Friday, January 29, 2010

Tales from the Attic

Lord Beard had a splendid time on his photo safari. The pixies were quite on form! In fact, he said they attacked his lenses the very first day and he got some brilliant photos. Several look to me as if the pixies were smashed against the lenses (they are contorted rather painfully) but that's pixies for you. They are rather annoying but fun sport when chased with a camera.

It's quiet at the manor now. Not so while Lord Beard was gone. I was here, alone save for Benson and Cook. Cook, however, requested to go home to Brighton to visit her ailing sister. Of course, I said, please send her our love. Benson decided to go to market Thursday afternoon and I was left alone with Master Colby (the cat). He and I were blissfully reposed by the fire when a sudden and horrific shriek was heard from the back yard.

"Good lord!" said I, thinking it must be the Guthries again. I had hoped the good doctor was able to quiet things down over there. The Guthries have not been round for a week and I had half a mind to pay them a visit that afternoon, bearing a basket of tea and crumpets as a goodwill offering.

Master Colby looked up from his place in front of the fire. Human hysterics, his expression said. Wake me if it's anything interesting. Like a troupe of rats in the shed.

I wrapped my cape about me and wandered out back. I saw no one but an eerie calm had descended on the manor grounds. Not a breeze whispered, not a rain drop splattered.
Cautiously, I crept past the gardens and into the open field. The stone path that leads to the forest was slippery so I kept to the grass.

I jumped. There it was again. A shrill sound, like a young girl in peril. I raced down the hill, slipping and sliding, until I made it to the edge of the wood. I was shocked to see a girl, no older than seven, standing just inside the trees.

"Good heavens, child, are you all right?" I asked.

"No, ma'am." She said faintly. Her dress had been yellow at one time but was now mud stained and torn. "I am afraid." She was clutching a dark red cloak.

"What are you doing out here in the woods alone?"

She shivered and I heard a strange, low growl, like that of a hungry animal.

"Come with me," I offered her my hand. She hesitated briefly then ran to me. Her hands were like ice and she was shaking from head to toe. I wrapped my cloak around her and we walked back to the manor. As I ushered her inside, the sky began to weep, and I took one last glance towards the woods.

A pair of red, glowing eyes looked back at me. I blinked and they were gone. be continued...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lessons in the Art of Slow

It's sad, really. How we hurry and blurry our way from our day to day to night. I struggle with it. I watch my life pass by like the leaves in autumn, caught in a flurry of chill breeze. Why am I here? This job, I mean, not earth. Is this reason enough reason to stay? What of my life, my real life? The one that throbs and pulses in side, that strains against convention and "office appropriate" attire. The one that suffocates every morning on the ride in, that cries out for five pm.

Home again, home again, or so the saying goes. I stagger in, put down the bag, pet the cat, kick off my shoes. I put on real clothes, the kind my soul an stretch out in. Then it's dinner, then it's decision. Art or Writing? Yes, they are the same, but different mediums. There is another. Exercise? No time. I breathe and dive in. Plunge through the ice. My fingers click clack, my back bends over a vat of pulp. But am I really present? Am I really there?

Slow down. Breathe. Really breathe. In yoga they tell you each movement is a breath. An inhale, an exhale. I struggle even with that. Downward dog, exhale. I breathe shallow, hurrying to the next pose of my sun salute (too often a moon salute). What's going on here? Where did I go wrong.

A call. A challenge. Not quiet this time but loud and demanding. It's my life. Slow down, it says. Breathe. No really. Breathe. Feel the air enter your lungs. Expand until they are about to burst, when your vision goes dizzy and you feel like an over filled balloon too close to a needle. Exhale. Through a tiny hole in the mouthpiece. Let it whistle and whoosh. Do it again, and again, and again. Elongate your muscles, stretch your spine. Let the worries and woes of the day leak onto the floor and run between the boards. They'll evaporate. They'll be gone.

Why is it so hard to slow down? I tell myself it's because I have precious little time to pursue my dreams. I'm not the only one. This I know. But how does one cope? No. How does one decide, resolutely, without flinching, to take up their sword and march into battle, no matter how weary, how hungry, how bone dry? I need a refill, a rest. I need to go away for a week. A place I've never been. A place where I can find myself again.

Then the small voice would return. The one that speaks only truth. I would hear and shed years of grime from the hurry. I would hear and listen. I would return and obey. Oh, precious respite. Now my challenge be to find YOU.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

By the Fireside

How needy I seem today. I'm having a rather disheartening day, dears. I need a plush leather chair by a roaring fire. I need a good cup of strong coffee. Something to get my brain going, something that will fill me with warm energy and force me to focus on the good and not just what is in front of my eyes at the moment.

I need some quiet, maybe a good string quartet album humming in the background. I need the patter of rain on my window sill. I need the sun to come streaming in this afternoon and a walk in the puddles, digging my hands in the cold, rich earth. I could sit and plan a garden, imagining the wonder those seeds and plants will become once the warm, spring sun soaks into their leaves and roots.

I need to build something, get my hands dirty, feel the rust of metal and the splinters of wood. I need the wet delight of clay under my nails, the squish of ink between thumb and forefinger.

Oh, dear readers, how I need to breathe free. I need fresh salt air carried on a sea breeze, smelling like adventure from a thousand years ago. I need the perfume of life to surround me and lift me out of the gloom that has settled.

Have you ever just needed to get away? To board a plane and go somewhere new. A place where everything is different, topsy-turvy. Where the people smile and laugh because you can't speak their language and when you try it comes out all fumbling with a giggle. Where the food, the smells, the very pavement is something to explore, experience. Have you ever just needed to escape to get your thoughts in order?

Do forgive my ramblings. I needed a moment to dream. Have you ever just needed something out of reach? Ah, here's to a brighter tomorrow. Drink deep, dear friends, the tea is, as always, piping hot.

The Lady

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playing Catch

I know, I've posted this picture before. But I really needed a cup of tea! Indulge me.

Catch up that is. Whew! This weekend got away from me as did yesterday. Things at the Manor are good. Going slowly, but in a way, that's as it should be. I've been experimenting with some transfer printer paper. I bought it several months ago and finally, this past weekend, decided to get it out and have a go.

It's wonderful! I can print any of my own photos or sketches onto it and then iron it on to fabric.
From there, the possibilities are endless! I've made pillows and tea towels so far. They look pretty good. Word of advice: don't try to iron on the print after you've peeled the paper backing off. It lends a look to it (read: it melts the print in places and looks like moths attacked it!).

Other than that, I have been feverishly pounding away at the edits of my second book. That has kept me occupied and away from tending to Manor business. No worries. I've learned that as long as I must work outside the Manor, I will have to balance my two loves: Manor tending and writing. Ah, my dream is to camp in the tower all day, creating alternately on paper and craft table.

That sounds like a nice day dream to indulge in, doesn't it? If you only had to work on that which YOU wanted to work on (your soul work), what would you do? What would your day be like? I've outlined this so many times, I could probably tell you by exact timeline what I'd be doing and when I know, life gets in the way,but for just a moment, let's dream together of the perfect weekday.

Would you like cream in your tea? There. Prop those tired feet up. Here's another blanket. I'll get Benson to stoke the fire. It's dreaming time.

The Lady

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tales from the Attic

"I tell you I know what I saw." Lord Beard was adamant.

"Okay. I believe you. It's just that..." I paused, looked out the window. It was still raining. The snow was polka dotted from the large fat drops that were now falling. It had warmed since yesterday (a balmy 52 degrees Fahrenheit) and the lovely snow scene was now being turned into mustard colored mush.

"It's just what?"

"Lady Guthrie said she was going to visit her mother. If that's the case, you couldn't have seen her yesterday."

I sipped my coffee (this morning called for stronger fortification than even the Earl could provide. I shall summarize for you, dear reader, the problem at hand. It seems yesterday, as Lord Beard was loading the carriage for his photo safari, he saw a strange cloaked figure zip past his line of vision and disappear into the trees on the side of our property. The side that butts against The Guthrie Manor. Lady Guthrie, however, informed me just last week she was going to her mother's for a stay. Lord Guthrie was being watched over by Dr. Helmstrode, the village physician.
"Perhaps we should ask the doctor," Lord Beard proposed.

It seemed like a good idea. We put on wellies and took our great, black umbrellas from the stand in the foyer. Benson warned against the rock path cut through. "You'll slip for sure."

We headed his advice and took the road, puddles and slush and all. I had to hold my skirts above my knees in order to avoid getting soaked to the bone. By the time we arrived at the Guthrie Manor, the sky had grown darker and there was thunder to be heard in the distance. I shivered and pulled my cloak tighter about me.

"Perhaps we should have waited until the rain let up." I wondered aloud.

"Don't be silly," Lord Beard remarked, though he was looking at the sky with a nervous glance. "We need to clear this up. If there's something wrong with the Lord and the Lady, perhaps we can be of some assistance."

He's a good soul, Lord Beard.

He knocked on the iron knocker several times before the locks clicked. There stood the doctor, looking as though he'd not seen rest in weeks.

"Sir Jon!" He cried, looking elated and a tad uncomfortable. "And the Lady! What on earth are you two doing out on a day like this?"

"We were concerned," I said boldly, "for our neighbors."

Dr. Helmstrode glanced nervously over his shoulder. "Yes, yes. Come in."

Cloaks, hats, wellies and umbrellas in the foyer, we joined the doctor in the library where a roaring fire soon took the chill from us and dried our fingertips and garments. A tall, dour looking gentleman brought tea. We thanked him. All he did was nod, slowly, and disappear back to wherever he'd been before we arrived.

When we were alone, the doctor pulled his chair to the sofa where we sat. "I do not know how long I have so I will be brief. There is something amiss at Guthrie Manor. I fear-"

A loud thump above caused us all to jump. My tea sloshed and I wiped my hand on a handkerchief Lord Beard handed me.

"You must go," Dr. Helmstrode said hurriedly. He took our tea cups.

"But what's amiss? What's wrong?" I asked as he pulled me to my feet.

"No time."

"If there is some danger, doctor, surely we can -"

The doctor handed us our things. We quickly put them on. There was another thump and a moan that sent chills up my spine. "Go swiftly by the road. Do no stop until you are home. If I were you, I would bar the doors at night."

We were hurried out the front door.

"I should stay with you," Lord Beard offered.

"No! That is not necessary. I shall stop by when I can and fill you in." And the door was shut in our faces. The sound of someone rushing up stairs was heard and a door slammed.

I looked at Lord Beard and he looked at me. "Perhaps we should do as the doctor suggested?"

He nodded and we hastened home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slowing Down, Savoring Life

Slowing down has been of interest to me for several years. As most of you know, I started a blog reflecting this interest a year ago. I recently decided that the study of slow was complimentary to the Manor life I am creating here. Consider Thursdays an open invitation into my studies of this "lost" art and my attempt to revive it. In memory of the blog, I'll call these posts Lessons in the Art of Slow.

I'm learning just as you are to take life one breath at a time, to smell the roses, not just whiz by them on the way to my next engagement. Life isn't about getting somewhere. It's in the getting. The wandering, the walking, the journey, the path, the detours, the getting lost. That's where life is found. And the only way we can hope to catch more than a glimpse of it is to slow down and savor the life we have.

The "slow" movement that has really caught my attention is the Slow Food Movement. It is a wonderful attempt to bring back cultural cuisine, time around the dinner table, and a lunch that is more than gulping air and processed food between phone calls. I'll be spending some time with this, learning, experimenting. I do hope you'll join me! Cook is always looking for new dishes to prepare, new quests to serve. And Lord Beard and I are always on the look out for new recipes. Yes, this Lord and Lady like to cook! We just keep Cook on because we like her, she tells great stories, and makes a killer ganache :)

Here's a couple of sites where you can check out the Slow Food Movement for yourself. In fact, I'm headed to these as soon as I finish posting this!

Enjoy and remember to feast on life at every available moment,

The Lady

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

By the Fireside

It's not as cold today, this 20th day of January. Still, I am in need of much rest. I stoke the fire and wander to the window. The gardens are still dusted with snow. The bare limbs, they sparkle, kissed by fairies in the night. The path to the woods is froze over, a ribbon of moonlight in a bright, sunny field. The shadows of the trees play tricks on me, running here, scampering there, making me believe in the creatures said to inhabit these woods. I know beyond the tree line there are things I can not explain. I smile. It is as it should be.

I settle into the plush leather chair, the one that's over sized just enough to threaten to swallow me whole. Benson was kind enough to set tea for me. He's such a dear old soul. I expect Sir Jon to be in the parlor, polishing his camera lenses. He is off on expedition tomorrow, hunting for wild pixies in Bambry (shooting only with camera, of course!). I asked him to bring me back a crocus. They're said to still be blooming there.

For now I'll sip tea (Earl Grey, is there any other for a day like this?) and let my mind wander. I've a thought to get an atlas, to let my fingers plan my next grand escape. Could it be to outer Mongolia? Or perhaps to Shang-ri-la? My eyes are suggesting Nod. With a clink of fine china, and the lull of a blanket wrapping around me, I happily, happily agree.

~ The Lady

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One More Thing

It seems I have been granted a title from her Grace the Duchess of Tea! I am most honoured. As a token of my appreciation to her Grace, I invite you all to wander over and pay her a visit. Her blog is a feast, a feast I tell you! Simply divine.

The Lady

From the Workshop

The workshop has been a bit slow so far this year. Perhaps it's the cold, cold weather making me lazy. All I want to do is curl up in the library next to the crackling fire, a steaming cup of tea between my mittened hands and watch the snow fall magically transforming the landscape into a Narnian wonderland.

I do have a few projects that are patiently standing by. Here's a photo I took of a work in progress. Sorry for the quality! I had to use my phone for this one.

I'm experimenting with printing photos on textiles. Quite magical if you ask me. Taking a photo I adore and transferring it to a swatch of material and then turning that fabric into a darling little pillow? Pure bliss!

Three of them are cut and pinned and awaiting my hand stitching! When they're done, I'll post the final product and we can be the final judges on this new art.

Stay warm, dear friends. Pop by when you have a moment. There's Raspberry tea and delicious lemon scones fresh baked. Mrs. Weatherby, the cook, adores baking and is always happiest when there is a crowd to taste her confections (and give her due praise ;).

In other news, Lord Guthrie hasn't been seen in several days. I got a glimpse on Sunday of a cloaked figure running through the back of the Manor land, but that couldn't have been him. Of course not. Lord Guthrie plays Pidwigen at the pub on Sunday afternoons. Then again...whomever it was had his characteristic limp. I should send a telegram to Father Algorium. He's the top Pidwigen player in the village. He'll know if Lord Guthrie was there. I'd contact Lady Guthrie but it appears she to has disappeared. Taken ill and gone to her mother's so I've heard.

The Lady
PS: Welcome to all my new followers! Thank you, dears, for wandering by.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Business of Bliss

What is bliss? I suppose it could be defined many ways. For me, bliss is doing what's in my heart of hearts, spending my days creating, be it weaving words or paper or metal. Bliss is defined by what makes you happiest, what brings joy to your heart and your soul.

What makes your life shine?

Is it knitting scarves, woolly socks and hats? Is it molding clay into a vessel or platter? Is it stitching a books binding with bees waxed thread? Is it shaping hot iron into a work of art?

At the Manor, the goal is to spend all my days working on this business of bliss. That's the plan. For now, I take what little morsels I can get and relish them with fork and knife, on fine china, linen napkin in my lap. In my chipped blue goblet are droplets of wine, ruby red and sweet from the fruits of my labors. It's not much, but I feel a queen sitting down to feast.

For the brief two weeks' life of this new decade I've been keeping a journal. I write in it on Sunday evenings, summing up what I've learned or discovered the week prior. There are only two entries but in those entries I find a lot. Unripened fruits waiting to be plucked. I see I have a lot of work to do and precious little time. I see I have to conquer my self (self doubt, self deprecation, self pity). If ever I am to make the Manor my permanent home, I must refuse to be defeated by the mundane of the everyday.

Easy? Of course not. Why, if it were easy everyone would be doing it. What brings you bliss? What do you need to conquer in order to take up residence in your own castle (or manor) in the clouds?

The dawn of a new year seems perfect for doing so, don't you think? Yes, dear friends, so do I.

Happy Monday,
The Lady

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Gracious Bow to the Academy

I wanted to take a brief moment to say THANK YOU to Jessica the coffeelvnmom! She awarded me the Happy Award! And I've only been at this blog for two weeks. Huzzah! When you have a moment, you really should go pay her a visit. Wonderful place in blog-topia :)
The first picture is there because it makes me happy. I saw it just the other day and now here it is again! Have you ever thrown a french fry to a bird? Happiest of happies, let me assure you.
Well, I'm taking my happy and fluttering off to find me some french fries! Happy weekend to you all!
I has a happy :)
The Lady

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Skinny on Lord Guthrie

Apparently there's a bit of scandal over at the Guthrie Castle. It seems Lord Guthrie has a history or mental illness. I had dear Lady Guthrie over for tea this morning and inquired about her husband. She dabbed her eyes as she told me ever since his father passed away he's not been the same. It seems the late Lord Guthrie was stricken with madness when his poor father died.

She's afraid her dear Bartholomew is succumbing to the same dreadful madness as his forebearers. I assured Katrina that things like that only happened in dark fairy tales and most certainly could not affect so strong a man as Lord Guthrie.

We had to pause our tea due to Lord Guthrie running through my gardens screaming. He's calmed now, a strong Assam brought him back around. He was unsure as to how he got there but said something about them man in the woods.

"Man in the woods?" I asked him. "As far as I know, there is no one who's property backs up to ours. It is park land, protected. Unless a wayward hiker got lost."

"No, no, dear," Lord Guthrie patted my hand and tut-tutted. "He's there. I've seen him before. In London. He's the reason we moved."

"Oh my," was all Lady Guthrie could say and began dabbing her eyes once more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Change is Good

*Isn't this lovely? This is my neighbor, Lord Guthrie's wee home. He's debating digging up the roses and putting in a motor cross track. I told him he was mad. Lady Guthrie agreed. She threatened to lock him in the tower if he didn't stop talking such notions. Oh dear...things could get interesting...

Dear readers,

I have been doing much pondering. Dangerous, yes, but necessary for the upkeep of hearth and Manor. I have grand plans for The Manor and I'm delighted in all who have decided to drop by. In order to keep, well, order, there needs to be a good old fashioned To Do list employed. Yes. I think that will do nicely. I consulted with Benson and he said that at his last place of employment (some hundred years ago I'm sure), the Lady kept a list visible at all times. That way she and all who resided at The Manor knew what was expected for the day. A splendid idea! If you'll look to your left, just above that necessary evil about copyrighted information, you'll find my To Do list. It helps to tell people of your plans. You're held accountable then. Frightening? Yes. But not as frightening as Lord Guthrie. He's roaming about the garden muttering something about motorbikes and ramps. Please excuse me. The Constable just arrived.
Yours most delightfully,
The Lady
PS: This new schedule will take effect next week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Review, A Look Ahead, and A Creative Challenge

Dear Mr. Toast's challenge has been up for almost two weeks and I'm just now getting to post my entry. Talk about slow going! But, then again, aren't we trying to cultivate a slower paced lifestyle here at The Manor? Enough excuses. Here it is; my first ever Creative Tuesday challenge: CHEERIOS!

I got the idea while doodling at work. There's plenty of time for that in the bland world of deadlines and ringing complaint calls. I had such fun with this challenge! I can't wait to see what's next. If you're feeling creative (or need a little more art in your life) come on over and check out all the fun!

The first week of 2010 is now past. Funny but I feel as if it's been a month already. I hear how so many are complaining about time flying. It's not flying by for me. In a way, I'm glad. I have far too much to do to have the year go by yet. I've learned a lot about myself and the business in just these few eleven days since the first of a new decade. Good things. Things that will make the process much easier, and much more fun.

I do want to announce that Lord Beard has graciously offered his assistance in this little endeavor. Can I tell you how delighted I am? He's a superb second in command and without his technological know how, I would have never even got this blog off the ground! He's humble accepted title of "Gadget Guru" and will be in charge of the technical aspects of The Manor as well as the hunting and gathering via the Internet. Research assistant extraordinaire! He's got a little cottage in blog-topia as well. You should wander over when you can. Down the hill, past the lamp post, first path to your right. He's doing a little remodeling so watch your step and do be patient. If he's not at home, he will be shortly, and it's worth the wait. Sir Jon is a most gracious host.

As for looking ahead, I've been feverishly typing a collection of business wisdom, ideas and musings that I've collected over the past few years (especially the last) into a compendium of sorts. Once that's completed, it will be printed, bound and placed upon the pedestal that sits in the tower. To be a constant reminder of the commitment I've made to myself and to you, dear friends. This business of bliss isn't as simple as I would like it but the toil shall be worth it.

I look forward to another week of adventures and discoveries, dear friends! Please come by when you are able. The snow has been cleared from the roads and the drive is salted and safe. Dear Benson is back from holiday and will take your coats and hats upon your arrival. He's been with the family for years and is more like a grandfather than a butler.

Have a blessed week, dear friends. The kettle is always on, here, but of course you know that.
Happy Monday, dears!
The Lady

Friday, January 8, 2010

Manor Comings and Goings

It snowed. No really. Snow. In Georgia, when a frozen white substance falls from the sky it officially snow. I had to share this picture with you. What's more hilarious than a palm tree in the snow?

Prior to "The Great Dusting of 2010", the Bearded Lord and I made a deliciously slow cooked meal of fresh baked bread...

...and chili. It simmered in the crock pot for close to three hours. Yum....
There's a few projects brewing in the Tower. One requires the once "banned" etchant solution from your friendly neighborhood Radio Shack.

Another, a patchwork of vintage fabric found in my Christmas stocking and some forms cut out from fabric the Bearded Lord's late grandmother left me.

Finally, here's a wonderful old, fully functional Brownie camera my grandmother gave me years ago. I have yet to purchase film for it, but she left an empty box inside so I'd know what to get. I have always loved using film for photographs. Film has an atmosphere that just can not be reproduced digitally (imho).

Do stayed tuned, dear friends! I shall be experimenting with these (and a few other) mediums in the near future. Wares for the Manor shop? Only time will tell!
Stay warm, lovelies!
The Lady

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Baking of Bread, The Taking of Time

ManorSteading: The keeping of the manor. The pursuit of self-sufficiency in many things others take for granted. The gathering of ideas, imaginations, dreams and visions, condensing them into tiny loaves to be baked at need, distributed to the hungry masses, spread heavily with butter and jam. We are in need of a feast of dreams, dear souls. A feast of dreams and visions. ManorSteading; a bit more than homesteading, a bit dreamier, a bit more elegant. It allows one to keep chickens and goats, make bread and butter, can tomatoes and plant a Victory Garden. It allows that very same person to shed jeans and boots for elegant velvet and polished leather, to sip tea from cracked china, to join in the hunt over hill and dale. You're free to drink the air in gulps, let it dribble down your chin and arms, drip off your elbows You're free to romp in the mud, wrestle hens into coops at twilight, knit you're own sock. You're free to don top hats and tales and whisk away to grand galas. Whatever your pleasure, the Manor can accommodate.

It seems I've coined a new word. ManorSteading. I have so long been enamoured with homesteading. The gardening, the farming, the baking, the making. I love the idea of growing my own food, raising my own animals, making my own spreads. Lighting my house by candles I rolled or poured, washing with soap I unmolded just yesterday. I grew up outside, playing in the dirt, the grass, in tree tops and swimming pools. But there's another part of me that longs for sweet gentility. For lace veils attached to black velvet top hats. For gentlemen in waistcoats. For calling cards and strolls in the park. How to have both? How to mix two seemingly unrelated lifestyles?

My research on manors and manor life uncovered something very interesting. A medieval manor was not just a large house. It was a village, a town of it's own. The manor house is where the lord and lady lived with their family. They were surrounded with acres of land, a village, a church, fields and farms. The manor grew it's own food, raised it's own life stock. Hmmm, thought I, this sounds more like it! To be the Lady of the Manor House and still bake my own bread and get dirt under my nails. Dare I dream it so?

Sagewood Manor made it so. This is where I shall experiment with this new revelation. This new shift in priority and lifestyle. Won't you join me? I welcome all who have and those who are here for the first time, a sincere welcome indeed! Business will come (as usual), on the coat tails of life (as it should be). I am in a lovely process of finally making life my own.

Baking bread seems so trivial. Why bother? There's an entire aisle at the grocery. True. Wrapped in plastic with a "use by" date stamped in blue. I made my first loaf the other evening. You should have seen us! Every time the bread machine made a noise, my husband and I would gather 'round it, peering in the window and laughing like small children. "Look! The dough ball is forming!" "I think it needs more water". "Is it ready to be taken out?" Three hours from start to finish. Slice, slather, bite. Trivial? I think not. You can keep your "use by" dates. This one won't last the week.

Tea in chipped china instantly makes me feel better. Matters not the harsh day, the biting winter weather. A sturdy cup, a bracing black tea, a pinch of sugar, I'm set. I can weather any storm. I can write any story. I can handle any phone call. A good magazine to peruse makes it all the better!

Dreaming boots. Known to most as Wellies. Wellingtons. The culmination of all my heart's desires in funky footwear from Santa. I had no idea! The plan was to save any extra cash and buy them in a month or two. The box beneath the tree, however, decided otherwise. They sit at the door, waiting eagerly, patiently for me to slip back inside. Leaving behind the 8-5 secretary charade I am forced to play, becoming the Lady of the Manor once more. My soul, my soul, found in a pair of rubber boots.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reflections by Fireside

The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in the summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood. ~ John Burroughs
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth
When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves-
Welcome wool sweaters.
~ B. Cybrill
Winter dies into the spring, to be born again in the autumn. ~ Marche Blumbenberg
Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow
And we, we were children once again.
~ Bill Morgan, Jr.
peace and silence under a blanket of snow
wind whistling through branches bare
the whispers of twilight under a plump, full moon
the curls of tea-steam rising ghost-like in the air
To wool sweaters and pots of Earl Grey
To fresh baked bread and pails of chili
To greeting warm friends, both old and new
To dreams of gardens, of summer time, of spring
Shiver, quiver, like a branch on the trees
March we up and down through snow and sleet
Stamping boots and mittened hands
Searching the cobblestones for the feeling in our feet
Mmmm, come winter,
I am reborn...
The Lady of the Manor

Monday, January 4, 2010

Well, well, what HAVE we here?

What's this? A new place. I haven't seen this before and I KNOW I've seen every house on this street? What drew me back here? Oh, the long, winding drive, the Gothic iron gate, the raven perched atop the door.

You're right, the rain is freezing and the fog is too think to venture back out now. I'd love a cup of tea. Earl Grey, please, little cream, little sugar, hold the lemon.

An interesting collection on the mantle. A bust of Athena? A portrait of Emily. Nice, very nice. You have eclectic taste, dear, and I'm delights I got "lost" on the way home.

Thank you...mmmm...the tea is perfect. This chair is deliciously comfortable. Scones? Thank you. And lemon curd. O my! You do know how to treat a stranger.

Oh no, dear traveler, not a stranger, a friend. A long lost friend newly met and dearly missed. Welcome to The Manor. I am thrilled you found your way here. It is a bit off the beaten path but aren't the best places usually? There's more than enough room around the fire and plenty of cups to go around. If they get dirty, we'll just move down, clean one's already laid out. That's it, to the left. Thank you.

An experiment birthed in my over imaginative brain. A world of clockwork owls and steam powered dirigibles. Hot air balloons and locomotives, pocket watches and a universal pause for afternoon tea. The opulent, the bizarre, the hauntingly beautiful, mist shrouded day dreams of a forgotten era that's beginning to creep back into the hearts and souls of those hungry for a more genteel life. A more creative expression of art, science, and innovation.

I'm looking forward to playing mad scientist. I'm overjoyed you're here. Please join me on this crazy joy ride. I plan to be here a long, long time.

Consider Sagewood Manor your home. Whenever you find yourself on a fog laden twilight, lost and cold, weary and alone. It will be there, just down the lane, beyond the Gothic iron gate. No not that one! *shiver* Wrong drive...mine has the roses and thorns shaped out of brass, the tea cups and saucers with clocks dipped inside. Yes, yes, that one. Whew...that was close...

The door is always open, the fire always lit. The candles never extinguish, the kettle never dry. Don't mind the noises you hear from the basement, or the clanging that may trickle down the stairs from the tower. It's just me, working out my imaginations in metal, fabric, paper and clay. From time to time I'll open those doors as well. Please come down the steps or up into the rafters. I'd love to share my projects with you.

The kitchen is well stocked, the pantry over flowing! We'll experiment in there too with baking and concocting. Who knows what will come out those pots and pans?

When this rain clears up, I'll take you out back to the gardens. Yes, the gardens. You didn't see them? Of course not. The moonlight wasn't quite right. You have to catch it on the full, you see, or you'll never find the gate. Day light adds an whole new dimension and the flowers and herbs and creeping thyme are longing to meet you. Here, have a posy for your button hole.
Oh, and don't forget the wooded trails. There's a pond and the row boat the Lady of Shallot left behind. Down the hill, around the bend, is a cottage, my garden shed, my special nook and cranny. It's closed for the season but come spring time, earth simply rejoices in flowers! Oh, and if you're feeling especially adventurous, when you come to the lamp post, take a right. Go on. I know, it looks like a dead end but trust me...

There is a cemetery out there...somewhere. I never can quite find the right path to it. You'll stumble upon, I'm certain. I always do, when I'm not looking.

But for now we'll sit and sip and sup. Tomorrow is another day, after all. Your room has already been turned down, the fire's lit, and a silver carafe of water on the dressing table. Slippers? Of course! And dressing gowns and smoking jackets, though I do ask you light your pipes down here and not in your rooms (the cats don't care for the smoke and they laze about the second and third floors).
Tired? Very well. Come along. Step lively! These old stairs have a tendency to get bored and move. What was that dear? I didn't quite hear you. There you are, make yourself at home. The staff? Oh, don't trouble yourself about them. They love it when guests arrive. Give them something to do. If you need anything, pull that cord and they'll pop in and take care of your every whim. The suit of armor? Yes, it did wave. Go on, wave back! Don't want to be rude.

Good night, dear friend. Sleep well. May your dreams take you into uncharted territory and may the fairies bring you back by sun up.

Oh! I almost forgot! Whatever you do, don't tumble through the mirrors! Mind the cats; they'll try and trip you.
photo found HERE