This is an odd household; very quiet. At any given time of day the house is usually full of silence, as it is now. The smells in the house as soon as you cross the threshold are of woodsmoke, herbs and spices, olive oil, onions and garlic – incense sometimes. There are few pieces of furniture and fewer ornaments, so that the house is partly furnished and ornamented by light, as it floods in across the hills to fill the kitchen at sunrise, and slants crosswise in from the west through the bay window at the front, lighting the big living room where the woodstove is during the summer months.
The people who live here are reticent and far from gregarious; somewhat touchy and needing solitude. But they are good friends, and sometimes from a room in the distance you hear gales of laughter. And some of us are musicians; on a summer evening when the windows stand open, often flute music hovers and drifts in the garden, sometimes the piano, or the sound of someone singing.
We have very few guests. I had a birthday party once, but it was a silent one. I invited my friends to spend an afternoon of silence, dotted about in the various downstairs rooms and the garden. We ended it with songs of faith, Grace playing the piano, and sharing the treasures of the silence.
People are always making things here – writing, working on the garden, knitting, sewing, cooking, carving, cutting stone, painting, making handmade paper and hand-sewn books – all kinds of things.
Today Hebe has been putting the finishing touches to a painting for a church.
A saint with a gentle face, showing us an icon of the blessed Virgin and holy Child.
I like his hands.
It is to be given in celebration of someone’s birthday.
It’s painted on a piece of oak. Hebe is ambivalent about signing work, but she has left her maker’s mark on the back.
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
I bet you’ve thrown out a few wire hangers in your time, too.
This was a good umbrella, but Hastings in on the coast. The wind blows. Umbrellas act as sails. Their owners struggle fruitlessly against the wind as it blows the umbrella’s inside out and twists the spokes. Pointless.