About thecontentedcrafter

Hello from New Zealand! The Contented Crafter is my blog containing random thoughts on every thing from the weather to the meaning of life, occasional mixed media creations, bead work, handwork and tales about a cat named Orlando and a puppy called Siddy. Swing by and say 'Hi' ......... I love to make new friends!

A Garden for Danella

My apologies to the early birds who popped into Version 1 of this post. I could see the photos, everything looked good at my end, but it appears nobody else could. I tried to fix it, failed and had to take it down as I couldn’t work out why WP wouldn’t let you see my photos – so I started again. In doing that I lost the comments attached to the first version – but thank you for letting me know all was not as it should be. Fingers crossed it works this time!

Any hoo – here we go again………

Chrysalis

June 1st 2020: A month has passed.  Maybe even more.  Time telescopes, bends, flies, crawls, disappears, comes and goes.  Essentially it means very little to me these days.  Maybe it was so even before the days of the Great Pause arrived upon us all.  I confess, I’m no longer sure.

Danella’s Garden – Detail

I pass my days doing essentially the same things I have adopted as my life’s activities since I retired and became a lady of leisure. I create, I make, I talk, I visit, in reality again, or still virtually; I am quiet. I read, I walk, I think – maybe too much and not always kindly.  I am cross with myself about that – I’d rather be kind than not.  Yet I fail in my aspiration constantly.  But still, I am grateful and a little in awe of how a life unfolds and reflects back to what was and opens up to what could be.  There’s a kind of magic in this space we have been given.

Danella’s Garden – Detail

I am privileged and I recognise this every moment of every day.  And I am immensely grateful for where and how I am able to live.  And so, I make. Using Pinata Alcohol Inks, Blending Fluid and an air blower I played with colour and form so that my daughter could have a new arty layout on the wall above her sofa.  A Garden to inspire her during this darkest time of the year.

Danella’s Garden

And when all the pieces were chosen and the chosen pieces were framed up we spent quite some more time arranging and rearranging the hanging layout – until finally, it was declared done

Image may contain: indoor
The Garden in place May 2020

And while photographs and copies can never hold the depth and richness of the original pieces, if you like anything, please feel free to download a copy for your own use.

And finally, here is Siddy waiting patiently for the light to return.  Just three more weeks til the Winter Solstice here in the Riviera of Antarctica

Waiting May 20

Oh, and here – finally – really – just moments before he was at last able to visit his friends at MudPuppy and get a proper haircut.  Oh how happy we all were!

Shaggy Siddy May 20

I hope all the photos have been allowed to show for everyone this time. Please do let me know if you can’t view anything.

Thanks so much for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did.

Five Weeks in NZ LockDown

Here in Autumnal New Zealand we are preparing quite excitedly for a change in our national status. We are to move down ( or up, depending on how you view it) from Level 4 to Level 3 at 11.59 pm Monday 27th April. Five weeks after shutting the country down our leadership team thinks we can give a bit more physical freedom a shot. It’s not too much more than we have become almost used to – Level 3 has been variously described as ‘Level 3.9’ or ‘Level 4 with takeaways’.

We didn’t really have a chance to experience Level 3 as we progressed quite quickly from Level 1 (no pandemic) to Level 2 (cases of Covid19 being dealt with in hospitals) to a two day panic stricken, toilet paper buying frenzied Level 3 in preparation for the Level 4 national Lockdown to halt the spread of the pandemic that had entered our shores via international travellers returning home and visitors arriving and a cruise ship or two off loading infected tourists into our ports. As a country we travelled at lightening speed from a blase disbelief to an understanding that this was now a ball fairly placed in our court – we could pretend it wasn’t here or we could accept that it was and take full responsibility for halting the spread. We could as a nation ‘Stay Home’.

And we did – we stayed home! On the whole, as a nation of grown ups, we’ve handled this quite well. There’s always numpties and VII’s (Very Important Idiots) to contend with in life generally – they are here in times of crisis as well – they are a global pandemic all their own really – and despite them the rate of infection has dropped, there appears to be little or no community spread (I type that with my fingers crossed) and the deaths that have resulted are all from age care facilities where the virus snuck in undetected in the early days prior to the borders being closed. The tragedy of course has been that lockdown meant families could not be with their loved ones in their last days and funerals could not be conducted in the way those families would have wished. You have to be Class 1 VII not to be sobered by that simple fact.

A week into Lockdown and I decided to use some of my time productively and joined in with an on-line sketching and doodling group that came out of the UK. Some of you are aware my arty type mojo packed up and left a couple of years back and I’ve been on the whole completely unable to do anything more than make an endless array of greeting cards. With no confidence, no ability and no idea where to start this seemed like a good idea – at least this way I would pick up a pencil and follow some instructions on a daily basis and empty my mind of everything while I tracked the movement of said pencil on paper.

I’ve loved it – and I’m still doing it. It’s my dose of daily Zen. It keeps me sane and happy and cheerful. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I took an instruction and ran with it and in less than three weeks that elusive mojo was back sketching, drawing, colouring, creating ……

I woke late this morning and the room was light and filled with bird song. We had a warm and sunny walk and met several friends along the way – there is a more relaxed feel to everyone right now, a perhaps premature celebration that we might have found a way to overcome this thing….. Soon we hope to see an end to this lockdown, an easing of restrictions, the chance to meet a friend for coffee if we can get back to Level 2…. There is hope and therefore it seemed fitting that today felt like spring. I joined two neighbours and a passing friend on the street just now in the warm sun. It felt a little like a party with the dogs moving about freely and the adults a little easier on the physical distancing. We’ve all been in isolation for five weeks – there’s a common feeling we have nothing to pass on. And then there’s that sudden quiet moment, a brief pause and we make eye contact and hope we are right ……

When I shared this doodle on Facebook my friend Jan (The Snail of Happiness) in Wales attached this marvelous ditty from the late, great Spike Milligan

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realised
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realised its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Let’s pass on the good kind of infection – a smile, a kind word, a happy dance. Be your own vaccination and raise your immunity with positivity, hope and kindness. If I might misquote the great Mahatma ‘Be the change you want to see’ ………….

Thanks so much for coming by today, I love that you did.

Today We Are Six

Siddy turns six years old today.
I’d forgotten til I looked at the calendar this morning …. Luckily dogs don’t take too much notice of the passing of time – unless they are waiting for treats that is……

As I prepared this small post in praise of my little companion it struck me that here is the very reason why everybody should have a dog – and most especially those of us who live alone. This guy, named (in case you never knew or may have forgotten) after the prince who became the Buddha, Siddhartha, because the day I first met him and held him in my arms he settled in peaceably, gazing up at me and the woman said “Oh, he looks like a little Buddha there in your arms.” And I thought ‘well, that can’t be a bad thing!’ And he really has enriched every day of my life since.

He takes me walking not once but most often twice every day and makes people smile at us as we walk along. He reminds me what time it is when I lose myself in my art or craft or a good book. Treat time, play time, dinner time……. He pays attention to every move I make and needs me always to be kind. He tells me when someone is approaching my gate, when the postie is at the box, when certain cars pull up outside. He makes sure I cuddle something warm and furry several times a day and that I laugh out loud regularly. He asks that my eyes soften at least three times every day as I tell him what a good and super little fellow he is and he makes me aware that right now is the best time to be doing whatever it is we are doing.

Baby Siddy – taken the day we met, the day he stole my heart…

Siddy six weeks old
July 2014 Siddy takes me to the beach
October 2014 – In need of a hair cut

Almost a year into our relationship Siddy was temporarily deserted when his mumma took off to the US for a couple of weeks to visit with some blogging pals and Siddy spent his first birthday with his second favourite person, Danella. He missed his mum though

Luckily, by this time he was good friends with his kitty

But after that we settled into a routine of simple daily life, interspersed with a few adventures. And so the years have passed on by.

There’s treat time

and cheese time

And mumma time

Siddy still brings joy to every day, loves people more than other dogs and is just managing to survive lockdown – but only just….

Right now I’ve never been more grateful to have this little fellow in my life. He still bounds out of bed every morning, comes at me like a wriggling torpedo, tail waggling his whole body. Good morning, good morning! Let’s have breakfast. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s have at this day!

When I feel the anxiety rising I can look at him and know right here, right now, everything is actually alright. There are things to do, fetches to be fetched, growled at, tossed about. Cuddles to be had. Treats to be entreated for. Comings and goings to be observed out the window. Naps to be taken. Mealtimes to line up for. A spot of hoovering to be done when there is food preparation going on in the kitchen. And sleepy time comes every evening. A kiss, a cuddle and a carry to bed because when a boy is just too tired to make it there himself, his mumma can help out……. All is well in Siddy’s world and therefore in mine.

Happy Birthday Siddy ❤

Thanks for coming by today, we love that you did!

March 29 1970

Three weeks after my estimated due date my first daughter was born. She chose Easter Sunday morning to make her appearance, though I had laboured with her since the afternoon of Good Friday. She was a reluctant enterer to the world. But with her porcelain round face, shock of dark curly hair and large blue eyes that never left mine, she took my breath away.

From the first moment I held her and looked into her eyes I was lost. Right there and then I experienced a wave of love that was so totally unexpected it impressed itself into my memory as I saw I held a little soul about to begin her own journey through life.

The feeling, the thought, the moment, was so profound I have never forgotten it. The words of Khalil Gibran were running through my head while her blue eyes looked deeply into mine. I swear she sent me those words to help get me through the early years of parenting when I had so much to learn and made so many mistakes.

Your children are not your children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself

They come through you but not from you

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you……

Khalil Gibran


In those early months I would often lay my little baby on our bed while I changed her nappies and her little hands would reach for my old childhood walkie talkie doll that was gifted to me at the age of three by my aunt and sat atop a dresser in the corner of our bedroom.. After a while I began to lay the doll beside her while I worked and tried to imagine a time when she would be bigger than the doll, so big nappies would no longer be required, how big in a year, five years ….. How big would she get? It was hard to imagine this perfect little baby growing up even though I understood she would.

Six months old September 5th 1070

Her love for animals was obvious right from the start. There are tons of photos of Jo with cats and dogs, but this one is a special favourite

Joanna and her Birdie

Love seemed to be a thing that exuded from her, her baby sister arrived and it was love at first sight

Danella, Joanna, Pauline

While mumma looked after the new baby, Joanna practised on her teddy bear

Joanna and Teddy

And the mutual admiration society grew

Danella & Joanna
My babies

I think of those early days now when I see my first daughter and know who she is and how special she is and all her struggles and triumphs that have honed her and made her into a woman of grace and strength and beauty with just the teeniest bit of over the top geekdom to add spice…..

She’s hoping #10 will open the door….

Today, because neither her sister or I can be with her to celebrate this special birthday I’m celebrating her on this blog – and sharing with you all how much I love and admire this amazing little piece of grace who grew to become a woman of kindness, felicity and beauty

Happy Birthday Joanna

Love from mummy 🙂

Life Interrupted

I’m on a roll with my post titles 😀 Because yesterday the bottom fell out of my world.

Up to that point I felt I had some control over my world. That’s always a false assumption though isn’t it – we never have control over outer events. over other people, over the weather or anything really. Sometimes things roll quietly along and we believe we do. Then we hit the bumps like this one, more an unexpected canyon at the moment than a bump, but you know what I mean.

Yesterday, on our local Anniversary Day when everyone in Otago enjoys an extra day added to their weekend, New Zealand was given 48 hours notice that we are going into Lock Down.

I am so grateful to our government that they are acting as soon as they could in an attempt to contain the spread of this virus. But still it sent me into a mild fit of panic – I had to get some things done and now I knew, everyone else would be thinking the same.

Now I had no control over the timing of that announcement, I have no control over all the people who will now flood the stores and services to get their last minute things done, but I do have control over myself.

We are creatures of free will, that is our special gift, our super power. We are the ones who can look at an event and look at our own response to that event. We can step back from the fear, the sense of disempowerment, the annoyance that this or that option has suddenly fallen away.

We can take a moment, take a long slow deep breath – or several if that is required – and we can self assess. Where am I, right now? Am I safe, right now? What do I really need, right now?

Very often – most often – when we take these minutes to self assess and re-centre ourselves we realise that right now, in this very moment all is well with us.

The truth is if it isn’t, we are in action, we are dealing with the crisis, we are running from the tiger, lifting the car off our trapped child, lending a hand to someone else or being assisted by another person.

Fear is the enemy.

This is kind of my process when the bottom falls out of my world. I go through my process quietly – well mostly quietly sometimes there is another step that requires a bit of whining. Today was one of those times.

I am fortunate (I know I say that a lot, but it is true) I whine at my chosen listeners. My two daughters. They are experts now at hearing my whines and redirecting me. They shine lights and solve problems and steer me where I need to be steered. I retreat silently to lick my wounds and take a couple more deep breaths and – there I am. Back again in control of the only thing I can ever be in control of – me.

So this was my process earlier today.

I had raced out really early – breaking my self imposed isolation because in a few days time it is going to be my eldest daughters highly significant birthday and with the country about to go into lock down I did not want her to be without her birthday parcel. Her sister was to fly to Wellington to celebrate with her, but that cannot now happen. It made my quest even more urgent.

I had a plan. I was going straight to the courier depot at first light. I would be home again in ten minutes. I got to the depot and found a closed door with a sign ‘WE HAVE MOVED’ it proclaimed. With no further information!!

WHAT? I cried back at the locked door, where are you? But no one replied.

I climbed into my car and raced a couple of kilometres to the next courier depot. The car park was full. I carried on, ‘I’ll try the Post Office’ I said grimly to Siddy who was happily hanging his head out the window as I raced along, clearly enjoying the freezing cold southerly wind brushing up his whiskers. The parks in the vicinity of the Post Office were all filled, the cars still holding their drivers captive as the PO had not yet opened their doors and would not for a further half hour. I envisioned the mad rush when the doors did open and gloomily carried on homewards, my daughters birthday parcel still sitting equally as gloomily on the back seat.

At home I melted down. All I wanted to do was give my girl a bit of joy on a day that had changed so much for her.

I breathed deeply. I breathed some more. It helped, but didn’t bring me fully into myself. So I opened Messenger, hit our page and whined. I whined about not being able to send my package, I whined about how cold it is and I whined about not being able to place a grocery order online (because the store is overwhelmed with grocery orders)

My girls, champions that they are sprang into action. I was reminded that it wasn’t really that important – the parcel could arrive later quite easily. Danella would do any shopping required in a few days when things quietened down. We exchanged some thoughts about the effectiveness of wearing dust masks in public and whether looking like a tit was any compensation for indeterminate safety and agreed that scarves did as good a job, provided you weren’t mistaken for a bandit.

I was instructed to burn some essential oils, turn on the heating and make myself a lovely warm drink. Obediently I did all that, and enjoyed a hot chocolate in my special cup with frothed milk. I also listened to a brief talk by Eckhart Tolle and then put on some gentle music.

And now here I am – sharing my day so far with you and laughing at myself.

How has your day been?

Here’s Siddy, a photo taken a couple of days ago after his bath when he is all white and super fluffy and smelling delicious

Siddy March 2020

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you do!






Blogging Interrupted

When last you heard from me I was off to my daughter Danella’s place with Orlando and Siddy for a couple of weeks while the tiny house had some repairs done to it. Then, back home I had trouble with WP and accessing posts, liking and commenting and my own blog was quite elusive too. Any way, all resolved now. This all happened when Covid 19 was just a ‘thing’ that was happening far far away and, I was sure, like all ‘things’ would cause a bit of mad panic then die away…… Alas, I was wrong! But, we aren’t here yet, back to my story…..

Those two weeks stretched into three. We had a fun time staying with Danella. It felt a bit like I was holiday – except for Orlando spitting at George every time he moved and purring lovingly at everyone else.

Orlando being mean to George

However lucky Mr O’s personal servant took his personal watering can on holiday and so he made himself at home on Danella’s kitchen counter

Orlando and his drinking fountain

Then, just as O settled in and began to mind his manners he was moved back to his own home. He wasn’t very pleased for an hour or so, too many new smells – but he soon settled in.

Siddy of course didn’t mind where he was as long as his food bowl and mumma are close by, he’s a boy who enjoys life. Here he is, on one of our morning walks, on a mission, checking out his messages

Siddy

We went for some lovely morning walks and I took photos that I posted on Instagram. Here’s one for those of you who don’t indulge over there. I call it ‘The High Road’ It’s proper name is John Wilson Drive but I don’t know who John Wilson was and I’ve never quite gotten round to checking him out.

view towards the lookout

The road is wide and follows the crest of a hill. It is bollarded and closed to all traffic except between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Outside of those hours it is a haven for families and runners and dog walkers.

Chile is somewhere over that horizon

On one side is the expansive southern Pacific Ocean, with nothing between us and Chile and the other side sports the rolling green and patchy brown hills of a not very posh golf course where locals walk themselves and their dogs and both are given to unexpectedly clambering out of the undergrowth beside those of us wandering quietly along the high road minding our own business with a cheery ‘Good Morning!’.

the golf course

At the very end of the road there is a steepish hill we (that’s the royal ‘we’) puff our way up to the lookout point where we admire the view, take a photo and about face for the walk back.

At the Lookout

The view on the return journey looks across the beaches of St Kilda and St Clair, south towards the southern suburbs of Dunedin. It’s not terribly far from those hills to Antarctica – just a tad over 4000 km.

looking south

Siddy and I have continued to make the walk most mornings since our return home. It’s a brief five minute car ride to access all this beauty and fresh air, why wouldn’t we! Now that the days are growing shorter we can set off while it is still dark and get to the Lookout in time for an early sunrise photo.

7 am at the look out

So now, here we are at home. Our home is fixed and revamped and a pleasure to be in – something it wasn’t for a long time. I am both relieved and very, very happy. And if I have to self isolate I am happy to do it here in my safe, warm little home.

Take care, look after each other, look for the good in people and the world and remember that fear lowers our resistance to disease. Practise contentment, be grateful and let your eyes rest on beauty. Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did,

Creating Interrupted

I’m currently packing up my house for the re-building work that has to take place thanks to a sneaky, slow leaking hot water cylinder that has rotted out a large part of the floors in the utility rooms and possibly further areas as yet unidentified.

Several large and burly men from different trades have been through to identify their part in the reconstruction and renovation required. Almost all of them have stamped a big burly boot somewhere on the floor causing further collapse to occur, making it increasingly difficult for me to negotiate my way through my tiny house without twisting an ankle or inadvertently going completely upside down .

We won’t discuss here the amount of stress this has all caused, but we can celebrate the fact that Siddy, Orlando and I get a holiday with our dear Danella. None of us is sure how her kitty George will handle this influx, but time will tell.

George

Due to the need to move things from places of immediate danger – and the original idea that work would be started some four weeks ago – my makings room has been untenable for that amount of time. I rummaged through though and I’ve packed up a large amount of painting/crafting gear, a change of clothes and all the food, toys and etcetera that the furry chaps might need and we move on out today.

I found this as I was sorting through – it’s my version of Yoda in his forest. One of the few photos I’ve remembered to take of work in progress – it’s a bit blurry 🙂

The weather has been worse this summer than last – but here is a pic from a walk we took one day when the wind wasn’t howling and the rain had yet to tumble down

Taking the High Road Feb 2020

I don’t think I’ll be posting here much, but I am on Instagram as ‘contentedcrafter’ if you want to see what might go up there as the days pass by. I’d love you to join me there.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you do!