Monday, December 30, 2013

twenty-four years...

 i had to wait twenty-four years, but i finally got my way...

the story actually begins two years before that, on september 25 to be precise

when our son was born

fast forward to december 23 and i had finally run out of time to make the beautiful christmas stocking i had planned in my head
i rummaged and found a christmassy piece of pre-quilted fabric and in a few minutes i had run up a simple stocking on my sewing machine, knowing there would be a whole year ahead to make a better one

that second year flew by as quickly as the first and another christmas came and went; the same stocking was hung for doug, with the same thought as previously... a whole year ahead to make the new one...

and then came year three, and as i gathered fabrics and bits and pieces a furor arose that would rival any clashing and prancing of hoofs on the roof

seems he quite liked "his" stocking, and didn't want another

and i was stopped in my tracks by one of the greatest forces i've ever encountered... thwarted by a combination of a two-year old's alligator tears and a temper tantrum

this year i finally got my way though - the stocking was nowhere to be found, lost somewhere between home, condos, apartments and a van

the same old issue of not a lot time presented itself, but i work faster now, and the general idea had had many years to percolate... an appliqued old-world style santa was what i had always envisioned

i decided to use some of the aberfeldy tweed i bought in scotland this past october as the base fabric...
lovely sage green with threads of red and blue

the old-world santa is an adaptation of a cross-stitch pattern designed by shepherd's bush, purchased in california while visiting family
(oddly enough, the name stitched on the cross-stitch design is "robert", my brother, doug's uncle's name)

 three of the applique fabrics are scraps from favourites purchased in the yukon when we lived there, many years ago

and plenty of snow at the toe and the cuff, complete with embroidered snowflakes

 doug loved it, i love it, but laura is not even remotely tempted by it - seems she's also quite happy to keep using her very own, beloved, pre-quilted fabric stocking

 i am nothing if not consistent!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

the things you notice...

the thing about traveling is the things you see

things you don't see in your own backyard
things that open your mind to new ideas, to new ways of thinking
the same old, same old, usual way of things goes out the proverbial window and you find yourself stopping in wonderment sometimes

yes, wonderment

wonderment is when you see something that makes you, well, wonder

i wonder about doorways...


the one above at st. edward's church in stow-on-the-wold made me wonder
when those two trees were planted, did anyone know how what a magical scene they were creating?

as i stood there, i waited, wishing for the door to slowly start moving, opening, to let me in

this is a door that inspired tolkein...
yes, he was there, and yes, it did influence him

this little doorway into the tree was stumbled upon whilst on our moor-walk in haworth

{yes, stumbled - I darn near fell off the path into the brambles as I tried to situate myself for the best possible angle}
there's a story in this little tree - i just haven't quite thought it all out yet

an ancient archway in carlisle
the most peaceful churchyard ever - if i lived in that part of yorkshire i would park myself on a bench there for at least one afternoon every week

the door at one of the passageways, leading from the churchyard into the city of carlisle

 a row of little doors in stirling, along the road to the castle

i'm not that tall but I would have had to duck to save my scalp on these doorways

 an original door to the city of york, the same hinges holding it in place as the day it was first hung

love the small door-within-a-door on the left - to see who was calling after the gates were shut...

salisbury cathedral's grand entrance

the door to the oldest inn in england

high in the swiss alps, on my very first trip to europe, i fell in love with the doors after seeing this in the forest
someone had taken a number of old doors and windows and by carefully placing them with existing trees, created the most amazing little tree houses
they were enchanting

and finally, this little doorway, found on isola bella on lake maggiore, switzerland

shorter than me, it was the first european door i ever photographed
i have hoped since then it will not be the last...
i suppose it's the nature of a curious individual, to wonder what's on the other side

or rather, do you think it's the nature of a door to provoke it?

Monday, October 21, 2013


ahhh, york

york was our favourite

like paris years ago, we didn't expect it to be... it just couldn't be helped

long ago, in the early planning days, i was corresponding back and forth with wendy of the crafter's apprentice blog, telling her of the places we planned to go

she was surprised there were almost no cities on the list

"well, you must go to york", she said
"even if you go nowhere else - go to york"

and so we did

york is steeped in history - with every twist and turn of the tiny cobbled streets still contained with the ancient city walls

we walked the city wall early on a saturday morning, looking out from the ramparts in every direction, both within and without the city walls

marveling at just how much fun it would be to be a kid again and find a posse to play knights in shining armour with

(some kids get the best backyards!)

the beauty of york minster...

the history...

constantine the great was crowned emperor of rome there in 306 a.d.

names from history books take on new meaning when you walk where they themselves placed their feet

we spent a few hours touring through the railway museum

my favourite part was the royal trains

the bunting hanging overhead, adding a touch of glory

i love the idea of historical travel

nowadays it's all about how quickly and efficiently they can get you, and a whole herd,  from point a to b, with the least possible cost or disruption

for what it's worth, i'd rather get there in comfort and style and enjoy the journey 
(which is why we indulged in hot chocolate and shortbread on almost every train day!)

don't you think the picture below has "grand tour" written all over it?

this trip was so important to me but i didn't want to put a pile of expectations on it

rather, i wanted it, and england to be as they were, letting me just draw them in, enjoying them for what they were

but i couldn't help hoping i would get to hear the pipes whilst we were there, especially when we were in scotland

after our day trip to kyle of localsh, on the shores of western scotland, we walked back to our b & b, through the gathering dark

the moon shone on the river, with the castle, glowing brightly against the dark sky, high atop the hill overlooking inverness and in it's shadow, a young man stood on the street corner playing the pipes... 

it was pretty darn wonderful

but it was late and we couldn't loiter... we listened to one song, and then moved along...

on our last day in york, an hour before we had to catch the train, we came upon this...

a wonderful pipe band, complete with scottish dancers

when they began to play the tears flowed and to my embarrassment, i cried the whole time

great big alligator tears - the kind you can't be discreet about - yeesh
thankfully i had a pocket full of tissue

afterward, marc asked me why i cried and i couldn't really answer him - probably still couldn't

family, history, memories, desire, freedom, life, joy, spirit
all of those things and more were wrapped up in the music they played

i remembered when i took highland dancing

i was very little and not very good... i usually finished my dance at least a minute ahead of everyone else...

maybe that's why i was crying!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

salisbury (not steak)

yep, you read that right

we went to salisbury, the place
it wasn't on the itinerary but we went anyway... as the days ran out on us and we treasured each more, the itinerary went out the window and we made it up as we went, from the heart...

the salisbury cathedral has the tallest spire in england, reaching high above the city-scape, gilding this beautiful building that was begun in 1220 a.d.

 many beautiful statues of all different sizes adorn the outer walls

and an imposing entryway

 the view from the side

salisbury was a highlight of our trip

there's a fabulous fabric/needlework shop there too you know

and we had the very best fish and chips and mushy peas of the whole trip in salisbury

marc enjoyed afternoon tea for two, and proved it can be for one 
(minus two very small pieces of delicious cake that i helped myself to!)

when we chose to go to salisbury it was primarily because of it's proximity to several museums of interest... but getting to them without a car proved to be "difficult" and so, in the end, we decided to go to stonehenge...

 out on the salisbury plain, on a gentle knoll, stand these stones

it was never on our list to come to them - too touristy, i think, was our feeling - i hate anything that requires jostling with the cast of thousands for my little piece of real estate in order to take in something special

but, we went

when you walk up the path from the visitor centre, the first view is somewhat unimpressive... to be truthful, it was the first time on our trip that i saw something that disappointed... they looked a bit of a jumble, and not really all that big...

 they're roped off, so you are kept well back of them - too many daft idiots trying to chip off a souvenir, it seems

but there is a pathway that leads you all around it, with benches here and there, and as we had paid dearly to see it, we began to walk around

 we walked along, trying to keep to ourselves, fighting the eternal wind, and every so often, turning our heads to look at the stones

and as we walked, the stones gained in significance and the people disappeared  

 and the remnants of the ancient circle slowly took shape

 with each step, the stones seemed to grow in size

 and as we came full circle on the path, so too did the stones and the iconic vista

the crows taunted me, this one especially

he flitted from stone, to stone and would sometimes sit for a while, calling out to us

"na-na, na-na, na, na"

it was easy to ignore them though - easy to ignore everything really, and slide into the wonderment of why, of how, and of whom

and then i was so glad we went... so very, very glad

from there we went to old sarum, the older settlement, high on the hill, over-looking the salisbury of today

old sarum was built 200 years prior, and when the decision was made to build a new cathedral down in the valley, the stone from the old was used... today, only the footings of old sarum remain, laying out the design of a castle and a cathedral that once carried great significance, built by william the conqueror...

it's so hard to find perspective when talking about not just hundreds of years ago, but whole centuries gone by

we just don't have that history here

but there is something so comforting about it, to know that in this world full of doom and gloom and war and squabbling, that life goes on

 we're home now, safe and sound

a little jet-lagged but i don't mind so much - for now, it's a tangible reminder i was somewhere

with yard-work, and house-work and work-work all crowding in i know i'll be back to normal in no time

i have many more posts i still want to do about our trip, many more things to tell you - if you aren't too bored with it yet

 i want to post more often... the dilemma is, i won't be able to respond to your comments very well
(i know, i know, not like i do now, but i do try!)
so if you don't mind, then i'll give it a go

in the next few days i hope to get around to all of you that have blogs and see what you yourself have been up to these past five weeks, and enjoy reading your stories

and then tell you a few more of my own...

Monday, October 14, 2013

lessons learned

 coming  to the end now and i realize how little i have posted, and how little i have posted about what really has mattered to me...

the places we have been are as beautiful and awe-inspiring as can be but this trip has been so much more than that... so very much more... i think there are many more posts to come about this journey of mine, through space and time...


                i  have seen landscapes that have filled me with wonder and astonishment, 


    castles and cathedrals that we of the modern age would be hard-pressed to try our hand at...


   can you even imagine a bank that would finance a building project that would take fourty years to complete, let alone one hundred? 


          do you think there is one of us that would joyfully start something knowing it would be 
                                        completed long after we ourselves are gone? 


when we lost our willingness to take time to create something special we lost something truly great

                                       we lost possibility, and with it, our own potential

                             i have no lifelong project to complete, nor yet one to begin

           but each thing i put my hands to from now will be something that i will take the time it needs,
                                                       so as to be done my very best


                                                 to honour skill, craftsmanship, pride

my best work, whether it be a loaf of bread, a quilt, a warm, wooly scarf, or a triple layer-chocolate and raspberry jam filled layer cake with chocolate buttercream,because after all the things i have seen, out of all the things i have learned about this country, the thing i will come away knowing the most...

                                                         i have learned it loves cake!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

to the sea...

the beautiful, wild and wonderful sea

heaving, thundering, rhythmic... changing colour as it moves

these pictures are from cornwall... we were there just days ago

the finest rain ever - they call it "mizzle"

oddly enough, that's the colour of the painted breakfast room at a b&b we stayed at, weeks before in scotland - I asked...

mizzle...  i called it "water in the air", too fine for rain, too much for mist

i actually didn't mind it so much, except you can get awfully wet, awfully fast

cold, wet, wind - just what you'd expect for his time of year

we walked on the beach, around the headland, facing the wind and spray full on

cornwall is not for the faint of heart

i realized as i gazed around, the colours before me are my preferred palette, the colours of he sand and sea, the rocks and sky - i first learned them in the yukon, on marsh lake

i like how the mist makes everything seem to be out of focus - sometimes i think the world is easier to take if it's a little out of focus, a little less sharp around the edges...

the days are winding down now, we have only three left... thoughts are turning toward home, slowly it creeps back into the conscious

my mind is so full of all we have seen and done, all i have thought - the philosopher in me has been very busy... I have so much to tell you

but first, i have so much to pack!