Speaking my Mind

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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.

Posted in Blogging | 8 Comments

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

Posted in House, Rough Linen, the meaning of life | 4 Comments

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.

 

Posted in the meaning of life | 8 Comments

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

Posted in Family | 6 Comments

Flowers

Flowers have crept up on me.
IMG_0500in my bedroom

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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.

Posted in garden | 6 Comments

Waste Not, Want Not, I Always Say

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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:
waste-not-roller-towel

Posted in domesticity, the meaning of life | 11 Comments

Triffids!

I had no idea pumpkins are so thrilling! Quite aside from conducting my own Mendelesque experiment, as all the seed came from one pumpkin yet are coming up different shapes and colours, they have transformed my new beds, ramping happily over beans and daisies and making it all green in the process. IMG_1285
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Posted in garden | 7 Comments

Very Bad Blogger

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Like so many of us I have been off the air recently. Why?

Incredibly busy and grateful for it. Brother Donkey is feeling the strain though (apologies to St Francis!)

I did have the delightful experience today of cutting outside – cool little sea breeze, sparkling water, the egrets and their fledglings lined up along the creek banks catching their lunch. Why haven’t I thought of this before, when I can’t get a table inside?

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Posted in Blogging, Deck, Rough Linen | 7 Comments

Pruning

 

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Since my rosa mutabilis chinensis is top-heavy and leaning on the lemon tree like a drunken sailor, I have decided to prune one branch a week, so I can enjoy the blossom inside.  They shall not die in vain.

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Posted in garden, House | 6 Comments

Adult Peanut Butter Cookies

Even my peanut butter cookies have gone over to the dark side.

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Peanut butter cookies are essential Americana, but these are slightly less sweet, and the molasses adds a sombre note.

1/2 cup  sugar

tablespoon of molasses (be generous)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup peanut butter (be generous)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup oats
1 cup plain wholewheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Mix the first four ingredients together until light, add the next two and beat, then add the rest and amalgamate. Scoop out in teaspoonfuls, flatten with a fork and bake at 375 ish (200F) until they smell wonderful.

Posted in domesticity | 5 Comments