Wednesday, 27 February 2013

HT 4: Embroidered tablecloth

It’s about time I continued my Handmade treasures series so I’m displaying this lovely embroidered ‘Sunday’ tablecloth my mother made for me as a present some 15 years ago.

My parents retired – or rather were made to retire – in their mid-fifties at about the same time they had their first grandchild. Thus they were lucky to have almost three productive decades to devote entirely to their own interests. Their most precious gems were the 12 grandchildren they were blessed with during the years but they had plenty of time to engage themselves in many other kinds of things such as crafts, both at home and on special courses their local community offered.

My mother had always done lots of handicrafts and she was very skillful in all the types she took up. Everything that ever left her hands was flawless be it sewn, woven, knitted, crocheted or embroidered, as you can see from the close-ups. She made many precious pieces for her offspring and as regards me, she always got it right. I love all the items she surprised me with, not that I didn’t love the ones I later inherited.

The square tablecloth measuring 1.5m has proven very versatile. I’m hoping it will last much longer than my time so I’m only using it on special occasions but it is the perfect size for our living room coffee table as well as the breakfast table in the kitchen diner. In addition, it fits our extendable dining table nicely crosswise when the table is set at 2m or less.

How could you not love an item like this? I have never tried any embroidery yet and I believe if I ever could create anything haft as beautiful and laborious I would be forever proud.

(PS. In one respect nothing has changed since the late 1970s: employers still consider the over-fifty-year-olds an undesirable burden.)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Luminous ladies

It was Oscars night last night but this time I didn’t even start to watch the show because for me starting would have meant staying awake through it all, in our case until 7 am. I can no longer take that without consequences. So I recorded the broadcast, took care not to listen to any news during the day and watched it this evening, on our home cinema screen of course. 

My favourite parts in this year’s show were Dame Shirley Bassey (76) performing ‘Goldfinger’, the first one of the three James Bond theme songs she has given her voice to, and Adele (24) performing her and Paul Epworth’s ‘Skyfall’ that later won the Oscar for Best Song, quite rightfully out of those nominees if you ask me. It is a thoroughbred 007 theme song for everyone to enjoy, catchy but sophisticated, and the glamorous Adele’s voice is pure beauty. The two British ladies were so luminous even Norah Jones felt somewhat lame. Quite a pair!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bright white

We had a beautiful sunny Sunday with a temperature only slightly below freezing point. If we are really lucky this was the prelude to spring. And if we are really really lucky, in a few months this landscape will be all yellow like I showed last year here. Isn’t life great!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Rollingly happy

Our dear old Jack was so pleased about the sun visiting us the other day that I thought he deserves a post of his own. Just like always when he is around, he followed me to our driveway eyeing a bit suspiciously from between the walls of snow towards the blinding blaze. As soon as he reached the sunny road leading through our lot a fit of happiness seemed to fill him and he started rolling from side to side at my feet turning his face towards the sun.

I wish I had realized to start filming at once. The first rolls went on and on. I did capture the few last ones and uploaded the clip on YouTube.

Oh, how simple a thing can make you so overwhelmingly happy and how easy it is to show your bliss when you are not human. Jack surely is my greatest mentor in leading a good life.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Checking for damage

It certainly was a good idea to complain about the cloudiness publicly: the sun decided to join us for a couple of hours the very next day.  For once, it wasn’t an enormous effort for me to go out of the door as there was proper light therapy to be had there for the first time in weeks.

We have so much snow it’s impossible to walk anywhere else than on the roads and other areas that have been ploughed. This is something I dislike in our kind of winter. Even if you saw something wonderful you’d like to go to, to photograph for example, you can’t because there is no way you can get close to the subject of interest. You can’t even wander in your own garden. I feel winter limits my freedom. That just might be one of the reasons why I prefer to stay indoors.

There are skis of course but as I’m hopeless as regards exercise, and Nordic winters in particular, I haven’t been on skis in I don’t even remember how many years. Perhaps I should buy new skis or a good pair of snowshoes for next winter. Not that I’d expect I would actually use them – and mess up the beautiful fields of white – but I might be happier if I knew I had the option.

I took a stroll around our place checking whether the recent period of snowfall and temperature zigzag above and below freezing point have caused anything we should worry about. The old cow house and barn seemed to be intact, or more precisely put no more harmed than it has been for ages. I even spotted the first faint pussy willows behind the building. Naturally, they were out of reach but the photo revealed this was, in fact, the case.

So only cheerful news about the barn but I am anxious about the lilacs. They suffered from last winter and didn’t bloom as richly as earlier and now the burden of snow is making them lean towards the ground on both sides of the long hedge. Something must be tried to save them. I guess I’ll have to repeat the lilac rescue operation once again – even if it will mean messing up my undisturbed white blankets

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

By bright light

Further to my post of yesterday, I can hear someone saying, “But what about bright light therapy?” Indeed, what about that? We do have a bright light lamp. It is one of the two devices we bought before Christmas as sort of presents to ourselves hoping they would help us endure winter we’ve found so hard to stand in recent years. The other one was the snow blower that’s now proven far more cumbersome than we expected, not actually a facilitator.

In contrast, mastering bright light therapy is easy as ABC. First, you introduce bright light into your daily schedule with sessions of at least 30 min; that is, you stay by the lamp for half an hour to get the effects going. Thereafter, an exposure of a mere 15 min daily should be enough to alleviate your symptoms of winter blues or even cure them altogether.

However, there is one shortcoming in this form of therapy: it is most effective when administered in the morning, preferably before 9 (or 10) am. A medium to wake me up and take me downstairs before 9 (or even 10) in the dark season – I tend to do some arranging upstairs, often for an hour or so, before descending to have my ‘breakfast’ – is yet to be discovered!

Luckily, I was farsighted enough to choose a dimmable bright light lamp that can serve also as an ordinary table lamp thus ensuring this purchase will not be completely wasted even if I were too lazy to utilize its potential. And there will be other winters soon enough, I’m afraid.

At least my daughters Maine Coon princess Sheena took the most of the lamp during her Christmas holiday with us. Sheena is such a nosy lady anything new and different fascinates her unlike her ‘brother’ who tries to keep cool whenever the ladies fuss about something. 

By the way, the news just confirmed what I’ve been feeling: we’ve had only 50 hours of sunshine in southern Finland since the beginning of December as opposed to 80 last year and 92 the year before that. This has, indeed, been the cloudiest winter in 25 years here.

(The photos of my daughter’s cats are taken by her.)

Monday, 18 February 2013

Light through icicles

I thought last winter was hard but despite our November holiday in Spain this one has been far worse for me, not because of the weather – it hasn’t been harsh at all – but because of the wearing lack of light. In the southern parts of the country where we live the sun hasn’t been properly visible in weeks.

Today, we were finally shown some indisputable signs testifying that the centre of our solar system is alive and well after all. Its bright light shimmered through the heavy layer of grey for a few short moments in the afternoon. A strip of sunlight actually entered the kitchen diner and dazzled me for a second or two, several times. More of that for me please!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Coffee with a friend

‘A cup of coffee can be the beginning of a life-long friendship’, reads this aphorism painted on the wall of a roadside café diner somewhere along the European route E4 in Sweden. We happened to stop there when driving from Stockholm to Helsingborg on our way to visit friends in Luxembourg several years ago. I believe the red wall is still there brightening the break of all kinds of random travellers. There’s no need to redecorate when you have this conspicuous a guarantee to make your customers’ day.

I hope you will be able to have a cup of coffee or a nice cup of tea with a dear friend today. And if you ask me it certainly never hurts to have something sweet on the side. A small muffin, just a tiny piece of cake, some ice cream or a little bit of chocolate perhaps.

Happy Valentine to you dear reader, random or otherwise!