26 September 2013

The Cup is Home.. again

The ORACLE team USA has won the 34th America's Cup.
This is the 30th time the United States has won the America's Cup
in the race's 152 year history.

 The first Cup winner — 'America' — during the first race
which took place off the Isle of Wight with the Royal Family in attendance.

As the schooner, named America, passed the Royal Yacht in first position, and saluted by dipping its ensign three times, Queen Victoria asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place.”Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply. That phrase, just four words, is still the best description of the America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence.

The trophy would go to the young democracy of the United States and it would be well over 100 years before it was taken away from New York. Shortly after America won the 100 Guinea Cup in 1851, New York Yacht Club Commodore John Cox Stevens and the rest of his ownership syndicate sold the celebrated schooner and returned home to New York as heroes. They donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.”  Thus was born the America’s Cup,
named after the winning schooner 'America'.
— America's Cup history [americascup.com] 
In 1930, the race was moved from the waters of New York to the New England coast,
where it continued to be held until 1983. It has since been held off the coasts of
Australia, San Diego New Zealand, Spain, and San Francisco.
New Englanders hope the race will return one day.
But for now? It's good to have the cup. Again.


19 September 2013


 Since this is Talk Like a Pirate Day,
I thought a little random Pirate history was in order.

Pirate Code of Conduct Bartholomew Roberts Shipboard Articles 1721
  • ARTICLE I - Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of moment. He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity may make it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.
  • ARTICLE II - Every man shall be called fairly in turn by the list on board of prizes, because over and above their proper share, they are allowed a shift of clothes. But if they defraud the company to the value of even one dollar in plate, jewels or money, they shall be marooned. If any man rob another he shall have his nose and ears slit, and be put ashore where he shall be sure to encounter hardships.
  • ARTICLE III - None shall game for money either with dice or cards.
  • ARTICLE IV - The lights and candles should be put out at eight at night, and if any of the crew desire to drink after that hour they shall sit upon the open deck without lights.
  • ARTICLE V - Each man shall keep his piece, cutlass and pistols at all times clean and ready for action.
  • ARTICLE VI - No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.
  • ARTICLE VII - He that shall desert the ship or his quarters in time of battle shall be punished by death or marooning.
  • ARTICLE VIII - None shall strike another on board the ship, but every man's quarrel shall be ended on shore by sword or pistol in this manner. At the word of command from the quartermaster, each man being previously placed back to back, shall turn and fire immediately. If any man do not, the quartermaster shall knock the piece out of his hand. If both miss their aim they shall take to their cutlasses, and he that draweth first blood shall be declared the victor.

  • ARTICLE IX - No man shall talk of breaking up their way of living till each has a share of l,000. Every man who shall become a cripple or lose a limb in the service shall have 800 pieces of eight from the common stock and for lesser hurts proportionately.
  • ARTICLE X - The captain and the quartermaster shall each receive two shares of a prize, the master gunner and boatswain, one and one half shares, all other officers one and one quarter, and private gentlemen of fortune one share each. 
Anne Bonny 18th c. pirate... one of many famous women pirates.
"No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them.
If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex
and carrying her to sea in disguise
he shall suffer death."

"The flogging will continue until morale improves."

18 September 2013

She returned with gusto

Susan, that is.  

Once again she graced the gardens with exuberance and much-needed color
at that point in the late summer when you fear the best of the season has passed. 

It's always amazing to see where she's extended her tenancy. 

Invariably I find clumps where there were none the previous year.

Throughout her stay I always have a small bouquet in the kitchen and another in the dining room. 

What unbridled optimism there is in a small bunch of her flowers.

But now even Susan is on her way out...

... I can always tell when her days are numbered because her stems and leaves start to have that wonderful pipe tobacco scent that fills the air as I walk past at night.

Scent, color, cheer.... she brings all three and what's not to love about that?

10 September 2013

The Inevitable Irresistible

There are every day items I see now and then in shops or at wayside thrift sales that I simply cannot resist purchasing. And despite having more than I need of any of these lovelies, I invariably bring more home.

Pretty pencils and colored stylus pens. I love sharpening new pencils and having them at hand to do sums at bill-paying time or keep track of knitting stitches. And oh how lovely it is to choose a pink, lavender or aqua stylus pen to write a card or note to a loved one.  Green for spring. Red for Christmas. Lavender in those deep sultry months of summer. Brown during the dying off days of Autumn.

Stickers.  Vintage sticker booklets are my favorite, especially the old packets of flower stickers I used to buy in the Five-And-Dime as a teenager and which I can still find in some stores. And I love the Dover cat, dog, and children stickers. When I use them on letters I tend to write notes over the stickers in bubbles... giving the characters something to say to the recipient before they even open the envelope.

New notebooks and pads of paper.  What promise they hold within their pristine crisp pages. I particularly love those with floral covers, vintage designs, or ones that look like old school composition tablets.

Quirky reading glasses.  They appear in random places around the cottage. Rhinestone, polka dot, lime green, cats-eyes, or Marian-the-Librarian. Something to suit every mood or mode of dress.

Greeting cards and Stationery. Pretty cards, funny cards, poignant cards, sporting everything from fine art to campy vintage photos with crazy captions.  (Two old ladies on a porch swing: "Ethel, is it butt naked or buck naked?") And I will never live long enough to send out all the note paper I've purchased over the years.  An over-abundance sometimes makes it difficult to choose ... but it's a lovely problem to have.  

Pretty paper napkins. As much as I love using my vintage linens, I do love all the beautiful paper ones there are. Bright blue with bunches of cherries, pale green with drooping magenta tulips, or cheery yellow with vintage seed catalogue ads.

Soaps.  Scented, embossed, oval, square, goat's milk, egg-shaped, round, French-milled, pink, ivory, lavender, pressed with flower petals or oatmeal. 

Hats.  Straw, canvas, large, small, knitted, woven, brimless, and a few that look as though they need landing gear.

Fans.  Paper ones, lace ones, laser-cut cedar ones, vintage ones, and flowered ones. Round fans that fold into a little metal holder and card fans on sticks with advertisements from years past.

Clocks. Alarm clocks, bedside moon-glow clocks, wall clocks, loudly ticking clocks, broken clocks, tiny clocks, clocks that look like they belong in train stations and clocks with images of cottage roses or schooners in full sail.

Picture frames. Wooden, metal, antique, miniature, ivory, glass. I would rather have my family photos in frames scattered around the cottage on various shelves and surfaces than stuck in a shoe box.

Baskets. Flat-backed ones that fit against walls or doors, flat bottomed ones that hold vegetables and fruit, square ones that hold magazines, and all the other myriad shapes for pencils, yarn, toys, Easter eggs, dishtowels, sewing notions, potholders, Christmas gifts, shoes, story books or guest linens.

Dish towels. Striped ones, vintage ones, plaid ones, floral ones, flour-sack ones, and ones with a loop to hang from a hook.

Yarn.  Sock yarn, shawl yarn, baby sweater yarn, mitten yarn, yarn that makes patterns so I don't have to think, yarn that feels like a lanolin-soaked sheep is cuddled on my lap, yarn that smells of sweet hay, yarn that I buy on sale or yarn that I scour, card and spin myself.

Knitting needles. Hand-me-downs, yard sale finds, bamboo or ebony needles, plastic needles with soft points, or metal ones that click and clack as I work.

Boxed matches.  The strike anywhere kind, the Rosebud brand with red flowers against green cardboard, or the tall ones in paisley boxes for reaching into the fire. And all the interesting ones taken from restaurants, bars and grills over the years. 

What is it about small, useful (or useless) items that speak to us and keep us from passing them by? Is it the touch of them? The look of them?  Their servicability? A feeling or memory they evoke? Whatever it is, I seem to be a slave to their beckoning from shop shelves and thrift bins.

"One wooden spoon doesn't really do it for me.
But collect fourteen of them and then things start to get interesting."

I totally get that. 

06 September 2013

The Delightful Miss Thirkel

Angela Mackail Thirkell (1890-1961) is a British author I have thoroughly enjoyed over the past few years, thanks to being introduced to her "Barsetshire" series by a friend...

...she kindly loaned several to me to read and recently made a gift of them when she was culling books from her library. My plan is to buy the entire series when I can.

Thirkell has an amazing pedigree of art and literature throughout her family tree... she was first cousins with Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin, and her mother was the daughter of Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones.

Following a finishing school education in Paris, Thirkell married James Campbell McInness. Not long after the death of one of their three children, they divorced. Upon remarrying, Angela and her new husband, George Lancelot Thirkell, moved to Australia where she began writing.  Her books were published between the 1920s through the 1950s.

The quirky aspect of her series is that she set them in the fictional English county of Barsetshire, created originally by Anthony Trollope for his "Chronicles of Barsetshire".

I'm not entirely sure if an author has ever commandeered another author's fictional location, including landmarks, buildings, and references to past history. All I know is that I adore Thirkell's characters' plights and escapades and find her books thoroughly entertaining.  Her writing is somewhat satirical and she, like Jane Austen, pokes fun at certain types of people and their village schemes and melodramas.

Not coincidentally, many of the covers for her novels published by Moyer Bell are either Pre-Raphaelite or Engish Impressionist paintings.

Angela Thirkell Society 

Life's little pleasures

Don't you just love opening a second hand book
and finding something like this inside.....?

05 September 2013


When I'm in just the right mood and the weathr is fair, I truly enjoy running errrands.  [Full disclosure: I do not have an automobile so 'running' errands for me truly is a biped activity.]

Last Friday was just such a day.... waking quite early, having my morning tea, greeting the latest Moonflower by the back door and then walking up the hill to the little "parade" of shops and restaurants that line both sides of the main street. 

I love the variety that awaits me there — a bakery, two banks, an Italian restaurant, an Indian take-away shop, a pizza parlor, a Thai restaurant, two Chinese restaurants, a milk store, various clothing shops (including a wonderful 2nd hand consignment store), a library, a toy store, an Olive Oil & Vinegar shop, several gift shops, a breakfast cafe, a photography shop, a drugstore, a wine & spirits store, a laundromat, and a dry cleaners.  What more could a girl want three blocks from her house?

I went to the bank to deposit some cash and checks.  I'm at the point where I finally trust the ATM machine to accept my checks and apply them to the right account. But I just can't bring myself to stuff cash into the machine with any hope that I will ever see it or have access to it again.  Call me old-fashioned.  The conversation is always the same when I approach the teller:

"You know .. you can deposit all this at the ATM." 

"I know."  [smile]

As I hand her my humble savings with a deposit slip I wonder why she doesn't have the foresight to realize that if I and others stop coming to her, she will be out of a job.  Ah well.

And then it was across the road to the drugstore, on to the bakery for something sweet to have with tea later, and then a brief bus ride further down the road to the Post Office to mail off a parcel to a friend.

As I walked home, my neighbor called to me from her window to ask if I wanted to go with her to a garden center and I countered with the suggestion that we do that and go to a job lot store.  Both are barely 2 miles from the house. I arrived home from our field trip carrying a new lavender Buddleia plant, a cheery blue and white canvas pillow for my patio chair, and a bright red composition notebook.  Small pleasures.

I will occasionally accompany a friend or family member to one of the big "bulk" stores to purchase butter, eggs and bacon to keep on hand—especially at the holidays—and it's fun to get lost for hours looking at all the different kinds of veggies, fruits, packaged foods and meats.  But for everyday living, I dislike the huge one-stop emporiums where you can buy food, tires, clothing, books, flowers, and do your banking all in one fell swoop.  I prefer the gentle meandering that comes from stopping at one shop after another, making my way down the road and watching as my carry bags swell with each purchase:  a sticky bun for my afternoon tea, a bottle of Merlot for dinner, a birthday card for a family member, and a bottle of Pomegranate vinegar for a friend. 
I couldn't have put it better if I tried.

Carry on.

03 September 2013

Be still my heart...

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits
Twenty-six knitting patterns inspired by the lavish sets and styling
of the hugely popular television series:

Indulge in luxury with these patterns fit for any aristocrat. Beautiful lace detailing, beaded embellishments, and classic colorwork mark these elegant garments and accessories. From airy shawls and blouses, to warm coats and gloves, you will feel like royalty with these knits.

These patterns reflect the more reserved of Downton Abbey. While the details are more subtle, they are just as engaging as the Upstairs patterns. From cable work to eyelet lace, the vests, hats, blouses, and jackets found in this section are casual yet sophisticated.

World War I:
Knitting was a huge part of war-time history, whether it was women knitting for the troops or knitting to occupy time while they waited for their soldiers to return home. Knit up a hot-water bottle cover that troops would have used or create a "V is for Victory" vest.

 Text and images from INTERWEAVE PRESS