Category Archives: Life

why, why Oh why …..

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…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

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comparing truths….

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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!

weeding IS theraputic…….

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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!

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.

pphhhhhhh…….what a SIZZLER

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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

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.