And the tree. We were quite delighted with the new growth, to be honest. Everything looked great and then we noticed the bark cracking and falling off. Shortly after that the leaves started to get very white. Some leaves are completely white now and some have withered and falling off. We think perhaps the tools transmitted a tree disease. So after hundreds of years, the tree may have met its end. If so, tragic!
I introduced you to my friend Julie not so long ago. Follow this – I have a friend Alistair, who I met back in the heady Usenet days. We became friends in real life. Through him, I met his mum, Juliet – she also became my friend. And then I met his wife, Julie – she’s from Montreal and lives in Suffolk so I don’t see her very often. Now, Juliet has recently had some health problems and was in and out of the hospital for a while so I messaged Al to ask how she was.
He responded saying that he was more worried about Julie than he was his mum. Julie’s son from a previous marriage had suddenly died. My heart really sank. Julie and I had chatted about her son, Olly, during her last visit. I was surprised to hear that he had similar mental health issues as (my son) Robin – both in their thirties. That Olly had died just hit me as if it had happened to me. I know better than anyone how difficult it is worrying about a child (no matter how old) when things are tough for them.
We got a bit of the lowdown from Al, when he came to visit a week or so later. To be honest, the story upset me enough that I won’t repeat it. I will say that Olly had had physical issues and that Al was the person to find him when Julie couldn’t reach him by phone. Tragic.
Krish’s birthday was on 10 July. It was also the day of Olly’s funeral. Krish let me know that he would come with me to support Julie and I was grateful for that.
We left from London Bridge to Tunbridge Wells, about an hour Southeast of London.
It seems that Oliver had joined the Mormon church, where he was admired and had many friends. This really softened the story for me. I was happy to hear that he’d found acceptance and happiness with this group. It made for a rather sombre service, though. There was one very nice tradition. After the eulogies, we were invited to come up and sign the coffin with messages for Olly. I hadn’t met him so I didn’t do this but I found it touching.
After that service we left for the crematorium, where there was another service. What was nice was the beautiful gardens surrounding the crematorium, so Krish and I sat and enjoyed it for a while.
A rather predictable spread followed at the pub by the station and then it was home time!
I’d planned a birthday party for Krish and waited until his birthday to tell him about it. He was quite pleased. And then this very hot summer continued, making the preparations and shopping seem like crazy tasks!
Al and his son, James, came at first. They had been promised the football world cup final and so we sat and munched on snacks and tried not to sweat too much. Al left a little before James and, as James was leaving, Krish’s friend Mark arrived, followed an hour later by another friend, Rosie. And more snacks. The party had started at 3pm and we were finally done at 10pm. It all worked out very well! I hope the next party is in cooler weather!
Although I stubbornly insist that it will be years before it’s back to its spreading and shading self, the rebirth has been interesting so I’ve been documenting it with one photo a week since we noticed the first sprouting leaves.
Maybe one day we will buy a new couch but so far every attempt has failed. The couch is either too short, too long, too uncomfortable, too expensive… There have been five failed tries – the Ikea couch was too big, so too was the couch at Sofa Workshop, one that was advertised online was too short, the couch at a floor model sale wasn’t comfortable enough, and the Conran couch wasn’t sturdy enough. So I’m stuck with a couch that I can’t stretch out on and that sags in the middle. We think an interim step we can live with is to replace the foam inside the cushions. Soon! We did need to make two visits to Westfield, though.
This long post is about my hobby of dollmaking. Thanks for looking!
I used to make dolls a long time ago – in the 70s and 80s – but fell out of the habit. I wasn’t a doll kind of child, though. My sister liked them but I didn’t really get the appeal. One day I got a Sindy doll – it was the British Barbie equivalent. First thing I did was take off all her clothes and start creating new ones for her. I loved the Sindy doll, though, and thought her far more fashionable than the Barbie. She came about, after all, when Britain was the centre of fashion.
My dream of being a fashion designer, then a fashion artist, fell by turn. I made a few dolls many years ago and then I just stopped. Life took me in another direction. The early dolls were made entirely from whatever materials I could find in the remnant bins, whatever clothes I could cut up from the dollar bags at Goodwill and other charity places, whatever leftover wool I could find there… and this continues till today. My first place to look are in the remnant bins, and on local searches for donations, and even my old clothing that is too far gone to pass along. There’s a satisfaction in that.
Here’s a photo of a very early doll that I made for my mum. Not the first, but maybe the second or third. There are a couple of old ones at Robin’s place if they haven’t been thrown away – I’ll check. Looking at this one now, I see that it’s far too long, that the head is way too small (although maybe I should return to that shape of head) , that the details are sparse. But I also see that it held promise and I’m pleased I’ve evolved. I rescued this doll after mum died – she’s a good memory. And I’ve stuck to more or less what I created way back then.
I had thoughts of starting again a couple of years ago. My first one was clumsy and I thought I must have lost it completely. I’m a bit ashamed of those first attempts and I’ve shoved them to near the bottom of this blog entry. They are getting better. I’m terrible at sewing, always have been, but I have ideas. Because I’m not a good needleworker, I concentrate on the details – lace and such cover a multitude of sins. After looking through Etsy, I see what others do and I know I could never produce those commercial-looking dolls but I think mine are quintessentially me – moving through life as I do, making the most of what talent I have, what materials are on hand, and what occurs to me might work.
I start with an idea and as I sew, the doll reveals herself to me. She often has different thoughts for how she needs to be than I do. (Well, I am called ‘slightly weird,’ after all!) When someone requests one, I want to know first if they’d like one that crowd my bookshelf and then, if nothing works, I want to know hair and eye colour, preferred colour palette, style, and the new owner’s personal interests.
I have a lot of them now. I won’t sell them, although it’s been suggested. I prefer to give them to people who need or want them, in exchange for knowing what their names will be and receiving a selfie of them with their newly adopted doll. Surprisingly, not many comply.
Another thing I’ve made over the years are hearts. I started when I was married and I’ve begun again. I want to start making more of these so I’ve included a couple that I’ve made and photographed.
Some dolls are missing, not all the photos are here. I’ll add any that show up. My bad cataloguing skills mean I can’t find all the selfies. But there’s enough.