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!
too much and you end up swamped in the past. But Christmas is about memories for me and I cherish them. I have two brothers and a sister and I was the one who could never understand why everyone wasn’t awake at 2.00am on Christmas morning. The stocking was stuffed because when I pushed with my toes I could hear the crackle of paper, and almost taste the tangerine and silver wrapped chocolate Father Christmas that would be stuffed in the toe. Come on everyone its Christmas! But eventually that wonderful day would roll on full of laughter, church, singing, turkey, and FUN. It was all so magical. From gazing out of the window before bed on Christmas Eve and being convinced I could see and hear Santa gliding through the night on his reindeer drawn sleigh to the clearing up piles of wrapping paper and laughing as my poor Mum tried to make notes of who sent what to whom. We crashed to earth when it was thankyou letter writing time. But I even remember that with pleasure – on reflection – all part of the ying and yang of Christmas.
I feel very lucky that I have such wonderful memories and in fact I realise that although my Christmases over the years as an adult have been sometimes very sad and rather confused I have never lost that wonder. Christmas Day for me is never an actual day, a Monday or a Friday etc. It stands on it own Christmas Day. I do not give it religious overtones but it is a special day. It is a day when I find as the years roll on I do reflect on my life and my loves. I reflect on my mistakes and my triumphs. On my sorrows and my joys. But I also look to the future to still try and improve in every way and accept my shortcomings but push forward with my strengths. Strangely this is harder as you get older as I have so many pre-conceived concepts about everything. So 2013 is the year for questioning everything because I’m running out of time to mess around waiting for something/someone – its up to me. The only thing I am prepared to wait for is the bus!
So this is my first Christmas without a car and so far so brilliant. My bank balance agrees with me. Luckily I have lovely friends with cars who I know will help if I need them. On Monday I hope to buy my Christmas decoration which will be various pot plants. I started this idea a few years ago as my husband and I decided we really didn’t want a tree but we knew we needed something. So we decided on flowers and pot plants. And thanks to my Angelfriend I shall have no trouble getting them home.
So I am now going to knit myself some fabulous trousers which will be striped and very floppy and a sweater to match. These are for Christmas Day. All done on my knitting machine. I have always loved knitting by hand and then I started to crochet. But when my beloved husband was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago I decided, after months of thinking, to buy a second-hand knitting machine. Over the last 6 years as the cursed cancer cruelly stole my lovely loves life away – he died this year on February 23 2012 at home with my son and myself caring for him to the end – I have been learning how to use this machine. It has helped me during some very. very hard times and in fact just before and after Colin died I couldn’t use it
But I am back in the saddle and am finding it giving me new consolation (and ambition). A few years ago I decided I couldn’t wear anything I hadn’t knitted. That is why I had to design the trousers –
I love skirts but hate tights actually that is a combination I’m also working on. Now a friend said to me one day ‘Uumm you look very uumm knitted!’ an observation which still makes me laugh. Many a true word is spoken in jest – in other words I’m still working on my style!
So the parcels are sent – the cards are sent. Time to wallow in yarns and a bit of cooking – peppermint creams first I think. Delicious and very easy but they need time to dry out and this year I’m going to coat them in chocolate oooh and I must make some French Fancies as seen on The Great British Bake Off that should be festive better get the Carols on!
I had hoped my dear car would have been driven away yesterday but now the parting must wait for another week. And the trouble is when you make these (for me) life changing decisions you want it to happen as quick as possible. The actual decision can take a long time to make but once made – let’s do it is my attitude. But if I was really desperate I could drive to the scrap yard and have the poor thing crushed but my friend at the garage is selling it for me and so I must just hang on another week. And it is strangely pleasant to think it still has some worthy life left under the bonnet even if the bodywork is a bit iffy. But the new owner I know can sort all that out – he has the skill. So it is a win win situation. And I look forward to receiving my winnings!
I travelled on the bus last Friday. And it was just as I remember travelling on a bus – except most of my bus travel was to and from school so a nightmare for the other passengers. But there were the same draughts and bumping around and smells of other humans(but no tobacco staining the air). Mostly single travellers so not much chatter until a man got on and sat behind the driver and they chatted gently but with great interest in each others delivery and gave the whole bus an atmosphere of pleasant company. This is going to work for me all I need are some good warm boots. Back to eBay.
Which is another new world for me. The key to blogging and eBaying was opened by my lovely friend. How is it that some people have the gift to be there when you really need help. This is how I met this young woman. She came into my life when the demons of hell were about to break in. Initially she helped with getting certain allowances I had no idea about which made a huge difference to our life. And then life got really tough financially (and emotionally) and she just listened and suggested and rang people and stayed calm and thoughtful while I was able to rage and weep and nearly fall apart. She really did give me a strength I had no idea I had. And she never let me down. An Angel who came into my life at a time when it was falling apart. At a time when all directions were full of pain and despair. Very very hard 24 hour days that just went on and on. But she was always never far away even when really her involvement in our affairs was over. Now life is easier and she still flies in and opens up new possibilities and I cannot imagine my life now without her. She is the treasure we all hope to find so out of some very hard times I find a an Angel studded with diamonds. Lucky me.
But I do have a complaint about this blogging and eBaying as it is now 12.30pm and I have done nothing but blogged and eBayed. So I think I must try and set aside certain times for doing it. ( And if thats not cloud cuckoo land thinking I don’t know what is).
and I often wonder if mine has. Still the human species has not quite drifted down to being treated like a car. But maybe we are all guilty of attaching a failed MOT onto other folk and usually our diagnosis is based on a narrow-minded comparison with ourselves!!! But there maybe that is saying more about me than anyone else I regret to say.
Come, come come the day is young and I am already giving in to my ever skulking downside.
Today I cannot drive and it is the first day of a new way of thinking and planning and observing. If my beloved dog and cat became ill how would I get them to the vet(the chickens do not come into this category), if I became ill how would I get to the doctor, if I need stuff (including friends and family from the airport) how can I get it/them home? If, if, if what a silly word. Yesterday as I drove the car packed full of disgusting stuff for the skip I realised how automatic it is for me to listen for any new squeaks or rattles to worry about. Now I can concentrate on my own squeaks and rattles and know there is no dreaded enforced MOT looming up. Driving home I did get a bit tearful. I am very fond of this car. After my husband became ill and stopped driving we would often take little trips out and he would lay his hand on my thigh as we toddled along. I remember so clearly the weigh and warmth of that beautiful hand. So this new buspass life is new in so many ways mainly because I shall be on my own.
On Tuesday October 30 2012 at approximately 11.30am I was given the news my car had failed its MOT. I gave a slight gasp as I had already parted with lots of money in May to fix things. So bodywork falling apart I had not anticipated (maybe in comparison with my own bodywork the cars looked fine). The news deepened into a tragedy. For the price so far mentioned was just for the part and did not include the labour. And to dissemble and re-assembly could take two days. I could feel myself slipping into shock/horror and the dreaded tears. But I stammered on trying to listen and leave with some dignity as I wrote out a cheque to pay for well, nothing except that this knowledge was to force me to face a few facts of life.
As I drove home quietly sobbing feeling defeated, scared and helpless I realized owning a car now was just not on. Through the next few hours I started to look clearly at when I used the car, what for and how much it was costing. Slowly the truth emerged clearly through the haze of habit, laziness, pride that my car was now simply a luxury. I did not have to go anywhere regularly, in fact I would actually worry because I hadn’t taken the car out! I have for last few years used the internet more and more for purchases including a weekly grocery order. All I could honestly find I really needed it for was carrying dog food, chicken food and bird seed, a bale of straw now and then and taking my dog to a walk just up the road we enjoy for a change. Its useful for picking up family and friends if/when they come to stay. Its useful when you want to go to the theatre or some social gathering in the evening. So I looked at how my life was now panning out.
I hardly ever go out in the evening and that is not going to change. And if something wonderful came up I would get there somehow. I’m sure my family and friends could cope with taxis or buses ( I would still meet them and thats the lovely bit). I need never worry about tax discs, insurance and MOT’s. I need never worry about the price of petrol. I can stop worrying about cars and enjoy the journeys. I wave my lovely little card and sit down and concentrate on where I’m about to go, enjoying the mini adventures. I don’t have to park. I get on and get off. FREE. Where is the problem, where is the dilemma. I’m car free. And already it feels good and the car is still here but not for long!
So for the next few days I will be frantically stocking up with dog food etc. etc. and checking up on bus times. I know I shall miss the luxury of having a car apart from anything else I love driving but this is a new challenge and I know I shall relish the delights and the drawbacks. Must make sure I have some really warm boots. As I am a knitter the woollen gloves, scarves, hats are no problem.
I really had no idea how stressful it was having a car when you use it very little. I really love walking my dog everyday but having to take a car out for its health really is stretching affection a bit to far.
So on Thursday or Friday I will start using my buspass with new respect and gratitude. And I can splash out on a coffee! Whoopee!