Sunday, 28 February 2010

Notes on February: a month in numbers

My February in numbers:

1 = the number of live performances watched. Last night we went to see comedian / writer Alex Horne's ' Wordwatching' show which was so much fun. It involved lots of talk of words [my idea of bliss] along with mention of sans-serif fonts and a pun about someone being 'beaten to death'. Maybe you had to be there, which actually you can be - here's a list of his remaining tour dates.

1 = the number of books he signed [and singed - long story] for me:

3 = the number of times I've redesigned my blog header, removing my original [loud] one for something quieter and more 'birdy'. And I'm probably not quite done altering things just yet.

£5 = the amount I paid for these beauties:

After stating two days prior that I would like a pair of blue leather shoes how could I resist when I spotted these on the sale shelves? OK, so they're not leather .... and the wood is fake ... but they are shoes and they are blue and for £5 I can forgive them anything else.

7 = the number of months I'd let pass in between haircuts! Check out the date of my last cut as I made note of on this page:
July 09!! Unbelievable. I'd decided to grow my hair long, so had been putting off visiting the salon ... which then closed down and I lost touch with my hairdresser ... who's the best I've ever been to. Luckily I found her through Facebook and she and my follicles have been reunited at last. As of last week I'm back to my usual wavy, wispy self:
8 = the number of pence it costs me to check my emails on my mobile phone - a feature I have only just set up after having the phone over a year!

Lots = the number of times I've thought "I'll just check my emails on my phone ...because, you know, there might be something quite important that I neeeeeed to see right now" since setting up the email feature on my phone after a year of surviving without it!

64 = the number of the bus I was waiting for when a strange man started talking to me ...

I could just tell by the way he was pacing around and kept looking in my direction that it was going to be me he spoke to despite the fact there was already another woman at the bus stop.

When he did, inveitably, speak he asked if there was a bus due. We were at a bus stop. There's always a bus due. Not that I was that facetious with him. I was perfectly convivial, after all, you just never know when a strange man at a bus stop might turn a bit ..... what? Hostile? Bizarre? Over-familiar? It's possible. Maybe.

But not in this case.

It turned out that he'd recently bought a digital box for his TV but it didn't work. So he'd had to come back into town to get a replacement which he now had in a carrier bag which he'd twisted around his hand. I furrowed my brow sympathetically when he stated "But it's the cost of the bus fares, isn't it?" as he didn't look like a man who could afford too many unexpected deviations from his budget.

"When are we going to have some summer?" he said, tentatively smiling at me as I shuffled about, rubbing my cold hands together. "Not yet!" I replied. Smiling back. When the bus came he gestured for me to board first and once I'd sat down a part of me just knew he would sit in front of me.

Which he did.

I thought that I knew he was bound to take advantage of having me as a captive audience and proceed to turn around and talk for the whole trip .... and I'd feel embarrassed if other passengers saw and heard and stared at me .... thinking things about me while he talked on and on .... But that's where I was wrong.

He didn't.

He didn't say a word. Didn't turn around once. Allowed me my own space to travel and think in peace. Once he'd got off the bus, a long way before my stop, he had to double-back on himself and walk back past where I was sitting: him on the pavement, me still in my seat. Yet again, I knew how things were about to play out: we would look at one another through the bus window, registering the fact that we were both decent, friendly humans and we'd politely nod, smile and acknowledge that we both existed. That we were both visible.

And that's exactly what we did.

You see, he wasn't a madman; a druggy; a nutter; a fruitcake; stalker; rapist; murderer or psychopath. He was simply a middle-aged man who'd saved up and treated himself to a digital box from a catalogue shop, which didn't work, causing him to make a trip into the town centre, a trip which he probably didn't make very often ... and he just wanted to tell someone about it.

So he told me. And I'm disproportionately happy that he did.

1 = the number of times I almost burst into tears on a bus after nodding at a stranger ....

So, farewell February. Salutations March; my, what a freakishly busy month you are going to be.

Julie :)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Overheard: Nursing students? Or not?

Male student 1: My brother can’t burp

Male student 2: Is that a physical thing?

Overheard in campus library: 14.05.09

Photo: Danny. 10.07.09.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Quote: Populating solitude

He who does not know how to populate his solitude,
will not know how to be alone in the bustling crowd.

Charles Baudelaire 'Les Foules'

Photo details: It was a beautiful late afternoon and I spotted an elderly man with walking sticks looking out across the sand. I wasn't confident enough to stand there and brazenly take his photo. So I held the camera down at arm's length, pressed the button and hoped for the best. Whitby harbour. 14.09.08

Friday, 19 February 2010

Everything's Coming Up Roses


That's my Dad's nickname for me.

He gave me the name because, like the 19th/20th century garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, I've been known to while away the odd hour pottering around the garden. Funnily enough, her speciality was experimenting with colour schemes in her planting, an idea which suits me down to the ground [pardon the pun]. But I think that his decision to give me the name had little to do with that and rather more to do with thinking that calling me Gertrude sounded funny. Which it does. And that's OK.

Several years ago now, Dad discovered that there was an old English rose named 'Gertrude Jekyll' :

Image: David Austin Roses

Ever since then I've been planted in the garden of the house I grew up in, tucked in alongside the greenhouse. Pretty much where I spent my time helping Dad pot up seedlings and re-arrange plant pots in size order [OK, I admit that this last activity was just something I liked to do! Still do actually.]

Apparently Gertrude is a very hardy, reliable, short climber.

And so is the rose.

So, here's the next batch of prints added to my '365' pattern collecting Flickr project - appropriately themed:

Everything's coming up roses ...

[If you'd like to see any of the above images greater detail you can click here.]

Finally, I got to add something a little roseate to a scrapbook page last week too:

[The full page will be in the reader's gallery of the next issue of Scrapbook Trends [UK] Magazine.]

Overall this week, when I take into consideration the combination of:

  • acquiring a pair of rose-printed tights [such joy!];
  • booking myself into a workshop taught by Dina Wakley [too exciting] and;
  • receiving lots of positive feedback on my new regular 'quotes' and 'overheard' posts [much appreciated xx]

... life really is quite rosy right now.

[What? A pun too far? Too cheesy? Yeah, OK, OK. Just accept my apologies and we can both move on].

Oh, and just in case the title of this post has planted a tune in your head ... here's your chance to have a nice, loud and uplifting sing-a-long-a-Ethel-Merman.

J x

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Overheard: Wombling free

Overheard in campus library - 11.05.09

Male student to friend: I always think that librarians are like Wombles. They’re always picking up rubbish and sitting there reading.

Photo: mini-book page about the library at work.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Quote: A series of coats

A woman's chastity consists,
like an onion,
of a series of coats.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Photo: Me. Sweeping snow. 03.01.10

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Overheard: Talking to God?

Overheard: In an art gallery in Richmond N.Yorks. 19.04.08

Elderly woman talking to shop owner:
“Well next time he’s in, tell him I was impressed by Jesus”.

Photo: Sky over Seaton Carew beach 2.08.08

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Laminated accessories

Last September I posted a Laminated Paper Belt tutorial on the Banana Frog blog in which I mentioned that the prototype for the belt had been a smaller, more wrist-sized project and here it is. Made entirely from paper scraps scavenged from Hannah's 'bit box' the graphic circular designs of my focal points came from a vintage decorative dust jacket.

I also made sure the insides looked attractive too. Perhaps this was because I liked the idea of things being beautiful from all angles; perhaps because I thought I might like to have it on display rather than wear it all the time; perhaps because I've got skinny wrists and I knew you'd be able to see the inside even when I was wearing it. Perhaps.
I never entirely feel that a project is complete until I've added some text: A few border stamps, a laminating pouch, a snippet of ribbon and a press-stud later I had a finished piece:

*If you'd like a PDF of the Banana Frog belt tutorial, which covers all the key techniques I used to make the bracelet, I've made one available for you to download *here*.

Combining items of stationary with patterned paper ... to make jewellery? What's not to try??

J :)

Monday, 8 February 2010

Quote: Everything I Learned ...

Everything I learned about human nature,
I learned from me.

Anton Chekov

Photo: Me. Writing in the sea-coal. Seaton Carew beach. 02.08.08

Friday, 5 February 2010

Stripey. Stripier. Stripiest.

Stripe. Stripes. Stripey. Striped. Stripier.

When you've written those words as many times as I have today you begin to doubt your grasp of the English language. They are the right words aren't they? Even if they just look like nonsense to me now?

So, I'm having a stripey week this week and have been seeking out, photographing and uploading lots of striped items to my
Chasing Patterns Flickr set :
Stripey. Stripier. Stripiest.

After spending a day surrounded by it all I think we can add eye-ball-dazzling-optical-illusion-inducing to the list of stripy side-effects!

Two things I've learned from the exercise:
  1. I have a lot of stripes in my wardrobe. A lot.
  2. The designers at Gap must like stripes almost as much as I do [or they may just see me coming and add another striped T-shirt to their ranges].

Furthermore ... this stripe census is incomplete but I simply couldn't face digging out every striped scarf and pair of socks and pants I have!! Another time maybe.

Early in the week I posted this stripey, recycled carrier bag, brooch project to my Copy + Paste blog as part of the latest challenge:

8. Plastic Bags 'Jack Wills' rosette

Drop by Copy+Paste for more photos and details.

Ok then, I'll leave you to it while I grab a cuppa and put my stripey Vans up.

Stripey? Stripey? Str-i-p-ey??? Is that even a word???

;) Julie

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Quote: The Birds of Sorrow ...

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head,
but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.

Chinese Proverb

Photo: Me. Whitby harbour. 14.09.08

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Quote: No Bird Soars Too High ...

No bird soars too high,
if he soars with his own wings.

William Blake

Photo: Me at the foot of the ever awe-inspiring Angel of the North 14.06.08