The great indoors.

How fortunate we are to live on this ball of rock with a wonky axis.  Unless you live on the waistband, which, like all waistbands tends to be out there and a bit overheated, you get seasons.  Seasons are our lump of rock ensuring the parasites never get bored.  Whether you’re a migrating whale or me putting my thick jeans away five weeks too soon, seasons keep you on your toes.  Pop to the shops in your thin trousers, or, if you are young enough, leggings, and you can guarantee your legs will be itchy for the rest of the day. I found some body oil in the cupboard, it came with a bundle of things that I actually wanted, from a shopping channel.  Having had itchy legs for days I thought it might help and spread it on my legs after my shower.  It helped but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should turn over under the grill, all day.

You have to get up early enough to notice the frost on the shed roof.  If you don’t, seeing the sunshine as a late riser, you might well be fooled into getting dressed without a vest.  You might sit outside with a cup of coffee wondering why the ice cube in it keeps chinking on the rim and not realise it’s because you are shivering.

You could also pop along to the supermarket later in the day, when the weather has suddenly got to grips with its obligations and find yourself melting in your jumper.

At such times I recall the seasonal phrase which sprang to my lips but never enjoyed utterance. My mother would say: Why aren’t you outside in the beautiful sunshine?  And I would go forth and freeze my nadgers off.  And never respond, wittily:  Oh both eff and off, for I was well dragged up.

The truth is that the changing seasons are the perfect time to enjoy the great indoors. The sudden icicle under your sandal, the rush of sweat beneath a sweater, the goose pimpling of the bingo wing creeping out from the shorter sleeve, the blueing of the knee under your postman’s shorts, these are why we invented walls and a roof, and insulation round the side of the door.

The newish neighbour invested many days in building a barbeque table.  I watched from my window.  It is standing height and has a line of tiles around a rectangular firebox.  Two nights ago they had a go and stood for four hours getting frozen round the back, red in the face, covered in smuts, eating raw singed lumps of something.  There was a visitor, for whom they were putting on a show, so the clothing, which started as casual summer evening wear became less elegant as layers of hats and scarves were added until the jewellery disappeared under thick gloves and the voices got higher and higher.  I was utterly delighted that I had not been invited.

I keep getting half-hearted invitations to gardens and have indeed accepted one, from a proper friend, at midday, in full arctic clobber, with scarf, for a limited time, after which I went home, had a hot shower and scalding soup for lunch.

This is the ideal time to enjoy the great indoors.  Not when you are meant to do so, in the middle of northern winter because that’s just too obvious.  It’s hard to be creative with the heating turned up so you can get the benefit of two jumpers and a cardigan.  No, this is the time of year, indoors with sunshine coming through the glass in an inspiring manner and something nice to stare out at when inspiration wavers.

Accordingly I have been making the cards I have been working towards all winter. They are paper shelves stuffed with junk, just like home.

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Mostly paper and mostly made by me.  Some metal and wood bits are collected.  The bowl and flowers are the Ikebana dies, which you may remember

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The old typewriter is stamped on stampboard, the ruler is Tim Holtz, the metal stuff is from LaBlanche, the fabric is all rice paper.


the doll and the cat sitting on her knee are paperclay, made as I showed you a few posts ago.

It has all been a pleasure to make and an even greater one to give away.  I gave a similar shelf card to a family member which included a family photograph, shrunk on a photocopier to fit, which he loved.  The base is any frame made from a die set, though you could use any shallow card box, such as chocolates arrive in at this time of year.  A piece of matching card folded mountain and valley and glued to the back inside,  makes the shelves and a small folded card glued to the back makes a stand and somewhere to write the message.

It’s a celebration of indoors, protected from the unruly elements and full of your own lovely junk, a seasonal joy and delight to be thoroughly enjoyed before we conquer the virus sufficiently to be empowered to invite strangers and, worse, relatives, into the burrow and have to tidy up.

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And that’s going to be a shock to the system and no mistake.


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