No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Monday, June 27, 2011

The delights of seeing

Those who can do, those who can't shop.  Or at least that's what I did yesterday rather than knuckle down to anything more productive.  I went to my local flea market in mid-town (of green foot stool fame) and was not disappointed.  It always amazes me what people want to get rid of.  Who, for example, wanted nothing more to do with these fabulous women?

Imagine what it was like to train as a nurse in 1922.  What it took to think about doing that.  I find these pictures endlessly fascinating.  And the best part is that the Allegheny General Hospital is still there in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, still training nurses.

These women had names like Red, and Fran and Vi and some look quite formidable.  But I wonder what their lives were like and if they liked what they were doing.

This is a sister picture of one I scored at a flea market just after we came to New York three years ago.  I have to admit that I was taken with the name more than anything:

And the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago is still thriving.  We came across it last year when we went to Chicago for the weekend and I whooped when I saw it.  These pictures will now live together in my hall.

They both remind me of a photo taken by Walker Evans that I love...

... shown in this book.

I pass my Moody Bible people every day as I come and go and every now and then I stop and study their faces.  I tell you, endlessly fascinating.

Someone has also thrown out this plate, which came home with me yesterday.

It's a Vera.  Until yesterday, I didn't know who Vera Neumann was but the seller seemed to know so I went along with it.  I just loved the pattern.  I'm having a real thing for mustard yellow at the moment.  I think one of the rooms in the little old lady house will be a shade of mustard yellow.  And this plate will live there.

I also finished a tentative first draft of my story.  I  may tinker with it a bit this week, but I am minded, in the words of Zadie Smith, to step away from the vehicle.  I read one of her essays yesterday in Changing My Mind that the best thing an author can do when they have finished a work is to shove it in a drawer, preferably for a year, but three months will do.  All to do with making the transition from writer to reader, which helps the writer see more clearly how to edit the work.  It's tough to do, but it really pays off.  So, what I'm saying is, don't be looking out for me in the New Yorker any time soon. :)

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fits and starts

This crafting business feels a bit like learning to drive.  Intermittent brief periods when I feel like I actually know what I'm doing, interspersed with long sessions where all I do is kangaroo hop, lurching from one project to the next, before grinding to a halt, getting nowhere.  And if fit is the opposite of start, then I am having a protracted fit.  I am not doing anything.  I was going to tell you about the growing list of projects that are waiting for me, but that's a bit depressing.  And I'm not sure I have anything better to tell you in its place.

I am busy.  I took a week off work and flew to England for my niece's first communion, which was just lovely, and then went home for a few days to my parents' house.  The first time in three years.  I have seen my parents lots in the interim, but always somewhere else.  And the few days passed by in a blur of shopping.  Not idle shopping with lots of coffee breaks in between, but focussed shopping that felt a bit like work.  I went to only three shops.  And spent HOURS in each.  I met a very nice woman called Sharon who helped me figure out how to use the Ikea kitchen planner.  Sharon had an ikea kitchen, but she told me her husband got custody in the divorce.  I spent what felt like days in John Lewis.  I am clearly getting old, because I wouldn't have been seen dead in John Lewis two decades ago and now would basically be happy if I never shopped anywhere else in my life.  Well, almost...  I bought mattresses and a dish washer and a cooker.  All at good reductions.

None of this means that the little old lady house is actually mine yet.  Oh no.  The bank is still faffing around ticking boxes.  And lest you think I've completely lost the plot, all the kitchen planning is still notional, and John Lewis, being John Lewis, have a no quibble return policy and will keep all my purchases for months before delivery for free, allowing me to take advantage of their sale prices at no risk.  (You see... amazing!)  And now I am back.  And I am knackered.  A week off work and lots to show for it, but I can't help but feel a bit cheated.

Anyway, there is one good thing which I am secretly very pleased about.  I am writing again.  Not blogging (clearly).  But writing - short stories.  Or at least a short story.  And that makes me happy.  Even if it's not very photogenic.

More soon.

(My niece painted this picture on the Big Day, and I can't resist sharing it with you.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Handmade Renegade

So, moving on from the emotional sideswipe of the Queen's visit to Ireland...

Last weekend, the Renegade Craft Fair came to Brooklyn.  How exciting!  This is a fair that moves around the country, only coming to Brooklyn once a year (though I think they might also do a special Christmas fair as well).  So, I've been excited for weeks about this, and imagined all sorts of goodies to buy.  And it had been hot as a furnace all week, so I thought if anything it would be too uncomfortably hot for a stroll around.  In fact, I covered the market at a sprint because it rained.  Not the kind of rain where you simply can't justify venturing out, but the kind of drizzly rain, where you convince yourself that it's just about to stop and you end up damp and cold for your effort.  That kind of rain.  We sat in a cafe nearby for ages and nearly went home.  But I could hear the stalls across the park calling to me, and in the end I convinced myself that it wouldn't be fair to all those poor people who'd made the effort if I disappeared off home.  I probably didn't do it justice.  Each stall had about five seconds as I rushed by to attract me with its wares, and I have to say most didn't.  But I still managed to come away with a few treats.

Now, I will admit in advance that I am clearly going through some kind of escapist second childhood thing, because none of my purchases are exactly sophisticated.  But they all make me smile, and right now, that's important.  So, here goes....

An owl, called Severine (though not by me) made of recycled jumpers.   Wonky and cute and the kind of thing I should give to a baby.  If I had a baby.  Or indeed knew anyone with a baby...

 My new favourite mug, because it feels so good with a pot belly in my hands, because it's white on the inside (I don't like mugs where the tea goes a funny colour because the inside of the cup turns it green/pink/anythingotherthanteacoloured).  And because it's got an owl on (I'm having an owl moment.)

But my favourite thing of all, and the most daft by a mile, are these:

Aren't they just the business!  I've never seen a russian doll set anything like this.  And every one of them makes me laugh out loud.  I mean who could resist?

A chicklet with an Elvis coif!


They now live on a bookshelf in the hall area between the living room and the hall to the bedroom.  I pass them at least a dozen times a day.  And they crack me up.  They all have that expression of "how the hell did we get here!?", and I have to say I sympathise.  They are clustered in front of some pretty heavy-weight books because, after all, I am a Serious Person, with a Serious Job.  But right now, I'd rather me playing with russian dolls....

Mr. P. has decided that I have clearly lost the plot.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

National pride

P1010396.JPG (1200×1600)

It's a funny thing coming from a mixed Irish/British background.  I was born and grew up in Ireland and moved to the UK when I was thirteen.  My father is English and my mother is Irish.  If I am honest, most of the time, I feel too English to be Irish and too Irish to be English, forever bobbing somewhere on the Irish Sea.  

110517_queen_visit_3a.jpg (405×304)

I was away three weeks ago so it was only today that I watched the highlights of the Queen's visit to Ireland on RTE, the Irish television station.  It was about 10 minutes' long.  And I cried the whole way through.

I'm not sure I can articulate why exactly.  My family has never been touched by the troubles (no, I don't like that expressions either, but it's a convenient shorthand for the nightmare that some went through).  I remember sporadic reports of armed robberies on post offices which I now understand to have been related to funding the IRA.  And I have a vivid memory of a day out in Dublin when I was ten, where we got caught up in a hunger strike demonstration.  There were men in balaclavas carrying cardboard coffins and, for a brief panicky moment, we lost my Mum in the crowd.  But apart from that, we were as far from being 'involved' as it was possible to be. But at school, in practically every lesson - history, literature, religion, sport, music - we were expected to remember our past.  And as the children of an English father, this wasn't always easy.
It's years since I have consciously thought about all this.  I have travelled extensively and lived in many places where other nationalities, with their histories, have influenced me more.  But I have to tell you that, watching the images of the Queen visiting Croke Park, sitting under a picture of Michael Collins, laying a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance, I had tears streaming down my face.  I am Irish and English, and proud of it.

image-215907-panoV9-vdif.jpg (520×250)
(Needless to say, the photos aren't mine for this posting.  They all came from Google images.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

At it again

I have written before that my natural instinct is to looks to books as having the answers to everything.  I am busy decorating my little old lady house in my head (the finance and legal bods haven't registered the same sense or urgency), and I am accumulating a small collection of books to help me do this.  I love these books.  They confirm my view that it is cool to be rummaging through flea markets and craft fairs for that special something that speaks to me and will make our old lady house ours.  And they have such pretty pictures...

(if anyone knows where to get this picture of the Queen, I'd love to hear from you :)

This kitchen belongs to Aurelie Mathigot, the crochet queen, who seems to be able to make just about anything with a hook and yarn.

And I love this yellow collection where the grey slate is such a fab backdrop to the blossom and retro kitchen ware that you might not look at twice on its own.

I also crave the simplicity of this kitchen set up.  If and when we ever get this house, I'm planning on plain white cupboards to counter level and shelves on top.

I had vague impressions of this kind of collection for my own sideboard when I bought the Danish vase last week.  But the best thing about Decorate is that it has got me thinking about room plans.  So I have enrolled Mr. P to draw up rooms to scale and cut outs of our furniture so that I can literally play house.  A poor substitute for the real thing, but still...

I love this Ercol-style furniture, and have unearthed a fab nest of tables on John Lewis's website.  A girl can dream...

More cupboards with shelves overhead, this time from a house in Brooklyn...

And finally the clean lines of this house from Perfect English Cottages.

I know there are hundreds of websites out there with just this kind of inspirational content.  And I do look at them.  But to me, there's no substitute for settling down with a cup of tea or a glass or wine to lose myself in these pages.  I love the weight and feel of them, and how the content slowly reveals itself as I flick through.  And I usually have my ipad on hand to search on ebay or look up an idea if the inspiration hits me.  So hooray for books, I say.  It's also a little bit more than that.  In truth, I am having a shocker of a time at work at the moment and burying myself in these books, dreaming about my old lady house by the sea, is just the antidote I need.  If only the money and legal people could get their act together...


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Treasure at every turn

Hello everyone,

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on my iPad case.  I'm glad you picked up on the temptation to sling it in the back of a cupboard.  I just couldn't find a cupboard deep enough to stop the nagging voice that I could figure it out if only I tried hard enough.  Nothing if not dogged...

Anyway, I am back from my travels, safe and sound.  I would love to tell you about all the great things I saw and did, but I spent a week going from compound to compound and not seeing anything more exciting than airports (of the non-glamourous variety) so nothing much to report there. 

But we have had a lovely long weekend here with Memorial Day so, when I wasn't sleeping, I was out and about, enjoying having Mr. P back with me, and generally making the most of a hot weather weekend (it finally stopped raining...). 

And I have treasure to show you.  First up, this fab leather footstool bought for a song at my local flea market. 

Isn't it just the business!  I LOVE the colour.  (Anthropologie has a beautiful club chair in just this shade of green leather with each button covered in a different fabric that I have been coveting for the longest time.  In truth, a green chair might be too much, but the footstool is just perfect...)  And it really brings out the green in the faded old cushion cover from Designers Guild that I've had forever.  And it's got those great metal tips to the legs.  We found it at the end of a trudge through the market in the very last stall.  Exactly the kind of thing that keeps me going back week after week.

(We will draw a veil over the fiasco that was the Manchester United v Barcelona match, watched after we found the stool.  Nuff said...)

I left Mr. P. hiding from the heat on Sunday to go back to the Brooklyn Flea.  Treasure at every turn.  A Royal Denmark vase...

... and a partner for my other tapestry picture bought there a few weeks ago.  (I sense a collection in the making...)

... and this lovely Arabia marmalade jar.  (I saw one when I was in Australia but left it behind and it has been nagging at me ever since, but if anything this one is even better with its gold accents...)

And finally, this lovely bowl bought in a charity shop for $1 last night.

This weekend, I am promising myself not to go to any more flea markets.  There's no end...

Loving catching up on all you blogs.  I missed them while I was away.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...