Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Visits and yallery-brown things

Still about, this hillside haunting. Had a visit from my lovely sister, which was most enjoyable. She's not been here as late in the year as this, but resolutely refused to admit being cold despite that this can be a difficult time where temperatures are concerned, a chill in the air but not enough to light the fire yet; we have to have it in for easily five months of the year and are reluctant to start too soon, as then we don't feel the benefit, as one's mothers used to say.

We got about, visited Lamballe market in its autumn plenty, caught the annual Mathurin Meheut exhibition there before it closed for the winter, puppy-sat and walked Dutch E's lovely but rather timorous new young dog Bram, and visited the mohair goats of Corlay, which surprisingly I hadn't done before, and where we indulged in sumptuous fibre and scratched the little kid goats' woolly foreheads. We ate rather well, pulled pork and fish pie and rotisserie chicken and Tom's finest sour potato and chicken massala curries, with Turkish flatbread from an interesting and hearteningly popular new stall on the market run by a chap called Aslan.

Then my Mayenne brother and sister-in-law came and took her away, on the way back from an overnight jaunt on the Paimpol peninsular, which it was good to see them enjoying, and we were able to catch up a bit with them, eat some more, and discuss the sticky issue of septic tanks.*

So I have drifted away from here again rather, and taken few photos. A degree of seasonal lassitude and general reluctance about all kinds of things has set in, pleasures become chores, chores become onerous. The inspiration and good cheer of our Low Lands trip is fading rather; I know that I gazed and gazed at Memling's St Barbara and her velvety drapes, and had a quiet kind of antique torso of Apollo moment of conviction, and brought it back home with me intact, but both spirit and flesh are weakening somewhat now. Thinking about seasonal affectedness, I find it hard to be sure whether the low level of anxiety and apprehensiveness that the approach of winter brings is cause or effect. I do look forward to winter; I love to be lazy, hibernation, cosiness and indoors are pleasing to me, but always there is the uncertainty of what it will bring, how the fabric of the house will stand up to the weather, the hedgeman cometh with his robust power tools and his robust chiding, and there are still jobs to be done which my inward turning tendencies recoil from, will the plans of winter travel and visitors which promise to brighten and enliven the darkest days be brought to nothing by catastrophy? The summer is ended and we are not saved...

But all manner of things shall be well, no doubt, and in spite of this, and although the blogging world is a quieter place generally, I continue to be touched, amused and moved the words and images of my blogging friends. Saddened too, by departures, sad news, melancholy reflections, of course, but always grateful.

So, here are a few yallery-brown things of the season, but no falling leaves.

In fact this looks more like something of high summer, but is still blooming away with freshness and aplomb, a piece of waste land just as one enters Lamballe from our direction, planted entirely with sunflowers and phacelia, agaisnt the gold of the yellowing poplars. Unfortunately they were all turning away from us when we passed.

My sister is always up for Lamballe market. bless her. We browsed all the veggie stalls, scanned the Dutch couple's haberdashery and laughed at the big van full of shockingly expensive, passion-killing flannelette nighties, old-ladies' polyester housecoats and winter undies, as usual. Then we sized up the rotisseries chicken and homed in on my very favourite veg-man from Finistère. I think everything there is grown locally to him, it is always seasonal and sometimes surprising. It's a big stall with just the one man running it, so you select your own and queue to weigh and pay, which keeps it cheap and also means you spot something else while you're waiting to put in the beautifully illustrated brown paper bags.

The only thing I needed was some green chillies, which I didn't really expect him to have but lo, there were a small box of Espelette  types just by the scales, along with some fresh cobnuts:

(The ones with the husks still on are from our purple filbert tree, we share them with the voles, alas no squirrels for a long time. The Brazils are left from who-knows when, the odd chestnut from hereabouts)

I couldn't resist pink Roscoff onions, picked out by rustling through the loose outer husks like a bran tub, at a euro a kilo, which makes the string I got from the sets I grew in the garden absurdly uneconomic, but then there are other, sentimental reasons for growing them. He still had a large number of tomatoes of every size shape and colour, and though I don't really care for yellow tomatoes I had to bring this  elephant-man one back, it was the size of a small pumpkin, and marvellously striped:

These are my butternut crop, a variety called 'Sprinter', specially selected for chillier, shorter seasons, I got seven decent sized ones and a couple of runts. Again I probably saved little by growing them as they are to be found everywhere just now, but there is still satisfaction in having, and sharing, them;

Tom, who isn't over-fond of any kind of yellow squash, says they remind him of the mandrakes in Harry Potter.

And of course, there is knitting, some of it yellow. A very quick knit was these Minion mittens for Princeling's eighth birthday, which I gather went down well,

though I know nothing of Minions and am rubbish at crochet, which was necessary for the eye-goggles.

Taking much longer was this pullover for Tom. He chose the colour, the rest is my fault, I might say, but in fact, once upon a time, he had a gold coloured sweater, in a fine acrylic rib which, despite that unpromising description, we both rather liked. He still has it in fact but it has grown thin and tired and he has grown out of it. I undertook to replace it, and, in a state of hope over experience, I somehow thought (modified) drop shoulders and half-fisherman's rib would be a good idea. Half a year and half a hundredweight later, I was drawing towards the finish line. He slipped the sewn-together body pieces over his head, and I held the sleeves up to check the length. Again, why did I not know? It's not like I haven't been caught out on this before. If you should be interested, and in the position of knitting a drop-shouldered jumper, especially a chunky one, hold your nerve, those sleeves may not look it now but they will be long enough! 

But no, I spent many more hours and quite a bit more wool MAKING THEM LONGER. Aargh. Then when I had carefully sewed it all up, and he tried it on again and, of course, the drop shoulders did what their name indicates they would do, and the ends of the sleeves hung down way below his hands almost to his knees, did I do the sensible thing and unpick the seams, undo the tops of the sleeves and unravel them till they got to the required length? No, I decided, I kid you not, based on the fact I had once fairly successfully cut the bottom off a waistcoat in stocking stitch and picked up the stitches again, to chop off the ends off.

The Sunday before last was then spent in a yellow snowstorm of snipped yarn, obsessively trying to find a way to viably pick up the always unfathomable structure of half-fisherman's rib so as to re-knit the cuffs. The end result was massive, weirdly truncated sleeves, brutally gathered into cuffs like leg-o-muttons, and attempts to disguise this butchery by not-quite-canny enough wielding of the crochet hook.

But did Tom look with horror at the resulting garment? He did not, but has been wearing it proudly much of the time since, despite its not really being cold enough, and I consider myself blessed among women to the final degree of uxoriousness. So we went out into the autumn garden for a photo shoot.

I favoured the background of autumn leaves, but when he wanted to pose in proper knitting pattern style, he was without means of support, and ended up laughing rather a lot and getting puffed out in his big hot sweater:

Then he found a plant tub and regained his dignity and an elegant pose. Roger Moore eat your heart out.

* Still ongoing. We are now tending strongly towards a micro-station even though we won't receive any grant towards it. An old sand bed soak-away, still the only system accepted by the SPANC as being worthy of subsidy, is really too problematical and encumbering, and really very backward.


the polish chick said...

oh lucy, your description of the sleeve debacle had me giggling even though i know absolutely nothing about knitting and, at best, can knit a very long scarf, provided somebody starts and ends it for me. tom makes a fabulous model - it's always such a pleasure to see your faces on the blog!

your description of the fall blues corresponds almost verbatim with my september blues - despite the love of winter, its incipience seems tinged with dread for some reason. it's the change that i believe pokes us in the heart, and fall, more than any other season, is all about change. hang in there, once you light your fires, all will be well. there's little a good cozy fire can't fix!

Zhoen said...

Fabulous minion mittens! I so want a Minion of my own. The movie, fast forwarded through all non-minion bits, is a joy. U-tyube is good for this.

Uxorious used to be an insult. D doesn't understand this attitude.

Jean said...

Lovely sweater - Tom's enthusiasm is entirely justified as it suits him very well. The sleeves are great - warm too, I imagine! And yes, this damp, soft yellow is everywhere here too.

Ellena said...

I'll be back Lucy - I'm off to my sunshine delivery job.

Ellena said...

Actually, it's a pick-up sunshine job.

Ellena said...

I'm back.
How about adding a balloon showing where Lucy's knitting can be found?
Whenever I look at a map of Bretagne I fantasize as to where Victor is your neighbor and where Cyril comes to visit.
I like how the tomato is blowing me a kiss.
Lucky Princeling - a gift build with love.
The sweater and its model are gorgeous. I admire your patience, Lucy.

Catalyst said...

Tom looks so "veddy, veddy" British in his wonderful mustard sweater. Great job, Lucy. I also love the mohair goats. Not to compare them with Tom, at all. Really.

Avus said...

Those pics of sunflowers and phacelia were terrific, Lucy.

You did well after all the trouble, with Tom's sweater - he looks very pleased and "uxorious". (A chance to use that little-used word these days)

Ellena said...

Ha, does uxorism exist? Maybe that's what my two ex-husbands were lacking.

Roderick Robinson said...

A post far too highbrow and/or esoteric for poor old under-educated me. Could I ever gaze at Memling's St Barbara and expect any moment of conviction? Even if you held my hand? I was all set to end this churlish comment there and then, leaving you with short shrift. Then I noticed the quote (The summer is ended and we are not saved...) and I knew I was being foolish, worse than that, unfair.

More foolish, more unfair than I realised. I had arbitrarily ceased reading at one of the de-synchronised sunflower photos. I realised there was more. Nuts (Purple philberts! - surely the result of taking a trip), flannelette nighties, striped tomatoes, Minion mittens (??? I suppose if he's a Princeling he must have minions), the trauma of Tom's pullover, and the acronym that launched a thousand giggles. Normal service hadn't been resumed, it had never ceased.

Forgive me for my (quite temporary) lack of faith.

And thanks for mentioning Paimpol where we found that now rare comestible, stuffed cabbage, and ecstasied about it. I felt I had to stir my stumps, reply in kind if you like. Took down my copy of Le Voyage à Paimpol by Dorothée Letessier (I'll be shattered if you've read it) and trade you a quote. Any old thing.

Le pire, c'est que meme si j'avais su tout ce qui m'attendait au détour de la jeunesse, je n'aurais pas forcément pu y échapper. Je croyais la désirer cette vie. Travailler pour gagner la vie...

I desired it, anyway.

Lucy said...

Thanks all. Uxorious is a word we use quite a lot, sometimes fondly sometimes teasingly. I like that it's gender-neutral as a word, and think on the whole it's an underrated quality, though I suppose it can be irksome to those on the outside of it, and a bit cloying in excess. But we are what we are.

PC - I don't mind the rather nice melancholy of autumn one bit, but the apprehensive feeling is more difficult. I find it hard to tell if I'm genuinely worried about the real problems winter might bring, or if the dread is within me and I'm finding things to stick it on! Anyway, November and December should be quite practically busy so that should help, and I'm trying to exercise and take magnesium.

Z - I gather they have their own films now, don't they? Everyone seems rather taken with them. Good old D!

Jean - always good to see you. Thanks for the reassurance about the jumper, the sleeves do risk knocking things over and trailing in the soup, but he's coping!

Ellena - hope the sunshine wasn't uncomfortable. Sadly no sign of Cyril for a long time, only the garden voles, but we are happy to share the filberts with them! Uxorism would, I suppose, be a degree on from uxoriousness, and might risk being a step too far, though I'm sorry if your two exes lacked the level of spousal devotion you surely deserve!

Cat - I just changed that link to the slideshow of pics of the goats. They are absurdly adorable, I must say, but I wouldn't swap Tom for one (they don't cook curry and take the rubbish out for a start...)

Avus - the flowers were amazing, I hope they leave the dead heads all winter for the finches, I assume they were mostly an ornamental and valorising (?) use of waste space.

Lucy said...

Robbie, you slipped in there. Happily I have not read 'Voyage a Paimpol' (nor 'An Icelandic Fisherman' nor any other literary immortalising of that place, though I have, I regret to say, heard the odd impromptu rendition of 'La Paimpolaise'). The Memlings were so velvety and sumptuous, the deep, palpable serenity with which those saints gazed on at grisly beheadings and other unpleasantness, while their greyhounds crossed their paws and monkeys searched them for fleas. Worth a torso moment I reckon, though I wonder if sometimes those are also the results of extreme fatigue and being offered a comfy seat to sit and look. You are a dear to follow up the links so assiduously and offer your own recollections of stuffed cabbage and the quote!

Lucy said...

- and indeed, Robbie, I did put the septic tank references in largely to please you.

Pam said...

I love your blue-ery yallery flowers. And am deeply impressed by Tom's jumper. I would never have guessed at the problems.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

De Niro eat your heart out. He'd never look as good as uxorious Tom in that fantastic medieval yellow jumper.