my first attempt at study for many, many years. And I have loved it. I was mentally whisked back to school days where I was a hopeless, defeated student before I even began. Scared of failure, scared of not understanding, scared of what was expected of me – I never understood. So I was the class clown – the most important part of the school day was the spaces between lessons for me. So to find in the last period of my life I am neither stupid nor a reluctant students is quite a bonus. But it just proves we all weave our own life patterns and I regret nothing. In fact what a great time to start learning basic maths and learning how to use a calculator properly (and feeling your brain slowly using parts that have not been exercised for many a long year – I actually felt ‘brain-ache’ and remembered the old adage ‘no gain without pain’ but you also get the high when you realise you do understand and/or you have the right answer). Learning how you can diminish huge numbers into manageable size by describing them as being multiplied by 10 to the power of ? whatever (by the way ANY number multiplied by 10 to the power of 0 is 1 and if that doesn’t bring us all down to size I don’t know what does!). Anyway I now read graphs with interest, question on how the original data was collected and what was the source. I now question averages, those useful statistics that are thrown at us to prove anything and everything, and now ask how were these averages were arrived at!! Yes a little learning can be a dangerous thing but surely allowing you to form judgement based on proper reasoning can’t be a bad thing? Anyway many thanks to Open University it has certainly opened me up. I don’t intend to study during the summer as I am getting fired up to use all this new discipline and belief in working and enjoying my garden using all these wonderful mathematical structures and calculations.
But really I want to encourage anyone who feels they would love to learn something. I will probably go for either science next OR art history. The science bit is because I have absolutely no knowledge at all about the subject. Have never been near a bunsen burner in my life. And after the experience with this lovely, engaging Maths module I am just finishing feel it could open areas of unknown amazement for me. The way the Open University have introduced the maths is making it all relevant to our every day lives which really helped me not being overawed by all the topics and I feel sure the science module would have that same friendly accessibility. The art history would be a labour of love. But believe me folks it is all there for the learning and it is such FUN! And YOU can do it all from the comfort and privacy of your own home – BRILLIANT.
…is Christmas so threatening. This year is the second since my beloved husband Colin died. He was never very keen on the whole circus but we always ate adventurously well and he bought me some quite wonderful presents over the years. It was always fun. So last year was tough. But this year its going to be OK.
And it was. Peaceful and quietly enjoyable. Ate too much, of course and gently tippled the day away. It was absolutely fine. But How Great that its now all over and we are in the second week of January 2014. Feels good to me. I realise I dislike being disrupted by outside forces. Slowly, slowly life is beginning to feel alright. I do not feel stifled by sorrow but am beginning to stretch out and experience new sensations. Its thrilling.
Now these thrills are nothing more than a basic starter module in Maths with the Open University and selling some of my knitting. Both experiences have opened up new horizons for me. The study is quite exhilarating. I love it. I can feel my brain creaking away like any underused muscle but its a pleasurable pain. No pain no gain!! My enthusiasm for is so great I want everybody to enjoy maths. What an extraordinary subject which actually touches and is very revealing about everyday life. Everyday I study I learn something which I can easily apply to my life giving me more confidence in my decisions and more confidence in my views on currant affairs.
As for my knitting,the new designs are rolling out as I type – rather nifty Valentine Day Gloves to Love which includes some felting in the process. My maths has given me a new confidence with designing so everything seems to be working together which is a big bonus.
I see hints of the new season to come on my daily walk and I must say this year I am really looking forward to the long days ahead. And then I turn on the news ………………………
Bankers Bonuses can someone tell me, explain to me why they receive them? I am in my early seventies and am ashamed of being part of the political structure that encouraged these indefensible and immoral earnings. Especially as the banking system is now a system more acquainted with a betting shop than a trusted, safe place to store hard earned cash. I have just spent hours trying to find out more about what is exactly going on in the ‘banking system’ and why the Retail Banks of the high street still seemed to be linked to the Investment Banks. Why do so called ‘code staff’ receive huge salaries and bonuses even when the bank is losing money? I understand the government doesn’t want to upset the ‘fat cats’ of The City of London but surely there must come a time when we stop being bullied by a system which has shown how vulnerable it is to failure on a huge scale. Isn’t it time to call a halt to this worship of money – isn’t it time to step back and really look at our struggling society – isn’t it time to really thank those who quietly toil away for a reasonable wage – isn’t it time to stop exploiting the weak, the sick in our society but give everyone a chance to shine in some way. We all have weaknesses and we all have strengths but nowadays it seems just a very few count for anything and the majority of us must make do (and be threatened if we don’t dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s). I feel so angry and frustrated at the way life is panning out for so many young people. Life is wonderful and does not rely on ‘loads o’ money’ but you do have to pay the bills. I no longer trust politicians they are ‘economical with the truth’ and are good at ‘creative accounting’. I no longer trust the media newspapers or the news on television or the radio – everything I hear I treat as having been manipulated in someway. That makes me sad (and cynical) but thank goodness for the blessings of good friends, family and a dog and cat. And when all else fails I can always go for a walk through the fields and woods surrounded by a backdrop of hills and it costs me nothing except a bit of energy – and I still have more of that than I do money. So I am rich. This blog is such a mess but that is just how it fell on the page.
Yep, lets just see what is going on down there….
I’m banking on my friend Knuckle
I am sitting and writing this on my own MacBook Pro which (with birthday money from my brother) I bought on eBay. So quick and easy to write but the actual doing was a trial of endurance, nervous tension and much research. And it was also quite a buzz. And had a Happy Ending. Thank goodness.
And so this year is drawing to an end and I realise I have been blogging for approximately a year. All started because on sad reflection and facing reality I realised I couldn’t afford to run a car. Pretty scary actually after having borrowed or owned a car for the last 50 years. (I keep writing and thinking in BIG numbers when thinking about memories etc. – I mean 50 years sounds ancient!) But anyway I have managed fine without a four wheeled friend – my little bus pass allows me the travel that I need or fancy and on the days when I vaguely think ‘now if I had a car……..’ I realise that I have slowly developed a different way of thinking. What you can’t have you can’t have so get on with it!!! And I do. But …. how about a motorbike …. anything is possible … maybe ….
It hasn’t been an easy year but like most people I just try to enjoy the good moments and scramble through those grey periods . My wonderful Polytunnel is up and running – the garden is well, mine. In other words I trim and dig, plant and weed, always enjoying myself and when I stop enjoying myself I stop and read a book,listen to music, cook, knit or blog or browse the extraordinary world wide web. The weather this summer and autumn has been quite wonderful in fact to hot for me but as I am retired I can retire under my nice shady tree. Suddenly hot days are no longer a trial. Cold drink, good book, very nice, thank you.
I have been gently knitting away as the days shortened and have put together a little collection of fingerless gloves. My wonderful niece Katie Lynn who has created and developed her business Molten Wonky (I am trying to add a link here but ……she is on Facebook and has a website really lovely bright, original fused glass designs ) Anyway she is selling them for me (hopefully!). And I am excited about it all. I need this little buzz and so enjoy the designing and making. So my workroom is feeling much more positive with some sort of structure developing. Because not only am I knitting but I have started a module with the Open University in Maths. And my course has started and I am a student! Now where this journey will take me I have no idea but I know that two opportunities have opened for me to use as I will and I am strangely nervous and thrilled at the same time………you really are never to old to learn about yourself and your capabilities. And obviously the background to all this is littered with tears and doubts, fears and confusion, disappointment and self-pity. Thank goodness for the kindness of everyday folk and the loving toleration from the special people in our lives (and of course the dog, the cat and 3 chickens!).
This is the first post I’ve written on my wonderful MacBook Pro so I will now try to stick some photos on but time and my patience with my own ineptitude could run out before I manage. Listen I don’t have time for too much ramblings I have THINGS to do! Gloves don’t knit themselves and study needs strict attention and with both if you don’t get the details right you miss the ultimate satisfaction.
First snow – early morning – all gone by the evening.
autumn leaves – inspiring
a gaggle of gloves
wonderful sunflower planted by the birds outside the front porch
its a strange little word Truth because it has so many disguises. In fact its the most untruthful word there is as it bends and sways, changing form and direction always willing to please whoever is insisting their vision/feeling/direction/words are correct and are in fact, the truth. Its only recently that this truth has hit me so forceable and I believe it is my age. I listen to todays politicians with almost horror as I hear the same platitudes, the same great plans and repetitive ideas, the same ‘truths’, the same lies in fact the menu hasn’t changed one jot. I no longer shout at the radio/television just turn it off or over to something else. I feel like that because I really have heard it all before but many younger folk are also turning off or over because they don’t believe a word and I just can’t blame them. Who does actually run this country or any country? Money begets power and to keep the power you need more money. So the powerful have always to bend and sway in the name of truth to maintain their position with one eye on their competitors and the other on the general mass who are fed endless garbage through the usual channels (owed and run by the rich and powerful!). And even when some new events shocks us (e.g. Hillsborough, bankers , ‘phone hacking, treatment in Carehomes, police making false statements etce.tc.) we believe ‘well, surely someone must accept or be forced to accept blame for this ‘ but nothing really happens just the usual lot of words (where the word truth appears a lot) and the inevitable enquiry costing thousands to find the ‘truth’. Yet Charlie & Mary Muggins down the road who are quite prepared to jog along quietly and accept the advice and go along with the ideas are now told their pension will be slashed, their childs education is rubbish, their local hospital is filthy and its pot luck if they find a ‘caring’ nurse, and their jobs are probably on the line or at least their pay will be static for a couple of years, so what truth do they have to face? I am neither right wing nor left wing in fact as with most people I have a right wing and a left wing hoping to stay balanced. For me the only solution is a good, honest dictator and that really is fantasyland but at least I’d know where to aim my rotten eggs.
Phew I don’t really know where that came from. Maybe its the shame I feel that our society is still going on and on about the same problems which have irked us for the last 40 odd years but we find the money to go to war and interfere with other societies as though we have solved all the problems. Oh dear, there are so many hidden agendas going on and I for one just don’t trust those men in suits with their slippery smiles. Which leaves me a rather cynical OAP. I do find it very depressing. So thank goodness for music, and gardening and knitting and OU (I’m just about to start a Mathamatics module) and friends and well, lots of things. I’m lucky with my tiny grain of sand and accept full responsibility for my problems. But I really resent what my government is doing with my vote and I have not been very happy and certainly not proud of the politics of this country for many years. I accept there are many worse regimes (and I expect we sell them weaponry) but I will not believe we can keep on pandering to the few getting very rich and therefore having all the power. It does not make sense that being good at gathering wealth gives you a right to interfere with the running of society. There are good men and women out there whose skills and intelligence, visions and imaginative ideas are not tied into making loads of money. Their ambitions are aimed much higher from promoting and persuading our society to pull together somehow so we all feel part of a great scheme and all matter in its construction and maintenance – I believe they are out there. But I hope they go out and live a bit of real life before they become politicians because there are some things you cannot explain unless you’ve experienced it. And I do accept that my truth may not be your truth but as long as they are both honestly held we’ll agree to differ and maybe even sway and bend a bit and find a new truth!
I am a ‘can I go out to play’ sort of gardener and also a very sweaty one and all together look like someone you would not like to met ANYWHERE at ANYTIME! Because once the flies get going I also swear liberally and with gusto – but that is not the only therapy. For when all the sweat and swearing has finished and you have a shower and scrub your filthy feet then make a nice cup of tea and your face has lost its drunken flush you wander out to see what was achieved. A patch of nice clear rich brown soil planted with three lilies saved from imminent destruction in B & Q. I hope they will be part of a red/yellow/orange section of the border. But the most theraputic part of this bit of gardening was digging and tearing out a plant I thought was rather pretty and has turned out to be an invasive, treacherous wicked fiend who tramples over all around and about and wipes them out. But no more I now have its number and from now on it will NOT be allowed to wander far. In truth I have gone right of the damn thing and will eventually get rid of any bits lurking anywhere! So beware.
Yep, that little bit of brown soil is all I’m going on about!
I’m not sure whether to write this next bit but its part of how it is. As I ripped and dug and pulled out the roots of this plant, I thought of cancer. My husband died of cancer and I miss that man almost unbearably at times I sometimes wonder how I go on breathing but I do and will until my time comes. So I garden with joy and sorrow for both of us. He was a painter and I know his easel would have been outside all this wonderful summer and with great energy, skill and colour he would have been totally engaged in catching the vibrant days this sizzling summer has produced (and done a quick cartoon of his glamourous wife busy digging, sweating and swearing ) and both of us thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
If you are lucky enough to have a life you should live it as full and as honestly as you can – that is what I have to repeat to myself daily and I can hear Colin in my head and feel him in my heart just steadily willing me onwards and upwards.
What is your therapy for those hard days or do you just grit your teeth and hope the morrow will dawn with a brighter light.
just a few images of my summer – being retired means you can relish every minute!
beautiful Oriental poppies full of style, colour and delicate beauty
BUT even those beauties suffer from ‘the morning after the night before’ look – still look stunning though in a bedraggled way!
my favorite plant, well one of them – what a colour and I love the black centre
this Campanula has blown me away this year – it obviously loves sunbathing!
never seen these emerge before but yet another delight
wall art – obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants
my cool spot under the copper sycamore
wish I could grow chickens in a pot but no, this one thought I’d made her a nice dust bath!
on Knuckles and my daily walk we found some beautiful Butterfly orchids
natures sculpture -this always reminds me when I’m a bit down that a life with no heart is no life at all – hope this weather is not melting you. Knuckles having a cool off – I even have a paddle and it is so……. C O O L aahhhh!
had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench – not in the original scenario!
at last – covering the skeleton – after quite a bit thought as we laid out the 11.2mx9.2m polythene to drape over the supports – very nerve wracking!
All sweat, no blood, or tears ( or the dreaded actual tear as in rip)!
you take the soil etc out then guess what you put it all back – its called ballist (and b……..y hard slog)!
tomato and peppers plants cheering when they see the polytunnel looking sleek and secure – at last a proper home!
and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.
my potting shed is up and ready and I love it!
If you really enjoy doing something and its a feasible fantasy just go for it – you can make things happen with a bit of thought, help and courage. Sometimes dreams stay as dreams (I have plenty of them!) but if you set your sites within your own perimeter so much can be achieved and so much pleasure derived. By the way this was a time when I missed my car but guess what within 20 minutes I’m onto the bus with my shopper and collect the timber we needed – no problem. And enjoyed a little rest going in and out of town plus chatting to a neighbour! Guess what I bored him with!!!the wonders of polytunnels. Now I think about it there was a look of gratitude as the wee bus trundled into sight.
I am so often inspired by reading other blogs there is so much energy and love out there so thank you inspiring bloggers who live a life however seemingly small. My world is tiny but it is mine and I love and try and cherish it. Sometimes I’m in the zone and nothing can faze me but…….well there is always a butt so just kick it very hard and move on!
is I cannot bear to waste it. As I have always worked this longed for space is now mine. And I love it.
last veg bed to finish weeding
The great thing of having a job or business is the structure it imposes. Children impose a structure (oh those school holidays, free days, half terms, etc). And mostly these structures are great because you enjoy the job/business/children and the spaces in between servicing all these demands allow for a bit of self indulgence. Of course its a different scenario if you hate your job/failing with the business/and all is stress,stress,stress. BUT I’m not going down that very different and difficult route. For a start all jobs can be boring at times, businesses need constant attention and families are always fired through with patches of difficulty so stress, anxiety, fear is always lurking around even the most seemingly ‘perfect’ lives.
My life is now structured by self indulgence because although cash not-so-rich my days are MY days. WOW how wonderful! And it is. and of course it isn’t. Because the only person who is now in control is me. I don’t mind me but oh the imperfections glow like so many night flies flitting to and fro as the sky turned inky black. Push too little and I fritter and do nothing. Push too hard – exhausted – leading to frustration at my own inabilities etc. etc. Tiredness feels wonderful when all has gone well and the weariness deserved. But I am slowly starting to recognise my new strengths and accepting (and forgiving) my limitations.
Do you want to be my friend?
Who on earth is he?
I am now on facebook (faceless of course). What an extraordinary faceless world it is. An enormous mass of people who know someone you know and might want/will/maybe become my friend! But all this twitter and facebook has a strange emptiness about it. Hours can disappear into a very fragile communication. I realise as I write this I haven’t yet found my way of using it as a useful communication tool or if I ever will. My life would be much harder and lonelier without the use of my computer. It has opened me up to so many possibilities within my scope and taken me out of my scope and either confirmed lurking ideas or shocked me out of complacency. Plus I can always browse through eBay for the hidden gems! Thats entertainment. So I am not dismissive of the world wide web of communication just feel the information one can glean can leave one feeling a bit empty. You can never replace a really good conversation with another human eye ball to eye ball – I’m sure Skype is better than nothing but its not the same. And what really concerns me is there is an instinctive feel to those live conversations. Body movements, hand gestures, tone of voice, spaces between sentences even words and the look in the eye. And when all goes well the warmth between you. Just genuine caring warmth. And if it doesn’t go well the sheer relief of escape! So I suppose as long as we understand the limitations of facebook/twitter/blogs/’e’mail and that they will NOT and cannot replace genuine one to one contact, its a great way to keep in touch – if we really want to!!!!!
Treat of the week – listening to Maureen Lipman being interviewed on BBC3 Essential Classics at 10.30am. Dig and weed then coffee and toast then back to dig and weed. Pretty good, ah!
because June is bursting out all over – the garden just beckons me and I have to go. For hours I’m digging and hoeing and sweating and attacking my major enemies Ground Elder and Docks. There are many others like neetles but these actually have very shallow roots and at least the butterflies like them so I just try to come to an understanding about territory so we can live in relative peace. My potatoes look happy and the broad beans healthy. Peas will need their supports (which is rather a fag) but I’m pretty sure I have some pea netting I bought a couple of years ago so will hunt that out. Leeks and cabbages are trying their best and I have every faith in them. Courgettes have very quickly broken cover throwing out wide green leaves so I am hopeful for a good crop. Lots of other seeds haven’t emerged yet but as a gardener you must have patience (it has taken me years to realize this). You also need to accept the disappoints of plants looking great then wham, bang turning into a sad, weak, wilted little disasters. But all in all it is wonderful to be out in the warm fresh air messing about with the soil.
daisies in the lawn and they are very welcome
So my knitting has now been sidelined. In fact I am trying to be more organised and not so slap dash. Ideas need to be noted for future reference. I have only just realised how much I have been working out with colours and shapes, designs and textures and unless you stop, think and record you could be wasting all that work and information you have been gathering by not taking note of it. But pattern writing is quite difficult even if it is your own pattern. So I am trying to find a compromise where I can write a vague description which gives the jist of how you achieve a certain effect. BUT the garden is weeding out (!) all my energy at the moment but I am hoping that as I get use to wheeling barrows etc etc etc I will recover quicker and find time for both my loves. Of course walking the dog is always fitted into the equation! And the evening is always a time for handknitting or crochet.
Well, today I have been clearing around the polytunnel skeleton because we will be re: covering it very soon. Oh how I miss my polytunnel. When the weather is nasty you can disappear into the tunnel and find something nice on the radio and be amazingly productive with seed plantings and transplanting young plants and feel warm and dry. Having greenhouse or polytunnel just makes gardening more creative and nurturing. I’m sure my plants would tell me to ‘shut up’ if they had the chance – I not only talk to them but sing as well! Poor dears they are a real captive audience.
I finished my very enjoyable Collagraph course. Just a couple of things I did. Highly recommend the experience to anyone.
this is the block made from sticking mainly paper and threads to thick card
and this is the print (the block also has to be inked for colour of course)
can’t find the block for this but I like the colours and the profile
times are hard. It seems the whole world is struggling and I’m in there thrashing about with the best of them.
But I get on my local bus and Alan the driver always greets me by name as he does most of his passengers. And if Davy, who uses his bus pass to gently while away the day by just sitting and observing to and fro on the local journey up past the Beauly Firth, can help someone with a pram or a suitcase he does with pleasure and a shy smile. People are basically kind and friendly – we all need a pat on the back occasionally and we all blossom when we are acknowledged for just being a person. Because I am retired and my hobbies are quite isolating climbing onto ‘my’ transport taking me into the ‘world’ has become a simple pleasure. Now and then I do miss not having a car but I only have to look at the debit and credit accounts on owning a car and I know for once I’m on the right side.
Not long ago I signed up for a course at the Highland Printmakers Studio ( should be able to link this but sorry I haven’t got there yet). A really great place full of creative energy and very helpful, friendly artists who are eager to share their enthusiasm. As I have no knowledge, or experience of printmaking I just found a course that still had room which was Collagraph. Never heard of it but thats what I wanted to go and tackle the unknown! Next week is the last of a 6 week course and I have really enjoyed myself. Back to childhood covered in glue and ink, thank goodness for aprons. I have started drawing again I have been made more aware of shapes and textures and my first love colour was given free rein but in a new constrained way. I loved the way you created a ‘block’ you printed from with paper, card, bits of fabric, cotton thread, string pretty much anything that would work all torn or cut into shapes and glued onto card – the net bag lemons and oranges often come in add brilliant texture.. Then you applied printing inks – hard work this as you had to rub into all the edges then remove some etc etc etc. or you used a print roller for a different effect. The inking is up very interesting as there is always an unknown element after its been under the press. So exciting as all the protective layers are stripped away and you gently peel the dampened paper of the block to either a shocked silence or a little yelp of pleasure. I am now busy at home making a ‘block’ for the last session – its been a fun experience and pushed me gently along a path I know I want to explore and enjoy much more.
Just wish the weather would cheer up a bit. But the potatoes are coming through and so are the cabbages and leeks must check on the broad beans. Indoors my tomatoes seeds have germinated as have the cucumbers and peppers so now I have to nurture them onwards and upwards. The polytunnel eventually gave up the ghost this winter but we can re-cover it so all will be ready (hopefully) by the time the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers need to be in their warmer home to grow and produce some wonderful fruits. I realise with gardening you either love it or tolerate it or hate it. Like most things I need to get into the mood but once in I love to garden. For me its a great big adventure playground and in fact this year I am going to put up our big green canvas tent to use as a summer house plus the barbecue and a mattress and a sleeping bag and my summer holidays are sorted. The dog will be delighted! If you want to join me bring a tent (and the sun) I’ve plenty of room and you’d be very welcome!