The Craftswoman – for Peggy

I wrote this poem after the death of my mother-in-law on 16th October 2018.  I was really pleased that the family liked it enough for my brother-in-law to read it out at her funeral this week.

In her youth she learned to make things,
Oh yes, her boys were testament to that.
Her needles clicked to keep us warm,
and her machine trundled stitches,
turning tailored suits for working life
and childhood clothes for grandchildren.

With painted nails and silk threads she wove
bright flowers, embroidering colour
into all the corners of her home,
where friends and family shared the yarns,
those times that knit a life
worth wearing.

And all the while her garden grew.
Every plant, she knew, by name,
their differing hues and habits,
like children sown with confidence and skill
the clematis, fuchsias and scented stock
all flourished in her daily care.

Her nimble fingers now lie still,
the crafts she loved abandoned,
and in that belovéd garden
the last roses sadly droop their heads.
Yet her flowers will still bloom in spring
and fond memories will forever warm us.

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A cornucopia of courgettes

Day 3, Writing 101.  Today’s topic ‘one word inspiration – choose from Hope; Regret; Home; Choice; Abundance; Secret’ 

Some of last year's crop!

Just some of last year’s crop!

Growing your own veggies is wonderful.  Just to be able to nip out to the garden and dig up a bunch of carrots, or a few potatoes is a great thing.  But why oh why do we have to get huge gluts of something one year, and nothing at all the next.

For example, last year we had tons, mega-tons, of courgettes. So many that some were left where they grew and turned into marrows (see above!).  Everything we ate had the addition of courgette in one form or another.  We had fried courgettes, baked courgettes, grilled courgettes, courgette cake, courgette pickle, and courgette wine (still working our way through several gallons of that!).

Don’t get me wrong, I love courgettes, and devoted a whole bed to them this year.  But what did we get?  That’s right… zilch, nada, nowt.  Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.  We did have one or two poorly looking specimens, but nothing in the same league as last year’s magnificent beasts.

What we have got though, is tomatoes.  Tomatoes everybloomin’where.  They grew in the greenhouse, on the patio, in the veggie plot, and the flower beds.  Big fat tomatoes, and little sweet ones.

And chillis..

It looked like Christmas in the greenhouse with the abundance of chillis turning bright red before I had the chance to pick them.  So everything we’re eating right now is smothered in chilli tomato sauce.

For a while we were eating nothing but broad beans.  And I won’t mention the amount of plums… plum wine anyone??

So whilst my own veggies are a treat, it would be so much better if the plants paced themselves so that I had crops in manageable amounts.  If the English weather would be reliably suitable for everything instead of one week drowning the courgettes, and the next, desiccating the peas.

Of course, I should feel very privileged that we do live in a temperate climate, where we are generally able to grow a staggering array of crops.  Maybe it’s my skills that are lacking?

Hmmph…. Situation normal then…!

Bores? I don’t think so!

Doing a bit of voluntary work sometimes brings the most surprising rewards.  I was assisting one of the ladies at the IT group where I teach a few weeks ago and happened to ask what her password was for something. ‘Hellebore****’ she said. Now, Hellebores happen to be amongst my favourite plants, and when we had the garden landscaped in 2013 I insisted on a bed planted only with them, so of course we got talking, and to my delight she told me that she was a Hellebore ‘breeder’ and had lots of unusual types in her garden.

This week, she invited me to go and see them and take a few ‘babies’.  Her garden is quite magical and bursting with Hellebores of all types and colours – spotty ones, double ones, ruffed ones, a quite gorgeous and rare bright yellow one… all currently in their full glory. She generously dug up seedlings and small plants and I came home with a car full!  They’ll take a couple of years to grow, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you a few photos of those that I do have that are already in a profusion bloom!

A Ghost of Christmas

Every year I buy myself a Poinsettia at Christmas. The shelves of pot plants with their brilliant red bracts (see all you doubters…I knew they weren’t proper flowers) in all of the supermarkets is a sure sign that Christmas is nearly here.  Lets face it though, within a week of purchase, most of those poor plants are languishing and wilting in our overheated, too dark, living rooms.  Mine are really no exception.  Normally I can barely manage to keep them alive until Christmas day.

However, this year I bought a hardy little blighter.  Believe it or not, It still looks as good as the day as I bought it and…yes, we’re halfway through February!! It is a first, so I thought I’d share this little reminder of the festivities with you. 🙂