Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking At Life, Living With Love 2017

Hi Dear Folk,

Winter landscape with ice skaters, Hendrick Avercamp.

"Looking At Life, Living With Love" is my 2017 take on the upcoming year.  There are changes I want to make to have that happen, more time for family, friends and what I love on both a spiritual sense and physical.  For both you need time and working full time does not enable me to have the time or the energy I need for these.  So on meditating on the thought "If this was your last year how would you live it?"  I am going to make some changes.

Cutting back and going part-time at work.  That will take some doing, being even more frugal.  Plus as my friend says "When you have money you have no time, and when you have time, you have no money."

I love to travel but always tend to do the larger trips and not too much in-between, but I have made up a list of places that we could take a long weekend and drive to.  I came across these less well known pretty towns. I have no idea what these are like, but lets have an adventure.

Wolfeboro, NH - Keene, NH - Little Compton, RI - Wood Hole, MA - Guilford, CT - Frederick, MD - Berlin, MD - Milton, DE

Plus I have old friends, from my single days, out in Minneapolis which I've been meaning to get out and visit them for years.  They were just here  and visited with us, so have an even bigger incentive to get out and visit them, the invite is open, so if it's open don't close the door.

My girl friends and I spoke all last year about visiting a mutual friend in Maryland, but this year I'm going to urge us all on to do it.  And I want to have some laughs. Obviously travel will have to be frugally done, but it can be and if I have to get my tent out I will and always on my mind is, if possible, to squeeze in a trip to UK to visit with family and friends.

Pottering in the garden that has been sorely neglected, getting "a lick and a promise," as my mum would say.  It is so soothing to have your hands in the soil, grow plants from seed, find things in the trash and make something of them in the yard and garden.

Big sort out of the garage, big sort out of the house.  All needing time.  I'd like to make space in the garage, but want to carefully think about what I'm getting rid of, it's been my experience that when you get rid of something, then you realize you could have used it.

I am going on a reading quest and that is to look up out of print American women writers.  I am excited about this and you will see more on this front.

Time for family, friends, garden, create, read and just be.

So that's the framework, and as with all things there must be wiggle room and a fluidity to work around the problems that always arise.


Thursday, December 29, 2016


Hi Dear Folk,

Here are a couple of indulgences I bought at the Village Market.

A felted flower scarf from Nepal.  All the work that goes into those felted flowers.  It looks nice on if you double it up and pull the ends through the loop.  The only thing is that it is a little scratchy so I'm thinking of getting a long silk scarf and wrapping it around the stems, I think that would look nice.

Painted hair barrette from Russia.  It was the only one they had that was larger and here I am wearing it.  I had to resist all the painted boxes and Baltic amber.

Two little treats.  I have to mention the cardigan, which I found in a charity shop in the UK, and it has a tulip design, and on the same trip last year I found a marquisette broach in the shape of a tulip, which I keep on this cardigan, plus in another charity shop I found a needle point windmill picture, and this was all after Jean and I had just been to Amsterdam.  It seemed to be the theme of my vacation, or maybe psychologically I was just attuned after the trip.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Gift From Near and Gift From Far

Hi Dear Folk,

Before the holidays FedEx phones me at work and says "Have you moved your office?  We have a package for you."  I said "Yes" and gave them the new address.  I asked where it was from and she said "China," so I said "Oh! they must be pen samples."

So the next day a soft package comes in and I knew it was some kind of apparel so gave to Tom as I knew he was expecting samples.  He opened it and said "Did you order a shawl?"  I said "No, let me see if there is a packing list."  Then I saw who it was from, a vendor in China, who I had used for several jobs throughout the year and we always work so well together.

So this was my lovely surprise and the colour is a rich blue, I will enjoy wearing this.

And these delightful Teatime tea towels came in the mail from a friend not too far away and what a lovely surprise these were too.  I do like to tuck in a special tea towel when I pack a picnic basket.

Enjoying my goodies.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Stepping Out In The Country

Hi Dear Folk,

Today is overcast, but yesterday dawned bright and sunny, Mr. B. and I, got out for a long overdue walk.  How lovely to just be outside in the countryside of our local park.

Wearing a jumper, hat and scarf that my mum made.  I love the colours in this hat, but what to do with it as my mum had made it so long, so I came up with this idea from a hat I bought in Yorkshire a few years ago.  It was from one of the many old woolen mills there that have been made into multi craft centres.  The rounded edge is a foam ring, around which you wrap the edge of the hat, and by doing this I was able to use up the length of the hat and get to wear it.  I love the autumn leaf design.  I have orange gloves to match, also too large, but I'm thinking of gathering the back of the wrist and this would take up some of the excess size.  By the way the jumper fits perfectly.  Remembering my mum.


Babbling Brook

Friday, December 23, 2016

Stepping Out In The City, City Hall Philadelphia

Hi Dear Folk,

Stepping out into the City, through the double glass office doors, down the ten floors in the elevator and out the lobby doors, and this is what I step out into.

Ice skating rink in front of City Hall Philadelphia.

Raised garden beds.

The Village Market has vendors from many countries, Nepal, beautiful wool felted items, Ecuador  100% wool apparel and Ukraine, Russian painted items, little candle houses and Baltic amber, to name but a few.

Inner courtyard at City Hall.  If you can imagine the foot print of City Hall is like an X, with an open courtyard area in the middle.  Accessed from each side via a huge archway through which you can walk.  The interior of each tunnel area is different.

This entrance being particularly ornate.

William Penn sits atop this tower.  Looking up from the courtyard, the interior of which I think leans towards French architecture.

The Clothes Pin.

Aerial view from office window.  The building at the center is the Ritz Carlton Hotel, to the right of City Hall, and behind City Hall is the old Wanamaker Building, now Macy's.  A wonderful old department store with a Pipe Organ.

View from my desk.

Out early today.


Monday, December 19, 2016

The Tidal Zone, by Sarah Moss

Hi Dear Folk,

A review of The Tidal Zone, by Sarah Moss.  This is the second fictional work I have read of Sarah Moss and on thinking that I realized that I never wrote a review on the first fictional book I read which was Night Waking.

As a child I always thought actors were so talented and it's only as I'm older that I realize there are very few good actors, true character actors, most of them have the same style in every movie, and are just slotted into the correct character by the casting director.  In other words you see a pattern, and this is true of Sarah Moss, with reading her second fictional work.

You have the main story, where she excels in the minutia of everyday life and what one thinks.  The second is usually an academic working on some theses, in The Tidal Zone it is the stay at home dad Adam Goldschmidt, working on a history of the new Coventry Cathedral.  Thirdly there is a story of family history, his dad Eli who's parents emigrated to Brooklyn, America, coming out of the holocaust of Europe and his coming of age in the hippies sixties, meeting a British girl and settling in coastal Cornwall.

The family is Emma the wife a full time doctor, in the NHS, working very hard and putting in long hours, unable to un-connect even when at home.  The story told by Adam the stay at home dad, cleaning, cooking, shopping and taking care of any hundreds of things one does with house and family to keep it running with some part time hourly work at a local college.  Miriam (Mimi) their eldest fifteen year old, into gloom and doom, how awful the world is, not to say she's not right, and somewhat mouthy, and Rose the younger daughter, still in those early years and desperately wanting a cat.

Mimi is found passed out on the playing field at school, fortunately a teacher resuscitates her and the paramedics and ambulance are called in and she is rushed off to hospital.  Basically the thread of the story is based on this, is it an allergic reaction, is it genetic, is there even a defining answer?  And would it happen again?

It was important to tell people.  To let people know that this can happen:  your child's body can stop.  Stop breathing, stop beating.  At any time, her lungs can close down, the wingbeat that began in her heart before her bones were formed, before the fetus-to-be-Miriam had a spinal cord or a skull, can pause and fall tumbling.

What is it like to go to the hospital day after day, take the train, take the car, even to find parking, run the house, work and carry on with life, or put life on hold?

Take the train, the friendly Welsh nurse had said to Emma.  It's cheaper than parking and probably quicker from where you live anyway, and frankly, Mum, you don't really look as if you ought to be driving.  That's a shame, I didn't say, considering that she's planning to go into work and practice medicine the day after tomorrow, but the next day I took the train so that Emma wouldn't have to drive home.

And I will quote this as all my experience has been with very cold trains.

... for the sour smell of the overheated red trains and the flashing of mountains and coast in the windows, the growing space between me and the High Dependency Unit.

Mimi's reaction on receiving a pile of books from Uncle Giles, a naturalist and writer.

"No, Dad that's monstrously egotistical.  Oh, sorry you nearly died, you'd better read my book.  My monstrously egotistical book about how when I go for a walk it's a profound moral and spiritual experience that makes me a better person than you, but when you go to the same place you're just a tourist messing things up.  I read the extract in the Guardian ..... how he's weighed down by sorrow for my generation, only not like normal adults are because we're being badly educated for jobs that don't exist in an economy that condemns us to poverty and homelessness at levels not seen since before the First World War but because we can't tell the difference between the lesser marshwort ...."

Adams research on Coventry, I found this very interesting, as I like history and know quite a bit about the two great wars of the last century, but I had never heard of this name for the navigational system the Nazi's used.

The Nazi's had a navigational system that I found oddly fascinating, the knieckebein.  Knieckebein means "bent leg", but is also the name of a magic raven and fairy-tale guide, which seems a more likely origin.  It was a navigational technology for night bombing, involving the broadcast of interlocking radio beams over England from antennae on the other side to the Channel.  Pilots could fly along a radio beam ...

Obviously the British after finding out about this tried to jam their signals but human error in transmitting of information, just as at Pearl Harbor, came into play.

He had guessed right, but a tone-deaf operator made a mistake and the Nazi pilots were able to hear the British signal clearly and distinctly from the magic raven, ...

Thus the night bombing destruction of Coventry and Coventry Cathedral.

How one is set apart by life changing events and how one is viewed?

Mostly, the parents in the playground had stopped speaking to me.  I do not know, even now, that I would know what to say to a father whose daughter was being indefinitely detained in hospital.  Word had spread; we had become a tragic family, one to whom terrible things happen.

Basil Spence the architect for the new Coventry Cathedral.

He had won, but he was an architect; he knew that no-one possesses a building, especially one that has not been built.  He had to present his design to the Royal Fine Art Commission, where he had enemies as well as friends ... He spoke there for two hours, of sacrifice and resurrection, and the next day they told him to proceed. ... they allowed him to approach his chosen engineer, Ove Arup, and his chosen weaver, Graham Sutherland.

Adam speaking of his father who had come to stay while Mimi was in hospital.

Come visit, my father said, OK?  Come and see me.  You need to see the sea.  The children need the beach.  Promise me you'll come, at Christmas or in the spring., and he hugged me in his easy, American way, a thing I never quite learnt from him.

Thoughts on higher academia.

I used to believe that friends who'd stayed in academia, Anna Bennett and Tom who's now at Cambridge, exaggerated about their colleagues' behavior, until I attended the first of these meetings.  I understand now why the derangement of senior professors form a significant proportion of my friends' conversation, but for a visitor with little at stake it is all highly entertaining, and makes me feel better about not having a proper job in which such behavior would be normal.

Back to Coventry Cathedral and where should the choir be placed, not obscuring the altar.

The Bishop thought the music was secondary to ecclesiastical ritual and the Expert thought you couldn't have ecclesiastical ritual without music.  In a 1950's episcopal and professional way, they turned red-faced and shouted at each other.

The commercialization of Universities, adding more buildings and building on what was sacred ground, set aside for historical value, nature and visual beauty.

And then fees went up, the government's cap on student numbers was removed and universities, unable for not to compete on price although that day is surely at hand, began to jostle each other for the 'top students', or at least those best trained to complete the formula of A-level exam questions.  More buildings.  More 'facilities'.  I imagine there is some market research behind universities' manifest view that what every bright eighteen-year-old craves is more overpriced coffee brought to them as they sit on more red leather sofas under more sepia images of Paris and New York.

Adam taking Rose to the swimming pool.

Swimming pools, I thought, may be the only place in England where you can look at a person for several minutes without recognizing his or her social class.  I remembered a professor of English in Berlin telling me about an experiment in socio-linguistics which suggested that a Dane needs to speak Danish for four minutes before another Dane can guess his social background, level of education and regional identity.  It is two minutes in France and about five seconds in England, and in fact I don't think we wait five seconds.  I think we know before a word comes out ...

In reference to the NHS National Health Service.

Preferable, Emma would say, to a healthcare system invested in profit from your sickness, ...

The width of the Coventry Cathedral tapestry proved to be problematic in finding the weavers that could weave that size.  In the end they had to go to France.

The Pinton family had a loom large enough for the whole work, five hundred years old, made of the trunks of two trees that were already full grown when the band of brothers fought upon St Crispin's Day.

Eli's tale of travel in the western United States.

He moved on again.  He didn't see why he should work so that others, equally young and strong, could lie in the sun.  Wasn't that why people had left Europe for America in the first place, to escape the parasites?

Thoughts that go through a parents mind about a child who has health problems.

Do you have a sense of impending doom?  Stop it.  Contain the fear in your own head, don't let it seep like fumes through the car. 

Yes, I thought we had inhalers for both girls, Mimi had her epipen, she was wearing her medical ID bracelet ...

The use of three stories though out her writing works very well,

I think the image on the front cover leads you to think that this is a Victorian or Edwardian story, but maybe it does just portray a fifteen year old school girl in her uniform.

It is a very well written story and I know I certainly enjoyed it.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Doomed to Disappear, Quest for Quality

Hi Dear Folk,

Yes it did snow overnight and we woke up to this iced wonderland, doomed to disappear as the temperature rose up into the 50s and 60s today.  It's dull and overcast, and not that we really need a fire, but it is damp and we are all home so to be cheery the wood fire has been lit.

My neighbour planted her garden to have colour in the winter and this bush is glorious, so had to go over and capture the beauty if you truly can.

We had a quest this weekend for a stand up clothes rack for the hallway. Really my quest as I am fed up with the coats being thrown over the stairs banister and although there isn't much room in the hallway, I will make it work.  There is a small closet but it's stuffed and when it's a coat you're using every day you just want quick access to it.

I was thinking IKEA but Mr. B. said let's check out a couple of thrifts, he had one in mind.  The man there did not have anything but suggested more of an antique shop that might.  I'm glad we went that route as we came across a lovely old wood rack with a delicate inlay all around the bottom and up the trunk of the rack.  It also has the old rounded hat hooks and two rows off coat hooks.  Some screws need replacing, as the old screws are flat head rounded.

It was all dried out, as they did not actually have it out on the shop floor but were using it in their office.  Mr. B. has it in the basement working his magic, he does a great job on restoring old wood, with steel wool and oils and stain.  The only problem with that is it may take a while to dry out totally and actually be able to use it, never mind.

Probably I would think from the twenties or thirties, look at the workmanship in the rounded flattened out hook heads.  So suits our house much more than IKEA, as was built in 1926.

Also in these hat hooks.  I'm glad Mr. B. led us down this path.


Friday, December 16, 2016

The Philly Lark

Hi Dear Folk,

Can't believe I'm at the end of a second week of this commuting lark to Philly for work.  This morning I stood on the platform, we have no inside heated area, just a cover and some seats.  I was a few mins later than my normal arrival time and the train was not even sitting there, which is unusual, then a voice is heard over the intercom from nowhere that they might be delays up to sixty minutes on our line as there were signal problems.  Fortunately, as the temperature was at 15 degrees F., about five minutes later the train pulled in and five minutes after that they opened the doors.  Heaven forbid they should open the doors earlier than five minutes before you leave, although the train usually sits there for fifteen minutes as we are at the end of the line.

I am dressing much warmer for my commute and this shawl has come in wonderfully handy with my down coat.  I wrap it around several times and knot it in the front.  I look like a Russian peasant out of Fiddler on The Roof, but I'm warm and I don't care.  The spice/heather colour goes very well with my down coat.  Of course when you step off into the underground concourse area you look totally over dressed.

Did you see my Instagram post, Tupp moves around our house and will sleep in a certain area for weeks or months then leave and try somewhere else.  So for months she slept at night at the bottom of our bed, then she moved to the bottom of Rob's bed, then she moved to Rob's chair and now she can be found sleeping on Mr. B's pillow at the top of his head every night.  You just have to wonder what gets into their minds, of course warm and cozy is foremost.

Have been watching the newest version of War and Peace, and reading The Tidal Zone another Sarah Moss fictional book.

It's quite amazing the amount of reading material you can get through on almost two hours of travel each day.  I mean two hours a day multiplied by five is ten hours per week and in a month is forty hours and that's a whole week of work in a month commuting and reading so no wonder I'm getting through so much reading material.

A vendor took as out to lunch at Tir, Na Nog, this week, but was a little disappointed in my choice of Mahi Tacos, although really should one chose that in an Irish Pub?  But they came strongly recommended by others who had eaten them there before.  But unfortunately it seems they were not up to standard.  I know I should have gone with the shepherds pie or the fish and chips, oh well.

Well the sun is out, although they are calling for snow overnight, we will see.

Take care and have a great weekend.


P.S.  Here is the story of Tir Na Nag
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