Hello again! Long time no speak.
May in the UK was HOT and with a large garden to look after I couldn't bear to stay indoors in my workshop while it was beautiful outside. We got a lot done, including filling in an old pond and creating a new flower bed (below left) where before there was just a mound of earth. As someone who has always been physically weak due to arthritis I have felt quite proud of myself recently for the amount of digging and moving of earth I've actually managed.
We are also currently erecting a new workshop (above right), but as our garden is on a slope we have to dig again to make a flat base. Literally all my time has been spent working in the garden, except for a couple of days when I was linocutting (which is still not finished). I feel like everything is on hold while we get the shed ready, but as I keep telling myself, there's a long winter ahead when I'll be in the workshop all the time. I do worry, though, that the more I am away from being creative, the harder it will be to get back into it.
I did get a couple of things done before my creative hiatus. I completed a pastel portrait of Teddy the Shih-Tzu as a birthday present for my lovely cousin Rachel. When she received it I got about 8 texts saying how surprised and happy she was which made my day. I was also relieved that it made it through the postal system unscathed as I have never sent a pastel anywhere before. Also, I don't like using pastel fixative so there is more of a chance of something getting smudged.
I also made a necklace with an open cage bezel using sterling wire to hold a piece of locally-mined specularite for a friend's mother. I wasn't sure how it would come out but it worked better than I thought and apparently the recipient loved it!
I've been asked recently about the availability of the Nihon and Hirosawa enamels on my website in the future. My plan had been to keep stocking them, but due to reasons out of my control I have not been able to. I'm sure at some point I probably will, but not this year. I still have some lovely yellows left and a few other colours, but that will be it for a while, so grab 'em while you can!
I have a couple of sad and a couple of happy announcements regarding my furry family. My dear Toby cat passed away this year after a short illness. He was such a lovely boy and I miss him dearly. We decided to adopt again from our local shelter and found an older snowshoe lady named Cindy. I renamed her Cinderfrost (below left), which was apt as she hid for the first four or five days in an old chimney fireplace behind some cupboards. Gradually she started to emerge and claimed one of the kitchen chairs as her own. She purred away when stroked and chirruped when she spoke, but she looked tired and something wasn't right. No matter what food we bought we couldn't get her to eat anything solid. After taking her to the vets one Saturday she died in hospital the following morning. The vet think she might have had some form of blood cancer. I was heartbroken; we only had her for a week and a half. I also feel terrible that she spent the last couple of weeks of her life in a shelter and then in our strange house. She must have felt so ill and stressed.
During this time one of my old men degus, Atlas, also passed (above right). He was a lovely boy, but his breathing hadn't been great for a while and his teeth had started to grow all over the place too. He lived with a much younger lady, Juno, which left Juno on her own and four girls and one boy in another cage. Unfortunately Juno and the other girls hate each other, so I was on the look out for a neutered male friend for her. Neutered male degus in rescue are as rare as hen's teeth, so when one came up for adoption in Wales I sent an e-mail to apply and to ask if there was any way they would be able to get him to a rescue near us. I really didn't think it would happen so I didn't even mention it to my husband. One morning I got a call and had to quickly ask my husband would he mind driving me three hours to Manchester to collect a degu!? Luckily he said yes, and now we have a lovely white and brown pied boy called Artemis (below left). He was very 'high energy' when he first met Juno, but then she's a bit wired too so perhaps she's met her match?
Finally, the rescue where Cinder came from contacted me to say they knew I was looking for an older puss, and would I like to come and meet a 13 year-old girl called Lily (above right)? Long story short, we now have a slightly spicy tabby who loves a fuss on her terms. She's a bit overweight and has a bit of arthritis in her back legs but is otherwise healthy. I can't wait until she can hang out in the garden with me on warm days. As I look outside at the awful weather at the moment, I do wonder if we will have any of those for the rest of the summer?!
Anyway, until the new workshop is built I'll be outside digging, and then I can tell you what it's all been for......