at himself.  He looked positively barrel-shaped now but at least he wasn’t cold.  With a little smirk, betraying his optimism, he lay down again, ready to sleep.  He was just about to close his eyes when he saw her.

She was slightly older than the others who had passed by – he would have put her at around thirty –  and was very separate from them.  She was pretty too, but her looks were the kind brought about by youth rather than any outstanding beauty.  What made him look twice was the way in which she moved.  The music from the discothèque had long ago ceased but she continued to dance to it anyway and when she noticed him staring at her, she moved in his direction.  Any normal girl would have run a mile but this one, much to James’s surprise, skipped over to him.

With a cheeky little grin she began to babble to him in French but when her words were met by a vacant stare she bit her bottom lip and tried, bashfully,

“English?”

“Oui.”

She nodded and sat down beside him on his makeshift bed.

“Why you sleep on the chair, eh?”

“I missed my boat.”

The concept of missing something was lost on her and so he tried to make the noise of a ferry-horn and mimed running after it.  She gleefully clapped her hands and laughed at him, amused by his antics.

They continued to talk for a while in their language of imitations and broken English so when she glanced at her watch and looked shocked, James desperately tried for more conversation.  She smiled at him gently and took his hand.

“Come now. You sleep not in the cold.”

He barely had time to gather his backpack let alone tell her that thiswas not cold.  She trotted quickly through a maze of cobbled streets, flanked by little cars and tunnelled by overhanging buildings.  He followed her, breathless and smiling and knowing that he would never find his way back alone.

After five minutes the girl stopped in front of the most quintessentially French building James had ever seen, shrouded in dust and shadows.  The door creaked as she opened it and they climbed three flights of stairs before emerging in a corridor with a single door off it.  She pulled out a set of keys and let them in to her small flat.

It was chaotic in there, but then, some part of him had expected that.  she hopped over the debris which littered the floor with practised ease and opened the window.  She grinned at him.

“Cold, like home for you!” She chuckled and bounced back across the room the way she had come.  Brushing past him she continued through into her bedroom where she fished out an extra set of sheets, tossing them unceremoniously through the open door way and onto the piles of paper, clustered on the floor.  She cocked her head in the direction of her bed.

He followed her instruction and plodded through to her room, managing to kick off his boots as he went.  Even though the place was a mess he felt as though he should not add to it.  She watched him and smiled, padding back out into her living room and picking up the bedding. She blew him a kiss and closed the door between them.

He stared at the wall behind which his angel went about making herself a bed from the settee.  James managed a heavy sigh and wondered what he had done right to deserve such kindness.  After a moment he stripped and slid between the cotton sheets which still smelled of girl.

***

 She woke him early the following morning with an energetic smile and a gentle touch.  Reading from a French-English phrasebook with pride she told him that she was going to visit her mother.  She said the word mother with a slight American accent, then pushed her keys into his hand and pointed at the number thirty-two in her book.

“Leave them there,” she instructed with a nod at her key-ring, then added, “Good neighbour.”

She leant forward and kissed him on the cheek, her soft lips fleetingly meeting his skin. A moment later he heard the door close and sat up, bewildered.  When he looked at his watch he saw that it was half past six in the morning.  Two hours until his ferry left.

James dressed quickly and ate the baguette which had been left on the table with a sign that read For English Man.  He looked around for a scrap of paper to leave a thank you note for the girl but he found nothing in the immediate chaos and did not want to betray her by prying further.

Reluctantly, upon realising that he had only an hour until his boat sailed he left the little flat behind forever.

He never knew the woman’s name.

***

 The young girl assumes that the old man with the beard is James.  She looks at him differently now and feels that she knows some part of him, if not the whole man before her.  She finds herself sympathising with him and liking him.  She is genuinely interested, at any rate.

 “James never saw her again?”

 “No.”

 The girl feels cheated, lied to somehow.  She knows it was wrong of her to jump to the conclusion that there would be a happy ending but she’s still angry that James’s story did not end well. She is very unsatisfied.

 “That wasn’t a love story,” she blurts, “They never saw one another again and nothing ever came of it.”

 “It is a love story,” he replies with an enigmatic grin, “James went through his whole life never loving anyone but that girl.  It might not be a satisfying love story, but it is a good one.”

 The girl grits her teeth and pulls a face as she filters cold tea through her grimace.  She tries to exhale her frustration and then turns to the man who she thinks is James.

 “I’m Harriet,” she says, after a moment, “Thank you for telling me your story.”

 She waits for him to introduce himself but he simply glances at his watch and taps the face with a wicked little smirk.

“I’m late for my train…”

He nods politely to her and ambles from the waiting room. She watches him go, frown deepening. After he has gone, she picks up her pen.

Idlewild

It’s amazing how music can take you back to a specific point in your life. I’m sitting listening to the music we took off my last computer before selling it on. That was in 2007.

K’s Choice has put me back at M-‘s house in Ellon. Panic at the Disco has me hopelessly lost in Lincoln, behind the wheel of Charlie Micra. The Fray – it was a phase, I swear – leaves me in that deliciously angst filled summed just before uni ended.

Idlewild, I’d never heard before today. Why the hell do I have the entire Idlewild discography? I normally only end up with inexplicable music on my computer when I’m trying to impress a boy* but since I was living with my then fiance (now husband) when that computer and I went our separate ways I’m at a total loss.

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*That should be past tense but since I’m blind typing this quickly – my wool is getting watered – you can past-tense it yourselves 😛

Days

You know those days where you think you should have just stayed home/eaten your own leg/bashed your head on a brick wall in 4/4 time for 3 hours because perhaps it might have been a better day than the one you’re having now?

Yeah.

See y’all tomorrow.

For the future nerd in your life…

I made this little Space Invader hat for Bub, using some of the afore-mentioned epic neon wool. Only, Bub apparently takes after me and has an enormous head*.

I'm going to use the pattern again in future, just make it significantly larger.

Close up.

SO… If anyone knows a child/beloved teddy/cat/small yippy dog which wants a Space Invader hat, PLEASE drop me a line. I will post anywhere for frees. As long as you send me a pic of it being enjoyed, I am happy. Even though Bub’s head is big, I would say it won’t fit a child over 12 months. My reckoning is that 3-6 month olds would get the most use out of it.

Many love!

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*I do have a massive head, and not just figuratively. By 11 I could wear my dad’s cycling helmet. Up until Bub was born I prayed daily that she’d have a human sized noggin. No such luck. And afterwards, when I tried to tell people they just laughed, saying, “You’ll soon forget and have another.” Well, ha! Here is proof. The pattern I used as a base was for a 12-18 month old and at just 10 moons, it sits atop Bub’s head like a weird fascinator. No hope of Ascot for the kid.

Time

No, I haven’t found a new game (well, I have, but I finished it an hour ago). Nor have I somehow worked up the enthusiasm to do some (read: any) cleaning. I am not back knitting (there are 3 unfinished projects in my wool crib that I just don’t want to work on, and starting something else to get wrecked by the cat seems pointless).

My family has succumb to the winter vomiting bug. Hooray.

So, if I’m not here, don’t presume I’m doing anything fun. Presume that my random immunity to most stomach pleasantries has held and that I’m fetching broths and dry white toast – hold the four fried chickens – for Bub and her Da.

Frankiesoup out.*

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*Mass Effect 3 can not go into the pre-owned section soon enough… I should go.