Saturday, 30 April 2016

Antique Bottles

Back in the 1970's my father and I began to collect antique bottles when I was still a teenager.  It was quite a popular hobby at the time.  Old bottles are really very fascinating.  They record so much of the history of a country, an area and it's people.  The endless shapes, sizes, colours and amazing embossings are endlessly intriguing. 

I spent many hours in our "bottle shed" as it was known washing and cleaning the bottles, carefully arranging the bottles, pondering the bottles. Most weekends we would go out for a "dig", perhaps on top of some old rubbish dump which the landowner was kindly letting us excavate.  Sometimes people very generously gave us their old bottles to add to the collection.  There would be days when I was crawling under old houses, having been given permission from the owner to take whatever old bottles I could recover. All these excursions seemed to me like great adventures.

I loved the old jam jars.  Some of them came in beautiful blue, lilac and purple colours - sometimes because they were made with uranium!  The "football" bottles and marble bottles - those sealed with marbles - were also favourites.  I adored the medicine bottles with their outrageous claims - cures for nearly everything!  They were often filled with alcohol and therefore - unsurprisingly - a great favourite with the public.

One day the reporter from the Ellesmere Guardian came to write a story about our collection and below are the photographs he took of Dad, Mum, ,my sister Shirley and me with some of our collection.   There's also some photos below of our other beloved "old bottles" starting with the Warner's medicinal "Safe Cure". 

Below : Dad and me.  My mother knitted that jersey and made that blouse I am wearing.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Handkerchief Box

I have always loved "old things". Even as a child I was fascinated by antiques and vintage items.  As we live in an increasingly mass-produced, throwaway world I have come to appreciate the workmanship and style of older items even more, whether they be tools, ceramics, jewellery, linen or this - one of the old boxed handkerchief sets of my childhood and teenage years.  

At one time they were quite popular gifts, not only for the lovely embroidered handkerchiefs but the beautiful pictures on the cardboard boxes in which they came.  If my memory serves me right Granny Manson may have given this one to my mother as a gift.  Generally they were stored safely away because no one ever wanted to use them - they were far too pretty! 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Crabapple The Birman

Crabapple is our pedigree Birman cat. The word that best describes him is "lazy" (well, he's a Birman cat right?).  

He doesn't really like walking and prefers to be carried around by Dad, who also finds it amusing to put Crabapple across his shoulders and carry him fireman-style or otherwise put him on the seat of his walker and use it like a cat-stroller.  Crabapple enjoys all of these methods of "transport". I notice Leonardo has now cottoned onto the "cat pram" idea and sometimes leaps onto the seat of the walker for a ride too.

Crabapple does get into climbing moods though and will be seen on the roof or top of the wall unit or fridge quite frequently.  He also likes draping himself across the roof of a car which he manages to do like he does most things - theatrically.  Yes, he can be quite the drama queen - and he has a huge ego.  I sometimes imagine he is thinking, "Don't you know who I am?"

He's very intelligent and he's really a pretty sweet little guy.   I just wish he had a more enthusiastic attitude to the Santa suit I bought him last Christmas.  He didn't exactly fight it (he was getting attention right?) but I couldn't get one "ho ho ho" out of him, more a "when will this be over Rover?".  Ah well, maybe this year he'll get into the Christmas spirit more.



"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny young Tabitha but in ourselves".
"Yes oh Wise One".
 Crabapple shares his words 
of wisdom with Tabitha
Below : Dad and Crabapple, partners in crime


Monday, 25 April 2016

Grape Full

Above is one of the bunches of purple grapes.  The grapes on our vines are all sweet and refreshing - and seem quite endless!

I bought a cold-pressed, slow juicer and over the weekend Andrew and I enjoyed experimenting with grape juice.  The juice we obtained from putting cleaned individual grapes through the juicer was lovely.   For fun we put some in a bottle and made our own label.

For now I'm stripping grapes from the bunches, cleaning them and freezing them in containers just as they are.  It's what I call one of those "zen" kinds of jobs, like podding peas - invariably slow so your mind seems to wind down and fall into the same sweet, soothing rhythm where you find yourself increasingly - and joyfully - present and grateful.

 Now and again little insects come out of a bunch of grapes - green shield bugs, anxious little black spiders, occasionally a beautiful golden spider.  They only add to the enchantment of the harvest, the connectedness to this rich banquet called life laid out before us.   I ensure them all safe passage back into their busy lives for the life of every creature is precious.

 In other news - at 84 years old Dad is still very fit (even after three knee replacements, beating cancer and other health problems) so it's a breeze for him to take his mobility scooter down to the bottom grape vines and come back loaded with buckets full of grapes.  The last of the sunflowers are still bursting into bloom.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

True Love Never Dies

There's a great family movie called "Secondhand Lions".  It's fun and I like it a lot.  There's one scene where one of the heroes, Hub gives a "coming of age" talk to his young great-nephew Walter which goes like this:

 "Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in".

All of the dogs below have passed on now. Some of them actually have been gone for many years but there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of them.  Every single one of them was a treasure whom I loved dearly.  They say "grief is the price we pay for love".
In our culture we're so often taught to feel embarrassed about or ashamed of our emotions, even of love. 

That very wise American man Jim Rohn used to say, "Let life touch you".  In other words - let yourself feel.

Kahlil Gibran, who is my one of my favourite writers, wrote about Joy and Sorrow.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Below : Left to right, Cheyenne, Quinten, Brandon, Carla
Below :  Victoria Rose
Below : Hamish
Below : Victoria Rose
Below : Conan as a puppy

"And some day the loved and the loving 
shall meet on the mountains again"