Floral Dance

Floral, and dancing.
Dancing at Patrizia’s wedding on Saturday, wow! Have you ever been to a Latin wedding? so much fun, we danced our feet off, glorious rhythms and everyone dancing together. With my brilliant iPhone skills I videoed the Peruvian dancers (stunning) – except I pressed the wrong button….

Back to the calm of my garden, bringing pots of lilies in so they scent the room, picking sweet peas and roses for my nightstand so I can smell them in wafts. The night air is cool and there is always a breeze, the moon rise is perfectly framed in my window, the Canada geese are mercifully absent and Stefan has set up Sonos speakers in my room so I tend to keep a low, calm murmur of thoughtful Chopin while I drift away.

I even took my kayak out – the wind had blown a cushion off the dock so I retrieved it then continued up the inlet, pit stop at Mary’s and her killer margaritas then into the blue yonder for a complete change of perspective. It’s too easy to get caught up in work.

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‘Er Indoors

So often I don’t want to go out, perfectly content pottering about with my music and knitting, just thinking. Internet too of course.
Musing on Mother Julian of Norwich, though there is hardly a comparison. She could participate in the services (and the music) through a little window, and she had another little window through which to communicate with visitors – I do hope it wasn’t one of those prison-door affairs. You could hardly find someone more sensible, warm-hearted, clear-minded or down-to-earth, yet she lived out her days in a stone cell. Fewer distractions.
Which sets me off into claustrophobia, what an interesting concept. Is it only claustrophobia if you feel you haven’t the choice to get out?

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Best cure for pettiness= gardening.

So, after a miserable contemplation of broken fridge, steaming car and general falling apart, I went outside with string and scissors and finally tied up all my lovely new vines so they will grow up the arbour.  That was so satisfying I dug out the tree saw and opened up the privet and ivy behind the bin enclosure, to give more sun to my struggling Zephyrine Drouhin – and made up an anti-mildew spray as well, and sprayed it.

Bit between teeth: planted out lavender cuttings (more had taken than I had thought), glued broken slat of swing seat, watered everything, admired plums and lone passionfruit.  Came in for a pee and fixed the sunken bath-panel while I was staring at it, all it needed was a shim.

Helpless feeling engendered by broken fridge/useless LG/vanishing servicemen dispelled.

Odd not being able to cook much, there are gaps in my day.  Milk, eggs generally absent, as is meat.  Beer is warm, coffee is black, salad must be eaten same day.  It’s like going back seventy years.  If I Pollyanna it, I might even enjoy it.


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Saturday Morning

This is the perfect way to spend Saturday morning – coffee, Fauré’s Requiem, and seven more green leaves and stems to go on the little jacket I am embroidering for Mila. I knitted it in summer, and want to finish it now the weather has turned.


Isn’t it funny, I spend all week with fabric and machines (and I love them!), and at the weekend I do hand work!

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Speaking my Mind


The webmaster has threatened to take this blog off my website homepage unless update it, and regularly. I have two problems with that:

The first is that I can feel the air leaving Blog World, like a slowly deflating balloon. I can get the essence of things from Pinterest and Instagram without editorial, and I had a forced break from blogging in April and somehow just never caught up again. I shall miss some bloggers, but tellingly, they are the very ones who have slipped away too…

Secondly, I am uneasy about the strange mix of personal and business. It just doesn’t feel right.

So I am going rogue, or private, again. I will only write when I feel the need to put something out in the ether. I shall be refreshingly free from opinions. Over-rated.

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An Unlikely Role Model

Hugh Hefner, who’d have thought it?

The old chap has been working from his bed since his heyday, way back in the sixties, was it?  Before laptops – even before cell phones!  I think he had to give dictation…

I think he was onto something.  I love to wake early, my mind is clear, I can look out over the water and ruminate on the day ahead, then eventually I reach for my laptop and ILOVEIT.

winter dawn, all monochrome...

winter dawn, all monochrome…

Even difficult communications are easier to handle when I have time to compose them, no interruptions and with any luck, coffee to hand.  Pleasant email becomes a joy! Leaning back on my patented pillow-mound (bolster, sham, pillow), bolster-main-388snuggled under the duvet with the door open to the outside world in anything less than a gale, curtains backed with blackout liner to counter the piercingly bright low winter sun, I am simultaneously at rest and alert as any athlete (I tell myself).photo 5

All the advice I have ever read about Getting a Good Night’s Sleep says keep screens out of the bedroom.  I beg to differ.photo 6

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Best Intentions

photoThere are so many things I want to do, besides resting my elbows in lemon skins. I have been meaning to do that for years, heaven knows it shouldn’t be hard.

Learn Spanish.  California is a bi-lingual state and I have the basics…

Finish the house and take more photographs.  I feel like Xeno’s frog.

Catch a fish.  Soon.

Some things are ongoing, like improving my handwriting.  I address ten to twenty envelopes every day so I use a fountain pen and my favorite Havana Brown Waterman Ink, and I try.  Every mood shows up on the paper, if I am happy, or rattled, or impatient there it is.  Cheaper than a therapist.

Last week I made a vision board.  It has been a long time since I have done anything like that so off I trotted to a lovely group of women.  I nabbed a couple of National Geographics – what sort of vision could you get from the makeup and recipes of fashion magazines? – and started cutting, tearing then finally, gluing in the last hurried ten minutes.

Driving home, I got what my board was about.  It is a beautiful world, and I want to make beautiful things in it. Simple.

Goodnight mum.


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Goofing Off

I goofed off for the whole week as my sister was here from Australia, and it was wonderful! A personal and quirky tour of Marin, I dare say – lots of dog walks (Buckley was in heaven), one spectacular boat trip, one huge vegetarian family dinner and lots of visiting and laughing. We even sat down for a strategy meeting for Rough Linen, since Norma is a CPA and does that sort of thing professionally: isn’t family great!

She and her husband are now in Boston, awaiting 12″ of heavy snow, so coming from Oz, they are thrilled!mike in nyc 750

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Flowers have crept up on me.
IMG_0500in my bedroom


This is one of my favorites, a sprouted radish! SO stylish…IMG_0498

I have not had a lot of time to garden despite the sunshine and lack of rain here – in fact my gardening time seems to be spent watering, not what you expect in winter in the Bay Area! it is a worry, and makes me more determined than ever somehow to fit a water tank onto my steep slope.

Other activities are winterish, making good bone broths, baking potatoes in the ashes in the wood stove, cuddling the cat who now allows herself to be cuddled. It took only two years! We have settled wonderfully well into the new workrooms, neatly labelled shelves, neatly folded linens, bright and clean and orderly which is not at all how I feel, just how it is! I feel I am chasing to catch my tail half the time, and the other half I catch it and wonder what to do with it. Maybe Shibui and I have more in common than I thought.

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Waste Not, Want Not, I Always Say


MrsNewlands was a friend of my mother’s, an older woman who lived across from the church in a fascinating old house, four-square and ordinary in a pretty garden, but untouched since heaven knows when. Her kitchen had a scrubbed pine table, a dresser and pantry (with meat safe), and an early Kooka sitting where the old range had been. A continuous linen hand towel hung from a rod, there was a SheilaMade on pulleys overhead for rainy days. The fridge ran on paraffin.

Outside the kitchen, the laundry had a big copper boiler and deep concrete sinks, a washboard, little packets of Reckitt’s Blue and huge tongs to lift wet cloth from boiling water to the hand operated mangle. Just outside the back door two long loopy clotheslines ran from uprights with wonky crossbars, and there were long notched poles to lift the centres clear of the grass. Further down the garden was a true out-house with a crescent moon cut in the door and honeysuckle planted all round it. She didn’t believe in toilet paper – newspaper was neatly cut into quadrants and threaded onto a loop of string.

The back garden itself was amazingly productive, with choko and passionfruit vines, beds of cabbages and onions, rhubarb, potatoes and tomatoes. Thick-skinned old Eureka lemons, and fruit trees. We had no idea at the time, but Mrs Newlands was an environmentalist.

Although – her husband had been a merchant seaman, and inside her house was an Aladdin’s cave of turtle shells, boar tusks, cowries, gourds, ivory, coco de mer, exquisite corals and seashells he had brought back from his trips across the Pacific. We loved it as children of course, it was like a private natural history museum. Verandas dimmed the light and the floors were dark polished wood and the whole was incredibly exciting.

We weren’t kind to Mrs Newlands. Our parents went to India for five weeks and Mrs Newlands became our housekeeper for that time, and we led her such a dance. My elder brother had just got his driver’s licence and we used to bundle the two younger children into the car and drive off. These were pretty harmless adventures, but we didn’t say where we were going or when we’d be back, and I imagine Mrs Newlands suffered agonies of apprehension. We teased her that she wouldn’t use aerosol fly killer (Oh Mrs N, you were so ahead of the times!), and to humour us she bought some but got air freshener by mistake, so the only way she’d get a fly was to drown it. We sniggered at her thrifty ways – horrible children. Does it matter that I am ashamed now?

I do think of her often, and fondly. I might just have to buy this linen in her honour:

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