Archive | May 2014

A new raw fleece cometh.


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I am currently spinning with this beautiful dark purple roving, which I bought from E-bay. It’s a very soft merino. It spins up quite quickly and is a joy to work with.

 

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So far I have several spools of it and some of it is already in use. More of that another day.

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However, I am excited about getting a raw fleece to work with, later in the week so I will be back on here to tell you how I’m getting on with that. I’m not sure what I’m getting yet, but it could well be a long staple variety, like the one in the following video. You will see how http://www.taylormadeyarns.co.uk spins up an art yarn using a Wensleydale fleece. It’s quite fascinating. Do take a look:

Oma

Sammy is one year old today!


Sammy on his new slide May 2014

Hip Hip Hooray, Sammy is one today! Truly my cup is full and runneth over. Little grandson number 2 is one today and we’re just been out for dinner to celebrate the day.

Here he is on the new slide his other grandparents bought him for his birthday and later on, after he’s had a little sleep, he’s off to the playground again to have some fun.

His mummy is a teacher and therefore has this week off work so isn’t he lucky.

Sammy is such a dear little soul with a big dimple in his chin, just like his mum and his maternal granddad. He has his daddy’s curly hair and big blue eyes.

Below you can see a picture of Sammy’s daddy at the same age (on the left) and Sammy himself on the right.

Sammy May 23rd 2014

One year old is such a milestone, isn’t it.

Oma

 

Happy Birthday Rob. My Memoirs – 26th May 2014.


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My eldest son is 40 today so A Very Happy Birthday to Rob. The picture above was taken recently when L and I went down to Bristol to meet him.

Here he is in his band when he was 20 year’s old. The band was called ‘Childhood’s End’. They were playing at The Arts Centre in Luton and backing a group called ‘Nothing But Trouble’, which Rob later played in.

The video is a bit long so if you fast forward to the point on the video at 32 mins and you can see him playing a nice guitar piece, which he wrote himself. You have to start the video first, then push the indicator to the 32 min mark.

It’s a bit of a moment when your child turns 40 isn’t it.

Have a great day,

Oma

Leaf Cards


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I’m currently read Mary O’Hara’s lovely book ‘The Scent of Roses’ wherein we learn about her life as a singer, as a newly married woman and as a nun.

‘In the fifties, Mary OHara, almost by accident, found fame and fortune as a singer and harpist.  She had a gentle beauty and charm, coupled with a unique lyric soprano voice.

Mostly, I came to realise, book reviews are about current books or those just published, but I tend to read new and old and often re-read those I like the best. Although I knew of Mary O’Hara, I hadn’t read this book before and now as an older person, I have been enjoying it. I may not have read it in my younger years, but it speaks to me now as a 62 year old. This morning I read about the leaf cards she made and would like to quote from the book here for you now:-

‘As soon as I was Solemnly Professed (admitted into the monastery), my father went off to work in the U.S.  Every now and then, a particularly lovely autumnal leaf, indigenous to whatever part of North America he was in, would arrive from him in a letter.  He would pick them up on his rambles, press them and send them on to me.  They were so attractive that I took to sticking them on to cards and using them as markers in my choir books.  One day Sister Hildelith, who had seen my leaves, asked me if I’d join forces with her and produce some leaf cards for the annual display of handmade gifts from members of the community for Lady Abbess on her Feast Day and I agreed.  However, shortly after that , Sister Hildelith had to drop out of the project because of other commitments, so reluctantly I had to continue on my own.

Eventually the finished leaf cards went on display among all the other community gifts.  It was a lovely surprise to discover that not only did Lady Abbess like them, but so did other people including the Cellarer, who asked if I’d produce more for sale in the monastery shop.  So I went on happily making leaf-cards in my free time, little thinking that it was to develop into a fascinating hobby.  Until then I was not well acquainted with the flora in our grounds, but gradually, I became more knowledgeable.

At first I just culled random, experimenting with lots of things.  Although I never used flowers as such, apart from the heads of conparsley, hogweed or fennel,I sometimes picked a flower after the petals had fallen off and the flower assumed a different appearance.  Clematis, for instance, after the petals have dropped off, becomes ‘old man’s beard.’ Pressed at an early stage, it remains silky and a shiny pale green for an indefinite time and looks stunningly lovely.  Pressed at a later stage it turns out lavender-coloured, very feathery and fragile-looking.  I sometimes called these the ‘Eye of God’ or ‘Ezechiel wheels.’

To me each leaf I worked with was a new source of wonder because each was a unique creation and something living.  The combinations of leaf and paper were myriad.  I was in the enviable position of having access to off-cuts, and sometimes whoel sheets of what must have been some of the most beautiful hand-made papers in the word, from Japan to England.  My sources of supply were all within the monastery walls and contributions came from the printing room, where they also did Fine Printing, the scriptorium, the bindary and the artists’ studio.  Besides hand-made paper in white and in various colours, shades and textures, and Japanese veneer, I was also given good quality machine-made papers, sometimes hand-dyed.  Soon it became the most fascinating work I’ve ever done.

A by-produce of this was that I became much more observant of the beauties of nature out of doors around the enclosure.  Eventually, as the work expanded, I was given a special cell to work in, which I called my ‘Leafy Bower’, and was also provided with a table, shelves and a guillotine for cutting paper.  It was absorbing and enjoyable work.  Sometimes I referred to them as my Zen cards.’

That passage from the book and it’s subsequent paragraphs, which went on to chronicle further successes with the art, moved me somewhat. I got to thinking about how a simple thing like receiving a leaf in the post from her father started something which gave Mary and all her friends and later customers such pleasure. It really is the simplest things in life that give the most rewards.

Here is Mary in song:

 

I wish you a happy and peaceful weekend.

Oma

 

Dylan at the seaside.


Dylan in Norfolk - May 2014

This is my little grandson, Dylan, having a great time at the seaside this weekend past.  He is still enjoying Spiderman and wears anything spiderman related that he can find. Looks cute, doesn’t he.

We haven’t seen very much of Dylan lately and I do miss him, but we were finding that having him all day was too much, especially as he kept asking ‘when is daddy coming to collect me?’ Clearly we ancients are not his idea of fun even though we tried very hard to amuse him all the time he was with us.

It is hard for working parents, I know. But it is also hard for grandparents who lack the energy of a three year old.

We were discussing the situation with one of my other sons the other day and he explained that these days, the 30 somethings were an ‘entitled generation’. They have been brought up to expect things done for them. This has quite a big impact of all our lives. If you are of that generation, reading this, I don’t want to sound harsh. I can only tell it how it is to us.

We have given free child-care for 3 1/2 years, but it’s never enough or so it seems. I would love to be 30 something myself but I never will be again, sadly. I do not have the will or the energy. When Dylan came along, I thought it would be like taking care of one of my own little boys, but I quickly discovered that things, which I took for granted in the 70’s, I can no longer do. For example, I could only lift the baby for a little while and when I leaned forward to put him in the cot, my back hurt unbearably. I needed help and got it from J, but he also got tired very quickly. Even with three of us here, it is difficult to be ‘on’ all the while throughout the day.

So things have changed here. We only see Dylan when his daddy brings him round, but at least we see him sometimes. It is not enough for us to have him for just a couple of hours. He needs care all the day so it is very much an all or nothing situation. I know there are lots of grandparents who don’t see their grandchildren at all for one reason or another and there are many who don’t have any grandchildren and never will have and I feel for them.

Life is so different to when I was young. I was so happy to be at home with my little ones and enjoyed every minute. I didn’t get bored or ‘brain-dead’ being with children. Life is very much what you make of it, isn’t it.

So I’m getting used to the new situation, slowly.

Oma

The Kaffe Fassett Knitwear and Quilt Exhibition – Bath, England.


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I’ve just been enjoying a trip to Bath. On one of the days we visited the Kaffe Fassett exhibition, which was, to me, spectacular. This post is heavy on pics but I simply could not choose what to leave out so please enjoy the feast…

This is the entrance hall, which was very pink like everything else in the exhibition – a riot of colour.

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With pictures like these, who needs words? If these pictures have wetted your appetite for more, click here and you can read some more about this interesting designer.

Oma

 

My Memoirs – The Mills Family of Tittenhanger, St. Albans and Luton.


Ethel Davis and parents

 

On the left of the above picture as we look at it, is my little nanna, Ethel Mills (nee Davis).  She is standing with a brother and sister. Her parents (my paternal great grandparents) are seated. They were a large family of some eleven or so siblings and my nanna was one of the youngest. She was tiny in stature and like so many tiny people, she was lively in nature. They lived in St. Albans, Hertfordshire and then later on moved to Luton where she lived for the rest of her life.

Nanna married Fred Mills and had three children – Connie, Herbert and Fred jnr. (my dad). Here is a picture of them on the beach somewhere, enjoying a day out perhaps. My dad is in the middle.

 

Fred Mills on beach with family circa 1921

 

 

My nanna worked hard making hats for the thriving Luton Hat Industry, which is famous for its straw boaters. If you click on the link you can read more about the plaiting and so on…Later on my Auntie Connie joined her and one of my enduring memories was visiting them in their tiny house to find hats everywhere. They were stacked up in corners everywhere awaiting my nanna’s attention. She did the finishing – sewing on ribbons and bands. It was welcome work and done at home so it had advantages. I don’t suppose my granddad Fred liked having so many hats all over the place, but I never heard him complain.

Another memory I have of Nanna Ethel was the way she buttered bread. She used to buy milk loaves from the little shop on the corner of her street and then cut off the end. That done she would tuck the loaf under her arm and butter the bread there! Then she cut off a slice for each of us – usually my cousin John and I and one of my parents. It was customary to put treacle on it before we ate it. We rarely ate meat with the bread because meat was so expensive, but we did have cheese and if all else was missing – sugar.

I always went to my nanna’s on Christmas Eve in the morning, just when the excitement of Christmas was at its peak for me. I didn’t realise until much later on that the reason I went there then was so that my parents could go to town on their own and choose a present for me.

My nanna had a long life. She lived to be 95 years old and kept her health to the end. She was always cheerful and always busy and I have very fond memories of her to this day.

Here is a picture of my dad in his prime.

Frederick Harry Mills

 

Oma