Wednesday 2 June 2010

Reunited with St. Hils......

Dear All
Just to say I have been allowed home from hospital as I await biopsy results and then they will decide on what course of treatment to take.  Outcome does not look good but if they do give me treatment I hope to have a chance of some kind of extra life.

At least I can now sit and look at my beloved church and have the company of my husband and pet birds..................................................

Sunday 30 May 2010

Update - I am in hospital missing St Hills

A quick  message to you all to say I am seriously ill in hospital and missing home and  St Hills so apologies  for my absence.  Your thoughts/prayers at this time much appreciated.       

Tuesday 18 May 2010

A rather Fowl Faux Pas in my Pentecost Preparations ...........

Dear All
I guess you will have realised that I have not, as yet, managed a full page on "beating the bounds" of the parish which forms part of Rogationtide within the church year.  As they laid plans of mice and men!  I am still not at all well and not at work because I am in the throws of various hospital appointments and tests etc in order to get to the bottom of why I have been ill and why I have yet to feel completely "normal" again.

Enough of that sufficient to pray your indulgence in thinking of me especially tomorrow (Wednesday 19th May) because I will be in hospital for one of my many impending tests.  That is actually the main reason for my work today on setting up a new Pentecost page.  I have always prided myself in keeping St. Hils up to date within a very whisker if I can and tomorrow I will be rather whoozy when brought home............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Last year I majored in on the celebration of Pentecost as a birthday party for the church.  So this year I have been a little lower in key here and as you can see by my new Pentecost page that I decided to let Ambrose and Tom remove the Paschal Candle from the front of the nave of the church where it has sat since Easter Day where it was first lit to represent Christ on earth before he ascended into heaven.

It is funny how things work out.  Now Grace is such a versatile girl with her 14 joints that she continues to amaze me with her various poses she comes up with.  I am sure she KNOWS I need some inspiration and so, as you can see her above, she happen to "fall" into this position after she fell over by the organ where she had been sporting her walking stick for last week's blog and I had simply sat her on her pew!  The fact that SHE suddenly decided to hide her face was certainly not my doing!

Little did I realise how convenient this pose proved to be.  I thought there MUST be a story line for her here and yes there was.........  All fell into place when I also decided to have Ambrose and Tom attempt to carry the Paschal Candle out of the church because, of course, poor Grace was too frightened to look in case the candle fell on the floor and hurt one of the boys because you have to agree, as above, it does look rather precarious!

I also loved the idea of having birthday cards to the church placed on the altar.  I no longer bother surfing Google's images because I enjoy the challenge of producing my own graphics.  You can see the three designs scattered throughout this blog.  I do particularly like the doves one though because it presented me the hardest of challenges. 

For those interested I use an extremely old design package from GSP called  "Designworks" and it must now be as old as the hills.  However it always does for me!  I particularly love the fact that it enables me to export a graphic in various formats.  I particularly like the "windows metafile" in certain instances as it maintains the integrity of the graphic but for this blog I have had to export them as jpegs so the quality is not so good.

I guess you are all gagging to find out WHAT my "fowl up" was.  Well I will paste the picture in below and you will quickly see what it is......................

No prizes for guessing that cropping the picture on our new page sorted the problem out though.  I think it is poor Ernie's bottom but I am not entirely sure.   He won't be too happy to see this photo will he?  Hooray for computing and digital technology....WHERE would we be without them now?!

I have just realised another faux pas in my new Pentecost page...........a spelling error which I am too embarassed to publicise so I best go back and edit it quickly and leave you all in peace.

Till the next time.....

Sunday 9 May 2010

Beating the Bounds of St. Hilary's.........what is that about?

Hiya Everyone!
I am back again a week later to tell you how things have progressed in St. Hils even despite my continuing sickness which has necessitated further time off work sadly and two hospital consultations next week (which I hope will shed some light on why I have been so ill!) but I promise I won't bore you with my health woes because I am fed up with them too!  Our hand reared cockatiel, Pebbles is losing his feathers which makes him rather dozy and miserable sometimes.............if only I was only losing MY feathers!

Although, therefore, my flesh has been weak, my mind and spirit have both been pretty strong when it comes to further ideas for St. Hils and so, as a result, you may all have noticed a couple of new photos on our home page! Today is traditionally called "Rogation Sunday" and, when I remembered this a few days ago I was almost immediately anxious that our St. Hils congregation and clergy observed this great annual tradition (to find out even more visit Linton Parish Council website which gives a very full account of the origins of this tradition) which includes what is called "the beating of the bounds" of the parish.  Every year at this time people of various church parishes meet up and quite literally walk around the boundaries of their church parish and "beat the bounds" using walking sticks. By this they are blessing the boundaries of their church parish and, in rural areas, also blessing the newly sewn crops so that they yield a good harvest in the Autumn.  It will come as no surprise that this tradition pre-dates Christianity but Christians adopted it and used it as a way of blessing the church parish and all the crops that were being grown.

Enough of all that historical stuff and more about how St, Hils has adopted this tradition!  Firstly I had one problem.......WHAT do we use for the obligatory walking sticks required for everyone to enact out the "beating of the bounds" of St. Hils' parish?  Answer.....EASY..........cocktail sticks!  I think cocktail sticks are great for miniature work.  (a confession - Pebbles our cockatiel must have been on my mind because I have had to correct "cockatail" to "cocktail" TWICE!)

Ahhhhh.......I can hear you all exclaim in horror that I have included a pair of rather lovely and expensive looking embroidery scissors.  Fret not because these are now rather ancient and their bite is not as good as their appearance.  I can assure you there is a lovely pair of newer and sharper embroidery scissors now sitting in my embroidery box all ready for any future embroidery.  So these scissors above are a great accessory for me when it comes to every day cutting and trimming of tiny things  I have included Andrew's wood glue which I did use for a few of my first walking sticks but I soon realised that it is just as easy to make that handle by wearing down much of the cocktail stick with the scissors and, at an appropriate point, bend the stick at the weakness created taking care NOT to completely break it off.  However the glue works pretty well if you fail to avoid that break.

Here, above, you can see the results of my efforts.....  POOR Magnifi-Cat though!  He sat there ever so expectantly hoping that HE too would have a "made to measure" walking stick but have I obliged.........sadly not!  I will certainly have to ensure he doesn't miss out before we finish our story..........I promise you all that one!
Now to the walking sticks' story which I have been formulating this afternoon in my head.  Ambrose, I have decided, has made all of these walking sticks for the children back on his family farm where he lives with his widowed father.  What a clever lad he is and you can see him below arriving with some of his new creations.....

Of course he has not left the animals and birds out of this occasion and so you can see above he has also included sticks that are the right size for them too!  Lucky Eric loves his new stick!
I have to admit that I have almost too many photos which I took today which I would like to show off to you so I will have to be frugal here or I will bore you all to death with a long tome!

I had already decided to pose the dolls along the side of the church so that necessitated a good clean and dust of the proper sides which are hardly ever used because I prefer to have the transparent acetate sides so all can be seen inside. 

However on this occasion needs must and you can see above the church properly "clothed" with its' proper sides up.  Oh could look better couldn't it because here you can see both the towels on the top to protect it from our avian resident and also the daylight bulb used to illuminate many of our photographic shoots.

Ah......THAT is better isn't it?  You can all see how precarious things are when I attempt to balance the dolls along the slim ledge left once the sides are up.

Now you have all seen the actual pespective and size of the church I thought you would like to see Eric and Sepp with their walking sticks as they pose along the side of the church.  How clever of Sepp to hold her own stick to beat the bounds of the parish!  As you can probably observe, her "walking stick" is no more than the bitten off pointed end of the cocktail stick but it works perfectly! 

The children mustn't be forgotten so here above you can see what I have to confess is my favourite photo of the afternoon...........  Gracie insists on bringing her tambourine along as she wants to sing AND beat the bounds of the parish and when she sings she HAS to play her tambourine too!   That will certainly liven the event up won't it?
All looks spic and span doesn't it......................well think again............

Oh dear!  Yes the inside of the bell tower downstairs IS a mess!  Let me explain.  Andrew very kindly extrapolated all the standing dolls and placed them there for me before we put the sides of the church up.  I wanted to have the full range of dolls which I knew would work well standing along the side of the church awaiting the time the vicar starts to lead them on their pilgrimage of beating the bounds of the parish.  However in addition to dolls lying on the floor the display unit had also fallen over in the meantime and I have yet to pick up all my tiny cards and calendars which consequently fell out and on to the church floor...  I wonder if any of my "children" will do it for me?

As the children and clergy walk around the boundaries of St. Hils' parish beating the bounds, they will also remember to bless all the people who live within the parish too.   However I have to report that they suffer a rather big distraction on their pilgrimage.  As you all may remember, Aunt Sal's Tearooms is not far from the church and who should be standing at the door of the tearooms beckoning them in but Archie who is the proprietor.  I wonder if they will feel tempted to go in and enjoy a nice cup of tea and piece of cake or not?
I won't let on yet but suffice it to say I am sure that the vicar will know that, after a long walk around the parish, they will ALL fancy a nice cup of tea..........................................
So my new page idea is coming on but not complete so watch this space................................

I must away and leave you all in peace now.................tidying up and placing dolls and wildlife back "in situ" beckons and I will tell you why.  I found poor Syd, Homer's pet pigeon, in one of my props boxes yesterday and have NO idea how he got there!  More worryingly he was in the same plastic clip bag as my gardening tools.......................arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Till the next time!

Sunday 2 May 2010

It's quite worrying when your husband finds a mouse on the carpet.....

Dear All
Well folks I have struggled through my first week back at work after a month off sick.  It WAS hard work so it is with great gratitude that the coming week is a four day week with tomorrow being our May Day Bank Holiday - YES! 

Not a lot to report to you all this week with regards to St. Hils except to say I have asked my sister, Catherine, of Dollhouse Heaven, to make something for me which will hopefully feature at Pentecost. I won't give away too much at this stage however because Catherine is already busy with two other commissions so I don't want her to feel over burdened by her sister's requests!

I guess from my title you may be able to work out that my husband has been vacuuming and cleaning near to where St, Hils is!  I have to be very grateful to him though because, when he finished he came up to see me whilst I was lazing in bed (yep - energy levels still not 100% so morning and sometimes evening naps at home work well!) to tell me he had found a mouse on the floor!  My initial reaction was - WHAT mouse?  Now before you all worry too much I was not thinking of a REAL mouse!   A slight detour is necessary here to explain that we did find something on our lounge carpet one morning some years ago and it was............a beautiful green frog!  We had left the patio door open the evening before so the frog must have jumped in without us knowing!  Fortunately we returned him to the garden with relative ease.  You can see below a photo taken from our baptisms page where two frogs came into St. Hils and thought they could make thier home in the font much to Esther's and the vicar's irritation.  The frogs, by the way, were made by my sister, Catherine.  As Catherine says - her frogs may not be anatomically "perfect" but they have such character...........and she is right they do!  Such cheeky little frogs as they are!

Where was I?  Oh yes.......a mouse found on our carpet!   After all the last time I checked St. Hils, despite the two dolls that had fallen over, the wildlife and pets were all present and correct! 
So initially the questions was - WHICH mouse to which Andrew replied that it was "The brown one". that still didn't quite narrow it down completely because my rat, Sepp, is also brown.

However we soon understood each was my metalic/solid one, ie Nunc Dimittis.  HOW Andrew managed to retrieve poor Nunc Dimittis off our blue carpet I have no idea but I also have NO idea how he fell out either.  I do have a confession though.  Since my sickness I have failed to bother putting our acetate sides up for the church so anything may have happened if one of us had knocked the church.  It just goes to show doesn't it?  How easy it is to lose miniature things in your dollshouse........frightening!  If you all remember I have already lost one domino piece in one of my previous photo shoots.  I never found it again either.  To explain further...........we feed the wild birds and also have a free range cockatiel.  Either way it means that we almost always have loose seed that has escaped sitting on our carpet so you can imagine it can't you?  There's me on hands and knees trying to find one of my most tiny items and pick up what I think is something remotely domino shaped and when I bring it to the light is is a black sunflower seed husk discarded by our ground feeding cockatiel or something similar......arghhhhh

My two tiniest wildlife characters are Percy, my spider complete in his web and also a butterfly. 

Both, as you will understand, come out very infrequently and are only in the church for the time of the photo shoot!  Above you can see my butterfly!  How tiny it is?!  Apologies for the rather wonky floral display which was sitting on the pulpit for the day!
This photo was taken and used for our Easter page in 2005 and is no longer on the website so it is lovely to share it with you all again.  Incidentally both our spider and butterfly was made for us by Tinytail Miniatures.

As you all my know I LOVE to digitally manipulate photos and the one above is a typical example.  I loved the idea of the butterfly flying on to Alice's hand and she decided to let it fly off towards the pulpit where it landed on the flower display on the pulpit.  Again taken from our Easter 2005 page.  I chose to include my butterfly in our Easter story of that year because a butterfly is a symbol of new life because it begins life as a catterpillar and, after it pupates, it becomes a completely new creature and new life!  So a butterfly coming into St. Hils on Easter Day has such significance as Jesus has been raised to new life Himself after he was crucified. 

I love including wild life and pets in St. Hils because God made them all too and in the church all of our pets and wildlife are considered so special by God that they have their own patron saint in Saint Francis of Assisi!

 I have no boundaries either as to how many more we will eventually include either......bats in the belfry is a most recently mentioned idea......... so watch this space! 

I confess my energy levels are a bit depleted now sadly so I will leave you all in peace.  I also hear my husband making a pot of tea so that beckons too..............
Til the next time

Saturday 24 April 2010

Amazing how I find St. Hils inadvertently addresses some issues in its own way..

Hiya Everyone
It is well over a week since my last blog.  However as you will all know if you have been following my blog that I have been very poorly which is taking time and medication to help me get back to my "normal self".  I am not sure whether I was happy or sad when the doctor told me last Wednesday on the results of my latest blood tests that things HAD improved and that I should attempt a return to work.  Anyone off work for more than a few days will appreciate what a mountain that feels for me at the moment so please everyone wish me luck for next Monday as it will be the first day I will HAVE to remain awake all day!  I had to laugh at my doctor though because he suggested that, once you are able to cite each and every programme on daytime tv, you are ready to go back to work.  Sadly I obliged and sealed my fate!  I have found out the hard way how easy it is to turn yourself into an invalid and expect all to be done FOR you so I suspect my poor long suffering husband is pleased too that I have been declared fit enough to return to work!  I can't tell you how hard my first day on my own at home was......nobody to wait on me hand and foot so there I was relearning how to make cups of tea, toast, dinner hot water bottles again.

Enough of my whines and whinges I hear you all cry and MORE about St. Hils.......................

Before I begin another trip down memory lane I have a confession to make..and before I tell you see below for the evidence.........

NOT good enough is it?  This is NOT me at all because during my time off sick I have unusually been able to stare at this unacceptable situation day after day with dolls having fallen over and ducks not perched properly.........................

Here you can see better how poor Alice has been lying on the floor for ages as I have so neglected her welfare whilst being so wrapped up on my own.  The picture, as with the other one, has been taken "on the hoof" as it were with flash and macro whilst I held the camera. 

Here you see more closely in the chancel/sanctuary how poor Tom has fallen over and again, I have been extremely neglectful of his welfare too poor boy!  Gloria, our new "duck on the block" is no longer perching on the altar properly either. Even the lily I had Eric holding for Gloria has fallen off his beak too.  I guess tacky wax is good but it doesn't always last forever!   It really does amaze me how I can have the whole church set up so well with not one thing out of place (well perhaps not - you know how easy it is to miss things?!) and suddenly, without reason, a doll decides "enough is enough" and collapses on me!  Such is life.

I have to thank Frances of Buttercup Miniatures for giving me some ideas for this blog.  It was, in deed, Frances who pointed something out to me that, although I had given it SOME thought, I had not really considered it a big deal.  It amazes me how, in my storylines, I suddenly realise I have addressed an issue that I know is very important within society itself because it has something to do with not only the issue, but also in how it is viewed by society in general. 

I realise that literacy is something that many of us take for granted but for some people, particularly adults, it is something of an issue if they either never attended school enough to learn to read or write properly or, for some other reason, they just never "got it".   However I didn't really set out to address this issue at all when putting together our Remembrance page last year in which I cite poor Ernest as not being able to read or write but who still wanted his mother remembered in the list of those who had died as she had died so recently and he missed her sorely as does his father, Eric.  Of course my immediate thought was - how CAN a duck be expected to read or write?  However I quickly realise that a duck would not be welcome in any real full sized church whether it could read or write so the issue would never arise in real life would it? 

Now I have a BIG confession to make and anyone who has visited St. Hils over the years are welcome, if they can remember, let me know which page I featured this issue on with our Rita and son.  I have just spent literally ages trawling through both current and archived back up folders to find which page it was on and have now temporarily given up.  Let me explain................Rita as you all know came to England from Australia.  The reasons for her now living on the road are obscure and in that I like to leave the detail to our visitors' imagination.  However I distinctly remember having a feature on one page where the vicar actually receives a letter from her son who has finally tracked her down.  Rita, you see, must have had good reasons which I never explain, as to why she had to leave her son when he was so small with his father.  What circumstances led her to live on the road?  Did she have to go to a women's refuge because her husband had treated her badly?  However if that was the case why didn't she take her son with her? She may have been the victim of mental illness and had developed severe depression and was unable to stay in the family home and left for the sake of her husband and child. 

Whatever the case, Rita would never have forgotten her son and, when the vicar of St. Hils gives her this contact letter from him she is just so overjoyed that he has found her. 

 I have also included a really old photo here with Rita sitting on the back pew.  You see she is quite shy and much prefers to stay out of the limelight.......Rita, incidentally, was made for us by a friend of ours, Rachel Fritz, who lives in South Australia.  She is a truly great artist and also provided us with the vicar and in him, she has also set the whole character of St. Hils for me!

Homer too is a man of the road that the vicar is happy to provide refuge to in St. Hils.  He came from Germany because he was made for us by Daniela Kiefhaber as was our Rev Ken who was modelled on a real life man of the cloth who is also a family friend.  Rev Ken, actually represents our friend because it was he who took us all under his wing when my father died back in 1980.  In addition to taking my father's funeral Ken also married Andrew and myself back in 1991 as well as taking the funeral of my mother, the late Hilary Davies.  Mother referred to him as "my rock" and indeed, during her subsequent life after the loss of my father, he certainly fulfilled that role for her - thanks for that Ken!

Gosh I have strayed off my original path...sorry for that.  Where was I?  Oh yes I was really talking about both Homer and Rita.  I particularly wanted to have such people in my St. Hils because it so represents what I remember of my childhood days when my father took the family to church.  A church to me is not a church if all are not welcome.  I will always remember the kindness of my father to one particular old lady who lived on the road during one particularly harsh Winter.  In my minds' eye I can still see my dear father lead this lady right up to the front of the church where she would be most visible in order to sit her right next to a church heater to keep the poor lady warm.  The church concerned is a city centre church and, as such, was and still is a venue that much attracts people who really have nowhere else to go when things are not good for them.

So it is fitting that St. Hils has at least two people who are homeless as part of the congregation.  You see my message is..God loves EVERYONE whatever their circumstances are and with no favour.  So in addressing the issues I have chatted about today I feel it is good that people can know that it is "okay" if you can't read, or live on the streets or........well anything really. 

Whoops - sorry about the above cos I realise I have gotten all philosophical but hope you all get the gist of my message here!  Perhaps you could say I have had too much time to think over the last four weeks!  

I have now got to get my head around to Pentecost - any ideas out there folks?  If you have any do let me know.  I can't promise I will use them all but any ideas are great because it sets my imagination off.  So far we have had Pentecost parties to celebrate the day as the birthday of the church..........a lesson completed by the children on the subject of Pentecost majoring in on the fruit of the any other slants on the subject all gratefully received.  Even if you have a funny pet story that we could adapt for our own pets is welcome.........

Till the next time........ 

Monday 12 April 2010

Of Bonnets, boaters and hats............when to wear them and......when not!

Dear All
Phew - just over another week has flown by.  I have to confess I have been very unwell so I have to ask you all to excuse my lateness in updating my blog on St. Hils.  However, although my energy levels are not up to doing great photoshoots again yet (although they are steadily improving.......) I fancied taking you all down memory lane again as I remember times past in St. Hils.  Isn't it typical that you ALWAYS want to find a photo or photographs that you can't find?  Well that was my position the other day as I mused on this latest blog idea.  I wanted to find the photos I know I used for my very first Easter day page on St. Hils because I had put most of my "girls" in "Easter bonnets" for the occasion.  Could I find them?  NO - I checked my back up drive and no folder was present for Easter Day in 2004 which was our first full year in St. Hils.

However today, whilst feeling brighter, I decided to check out our old PC which still works most of the time.  I just hoped and prayed that it would turn on when I pressed the "start" button because that is the main problem with it and why we finally had to replace switching mechanism is duff and some days it refused to come on at all.  However it has given us a few funny surprises when, suddenly and out of the blue, it switches itself on! 

Fortunately I found a copy of the website which I backed up in 2004 after Easter - hooray!  You can see one of the photos here with Clara sporting a pink bonnet and holding a lily.  Sadly I have failed to find the original sized photos or the folder in which they are stored but at least I do have a reduced copy which was originally on the site so all is not lost.  I am sure they are about........SOMEWHERE!    My computers reflect me sadly...........very disorganised.

I sadly rather love this Easter photo from my very first Easter page.  That chick is SO big it really doesn't fit the scene does it?  I have to chuckle at this one though because I so remember that I used REAL chocolate eggs here.  Not sure quite WHAT kind they were..........they may have been Cadbury's creme eggs but something tells me that they are not quite big enough...  Whatever the case - I do feel they are rather too big for the occasion.  I am not sure either what the children were meant to do with them as I am sure their parents would rather they didn't eat them all in one sitting.........

Here above you can see Emily. (the old Emily before she had her hair done!)
I rather like this one above of Poppy and Amelia......they look so grown up!
I expect you all know that ladies are traditionally expected to wear hats in church but conversely, men are not allowed to have their heads covered.  I have to say this convention did worry me in the early days of St. Hils and certain photos I have taken reflect that as you can see here with both Tom and Ben again, on Easter Sunday in 2004.

I no longer worry because I firmly believe churches need to move with the times and anyway I have never liked wearing hats anywhere let alone church.  The above photo is included in our original wedding page before poor Esther had her bridegroom arrive.
 I set it up as a Pentecost wedding and so, as Pentecost IS an up and coming festival in the church, felt it appropriate to show off a photo or two from that original page.

Miss Esther is STILL awaiting her bridegroom as she reaches the altar............poor Miss Esther!

I like this one as it gives you some perspective on the size. and you can see the wedding flowers which I did commission.  Sadly the lady, Angie, of A J Miniatures, who created them, no longer has a live website so I am unable to provide you a link to her work which is such a shame as she put so much effort into the work.  She made me my bride's bridal bouquet, headdress and all the church flowers including the one on the altar.

I hope you all have enjoyed my walk down memory lane here.  I hope, as my energy levels improve, to do more in the days to come but the doctor has said it will be  a few weeks yet before I am up to strength again.
Thanks to those who have offered me their best wishes and prayers for my recovery...they are very much appreciated.
Till the next time