Monday, January 31, 2011

Instinct is better than thought at times......

When I sat down to start blanket stitching the hearts, my brain went into a little spin. Do I remember where to start? Is it in the heart or under the heart? Which way do I hold it? You know the story. Uncertainty. In the mind. So I picked up the needle and thread, and forget the mind fluster, my FINGERS remembered what to do, and instantly they were off and sewing. They knew what to do when my mind went awol.

Nice fingers. I like you. Old and arthritic - you still work.

Life is like that sometimes. The fear or worry consumes you and yet your body, or soul, (or fingers) know just what to do if you just relax and let them. Or let me rephrase that - if I let them. The crocheting is the same - I look at the hook and wool and think I don't remember how to do something, and yet, when I pick them up, the wool winds itself round my hand in perfect loops and off we go. Too much thinking is not always a good idea. Rationalising is not always necessary. And instinct is there - always.

The other scarf - I am wearing it as I speak. It is COLD yet again.

This morning, I popped down to the Infant School in the village (ages 3-6) on a quest. Once, years ago - probably 16 or so - I traced their wooden lower case letters to use for applique. 16 years ago. Maybe 17. And do I know where all those traced letters are? Or course not. But, undaunted, I presented myself in the lobby and asked if I could borrow their wooden letters to trace again. I was armed with sheets of card and a pencil. They didn't know me from Adam, I have to say - well, not until the older staff appeared and had hysterics when I told them I last traced the letters 16+ years ago. And guess what - they knew exactly what I was talking about and duly arrived with the boxes. Success.

And while I traced them, I listened to the little voices, and the sounds of singing and chatter, and I was transported back to the time when David went there, and I was a parent helper once a week. It was warm, and bright and smelled of glue and crayons and how can my little boy be a giant now, almost ready to graduate from university?

Sigh. If anyone has worked out how to slow things down a little, please let me know.

Speaking of slowing things down...... I went to the Women's Breakfast at the church in the village on Saturday morning, and the talk was on Oberammergau. The Passion Play is performed once every ten years. Last year, was one of them, and then next one is in 2020. I remember going there as a little girl in 1966, and walking on the stage, and thinking that one day when I grew up, I wanted to come and see it.

So there I was listening on Saturday, and the though suddenly popped up in mind that I possibly have just one more chance to go and see it. For goodness sake, I will be 66 next time it is on. And given the decline in physical whatsits since I turned 50, 76 may be pushing it a bit. One chance left!

I say again.... where on earth have those decades gone?

Bigger sigh.

I wonder how far in advance one can reserve seats................

Friday, January 28, 2011

Being ordinary......

Yesterday, My new(ish) blogging friend from Switzerland, Helen, wrote the most beautiful post. You can go here to read it. An ordinary life.

I could have written almost exactly the same words. In fact, some I have already written, I suspect. It made me pause when I read it, and whisper to myself - yes - me too. I feel just as she feels about being ordinary.

And one day, if that is all that is remembered of me outside my family, then so be it. You see, I know. I know that my life is right for me. For my family. And I too am not hankering after castles in my dreams. Any longer. Of course I had grandiose dreams when I was young. When I was a child, those dreams knew no limits, and that is the way childhood should be. The world was waiting, after all.....

Then I grew up along the way.

And so the dreams changed. My life changed with each decision I made. My choices led to other choices, and those in turn led me to where I am now and who I am today.

I am an ordinary woman. I am a mother and a friend. A daughter and a sister. Once, I was a wife, although it is 1665 days since Geoff died. (I can't believe so many days have passed.)

1665. how can that be possible?


I love my children, and I love my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter. I love my Mum and my sister, and my brother-in-law. They are all the centre of my world. I put being a Mum up there as my greatest achievement. I have not done a lot of things, but I have been a mother who stayed at home (for the most part) and delighted in raising my kids, and would not change that for a nanosecond.

I love my home, and being able to create a space people are welcomed and happy to visit. I love having a myriad of hobbies and interests and I am so glad I turned away from the dreams of corporate success and chose instead to stay at home.

I love sewing and crocheting, and trying new things. I love woodwork and flowers and gardening and growing my own vegetables. I love going for walks, especially in the mountains. I love my church and I love my friends. My world is very colourful.

There are no headlines here, you see. Just an ordinary woman who loves blogging. Who has words tripping over each other as she tries to write what she feels in her heart. Of her ordinary life.

But never confuse "ordinary" with "boring". Oh no. Comfortable. Normal. Unspectacular. All words Helen used. It does not take much to keep me happy, you see. (Note I said "keep" - not "make"!) Even though my children - my family - are scattered about the world, I still have skype and phones and messenger and facebook. One day, plane tickets may be added to the list too, of course!

I am 56, and I can page through the piles of photos taken over 56 years and trigger so much laughter and so many memories. You have NO IDEA how many photos you can amass over 56 years. Thank heavens that this century, all my photos are on the computer (and a few external whatsits too, of course.) I have video/DVDs of my babies when they were so small.

Recently, I happened to open the cupboards containing the stash of fabric, and I saw a pillow case of Maya the Bee fabric I had kept from when my children were little, and instantly, I heard the theme tune, being sung by little kids in my mind. My little kids.

Would I trade? No. Not a chance.

So I will go back to my blanket stitching, delighting in the fact that I know how to do it, and carry on creating something beautiful. The crockpot is bubbling with a sausage creation in it. Jean is coming to supper. The recession heater is on my lap.

All the paths and detours and roundabouts of my life have lead me here. To this place right now, and I too am content. Unremarkable. Ordinary. I am so very lucky to be here, and to have been able to be at home.

I love being me right now.


(ignoring all the challenges and stuff we all have going on in our lives, because that is what happens anyway, it is called life...)

I am content.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things are a trifle red around here.......

I started cutting up the red fabric after I posted here yesterday, and was interrupted by a visit from Julia, who finished her chemo on Tuesday, hallelujah. And then I carried on cutting, and ironing and tracing and more cutting. I may or may not have got carried away with the cutting bit. 3 lap quilts worth. Then I remembered I was supposed to be at a rehearsal. So off I went to sing, and Cabaret sounded sensational, I have to say - the first time too! This time I knew more people, which was great, and I didn't feel so strange.

And home to iron on the hearts. And right now, I am giving my hands a rest. I have been blanket stitching them in place. All the red looks very bright. And red.


They will look great when I stitch the bits together. Did I mention RED??? The best thing is that I have bought nothing. I only used what was there in the pile and did not even open the cupboard door. The world's greatest stash may have fallen out, and I can't be doing with that. I may need to add Sort The Stash to the "to do " list. That, my friends, is beginning to look like mission impossible. I need to acquire many more unwanted skills like plumbing and carpet laying in order to plow through it. Some things can wait. Sorting the stash would involve major re-organising of the entire craft room. It can wait too. I have 3 RED quilts to sort. And I never did quilt the Autumn quilt. I have to fit that in before....oh.....September, I should think.

And that is the news from the Casa del la Rocking Chair for today.

My hands are ready for round 2 with the embroidery needle.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why I love a bright cheerful home......

There is a reason I love to make my home all bright and colourful, you know. Today is a good example. If you look out of the windows, it is grey, dark, wet, cold and revolting. Enough to send me burrowing back under the duvet to try to shut out the world. But when I walk into my kitchen, with the red bunting on the rafters, and the bright rugs Mum crocheted on the chairs, it makes me smile. The red apron hanging in the corner, the gingham bows on the dangly thingy above the table, the flowers in the vase....... and I stop thinking grey thoughts and focus on the brightness. And I am exceedingly glad I made the bunting.

It takes very little effort to make a home cheerful. A few bits here and there, and it can be transformed, and the cost can be minute. This morning, Jean and I happened to pop into a charity shop to drop some things off, and I found a beautiful big bright green vase for 99p. Perfect for Spring. Little things. A few twigs and some white paint, and a corner is changed. Not yet, though......

At the end of February, the house will change seasons and it will be the pinks, greens and yellows of Spring/Easter for March, April, May. Then the bright Summer colours. And so it goes. Keeping my eyes open when I am out, I can find really great bargains, especially out of season. Now is a good time to look for the Autumn colours. Not that I actually NEED any more - I have enough!

Speaking of "enough"......

Contentment is a very precious thing. To acknowledge that you are not on the quest of acquisition any more. That things do not have a hold on you - the acquiring of more and more or newer or batter. New is not always good. Or necessary. But seeing how altering, adapting, making and swapping around can provide constantly fresh surroundings is a delight. And a challenge, and I love a challenge! Moving cushions from one room to another. Tossing a few crocheted rugs around. Painting old toy boxes or tables. Anything. I just use what is available around here, and believe me, there is a lot to choose from. I have more than enough.

Today, I am loving the simple things. The little things. The warm coffee. The cheerfulness. The colour. So I turn my back on the windows for a while, and concentrate on the brightness right here all around me. And I am content.

I am a great believer that making your little corner of the world as beautiful as you can is a huge benefit to the whole family, and also to the people who visit you. Warm. Inviting. Fun. It changes my attitude - improves it, and that has a knock on effect on the people around me. It also inspires more creativity - I want to make things. Change things. Use what I have sitting there. We will not discuss the fabric stash which has been out of control for a decade or more.

And most important of all, if you love your home, it shows. It has nothing to do with the actual 4 walls you know, it is all about the caring. The feel of the place. If I left this house, wherever I found myself, I would still make it a home which makes ME smile. (This is turning into a post which could become a dissertation with all the pieces I could delve into....)

In fact, I am thinking that I could make a quilt or 2 in the red fabric left over from the bunting, which I have in a pile on my cutting table. (There is no room for it in the cupboard!) Hearts, maybe.

What a good idea. I am off to start cutting........

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Not depressing round these parts......

Today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Really? Apparently so. And here it was certainly grey damp and depressing enough if you looked out the window. But I gathered up my crocheting, stuffed it all in a bag and popped over to see Jean, who had sent me text saying that her wood burning stove was roaring away, and that I was welcome to join her.

I needed no encouragement at all. I was there as fast as possible.

And so we whiled away this grey day, sitting in front of the fire chatting, and working on our projects. She was quilting some cushions, and I was working on the stripey scarf. Do I need another scarf? I think not. But I have wool and time and a crochet hook.

The grey day vanished. The room was alight with laughter and warmth, and then, after a lunch - I brought fancy bread rolls and she had some delicious soup - she made fresh scones for tea.



Today has not been depressing at all. It has been good. I have "paced" myself and have relaxed. And a wood burning stove has moved right to the top of the wish list. Believe me, it is a delight.

Keep warm, wherever you are!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back from Bath.........

So I am back from Bath and the visit to the experts at the RNHRD. (Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases - a mouthful at the best of times.) And I am weary. It has been a long day, and for some reason known best to them, my appointments were 3.5 hours apart. Glynis, Peter and I had time for lunch and a wander round the shops. I do love Bath. It is just the right size for me.

They are pleased. The word is "shift". There has been a noticeable shift. Probably in my attitude more than anything. Remember my word for the year? Quiet. Well, the crux of it all is that even with my formidable will and determination, I am not one of the 10% who get rid of CRPS. And after 2.5 years, I am starting to accept that, and focus rather on the ways to minimise it's effects on my life.

The fact that my hair has stripes, a new style, and I was wearing a classy new gold coat and looked quite different also helped, I think. And so I now have more exercises and instructions which will be difficult to conquer, but the will is there. A small bit of that steely determination remains.

I go back to see them in July. And the word "pacing" cropped up again, and "relaxation techniques" made a few appearances as well. Sigh. I know all the theory, you see, I just don't practice it. It is far simpler to pick up another how to book and read about it, or research it instead of actually doing it. I know, I know. I am an idiot. I am going to be good.

The Kindle idea came up too, and it was very interesting to hear what they had to say. Apparently it is used by quite a few of the patients, because it is one thing. One page, instead of a whole book, and you can't see what has been or what is to be, and the number of pages is not relevant either. Apparently changing the font and colour of the background can also work. So it looks as if a Kindle could be in my future. If it helps, then that would be great. Anything that helps the focus or concentration would be a real asset. We will see.

Changing the subject entirely now.................

Do American children generally sleep in double beds? Big adult size beds for more than one person? I ask, because so many of the photos I see of children's rooms on blogs have double beds in them. Here they sleep in single beds when they grow out of their cots (cribs) and only have double beds when they are adults. It is the same in most places, like Europe, SA, Aus and NZ. I wondered if it was because the houses in the States are so much bigger? Don't they have bunk beds? (2 beds on top of each other, which provide endless possibilities for forts etc!) Hmmmmm. Just wondering. It seems strange to me, you see, the idea of little kids in huge beds, and how on earth do they learn to make them??? They are so big!

Anyway. As you can see, the mind is leaping all over the place tonight. I need to go to bed because I was up at 4am with an unfortunate attack of "you have eaten something which disagrees with your insides". Which means that I had approximately 3 hours sleep last night. So it is just as well I had friends to take me to Bath, because I dozed on the way there and on the way back.

I am getting old.


Friday, January 21, 2011

How to have a fun Friday.....

Weather report - colder.

Well, my friends....if you have not seen The King's Speech yet, GO!!! I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. It is superb. Absolutely superb, and Colin Firth is amazing. I came close to leaping to my feet and cheering at the end - after holding my breath and clenching my will understand if you have seen it. You really need to go. This is one movie I will be ordering on DVD and watching over and over again. And my admiration for the King has grown immeasurably. Such courage and determination. But I need to stop babbling.

I was lying in bed (late) this morning - it was warm and I had no desire to emerge, when the phone rang. A friend wanted help with a curtain that was not working. What isn't working, I asked. The pressure bar at the top is disintegrating. What????? Pressure bar???? Huh???? I know I was still half asleep but even then I knew curtains did not have pressure bars. Well not the ones in question because I remember sorting these particular ones out years ago. So I crawled out of bed and even skipped the coffee to go and see what the problem was. Heading tape. Give me strength. Pressure bar. Hah. The heading tape had fallen apart. However, it is not urgent, and it can wait. Pressure bar.......mumble mumble.......

However, the coffee was good. One look at me, and coffee was being poured. Excellent.

And so my day began.

I went to the first singing rehearsal last night, and it was fun. We murdered the first part of Les Mis, but it was just the first rehearsal after all. And Blood Brothers has some unbelievably high notes. I am a little rusty, so did not attempt them. I mimed. I am a genius. I will get there. Hopefully, before the actual performance.

And today has consisted of laundry. Linen. Bedding changed. Dishes. Counter tops. Thrilling stuff.

And grovelling on the floor.

You know when you overstuff kitchen drawers, and then the bottom one won't shut? Because the entire contents of all the drawers is now behind the bottom drawer, and you have to shove your arm over the drawer and down the back, risking amputation, and causing all manner of grazing and bruising in the process while muttering dire imprecations at the same time??????? That kind of grovelling. I can't think how I have managed to live without scone cutters, 485 tea towels, cellophane bags, plastic bags, tin foil, black bags, fish slices and a sweet thermometer all this time.

Half an hour later I got up. The drawer now closes. Linds's achievement of this, the 21st day of January 2011.

Top that one then.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It is Thursday.....(I am out of snappy titles today)

Weather report - it is cold.

I am wearing the "laptop gloves" my sister gave me for Christmas, only I can't see what I am typing. Never will the spellchecker have been needed more..... Now if only it would actually put capital letters where they should be, all would be hunkydory.

I had a couple of lovely email conversations with blogging friends about the excitement of Going Out To See A Movie and am reassured that I am not the only one who last went out to see Mama Mia. And in the course of to-and fro-ing emails, I came to realise an underlying problem I have refused to consider. Until yesterday. And just at the point where there was no place to hide, and I needed to think, the doorbell rang. And did not stop ringing for the rest of the late afternoon and early evening.

It was the Apple Dumplings. I swear the gorgeous smell of them cooking wafted over this village and the next and drew people through my door and straight into the kitchen and in 5 seconds, they were clutching bowls with forks, and my Apple Dumplings are ALL GONE.

It was clearly a sign that I was not to go and buy the ice-cream or eat them all.

I did manage to drink more coffee than any human can contain. (I use that word advisedly....) I spent most of the evening getting plenty of exercise as I hobbled at speed to the bathroom. Oxymorons go down well here.

I am a trifle distracted now. Between the last 2 paragraphs, the doorbell rang and it was someone wanting to sell me block paving. I think not. Followed by the postlady. Followed by the tumble drier informing me that the bed linen was ready to put back on the bed. That meant a trip up the stairs, which I usually try to avoid like the plague. (Just for the record, it is not possible to make a bed, and stuff the duvet in the cover wearing gloves. I just found out. Then left the glove on the sheet under the duvet.....) And that meant I saw the dust. And the wastepaper baskets needed emptying....and I found the half full cup of coffee I lost......

You see my problem. And I can't remember what I was going to say other than that the sentence started with "M". Helpful.

So I will return when the memory kicks in. Which will probably be half way through the movie in a darkened cinema. Maybe I should take a torch.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Apple dumplings and gym... the perfect partners...

Morning, all......

Oh the relief - Roger survived in Melbourne. (Tennis.) My mother can come out from behind the couch again. It would not be good at all if he was knocked out in the first week.

It is a beautiful day, but cold. Very cold again. So I fished out an old tin of croissants I spied in the back of the fridge, and decided to make Ree's Apple Dumplings . If you have not made them before, I suggest you try them now. Believe me, they are delicious. Ignore the fact that they contain 8576623545 calories. Each. And just savour the delicious-ness. And your house will smell like heaven too. Grannies should not be bony. They should be cuddly. I am working on that premise here. Bony is bad. Cuddly is good. I forgot to add the cinnamon before I baked them, but I sprinkled it on afterwards and they taste great. I know. I have already eaten that one there ....see? On the right.....

Here is the scarf I was crocheting last weekend. It is finished and I love it. I used Lucy's ripple pattern - the one I used to make my 2 lovely bright ripple blankets, because it is such a simple and soothing pattern to crochet. And the wool just happened to be in my basket. So there you are. Lovely! The ripple also looks very classy, people. And way more complicated than it actually is!The house in winter colours, without Christmas stuff. I love the red and brown combination with the cream. Warm. Cheerful. And easy to add a few details in February for Valentine's day too. I do love changing things about. Little things.

Tomorrow, I am going to see the King's Speech. So far, all I have seen are rave revues. Apparently it is wonderful, so I am really looking forward to that. I can't remember when last I went to see a movie at a cinema. I think it may have been Mama Mia, and how long ago was that?????? I need to get a life.


With a movie on the list, singing again, and a few days away being planned, I most certainly am trying! I should join the gym again. I used to go 3-4 or more times a week before G died, and then I had to cancel my membership, but I loved going. Glynis and I were chatting about going recently - there is so much I could and should be doing which would be of huge benefit. They have aquarobics, yoga, pilates, hydro pools, and then the machines. Not to mention a huge list of other classes too. I loved the machines, and would run for ages, but even just walking would be good now. And cycling. Heaven knows I hated the cycles. My rear is not designed to sit on those piddling little seats. I need a big cushion. Hmmm. I can just see + cushion + my son's old tracksuit pants, ancient T shirt....... But I HAVE the trainers!! (Shoes.)

I will pop along sometime soon and find out what it costs nowadays. I think you can join for a month at a time, which is more expensive than signing up for years, but more controllable. It would be fun to see what I could do and how far I can get. Another step back into my life, perhaps.

But before then, I do believe I need some ice cream to go with the apple dumplings. So I had better go and buy some, hadn't I........

The gym can be sorted in FEBRUARY.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Frustration and a pruned tree.....

Today I tried to order Ann Voskamp's book. If you haven't heard about it, go immediately and order it from Amazon. It is called One Thousand Gifts. It is a book you will cherish, believe me. I have been reading Ann's blog for years, and she has the kind of heart which fills me with awe, and her gift with words is just simply amazing.


Suddenly Amazon UK has a little note saying "We do not know when or if this book will be available". WHAT???? Are they losing their minds??? I want to buy it! Gee thanks. So I popped over to the Book Depository, and suddenly it is UNAVAILABLE there too.

These are not words I want to read. I can get a Kindle download. If I had a Kindle that would be PEACHY. And YES I AM YELLING. Do I need a Kindle? Are they good? Should I get one? Anyone got any views?????

So much for serenity.

And now for a change of subject......

A good friend of mine popped round today and pruned my apple tree. I now have a shorn tree, and as this is the first time it has ever been pruned (who knew you were supposed to prune trees???) one hopes it will not die of shock and that it produces a bumper crop of apples in due time. And I now have a nice pile of kindling for the chiminea in the garden too. (As she quickly adds "prune apple tree " to the "to do" list, and then crosses it off...)

When he arrived, I was about to start on a new fabric related idea, so my sewing room is in turmoil, because instead, I had to abandon all thought of resting or waving the scissors around, and vacuum the house. And clean floors. Gardens at this time of the year are messy places. He also moved the old growbags to the front garden for me, so the beds there could get a little new soil.

So, bending from the waist, I scooped out the soil and tossed it on the flower bed. It took a long time, and the hair was all over the place, and the jumper was falling over the head. Not a pretty sight. I deliberately ignored any passers by, rather like an ostrich. If I can't see them, they can't see me. Of course. The daffodils and other spring bulbs are starting to pop through the ground, so the signs of spring are there if you look closely. Once that was done, I resembled the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and could not move. Great.

So, after a rest of sorts, I went to pay the bills, and then for some light relief, popped into Hobbycraft to see if they had any bargains. I had great fun filling the basket with all sorts of things and then emptying it as I walked around, and ended up with the needles I went for in the first place, a 2B pencil (for the singing - the only pencil allowed for notes on the music books) and a tag maker on sale. But it was fun anyway.

And, after popping in to see Jean who is back from Kent, I came home and here I am. THWARTED, I tell you. I wanted to order the book. Now. Aiyaiyai, the patience still needs a lot of work I feel. Calm. Quiet. Peaceful. Non-combative. Accepting.

I have a long long way to go.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lazy days.....

My weekend can be summed up by two words. Reading. Crocheting. And add them to the pot with naps, warmth, quiet, home made soup and some fascinating tv, and stir gently.


I can't remember when last I had a weekend with so little "needing" to be done. So I didn't do anything apart from the above. Lazy? Oh yes. Perfect. I could get used to this. I go back to see the experts at Bath next week, so maybe, finally, I am getting things right.

I resisted the urge to get out and do things, and instead, I rested. This is very unusual for me. In fact, I hardly touched the computer at all. Now that is VERY unusual. And you know what? I loved every minute. The world did not tilt on its axis and the skies stayed in place. Who knew.....

This morning followed a similar pattern. Slowly does it. I have finished the red bunting, and it is ironed and in place. I may have made rather more than intended. Miles, in fact. And I have made many gingham bows for my year-round tree, and actually swept the threads up in the sewing room. As you can tell, I am not moving at the speed of light here.

But I have had a lovely quiet day, taking my time about everything. So help me, I just caught myself actually writing down what my lunch and supper consisted of, and deleted the words instead. I can't believe I have reached the heights of discussing what I have eaten.

But on the other hand, I have nothing of great moment to report either.

So maybe roasted veg are worthy of mention.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday and all is quiet on the home front.......

A week of contrasts here..... from the heights of hilarity, shrieks of laughter, and celebrating a friend's birthday to visiting my friend battling through the last couple of chemo treatments, and to the funeral of another friend. This has been a week of extremes.

Highs and lows. The pendulum swings. The rhythm of life.......

Extremes are never easy to deal with, are they. There are times when I am simply exhausted by the changes, and then I stop and think about how incredibly lucky/blessed I am to be up and moving (ok, a little slowly, but moving nonetheless).

The red and white bunting is almost made. I just have to iron the bias binding and then attach it, and then I had idea for pastel shades for Easter but that can wait, and while I try to stay awake long enough to watch a tv programme in the evenings, I am crocheting a scarf. This will probably be for next winter at this rate, because I do half a row and wake up, crochet hook poised in my hand, 3 hours later. I sometimes think of how once upon a time, that bunting would have been made in an hour or so and how a scarf would have taken a couple of days and then I grin and think, so what. Who said I had to churn out stuff in torrents. I can take my time. Now, if only taking my time was a CHOICE instead of inevitable, all would be peachy.

My world is becoming quieter. I am learning.

And as this week has alternately hurtled and chugged to an end, there has been time to read a few pages. Time to make homemade soup today. Time to chat to friends, both in person and on the phone. Time to think.

I also decided to sing again with our local music society. Over 100 singers turned up for registration this week to sing Songs from the Shows at concerts in March. We are singing songs from Les Mis, Lion King, Blood Brothers, Cabaret and West Side Story, and I will have to take a box of tissues with me, because I howl through Les Mis whenever I hear the music. It will be good to sing again. I last sang the spring before Geoff died. It is time.

And it is also a declaration of sorts.

I have withdrawn from so much over the past 2 years. The clinic at Bath warned us that people with CRPS tend to do this, and not for a second did I believe them. But you know what? They were right. In actual fact, they have been right about a great deal. I was sceptical at first, but now? I know better. Older wiser and all that. I have withdrawn from so much, and it was slow and gradual and I hardly noticed what I was doing. Not good. But I am determined to rejoin the world one way or another in 2011. This is a start.

So the weekend is here. I think I need a list or 2 to remind me of all the things I intend doing. Like downloading the camera, and other such exciting bits. And I HAVE to decide on the new phone in the next 3 or 4 days. Oh I hate making decisions! However, the battery life has decreased to zilch, and that is no good at all. This decision has been pending since September.

I think my batteries could do with replacement too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Use it all now.......

The dampness is in my bones again, as I sit here writing. The peculiarly British dampness. Ah.....home!

Yesterday was a strange day. One of my Facebook friends from school days back in the dim and distant past died suddenly, and it was a huge shock. He was a year older than me, and way, way too young to die. And that set me off on many dark and chilly paths in my mind. So I wrapped myself in a blanket, fired up 2 recession heaters, and fell asleep on the couch and woke at 1am. That was essentially the end of the sleeping. So I am not operating at full strength today.

You know how we keep things for "special occasions"??? The crystal glasses. The special dinner service. The heirloom table cloth. The silver. The "best" vase. Etc etc etc. Clothes fall into this category too. Things we wear for special events. We all have them. We continue to use the old mugs because they are not chipped or broken, and save the new ones for guests. Do you do this? Most of us do. And I am here today to tell you to STOP RIGHT NOW.

Use them all. Tonight. Use the crystal. The silver. The special plates. Wear that outfit. Who could possibly be more special than you? Or your family? So if something breaks, who cares. So be it. It is a thing, not a person, so use them all up. Make your home and family the special ones, and do not wait. Whatever you do, DO NOT WAIT for that special event. Every day is special.

As I look round my home, I see so many things I keep to use now and then. Why do I do this? What is more special than now? Now. If we wait, they will be left unused. And what on earth is the point of that. We have no idea if we will be here in a day a year a decade. Now is what is important and celebrating the gift of each day is even more so in practical ways. Inherited things are made to be enjoyed, not hidden away. If you want to put that porcelain figurine in the centre of the dining room table tonight, do it. The candles....light them now.

And stop keeping that special nightie for hospital wear. Heaven knows that if you do end up in hospital one day and that is a big "if", someone can rush out and buy another couple of nighties, more suited to survival in hospital together with those delightful white anti thrombosis socks you get to wear.

Sigh. I am on my high horse, it seems. Life can be so incredibly short, you see, and keeping things for "some day" will not create the memories of beauty and delight which we all want to enjoy and have our families enjoy too. So all I really want to say is use everything. Delight in special things. Bake when you feel like baking, and not just for special events. Celebrate. Beauty and special-ness make everyone smile.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

And then......

And then you go home.

Home to start taking down the obviously Christmassy things, leaving up all snowmen etc out because it is COLD and WINTER and SNOWMEN are not Christmassy.

And then you fall into your bed trying to forget the wheelchair episode and the delayed flight, and sleep till 9am.

And then you get up and head down south to see your sons, daughter-in-law, and your little granddaughter for the weekend, and you hear all about Christmas, and the fun they had together and you open presents just arrived from Diana in New Zealand.

And sleep.

And you watch the little girlie play and dance and sing and you read a story or 2 and help do an (impossible) puzzle for toddlers.

And you see your youngest son back to uni, hear all his news, and hopes and dreams (well some of them), cut his hair, and clean half his kitchen. Be a Mum.

And then you watch your daughter-in-law attempt the new Keep Fit programme for the PS3 and you all fall about laughing at the end when it says "you have worked off 82 calories" and reach for a snack instead.

And you sleep.

And you come home via Ikea because there is a 50% sale off their sofa covers, and yours are cream, and the sofas are guaranteed for 20 years, and OH YES you will need new covers.

And you get home, and carry on taking down Christmas, while opening all the cards waiting for you. And the gifts too.

And you sleep.

And you have coffee with great friends, and then you sleep some more, only sleep would be better without the appalling cramp in your leg.

And so normal life returns in this place where there are no mountains, where it is COLD and where I have Stuff To Do.

Thank heavens for friends.

But I miss my family. I miss the mountains.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I go to the hills........

Why do I love the mountains so? I was walking through the forest this morning, and I saw that brass plate on the tree which I have mentioned before. The one which says (loosely) that "Here you can see His greatest work". And every time I see it, my breath catches. You can. See.

I love the mountains for the silence.

The overwhelming peace.

The majesty.

The beauty.

The quiet.

And yet.....

The sounds I hear fill my soul. In the silence, I hear the mountains. They change with the seasons, and yet their solidity remains unchanged. Their essence.

The snow drops from the branches above me onto my head as I stand still and breathe. Welcoming me. Under my feet, the snow crunches as I walk. Beneath the ice of the waterfalls, I hear the whisper of trickling water. Life is not frozen solid after all. There is hope of life under all that ice.

Isn't life like that too? Beneath the surface, stuff is happening, albeit very quietly at times. You have to be still to hear those murmurs.

So all my senses engage. My eyes try to write the scene before them on my very soul. My ears listen for those those whispers. I smell the cold, yet sense the life beneath the ice. I taste the melting snow brushing my lips. I touch the frozen trunk of the pine tree at my special place.

I try to take a photograph which will remind me of this time. This place. But how can I capture the essence of why I go to the mountains?

The majesty is too great. The beauty too bright. The mountains too high, reaching for heaven.

And as I walk, the words of the song from the Sound of Music play through my mind, and slip out of my mouth, and I sing softly as I walk slowly. And today, the words seemed special.

"The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years.

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears.
My heart wants to sing too, here, up in the mountains. Rocks that have been here for thousands and thousands of years are right before my eyes. I hear their song..........

My heart wants to beat like the wings

Of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees,

My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies from a church on a breeze,
Oh listen........... I hear the bells of the Kloster ringing out over the valley, echoing off the mountain walls..................

To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls

Yes..............I hear it...........

Over stones on its way

Oh yes, the laughter of pure joy bubbles up inside me........

To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray.

Little birds dart through the trees. I hear their wings as they fly. And I hear their soft song of joy.......

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely,

I know I will hear what I've heard before.

The constancy is so reassuring in my uncertain world..................

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

And I'll sing once more."

Life seems frozen at times, and it is hard to break out from under the ice, but as long as the heart sings now and then, there is hope and here, away from the challenges of life, I remember. Each reminder cracks the ice a little more.

And when the time comes, this is where I will come to weep all those tears which have refused to fall. One day. Because it is here that I feel I can.

I know why those Benedictine monks stayed when they found this valley, nestled high up in the mountains. I know why I keep coming back. I know why this place has a simple slogan.

It's heaven.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A note from the Alps.....

Another beautiful day here, but my camera is dead. My sister has the same camera, just a slightly newer model, and I assumed the batteries were the same. They are to look at, but there is a 2mm size difference, so her charger is too big. So I borrowed one from her friend, who also has the same camera, and it charged beautifully the first time, but the second time.....nothing. Nada. Dead. So either the battery is drained, or dead, or the camera has expired. I won't know till I get home and try charging it there. And then I looked at the price of new batteries, and to be frank, I could get another camera for the same price. Not as good as mine, but still.....

I am not wildly impressed. Thank heavens that this is the year, I think, of universal mobile phone chargers. That reminds me, I have to decide on the upgrade when I get home. Or I will end up paying way too much on the monthly plan. Sigh. I do wish life could be less complicated.

It was -14C yesterday. I actually bought some of those instant handwarmer things for my gloves. That cold. I looked like a blimp with a green scarf when I ventured out to buy some wool. No, I didn't BUY the wool, I went to use up my gift voucher. The BEST kind of shopping! Oh the choice! The delight! And not having to pay!!

On New Year's Day, I went for a walk. I was so cold, I thought my fingers were going to fall off, and yes, I was wearing gloves. Hence the acquisition yesterday. But it was oh, so beautiful.
The sun just reaches the valley for a short time each day, because of the gigantic Alps all around it. There in the background, you can see the Kloster with its school.

The Klostermatt was packed with people skiing and having fun. I ordered a gl├╝hwein (hot mulled wine with fruit and spices) and watched the skiing as I warmed up. Just what the frozen body needed! Delicious too.

I managed to leave my glove at the kiosk, but thankfully, I found it half an hour later, or believe me, I would be typing one handed right now. It was cold. Did I mention COLD?

The frosted frozen bush near the stream.

Sun and snow and blue skies are the most stunning combination, aren't they? You actually have to wear sunglasses here, the glare is so bright. Wrap around ones. Or you scrunch the eyes up and they water and then freeze and you look disgusting. I know. Been there.

And, here, for good measure, are some of my annual photos of the fireworks on New Year's Eve on the BBC. I take photos of the TV because the sky line is so beautiful, and the fireworks are spectacular. And this year, or last year, I suppose, did not disappoint.

One day I would like to be there. But then I would never see the skyline in quite the same way, would I! There are times when the couch is actually the best place to be.

This one is my absolute favourite. Just look at that skyline. It looks like a print from a book of fairy tales, doesn't it. And the London Eye. Such a wonderful addition to the skyline of a great city. If you come to London, make sure you go on it, especially in the evenings in winter. Just amazingly beautiful.

And now for something to tingle the taste buds..............

My brother-in-law made these desserts for New Year's Eve in his restaurant. He was fully booked and did a set menu, so great fun was had by all. That is a chocolate flower, filled with Bavarian Creme ( a creamy mousse flavoured with orange, I think) on a raspberry sauce with cream. We will not discuss the calories, but it looks stunning, got rave reviews at the restaurant, and totally blew his sister-in-law (me) away. My paltry efforts back home may need to be improved this year. I mean, I have my own personal master chef to teach me how to make things, don't I, so I need to make the most of it! He is immensely talented. And the eye appeal is simply stunning.

It tastes wonderful too.

Just a few more days, and I will be home again. How the time flies by.

As I look out of the window now, I can see paragliders flying in the sky. Their bright canopies drifting past the mountain peaks. Orange, Red, Yellow. Everything is white out there, and very cold, but the Foehn wind is coming later this week which brings much higher temps and there is a chance most of the snow will disappear. In the valley, at least. Not good for the height of the season.

But for now, I can enjoy the beauty, can't I. I don't really mind re the weather at all. The scene before my eyes is imprinting itself on my soul. I can take it home with me. The photos do not do it justice, you know. It is so much bigger. The mountain(s) in real life. And it is right there, so close I feel like I could reach out and touch it. Soaring high into the heavens.

I could use my sister's camera, or I could try using words instead to describe it all. I love the snow here. It is the ice I try to avoid like the plague. I seriously do not want to fall. And the pavements now are very icy indeed. The snow is carted away each day, and so help me, that exposes the ice. The thinking is that people need to know that there is ice under the snow. I KNOW THAT. But the snow makes it easy to walk, and when you are doddery like me, I have to be sure I am not going to splat. At least I have traction in the snow!

Right. I do believe I will wander over to Marge and have a coffee. All in the name of exercise. Of course!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Well, hello, 2011.......

Three days into the New Year, and I have not posted a thing here. Well done, Linds. A great start. It has been a busy time, and I have been thinking about the future, and the present, not to mention a little bit about the past, and pondering the word I want to choose for this year. I have, in other words, been "doing" not "being".

I have just been back to the start of last year to see what I wrote about choosing a word. I didn't say much. Hmmm. Just as well, because I was spectacularly bad at remembering my word. This year, please remind me if I forget. I need reminders. Often.

So, like Linda, I am choosing the word "quiet" this year.

Pop over and read her post. I could have said all the things she said so well. And in my comment afterwards, I wrote ....

"Linda, this should be my word too. I have been thinking and praying about it, but there is so much noise in my life, and mostly generated by me, I think. Your verse sums up what I need to be saying too, because last year, my word was hope, and I kept forgetting it. Today I was mulling over the words simple, listen, silence, patience, slow, peace and acceptance. Maybe the word I need to hear is "quiet". It encompasses all of those. I need to pray more. I will let you know. I am a warrior type. And I need to be more of a Mary, and forget the Martha. Am I making any sense at all? Sigh. Silence. Quiet.....where do I find it at the moment.... not easy."

Simple. Peace. Silence. Patience. Acceptance. Listen. Slow. Add them all together, and you get QUIET. No more fighting. No more warrior stuff. But stepping back and waiting. Patience is not my strong suit. I talk too much. I keep moving. Acceptance on two levels. One, that I will probably never get better. So deal with what I have, and count my (many) blessings. And two, wait. Be patient, and let the professionals fight on for me with the hospitals, instead of trying to search for answers and that sort of stuff. Hands off. Accept that I can't do it all. Retreat to the couch, and practice listening, waiting, and patience. And you never know, if I can master the quietness, I may one day reach that illusive goal of serenity. One lives in hope.

I can tell you now that the doctors at Bath will throw their hands in the air and yell "Eureka! She has got it at last!" and the friends who run the Mindfulness course I went on will grin, and say, "This is what we are talking about!"

Ok, so I am a little slow seeing the point. I admit that.

I have spent my life making things happen. And this year, I am going to try to let things happen without me in the driving seat. For a born control freak, this is a mega challenge. But if I embrace silence, and listen, I think I will finally hear more of the soft words I long for. Instead of making so much noise that I can't hear myself think. (Good grief, that sounds ridiculous when I re-read it. But I know what I mean.) And maybe I will finally conquer the pacing quest.

My accomplishments of 2010 are pitifully small. I learned to crochet, and I love it. I have become used to living on a shoestring and am an expert on frugality. I also ended the year with stripey hair. No-one can say I am boring. Among the highlights of 2010, being able to spend some time with Diana is top of the list. There were others things too of course. Being able to visit friends in Scotland. See my family. Be in the mountains.

And now there is a brand new year ahead, with so many possibilities. So many dreams. So this year, instead of the disastrous start we had to 2010 with Mum in hospital and Glynis breaking bones, and Diana in hospital, I sincerely hope it is calmer. Tranquil. Peaceful.


Oh Lord, what a challenge.