Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Small and [Un]orthodox Mess

This week - C being away - the house is uncharacteristically tidy so I have had to create some mess for Messy Tuesday. However, fortunately I had the perfect excuse having just received an Easter card from my cousin. Orthodox Easter is on Sunday, and once again, despite my best intentions, I failed to buy any Easter cards when it was Easter here. I even went into a shop and looked at them thinking "I really must go back and buy those before Easter is over and they take them all away", and I still didn't get round to it.

Needless to say I didn't have enough time to create anything to compete with Dina's meticulously cross-stitched Easter egg, so instead I spent a happy evening cutting up little bits of brightly coloured paper, sticking them to cards (and myself, and the table), and leaving trails of Uhu around the place like some sort of weird solvent-based snail.

Still this was a fairly cheerful occupation and greatly improved by the fact that, for the first time this year, it was actually light enough, and warm enough, when I got home from work for me to sit at the kitchen table with the back door open. Thank goodness for a bit of sunshine at last. Things in the garden are beginning to wake up. Lazarus* the fuchsia is getting his first few tentative leaves and the fern, which three weeks ago I was on the point of digging up because I was sure it was dead, has turned out not to be.

I also finally plucked up the courage to plant my sweet peas out into their new willow basket-cum-obelisk. I bought it months ago, but it's been so cold I haven't dared try it out for fear of frost. It's not the easiest thing to plant access-wise and I got myself tangled in it on a few occasions and found myself contemplating a week spent on my hands and knees in the garden waiting, either for someone at work to remark upon my non-appearance, or for C to come back and find me kneeling like some demented dog with its head trapped in the railings. However I did manage to extricate myself eventually and was mercifully spared the indignity of having to go round to the neighbours with an overgrown lobster pot on my head and plead for help. I think it should look quite pretty if they grow, and it means I can have sweet peas on the patio, thus saving valuable border space for something else.

*So called because despite severe (if unintentional) maltreatment every winter [i.e. being left out in the frost, being put in the greenhouse because its warmer and then forgotten about and left to die of drought, being confined to the same pot and the same (by this time) nutriant-free compost for the best part of five years...] so that I am always convinced that this time I must have killed it, it always comes back to life in the spring.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Playing catch-up.

I have been somewhat remiss in writing Messy Tuesday posts recently. Needless to say this has nothing to do with any lack of mess and much more to do with lack of time and opportunity to photograph mess. Indeed, the tide of mess has been gradually engulfing us despite our best efforts to keep it at bay.

The original plan for last Tuesday was to post the tremendous mess which is our loft, full of abandoned boxes, badly stacked suitcases and the previous owner's enormous collection of early 80s DIY magazines (they explain a lot), and then to follow it with the impressively tidy space which would replace it once we had sorted through all the clutter, re-lagged and boarded the usable part, and converted it into a sensible, useful storage space.

Unfortunately this didn't quite happen. The first step in the plan was to buy the "dissipation units" for the downlighters set into the hall ceiling. I know that a dissipation unit sounds like an small but organized body dedicated to encouraging hitherto upstanding people to get pissed and hang about with bad company, but actually its a thing to dissipate the heat from the light so that you can put insulation over the top without running the risk of the whole lot going up in flames. We saw them in B&Q in Manchester and so assumed they'd be readily available, but no. After several days trying every hardware and electric store in the district we drew a complete blank so the loft continues to be unboarded and full of junk. And having abandoned all hope of sorting it out I couldn't in fact be bothered to go up there to photograph it for Messy Tuesday.

Anyway, this week we decided to tackle the mess which is the hollow wall at the bottom of the garden. This is designed to be a planter, but it has always had one end missing and we've always said that one day we'll rebuild it while, for the past two years, simply living with a plant-pot wedged into the end in a forlorn attempt to camouflage the crumbly bit.

Once again things didn't go according to plan. For a start, when we started to dig the contents out to make some room it turned out that only the top 5 inches actually contained soil. The rest was made up of bits of old carpet, a large quantity of electrical cable, some rubble, a plastic water pistol, a shelf bracket... We didn't look any further than that.

Secondly, removing the three broken bricks from the end of the wall resulted in the rest of it coming away in large chunks - not the intended result. So, we gave up with this too, stacked the bits back up, replaced the pot, and continue to live with the mess. Still, at least it gives me a messy Tuesday post.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Pin Money

This week I have spent a grand total of £4.40 on sewing pins, and this is the reason for it.

I finally got round to finishing the incredibly frilly Greek doily last Sunday when this happened.

The snow was very pretty and we spent a cheerful morning wandering the fields behind the house taking pictures of things which aren't really supposed to have snow on them. But picturesque though it was (and good fun for trying out the lens on the new camera) it did rather put a crimp on my plans to spend the day gardening.

Still, every cloud, as they say: instead I spent most of the afternoon sitting in bed, chatting on the phone, drinking tea, and crocheting, which meant after weeks of only working on it in 15 minute bursts on the train, I was finally able to make some serious progress with the doily and produce a FO.

However, having completed the actual crochet I have been struggling unsuccessfully to block it all week for the simple reason that it has so many frills and furbelows that needed pinning out, that I ran out of pins on three separate occasions. Having raided my "reserve" pin box and then been to buy more on two consecutive lunchtimes, I eventually finished pinning it out on Thursday night. It took a grand total of 314 pins and after pulling them all out this morning my fingernails will never be the same again. But it is finished and considerably more successful than my last doily-related effort I think.