…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 try not to be deviated from my intended pursuit. But it is so easy to be deviated. But once you do wander away from your intentions well, its just a jungle of information, facts, people, opinions most of them fascinating and stimulating BUT unless I have put aside the time to pursue this labyrinth of new stuff my day just disappears puff all into the NET. I emerge blinking, brain fizzing and very confused. I only wanted to find out a bit more about snowdrops! As in the garden we have 3 species the pretty little usual one, one with a double centre and the adorable frilly petalled one in the photo. But I was pathetic and gave in to peering at other alluring stuff which has got me nowhere except to once more proclaim I am but a speck of dust in this wonderful world. So be it.
But even a speck of dust has to settle somewhere and luckily I am very settled (and quite safe from a fevered keen dust remover). My home is surrounded by my garden which is surrounded by a very beautiful aged stone wall. We are having the most stunning weather at the moment – clear blue sky, no wind, the air is cold and on waking everywhere outside is covered in sparkling frost. Just what I needed to inspire me to garden.
My raised beds are being dug and weeded, the shrubs are having hair cuts (quite major in some cases). Now is the time to get into those jungle areas and clear out brambles and nettle patches. Because I have lived here for 10 years I know the bits I want to be quite brutal with and the areas I will just tidy a bit. I also know that once the growing season starts in earnest to clear/or tidy is much harder. I am not a serious gardener but love ‘playing outside’ – if the weather is fine I want to be outside. In a perfect world I’d have a big swimming pool so between bouts of gardening I could float about in water. Of course the total dream would be to have a simple house by a (warm) sea where I could grow tomatoes, peppers, aubergines etc. etc. outside
then flop into the sea and gently swim, then sit on my cool terrace and knit, listening to music. Bliss.
But where I am is where I am and I feel very grateful for the very pleasant structure I have around me. The loss of my beloved husband is part of why I feel so strongly the need to achieve as much as I can with this next (last) part of my life. He was not one to sit about and bemoan facts you cannot change. So while all my faculties are still functioning I will try to create a life full of positives because in my head and heart I hear his voice saying ‘come on, what’s next?’ plus of course a big hug and a gently kiss.
…. a real New Year that turns into numerical basic – for what? My maths is pretty basic but serves my needs. When I’m designing a new garment I am continually counting. adding, dividing, multiplying then subtracting the figure I first thought off etc. etc. No this little twist of numbers is saying to me don’t clutter your life, keep it simple, be honest with yourself, be kind, be industrious (mentally and physically). Life really is what you make it – so make it heathy, happy and productive. May your New Year be all you would like it to be.
On Saturday it was grey and grim, with a blustery cold wind delivering slanting rain. The dog refused a walk. It was bad. But perfect for turning up the music and making Fondant Fancies. I used to, in the past, buy them in a cardboard box made by a Mr Kipling but they always looked more yummy than they tasted. So after seeing Mary Berry showing us all how to do IT I had to have a go. Under cooked the sponge. In a perfect world it needed another 4 minutes but I have a tendency to go and start doing something else and the perfect 4 minutes turns into a catastrophic 30 minutes or simply the smell of burning. Also I dislike dry cakes so out came the sponge and although in the centre it wasn’t light and fluffy it was OK. Everything else went fine – except I should have remember when putting the butter icing round the edges of each little cake I made it as smooth as possible AND trimming the outside edges so they are straight is important so each cake stands up properly. At this point I realised we would never eat 25 cakes so I froze 12. Then came the tricky bit – the fondant icing. I managed to get it a good consistency and coloured half with raspberry juice. The next bit is just plain messy. I did the fork in the side bit and sort of held it above the bowl of icing and spooned the icing over the top and then round the sides. I really believe its one of those jobs you find your own way of dealing with it. Just accept it is messy (and it really puts you off icing!). Then I dribbled chocolate on the white ones and the white icing on the pink and ‘Voila’ some quite nauseous (by this time I’d had enough) looking little cakes. I had to taste one and I thought it was quite nice.
But on Sunday I tidied them up round the base and put them on a plate and felt much prouder of them. I have to say they definitely improved with keeping – the icing firmed up and the cake inside stayed very moist and all the flavors blended. And the Monday tasting was when I really thought they were delicious and worth the effort. I could never make them perfectly and I don’t think Mary Berry would be too impressed but the flavours were excellent.
fancy a fondant fancies?
Right I am just going to post this before my head blows off – I really love adding visuals and I realise this is pretty pathetic but we all have to start somewhere!!!
my Christmas knitted trousers
our edible Christmas tree
my lovely walking companion
look what I found once I got going – a Boxing Day moon
a frozen puddle -( wish I looked as good when I freeze up)
P…. off! He always gets the last word.
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!
to visit my lovely niece and family and my brother and sister who both live near by. I was a little apprehensive of getting to the airport without a car but it was very simple and everything linked up seamlessly.
I can honestly say in my position I realize now that the car was more of a pressure than a necessity. And possibly a habit (a rather expensive habit at that). So I must say as I walked the dog passed parked cars covered in ice and snow, with some of their owners busily scrapping away with the engine chugging away trying to warm everything up, I felt no pangs of regret. Although I certainly didn’t feel smug as walking on the pavements is quite scary in this seasonal weather. Maybe I should buy some crampons? There is always some little irksome problem to puzzle about!
Katie, my niece, has developed over the last few years a wonderful, cheerful business called ‘moltonwonky.co.uk’. (Look up Katie Lynn or moltonwonky just quirky and fun – I haven’t worked out linking yet and must wait for advice from my guru). Katie trained as a stainglass artist but has now developed an individual, funky style using fused glass. Every Christmas she has an AT HOME with about 4 other crafts people. This year it was Caroline who made yummy sweets, Kathie creates lovely jewelry and Hannah made charming bags. When I arrived on Wednesday afternoon they were still setting up in the downstairs rooms and it all looked quite magical. On Thursday they were open all day and didn’t stop until 9.00pm. I was part of kitchen staff and had a lovely day chatting, making tea/coffee popping more sausage rolls and nkymince pies into the Aga and my own mouth and drinking Margaretas (can’t spell it but I loved drinking them). Katie has also produced (with a little help from her husband) four lovely children. Two girls first and then two boys. And what a joy they all are – if I could bottle their hugs well, I would use one first thing in the morning and one last thing at night and maybe one inbetween when I felt the need.
But it was still great to fly home. Except it took me a little longer than anticipated as I missed my connection bus to the village because I was dreamily sipping coffee in the shopping centre and miss read the time! So I need to sharpen up my wits to TIMETABLES – more studying required.
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!