Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Creative Tuesdays

I'm in blogland long enough to post this little duckie for Mr. Toast's Creative Tuesday. Wander by to see the other fabulous entries. Happy Tuesday!

The Lady

Friday, February 19, 2010

It Is Time

Dear hearts,

It has come to my soul's attention that a much needed break is in order. I know I haven't been in the Manor much these past two weeks. My mind is as cluttered as the attic of a hundred year old house. I feel the need to regroup, to de-moth and fling open the shutters.

Winter has taken a toll on me like never before. I usually revel in the greyness of dawn and the whistling, howling wind. But this year -be it the weather or life's challenges- spring is overdue.

I will be unplugging until March 01. It's only a week (plus a weekend). I will be visiting and will comment on the blogs to which I wander.

Have a marvelous weekend, dears, and I pray the snow is thawing and the sun will be shining. I will see you all here at the Manor on March 01.

Exhaustedly, but cheerfully, yours,
The Lady
ps: I will be posting my entry for Mr. Toast's Creative Tuesday, but that will be the only post I make in the next week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Epiphanies Beneath the Siren's Seal

Yes, the coffee gods know me by name.

Too long have I wandered amongst the greyness. The clouds suck life from tree and stone. I, who revel in mists, I who pine for autumn come August am longing for spring. Yes. Spring. I don't like spring. Ever. The pollen, the over abundance of pink and frills. It's just not me. But this year, oh, I may buy a bouquet of pink out of protest for the claws of winter that seem to be ripping at my soul!

I am having a rough go of creating. I haven't written in years it seems. I eek out words here and there, more like the annoying trickle of a leaky faucet than the torrent of inspiration I crave.

Out early this morning, I sought refuge in an Earl Grey Latte. It was once called London Fog. Ahh, so atmospheric, shot down by a corporate America who realized, sadly, that modern America's needed something less picturesque for a caffeine addicted order. (I protest: I still order London Fog when it leaps to mind.)

Epiphany comes in the oddest of places. A lonely table beneath the beckon of a siren's seal. Activity around me, a quiet hum, bee hive energy as workers buzz in and out, grinding beans and steeping tea. I am able to lose myself in work. Oh bliss, you are fleeting, and I had to leave after a mere fifteen minutes but it was there. It has not forsaken me fully.

An email, a regular, regaling me with tales of those who work full time at their passions. There is jealousy, yes, but more than that is a joy for them. A joy that I long to replicate. I look at the work, paintings, innocent and full of personality. Different. Unique. Funding a dream.

I am pulled, at the navel, like the port key journeys in Rowling's world. If my feet weren't grounded I would have been sucked out the door. To where? I'm not sure. An easel on the banks of the Seine? A lap desk (remember those?) on a boat in the Nile? If only, I exhale, if only.

Slowly it dawns, you are unique and what you desire to create is like no other. But what will the world think? It matters not, it whispers. Create it you must. Do what you love and the rest will fall into place. Wise words read years ago, tucked away like my grandmother's handkerchief in her treasure chest of a dresser.

A few shots of some paper play things I've been contemplating. What will they become? I haven't the foggiest (the London Foggiest?). I am still searching. My soul knows, yes it knows. Why is it so hard to listen?

Here's to a lovely Wednesday, dear friends. Lavender buckets filled with cream and sugar swimming with tea.

Stay cozy,
The Lady

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lessons in the Art of Slow - A Day Late

"my dream is to walk in my own soul's boots"

Do forgive my tardiness! It seems the week has flown away from me and I've been a day behind since Sunday.

This living slow business: it seems the further along I go I meet more and more who are wanting it, craving it. I meet others who are adopting it, experimenting with it. And yet, when I turn the corner, they are not the people before me, the ones I see with my waking eyes.

It's sad, to me, that so many are caught in the web of rushing when really they are trapped. Trapped in a widow's web of always running, never arriving.

I work for a company that trouble shoots technical issues predominately for medical offices. Doctors are necessary, modern medicine (at times) a blessing. But the hassle and the demanding attitudes that accompany these places all fill me with sadness. Important, yes. Reason for panic attack? No. No, no, and again I say no.

A thought has stemmed from these constant occurrences, two actually (possibly more). I suppose it goes along with my pondering from Woolgatherings. If we were all to follow our own path, not the path given, forced, expected, dictated - our own, what would happen? Why the world would stand on its head! The loose change would fall from our pockets into the outstretched hands of the beggars. They were don purple velvet coats and become the philosophers of the age!

Writers would be celebrated for originality and not for revenue. Artists would paint portraits of dog sitters and ballet dancers. Chefs would cook hamburgers, gourmet cheesecakes and caviar encrusted cheese balls. Doctors would have compassion, lawyers would tell the truth, sales clerks would sell with passion. Magicians would walk, their wands would be pencils and words of inspiration would appear under overpasses.

What if we all walked in our calling? If we all shed the pretense of just getting by? Fast food service would be happier and a wait in the ER would be endurable. To operate in our gifts - to live in a world that operated in flow of gift and love for the work of our hands. My soul leaps, dear reader, at the possibilities.

Stay cozy, dear ones,
The Lady of the Manor

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Promised Pictures

I promised pictures and, behold, I doth deliver! We weren't able to take a lot, but the ones we got were enough to remember the day. It's been cold and grey in Georgia and the day we chose to go hiking was freezing, wet, and *gasp* snowy! So the snow drifted lazily and stuck only momentarily on the leaves of the rhododendrons, but it was snow, dear friends. These pictures were taken on the Bear Creek Trail outside of Ellijay, Georgia. Trust me when I say it's hard to find but worth the hunt!

I'm a sucker for moss covered trees! The flash hit the snow flakes and turned them into fairy lights. Or maybe the flash wasn't turned on and those really are fairy lights?

This is just one of the creeks we had to cross. Three of them were just trickles but two were pretty wild and about a foot or so deep. We had to tip toe over the rocks and still got wet! Brrrr!

Two thumbs up from a member of the peanut gallery :)

This is Lord Beard and me in front of the Gennett Poplar.
We had read it was the largest tree in Georgia.
Okay, a big tree. No seriously: this was a BIG tree!

After this shot, our friends joined us. We were able to stretch ourselves around it.
All four of us made a ring around this tree and it took some doing to clasp hands.

Like I said. A big tree. Sure, if you live in Norther California, this isn't so magnificent. But to us, it was HUGE! Those two little spots at the foot are myself and Lord Beard.

Anyone else have any adventures lately?
I believe these were our first of late that did NOT include the Guthries!
(Thank heavens...)

Monday, February 8, 2010


Sometimes I feel my weekends are made for reevaluations and considerations.
Sometimes I feel I may never actually open a shop for these eternal ponderings.
Sometimes I feel I could take on the world!
Sometimes I want to pull the comforter over my head.
Sometimes I dig in, pull weeds, and plant younglings, green eyed wonder with buds already.
Sometimes I find my flowers wilted, weeping and dry as old newsprint.
Sometimes my brush is dipped in red, painting broad strokes of live on skies and clouds.
Sometimes it is vacant, or dredged in stone, chiseling chunks out of the photograph of life.

This weekend I spent some time pondering. Not an uncommon occurrence if you know me well. We meandered up a mountain trail, crossed several shivering creeks while snow dust fell, shaken from shivering clouds. I hugged an ancient tree, clawed my knuckle on balancing limbs, and sloshed over mud paved moss littered paths. Sunday dawned a new life, as all days do, and I found my pen meandering, playing with thoughts again. Tossing balls of light into the air, letting them settle wherever they may. A new vision came forth and I'm enlightened and delighted. Expect some pictures soon.

Tread softly,
The Lady (Jen)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

When last we met, dear friends, I hinted that things were not well here in Willow-on-Sea. It's not that there's anything particularly terrible going on. Just mysterious. Very mysterious. I had noticed the odd stares of those in Brambry, when Sir Jon and I stayed a few days while the Manor was being cleaned as the prior owners had left in quite a hurry it seemed. Of course the whole incident with Lord and Lady Guthrie (who finally returned and seem to be fine and act as if their disappearance never occurred. I have yet to confront the good doctor or the reverend, but I have it on good authority they will both be at the Hobbit Hole Inn this evening. I think Lord Beard and I should make plans to eat dinner there.

Nothing, however, could have confirmed my suspicions more than Alice. I believe I mentioned her in a previous post. I know you remember the strange circumstance of the girl at the edge of the forest? That was Alice. A delightful girl, full of imagination and spirit. But she suffers from terrible nightmares and I have yet to get a complete story from her. She said she was on her way home from her grandmother's house when she was pursued by an unseen assailant. I feel she knows more than she is letting on but I don't want to pry. At least not now. When I asked her where her home is and if I could see her safely there, she violently shook her head and said she never wanted to go back. She was happy she got lost and is even happy the "thing", as she calls it, chased her to the border of our yard. Lord Beard is keen on her staying, as am I, so until we can discuss this further and solidify some details, she'll be occupying one of our upstairs bedrooms.

I'm afraid, however, the clothes she arrived in have had to be discarded. Her white dress, once very lovely, was snagged and filthy. Her red cloak was torn and splattered with mud. She heartily agreed they should be thrown out and gave no argument when Benson tossed them into the bin.

As I sit here writing this by light of a sputtering candle, my eyes cannot help but continue to glance at the edge of the forest. Shadows dart in and out amongst the trees and occasionally I see lights, like those that dress a Christmas tree, flicker in the leaves. I've heard there are fairies in the woods. I'm eager to see them. Perhaps, when the rain lets up a bit, I'll have a look. As long as the shadows don't object.

The Lady

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lessons in the Art of Slow

I am struggling with this, dear friends. In my recent Woolgatherings, I posted about slumps. It seems I am not only in a writing slump but a life slump as well. What to do when your outward life is so far beyond what your soul life is or needs?

I confess I have been neglecting the Manor. Not physically but spiritually. The dishes are washed and the laundry is done. The cat is fed. The bed is (sometimes) made. No, it's more of an aesthetic neglect. A life style neglect. Perhaps it's just a stage. Life really does happen in many stages. From one to the next, first joyful, next bleak, then the dawn cometh once more. I feel as though I am in the Depths of Despair. Imagine that said dramatically, Anne of Green Gables style, one arm thrown over my eyes as I fall onto the sofa with a loud, long sigh.

In creeps the voice of wisdom. It's Marilla's voice: "To despair is to turn your back on God". Have I turned my back on God? I don't think so. I'm searching the scriptures for any semblance of comfort, of message, of spiritual awakening.

No, not a back turning. A life stopping. Not intentional but real, nevertheless. How does it happen? I wish I knew. One minute you're cruising along, busy as a bee, singing like a swallow when *wham*, there's a wall. And what a silly place for a wall. I was doing just fine, moving forward. Forward.

Stuck, drifting backwards now, wondering where the paddles went. Wondering where time and energy and dreams got out and you were left alone in the canoe with a few bread crumbs and a canteen of chlorinated water. All along the river you see people picnicking, enjoying the sun, their cold meats and red wines. A few people drift past you, yearning for the shore. Some even paddle over and join them. So why don't I? No oars? No problem! I'll just use my hands, my arms, my legs...what's this?

A canoe, as battered as mine, if not more, moves slowly past me. Not down stream, as I go, but up. Up stream? I watch, amazed at the concentration on his face. His hands are bleeding, there are tear stains down his face. A face smeared with dirt and the remnants of sleep long forgotten.

"Where are you going?" I call out as he pokes on by.

"Up there," he gestures, not taking his eye off his destination.

"Where? There's nothing up there but more water, more vines, more tangles of sea weed.

Someone just yesterday floated by and said they were nearly capsized by an armada of hippos."

He nods, sagely, exhausted. But still he paddles on.

"Aren't you afraid?"


"What if there's nothing there?"

"I must see for myself."

"What are you hoping to find?"

He looks at me now, then at the people frolicking on shore, "Something more."

I watch him as he trudges onward. I bump suddenly against something and realize it's a log. One end of it rests on the sandy shore. a few turtles are sunning themselves on it. Debris have collected against it and the sand. Bottles, plastic bags, a beer can or three. And an oar. It's old and covered in slime and there is only one. But it's an oar.

I could climb out and cross over the log. I could. I can smell the barbecue now. I sit on the log, one hand holding the canoe, one shading my eyes from the harsh sun. My eyes dart to the oar. A few children run by, laughing. Lovers stroll by their fingers entwined, he whispering, she blushing with delight. The air smells of apple blossoms and lavender. I look up stream. The man is no where to be found. He has paddled beyond the bend. I have a choice to make.




My fingers find the oar and grasps it tightly. It's been a long time since I've paddled. I'm afraid I've forgotten how. One stroke, then another. Then another, and another. Pretty soon, I'm moving. Slowly, yes, but moving. Up stream. I pass the shores and others watch. Some wave, some shrug, some beckon. Others roll their eyes and mumble. One old man made a face! I roll up my sleeves and stare ahead. What's around the bend? My thumb grazes the oar handle, something raised on the end. Curious I look down. Stamped in faded gold are three small words.

Never Give Up

What's around the bend, I wonder?


Do you have a "more"? Would it just be easier to get out of the boat? Are you surrounded by those who don't understand?

~The Lady

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, Monday, where have you gone?

Hello dear friends! Welcome to February. It seems Monday gathered her skirts and ran without even finishing her tea. Tut-tut; manners!

The weekend was good. Relaxing. What I needed. Never long enough, though. A vacation is looooong overdue. As much as I am in love with the Manor and our quaint village of Willow-on-Sea, it's been a good ten years since I've had the pleasure of that blissful happening known as "vacation". I've even found myself wishing for Hawaii, and, as my husband has noted, that is quite odd coming from this British girl at heart. I love the sun and sand, but I usually pine for grey skies and the pitter-patter of rain on a roof. Yes, dear hearts, I'm contemplating a move to a tropical island!

The only news from the workshop I have to give is that I have finally (FINALLY) organized the attic and it's in excellent shape to begin hosting any crafting sprees I may take a fancy to. I had buckets of fabric and papers to shift around, a vintage sewing machine and a round table (don't worry, King Arthur said I could borrow it. Honest!). I even hoisted a trunk up stairs to hold my writing works in progress. And when I say hoisted I mean it! Not that the trunk was heavy; the stairs are more steep than I thought. It was quite an adventure and Lord Beard laughed when I told him. He knows better than to tell me to wait on him to move furniture :) I'm not against help, I just like to flex my muscles every now and then.

With the newly cleaned attic, I've got an idea a-bubbling on the proverbial back burner. A couple of mini-books are on tap. Now that I'm mentioned them here, I have no choice but to make them. Consider yourselves my personal tab-keepers. Mention something and people will expect it. Ha! Take that, Procrastination!

I do hope your week has started out well, despite the snow and sleet and rain that seems to have enveloped the country in a soggy quilt. Winter is here for a bit longer, dears. It is only February by the way. But today is Candlemas. Also know as Groundhog Day. If it's rainy and cold then spring is near by. If the sun shines, well, six more weeks of winter we can expect.

Of course, no one really believes these predictions, do they? I mean, superstition is just nonsense, right? Right? Hmmm, I'm not so sure. Not after Friday's adventures...It seems something strange is afoot here in Willow-on-Sea. When first we moved, I marveled at the suspicious glances of our neighbors as we bought dry goods. I grew concerned when we visited Brambry and were treated with what I can only regard as fear once it was made known where we now lived. I dismissed it as the well known cynicism towards newcomers that seems to be present in these old villages.

I inquired at the post office and Nancy laughed, nervously I noted, that I was being silly. Brambry was full of superstitious people, Father Algorium chuckled when I told him of my concerns. "Nothing to worry your pretty head about," he assured me. However, I've noticed things that I seemed to have missed during the initial rush of relocation excitement. Doors are barred at twilight. People rarely venture outside after nightfall. No one wants to talk about the Guthrie's strange disappearance. Not even Dr. Helmstrode. Benson chalks it up to "country ignorance". Alice's story, however, sheds a very different light on the subject.

Who's Alice? Well, I think it's best for her to explain her situation. She's in town right now with Sir Jon. Why don't you stop by on Friday. I'll have Cook bake her famous Death by Chocolate cake and we'll bring out the special reserve Assam tea. Prepare to stay a while. It's quite a tale.

Cheers and stay warm, dry, and well supplied with tea and crumpets,