Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Unfinished business

A friend once asked me, "Why don't you just finish one thing before starting another?" That was about thirty years ago and I still haven't resolved the issue. I always have several sewing and knitting projects on the go; there is always at least one room in the house with half-sorted bookshelves, drawers or boxes just waiting for me to find time to finish; I've been working on the family tree for several years, ditto the sorting and assembling of family photos. I could go on but I can't change the habit of a lifetime by actually finishing something!

That particular friend had the most organised house I have ever seen but I confess that her tidiness used to unnerve me. I expect she felt overwhelmed by my chaos but we got on surprisingly well together, she with her routines and order and me with my rushes of enthusiasm for trying new things.

Our resident blackbirds are rather like me. They produced four babies and as soon as they fledged they started on another clutch.  Mr Blackbird is busy feeding the first lot, while Mrs B is sitting on the nest. I'm afraid there only seem to be two fat little youngsters now, although it is hard to spot them in the undergrowth where they have taken up residence.

Yesterday one made it up onto the birdbath, so I think they will be fully independent soon and Mr B can get back to looking after his wife.
Meanwhile we have taken on some of his duties, providing Mrs B with a constant supply of food so that she doesn't have to leave the nest unattended for too long.
The garden is another example of my haphazard approach to life. I started with a plan; a very costly plan as I consulted an expert. We went through catalogues and design books and agreed on colours, shapes, height of plants and so on. Then my true nature took over and I have added whatever pleases me and the bees and butterflies. The garden will never be "finished" according to the plan, but I don't think I would like too much order there. Even this rose chose not to wait for one bloom to die before producing two more on the same stem:
Chaos reigns and I love it!

I am currently spending as many hours as I can in the garden, pottering about, reading and simply enjoying the abundance of life. It is an excellent way of avoiding finishing off those tasks that are waiting indoors.

One project I do plan to finish soon, though, is a quilt for baby grandson, Benjamin. Here is what I've done so far:
Twenty-four little boats, ready to be assembled. I'll have to press on because I'm already planning the next project, something for granddaughter Charlotte's first birthday in August.(Yes, Fern, I can hear you telling me to concentrate on one thing at a time. I'm sure I am better than I was thirty years ag. Oops. Perhaps not.)


  1. Oooh - what lovely boats! Can't wait to see it finished!

  2. m. you sure get a lot done for someone who's disorganized! Having an extra room to house all your projects makes it a lot easier to have multiple projects going.

    The sailboats are adorable and your garden makes me green (pun intended) with envy!

  3. Adelephant

    Postponing your visit has given me a few extra days to work on finishing it. The boats have been very fiddly but I like them.

  4. erp

    My old office has become my work room since I retired, so I keep all my projects in there but I have to confess that it is a chaotic place!

    I'm glad you like the boats. I wouldn't be trying these things if you hadn't helped me make that first piggy quilt.

  5. m. thanks for the credit, but all I did was send you photos of a quilt and a template of a stylized piggy. The rest is your own ingenuity and skill.

    I'm doing a massive sort and scan of old photos with the idea of putting them on a DVD. Not having dedicated space to work on the project is slowing me down a lot.

  6. I am with you on having many projects going at once, and you think like me about gardening: chaos can be beautiful.

  7. I am like you. Need to have more than just a few projects going on simultaneously. But that is the only way to be, I think.

    And your garden is perfect as it is, because you love it. The only test a garden is supposed to pass is whether the person who loves it feels happy there or not.

  8. I do have a tendency to distract myself with something new before I finish something.
    I am at my worst with reading sometimes I have six or seven novels on the go at a time (how I don't know as I never seem to have any time for reading).

  9. e, I always give credit where it is due and I know how much your clear explanations and encouragement helped me get started!

    It must be difficult to get on with the photographs if you have to pack them away after each session. What will you do with the originals when you have them all on DVD? Is there someone in the family who would treasure them?

  10. Terra
    I'm so glad you agree, although my chaotic workroom might prove too much for most people!

  11. Rayna
    One thing about people like us is that we are never bored! I'm always lost for words when people ask what I do with my time now that I'm retired. There are never enough hours in the day to do all that I would like.

    I'm reading a book by Gertrude Jekyll about gardens and she says something very similar to you about it being only to please the owner.

  12. Al
    Distraction is my middle name, as you can tell from the title of my blog! It probably makes life difficult for our families but I hope it keeps them interested in what we are doing.

  13. m. I couldn't agree with you more about being bored. So far, it's never happened, because if I'm somewhere I don't want to be, there's always people watching or if that fails and don't have anything to read with me, I simply retreat into my own head and try to work out some problems (many are old friends) that I keep on the back burner.

    Right now, the photographs I've scanned are in a jumble. My plan, such as it is, is to put them in the same order as photos on the disk. It's amazing that the hundred plus year old photos are in good shape and scan beautifully while others taken only 20 or 30 years ago are so faded or yellow that even the miracle of Photoshop can’t help them.

  14. That sounds like an enormous project, e. I know what you mean about the old photos retaining their quality better than modern ones. The black and white photographs and the older sepia ones that I have of my grandparents look much sharper than later ones.

    Good luck with the task - I can see your winter months will be fully occupied.

  15. Our French connections are coming for a visit in August and I had hoped to have a DVD to give them. Don't think that'll happen.

    I thought you'd get a kick out of an early c.1938 documentation of erp reading on inappropriate occasions. That's my father on the left and his sister and her husband next to him.

  16. e, that is a lovely photograph. I really like to see children being natural and not posing. The book must have been interesting - perhaps your aunt and uncle had just given it to you as a present? Or maybe your father gave it to you so that you would stand still!

    I'm excited on your behalf that you'll be seeing your granddaughter. Have fun.

  17. What a reassuring post, M. I too am uncomfortable when plonked down in the middle of extreme tidiness. Perhaps that comes (for me) from growing up surrounded by people whose extreme tidiness masked deep-rooted unhappiness. And my garden, much like my life, is a bit haphazard, a bit random. However, I understand that for others, any degree of disorder, let alone chaos, is the stuff of nightmares. Each to their own.

    In defence of a certain degree of disorder, I would just say this: one never knows quite what one will stumble upon. Sometimes there are delightful surprises, as well as the less welcome ones.

    Like you, I have shedloads of projects embarked upon that remain unfinished but have at long last decided not to give myself any grief about it. Now that I have more time, I'll be able to complete some of them; others, where the original spark that fired the interest has long since died, are unlikely to reach any conclusion. But, as a cliché-prone friend of mine often remarked: "In the great scheme of things, it really doesn't matter that much."

    Those who love us love us for what we are and I have a sneaking suspicion that the last words on our lips will not be "I wish I'd been more organised."

  18. You are so right, D. I don't imagine I will be regretting my lack of organisation in my final moments - unless my distraction caused my demise, of course!

    I like those unexpected discoveries, too. I love opening a book I haven't read for years and finding a letter or postcard tucked inside; my ultra-tidy friend reads hers, replies and destroys the original immediately. My disorganised cupboards are full of lovely memories to be rediscovered long afterwards.

  19. Can't really believe you are chaotic when you so such beautiful sewing. Love the photos, by the way, especially the one at the top of the blog.

  20. Susie, that is kind but even my dearest friends would not call me tidy. The current banner photo is of the Valley of the Rocks at Lynton, one of our local treasures.


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