Finding Her Place

Over the last year or so our elderly cat has witnessed everything around her change. We have packed up the house for earthquake refurbishments, unpacked partially for a family Christmas, had the old driveway and paths removed and replaced, packed up some more for new carpet to be laid, unpacked some more to get ready for the sale of the house, and finally a full pack up and various stuff being sold and taken away over the last few weeks in Christchurch. After that she had the indignity of being packed off to ‘boarding school’ while we moved to Nelson.

When I say ‘indignity’ I exaggerate. The cattery in Avoca Valley  is fantastic and she always comes home relaxed and well after being cuddled lots and being indulged in a second breakfast to keep her skinny self at the same weight she came in at. It is a good thing she is such an unrattled character. Despite her deafness, lack of teeth, and only one good eye, she doesn’t seem to be afraid of much. Perhaps at her time of life she has seen it all before! This is a good thing, because the next step will have been a completely new experience, and I was a bit nervous about it for her.

Cat came to us as a stray, from the local cat lady down the road. We joke and say we are her retirement plan. She was quite deliberate in her campaign to get into our lives. Cat started off sitting on our front verandah, sunning herself and saying a very vocal ‘Hello,” as we walked past. We didn’t mind, there had been a stream of cats of various ages over the years who played and fought in our garden, and they were both beautiful and entertaining. We really didn’t want to add a cat to our household though, feeling that we would like to enjoy the freedom of deciding to go away for a few days here and there without the worry of providing care for a dependent creature.

We had not considered the persistence of a small furry feline! She hung out for a few months, but as the weather started to change she looked a bit unwell, and we got concerned for her. Then it snowed and we found her sheltering in the garden and looking miserable. We decided we would feed her and make a nest in the back porch, where she could get shelter and stay warm. Perhaps she had a home already and we were in danger of poaching someone else’s pet.

A couple of days later I looked out the back window and this scrap of a cat was sitting under a bench seat in the snow, all hunched up. I went out and a great big black tomcat leapt from her nest and took off.  So we let her in and that was that. We were hers, and now this was home. Two doors down from her original abode, probably where she was born. Still in her neighbourhood but in her known environment.

Now we were taking her from everything she has known into a completely different place. The only things that might be familiar would be ourselves and the furniture. After a six hour car journey. Poor thing, I was very nervous about how she would be but she was a real trooper. After an escape in the car, a throw up, and a couple of deafening howls, she went to sleep and didn’t wake up until ten minutes before I got to our new home.

It turns out that after a couple of days with big eyes and a slightly jumpy demeanour, she has made herself completely at home. Discovering new sunny spots to hang out in, places to sleep, and a determined approach to following us around in the garden and down the path, like a little dog. Perhaps she is getting more exercise with all the stairs we have, or perhaps she has a new lease on life with such a major change.

Whatever the reason, I admire her stoic acceptance of the changes that have come upon her. She can teach me some things about taking some time to find my own new places to enjoy the sun and take in this new place. To stop hurrying and rushing about trying to replace my old life’s patterns and places, but to sit in the sun and take it all in. Taking time to learn its rhythms, shadows, and scents.

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Treasures Revealed

I have a long history of dreams about secret rooms and abandoned derelict parts of buildings that are somehow mine. They feel very old, and sometimes they have people in historic costume and the furnishings match the period of those clothes. They aren’t surprised to see me, it is as if I have returned from somewhere else to carry on with things that are following their natural course.  Or, in the case of the derelict rooms, there is someone with me showing me the space which I want to restore, but things are too far gone and there is structural damage.

 

I am sure there are lots of insights to be drawn from all this, and I do reflect upon my life when these dreams show up, but I had an unexpected flash of the surprise I feel in these dreams as I was working in an overgrown wee space at the back of the garage in our new house. It is a shady spot, tucked away at the back, with access from a door at the back of the garage. I can just see a table and chairs out there, which would be perfect to take a break from working in my yet to be built studio/workshop. Perfect alone, or perhaps with a couple of people doing a workshop with me….

 

All around the edge there are overgrown hedge plants which were blocking out the light, and pressing in on the space, so I took to them with a pruning saw and a pair of parrot beaked loppers. As an enormous pile of  debris mounted I  began to see sky above me, and some pretty interesting plants in the undergrowth. There was a tamarillo with beautiful red fruit on it and a feijoa doing battle with other more nondescript plants. But best of all a fantastic green cymbidium orchid with not one, but three gorgeous spikes of flowers on it.

 

I had been feeling a bit tight about the small amount of garden here. It is very carefully arranged to make the most of the structure of the space around our strongly structural house, and I was feeling just a bit constrained, given my previous fairly wild approach to gardening. Suddenly there is  a perfect treasure revealed in the overgrown hedging, and I feel the same excitement that  those dreams about hidden places bring me.

 

There is a way ahead. Soil that looks pretty good, lots of plant material breaking down, shady and damp. There are lots of lovely woodland flowers that might do well here: hellebores, violets, perhaps there are some native plants that could fill a space or two. I am so relieved to find a spot that I can build something new into, something that will feed that part of me nothing else does, something that makes me feel like I am coming home.

 

This new house of ours is such a young house, but there will have been plants growing on the land for a very long time, and I can become part of that ongoing story while adding some history to the house. I am reminded of my own brief span in this life, shaking off the tightness around my heart as I start this next part of my journey with a better sense of excitements ahead. A hidden room discovered, and a shared walk into the future.

Treasure revealed

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Upping sticks and off to a new home

Appropriately for so called gypsy week here in New Zealand, we have joined hundreds of sharemilkers and their herds as they move to new farms, and shifted to a new home in sunny Nelson. Needless to say, we have no cows, but we do seem to have an inordinate amount of stuff and chaos reigns as we unpack and are faced with trying to reassemble ourselves in a very different house from the previous one.

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This new home of ours is perched near the top of a valley, with trees in one direction, and a lovely view of the sea and mountains in front of us. It is very diverting. Every time I look up the light has changed, the sky is different, or the tide as gone out or come in…. I am never going to get anything done!

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All this loveliness has come our way after deciding to up sticks and move to warmer, less stressful Nelson. We have had a very trying few years following the earthquakes in Christchurch, and our story is amongst the less distressing stories to be told. This last year has seen my husband take early retirement when the company he worked for restructured, and lots of work on our lovely villa in Christchurch before finally putting it on the market a couple of months ago. Our daughter and her family live here in Nelson, and they are expecting twins in August/September, so we have an added incentive to be here!

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Leaving Christchurch has not been without its sadnesses, we have family there too, and I am going to miss my friends and all the folks at the Silversmiths’ guild as well. But it is an exciting new start after 20 or so years in one place, and I am looking forward to new inspirations, and new additions to our family to enjoy when they arrive. I am also anticipating lots of visitors coming to stay, and the chance to share the quietness and beauty of our new surroundings, and perhaps being able to bring a little refreshment from the worries in Christchurch.

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It is remarkable what a difference it makes having faces that look back at you without the tight expressions we have become accustomed to. People are just going about their normal lives without too much on their minds, enjoying the day they find themselves in without  the backlog of worries that Cantabrians are carrying. Even if your particular experience has been relatively easy, you are all too aware of those who still haven’t had their homes weather proofed, claims unsettled, and land and houses still suffering from flooding, subsidence, or slow collapse as they face their third winter without respite.

We are among the lucky ones, and I am grateful, but also feel sad and a little guilty, as if we are abandoning ship. A version of ‘survivor’s guilt’, perhaps. Sometimes knowing when it is time to go is as hard as knowing when it is time to stay.

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A Wee Break

We often have a bit of a holiday at this time of the year. With the cat away having some time at the vet, the departure of family after staying with us, and all that EQR fixing things up palaver, we were quite in need of a wee break. Steve has also recently retired, and it is our wedding anniversary…. do I need any more reasons?

Mainly it was the absence of our little cat demanding food and attention that led me to diving in and seeking out a spontaneous few nights away. I did a trawl through some websites and found Bookabach, and the delightful Pink Pippi, at Karitane.pinkpippi-bach

We have driven past the Karitane turn-off many times, but have been on the way to Dunedin and not had spare time to explore. It was such a beguiling turn-off, a lovely tidal inlet with birds and the occasional boat reflected in the water. So, I booked that bach, and it was gorgeous! Cute, a woodfire inside, the tide going in and out right at our feet, wide open skies, and magnificent weather. pink-flowers stained-glass

We settled in for a lovely breather, time to catch up with ourselves, walk, cook, eat treat foods, explore the area, and take in lots of beautiful scenery. Three nights of going to sleep with the ocean in our ears, stars above us, birds calling, no traffic noise, and nothing that had to be done.

I woke early on the second morning, and leaving Steve to sleep, watched the sun rise. Dramatic, clouds melting into orange skies, all reflected in the water below. I even managed to get my paints out and have a little play.sunrise-2 sunrise-table

As the day unfolded we had pancakes for breakfast and found our way down to the sleepout to sit in the sun on the deck. incoming-tideSome reading, some idle chat, a bit more with the watercolours. Bliss!

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The best thing about having a change of scenery is the way you get to look at things in a fresh light. There is nothing to call your attention away from the looking, and no guilt from all those annoying jobs that are just crying out to be attended to. Pure, unadulterated enjoyment of the things that catch your eye. Food for the soul, the playful part of you that fills you with a sense of ease. No strings attached. More of this, I think!mermaid's-necklace dr-suess

A great wee break, filled with treasures!

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A New Spring

Spring seems to be making an early arrival this year with the daffodils in my front lawn glowing yellow against the grass this morning. We have had some really mild, sunny days for July, warm sun on my face but still a nip in the air. It is still possible to have a snowfall so complacency must be guarded against, the winter woollies staying close at hand for a while yet.daffodils

Lots of changes here at the moment. We have finally had the repairs and painting done post 2010/2011 Earthquakes here in Christchurch, which means the house is now full of boxes waiting to be unpacked and things put back in their places. There are a few painting jobs that we are doing while the rooms are empty-ish too, window sills, skirting boards, even some fresh paint in one of the bedrooms.

From this

From this

Everything feels a little strange and unfamiliar, a sort of pause before something new happens. A clearing away of old things, reconfiguration of spaces, a fresh perspective as cobwebs are cleared away and corners that have been covered up for a long time are

To this

To this

exposed and cleaned out. There is sadness for the passing of the old and a hopefulness as I turn towards the new.

This next phase is a real opportunity to think about the experiences I can mindfully create. It is really the first time I have had the knowledge that I can create my own life experience. My life started following my father’s postings around the world, and I grew up seeing that the wife’s job was to support the husband and maintain comfort and order in the home for him. You never question how your own family is, as a child you assume that it is the same for everyone, some sort of imperial ‘truth’ with other people’s variations and levels of success at doing a good job.

So I guess that is how I have modeled my own experiences. Husband first, children next, the larger family, whatever social/spiritual groups that you belong too also having their say about how things should be done, and full time work…. With my particular personality and character it has been so easy to disappear amongst all that.

My expression of love for those that make up my life has been to put their needs first, and I have loved being able to do that. Watching everyone come into their own lives and finding their own paths has been a wonderful journey, and continues to be so. I love that they are free to be exactly who they are, knowing that they are loved and that they can talk about anything without fear of being found wanting by me.

Now I think it is time for my own journey to take a more forward place. Time for filling the next decade with great experiences. Looking for somewhere to live with the things that delight me, where I don’t need to squeeze things into the spaces around other people’s lives, means I can take time to work out what is important to me. It is a novel experience, and I am looking forward to some surprises!

My colours were a surprise to some!

My colours were a surprise to some!

There may be a few surprises for those around me too.

Colour for my Inner Child

Colour for my Inner Child

I wonder how others approach their lives as they go through different stages. What inspires them and colours their choices.

Posted in choices, colour, creativity, family, flowers, grandmother, inspiration, life, memories, risk taking, transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Catching Up

have been remiss! Summer has been busy with Christmas, New Year, various birthdays, and Easter, and now I find myself entering Autumn with a familiar feeling that it is time to slow down a bit and take time to prepare for the coming winter. With shorter hours of daylight, and the end of daylight saving, there seems to be more time to spend inside and I feel more like writing a few things down!

So, what am I up to, and what have I been doing?

postcards-for-KatRight now I am participating in The Liberate your Art postcard swap and awaiting some lovely cards to make it to my letterbox. This year I worked out that Vista Print’s notecards are the same size as their postcards, you can print on both sides, and they come in a minimum of 10 cards, instead of the 100 I had to order last time. This is great for me, I ordered 5 different sets and I am very happy with them. I have included a couple of photos from our summer excursions as well as a picture of a piece of my jewellery amongst them and am not overwhelmed with piles of postcards that need a home!

rose-wrearh-frontI am also making brooches for an etsy group where I get to post a brooch every week, and take a look at what other artists are making as well. I am enjoying the challenge of front-72keeping up with that, and am a couple behind at the moment. Sometimes life just takes over and I have to accept that! A couple to see here…

There are lots of things happening at the Silver Smiths’ Group I belong to as well. I spent a happy day at a workshop yesterday trying out some different ways to add colour to my metal. It was very interesting trying things out, and sharing my explorations with titanium too. There is something magical about watching the colours develop as you play the flame of your torch over the metal. It is so stimulating rubbing shoulders with others who share an interest. You learn a lot, and seagulls-1-frontget to laugh more than you do in your solitary pursuit of your art!

There has been a large harvest of tomatoes this year, as well. An unusually hot, dry summer has meant that ALL of my tomato plants were prodigious! We have eaten tomatoes in every form imaginable and my poor husband is only saved from tomatoes in every possible form of preserving by a lack of space, and a certain lack of commitment to the idea. I have given away HEAPS!

I am also working towards having some jewellery to share at my friend’s exhibition of paintings. Gaby  has been painting some beautiful oils of women in the guise of The Virtues. It is quite a challenge to live up to! We are hoping to be exhibiting at the Two Rivers Gallery  soon, and I really need to focus on the work I have planned over the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep you posted!

So, there we are, a brief catch up, and lots of material to revisit over the next few months. Plenty of other things as well, I guess I really have been busy!

Posted in art, colour, creativity, garden, inspiration, jewellery, life, painting, postcard swaps | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

‘What’s on my workbench?’ Wednesday – 2-1-2013

Life

Welcome to 2013, and wishing everyone a year with more laughter than tears!

I’ve been away for a bit with lots of Christmassy things going on. Family coming to stay and lots of cooking and catching up with each other has been fantastic, but now it’s time to look forward. It’s a kind of soul searching time of the year, a cool look at what has been working for me and what hasn’t, and what I want more of, and what a lot less. This crosses all areas of our lives; creative, practical, physical, emotional, environment… the list goes on.

I have been thinking about the way I make my jewellery. The things that light me up and the areas that frustrate me and make me critical of the results of my efforts. There is nothing wrong with a healthy ‘critic’ when it causes you to strive for better things, but there is a point where it is stifling and should be put in its place!

So what am I talking about? Well I am a bit chaotic in my work habits, I get in the grip of creating and reach for the tools and materials I need as I go along and tend to drop them where I use them and pick up the next thing – which leads to a heap of things all muddled up and needing a good tidy up at the end.

Do Better!

Do Better!

Most of the time that doesn’t matter because I am so enthralled with what I am making I just don’t see the mess! Then as I get tired, or grapple with a problem that needs solving, up pipes that niggley little voice that says ‘You’re not doing this properly…. you aren’t any good at this sort of thing, look at this fault and that finish….’ etc, etc. It’s a poisonous little voice because it’s never just about one thing, it builds and brings in all those other things that I think are less than great about me, my ways, my self, – and has a field day.

Well, here’s some news for the critic – I am not going to let it have its reins any longer, one word more than ‘ this needs a bit more to make it great’, and I will be sending it out the door to amuse itself elsewhere!

What brought that on? I decided to make something for one of my loved ones. I know what she’s interested in, and I had an idea that was exciting to me and some new materials to include. Usually I start with creating a bit of a pattern – silver is too expensive to waste any when I can work through some ‘bugs’ on paper first – and I did this with the element that was least familiar to me. But I have been discovering the pieces I enjoy most have a life of their own and develop as I go along, and since this was not a piece I was planning for sale, I decided to enjoy myself and play around with the design as I went.

Things went well, I have reached a place in my jewellery making where my skills are catching up with my ideas and that leaves room to breathe a bit. I wanted to use a mixture of metals and surfaces and managed to plan things in the right order to accommodate the different requirements of the materials … until I got to the end and it cried out for ‘just one more’.

Mocking

What do you call that?

Then the problems started. It was a bit tight working around some of the components, I mucked it up, scratched things, bent stuff, and had to take it apart and redo a bit. I was tired, had time pressures, and a million other ‘important’ things that suddenly needed doing. And that’s where the doubts came in. It was a doozey  of a battle just to keep going and finish the piece.

What kept me going was knowing that the person I was making this for would appreciate the process as well as the outcome. She also goes through the creative process and does battles with demons of doubt, all be it on a different scale of audience than my wee field, and that made such a difference. She loved her gift, and I trusted her response to it, especially as she told me she knew the effort that went into making something.

Mixed metals Brooch

Shannon loves me!

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All this to realize that my style is mine. The slightly irregular, not highly polished finish, and slightly ‘rugged’ appearance I like is perfectly fine . My tendency to jump from one theme to another is fine. My different expressions of style are also fine. We are complicated creatures and I like a lot of different things, and it is all FINE!

So, critic be damned, I am carrying on. There is room for improvement and growth, and mess is quite likely to occur! There are definitely things that will change to suit me better, and 2013 looks rather inviting right now. I hope yours is shaping up too!

Posted in colour, creativity, flowers, inspiration, jewellery, life, transformation, Uncategorized, What's on Your Workbench Wednesdays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Postcards from Kara Munro’s Swap

Catching Up!

It is that time of the year where things go mad, and I get seasonal migraines just to add to the mix. While the northern hemisphere heads into festivities in increasingly cool weather, we are having hot Nor-westers, end of the year school and club events, and burgeoning growth in the garden. I get a bit flustered and take on the personality of a flappy hen! However, I am attempting to maintain some serenity and appreciate the moment amongst the ensuing chaos.

So, here are the last 2 postcards from Kara’s swap. This lovely scene comes from Lisa, taken in Minnesota. Some pictorial serenity to inspire me.

And this great quote from Kara herself. I am so fortunate to be able to enjoy creating stuff, and there are days it is a real relief to be able to disappear into a creative space and simply enjoy the colours and forms emerging from my hands and imagination. Perhaps some of it makes a small positive impact on this mixed up world of ours :). I enjoy the sense of belonging to a creative cloud of folks across the world, even if we don’t really know each other. Something that goes beyond the day to day stuff we are involved with.

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“What’s on my Workbench?” Wednesday – Picking up the Pace

Lots of activity today, following a few days of being decidedly off colour. Obviously it was time for a break as I could barely manage to drag myself around. Yesterday I gave up and finished Margaret Attwood’s ‘Robber Bride’. Fantastic read, I prefer this part of her writing to her Science Fiction stuff, which I find a bit bleak. Probably too close to the bone for me!

Anyhow, faced with the eclipse to keep an eye on and some necessary work in the workshop I managed to cover a bit today. It is sunny but cold, and I have some of my energy back so it has been pleasing. I have been meaning to make some little rings for a while and today was the perfect day to have a play around. I find rings a bit of a mission because I never know what size to aim for. My own fingers are fairly big so if I make them for me, most people want smaller ones! Once I had a group of Japanese girls want some little ones for them, but no-one else has such dainty fingers in my circles, and they are still with me!

All that to say, these are adjustable, to a degree anyhow. So hopefully there will be some smiling purchasers! They are cute, and the flowers will go with the little earrings I made a few weeks ago. So, voila!

Sweet silver rings

Sweet little rings for pretty fingers

Close up of the flower rings
Little flowers for your fingers

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New Postcards Arriving

The first three of five postcards have arrived from Kara Muno’s Swap

It is lovely getting ‘real’ mail with the halloween adverts!

Fort Worth, Texas

Lovely Pink Flower

This is from Melissa, from Fort Worth, Texas. It is a gorgeous colour and it did make me smile, thanks:)

Albuquerque

Indeed, making a living is quite different from making a life!

This is from Shari from Albuquerque. Another burst of brilliant colour, thankyou!

All the leaves blown away

Minnesota

Finally, inspired by Minnesota sunrises, this came from Wendy. A chilly, leafless wood under a pink sky. Wendy has a blog but I can’t make the link work   brownink.co  where she inspires people to handwrite. Perhaps someone can comment and give me the proper link. I think it would be a shame to see handwritten letters disappear from our world!

I can’t wait for the next couple to turn up in my letterbox, and wonder when mine will turn up at their destinations.

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