Seeking beauty

I have been out of commission lately due to moving house (again), buying a home (needs work before I make the move…yet again) and the collapse of my elderly mother a week ago (with subsequent family round-table discussions as to how to help her either stay independent where she is or move from the country to live with one of us…watch this space).

My former husband served me with the Divorce papers a few days ago and while I was okay with it, there was a tinge of sadness that things worked out the way they did. No-one gets married with the thought that divorce is the back-up plan and everyone does the best they can with the skills they have at the time.

Anyway, all that navel-gazing caused me eventually to look outward and to seek beauty in things we often ignore because we are caught up in the busy-ness of everyday life.

I saw this magnificent gum tree the other day whilst walking to work. It has been there for generations, shading the land below it and witnessing the changes that happen- horses and tracks, cars and roads, mia mias and houses, offices and traffic lights; all the while helping living things breathe better air and providing homes to insects, animals and birds.

IMG_20180828_090432.jpg

I always feel more relaxed when thinking of or being with Nature.

Jenn xxx

Advertisements

A couple of crackers

I don’t often post book reviews although I am a voracious reader, but these two really got to me in different ways and I thought I would share them. I am rarely drawn to “light reads” and am more attracted to novels about relationships that are fraught and turbulent.

 

IMG_20180624_142045.jpg This is the quirky tale about a quiet young man called Charlie, who applies for and gets the job of Harbinger of Death.

He visits people around the globe bringing (often tatty) gifts of deep meaning to individuals. He describes his job as being a courtesy and it is Death who tells him who to visit.

The other characters include Pestilence, War and Famine and his intermittent love-interest, as well as the supporting cast of people who do not necessarily want him to visit (although, his visiting is not always a precursor to dying).

His travels often take him into dangerous territory and occasionally he has been close to dying himself, but his job means he no longer fears death and his calm approach helps a lot of the people he visits.

I described this book as quirky, it is certainly a fresh way of looking at the moving towards leaving this world, and making human the characters of Death, Famine and others is engaging (although War is frivolous and to me, very unlikeable) and slightly unnerving.

It was not an easy, it took me a week to get through this book as I couldn’t read much more than a chapter at a time, there was a lot to digest. It was an enjoyable, though at times, disconcerting read.

The next book is  IMG20180703041902.jpg.

Mette Jakobsen is Danish but now living in Sydney and this short novel is a real tug at the heart strings. The main character is a man whose son has died in unfortunate circumstances, he can’t believe the reality of his son being gone and instead starts a journey to look for him.

I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for you should you wish to read it, the pain of the main character and his wife is palpable, their estrangement as they deal with the reality of the death of their only child was enough to reduce me to tears at times.

It is a wonderful book, again, not easy reading but difficult to put down. If there is a downside to it, it is the amount of sex that is described in detail. I don’t think of myself as a prude, but the cynical soon-to-be divorcee in me wonders at the spontaneity of the couple sex life after so many years together. I will concede however, that the sex in the book is always loving (and not always successful).

Some heavy, but worthwhile reading for you to ponder and maybe delve into?

It’s time for me

Today is Sunday and after a hectic week, it’s my time.

Not going to church, just taking it easy.

Breakfast in bed with a new novel

IMG20180429080013.jpg

and in attempt to find a wrap dress that fits me and also looks good, I am cutting this one out after the fabric has dried from its pre-wash

IMG20180429080147.jpg

The fabric is a light grey cotton knit with random dots that I bought from Spotlight.

It is very warm for Autumn, my daughter is out with friends and my dear son is going to the footy (Aussie Rules), so I will be at home in the peace.

Bliss.

Walking amongst the dead…

cemeteryI have been in my new place for 6 weeks now, that went very quickly. All is going well and the children (young adults) and I are happy (they have mentioned that specifically!).

I have done some gardening (even though it’s a rental), explored the suburb (I like it) and get some joy every day by walking through Perths main cemetery to and from work. I think the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who like graveyards and those who don’t, I am definitely in the former category. I have been fascinated by cemeteries, funerals and grave goods for years, ever since going to Gin Gin cemetery as a teenager and seeing the devastation an epidemic can wield over a small community (Gin Gin ).

Studying Anthropology both at university and informally has only deepened my liking for the fascinating subject of the customs associated with death in different cultures.

Karrakatta Cemetery is the biggest in Western Australia, it is HUGE. I thought it would be full, but there is a load of space for everybody once they leave this life. The amount of money that families spend on honouring their dead loved-ones is truly eye watering. The size of the monument doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the status of the person for whom it was erected, (although a number of famous Perthites  of the past seem to be well-represented by large monuments). There is an ordinary gentleman who has been honoured with (I presume) a life-size statue of him, there he is looking benevolent, leaning one hand on a tree stump, all carved beautifully in marble.

The relatively-new Mausoleum is pretty fancy and is the final resting place of mainly Italians, a throwback to the way people are buried back in the old country. I don’t understand mausoleums, I suppose like most things, they have come about because of necessity (though what the reason is I don’t know), but I don’t really warm to the idea of a body not being disposed of, merely “kept” in its place (for the future???).

There are plenty of pretty ordinary areas in the cemetery, but there are also some really beautiful parts. Ferns, rose gardens, lawn areas, open-air chapels etc etc, it is really a place to relax in and collect ones thoughts (especially after a challenging day at work).

One of my work colleagues is mystified by my affection for graveyards. She finds them scary and very unappealing, my son will walk though the bushland adjacent to Karrakatta, but avoids the actual cemetery saying he thinks it smells strange (does it really?). As an ex-Palliative Care Nurse, death involves many emotions for me, but fear is not one of them.

The place is full of Little Ravens. I don’t know why they live there (there doesn’t seem to be anything edible for them), except that they are largely undisturbed and can do what they want. With gay abandon, they pull the flowers left at the graves, out of their receptacles and seem to scatter them about. Real or fake ,it doesn’t seem to bother the ravens what sort they are, the birds just seem to enjoy playing with them.

Really the only off-putting thing I find about the place is its poor signposting and the ability for sensible people to get hopelessly lost (yes, I regard myself as sensible), even the map is only marginally helpful at getting one on the right path. When I mentioned the organisation (or lack thereof) of the place to one of the multitude of gardeners, he rolled his eyes and told me I should talk to the designers who dreamt it up 100 years ago! He implied that working there didn’t necessarily mean he found navigating his way around any easier than the general public.

My Mother is nearly 88 and in very good health, I hope she stays around for a few more years; we have discussed what to do when she (as she puts it), “Pops her clogs”! She hasn’t dealt with Dads ashes at all, they are sitting in a box in her wardrobe and my brother and I have been told to get rid of them when she dies (thanks Mum!). Since I now live close to the so-called “dead centre” of Perth, I have been talking about a double plaque for her and Dad in one of the rose gardens (as they were/are their favourite flower). This suggestion seems to have some approval (both from Mum and my brother), so that is probably going to be what happens. I think it would be nice to go and sit by them and bring them both up to speed about what’s happening with the family. I know of course, that the ashes are not them and will be just a memento of the two people who gave me and my brothers life, but still….

Question:

What do you think of funerary rites, graveyards and death, do they give you the creeps like my work colleague, or are you more like me with a fascination for all of it?

 

heartache and a sewing hiatus ahead :(

So, I hinted that I may not be sewing or posting much in the near future.

This Easter, I am heading a group sewing dolls for the Uthando Project (uthandoproject.org/about-us/), we will be making 10 dolls and the possibilities are endless, the project is really worthwhile and the idea of making a difference to a child’s life is appealing to me. 

After Easter, my sewing room is being dismantled and machines packed away, the room is being returned to it’s first use as a laundry. This is to make our house more attractive to buyers (the real estate agent says no-one wants a semi-detached laundry and no-one will believe my sewing room is actually a functional laundry either- bler). Over the next few weeks (or months if I can tolerate it), my partner and I will be decluttering and doing a bit of cosmetic work on the house to ready it for sale. Apart from getting rid of a whole lot of stuff, there isn’t an awful lot to do; a bit of painting, tidying the garden and replacing a section of perimeter fencing and we’re done.

What does the future hold? I am not sure, but I am looking forward to it.

It seems I am in a significant minority of women who are saying goodbye to partnerships of decades and going on to a future by themselves. I am not afraid, it is a mutual choice, but I am the one who has taken over the driving so-to-speak. There has been a lot of heartache, so please don’t think this is a step that has been taken on a whim, my husband is finding it very hard and is pessimistic about his future, but I hope he can eventually embrace the change and see it as an opportunity for positive things to happen.

Our children (17 and 22 years) are doing okay-ish (as am I), they see it as a positive step and are willing to embrace the future, but they worry about their father (as do I), they know that we love them and that they are always welcome to have a home with me (my daughter is coming with me, my son is looking at living independantly).

Being free to do as I wish, when I wish is looking very appealing; I have lived alone as a younger person and just loved it, my needs are few and I have enjoyed the challenge of living frugally at times in my past. I would like to buy another place, but realise that renting may have to be a stop-gap measure, rather than panic-buying and living with the regret.

I may get the opportunity to post at odd intervals, just to let you all know what is happening, but wish me luck and watch this space 🙂

Stash gifts

(… or Thankyou Karen)

Mum and I visited her cousin Karen yesterday, Karen left the room and went hunting through a cupboard, she said she wanted to show me something…she beckoned me into her sewing room and told she needed more space as she is having an exhibition soon of her latest paintings and was running out of places to store stuff…

Karen travels extensively for her art and is always buying fabric…

I have always envied bloggers who post photos of Aunty So-and So’s stash which has been bequeathed to them etc etc, but I can be jealous no longer…

Here is some of it

DSC_0238 silks from India and Thailand

DSC_0239 checks and plaids from India, Australia and history (the end one belonged to her Mother who died 35 years ago!)

DSC_0240 cottons from Africa, India and Japan

DSC_0242 batiks and cotton prints from Indonesia

I have run out of space and the pile is HUGE, never, ever, ever again, will I have stash-envy; I feel as if I am drowning in great swathes of beautiful (and not so beautiful) fabric… gurgle…gurgle…gasp

Flogging a dead horse?

When do you call it quits on a favourite garment? Do you patch and refashion until there is little left of the original?

My son went on a school trip in Year 9 and spent 1500 Yen on a yukata from one of the hotels he stayed in. It is his preferred lounging around the house clothing (how appropriate!).

Seven years later it has been ripped and repaired on countless occasions and the last mending job I was a bit lazy and just used iron-on mender… unsurprisingly it didn’t last.

So, the dilemma was do I patch or does it get cut up for dusters?

Because it is sooo special to him, I decided to bring out the big guns and do a decent repair job this time.

right side darning darning:quilting

I initially started darning by hand, but gave up fairly quickly as the fabric was so fragile, you may be able to see the glue that was left after the iron-on mender fell off, it made the fabric very stiff and unyielding. Anyway, I decided to patch and darn…

This was my first attempt using my free-motion foot and I found it quite challenging, still it did the job and the end result is a very stable patch.

To cover the unsightly mess on the outside, I decided to go with a Japanese theme and so embroidered my son’s name in Katakana (alphabet). The attempt was to emulate the use of lettering in Japanese art, a bit like this…

 

251r53f (This lettering is Kanji alphabet and my son’s name doesn’t really translate, so Katakana was used) and this is what we ended up with

katakana Huw his name only has three letters (phew!).

So, here we are, the final result. Unfortunately, the navy fabric is a knit (pilfered from my stash), so there was a bit of stretching when it was sewn to the yukata, but he is pretty pleased and I am just glad it’s over. finished yukata

 

The plan is that he is going back to Japan at the end of his undergraduate degree, he plans to teach English for year meanwhile honing his Japanese language; after that who knows- the world is his oyster 🙂