Piles that now have nowhere to hide, in the bleak, longer light of January afternoons, without the cover of Christmas fuzziness to distract attention. The rest of the household regards this annual bug of mine with some dismay, as one never knows quite what will be grist to my mill! So far, however, this year it's mostly been my own "stuff" that has been the target of my attentions - teetering piles of papers and books on the study floor, waiting to trip the unwary; ingredients in the larder bought "just in case I ran out over Christmas" that really need using up because I didn't run out; odd purchases made because they were "a bargain" that have lurked, unused, cluttering floor or shelf space since they arrived home with me months ago; piles of fabric and baskets of yarn for a variety of projects which I have been telling myself (fictitiously, it seems) are "works in progress", etc, etc
And there is something therapeutic and even joyful in clearing, tidying and cleaning at the beginning of the year I find - it helps me to find some clearance in my head and begin to navigate the seas of the New Year. While the demolition of most of my piles has resulted either in things such as books, papers, fabric, yarn etc being properly put away where they belong and the recycling box has been the recipient of quite a lot of paper, packaging and other recyclables, there have been one or two more creative phoenixes to rise from the Christmas ashes.
One is this:
Nearly two years ago I bought two sets of white-painted, wooden letters that were going for a song in a sale. I don't really know why I bought them but they "seemed a good idea at the time"! I think I imagined propping them up along a bookshelf or perhaps painting them and hanging them on a wall but never got round to it and so they sat for the next twenty months, wedged down the side of a small chest of drawers in my study gathering dust, cobwebs (and er spiders - eek!).
In the course of my post-Christmas spring-cleaning, they were unceremoniously hauled into the light of day and a critical eye turned on them. If they were not going to be put to use, I told myself sternly, they must go the way of the charity shop. One set of letters said "LOVE" and the other set said "HOME". One of the reasons they had never made it out of the packaging was that although I liked the idea of the letters, I wasn't quite convinced that the words themselves were right for my wall space. Pejorative remarks were made by H about the idea of "LOVE" appearing on the living room wall and I had got a great deal of scornful stick for picking up a little wire sign, for 50p from a bargain bucket in a garden centre, a few years ago that said "garden" in curly letters. I sprayed it a soft green and was intending to hang it by the garden door but such scorn was heaped on it, as a statement of the obvious, that it never made it and the idea of hanging up letters in the house saying "HOME", I felt, might court the same derision.
Removing the letters from the packaging, because even if they were going to the charity shop I was still entitled to look at them properly(!), the idea occurred that I could make an anagram from the letters to say something that hit the spot more adroitly. But "LOVE" and "HOME" aren't that easy to make anagrams from, or not anagrams that say anything you particularly want to hang on your wall. Too many vowels for a start, although you might do better than I did on this. Any improvements on "LOOM", "MOVE", "MOLE,"VOLE", "HOLE"?! Not that easy is it?!
Would another language increase the options? This line of thought proved more hopeful and when D offered to increase the range of letters by sawing and adding to a couple with the judicious application of some Plastic Padding (smells noxious but seems capable of extraordinary miracles of mending and creation, that stuff) new possibilities opened up. Of course it was not quite open season on the alphabet - even model railway technowhizzes have their limitations but with D's considerable skill and ingenuity, the field increased significantly! The "H" was sacrificed to provide two "I"s. It also supplied a bar to make the "V" into an "A". One of the "E"s was cannibalised to become a "J" and we were in business - or nearly. The snag was that "LA JOIE" on its own wasn't quite right. What it needed was another set of letters saying "LOVE" in order to make, along with the remaining letters, unused from the first packs: "VIVE" and I would be able to turn two floating words into an anchored phrase! As luck would have it, (for a bit more than a song, but not much), I managed to track down a pack saying "LOVE" on Ebay. Now I had enough to make "VIVE" using the "M" from "HOME" chopped down, to make a second "V", the spare "I" from the "H" and the new "V" and "E" supplied by the second "LOVE".
But I didn't want just plain white letters; I got it into my head that I wanted the letters in my favourite flowery fabrics.
So armed with a sheet of Bondaweb and some scraps from my fabric stash box under the bed, I made some. I'd never used Bondaweb to apply appliqués to anything other than fabric but it worked like a dream.
Only three letters remain unused - two "O"s and an "L" - dare I risk tempting fate and sticking these to the door of the smallest room in the house I wonder?! Possibly not, if I want to hear the last of it!
The other happy result from my January clear-out has been the making of some traditional Nürnberger Elisen Lebkuchen. More on these in due course, as also on the sad story of frogging my sea-ripple blanket back almost to the beginning : (
But despite this and despite the fact that the house has been stricken again by colds and 'flu - beginning to think I ought to mark the front door with a chalked cross as a sign of a house of plague - looking at my letters I can't help but feel cheery : )
VIVE LA JOIE indeed!