reading, knitting, blogging and snowing..

Ok, so..

Sorry to anyone who tried to access my blog in the last couple of days and found it password protected.  I did have a little wobble and thought I might like to do away with this blog, but I have centered myself now and the normal programme of not posting much has been resumed.

All is well here at present, we are snowless once again, although there is always the possibility – winter is clenching and hanging on.

I am learning to knit an actual garment (as opposed to scarves), with shaping and everything and it is a &%&@%£$@£$$££^%$&^*&^*&*&$$££@£@£@£ bitch..  I screwed it up so badly last week that I have been unable to do anything with it, until last night’s Stitch and Bitch when my lovely friend Thursday sorted it out for me – I love Thursday.

I am overloaded with reading material having found several wonderful  authors recently  Hilary Mantel, Katherine Swift (many thanks to BoxofMisc you are a treasure) and Billy Letts, as well as a  new interest in Mass Observation diaries and the diary of our local hero/weirdo Victorian curate Francis Kilvert, whose writings I find alternately, beautiful, lyrical, horrifying, tragic and amusing and sometimes several of those at once.  Reading Kilvert also reminds me just how very, very lucky I am to be living here in this time.

In addition to books, I am reading other people’s blogs and have resolved to make a effort to leave a comment every time I do – even if it’s just  a smiley or a frowney or whatever – just to let them know that I have been there, heard them and tip my hat.  A sort of a small payment, if you will, for their efforts.

I would really appreciate it if you would do the same for me, I’d love to know that you have been by.

Some photos of our lovely snow days..

The lane in front of our house
The lane in front of our house

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Snowing
Snowing
Not too cold to chew a stick
Not too cold to chew a stick
See my snow dags?
See my snow dags?

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My new crocheted jumper
My new crocheted jumper
St Mary's, Cusop
St Mary’s, Cusop, hidden under all this freezing load are the first Snow Drops
The snow makes the graves more cheerful
The snow makes the graves more cheerful

this blog won’t change your life..

I read the Guardian.  I can’t help it, I just always have..  I know there are more exciting newspapers out there, ones with pictures of naked ladies and/or writers whose main claim to fame is that they are total wankers, but I have some how avoided all that excitement and settled down to a comfortable middle age with G2 and a latte.

I have several favourite columnists, Lucy Mangan and Jay Rayner for a start, but the one I have stuck with the longest has to be  Oliver Burkeman and his ‘This Column Will Change Your Life’ .  Why?   Well  I guess I just have a fascination about us humans and why we do the things we do – because his columns  almost always fascinate me and I find myself thinking about them for ages afterwards  And quite crucially – they almost always end up making me feel better about myself.  Take for instance this one – Existential Indifference  I have thought a lot lately that it is pretty pointless angsting about the meaning of life, a bit of fun perhaps to consider when you are having a few drinks but surely – isn’t it just better to just get on with it?  Be here and now and enjoy the ride?

And then there is his latest one  Get into the Habit of Random Rewards regarding Habit Judo which actually sounds like it might be fun to try.  I have already downloaded the spreadsheet and the first habit I have entered is an attempt to write my blog every day.  So you will get to see how I am going.  Just don’t expect screeds all the time 😉

A Fine Start to a Year..

Question

What has three bedrooms, one of which is the entire attic area with velux window, which will make a mighty fine studio.  A large bathroom (well large compared to the closet which we have at the moment).  And A BATH!  And a wood burner. And a dog door. And a garden, with a glass house and an apple tree and a walnut tree. And it backs on to fields and Mouse Castle woods.  And it has its own car park. And it is furnished so we will have proper  double beds in all the rooms, And has walls so thick you can’t hear the neighbours hoick.  And costs exactly the same as the one we are in now ???

Answer – Our new house, of course!

Yes we are moving yet again, only this time it is just about as close as can be to where we are now –  five minutes walk away in Cusop Dingle.

This is the New Years Good Things post, and about time too.

I feel bullet points coming on

  • I am really loving our Stitch and Bitch group.  Just getting together with a lovely bunch of people purely for the sake of sitting and crocheting and talking and laughing.
  • A British winter – well, what a winter!  It’s still grey and manky outside BUT the signs of spring are already here, snowdrops, lambs, budding plants.  And I can smell it in the air.  Our town has got ridiculously quiet, almost empty pubs and streets.  It is amazing to think that this is the same town that just six months ago you had to walk off the pavement to get around all the people.  And soon it will be like that again – perhaps I will just enjoy the quiet for the moment.

  • A week after we move we are to be visited by our friends Julian and Kath.  This will be their first visit to us in Hay and I am just so happy that it will be at our new house.  Not only will we have a spare bedroom to put them up in BUT also we will have a proper bed for them to sleep in.  Hurrah!
  • Books – oh the books.  I try not to go into the book shops here to often, just because it is torturous to the financially embarrassed person but – sometimes you just have to.  On one of my trips I came across Paper Cutting Techniques by Sharyn Sowell which I just had to have as I have been wanting to have a go at the craft for some time now.   Then I found Shoot the Damn Dog by Sally Brampton, an account of the writers journey through and out of severe depression.  This book is well up there on my list of best depression books and reading it has helped me hugely.
Paper cut by Julene Harrison. Just imagine cutting this! There are some amazing people out there
  • Carol Shields’s Unless, is another book I just had to own.  I think Shields was one of the best novelists in THE ENTIRE WORLD – sorry about yelling but golly.  If you haven’t read this or the sublime The Stone Diaries, well then – you should 😉
  • After she threw the baby in, nobody believed me for the longest time. But I kept hearing that splash...     These sentences  come from my best read of the new year so far –  The Well and The Mine by Gin Phillips.  This doozy flew across the sea to me at the behest of an American friend Robin who I met last year at my local pub Kilvert’s, just up the road.  She was on her first solo trip around the UK and being a book seller, had to pay a visit to Hay-on-Wye.  The lovely Robin along with my friend Jenny and I spent a fabulous evening bonding over real ale and in the process I found out that not only was she from the southern states where I would just love to visit, but she was also a huge fan of Fanny Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes as well as some of my other favourite books.  Robin, sadly, had to leave the next day but we have been in email contact since she got home and just after Christmas a package arrived from her.  Not only did it contain the latest Fanny Flagg hardback I Still Dream About You but a copy of The Well and the Mine which is the authors first novel – I can’t wait till the next.
  • Just before Christmas I had received another package in the post – this time from Amazon.  I hadn’t ordered anything and so I gave it to T who promptly put it away.  It turned out to be a rather wonderful, and strange book entitled The Complete Book of Retro Crafts which I suspect was sent to me by blog buddie Katyboo.   Full of the most wonderful, crazy stuff that humans can make it includes how tos on every kitsch craft you can think of – including glitter encrusted pine cone elves, Bottlecap man, Pantyhose Poodle and festive Reinbeer.

  • On Saturday afternoon I was in my kitchen making a Spiced Apple cake, the first baking I have done since we came to this country, and listening to Graham Norton and then Tony Blackburn on Radio Two, grooving away to 70’s funkiness when I suddenly realised just how happy I was feeling, one of life’s golden moments had just enveloped me and given me a big kiss.  I believe you must have had depression or been through some other terrible stress to understand how incredible it felt.  I am getting better…
The best cake I have ever made

We are moving on the 11th Feb and I have packing to do.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to having a garden again.  I have to try to not get too over excited about it all otherwise I will have to go and sit in the corner, cover my head with a towel (remember you should always carry a towel – check your Douglas Adams)  and squeak.

How Not to Have a Sex Life and Other Stories..

I have had a long day but thought to blog about some of the things I missed out yesterday.  No photos this time though.. (well, maybe one).

Firstly , and astoundingly,  I am mentally well for the first time in ages – this is wonderful and I am trying to enjoy every moment.  I had been having a go with a new antidepressant called Sertraline (a SSRI also called Zoloft), which seemed to work well for me.  After a while however I ran into a wee problem that is apparently common for many of us poor bastards on SSRIs, and is also responsible for large amounts of people not completing their course of treatment. Which is what has happened to me, except I have stayed well – long may it last!!

I had been meaning to  write about this problem for some time but could never get my head around exactly what I was going to say without giving too much information.  Then when I was paying a visit to one of my favourite bloggers  I came across her post on the same subject – and here it is. .  Why reinvent the wheel huh? And she says it so much better than I could.  It is really interesting reading some of the post comments as well.

I first came across Dooce’s (Heather Armstrong’s) blog when I became aware after four years, that the mystery illness I was suffering from was actually depression.  She had been through the hell of post-partum depression and was so badly affected that she had ended up in a psych unit.

I love her blog for many reasons, not the least being that she shows it is possible to be on  depression meds and still have a lovely life.   Also because she and her husband John strongly remind me that not all Americans are bonkers – Oh and because she takes photos of her dog Chuck with objects balanced on his head.. well maybe she is bonkers, but in a nice way..

Chuck

One of the most helpful things that I came across in my research about depression was information about mindfulness, which is why I go on about it so much.  The book I probably found the most helpful is called The Mindful Way Through Depression,  another is called The Noonday Demon – An Anatomy of Depression by Andrew Solomon.    This weekends Guardian bought an article by Tim Parks who has just had a book published called Teach Us To Sit Still, A Sceptic’s Guide to Health and Healing, which I found really interesting for his discovery of how mindfulness/meditation helped him with his illness.  It is on my Amazon Wish List.

Sunday’s Observer bought a wonderful interview with Christophoer Hitchens which can be read here, for anyone who is a fan of the man..

And last but nowhere near least, is the podcast which features Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson in conversation on the subject of folklore.  So if you are after a little insight into the writing of the Discworld Novels  and/or just plain fascinated as I am, in how humans seem to really need to invent and tell ourselves stories, go and have a listen.

One Thing at a Time..

Do you ever get the feeling there are not enough hours in the day?

When I get a day off, lately, I just feel completely crazed – so much to do, so little time.  The sheer fact that I have so much choice drives me mad and makes it difficult to concentrate

I got a pile of books for my birthday.  They are sitting there, on the book-case, gently mocking me – or smiling at me depending on my mood.  Yesterday afternoon they were mocking me and strengthened my resolve to FINISH the wonderful Mrs Ames by EF Benson (author of the excellent  Mapp and Lucia books, that I had from the library.  Library books first AND THEN the smirking pile..

 

My lovely pile

 

 

In addition to all this reading I have been endeavoring to watch my way through the utterly brilliant TV series The Wire,  compulsive it is.  Each dvd has three programmes (not enough) and I have usually managed to ingest them all in one night – has to be done..

Free time of course, has got more precious now I am working at the shop.  This is on my wish list of stuff to do today –

  • Write blog – tick 🙂
  • Go for a walk down the river (walks have shrunk the busier I have got – not good 😦  )
  • Visit Louise in her shop
  • Visit Ali at the Globe
  • Visit the laundromat – washing waits for no woman
  • Start to make another bag
  • Finish an owl
  • List my spare clothes on Ebay
  • Buy veg at the Thursday market
  • Cook tea
  • Go to the Stitch and Bitch this evening

As I  said – this is a wish list, not really a hope that I will get it all done!

My birthday by the way, passed happily, and many thanks to all of you out there who sent me messages.  It was great to be remembered.  I had the day off from work and spent it wandering around town, visiting friends and my work to pick up a huge bunch of flower. The evening I spent with new friends down at Kilverts as unfortunately my man Mr T had to work that night.

This is one of my favourite cards –

 

and this is what it said inside

 

isn't that brilliant?

 

 

 

Tudor knows I would like one of these (a real one though, please)

 

 

 

Birthday boots - heavenly! Have worn them to work twice and they are so comfy.

 

 

I guess the answer to the ‘to much to do’ problem is to appreciate and be thankful that you have so many wonderful things that you can choose to do and then pick one and totally enjoy it while you are doing it.  I know this – why do I find it so hard to remember?

A bit of a fan..

I LOVE Charlie Brooker

and have been having an mad love affair with him for some years now.

In my dreams of course..

My husband is a little in love with him as well  –   so nice to share these things… So I feel I have to share them with you too, aren’t you lucky?  and post a link to his Guardian web page here and a link to one of his recent articles here.

If you are up for a read of some utterly, utterly masterful slagging off , read this  –  Charlie Brooker’s 10 Years of Big Brother – warning, not for the faint hearted..