Monday, August 05, 2013

Family visit, and webs.

Me: 'So is there anything green you do eat?'
Benj: (pause) 'Fruit pastilles...'

We've had the yearly summer visit from Tom's daughter and family, so that's kept us busy, and now I feel like the poor man in the story, who went to the rabbi complaining that his house was unbearably small and crowded and dirty, so the rabbi told him to bring the chickens then the goat then the cow into the house as well, then finally to put them all out again, so the man couldn't believe how much space and luxury he had. And I am finally getting down into the foothills of Mount Laundry.

It was mostly hot; we went to the beach and hugged the shade of the cliffs, got bitten by nasty little sand bugs, but I had a good swim and the others played ball a bit in and out of the water, and we ate peaches, cherries and strawberries from the market. I forgot to take any photos.

The children pass through phases of childhood charm and originality through adolescent strop and obsession (Ice Road Truckers is just about more tolerable to hear about than fantasy football teams I suppose, in moderation, which it isn't...) and, in the older one's case at least, show signs of emerging back into charm and originality again.  I don't fuss about the food in fact; they're only here for a short time, I know what they like and provide it, they eat well, are appreciative and in many ways have quite sophisticated tastes. Emily can still eat moules frîtes at astonishing speed and in astonishing quantities as often as you can put them in front of her.

She looked with interest at the double-self-striped Mille Colori scarf I was knitting. Beautiful, she said, quite genuinely, then, tentatively, 'I'd like a Hufflepuff scarf, but they're terribly expensive...'

We had a look on-line at patterns and photos, and I said no promises but I'd see what I could do. Her sixteenth birthday's next month, so I reckon I can probably get one done by then; it'll be a good opportunity to learn how to do magic loop without worrying about shaping, and things with stripes always grow faster.  I've sought out a yellow that should be fairly soft and gold-ish rather than anything too acid or strident, and it will suit her, with her dark eyes and hair, coloured rather chocolaty as a gift from the hairdresser where she just did some work experience. She says she isn't quite sure she wants to be sixteen yet, she doesn't feel so grown up, so one can understand her hankering for something a bit childish and cosy but also trendy like a big stripy Harry Potter scarf.  I'm well-disposed towards Harry Potter, and as a craze for kids it strikes me as very benign, as well as enduring.  We were then curious to know how she knew she was a Hufflepuff, which prompted us to sign in to the official website and to find out what we were. K, Tom's daughter, who hadn't done it, said she imagined the questionnaire would be rather like magazine ones, with very obvious leading questions so that you could easily reckon on getting the result you wanted, but in fact these seemed surprisingly opaque, and we didn't get the same ones.  Tom's a Ravenclaw, and I'm another Hufflepuff, both of which I'd predicted and we're quite happy with.

As I say I haven't been taking many photos since they came, but on the theme of knitting and connections, here are some dewy webs I took a couple of weeks ago.



Roderick Robinson said...

What, no deconstruction of Ice Road Truckers? I have seen one episode and concluded it was based on a limited premise. Soccer is Zach's sole failing; almost like watching the child being overtaken by a degenerative disease. So pervasive.

I told myself I wouldn't read anything more about knitting. It's a private world and I feel I'm intruding. Then my lingering eye caught "things with stripes always grow faster". And lo, I entered a private world of my own.

marja-leena said...

Sounds like you have a nice relationship with the kids and had a good time.

Not a knitter either, but wow, the knitting art of the spider is amazing - great shots, Lucy!

Catalyst said...

I love your photos but I worry about "where is that damned spider anyway?"

Lucy said...

Thanks people.

RR - I try not to absorb any more information about IRT than I can avoid. This particular obsession has been around since last year, but then he also had a computer game that was potentially quite informative and educational, and which I could express a fairly genuine interest in, involving being a virtual trucker transporting various commodities between cities in Europe on existing roads and receiving virtual payment for it. Apparently this is no longer exciting enough however. I understand your feelings about the soccer, but I believe in some cases it isn't terminal, and the sufferers can go on to lead normal and useful lives; my nearest brother, the least likely person in the world to have any interest in sport at all now, even went through a football phase before the age of ten, and he's all right now, though he does have a tendency to attend science fiction conferences. Alas, the male brain, ever shading towards the autistic spectrum. Though I can't really deride other people's obsessions I suppose, since my brain turned into a skein of wool. While not wishing to venture into your particular private world which the assertion about the stripes gave rise to, it really is true. Tom thought I was just punning on 'go-faster stripes', but it isn't that, more that one keeps saying to oneself, 'I'll just go on to the next stripe...' and having something clearly visible to measure one's progress by is an incentive.

ML - thanks. Yes, we get on all right. I don't enter very far into their world, and sometimes I find them nicer and more interesting than others, but we've never had any problems, and as I say, they are always appreciative. They have quite a bit of space to themselves here too, which they - and we! - enjoy.

Bruce - I did see her in fact, and tried to photograph her, but in fact she was really quite small and rather shy and the camera couldn't focus on her in time!

Ellena said...

Elegant traps build of crystal pearls. Amazing photos as usual.

Roderick Robinson said...

I passed on your story about stripes to VR, a Homeric knitter, and she finished it off by pre-empting your punchline explanation. Quite a strange moment. As if all the knitters of the world were revealed as industrious, self-engaged and worthy of government (imposing it, that is) whereas I - a non-knitter despite my little foray - was merely a member of the great unwashed. There I sat, alone and unpurled.

Lyse said...

Les jolies toiles d'araignées, les perles de rosée sont des oeuvres d'art on dirait des bijoux.
Tu as été très occupée. Tu es contente de ton tricot avec ta nouvelle laine ?
On verra le résultat ?
Bonne journée à toi Lucy

Nimble said...

This is not forever, just a phase -- I like your attitude which seems to make enjoying everyone's company more likely.

Love the webs especially the single strand of dewdrops.

Nimble said...

Oh and isn't it great when loved ones tell you exactly what to make for a gift?! Happy hufflepuffing.

Rouchswalwe said...

Connections. I love the way you connect knitting and webbing. A camera-shy spider ... sounds like the beginning of a story.

Unknown said...

Odd how children don't like green food. My grand children were the same but are gradually coming round. Lovely strings of pearls. A few photographs you say, but ones to nurture.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lucy, I know what you mean about recovering after family visitations. It will take me at least 3 days to return to my normal happy hermitage state after a week of sibling-itis. Not that it had any ressemblance to your apparently much more harmonious family assembly.
I didn't know what Hufflepuff was since my knowledge of Harry Potter-lore is very limited. But now I'm motivated to take the test you mention.
I love your descriprions of knitting - and art in themselves.

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Ellena - they are rather pearly - I never feel I can get such nice crisp images of things like this as I could with the old camera I had...

RR - I'd like to qualify as a Homeric knitter. It doesn't have to be stripes, any repeating pattern will do, but stripes are quicker.

Lyse - merci! C'est vrai que je suis accro au tricot! J'attends encore la laine par courrier (moins chere que les boutiques de laine), mais j'ai plusieurs autres projets en train, dont une veste (sans manches!) pour mon mari, et des écharpes. Je vais essayer de faire un post sur mes tricots bientôt...

Nimble - they really are here for such a short time. As they get older they're less demanding in many ways, for us anyway, but this time round their dad, Tom's s-i-l, in particular, was really struggling with the younger one, and we felt for him. He had some good chats with Tom which hopefully helped a bit. I'm always pleased when people show an interest and express a wish for something I'm making, knitting seems especially gratifying that way, people seldom seem backward with the oblique requests and hints!

R - yes, webs is it!

Joe - I saw an interesting article recently about why French kids really do eat more things and are less fussy than British or American ones. Apparently it can take from 7 to 15 tastings to acquire a taste. I do turn into a bit of a grumpy reactionary old fart about the lack of education (in the widest sense) about food, though these two have something like 'food studies' on the curriculum, it doesn't seem to be having much effect, though they're more savvy about eating out and eat more sophisticated things than we ever did. They do like fruit, however.

Natalie - I'm glad other people find family get-togethers similarly exhausting, I tend to think I must be a bit of a wimp! As I say, it really is a short time thy're here, and we didn't have any real problems ourselves, but it wasn't entirely without conflict, and I'm afraid I grow more and more thankful I'm not bringing kids up myself.

I started getting a bit boggled and slightly queasy at the sheer amount of Harry Potter mania there is on-line, but we enjoy the films. Emily is reading grown-up stuff now too, came with a huge bag of books for the whole trip, including Steinbeck and one about Shakespeare in the theatre, and some biographies, so she's not wilfully staying in childhood and Potter-land and refusing to go elsewhere. She was more chatty about what she was reading generally. She's a bit clueless but quite a sweetie; she beguiles Tom by allowing him to introduce her to things like black coffee and oysters.

I don't know how long my knitting mania will last but I'm enjoying it while it does, very largely as a way of connecting with people I think.

Francesca said...

I love the single strand of diamonds.

The Harry Potter books got children to read - HUGE books - brilliant!