Friday, July 20, 2012

Out to grass...

This week sees the end of my teaching career, after thirty-eight years.  I marked my last set of essays, taught my last class - hard to believe, but true.

Among other lovely things, my colleagues gave me this framed collage of book-covers: some of the many texts I have taught through these years.  No "Of Mice and Men", which I must have taught at least twenty times.  At the bottom, they have written best wishes to me in my retirement, but these are a little personal to share.  I was very touched.

All these books - and it has certainly been one of the joys of my job to be able to share these with groups.  But it is the young people who stay with you - those with natural charm and those without, many with terribly disordered lives. Their stories are unforgettable.

Meanwhile, on the knitting front, I have completed this cowl, in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.  In fact, I have knitted it twice as the first time I twisted the stiches .  I know that some cowls are made that way, but I wasn't convinced, so I took it out and checked more carefully the second time.  It certainly feels lovely and is a glorious blend of colours.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Family Values

It's been a strange couple of weeks.  First, the annual get-together of my husband's mother's family, and then an unexpected gathering of my own family for the funeral of my brother's estranged wife, suddenly no longer with us, and no older than I am myself.

My husband's mother was a patient needlewoman.  With two sons and no daughters, she spent time on household repairs of a kind summed up by the phrase "Make do and mend," before that became a trendy lifestyle choice. 

In her later years, she had pieced this quilt top which was passed to her niece on her demise.  Her niece is an avid hand-quilter who undertook to quilt the whole thing and add a border, also finely quilted.  I have admired the staggering workmanship of her other quilts.  Now this one has found its way back to us.  Visually, it is very dramatic.  I don't think I'd have had the persistence to complete either the piecing or the quilting.

The other day I bought this watercolour from the local boot-fair.  Something about the colours and the waves crashing up on to a headland reminds me of the farm house at Mawbray, just north of Allonby on the Cumbrian coast.  Apparently, they know it is a bad storm when the sea-water puts out the open fire on the hearth - coming down the chimney.