Quote of the Week – Us Two

24-06-19 Two
“Us Two” by A A Milne, from the collection “Now We Are Six”

Yes, it’s a Quote of the Week this Monday, rather than a Word of the Week. Why? Who knows? Just felt like it.

In fact, I was reciting this to myself as I carried out a reconnaissance mission on Saturday to find the office I will be working at for the next month. As I was walking along on my own, it might not seem the most apt poem to be thinking of, and this is emphasised by the fact that I don’t entirely agree with the sentiment that it isn’t much fun for one because an awful lot of things are very pleasant to do on your own. Of course, in the context of the poem it makes much more sense, because Pooh has been doing something he wasn’t keen on (looking for dragons, finding dragons, saying “Boo” to dragons, etc) and it is always better if you have an ally when you are doing something that worries you. That ally doesn’t have to be a real person, and even if they are real, they don’t have to be standing beside you in your moment of need. Most of us have people in our hearts who we are confident would cheer us on if they knew we were feeling trepidation, and knowing that is enough to enourage us.

So, if you come across dragons this Monday morning, think of your allies and then remember to shout “Boo! Silly old dragons!” and it will probably turn out that they are only geese.

I’m doing this…

17-05-19 I'm doing this

Here’s a snapshot of what is going on around here these days. This is what was piled on my settee when I started to tidy up last night prior to heading off to bed (before I took the photo I did move them into a more pleasing arrangement than the ‘old heap of stuff’ that they had naturally formed!).

The new Avon brochure commences today, so I had been busy setting them up and getting a .pdf version of the brochure up on my beauty blog  – feel free to head over there, or visit my webshop where you can browse through the products and, so long as you are in the United Kingdom, order online for delivery direct to you from Avon’s warehouse. I’m trying out the Vitamin C Serum that’s launching this month. I like a nice serum and, truth be told, I’d rather use one cream day and night but add in a serum in the evening than have separate day and night moisturisers.

Then, of course, there has been knitting. The photo shows how far I have got with the first sleeve of my cardigan. I have been resting my hand but still doing a few rows each day just to make sure the cardigan continues to grow. I am enjoying working with this yarn and the pattern is really simple but effective.

The book, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, was an impulse purchase this week. I have been following the buzz about this method of planning/tracking over the past few years, but ultimately have always felt that a lot of it is not for me. Then again, the basic concept of keeping all your incoming information in one distinct place is very much to my taste. I find having things scattered all over the place makes them easier to ignore. In one of the best jobs I have had, it was common practice to keep a hardback notebook in which you noted whatever needed to be done – in my secretarial role this meant I had lots of notes every day on responses I needed to send to e-mails on behalf of my manager. I found it a very workable system and the Bullet Journal is not dissimilar to that. I am enjoying reading it so far, although I may not adopt the method in its entirety. I decided to buy it after watching a video online that was originally shown at the European Planner Conference; this runs to just over 30 minutes, but I think it’s well worth watching because Mr Carroll comes across as such a genuinely lovely chap. Earlier in the year I read about nine-tenths of Getting Things Done by David Allen, but it didn’t entirely gel with me. It felt to me like it was devised by, and addressing the needs of, business owners and top-level managers, whereas Ryder Carroll seems to be coming from, and addressing, a much broader base of both workers and creative professionals. Have to see if I make it to the end of this one!

I am consistently referring to the diary pages in my Filofax notebook, and also using it for broader list-making and note-taking. I am still very pleased with this set-up and I can foresee it serving me for some time to come. I chose a verse by Dorothy Parker for the creative area this week and I used my fine-nibbed Parker 51 filled with the Lamy Peridot ink. When I am writing in the diary I mainly use the Waterman Hemisphere in the blue finish which you can see in the photo, and that is filled at the moment with Graf von Faber-Castell ink in Midnight Blue. Underlining is done using my Cross Century II filled with the Lamy Ruby ink (speaking of which, I am in love with all the red inks Michael Jecks has been testing recently on his Writerly Witterings YouTube channel – you can check out Ink Comparison: Red and/or Ink Comparison: Red Second stage if you’re interested). I use my other Waterman Hemisphere – the Rose Cuivre finish – to write in my journal every morning. That one is currently filled with J Herbin Poussiere de Lune which is a purple-to-brown ink. In this way I am getting to play with a lot of the pens and the inks in my small collection. I feel a return to a brighter purple ink is imminent when one of the pens runs dry.

The final item I had to clear away was a tube of hand cream because my hands have been very dry recently. This particular hand cream is from one of Avon’s fragranced bath ranges and it is a lovely consistency, but there are more subtle fragrances around. I happen to like this one, but I don’t imagine it would be for everybody – but then, what is?

After a few nice sunny days, we’ve got a fine drizzle this afternoon although it held off until I was back from my regular Friday-morning swim so that was good. Our electricity went off for a few minutes at lunch-time, and all the alarms in the neighbourhood started ringing so it was an exciting few minutes.

Now we are heading towards another weekend which I hope will provide plenty of opportunities to knit, read, and ponder the meaning of life.


 

Prescience

Not a quote of the week, but a word of the week:

Prescience (noun) – foreknowledge/foresight

I’ve been working hard on my knitting through the week and I am getting very close to completing the knitting part.

15-03-19 knit
The Wheatfields sleeveless pullover

I am very pleased with how this is looking. I plan to finish it with a simple crochet neckband and armbands to neaten up the edges. I still love the cream wool and I can imagine it knit up as a cricket jumper, the kind I wanted pretty much all through the 1980s. It would also be ideal for some of Marion Foales’ old 1980s patterns.

I thought I was having a day of procrastination yesterday as I spent far too much time sorting out old files on my computer’s external hard drive. Mainly it involved getting rid of innumerable duplicates/triplicates/infini-plicates! It was only when I sat down to do my creative writing later on in the evening that I realised how useful some of those unearthed items were. I came across some old snippets of writing from 2006 and the style I had used to write them entirely suited a couple of the characters in my novel.

Back in 2006 I wrote the following:

But you know these observations about these things I own and how I use them, they are all part of the back-story of me and when I create characters I need them to have this kind of back-story. Understanding how a person interacts with their possessions is incredibly useful for a writer. Or for one who is simply interested in human character.

Well, there I was, thirteen years later, using those observations to provide the back-story for a character in my novel. Now if that isn’t prescient, then I don’t know what is!


Have you had any experience of a thing that has taken a long time to reach fruition? I’d love to hear.

I remember my mum planting a rowan tree in our garden when I was a young girl and all the years when she watched it fail to put forth any kind of perceptible growth. I recall how it suddenly spurted with life the year she decided it was going to be dug up and scrapped if it didn’t make an effort before the autumn. Things can be like that.


 

When one notebook closes…

01-03-19 back page
The very last page of my old notebook – where I doodle intestines apparently!

You know the old saying that goes “When one door closes, another opens”, well I’ve had that experience with my general notebook. Having finished a journal and started a new one earlier in the week, I am finally on the last page of my current Mark and Fold A5 notebook. I’ve been using this for my general notes for the past eleven months and I have already mentioned the possibility of moving into an exercise “rough book” format. Well, good old Mark and Fold have come to my rescue as their quarterly subscription box arrived today and inside was a like-for-like replacement for my existing notebook. Yipee!

I thought you might be interested in a little pictorial ‘unboxing’ so you can see how the subscription looks as I unwrap it. I have always been really pleased with it. As well as the notebook, this quarter I received two Thank You cards and a gift voucher to use in their online shop.

Unfortunately, this marks (not to mention folds!) the end of my subscription and the cash isn’t there to renew it at the present time, but I can honestly say the past two years using their products have been a joy and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who loves high-quality stationery with a minimal design.

So, to the unboxing.

Friday is usually my Quote of the Week day and I haven’t got one to hand, so I will just include the snippet I wrote in my notebook on 17th September 2018 and call that a quote:

Me? I think we’re all born with broken hearts, and life itself is just an exercise in damage limitation.

Not the cheeriest bit of creative writing in the universe, but it worked in the context I was thinking of at the time.


I hope your week has been good, or at least is almost over. Have you come to the end of anything and started something fresh? Any doors opening or closing?


 

A song list

15-02-19 Old New Tech
Old tech in the foreground, new tech in the background

As well as a quote this week, I’m going to share a song-list with you.  The quote is hand-written and shown in my photo. The song-list is playing along with it:-

‘Only The Lonely’ sung by Glen Campbell
‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ sung by Judy Collins
‘Crossroads’ written and sung by Don McLean
‘I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now’ sung by Harry Nilsson
‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ sung by Glen Campbell
‘It’s Over’ sung by Glen Campbell

(For the record, ‘It’s Over’ isn’t the same song which Roy Orbison sang. I love both of them.)


Diary by Mark and Fold
Fountain pen inks by Lamy and Graf von Faber-Castell
Fountain pens:
Waterman Hemisphere (blue)
Lamy Safari (black)
12″ MacBook by Apple
Steel ruler made in Germany – just like me!


 

Knew this was a one-way ticket…

21-12-18 Moon

As I sat knitting at the weekend, I was pondering the sweetness of sharing things we enjoy with a whole new generation. This specifically related to watching “The Abyss” with my grandson who enjoyed it immensely (and why wouldn’t he?).

So today’s quote is a short and sweet thought from the film, typed by Brigman as he resigns himself to his fate at the bottom of a deep-sea trench, not enough air to get back to his friends and just-coming-back-from-being-estranged wife on the undersea drilling rig, his helmet reflecting the light from the hidden alien city that he has just saved from extinction:-

Don’t cry baby. Knew this was one-way ticket, but you know I had to come.

That seems to sum up life itself; in fact, it would look superb on a tombstone, and if I was intending to have such a thing I would probably request it myself.

So, wherever any of us is on that deep-sea dive from arriving at and departing from Planet Earth, we are all contributing in great and small ways to the life of the universe, and we can all take a moment to appreciate that. Hopefully, not with our last lungfull of air, though!


 

Irresistible textures, unreachable stars

Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knitting Yarns And Designs
This waistoat needs to be in my life

This week I have been looking through old notebooks; for what is the point of making notes if you don’t go back every so often and read them? Two looming items have prompted this trawl: I need to get a new notebook sorted out because I’m down to the final five pages in the book which I started on 31st March 2018. I plan to move into an A5 exercise book next because I have always had a penchant for this format (we used to know as our “Rough Book” at school). Also, I am going to a creative writing session tomorrow (Norwich Castle Writers at the Castle Museum) and in digging out blank notebooks I inevitably retrieved some half-filled ones with various creative bits and pieces in them.

In one book I had written “Alice Starmore wool” and clearly I had never bothered to go and look at the website, so I did it there and then. This was very inspiring and I am now extremely keen to try out the wool and see how it compares to the traditional Shetland yarns that I have used in the past. After I had read about the wools I looked at the page of knitting kits and that is when the above waistcoat socked me on my weak and feeble jaw, making me go all wobbly about the knees. I love that waistcoat, I want that waistcoat, no, I need that waistcoat. The only question is, do I need it in cream, or do I need it in navy? Well, okay, the question is, do I need it first in cream or navy because clearly I need it in both colours. I also need that skirt…

If you have never looked at the Virtual Yarns website you should stop wasting your time reading this, and go straight there, even if you don’t knit. Just look at the colours. Just feast your eyes on the designs. The other item I am completely entranced by is the Selkie “costume” – that collar with the cabling on the underside and the colourwork on the topside!

I also want to note that this week marked 33 years since the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and seven crew members during launch and, as ever, NASA posted a tribute.

29-01-19 challenger
This photo of a Challenger launch is courtesty of NASA’s website which I recommend you visit regularly

It seems to me that these words from a song written by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion – The Impossible Dream (The Quest) – gain a particular poignancy when thinking of these events.

And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.


 

The ultimate outsiders

25-01-19 door

Continuing the theme I have been exploring of fitting in, or standing outside, both the insiders and the outsiders in Walter de la Mare’s poem are equally estranged.

The Listeners

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no-one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phanton listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For suddenly he smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:-
“Tell them I came, and no-one answered,
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.


 

Scent and Scissorhands

18-01-19 scissorhands avon
I’m not totally sure which one of these I am!

So, this week I have joined the legions of Avon “ladies” and on mentioning this to my daughter, the first thing she said was “Oh, we watched Edward Scissorhands and I had to explain what an Avon Lady was!”

Edward Scissorhands is a great film about being different and about being kind and about being slightly outside the mainstream. Of course the mother in the film should represent the mainstream, but actually she is as far outside it as anyone. I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone is outside the mainstream in which case what on earth is the mainstream? Feel free to comment on that!

Whilst I don’t intend for this blog to become a sales ground, it is inescapable that some of the things I do within the Avon realm will also fit inside my personal life because skincare, makeup and perfume are lifelong interests of mine. When that’s the case I will write about them in my blog. This being one of those occasions.

I wrote in November about finishing a bottle of my favourite perfume and making-do with a couple of Clinique sample bottles as a short-term measure. Well, I consider joining the Avon bandwagon to be the ideal opportunity to try out some different scents and see how I like them. I’m starting off with a bottle of Rare Gold – just because it is the one that arrived in my initial demonstration kit – and I am quite impressed.

16-01-19 rare gold 2

This perfume opens with a sweet, fruity-floral note of white peach and Jasmine, speaking of which does anyone else remember Avon’s Pretty Peach from the 1960s?

18-01-19 pretty peach

Rare Gold is rather more sophisticated and it reminds me of springtime – I can definitely see myself wearing this a lot as we move out of the winter. As it warms and matures, the lovely jasmine part of the scent really comes through. Jasmine is present in almost all the perfumes I really love, not to mention in an unrelated favourite – Jasmine Tea – so we know we’re onto a winner there. The lingering ‘base’ of the scent is the only part that I feel is not entirely to my taste, although that is putting it too strongly, it’s just that that there are base notes that I prefer. Rare Gold has a musk/amber base and I’ve found from my favourite perfumes that I really go for a good, lingering woody note. I do accept, however, that you can’t have everything you want in life or in perfume! This one does appeal to me more than the Clinique Aromatics in White which I have been using, although I should note that I did come to enjoy that one the more I used it.

All in all, this is a good, solid start to my exploration of Avon’s perfumes.

And finally, well it’s Friday – how could I leave you without a quote from Edward Scissorhands?

You can’t buy all the necessities of life with cookies.

A fact that is both sad and true!

 


Do you love Edward Scissorhands or have you never seen it? Don’t be afraid to comment.

If you are interested, please feel free to take a look at my Avon online store – you can place orders from anywhere in the UK. Alternatively, if you already get Avon products from a local representative, let me know your favourites.


 

Quote of the Week – Shakespeare

57
Stormclouds gather, Collioure, September 2015

Start the year with Shakespeare, of course, and words from “The Tempest” which have blown into my mind this January morning.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

I like a good number of Shakespeare’s plays, struggle with a few, and adore one or two. “The Tempest” is one of my favourites. So much so, that my daughter is named Miranda after the leading lady (although that was inspired by John Fowles naming the lead female character in his book “The Collector” after this Shakespeare heroine). I saw an open-air production of the play in York whilst I was pregnant. It was performed in the garden of The Treasurer’s House, in the dusk of a balmy evening with bats flitting overhead and the performers entering and exiting through the audience as we sat on the grass.

On the odd occasions when my daughter complained about her name, I would happily inform her that she got off lightly, because I was intending to name her Desdemona after the character in Othello, The Moor of Venice. Naming children is a strange thing, but once you are named you become the embodiment of that name for the people who know you. My Miranda is definitely a Miranda and not a Desdemona, although had I named her Desdemona she would be the exact thing that I expect of a Desdemona. Actually, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of preconceptions with that name as virtually no-one is called it. Apparently it is considered an unlucky name, so it’s lucky I avoided it and went with one meaning “admirable, wonderful’ instead. I fully intended for Miranda to be shortened to Mindy for everyday use, but my family were so horrified by this suggestion that she always ended up being called by her full name.

In creative writing you get the chance to use lots of names, and finding a name that suits a character, or dreaming up a character to suit a name you are using, is a lot of fun. I will need to use Desdemona in a written piece, just to get her out of my head once and for all. Perhaps she can be lucky.