Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dies Atra

A busy day, yesterday. I start this gloomy one, rather tired, and oppressed by the news of the bizarre accident in Glasgow during the night.

To begin with, the picture wasn't by what's-his-name. The owner, a thoroughly nice man, was understandably disappointed. It's big, and relates to a picture in the Tate. The owner of this one thought – had been authoritatively told – that it was a preliminary study by the artist's hand, My husband said it was a near-contemporary copy, and a good one, but not ipsissima manu.

(I have myself developed a certain awareness of this artist, over the years, and I agreed. There was a deadness about it. However, I kept out of the conversation, you will be glad to hear.)

My husband (understandably) was unable to explain the reasons for his verdict to the owner's satisfaction. I think in the end connoisseurship comes down to something like recognising your mother's handwriting on an envelope. Another few years, and that analogy itself will be unintelligible as mothers will correspond only by email.

Mercifully, the owner had also brought along a small drawing – and it was thoroughly good, in every sense.

The postman brought the eagerly expected something-to-pay card, certainly relating to the yarn for the Sensible Christmas Project. I sat down to pay on-line, as often before, and failed. I kept getting an error message telling me to try again. I think something must be wrong with the Royal Mail website – something to do with privatisation? So today I'll have to call in at a sub-post office and pay in cash. Another day lost.

It's possible, of course, that a Bad Man has stolen all our money. Also possible – and rather more likely – that I will find I have paid the charge four times, once from each of the different cards I tried. And now I'll pay it a fifth time, in cash.

On top of all this, “The Knitted Shawls of Helga Ruutel” turned up from the Schoolhouse. It is a collection of lace patterns, each presented in a photograph and a chart. I haven't spent much time with the book yet, but I don't think it contains instructions for actually using the patterns in a shawl. You're supposed to know how to do that. It's in Estonian and English. There are lots of nups.

In the introduction, Helga offers this, from an Estonian poet I love it:

“I left papers on the desk.
Guests read them.
They asked if I wished to publish them.
I answered that I had no such wish.
Guests said that
no-one would publish them anyway.


  1. Hope the evening has picked up a bit for you. Some days it seems nothing goes rightly.

  2. Anonymous11:37 PM

    Thanks for the Estonian poem - I love it too. Doing my weekend catchup on blog reading and adding my best wishes for your niece, in coping with her diagnosis and treatment. It's different for everyone, of course, but survival is so much better than it was in the late 70s when I was first back in Canada from years in the UK, and coordinating some clinical trials of the lumpectomy + radiotherapy which has since made such a difference to the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer - then being pioneered courageously here by a couple of docs.
    - Beth in Toronto