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.
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?
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.