Category Archives: friends

why, why Oh why …..

Standard

…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….

Yep, lets just see what is going on down there….

I'm banking on my friend Knuckle

I’m banking on my friend Knuckle

‘….the times they are a changing’……

Standard

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.

First snow – early morning – all gone by the evening.

autumn leaves - inspiring

autumn leaves – inspiring

a gaggle of gloves

a gaggle of gloves

wonderful sunflower planted by the birds outside the front porch

wonderful sunflower planted by the birds outside the front porch

pphhhhhhh…….what a SIZZLER

Standard

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

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!

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

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!

this Campanula has blown me away this year – it obviously loves sunbathing!

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

wall art - obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

wall art – obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

my cool spot under the copper sycamore

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!

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

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.

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! Knuckles having a cool off – I even have a paddle and it is so……. C O O L aahhhh!

tunnel vision is up and running thanks to William

Standard
the SWEAT

the SWEAT

had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench - not in the original scenario!

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)!

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)!

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!

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.

and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

trying to find my spring….

Standard

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!

Just a thank you.

Standard

on Sunday Jacqui turned up.  Its always a joy to see her face AND she had bought me two delicious pieces of  jewellery  which I love.

This young woman came into my life sometime in November 2006.  My husband was having radio therapy after being diagnosed with cancer in the spring and after some very severe chemotherapy which hadn’t cleaned out the tumor.  This whole period had left us both drained, in total shock and completely lost like thousands of others who have been through the experience or are now just starting the journey that is hell on earth.   Through one of those throw away remarks I’d been put in touch with an advisor who dealt with benefits.  I really had no idea what it was all about but nothing really mattered very much except my darling husband and me being strong and trying to cope with everything.  The new language that accompanies serious illness is frightening and most of the time you really don’t know what people are talking about.  ‘Well, just question’, I hear you say.  But what questions?  All you hear is cancer and its a rare one and its in his brain.  Where do you start?  You just trust the experts know the language and will do their best.  But for them its routine. For the punters however its like being shoved inside a tumble drier and thrown round and round never really understanding anything that relates to the life they understand. That is their previous life.

So here we are Colin and I clinging to each other after months of treatment.  Grateful that we could still be together.  And in comes Jacqui.

Jacqui was part of the Macmillan Benefit team or something like that.  She was neat quite small with short flicky hair and a real smiley face.  A funky dresser.  I liked her style.  I recognized or felt a breath of fresh air.  But she was carrying a huge brief case  so she was official.

From that initial meeting which was memorable because I understood the questions and she seemed quite satisfied with the answers we slowly became friends.  Everything she said she would do, with no fuss and no bother to us.  I could actually talk to her about what was happening to Colin and my role in this drama.  The word carer was now applied to me and Jacqui helped me understand what that really meant.  All day everyday forever into the unknown future.  Jacqui was always there either on the end of a demented ‘e’ mail from me or a delightful visit from her.

By March 2007 our hospital visits had finished and a new dilemma loomed.  Our business was failing seriously and bankruptcy was facing us.  I was overwhelmed with paperwork, with caring for Colin and a very frightening future.  And here is where Jacqui for all her neat frame, stood very tall and strong  and just calmly held my hand and said ‘You can do it, there is a way through”.

And she was absolutely right we hung in their and by January 2008 we had cleared the debts, sold the business and kept our home.  The part Jacqui played in all this was monumental.  When I was struggling she would come over and we’d go over the problems and find a solution,  She would take on certain difficult areas so we never got clogged up.  All the time being thoughtful, sensitive and kind and every now and then we even found time to laugh.   Jacqui was/is always smiley but never sentimental, always positive but never strident, always thoughtful but never judgmental, always caring but never controlling.

Last year February 23 2012 my beloved Colin died.  He was at home and my son and I had be able to care for him ourselves which was exhausting but incredibly rewarding.  Through all the years between 2008 and his death Jacqui was a very welcome visitor, helping me keep an open mind on life and its vagaries.  I would have lost my way so many, many times without knowing Jacqui was there to gently nudge me onwards.

And now it is Just Me floundering around in my little world.  But Colin left me very upright, full of his love and strength.  My walls are covered in his fabulous artwork and there is much for me to achieve through the inspiration of his work.  So I am lucky.  AND I have come to know and care deeply for Jacqui who has so many qualities and abilities that she shared so generously with Colin and I.  I know we are not the only ones touched by her caring work but I feel very grateful  that I can now count her as a real friend.

Jacqui picked me up and dusted me down so many times I now know what that big brief case really held – her instinct, her heart ,her humour plus a lot of intelligence  used positively.  She is person to cherish and I do.

An inspiring ‘phone call

Standard

which makes a change.

It was from a friend of ours I shall call him John.  He has had such a difficult life.  Father died when he was 5yrs. old, mother becomes an alcoholic, younger brother a nice boy but with emotional problems. John from an early age became the carer of the family.   And I’m afraid our wonderful caring society helped him very, very little.

But he survived plus he gradually carved out a career for himself (he was offered a place for a degree in mathematics but just couldn’t afford to accept) and still cared for his difficult mother and brother.  OK move on a few years he marries and he and his wife produce a beautiful son.  By this time he has his own home and a good job and his mother and brother have moved so they are nearby. Then his mother dies and although after all she has put John through he really grieves his loss.  And by what John has told me she did seem to appreciate what a great son he had been and he always found good things to say about her. But she was still drinking hard to the end. That left his now very confused but likable brother. Grossly overweight and inclined to booze, hadn’t worked for years, lost his identity and any sense of self worth.  And now his mother had died, his sense of reality diminishes even further.

There is now a year to 18 months of confusion, false information, infact lies told to John by his brother and others who were insistent he was in good hands and doing OK.  By this time the brother had moved back to the town the boys and mother had gone to after his father died – this was 300 miles from where John lived (and his brother had previously lived with his mother). John and his wife were also expecting a second child by this time. He was still in contact with his brother but there were other people (friends?) with much more influence over his brother and his meagre income.  Eventually John gets a call saying his brother is in hospital after being found in the river trying to commit suicide after drinking a bottle of bleach. From then on it is all downhill John is backwards and forwards trying to find out what is happening to his poor deluded brother.  John offers to take his brother home many times but he won’t  come.  And in the end he dies from the diet of chemicals prescribed by the doctors who care (?) for him.

John was devastated.   And then very angry.   Because all the time John was trying to get answers to questions about his brothers treatment from the doctors/nurses/carers he was fobbed off and made to feel like an interfering nuisance who had no rights to know about what was happening to this person whom he had loved and cared for all his life.  So John sat down and detailed everything that had happened with dates and times.  It was meticulously written, revised and scrutinised.  It was an obsession.  For ironically although life had given John the hardest most unfair start, he is one of kindest, sweetest, fairest man you could ever meet. And this end to his dear brothers life was wrong and very unfair.  And however hard you try to excuse mistakes and lack of communication etc.etc. there were people in authority who knew what was going on, who could have changed his brothers final years who could have CARED and infact were paid to care and use their expertise to improve a life not kill it.

Over the following months we would talk on the ‘phone and he would tell me about what he was trying to do and all I could do was listen and applaud him for his mission.  The document ended up 21 pages long and he sent it to me to read.   Initially when I saw the length I’m ashamed to say my heart dropped but once I started reading this clear, concise passionate account of the events leading to his brother death I wept. It was so cruelly wrong that anyone should be treated as Johns brother was treated and by normal everyday people supposedly doing there job. John had over the months told me all that had happened to his brother but reading it so clearly and concisely really shocked me.  And this had happened (and I fear is still happening) to the defenseless in our society.  Even though the victim in this tragic story had someone who really cared about him, really loved him, those in authority ignored John and what he could offer.

Then on Thursday night John rang.  His document has not only been acknowledged but been taken seriously as an important statement of FACTS.  A certain politician has picked up on it, the police and the other authorities involved are now taking Johns complaints seriously. And believe me John will not go away. Thank goodness for the Johns of this world who don’t just moan and weep but use all that negative energy to try and right a wrong, to really try and make a difference.

I have just read through this account and it does not do justice to this young mans story. Because through all his struggles and believe me they started from the age of 5yrs. he has survived a wholesome, intelligent, CARING, humorous character. John really is worth listening to. His 21 paged document is honed from real pain, real love and real experience and is just packed with lean, hard and very emotionally charged FACTS. And that is frightening and depressing.