The whirligig of time has marched on so fast and furious that I suddenly realized it is three weeks since I last wrote a blog post. It has been a time of change for us all, of arrivals and departures, comings and goings, and one of the partings has been more sorrowful than sweet.
It seems to have been a long, cold winter and certainly not over and gone yet: unlike Nina at Tabiboo with her wonderful pictures of a snowy wonderland, I did not welcome the icy flurries of the past few days.
But moving swiftly on to the positive things in life, I have been the recipient of some jolly little awards and tags from the wonderful community of bloggers. I have received the Sunshine Blog Award from Simply H which is very kind, but as I look out of my window seems curiously inapt! But thank you for the compliment, anyway, and I will try to cast off an Eeyorish turn of mind and live up to the accolade.
And the Duchess of Tea has dubbed me and a quantity of others 'The Most Regal Blog'. I always fancied a tiara, but I fear that the moment has passed, and feel that a headscarf knotted under the chin is as regal as I will get. In fact, on considering this point, and in view of the layers of knitwear and shawls I sport in such chilly weather, the effect would be more babushka than aristocratic if I adopted such headwear, so perhaps not.
Suzie at Itch2Stitch has asked me to list ten things that I enjoy which are free, as has Tia at Whoatemycrayons. Well, once upon a time, long ago and far away, I purported to be studying economics, and as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
I found much of economic theory sadly mystifying at the time, and in spite of studying at a most august institution I resorted to a little mustard yellow book called Teach Yourself Economics. It was part of the most enormous series which promised to teach you absolutely anything, and in my early teens I rather ambitiously embarked on Spanish. Unsurprisingly I did not get very far into the book, or even to Spain to practise, but economics was a greater success, and I even passed my exams with the help of that little book. I think the title 'Teach Yourself' was a sign of a more positive and aspirant age - a relic from nineteenth-century ideals of self-help and self improvement - you can teach yourself anything, if only you try hard enough and get to the end of the book.
Whereas now, sadly now the books are for dummies, so why bother, really, the message seems to be that you are the sort who are pretty useless, anyway - a message which is rather dispiriting even before you start. I looked at Crochet for Dummies recently, and came away feeling that crochet was definitely all too much for a dummy like me. But back to economics ... unfortunately human beings have a tendency to regard all things as free that do not involve the handover of cash at the point of consumption, which habit has led us to regard the earth's resources as 'free' goods, and consume and destroy them without thought for the future.
So in my pernickety little way I struggled to think of things that are free (and if that is not a warning not to study economics, I don't know what is) because if I sit joyfully making things from my yarn and fabric stash, there is a historic cost. They cost me money once, which I should still have if I hadn't fallen for the siren calls of the haberdashery fairy. And if I sit and stitch there is an opportunity cost - I could perhaps be using my time to earn money instead, or make an alternative use of my materials to do the same. If I keep hens, there might be a social cost if the neighbours object to the dawn chorus, or feel that I am lowering the tone of the neighbourhood. And then there are the externalities ... I feel quite ruined at the thought.
So I shall just tell you about some of the nice things that I have been doing, and skate over the less nice, and abandon the economic analysis. For a start, if you need cheering up, have some ploughboys to stay, as we did last weekend.
Four merry men all in green, taking such pleasure in nature red in tooth and claw, so at home in mud, and who minds that driving your mother's car off road leads to punctures when there is a brave new world of tractor specs to explore?
Spend some time with pigs - they love nothing better than rootling up the green and growing, and their squeals of delight at a trough full of brown nuggets of nutrition surpass the ecstasy of the most sophisticated gourmet. A pig is always pleased to see you if you bring a bucket.
Chickens like people with buckets, too, and a bit of fresh grass, and will reward you most handsomely for the smallest of efforts on their behalf. They don't complain that they don't like the supper you offer so humbly, and will eat the same things every day of the week with relish. How unlike our own dear home life!
And when the fever and fret of existence threaten to overcome you, sit down with your needle and make a stitch or two. Preserve something of yourself in the material world when mutability seems set to overwhelm, and create something that will last longer than the day. One of my little pleasures which doesn't seem too costly (she coughed quietly and asked forgiveness from above) is my daily stitching for twenty minutes or so. And revel in the opportunities for congratulation and exclamations of wonderment from your nearest and dearest.
So thank you one and all for your kind messages querying my absence - it is so nice to be missed. And I am not sure how soon before the Muse will grab me by the throat again - I suspect today that it is not so much the impelling presence of the Muse, more the impending deadline and the prospect of rewriting something which is sadly far less interesting than blog posts. No pictures, either.
And having hoovered the house with a vacuum cleaner which has mysteriously lost its inhalant power, inadvertently knocked over the compost bin enabling it to regurgitate its sopping and miscellaneous contents over the kitchen floor (well, in the nineteenth century they spread old tea leaves all over the floor as part of the cleaning process), and accidentally hurled my quite new backup drive onto the floor as well (no, they do not survive being launched onto the floor, unfortunately, neither do the documents contained therein), there was nothing for it but to terminate my increasingly tortured relationship with said floor, and sit on a chair in front of the computer.
I will now leave you to enjoy your fast approaching weekend, and endeavour to find my own joy in the vicissitudes of the mundane. I thought that the Year of the Tiger would be a good one for me, but I am not so sure - we seem to have got off to a bit of sticky start (literally and metaphorically) in terms of my interactions with inanimate objects. Like greasy Joan, I am now off to keel the pots - safer than getting down on my knees to scrub the floor, and the list of displacement activities is rapidly diminishing in proportion to the time left before my deadline. Have fun!