Thursday, 29 October 2009

Two puppies made: a brother for Bobby

'' Will you lick or sniff that ladybird first or shall I do it?'' '' Do you think we can eat it?''
Here's Bobby's first brother. How come they are so different? Same pattern, same colours, almost the same yarns...Same maker. Brian has wool ears and tail and a crocheted nose, not an embroidered one... His muzzle seems longer, but maybe it's all in the stuffing?

They can both sit and both have a big smile on their muzzle.

Brian is more thoughtful, introspective, a careful planner....
And this is Pippa: post grooming parlour. Such chiseled features, aaaah.A little fuzzy as she wouldn't sit still, this is the best I could do today. She's in the middle of a pseudo pregnancy and wakes us daily at 4 am for some cooperative nest-building. Demands my presence as I was there for her first true whelping. So much for extra sleep in half term!!!
Another lovely day, kids have been baking marshmallow cupcakes.......Just like they did in August! Visitors tomorrow and parties on Saturday, see you again soon maybe Sunday, maybe Monday?
Hopefully will have some more crochet to share!
Have a happy few days.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Autumn leaves

Do you remember this row of trees? I took a picture here. It's a few weeks later and the colours are changing, some are even better, brighter now.
And this is the red Boston Ivy which with all the blustery blowy winds we've been having is no more, the red leaves are all on the ground.

It's been a lovely homey- kind of 2 days. The kids have made things with Fimo, trampolined a lot, built a den in Miss E's room and then spent many giggly hours playing in it. Miss E tried to teach Miss Y piano and vice versa for some cello too. Alas I have been poorly with a chesty cough and seemingly endless shortness of breath with frequent recourse to the Ventolin remedy and not enough energy for a trip to London. However mums cannot be ill, ever and especially not in half term ....
So we DID still have a quick and highly entertaining trip into Oxford , having chatty and observant girls sitting at the top of a double decker bus makes one feel alltogether better for a while! And of course the dogs still need their 2 good walks a day....
JJ said that a good show of berries means a harsh winter to come, but I hadn't heard that before?
If it's true, then oh dear oh dear, I'd better crochet up a storm of more blankets and jumpers!!!
Such a pretty sight: aren't they? Just before they get picked in order to make a wish... I expect these in Spring not in Autumn? When Miss E was about 3 I was teaching her all the flower names on the way to nursery one day and the next day she said: ''Look mummy these are some mummy -lions!!!'' I was perplexed until she explained that they were right next to the daddy-lions.....( !!!!)Oooh for those lovely innocent days again...LOL
Today there were riddles and jokes and MUCH lovely leaf kicking as well as tree climbing, while the dogs searched for rabbits and did ''puppy dashes''.
Just as good, only different. I must say hearing them chat and giggle is pure joy.
The dogs sometimes run wildly in a circle and back again and Pippa did this through piles of leaves so she'd picked up on the girls' fun when kicking through the autumn leaves.( =puppy dash)
Then Lucy who had watched in amazement copied Pippa and then they ran about together.
It was unseasonably warm- not to say weirdly HOT when the sun came out- as it was 18 to 19 degrees Celcius today.....I was shivery and JJ stayed home with a temperature, but the girls were in summer t-shirts.
Lots of leaves, kick, rustle, kick.
And I'm not a yellows or orange kind of a fan, but on a sunny day with a blue sky these are just sooo glorious!!!

Pippa in long grass: Now you see her.
Now you don't.
And yes I cheated a little, I forgot my camera today and took these before Pippa was groomed a few days ago.
Late afternoon to relax all 4 of us, we went to see ''UP'' the film and very enjoyable it was too.
With 3D glasses on and sitting in the front row- we were almost too late and these were the only seats left- we all forgot our colds/headaches/sore throat/drippy noses....and cried and laughed or screamed with the characters and the action.
Puppy # 2 was finished today but no photo yet, it's interesting how similar and yet different they look. Tomorrow I'd like to crochet a santa suit for the above bear....
Depending on the sleep I get and the progress of shaking off this bug I'll share with you how I get on with it, real soon.
Have a happy hookey time !!!!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Sorting Out Day...

Aaaah, what do you think? A gloriously sunny day dawns ans I thought these leaves looked just like celebratory BUNTING!!! All those lovely triangles and sharp diagonals, and those greens....

Hip hip hooray the kids were singing this morning: first day of half term....
This didn't last long: we'd agreed to ''sort and organise'' Miss Y's bedroom in preparation for a new very grown up bed ( very studenty it can look like a sofa when nicely made up) and a proper grown-up 3 door wardrobe....
But to ensure there was room and to facilitate some throwing out and giving away ( to Oxfam) of outdated/unloved toys etc as well as lovely but ''too childish now'' books we had planned this as a sorting out day. ( supposedly all 4 members of family would work as a team?? LOL
Oh dear what dramas we have had! Miss Y ( like me alas) is a wee hoarder and found this a very testing and trying time. Then again she re-discovered soo many beloved toys and games that I could wrap them for Christmas and she'd be delighted!!!( No I won't be so mean but it is a tempting thought...) There were 2 huge baskets of stuffed cuddly toys, one of large ones and one of medium sized ones and then another smaller basket of the tiny ones....
And whose idea was it to give her an Argos catalogue??? Her Christmas list is already over 2 miles ( and no I'm NOT kidding) long!!! Apart form being a hoarder she had a massivley acute attack of the ''wanties''.

Happy dogs were a welcome relief I can tell you! Here's Pippa in her customary pose when meeting any human. She's in her cute cuddly teddy bear phase, but I'll take a new photo because she had her 3 hour stint at the doggie beauty parlour today and is looking rather different.

Magnificent but with a lot less hair....!!!All those blonde curls on her paws are gone. Lucy is still working on her dominance strategy and moves to the driving seat the minute I move out of it.''What do you mean you're back?I'm driving home today!''
OK OK, I'll come back and sit in the back, I don't want to walk all the way from here.

Tonight after dinner JJ was persuaded that his help would be appreciated as he had promised the entire day off, but had spent it in his office on the phone/ answering e-mails all day- WHY do blokes do this??? Promise and book a day off and then hide away from the domestic stuff by working anyway???

Luckily he was great at the tidying and speeding it all up and we were all cracked up with laughter as it HAD to be done in flashing pink spectacles!

He's measuring walls so we can decide where the new- much bigger and taller- wardrobe is going to go... And me too in silly glasses as it helps in the fun: looking rather tired as I was up at 5 am with a whining nesting Pippa....She demanded to be let into my workroom to curl up on some piles of fabric. That's the old 5 am so it was probably only 4 am? OUCH! I am finding myself very very tired by 7pm and don't like the dark afternoons we now have!!!

It always takes me ages to get used to British Wintertime even if it does give you an extra hour in bed, but I have no problems adapting to the Spring change.

I will try to alleviate these long dark afternoons/evenings by planning some intensice crocheting and film watching/ fireside times!!! It's too dark to walk the dogs, even if I have bought them ''blinkies'' : which are flashing lights for their collars.

Yes really! JJ declares the sorting and tidying to be complete and the pink flashing glasses absolutely essential.

I just hope the rest of half term is a bit more fun than this was, mmmmm.

Have a really LOVELY week and I may be a bit late or sporadic depending on how the kids are.

We've got shopping and creating, skating and visiting to do as well as a trip to London and some entertaining.

See you soon? Have fun!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Puppy amigurumi

On a windy, blowy, blustery day in Oxfordshire, but not in the 100 acre wood, a little puppy was born....Bobby!
As named by Miss E who instantly decided he was made for her...and her alone... Until Miss Y saw him and decided the same. He is however destined to be a Christmas gift in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes....
He was started on Tuesday this week at the S&B where I completed his 4 legs and part of his body. On Wednesday he gained a completed body, 2 ears and a tail, part of his head soon followed. Today( Sunday) he acquired his muzzle and was assembled and completed.
Ta Dah!!!
He's not my own pattern: he's from the pattern called PUPPY PRAM STRING from the book Weekend Crochet for Babies by Sue Whiting. Available from most libraries or here.
I made him from DK pure wool with bamboo ears and tail and embroidered with DMC soft cotton. His tail and nose are my own slight variations as I wanted him to have a tail that could wag happily.
He is my FIRST attempt at a toy/amigurumi....I fell in love with the picture in the book and so he's been on my ''MUST DO'' list for quite a while now.
Hop, skippety,hop: I'm soo happy!!!Isn't he CUTE?! I can see I'll be making many more!
He may be a little overstuffed? I was concerned as ''as a puppy pramstring'' ( and thus pictured a-dangling) I was not sure he'd be able to stand by himself, but he can!
He's 9 cm high and 11 cm long, Up to his back is only 6.5cm.
3.5mm hook and it's all dc's ( sc's for USA)
I've already started on his litter mates...Black and tan,black and beige, beige and tan....Or maybe some in primary brights?! Yellow,green and blue? Red,blue and orange?! These latter ones would NOT be for the operation Christmas child- might frighten the kids- but my kids and their friends would be OK with it.
I feel a dachshund variation coming on: shorten the legs, lengthen the body( and slim it down a bit), longer tail, squarer longer snout ( or muzzle) and who knows?!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Down Memory Lane- social history- family only.

This was taken yesterday morning in a fleeting moment of dazzling sunshine. I took many more but each time the pesky sun flitted back behind clouds at the moment my camera( with it's 9 second delay before each picture) was ready. Hence most of them are not worth using.
It's those yellow leaves: WOW.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning in readiness for a cosy and nurturing home for Half Term! And while I scrubbed, hoovered, tidied and dusted I ran a story in my mind. That is when I wasn't singing along to the radio... but I digress. I went down memory lane and thought I'd share it with blogger, except it's going to be VERY dull and BOOOring to most/some people so I apologise unreservedly: please move on as this is really FOR FAMILY ONLY.
I won't mind and I promise I'll have something crafty/crochety and interesting again soon.
Meanwhile so as to keep family reading I have posted a set of random photos from 3 years ago to amuse. It's the ONE and only time we did this for a Christmas card. To go with the annual update for old University and other friends....mmmm yes we don't do those anymore either.
Pippa was a puppy 5 months old .

OK so yesterday was exactly halfway in the year to my next birthday, A VERY BIG birthday. An event that in the Netherlands is celebrated with a very special cake. I know this because my Dad had one AND a special party just before he died a year or so later....
Anyway here I am thinking about what to plan, how to celebrate and how very much has changed since my birth and childhood.
Then in addition a school in Aylesbury is celebrating this very same birthday THIS year and a flyer proclaimed the following:
1. you could buy a house for £2,500.
2. Cliff Richard was in the charts with Living Doll
3.A MINI went for sale at £500
4.The Barbie doll was launched
Where to begin? Mum and dad met after the war as mum's friend had been a penpal to my dad who was hiding in French caves in the French Resistance and later in a Swiss sanatorium as he'd contracted TB. The friend( my godmother) took mum as chaperone to Holland to visit dad after the war and mum and dad fell in love. Mum moved to a small country town first to live with dad's parents and later in their own home. It was a domestic life where to be respected your front step had to be spotless and scrubbed DAILY. Mum even got up at 4 am one day to hang out the washing so as to be the first with her washing on the line was a good and upstanding thing to do! It was a ''beat the neighbours at this game kind of thing.''
From having his own business with his brother- inherited from his dad: more of this later- my dad sold his share and went into teaching, got his degree and his postgraduate degree by evening study and became a lecturer in economics. We moved from the small home-town to The Hague and later to Wassenaar. I was an ''accident'' and should have been a boy as it was my mum's last chance for her great wish for a son.She had her first daughter in London as she wasn't going to have her first baby in a foreign country!My middle sister and myself were born in the Netherlands as this was 5 and 9 years after her first girl. The first delay was planned as this was the advice in those days for a Rhesus negative mother having Rhesus positive babies.
Like I said: I wasn't planned. Ooops. Not sure telling this to a small child is helpful, but hey I survived it. For years I just did not understand how I was an ''accident''...
Born more than 2 months prematurely I am very blessed and lucky to be alive because I set a new record for the local hospital: youngest baby to survive at that time.The attending paediatrician stayed by my bedside day and night and worked a miracle. For the first few weeks my parents didn't name me as they didn't think I'd make it. Then my father's Sarah was rejected because mum argued that as he was supplying the sirname it was her right to choose a Christian name.
I am also extremely LUCKY to be as I am as during pregnancy mum had terrible morning sickness and as she had recently visited England where Thalidomide was all the rage at the time, she came back to her elderly country GP in Holland and demanded to be given some.This GP refused stating that he did not ever consider prescribing any medicine to a pregnant lady, unless it was a life threatening condition. Mum was furious, but was told to go home and if feeling sick to stay in bed and have a cup of tea and a biscuit until she felt a bit better.
My childhood was a very happy one, strict but loving where study and good behaviour were rewarded.Our pocketmoney depended on the grades we achieved at school.I walked to the primary school with the neighbour's children,there was never an adult with us. Sometimes I walked home alone.I cyled to secondary school with friends or by myself. Mum didn't have her own car until I was in my teens and she only used it for shopping. There was no ferry-ing as we do as parents now. We got ourselves to our sports,dance or art classes by bicycle. My older sister would cylce me to guitar lessons with me plus guitar wobbling on the back of her bicyle- through the very centre of The Hague! We did not have any helmets.
We were free to come and go and play or cycle anywhere as long as we let mum know.
We weren't ever supervised.
We did a lot of ice skating in winter- on the canals and streams and rivers!
Rollerskating down the pavements- preferably downhill was another favourite and the usual skipping and hopscotch. Canoe-ing on the waterways in summer.
Our TV was black and white and we were only allowed to watch one half hour evening programme. There were no daytime programmes, no computers, no mobile phones,no nintendo games. We had a list of chores to do each week, but homework was the priority. We had no say in: our clothes choice ( up to age 16) - even though there was no uniform it was Mum's decision what we wore-, the decoration of our rooms, where we'd go on holiday...
Obedience was expected and enforced. There was no democracy: mum ruled.
My sisters and I washed up every day while singing together, this was a lovely time of the evening. We all took turns in the washing up/ drying/putting away. We always ate all of our totally homecooked meals ( from raw ingredients nothing was ''ready made'') together at the dining table and only breakfast was eaten in the kitchen.Mum's cooking was SUPERB. Dad worked long hours( as he taught at evening school too)but we would walk our dachshund together in the park or a wood at weekends. Mum did not work except to occasionally teach English in the International school.
Her earned money was for her Wintersports holidays which she took with a lady friend.
Dad always washed my hair at the weekend and helped me cream my eczema .
We didn't always get given what we really wanted and this was a way of engendering ambition in all of us girls. Dad brought us up to think we could do ANYTHING and we were equal to any boy and he encouraged science and maths and discouraged any tendency to girly art things.
I can still remember my desire for a purple suede fringed waistcoat....I can even SEE it still!
We were allowed art as a hobby as long as we excelled in academic subjects such as Latin,French Maths,Chemistry and Biology.
Due to the Second World War no German was allowed to be spoken,learned or practiced in our home. We did this at school and were careful not to bring any home.
Dad had lost many friends in the war and one lung was removed in Switzerland, where he was also fed on double cream as a ''cure'' for TB.....
Both parents smoked when we were growing up, dad progressed to a pipe and then gave up. Mum continued despite us kids complaining and finally gave up after dad died. He died of a heart attack in the middle of the night. This I will not go into although it's etched on my mind, I was a young teenager.
In the holidays we walked a LOT and dad was in his element when we went to the Yorkshire Dales for the first time.He would have retired to live in a cottage with a view in the Dales had he survived long enough.
Evening amusement was often a strategic game such as mastermind or Cluedo, just between us kids but my middle sister( labelled genius) always won everything. My first taste of wearing what I wanted to wear came when my eldest sister taught me how to sew and I could MAKE clothes from fabrics and patterns bought from my pocketmoney.
I could not afford to buy the clothes I liked ready-made.
I would sew on a table in the corner of dad's study while he sat marking student's papers.
He said: '' I'm dreading the day you learn to drive if that's how fast you'll go!'' as I sewed fast but accurately, mum's Singer machine humming along.
My paternal grandmother endowed me with my penchant for all things textile and needlework and apparently she was famous for her tatted masterpieces in the town where she lived.
Her lace was exceptionally fine and my maternal grandmother praised her work highly, but alas I never saw any of it nor ever knowingly met her.
Her story is a sad one: she wanted to travel and explore the world but her parents would not let her study or travel. ( not seemly).
She met my grandfather who was a dashing officer in the army ( but penniless apparently) and thought if she married him she could travel and finally leave the town ( small country town) she was born in. He would be posted abroad and ooh what exciting times she would have!!!
Thailand perhaps or the West Indies!
However her very well-to-do parents struck a deal with her fiance to keep her safe.....
They bought him a business in the town, which he then ran for the rest of their married lives and passed onto his 2 sons.
They were progressive enough to put their eldest: a daughter through Medical School but she failed some exams and fell in love so they decided neither of their sons would go to University they would go into trade. This dissappointed my father for the rest of his life as his dream was to become a ( medical) doctor. He gained his doctorate in Economics at night-school.
Guess what? 2 of my dad's daughters studied Medicine and the third Law......
( He only approved of ''proper'' professions) He got his way even long after death. Promises had been made....
How times change!!! These days you are more likely to make your name -and your millions- in business than in a profession.....
Doctors and lawyers are not necessarily as respected as footballers or anyone ''famous'' on TV?
A house is more likely £450,000 than £2,500 and a car £18,000 versus £500?!!!! And your children do what THEY want to do, NOT what parents might think best... My kids have chosen their clothes volubly even from about 18 months old!!! And they have a say in their rooms, our holidays and so forth... Regular family meetings are held to agree holidays and so on.
Obedience? Forget it for most of the time! Chores? Well I can dream can't I?
Freedom? I had it, but this is a taxing topic between JJ and me, I'm for allowing more and he for less. Difficult.
Then again I wasn't aware -or interested as a child- in the news or current affairs or climate change or any such things. I was blissfully childlike well into my teens, with very few cares and lots of fun. I did win a prize for raising the most money for Oxfam by selling diaries door-to-door for Africa one year, I was still in Primary school. We were aware that there were people ''in need'' elsewhere in the world and partook in fundraising events, sponsored walks and so on but it didn't make me actively worry until I was in my midteens.
My kids wear helmets( well some of the time), are supervised, are cosseted, almost always get given most/some of the things they most wish for on their Christmas/Birtday lists.....
Are taught about smoking,drugs and alcohol at Primary school and Tsunamies as well as famine in Africa.... We had covers for electrical sockets, stairgates, safety rails on beds,rubber bits on marble fire-surround, brakes on prams..
I fell down a steep metal staircase to our attic in Holland: I was about 4 or 5. BIG bump on the side of the head. Then I did it again a few months later. Big bump on the OTHER side of my head. As they are symmetrical: no-one notices.
It didn't do me any harm. I learned to be more careful and NOT to play on stairs.
However of course this could never happen today. My mum would be prosecuted for neglect!
Especially as nothing changed after the first bump, I had been warned that's all. We agquired a dog by ''accident''. As with eczema and hayfever and asthma I was diagnosed early on as an ''allergic type'' : I was tested age 11 for lots of substances. Alas I was found to be allergic to horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and all ''hairy'' animals- there went my future as a vet!!!
Then a little boy( I was 7) I happily played with at school let me walk his dogs with his mum.
They were wire-haired dachshunds: black and tan.
One day he told me at school: '' I'm giving you your own dog: would you like her?''
I ran home more excited than I had ever been, mum was doubtful. Parents communicated and apparently this boy's granny who bred dachshunds had died leaving 6 or 7 of the dogs and would we like to take one?
Annetje was a 7 year old prize winning- multiple FIRST prize rosettes!!!-BEAUTIFUL black and tan standard size bitch with a grand German sounding Aristocratic pedigree name.
Mum and dad decided she could come for the weekend and IF I was NOT allergic then......
Allergy or not, ( not as it happened) it would have been no different.Annetje came and Annetje conquered. Veni Vidi Vici.
She completely took over mum and dad's heart (and soul) and that of us kids too. My eldest sister had already left home for University.
She was stubborn and full of character, ruled the home and stole our hearts.
Amazingly from being a show-dog owned by an elderly frail lady and in the constant company of her mother and brothers and sisters , she took to our family life as the proverbial duck.
We lived in a tall 3 story house in Scheveningen- I've been back and they are smart doctor's premises now- how ironic!- and she would dash up the steep stairs like no tomorrow. There was no carrying HER! The ONLY time we carried her was
1. When she found a hedgehog: there'd be no budging her. She'd bark and poke at it furiously.
2. When she dived into a rabbit warren and only a madly wagging black tail tip was left visible.
3. When she refused to walk, usually because she'd decided she was going in another direction.
(not because she didn't want to walk, she LOVED walking)
She also had a knack of showing her dislike of being left on her own for a bit. We had - in the 1970's- a very trendy pair of high-backed swivel chairs: one in pine green and one in orange.
They would both be left facing the fireplace. Annetje would run at them, leap onto the cushions and- while swivelling -jump off again.
Thus on our return they would both be facing the door and look all askew.
I'm going now. That's enough reminiscing for the time being. That's Pippa up there, just before arriving at the groomers for a stripping session. She's NOT happy about it.
We call her our teddy-bear when she looks like this.