Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Goodbye 2019

Goodbye 2019, and good riddance.

I am so very, very glad to see the back of you.
You were unkind and you hurt me badly.

You were cruel in ways that were not necessary.
You inflicted pain that was truly not deserved.

You caused distress and suffering where it was not warranted.
You took too much and gave very little in return.

Be gone and good riddance.
You do not deserve any more of my time or attention.

You are an Annus Horribilis and I will not be looking back on you with anything but sadness and regret.

I am going to bed now and I do not want to see you again.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Winter Solstice

The Wheel continues to turn - three hours ago our little rock reached the point of apogee in her orbit around the Sun, and is now slowly working her way back.  However, thanks to the intricacies of astrophysics the Earth is actually closest (in miles) to the Sun on 5th January 2020.  Such timing would fit so nicely into the tradition of 12th Night, if that concept was not a construct of modern Christianity . . . I think the rhythms of planetary orbits were established long before that 😊

But the light does return, slowly at first - 90 seconds to 2 minutes each day in January, and about 2½ minutes more in February.  Today my latitude receives only 7 hours 11 minutes of daylight, but by the end of January that has increased to 8 hours and 41 minutes.

I think we could all do with some sunshine after the last few months.

Accepting that this is a time of hibernation, of slowing down and resting, of regrouping and thinking, has been a good thing to do.  Fighting the heaviness of this time of year just does not work, hunkering down does.

After the political turmoil and uncertainty of the last few months, who knows what next year will bring?  The fires in Australia are truly catastrophic and the damage to wildlife and the ecology of the Blue Mountains will take generations to heal.  Closer to home, last night there were nearly 100 flood warnings in place across the country, and despite dreadfully high winds and much rain over the last week for once we do not seem to be badly affected.  Small consolation for those who are.

We have heating and the house feels lovely.

Although we are not doing much 'different' from usual, the fridge and freezer are well stocked.

I am now swimming a couple of times a week and it is becoming a transformative (and very happy) experience.  I never expected that ðŸ˜ē

There is much clearing up, clearing out, and a slim chance that we might move into the next decade without a lot of the clutter and baggage from the current one.

Lots to give Solstice thanks for.

image from Pinterest, no copyright attribution available

You can read an excellent (brief) explanation of Perihelion here, which I think is fascinating, but I'm strange like that 😉 and I find all sorts of odd things interesting.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Oops ðŸĪŦ

I only went to get eggs . . .

But these little darlings positively begged to come home to Bag End.  How could I refuse?

They are made by a local lady, a farmer's wife, so the wool is local too, not just the needle-felting skill.  I was very restrained, and could easily have bought more.  ðŸĪķ

How perfect - Christmas decorations which have travelled barely ten miles.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Supporting the local economy

Ice first thing this morning and had to scrape the car before I went to this:

Warm, quiet and all MINE ðŸĪŠ

Once home, Management and I took advantage of a couple of hours half-decent weather to pop into Keswick before high wind and rain returned.  We did not go with any agenda, but still succeeded in supporting the local economy.

Stripey Sheep, aside from gear shops probably my favourite store in the town.

The Orchid House.  I only dragged M. in just so I could have a few minutes revelling in the eye candy of this place.  The store displays are sublime and I succumbed - but all the ornaments were half price, it would have been silly not to!

No money changed hands, but lots of laughs and very useful conversation in Alpkit about wetsuits and all things outdoor swimmingy.  And some of the best stairs we've ever had the fun of running up and down.  And great signage too.

and there may have been a bit of a cheese-binge in Booths on the way back to the car . . .

With Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday this year all the traders are looking forward to things getting very busy this coming weekend with visitors arriving for the holidays early enough to do lots of "last minute shopping" before the 25th.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Snow day

Whenever our gorgeous view includes snow on the hills I play a game with known features and an OS map and work out exactly how low the snow-line is.

I don't need to do that this morning - it's low!  Not a single little chilly snowflake at Bag End, but all the 'big' fells are thoroughly covered as well as the lower slopes which often do not get as much.  A peep at the Cumbria County Council weather cameras showed various roads to be as messy as expected.


I had thought of going out but didn't really need to, so stayed at home.  In the morning low cloud meant lack of contrast and we couldn't really see much.  

Even diminutive little Watch Hill above Cockermouth had a good dusting.

Later in the day things improved a little 😊

Zooming in on the north side of the Loweswater Fells.

Right now I can hear rain and high wind, but I do not fancy going outside to investigate.  That either means all the pretty white stuff will wash away, or if it is cold enough on the tops there will be even more by morning.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Productive Hibernation

Scientists definitely do not know everything about everything, despite some of them thinking they do.  But I am quite sure of one thing - I am completely solar powered.  Panels on the roof of our house or campervan are nothing new. . . it dawned on me this morning when I'd been up more than an hour and it was STILL dark outside that I am solar powered and without enough sunlight at this time of year my batteries just never ever get fully charged.

Roll on Solstice.

But the enforced hibernation has not been a complete bust.  In the last few days I have processed all my outstanding images from 2016:
678 pictures
26 folders
7.87GB of data

which has resulted in 25 new blog posts which have been quietly inserted where they belong and a few more which have had additional pictures slipped in.  No fanfare, few words, but it helps to complete my record of life at Bag End.  I can think of one friend who can never get enough new pictures of Daisy (you know who you are 💚ðŸķ) and a quick look in the Blogger search bar for "published December 2019" will track down the new images.  ðŸ˜  I know there are a few errors, but from a 'Big Picture' viewpoint they are not important.

Of course, there is still 2017, 2018 and a small 2019 backlog to process; another 30GB of data - the trouble with shooting RAW is great images (photographer notwithstanding) but big files.  ðŸĪ”

But it has not all been computer work;  most of the Christmas decorations are up and whilst I cannot be bothered to get out everything there is enough that the sitting room and kitchen look fairly attractive.

The exciting minutiae of grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, et al, continues.  It might be mundane and repetitive but I never lose sight of how lucky I am to be able to do all these things, and have a warm, dry and safe house to do them in.

All that remains for today is the final of Strictly Come Dancing . . . I have watched this series more out of habit than enjoyment.  Is it me or does this season lack the soul and/or sparkle of previous years?  Glad to see Anton in the final - I cannot help wondering if it is a BBC-fix and this is his last year?  I would like to see him join the judges, or (better still ) replace Tess Daly . . .

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Still hibernating

Only ten days to go.
Counting down to Solstice and my year end?  Well maybe a little ðŸĪķ

Life is remarkably quiet at Bag End.  I am (hopefully) over this flu which took out the last three weeks of November.  There has been a little sewing, not exactly quilting - more pushing fabric around to see what happens;  the answer in both cases was "not a lot" so all has been taken down and packed away until the inspiration fairy returns.

There has been organising and tidying of boring things like desks - it has to be done and the payback is a clear, uncluttered space.

Also clear and uncluttered is a lovely space I have been visiting:

I do not always have the pool to myself, but when I am the only one in the water it is absolute bliss.

The weather continues to be absolute garbage - dull, chilly (sometimes), wet (frequently) therefore hibernating seems like an eminently sensible activity.  So we're just chilling, and relaxing, and no worrying - much - about the garden: apart from a little essential "running repairs" when high winds finally got the better of our big tarpaulin.   The fix will not last for long, but hopefully long enough (which means until we are in the mood to spend a day hauling logs).

The wind threw some furniture around but we seem to have got off fairly lightly, but on the upside the gales brought the last of the leaves down so we added a few more bin fulls to the leaf heap.

I know if I go outside to weed and tidy up when I really do not feel like it then little will be achieved over the course of a couple of hours and I'll be thoroughly tired.  If I wait until the weather is kind and I want to be outside then I'll get loads done and have enjoyed the process.

But on Monday this week the weather was kind for most of the day and I took the opportunity to wash both my car and the campervan - white vehicles and Cumbrian muck are not an attractive combination.

Monday, 2 December 2019

If you cannot do what you want, do what you can

Somewhere in the dim fantasy land which my brain spends (probably) far too much time in, I imagined that today would be much warmer and I could go outside and clean my car.  Really?  I have no idea where I think I saw a weather forecast that might lead me to such an assumption.  It was seriously-minus-something again last night and with a thick covering of high cloud as far as we could see there was small chance of it warming up later.

That also meant too cold to garden with much enjoyment, and definitely too cold to paint any more wood in the greenhouse.  So a "sewing room day".  Yay, messing around with fabric 😍 and  I finished up the first project to come out of the "sorting the stash" exercise:

This might have been a blog post entitled "I thought I was making   a    table runner".  That is the article “A” - singular, not plural or multiples thereof.  Things all started so innocently . . . well, they usually do.

When I was getting towards the end of the monumental task of cutting 20 years worth of scraps into ‘pre-cuts’ it occurred to me that putting all this wonderful fabric back into plastic tubs and storing those tubs on a shelf/on the floor wasn’t really going to advance my original position. It had been lovely to ‘revisit’ with some of these fabrics, remembering when and where they had been acquired, and remembering the quilts they had helped create. With rekindled enthusiasm it seemed logical to use some whilst they were out and I had lots of ideas brewing away. Whenever I am working with fabric my brain is going a mile-a-minute thinking up ideas, visualising layouts and colours and mentally creating about a hundred times more quilts than I could possibly ever sew - no wonder I am regularly so tired, it is busy in my head  ðŸ˜Š.

It also seemed logical to start with the very smallest set, that of 2” squares because I did not really think there were many of them. That may have been my first mistake - ha ha.

I just “knew” these little squares wanted to be Four Patch units, and it did not take long to sew them up with a variety of very pale white & cream based materials. I may have raided the stash of 2” strips to complete these . . .

Dangerously I had a clear picture in my head of a pretty little table runner to use in the sitting room. It all went wrong when I sketched out the idea and realised it only needed 16 units but I had created 48.  Oh well, clearly the Universe thought I should be making three runners, which makes perfect sense as we often have three little tables in the sitting room.

All the 2" squares were used up, and I got to dig into the 3½" squares and the 2" strips.

There was a reasonable amount of logic to the next step, although it rather went astray in the execution:  my idea was to add a smallish one-fabric border to each runner to frame the piecing, and use the same fabric for eventual binding. I found a lovely blue which seemed to suit (and I had enough of it which helps 😜). Whilst cogitating what size to make this border - which would quite likely be cut down after quilting - it occurred to me that a “double width” strip sewn to the inside verticals would create one continuous ’top’ that would be a lot quicker to longarm quilt than three small items.  As I was sewing on the first one I realised I was heading in a completely unplanned direction:

There was a small amount of hilarity with Management agreeing “oh, you’ve made a lovely lap quilt” and the jury has retired to consider its verdict, which will not be delivered until after the quilting is done. I really do not need another small lap quilt at present, and I could do with runners for the side tables . . . but we’ll see how it all looks later.

Backing prepared, binding sorted, and waiting for the no-man's-land between Christmas and the New Year which has been designated "longarm quilting time" in the hope that I will not be taking any unfinished tops into 2020.

There was something else unexpected to come out of this sewing - and that was the realisation  of just HOW LITTLE I have used of all the prepared fabrics.