the problems of timerich



is I cannot bear to waste it. As I have always worked this longed for space is now mine.  And I love it.

last veg bed to finish weeding

last veg bed to finish weeding









The great thing of having a job or business is the structure it imposes.  Children  impose a structure (oh those school holidays, free days, half terms, etc).  And mostly these structures are great because you enjoy the job/business/children and the spaces in between servicing all these demands allow for a bit of self indulgence.  Of course its a different scenario if you hate your job/failing with the business/and all is stress,stress,stress. BUT I’m not going down that very different and difficult route. For a start all jobs can be boring at times, businesses need constant attention and families are always fired through with patches of difficulty so stress, anxiety, fear is always lurking around even the most seemingly ‘perfect’ lives.

My life is now structured by self indulgence because although cash not-so-rich my days are MY days.  WOW how wonderful!  And it is.  and of course it isn’t.  Because the only person who is now in control is me.  I don’t mind me but  oh the imperfections glow like so many night flies flitting to and fro as the sky turned inky black.  Push too little and I fritter and do nothing.  Push too hard – exhausted – leading to frustration at my own inabilities etc. etc. Tiredness feels wonderful when all has gone well and the weariness deserved. But I am slowly starting to recognise my new strengths and accepting (and forgiving) my limitations.

Do you want to be my friend?

Do you want to be my friend?


Who on earth is he?

I am now on facebook (faceless of course).  What an extraordinary faceless world it is. An enormous mass of  people who know someone you know and might want/will/maybe become my friend!  But all this twitter and facebook has a strange emptiness about it.  Hours can disappear into a very fragile communication.  I realise as I write this I haven’t yet found my way of using it as a useful communication tool or if I ever will.   My life would be much harder and lonelier without the use of my computer.  It has opened me up to so many possibilities within my scope and taken me out of my scope and either confirmed lurking ideas or shocked me out of complacency.  Plus I can always browse through eBay for the hidden gems!  Thats entertainment. So I am not dismissive of the world wide web of communication just feel the information one can glean can leave one feeling a bit empty.  You can never replace a really good conversation with another human  eye ball to eye ball – I’m sure Skype is better than nothing but its not the same.  And what really concerns me is there is an instinctive feel to those live conversations.  Body movements, hand gestures, tone of voice, spaces between sentences even words and the look in the eye.  And when all goes well the warmth between you.  Just genuine caring warmth. And if it doesn’t go well the sheer relief of escape!  So I suppose as long as we understand the limitations of facebook/twitter/blogs/’e’mail and that they will NOT and cannot replace genuine one to one contact, its a great way to keep in touch – if we really want to!!!!!

Treat of the week – listening to Maureen Lipman being interviewed on BBC3 Essential Classics at 10.30am. Dig and weed then coffee and toast then back to dig and weed. Pretty good, ah!


to knit or not to knit that is the question?


because June is bursting out all over – the garden just beckons me and I have to go.  For hours I’m digging and hoeing and sweating and attacking my major enemies Ground Elder and Docks. There are many others like neetles but these actually have very shallow roots and at least the butterflies like them so I just try to come to an understanding about territory so we can live in relative peace.  My potatoes look happy and the broad beans healthy.  Peas will need their supports (which is rather a fag) but I’m pretty sure I have some pea netting I bought a couple of years ago so will hunt that out.  Leeks and cabbages are trying their best and I have every faith in them.  Courgettes have very quickly broken cover throwing out wide  green leaves so I am hopeful for a good crop. Lots of other seeds haven’t emerged yet but as a gardener you must have patience (it has taken me years to realize this). You also need to accept the disappoints of plants looking great then wham, bang turning into a sad, weak, wilted little disasters.  But all in all it is wonderful to be out in the warm fresh air messing about with the soil.

daisies in the lawn and they are very welcome

daisies in the lawn and they are very welcome

So my knitting has now been sidelined.  In fact I am trying to be more organised and not so slap dash.  Ideas need to be noted for future reference.  I have only just realised how much I have been working out with colours and shapes, designs and textures and unless you stop, think and record  you could be wasting all that work and information you have been gathering by not taking note of it.  But pattern writing is quite difficult even if it is your own pattern.  So I am trying to find a compromise where I can write a vague description which gives the jist of how you achieve a certain effect.  BUT the garden is weeding out (!) all my energy at the moment but I am hoping that as I get use to wheeling barrows etc etc etc I will recover quicker and find time for both my loves. Of course walking the dog is always fitted into the equation! And the evening is always a time for handknitting or crochet.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAWell, today I have been clearing around the polytunnel skeleton because we will be re: covering it very soon.  Oh how I miss my polytunnel.  When the weather is nasty you can disappear into the tunnel and find something nice on the radio and be amazingly productive with seed plantings and transplanting young plants and feel warm and dry.  Having greenhouse or polytunnel just makes gardening more creative and nurturing.  I’m sure my plants would tell me to ‘shut up’ if they had the chance – I not only talk to them but sing as well!  Poor dears they are a real captive audience.


I finished my very enjoyable Collagraph course.  Just a couple of things I did. Highly recommend the experience to anyone.

this is the block made from sticking mainly paper and threads to thick card

this is the block made from sticking mainly paper and threads to thick card

and this is the print (the block also has to be inked for colour of course)

and this is the print (the block also has to be inked for colour of course)

can't find the block for this  but I like the colours and the profile

can’t find the block for this but I like the colours and the profile

trying to find my spring….


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.


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.

Wakey, wakey…..


Its 1.16am – I have deliberately gone to bed early  – so I can slide gently into a long, deep sleep.  But no that wretched Innervoice has decided that ‘we’ need an indepth chat about  The Meaning of Life.  And of course we will start with my Life.  At 1.16am.  ‘Now’, reports the Innervoice,’ about this time when you were 5 yrs – I’ve had another good look and feel we should ….’.

‘Just go away’, I mumble, ‘just clear off, shut down or whatever you do.’

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA‘I am sleeping – I was sleeping and I know if I let you drag me into one of these spirals off endless introspection, I am done for.  The brain will engage, the memory will surf and my eyes will twitch and then I am yours until you discard Me and disappear down whatever hole you lurk in.  Leaving Me exhausted when I should be fresh and ready for the new day.’  So I shall ignore your entreaties, and tune into Instinct whose advice is ‘Roll over, and stay in Sleep Mode until at least 6.45am’.  The advice was sound and I awoke at 7.07am.  I then allowed Innervoice a good hour of ramblings.

Both Instinct and Innervoice have served me well over the years.  Instinct doesn’t actually discuss anything it sort of shouts at me in a very demanding way.  My re-action is to listen then mull over usually quite dramatic ideas.  On a few occasions I have just(bravely/riskily) immediately followed Instincts advice.  And it has ALWAYS been sound. But at other times I have Innervoice to intervene between immediate re-action and endless, pointless, exhausting procrastination.  And my solid rather dull Innervoice is the perfect foil to a slightly wayward Instinct.  But I love them both and am endlessly grateful for their care and consideration of Me.

Just wish Innervoice wasn’t a night owl.

not getting netted ……


….. 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.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERABut 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.

The treasure of leisure.


I now use words like amble, stroll, space (not outer but inner). I now observe, stop and stare, follow up my observations, just gently learn. Time is on my side and I try not to waste a moment. I have always been over eager, over enthusiastic, rushing, dashing. Life so full so many parts to attend to, endless servicing this bit and propping up another, accepting parts that were over and either joyfully or sorrowfully watch them disappear. But through all this hustle and bustle, joy and sorrow, unaware of images, feelings, emotions, beliefs, needs, strengths, weaknesses, that were weaving around my inner core. I am more aware of myself as a person than I ever have been in my life. Its as though I have forgiven myself for being a fool, and am trying to concentrate on improving the good bits.

I am now not afraid of the silence but joyfully accept noisy bits when they cross my path.

My silence is full of wonderful memories and fun; of numbing sadness and sorrow; of always going forward; of trying to make the right decisions; of embracing life with all my limitations. So silence is never quiet and I joyfully accept the noise from the hear and now when it crashes in and opens up new possibilities. Because they are all there if you want them enough and I think I do!