New Year 2021: an elephant for good luck


Embroidered Indian elephant (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Having had a technologically thwartful few weeks, I came to blog posting in a less than jolly mood but trying hard to be positive, I  entitled my draft ‘an elephant for good luck’. Happily, it seems feng shui does hold them lucky creatures, though if you do want an image of one in your house in accordance with feng shui principles, it should be placed just inside the front door and face into the house – which may not be possible for the recipient of this particular elephant. But there we are,  my spirits have risen a little.

Embroidered Indian elephant with David Attenborough quote (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Nanoseconds later spirits have, however, sunk again as a warning from Adobe Flash Player flits across my screen telling me it will cease functioning from 12 January this year. No one has ever been able to work out why I have Adobe Flash nor what I use it for. And anyway, I thought I had already got rid of it!!! . Grr, grr, triple grr…

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Small rant ensues. I’m of the generation for whom a television set came with the parental edict never to touch any button other than on/off and channel change – there were 2 channels. Touching the horizontal hold  seemed to be a particularly heinous crime but thumping the top of the set when things went fuzzy seemed perfectly permissible. In recent times new computers/phones, etc., come accompanied with my children’s direction to ‘just play with it’, an exhortation which fills my generally biddable soul with such horror as to render me incompetent and incapable, frozen in anticipation of things going wrong. And they do. Consequently, I try to avoid updates of any sort unless I have a trusted person beside me with an afternoon, or even day or two spare and a willingness to devote themselves exclusively to me in my nigh on pathological fear of inviting change into my computer. In these times , of course, no such support is available.

Embroidered Indian elephant with David Attenborough quote (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

By late December, computer irritations – slow downloading, the aforementioned Adobe Flash warnings, non downloading of photos from my camera, etc., etc., seemed to be mounting and I made the wild decision to update the operating system before the old, troublesome year was out. This, I was optimistically and irrationally convinced, would enable me to start the new year with a smoothly functioning machine. Zealously and semi-ritualistically, I first cleaned my Mac Book until it looked like new. On New Year’s Eve, under the telephone direction of daughter No 3, with a few hiccoughs, we  seemed successfully to have set the download in motion.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Ha, Ha, Ha! Well, of course, that wasn’t the end of it.  The download seemed to have happened but my password no longer worked – I couldn’t even shut the machine down. A day later, I set out computerwards again, striding womanfully onto the shining uplands of the new year.  This time the original password worked but passwords to other areas didn’t. Passwords slipped through the air like autumn leaves, as they were tried, failed, reset and failed again, while security messages sent to my at that time inaccessible email languished unseen, unread and unusable. Downhearted, I abandoned the sleek silver box of pain and tried to forge a pathway through the next few months which included no catch up TV and radio, no emails and no blogging. Life was looking very grim and I realised how dependent my happiness had been on such things during the last year. Slump. slump, slump. Sob, sob, sob.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Gradually over the next few days, most applications juddered back to life, responded to former passwords and were opened to me!!!

Then we had a new hub …the BT engineer is returning on Monday.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Today, however, in joyous validation of the much maligned pathetic fallacy (which often works in real life, though should be avoided in literature), the sun came out and I worked out how to download photographs!!

Most of which is great but exhausting beyond belief. No longer fully human, we flop over the things we want to do like 2 over-wrung dish clothes ready to be consigned to the rubbish bin. It has been a trying start to what may well be a demanding year.

The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule (pub V & A Museum, 1982) & Visions of Mughal India: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin (pub. Ashmolean Museum 2012)

Returning to the elephant which I first showed and wrote about here. The writing was quite wrong. Black cross stitch didn’t work. Small ears reminded me it was an Indian elephant and as such I felt it needed colour. Scanning books, like the two above  (my running elephant was taken directly from an Indian Miniature in Howard Hodgkin’s collection), I realised the embroidery needed little clumps of flowers and a colourful border. Instead of black cross stitch, hand lettering in Mulberry is clear enough to be read but fine enough not to intrude on our elephant as it frolics in a field of flowering plants. Finished, this is my Christmas present to Daughter No 1.

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Christmas 2020: a chip off the old block

Fabric present bags – the ultimate in Christmas present wrapping

Christmas in our household (Tier 2, Tier 3 on Boxing Day) has come with minimal trappings this year, Christmas cards slipped between books on the bookshelf being the main attraction, along with a couple of pretty red origami stars fashioned out of a thin layer of wood on the mantlepiece. On Christmas Day, presents from the family consisted entirely of brown cardboard boxes splashed with the names John Lewis, Space NK, Muji and Oliver Bonas (small triumph, I don’t think any had Amazon!) . Daughter No 2, from far off Cambodia, apologised for the lack of festive wrapping and insisted we didn’t open her brown packages until Christmas Day, so we just embraced the brown wrapping theme and didn’t open anything packed in that way until Christmas Day. All wonderfully enjoyable and strangely liberating  – for a one off!

Fabric Christmas present bags

Meanwhile in London (Tier 3 about to become Tier 4, the newest and most restricted of tiers), Daughter No 3 was having none of a brown paper and cardboard Christmas. In a labour of love for the family and in pursuit of as ecologically sound a Christmas as possible in a house where plastic Lego sets loom large, she spent most spare time in December (and probably November too) making reusable fabric packaging. By email I asked if she had made ‘seamed’ bags, assuming she’d opted for those fabric squares which you tie into rabbits’ ears, a manner of present wrapping beloved of the practical and aesthetic Japanese. Feigning not to understand me, she replied she had used french seams on the bags for the foot of the children’s beds but had used ordinary seams in all the other bags which, being lined wouldn’t be visible anyway. Lined present bags!!!! I boomed back in shock by email much in the manner of Lady Bracknell’s “A handbag”. She later admitted in a phone call that she had caught herself wondering why such attention to detail, an idea swiftly followed by a dreadful suspicion of ‘channelling mother’ ! Channelling mother, my foot, if I were going to make fabric present bags – which idea I have dabbled with – I wouldn’t dream of going so far as lining them! I am still agog at such industry. But what a brilliant idea – little of that de-crunching of wrapping paper as you smooth out the recyclable and separate it from the metallic and unrecyclable  – and none of that loosing of your wedding ring in the process as I did when I sorted out the Christmas recycling in London last year!

Jolly fabric Christmas present bags

Today we woke to a snow covered world. Quite unexpected. By lunchtime, as I write, it has gone and everywhere is just wet and cold. We need go nowhere, though we should go for a walk. I shall continue with my Christmas present making – to be delivered goodness knows when. My husband has a vaccine booked for him on the 8th of January, so that’s promising. Daughter No 1 is now working in No 10 and we all have our fingers crossed this week will see parliament approve of the Brexit deal achieved on the 23rd/24th, so that the new year can be just that. The coming year suddenly feels more upbeat and positive.

Foot of bed Christmas present bags Imonogrammed and french seamed!)

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