Off again but taking the laptop with me this time, so I hope to keep blogging. However, just in case, I've been having fun making ice candles and will leave you wih some photographs :
To see more about Making Winter click here www.silverpebble-jewellery.blogspot.com
Julia sent this link to the poem Marginalia by Billy Collins who was America's Poet Laureate in 2001.
I'd not come across it before and love it. Thank you Julia.
I looked into selling my books on Amazon. Opinions vary.
One argument against goes thus: by selling for a very low price on Amazon you are doing some small second hand book dealer out of business. This may well be true. The same is sometimes said of charity shops.
One argument in favour is that you may be keeping books out of landfill.
I'm not much wiser, and the books have gone to Oxfam. That way at least four people benefit. I get space. Someone gets a voluntary job sorting them.Several people get a book they want at a bargain price. Someone else hopefully gets something they really really need. Win all round.
How do you dispose of unwanted books?
A joke from florist and blogger Miss Pickering http://misspickering.blogspot.com
How do you spot a blogger?
They are the ones photographing the food instead of eating it.
Tee hee - I don't think I have done this yet! Or have I?.....
So what has happened in a year in the world of books, since I last took an overview of mine?
Well, lots of writers of blogs are producing e books, some free, some for a nominal cost, and some now selling through Amazon, rulers of the book world. Interestingly there still seems to be the demand for a hard copy. Seth Godin talks about his vision of the future of books in this 26 minute interview (poor sound quality) with Leo Babatua - www.zenhabits.net/seth/
Kindles and i Pads have improved and are cheaper. Some friends are enthusing about the Kindle, it is undoubtedly a space and shelf and weight saving option. Let's just say it's not on my Santa list for this year.
I have ordered the illustrated version of The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. Far from cheap editions and Kindle being the death knell of paper books, I like to think that books will once again become desirable objects to treasure and give as special gifts. I think this one may come into that category. Beautifully bound, it looks like a little work of art on its own. And it is a book I think I will reread more than once.
Some independent bookshops still appear to be doing well. Take a look at www.persephonebooks.co.uk which has an interesting website, and closer to home Bookpoint in Dunoon www.bookpointdunoon.com which has a wide choice of books and an ordering service, a book group and author events. They also sell my cards!
What do you think will be the future of books as we know them?
PS The Hare With Amber Eyes came today, and I have to confess I am a little disappointed. Small things - it doesn't have a dust jacket which I do like on a 'special' book, the binding isn't as out of the ordinary as I'd thought, and the illustrations are not captioned on the page where they occur, which means you have to break from your reading to look them up at a table in the back of the book. It kind of spoils the flow. Also I had hoped to be able to see much more detail in the photographs of the netsuke, but they are not big enough. However, for the Amazon price of £14.49 (rrp £25) including postage, it is still a very nice buy. Shame I have to send it back because it has a big scratch on the cover!
Making room for the new, while keeping the best of the old.
What I am aiming for, I remind myself, is to know where each book is, and to be able to put my hand straight onto the book I want without having to move anything else first. I didn't quite get to that point last year (still have 9 shelves with books stacked two deep!) But I think maybe I can achieve that now.
The other aim is to have relevant books, books which represent who I am today, not who I was x years ago. I don't know who said this, but I really like the concept. It helps me to be selective. And current.
(I did get down to one row deep on all but 4 shelves. Next year....)
Sorted bookshelves are now high on my list of life's simple pleasures!
Looking at last year's blog for late November, I see I was having a major sort of my bookshelves, so I took a look, and yes, it needs done again.
Taking down the books a shelf at a time, I can see that some which I kept last year really could have gone and would not have been missed. That's good to know. They can go this year. They can go today.
It should be so much easier than last year, sorting the books! I can see me making it an annual November task. Draw the curtains on the cold wet night, switch on the lamps, pour a glass of something and work my way through the shelves.
Last year it took a week (I blogged about it from 25 Nov - 5 Dec!) this year I think I might do it in two, maybe three evenings.
Question 3 from Marie at http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com is
What was the first plant you grew?
For me it would be those daffodils from school (see 13 Nov), and somewhere I grew that mix of Virginia Stock and Night Scented Stock which all children seem to grow here in UK. It must have been on Dad's allotment - another delicious perfume memory.
I also remember the smell of tomato leaves. (If you like that smell too I can recommend Feuille de Tomates soap from Sarah Raven, expensive but lasts ages and it is exactly that scent.)
The soil, the colours and perfumes, the abundance....it was all very sensual and such a contrast to the streets where I lived and the back courts where I played - so for me there was a sense of magic and other worldliness about gardens and gardening that has never left me.
By the way, are you a lark or an owl?
....and did I mention the cakes in Berlin?
Another thing I love about working from home is having a slow start to the day.
I'm no lark.
It's a dark and windy morning, a powdering of snow on the tops.
Gentle light, no alarm clock ringing...
And a slow breakfast.
Maybe there is something to be said for dark winter mornings...
And being an owl.
I'm delighted to find that Andrea Jones has included ten photos of our garden in her new book!
I'm also thrilled to be in the same pages as many of my landscape and gardening heroes - van Sweden (who has written the introduction), Charles Jenks, Piet Oudolf, Beth Chatto, Dan Pearson, Dan Kiley, and - greatest of greats - Thomas Church.
This book is both useful and beautiful. (Meeting William Morris's criteria for worth having in your house....)
One of the best things about being self employed is the flexibility it gives you. On a day of brilliant sunshine, like yesterday, you can get out there and catch up with the work later. These were some of the lovely sights at Benmore Botanic Gardens and the beautiful reflections in Loch Eck on the way back.
So glad we went, as today it has poured all day long...
I hope you are getting some winter sunshine.
I am somewhat stunned by Berlin!
My mind is reeling with impressions of a vibrant, colourful and edgy city, with layer upon layer of history and meaning at every turn...
both very old and very new, though as a visitor it is hard to tell which is which as so many old buildings have been rebuilt after the bombings in the second World War.
Daniel Libeskind's vast Jewish Museum is an astonishingly expressive and emotional piece of art itself..
Though I found this tiny memorial in a pavement very moving.
Or more contrasts?
The Nolde Foundation exhibition was so beautiful, the sophistication and simplicity of the presentation if anything heightened the emotional content of Nolde's 'unpainted paintings' executed in secret when he was banned from painting by the Nazi's.
The cafe culture and food and drink, the Staatsballett, Ka De We (Harrod's only better), the excellent public transport, the friendly neighbourhoods with small shops and markets, parks and children's playgrounds, galleries and artisans...
Have you been?
What were your impressions?
How long did it take you to recover?!
Early influences - who and what inspired you to garden?
Can you remember?
At primary school in Glasgow each autumn we were given three daffodil bulbs and a bag of bulb fibre to take home and plant and look after and bring back to the classroom in spring. I loved that. And my mother would grow hyacinth bulbs in glass jars. The smell of them reminds me of her still.
Another clear memory is of a border in my Gran's back court of dusty thin soil with clods of horse manure on it, and nasty smelling French marigolds. I think I knew even then, aged about four, that it shouldn't be like this!
A more positive memory is of bringing home armfuls of flowers from my Dad's allotment - that abundance was very exciting. The smell of dahlias and chrysanthemums reminds me of Dad. And an aunt who lived in the country grew wondrous sweet peas - that perfume makes me think of her.
I can see why I love scent in the garden!
Who or what inspired you? Do share....
See the full set of questions by Marie at http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com
I recently found 66 square feet http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com a blog by Marie, a gardener, garden designer and writer whose patch is a small terrace in New York. I enjoy it partly because her gardening environment is so very different from mine. Each month on her blog she puts a list of questions to guest gardeners.
They really got me thinking....and I thought, if you are a gardener, you could be my guest and answer them too..
The first question is
When did you start to garden?
I started to garden for myself with nasturtiums in two window boxes in my first tenement flat in Glasgow. They were the only window boxes for miles. They were gorgeous.
I probably had a patch on my Dad's allotment, but I don't remember exactly what I grew, though I do remember a lot about the place. I would have been 7 or 8 years old I think.
We did mustard and cress on blotting paper. That counts doesn't it.
When did you start to garden?
I'm hopping about the seasons lately! Spring on Wednesday, winter yesterday and autumn today.
It's a good time to preserve some of the beautiful autumn leaves, before a gale comes along and blows them all away.
The beech leaves in the jug have been in glycerine and water for about 10 days.
I love this jug, a Habitat purchase from years ago.
She, I think of this jug as 'she' (indulge me!) is a sassy lady, down to earth but glamorous too, one hand on her hip.
The leaves will last for ages.
The leaves on the table were pressed last autumn between layers of newspaper and put under a rug and forgotten about till now. With japanese quince, tiny crab apples and suitably coloured candles,they make a nature table table-centre.
I know, I know. I'm the one who says December is plenty of time to think about Christmas! But I bought this Christmas decoration today. It reminded me so much of Su Blackwell's magical paper sculptures, although this is a much simplified version. See them again here http://sublackwell.co.uk
I'll give you three guesses where I bought it....and now I'll put it back in the box until December.
As we finally get around to putting in the bulbs (it's been so wet!) I've enjoyed reading some of Dan Pearson's articles on gardening.
I think he is up there with Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd as a garden writer - how is this for a description of sunflowers laid low by a storm -
The sunflowers were smashed and shattered....their faces lying in the mud like a legion of freshly felled soldiers.
See the whole article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/oct/16/dan-pearson-sunflowers-tall-plants
Thank you Oxlip for the link http://www.oxlip.com
I expect I shall be doing more garden reading than actual gardening for a bit. Do you have a favourite garden writer to recommend?
Have you ever had the experience of being stalked by a pair of shoes on which you clicked in an idle moment while browsing in an online shop? M&S is the culprit in this case - I found those shoes appearing on my screen every time I switched on the computer. It seemed no matter what I was doing, up they popped.
I had already decided to buy them at the store, so the even more annoying thing was that they still kept appearing, randomly, for weeks, even after I had bought them! (You can just see me at the computer, can't you, shouting ' I've already got them!' ) Oh dear.
Mobile, debit card, computer, CCTV..the degree to which we are all being tracked, online and off, is quite alarming.
When you think about it.
Which I don't too often do..
It's a funny thing a blog.
A funny name for a start - short for web log - an ugly word a number of people have said.
As a blogger (an even uglier word!) from the statistics on my website,I know how many people are reading each day, but I know very little or nothing about you - other than that you too, are perhaps seeking a simpler life!
I've just come across a gadget which can show on the blog page a little map of the world with red dots representing the people who are reading at that moment.
Fascinating. I am so curious about my readers - I would love to know where you are!
Should you, as a blogger, be tempted to have this interesting gadget note that 'free' ones expect to place advertising on your blog page, and that while you can see where your readers are, the suppliers of the widget (another less than beautiful word) are also tracking you....
....tomorrow - have you ever been stalked - by a pair of shoes....?
Make something of yourself
Make love, not war
Make hay while the sun shines
Kiss and make up
Make an effort
Make do and mend
Make the best of it
Some to avoid perhaps? Make a pig's ear of it, make mischief, make a mountain out of a molehill, make a mess, make excuses
Or just make another North Point :
Making Winter as a cure for winter blues is a great idea (see www.silverpebbles.blogspot.co.uk ) and it got me to thinking about how making something can be a cure for any kind of blues, or if not a cure a step towards one.
Making a pot of soup, a batch of scones, or a new vegetable plot....according to Gretchen Rubin at www.thehappiness-project.com even making your bed every morning can make you feel happier.
Making an especially good job of something quite ordinary.
Making something for someone else.
Making a list always cheers me up - even more if I actually do something that's on it!
Does making something make you feel better? Next time you feel a bit down think 'What can I make?'
If all else fails don't forget that good old British solution, and make a cup of tea....
It is now less than seven weeks before the days start getting longer!
We were so engrossed, heads down making our North Point on the shore, we didn't see this lovely ship approach, and were surprised to see it quite close in.
It made me wonder what is was like to stand here on this beach in the 12th century and to look up and be surprised to see the first Viking longboats arrive, not knowing who they were, friend or foe....
(click on a picture to enlarge)
Here is an idea for Making Winter (see yesterday's post).
I've mentioned before that we sometimes make what we call North Points when we go somewhere new....it began in an idle moment in the Lake District....
All you need is a compass or a good sense of direction and whatever you find there on site. I'm off to make one now!
Winter, I have to confess, is not my favourite season. It has it's charms, and I adore the snow, but here on the west coast of Scotland winters tend to be long.
So I was delighted to come across this project Making Winter the idea being, if I've got it right, to not just get through winter (which has tended to be my attitude) but to embrace winter by celebrating and sharing the positive aspects and by, at the beginning of each month from November to February, making something - something wintry but fun....sound good? See more here http://www.silverpebble-jewellery.blogspot.com What a good find!
Now what can I make? Well I've already described how to make snow lanterns (see my Cards page) but that has to wait for snow obviously, but I like the sound of those scented pine cones on Emma's blog - lots of pine cones around here....
Will you join in?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)