Life and death

I haven’t written a proper post for ages and the longer I leave it, the more difficult it is to get going again. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write – quite the opposite. The real problem is deciding what to write about… soap dishes or lovely British wool, clothes pegs or plants,  knitting or crochet, a new home or hens on holiday… I seem to have been so busy the past few weeks. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll get round to telling you about some or all of these things, but in the mean time, here’s a little collection of photographs…

 

My busy weeks ended on a sad note. Quite a significant part of Saturday was spent remembering our lost knitting friend, Pauline Bambrey. The funeral was held at the crematorium in Aberystwyth. If anyone ever writes a ‘good crematorium guide’, this must come out as one of the most beautiful settings. The room where the celebrations are held has a huge window at the end, so those gathering to remember their loved ones look out over the most beautiful view. I don’t think I’ve ever been when there wasn’t a red kite swooping over the wooded valley, and Saturday was no exception. The sheer beauty of the place is always poignant:

And this was the music that the family had chosen to close proceedings…

 

 

Another pond

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I would be writing less here because I would be doing other writing intended for publication elsewhere. This included fulfilling a promise to make some contributions to the Plastic is Rubbish web site/blog, which provides resources for those looking to cut down their use of various plastics (below are pictures of some of my alternatives).

I often say that my blogging is like throwing a stone into a pond and letting the ripples spread out. I am hoping that having my writing appear elsewhere is like throwing stones into another pond. If you fancy a dip in that pond, you can read my first contribution here, and I do encourage you to have a look round the site as it does contain all sorts of useful ideas, resources and products. Don’t worry, though, it’s not a preachy site, for example, they say…

We shop at supermarkets when we have to, eat meat and drink alcohol. Giving up is not in nature. We want to do everything just without creating a huge pile of non-biodegradable, possibly carcinogenic, animal-killing rubbish that future generations will have to clean up.

We dont  cut plastic completely, you will only get the Dyson when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, but we aim to stop abusing plastic and encourage the discussion on how and when it should be used.

It is a British-based site, but a lot of the content is relevant wherever you are in the world.

My Kind of People

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The Masterpiece in all its glory (picture: Alan Charlton)

When I first started blogging, I wasn’t really sure where it would lead or what to expect. I was originally inspired by Hedvig Murray, a permaculture practitioner I met on a course about seven years ago. I thought that I would share information relating to my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and maybe keep in touch with other like-minded people. Well, I did that… and we made a blanket known as “The Masterpiece” to represent my permaculture diploma (thanks to all those of you who contributed all those years ago – I’m still sitting on it every day as I work and blog). I think I’ll put together the story of the blanket in a post soon because so many of you weren’t around for it… and I also want to include the story as a chapter in one of my planned books.

Anyway, I finished my diploma, but by that time the blog had become a record of all sorts of stuff that I do and a place where I had met and made friends with amazing, talented, enthusiastic people from around the world. And this is really what I hadn’t expected – that my blog would become one aspect of a community; that I would follow other blogs; that I would write to, Skype and even meet fellow bloggers face-to-face. That we would send each other gifts, that we would swap our creations, that we would share ideas and give support, and that we would feel part of a safe and caring ‘space’ were all totally unexpected outcomes.

The time and effort invested in blogging is always worthwhile. At one point I thought that I might have to give up replying to comments, but what’s the fun in that? The comments and responses make a blog the dynamic and responsive space that it is – if I just wanted to tell you stuff I’d write a book or set up an ordinary web site. Both have their place, but they serve different purposes. And so, the blog carries on and people continue to be immensely kind.

Not long ago I gained a new reader, Patricia. She came to the blog via a personal recommendation… actually someone who I know through permaculture and who was there when I did my diploma presentation with the blanket. I hope that she’s going to write a guest blog post soon and stimulate some discussion but in the mean time we’ve communicated by email and via the blog. Anyway, the other day I mentioned that I thought I’d get myself a new notebook and make a start on writing one of those books I have in mind. Immediately Patricia said she had just the thing and today I received this:

With this explanation:IMGP4864Oh, I’m so touched. What a wonderful gift – what wonderful history. Thank you, Patricia, I hope that one day we can meet up and talk fabric and yarn ans sustainability over tea and cake.

So, that sums up my experience of blogging – you really are my kind* of people – thank you all for being here.

-oOo-

* According to the OED, ‘kind’ has several meanings, including:

A natural quality, property, or characteristic; a distinctive feature of a person or thing

and

A class, sort, or type of people or things

and

the people with whom a specific individual has a great deal in common

and, my favourite

Having or showing a benevolent, friendly, or warm-hearted nature or disposition; ready to assist, or show consideration for, others; sympathetic, obliging, considerate.

 

 

Santa Snail

Now it’s over, I can reveal what I sent in my role as Santa. One of the down sides of not doing Christmas presents in general is that I do miss the joy of giving. It’s not that I don’t give presents, but usually I just wait for inspiration and buy/make and give things somewhat at random. For Stitching Santa I had the pleasure of stalking reading lots of posts from a blogger I had not encountered before.

My recipient was Julia over at Julia’s Creative Year. I may have given myself away by following her blog immediately I got the email saying she was “my person”, so I didn’t post much about what I was including in her parcel. I spent ages looking at her blog to get a feel for what she likes and I made a list to use as inspiration (including her fondness for flamingoes). As you know I have lots of yarn, so I selected some interesting British wool from my stash (some produced by friends of mine), made a work basket and added some trimmings, vintage mother of pearl buttons, a badge, a crochet hook with a handle and specially bought stitch markers and voila:

I hope she didn’t mind that the wrapping paper was reused, but hopefully she knows what I’m like by now!

Since Julia is also a card-maker and I have piles of card-making supplies that I’m never going to get through, I included a few of those too:

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cards, envelopes and handmade paper

I just hope that the parcel reached her, because, being ‘secret’ Santa, your recipient doesn’t know who to send an email to, to say they received it.

I really want to thank Sheila over at Sewchet for organising all this. It gave me great pleasure to put these gifts together and I am loving reading about all the other parcels that have been winging their way around the world. Since there is a strict limit on the spend, most of the gifts are about creative use of what we have in our stashes, and what creativity there has been. I really hope to manage to read all the Stitching Santa posts, but it might take a while to track them down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My resistance is low

As Oscar Wilde said “I can resist everything but temptation”. And so it was yesterday that I decided not to keep my Secret Stitching Santa until my birthday, but to enjoy opening the presents on the 25th. The idea behind this present-giving, organised by Sewchet, is to send gifts to another crafty person that you are sure they will enjoy. There were two options – a sewing one and a yarny one and I took part in the latter. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I sent, but today is all about what I received.

 

The parcel for me arrived last week and, as you can see, I couldn’t even open the card because of the warning!

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a box of delights

However, yesterday afternoon, I launched into the unwrapping, to find all these lovely things:

Pattern weights, a pin cushion, a cute monkey tape measure, a stitch counter, a tin, stitch markers and more. But the pièce de résistance was a pair of socks. In my whole life, the only person who has ever taken the time to knit me socks, until now, was my nan. But look what was in my parcel:

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these are beautiful

And they fit perfectly:IMGP4843So thank you, thank you, Kim The Material Lady – your generosity is greatly appreciated, I absolutely love your gifts.

 

Winning ways

Thank you to everyone who commented here on the blog or Facebook or Twitter in response to my 1001 posts post. I turned off commenting this morning, wrote everyone’s name on a piece of paper, cut them out put them all into a (hand felted) bag

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note the use of an old diary for the paper… nothing wasted here!

Then I drew out two.

 

So, the winners are …. drum roll please…

Linne

and

MagsIMGP4697

Congratulations!

If you would each like to send me your postal address, I will send you a surprise… once I’ve chosen/made something that I think you will really like.

Thank you to everyone else who commented… I’d really like to send you all a gift, but there are only so many hours in the day!

 

1001

One thousand and one – That’s now many stories Scheherazade told and, with this post, that’s how many I have told you. Do you think they have been interesting enough for Shahryār to keep me alive?

I’m not sure whether Scheherazade kept telling her tales after the 1001, but I plan to, although I’m having a bit of a think about how I want to go forward with my blogging. There are going to be changes in the new year, but more on that next month.cheers

For now, it’s time to have a celebration… and I have a plan. I’d love to invite you all round for some fizz and home made cheese, but sadly we can’t all fit in the limery and I’m sure getting a date when everyone was free would be just impossible… although I still have 3.7kg of cheese to eat! So instead I’ve decided to do a give away. I spent ages racking my brain about what to offer you lovely readers, but I simply couldn’t think of something that everyone would want. So, here’s the deal… leave a comment on this post (or on my Facebook page or Twitter account) by midnight GMT on Friday 1 December 2017, telling me something that will make me smile, and I’ll enter you into my draw. I will pick two people at random and send each a gift I think they would like. Many of you I know reasonably well from your comments or blogs and so you have a chance of getting something tailored to you; if I don’t know much about you, you’ll get something I think will bring a smile to your face. This is open to you wherever you live in the world.

Thank you for keeping on reading and for all the comments over the last 1000 + 1 posts, here’s to 1000 more!

This one is for Tammie

It’s very easy when posting on the internet to show only our successes – the beautiful children, pristine kitchens, the perfect meal, the Shetland lace shawl, the abundant garden… ah, yes, the abundant garden.

Well, it’s true that my garden and the limery do contain lots of lovely crops. Currently there’s lettuce, piles of raspberries and the promise of peppers, chillies, courgettes, lemons, limes, red currants, blueberries, apples, mange tout, kale, broccoli, ginger and potatoes…

BUT… there are also dead bean plants, dead rosemary, rocket and mizuna that flowered before we had a chance to eat any, the world’s saddest sage plant, brassicas munched by caterpillars and huge swathes of weeds.

So, Tammie – fear not, we all have gardening disasters… we just don’t often ‘fess up to them!

And, just to make you all smile, it takes lots of effort to get all those perfect shots of a life…

We have a winner!

What with one thing and another, I’m a little behind with blog housekeeping. Maybe you have been waiting on tenterhooks to know whether you are going to be the lucky recipient of the ‘Ditch the plastic bag‘ bag and wondering if I have completely forgotten. But fear not, all the names were entered and Mr Snail acted as the independent adjudicator and made the draw.

Just to remind you, it was the chance to win this ‘bag with a message’, which I made for our craftivism exhibition in Manchester in May:

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the prize

So, drum roll please … the winner is…

Laurie Graves

Congratulations!

It’s lovely that Laurie won, because she contributed a captioned picture to the craftivism exhibition . Laurie’s flower photographs are just beautiful and I love reading her descriptions of life in Maine; you can check out her blog, Notes from the Hinterlandhere.

Laurie, if you let me have your address, the bag will be winging its way to you very soon… I hope that it gets plenty of use for biscuit/cookie transportation!

As for everyone else, sorry you weren’t lucky this time, but I have plans for another give-away quite soon.

Why are we all here?

The world of blogging is a funny old place. You write stuff and people, somehow or other, come across it. They read it, and then what? Some people hit the ‘Like’ button, some people leave a comment, some people wander off to another part of the internet never to return and some people sign up to follow you. Some people become regular commenters/likers.

Here at The Snail of Happiness I do my best to respond to all of the comments. I don’t always manage it and occasionally I return to a previous post and notice some comments without responses, in which case I generally respond there and then, however old the post. I think that because I engage with you, my readers, you feel welcome and maybe that encourages you to return. I know this is the case for blogs that I follow – getting a response to my comments makes me feel valued and part of the community associated with that particular blog. In fact this sort of interaction does lead to genuine friendships away from the blog, via Skype, letters, emails or even meetings in person. However, those sorts of things only happen with the minority of readers and I’m intrigued about everyone else.

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don’t be shy…

I’ve been blogging quite a lot recently and simultaneously getting quite a lot more followers. I’m really not sure whether the two are linked – and whether, if they are, the increase in traffic is to do with the number of posts or the subject matter.

 

So, I’m wondering whether you’d be willing to tell me why you are here? Why do you visit this blog? And how did you arrive in the first place? Please don’t be shy… I’d love to know, no matter whether you are a regular contributor, have just arrived or have been lurking in the background in silence for ages. You don’t have to have a WordPress blog to be able to comment… just write something and click on the button…

Go on… you’ve been reading my words, I’d love to read some of yours! And then maybe I’ll tell you why I’m here…

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