Thursday, 8 December 2016

Soaps and Roses - A Case of Stolen Identity?

Life has been extremely hectic recently at La Petite Maison. For the moment Soaping has fallen off the list of priorities. 

However I do intend to resume Soaping, Sewing, Sowing and Growing in the New Year when life should at last hopefully have settled down to a more relaxing pace. (Does it ever?) Several exciting new ideas are already underway.

I have a love / hate relationship with technology and the internet. I am inspired by the multitude of other talented artists and creators sharing their creations on-line, whilst at the same time struggling to persevere through hateful hacking and malware threats, (a major factor in my recent on-line absence).

I know that many of the photos of my soaps have been pinned and also put on other websites. Happily in the cases that I am aware of they have been credited back to this site. 

I was however a little bit bemused to discover recently that another Soaps and Roses has suddenly sprung up on-line with a launch imminent. (Coincidence perhaps?)

It is of course always a risk when putting creations and ideas on-line that someone will copy them - (should one feel flattered or irritated?) Soaps and Roses is my original idea and my creations are my own! The Original "Soaps and Roses" is not on Facebook or other social media sites, so for anyone viewing this site, please do not confuse this Soaps and Roses Blog with any other site with the same name.

I shall be back soon to share some new soaps and sewing creations with you! I hope also to put some of these on my Etsy shop so that it will be possible at last to purchase on-line from The Original Soaps and Roses!

In the meantime;

 Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year to all.


Monday, 24 October 2016

The Black Cat

Black cat, cross my path
Good fortune bring to home and hearth
When I am away from home
Bring me luck wherever I roam

- Old English Charm
As the year slips by, the garden has taken on a colourful autumnal hue

as red, gold and yellow leaves;

 deep red crab apples

  and pink Rowan berries decorate the trees in a seasonal display.
The nights are drawing in and the bright sunny skies during the day make way for clear starlit skies at night. 

The harvest moon has become a witching moon as it bathes the garden in a pool of white light.

Cobwebs stretch between the Verbena, 

sparkling and shimmering in the early mornings.
I have however detected a change of ambience in the garden recently. 

Freddie’s languid blissful life at the side of the trough was apparently short lived and he is still missing - now sadly presumed dead.

Other happenings alerted me to disturbances in the garden – such as pots knocked over on to their side. I sensed that something had changed.

Then..... Evie – my little friendly garden companion also disappeared; very concerning considering the terrible incident that occurred last year.

Evie has been part of the garden since my arrival at La Petite Maison; her sweet little presence bringing as much life to the garden as do the birds, bees and butterflies. 

Like me she is a herb lover and indulges herself by sniffing delicately at the cat mint before rolling around in a state of escatsy, (a Freudian typo which should read ecstasy!)

She is a talking cat and converses freely to me in rather human sounding mews.
In Feng Shui cats are drawn to harmony. Therefore a happy cat is the sign of a happy, harmonious home. So when she was no longer there, following faithfully at my heels, watching my activities

 and catnapping on the lawn as I worked close by in the flower beds, I missed her dreadfully and worried as to what had happened.
Enlightenment came one lunchtime, when a black shadow crossed the lawn

 and slipped stealthily down the lavender and nepeta lined path towards the back door.  

The shadow materialised into a lithe young black cat nonchalantly making its way along the path, before coolly and calmly stopping to sit on the top step staring audaciously at me as I stood at the back door.

The green eyes held my gaze challengingly. The cat showed no fear and did not attempt either to run or to come closer. This cat was a stranger to me - I had never seen it before, although I was acquainted with most of the cats in the area – none of whom with the exception of Evie show any real interest in me and use the garden only as a short cut to get to where they are going.
As it sat motionless on the step, I realised it was staring me out, but when I made a move towards it, the cat silently slipped by me and melted away along the side of the house before vanishing under the hedge.
I saw the cat again several times over the next few days; again it made no attempt to befriend me and stayed slightly elusively out of reach, just staring intently at me as though attempting to read my thoughts.

On one occasion as I looked out of window, I found the cat peering into the newly constructed pond (inspired by Charleston, although not yet finished) in the front garden.

 Slowly it stepped on to the granite rock that is submerged just below the water as a stepping stone for any unfortunate creature that accidentally falls into the pond.

Cautiously it lapped at the water and

for a moment perched gracefully on the rock with all four paws in the water,

and then slowly pivoted and climbed out of the pond.

From a neighbouring garden I heard the faint sound of a woman's voice calling 'Belle..." The cats ears pricked up and I voiced the thought aloud as to whether the cat could in actual fact really be called Beltane! The cat turned it's head at the sound of the word and intently fixed almond shaped green eyes upon me.

Of course a more obvious name for this cat would naturally be Salem.
Here in the UK, as in Australia and other parts of the world where black is a protective colour, black cats are though to be lucky. It is believed that their colour gives them the power to ward off negative forces. So any superstition of black cats and bad luck did not bother me.

However what did bother me was that there was still no sign of Evie. 

A full week went passed after I had last seen her, until late one afternoon when I caught a glimpse of her in the front garden. 

Relieved and overjoyed I called to her. Quite unlike her normal happy self, she was as nervous as a kitten and shied away from me, tongue-tied and not uttering any of her usual chatty little mews. Eventually, after a lot of coaxing she came close and I was able to pick her up, stroking her soft fur and cuddling her.
I carried her to the summer house where she has spent many happy hours sleeping or curled up in the dry as she watched the raindrops fall with a splash into the pond.
For a few minutes she sat on my lap and then…. her manner changed, she froze for a moment before jumping off my knee, ears back and on high alert. A sleek black shadow emerged at the side of the summer house.
Evie hunched down outside the summer house and began to make a noise like an old barn door creaking in the wind.
I waved my hands ineffectively at the black cat. It ignored me and walked elegantly along the top of the trellis; executed a neat pirouette and returning to the top of the fence dropped lightly to the ground below and began to circle Evie. I watched semi-hypnotised as the cat silently approached us. I clapped my hands in an attempt to break the spell, but suddenly the cat sprang like a panther and chased Evie across the garden and around the house.
Running after them, I found Evie crouched beneath a car parked on the opposite side of the road. As I called to her from the bottom of the drive and attempted to coax her out, I was aware of a presence immediately behind me. It was the black cat – staring at me. It remained beside me and made no attempt to leave the driveway to pursue Evie.

My intuition tells me that this cat is on a mission. It is intent on driving Evie away and moving into the garden in her place.

What to do? I cannot drive cats away if they choose to come to me; it is just not in my nature, but I simply cannot have Evie driven out and the tranquillity of the garden disturbed. I have a feeling too that this back cat may know something about poor missing Freddie!!!!


Friday, 30 September 2016

The End of Summer

Summer has merged into autumn without ever really seeming to have happened. 

During those few and far between days of sunshine, 

the garden blossomed and showed off its newly found beauty and potential, 

before the next deluge of torrential rain and strong winds battered it once more; 

mercilessly tearing the petals

 from the struggling roses 

persevering to do their best to show off their blooms, 

despite battling weather induced mildew and an infestation of caterpillars.

On one of those rare days of sunshine, I seized the opportunity to take the time to appreciate the newly planted garden and how it has developed over the past few months.

The air shimmered as the morning sun cast rays of ethereal silvery light across the garden.

At the side of the steps Prostrate Rosemary trails down over old chimney pots.

(Where Rosemary grows the missus is master!)

Aromatic Lavender and Nepeta edge the winding gravel path leading to the steps made of reclaimed railway sleepers,

softened by the little daisy Erigeron Karvinskianus.

Hollyhocks at the top of the steps, 

screen the lawn from view.

The black Hollyhock (Althea Nigra) makes a dramatic statement 

as it towers above the garden at over ten foot tall.

Around the pond is Mallow,

an Arum Lily, Hosta Blue Angel, Ferns, 

Lady's Mantle (an alchemists favourite), Anemones and Solomon Seal.

On the surface of the pond a white Waterlily bloomed for a short time.

In the white corner beside the pond are Roses, Lychnis, Nepeta, 

Hollyhocks and a Peony all in different shades of white. 

Verbena Bonariensis sways gently in the breeze,

attracting bees and fluttering butterflies 

and providing splashes of purple amongst the Fennel 

and Teasels beside the dovecote.

Various Lavenders feature throughout the garden,

along with Creeping Thyme, Artemisia, Sage

and Mallow.

Willow wigwams

support Roses,

 whilst growing around them are

 Purple Sage and Achillea, otherwise known as Yarrow

 (Where the Yarrow grows, there is one who knows.....)

Looking down to the house from the upper level, 

Echinacea (Coneflowers) 

provide late flowering summer colour.

The flowers of a giant Scabious (Cephelaria Gigantea), 

appear to float around the dovecote.

Beside the fence outside the French doors, a collection of pots beneath a Passion Flower

 contain a Hydrangea, Fern and Achillea Moonshine.

Opposite the other set of French doors the old stone trough and pots attracted a new edition to the garden....... 

I fell in love with my new garden friend and whiled away the time watching the newly christened Freddy as he contemplated life on the edge of the trough.

Evie was not amused that my attention was diverted from her, and

although she lay soporifically basking innocently in the sun, a few feet from the trough, I wonder now whether she was in actual fact musing over a sinister plan for Freddy's future.

I am distressed to say....

that worryingly Freddy is now currently missing and the trough is awfully empty without him!