Tuesday, 25 November 2014

First Attempt

For a long time now I have been dreaming of making new creations from old clothes.  I have held on to a secret stash of items that aren't quite right but have been saved from the donation bin.  Some hold promise in their shape, with just a few alterations or embellishments and others I have kept merely for the fabric. Since dresses tend not to fit me well I have a stash of them destined to be converted into skirts.  I am more of a dreamer than a doer, or at least I dream of far more than I can manage to do and I don't even like sewing.  Actually, I love hand sewing.  Is that strange?  As a little girl I hand stitched my own creations for my Barbie dolls, spending hours cutting, pinning and stitching scraps of fabric and I still love to do that.  But the part I love most is the cutting and pinning.  I have an aversion to my sewing machine.  Mainly because it is unfamiliar and that means I have to learn how to use it and that seems like such a bore.  I just want to wave a magic wand.  Or wield a needle and thread.

           Sorry about the poor photo. Somebody please turn off that lamp!

Of course I did not think to take a 'before' photo but this was a basic pull over tunic that was a bit too small for me.  It had a slight hole which I darned and overall it's not particularly high quality so it seemed perfect for an experiment.  I cut it up the middle, tried it on and noticed that the front looked best sort of folded outwards so I stitched that part down with some pretty buttons.  I pondered additions of lace, pinning bits on and taking them off again.  I let the raw edges roll in on themselves and added some ribbon to tie it together in front and make it look more like it is meant to be open down the middle and isn't some old tunic I cut up. 


I am a messy and rather childlike creative.  I like to sit on the floor.  I strew bits and bobs all over the place and  I dislike cleaning it all up afterwards.  As I sat on the floor stitching  this first up-cycling attempt, I remembered how I sat amid Mum's fabric scraps, which I kept in a big plastic bag in my closet.  I would dump it all out and spread it around me and sort through it looking for just the right piece.  Naked Barbie Dolls were also scattered around waiting to be pinned into whatever I was going to create for them.  In summer I would do this outside, on the back sundeck and managed to convince my best friend that this was a great way to spend the day.  I recall I also had ambitions of making a patchwork quilt after seeing one on the bed of a family friend.  It was made of squares cut from old clothing and a dark blue velvet one remains in my memory.  I digress, as usual. Here is a picture of what this outfit looks like in the going outside version. And there is that damn lamp again.


Yes, mushroom-bowl haircuts are all the rage.  Didn't you know?  We cannot blame Jason for this one.  Last spring I decided to grow out my hair and it got about this far and then I bailed on the plans and got it cut shorter.  In the end I regretted that.  I am ready for more hair so I've let it grow and am back to where I was last May.  I look forward to getting out of mushroom land and into short bob land.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Even When We Cannot See It The Sun Shines On Us All

I have so much catching up to do with my blog reading. It's positively dangerous to be absent for a couple of weeks.  It was a definite crash but I am very encouraged by my ability to recover from crashes faster than I did a few years ago.  It seems like I have been not functioning well for about a month though I managed to fake it for part of that and have really only spent about two weeks needing significant help.  My mother is an angel, a saint, or whatever the non-theist version of that might be.  I attempted to order groceries online.  It was my first time; I was an online grocery virgin and I am sure that next time it will be better.  Actually it was pretty good except that I only ordered one mushroom.  The person filling the order must have found that pretty strange.  Oh well, I have troubles preparing food when I crash anyhow and don't like it when produce goes to waste.  My mother, in one of her many saintly ways, will often wash and peel or cut up vegetables for me or cook me meals and send Dad over with them still hot.   While I was not fully bedridden it was a daily choice between showering and dressing or managing to scramble some eggs.

I turned the corner a couple of days ago and suddenly am longing to read, write, paint, to do everything and to get out.  That is the difficult part actually because I must not overdo it.  I must reign myself in.  It's a bit of a surprise that I am doing okay at this moment because in the past week I have been through a challenging and emotionally difficult experience which I was not sure I was going to be able to write about.  In the end, writing is always a very good way for me to relieve the burden of emotions and while I am not one for airing the dirty laundry, this bit of news has to be shared.  It has to be shared because it involves Sophie.




Rest assured, Sophie is alive and well.  But she is no longer living with me.  I shared stories and pictures of her on this blog and I believe, I hope, it is obvious that I love her.  She is a complicated character though and what I didn't share was her violent side.  Yes, I did just use the word violent.  Sophie spent the first two years of her life growing up with a puppy.  It is another difficult story but suffice it to say the dog is no longer my companion either.  I thought I was cured, that I no longer had M.E. and I wanted a dog.  It went well for the first year.  That's a long story and I will cut it short but the point is that I chose Sophie because she displayed a very boisterous personality and I thought she would do well with a dog.  She sure did.  She loved to play with Lucy and they chased, wrestled, hid, pounced, attacked, and bathed each other.  Sophie did most of this and Lucy just sort of lumped around and enjoyed it.  It has been nearly a couple of years since Lucy lived with us and Sophie has been without her playing companion.



I thought this would be okay.  Cats, after all, usually outgrow play to some degree and Sophie proved skilled at amusing herself.  But in time it became obvious that she is the border collie of cats.  She is intelligent and very active.  She gets bored and when she is bored things get destroyed.  She wants to play for hours and expects human participation.  One of her favourite games is fetch.  When Sophie wanted me to play with her, which was nearly constantly, she attacked me the same way she used to attacked Lucy.  Lucy loved it.  Lucy had thick skin and fur so hardly felt it and after the roughhousing Sophie would wash Lucy's face.  I tried many tactics to train Sophie, to redirect her energy and to give her alternative things to bite.  I researched online what to do but nothing worked.  I tried to put up with being scratched and bitten.  I excused it and focused on her sweet side.  Sophie's frustration at being bored was increasing over the past year and she would often bite the sofa or a pillow with the most intense ferocity.  She knew she was not supposed to do this.  In fact she would stop if I said 'no' but stop only for a minute and then possibly attack me if the sofa was not an option.   Eventually she began to get sneakier.  She would sneak up on me and attack so that I had to be on guard all the time she was awake. 

I find it difficult to admit to her dark side.   I do not think it her fault, but rather that she is a cat not meant to be an indoor cat.  She needs physical and mental stimulation and I could not give her the life she needed.  Last week she bit my arm so hard, sinking her teeth in, that I looked like I had been attacked by a vampire.  That was when I made the difficult decision to give her up.  I did not know anyone who could take her (unlike Lucy for whom I found a wonderful and better home) so it had to be the SPCA.  I was not physically able to cope with this myself, being so exhausted, so Mum helped.  Although they said they could take her, it was four days later that they actually had physical room for Sophie so it was  yesterday that she went.  I miss her.  I am, of course, experiencing guilt along with the sadness.


The place in the kitchen where her food and water were looms large and empty so that I almost trip on that unexpected space.  I woke this morning and instinctively reached out my hand and spoke to her though she was not there.  I came home from an appointment today and expected her to greet me when I came in the door.  It feels like a death although it is not and Sophie and I will both be fine.  She is a lovely cat in many ways and with the right home, with the opportunity to go outdoors and perhaps other animal companions, she will get the stimulation she needs and will be a loving companion.  I miss her snuggling with me, but I do not miss being bitten.  I do not miss feeling close to tears because she still wants me to play with her and I have done as much as I could.  I miss the sounds of her breathing. I miss the mess of her toys everywhere.   It is quiet in her now.



Life brings changes.  It brings difficult things and joyful things.  It brings endings and new beginnings, it brings both growth and loss.  The only thing I know how to do is to keep going and I have done so in situations much more difficult than this.  And yet this is difficult.  It's possible that the emotional strain of not being able to cope with her contributed to my small crash, and it's possible that the relief of dealing with it has contributed to what looks like my recovery.  I am not sure I can live without a cat.  I have hardly ever done so.  But for awhile I will.  And right now I mourn my loss of the beautiful, intelligent, complicated, affectionate and rambunctious Sophie. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

If I Went to See Oz

The great and powerful that is, not the country.  If I went to see Oz The Great and Powerful I might ask for more than a brain or a heart.  I might ask for a new body and this would include the brain.

                                                   Source

Today I woke around 7am after eight hours of sleep miraculously provided by medication.  I had a bath and I washed my hair.  I put on clothes.  Nothing worth showing here, I am nowhere near that yet but jeans are a step up from pyjamas or sweatpants.  I spent the day on the sofa instead of the bed and I would estimate that fifty percent of that time was in sitting up.  I prepared three meals for myself and two cups of tea.  I read for awhile and although I often had to re-read whole paragraphs and even whole pages, it is progress to have been reading. My headache was milder than it has been lately.  The other aches were mild today too.  My lymph nodes have been generally calm and not detectably swollen.  By the time I had finished my bath it felt as though I had just done a workout designed for achieving a whole body of steel.  Why am I telling you this?

In general I am not a complainer.  I live with a chronic illness but it is my intention to enjoy the life that I have and not waste time or energy longing for another one.  It is also my goal to contribute to a public understanding of the medical condition known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.   It is this condition that I live with.  I am less afflicted than some, more so than others.  According to my doctor I have the worst case he has ever personally known but then this is a small town.  My general condition is considered to be an average case most of the time.  It varies.  There are remissions and relapses.  It can vary from day to day and within a day.  I have had relapses that were lengthy but mostly I experience what I call 'crashes'.  These are sort of mini relapses.  Mini, by my definition, is less than two months.  I have been struggling for a month now, ever since picking up a mild cold.

And yes, it is a very mild cold.  I still seem to have it after about a month but the symptoms are barely noticeable to another person.  It is not really the cold itself but how my body reacts to having a virus that is extraordinary.  It knocks the stuffing out of me, as my mother says.  In addition to this little bit of 'woe is me', my attempt here is to reach out to any others suffering from this illness and to let them know that life goes on, that relapses happen but one overcomes eventually, to offer up a tiny bit of validation, I hope, for an illness that was for so long ignored, denied and ridiculed (yuppy flu), in addition to all of that, I am offering up my regrets for not visiting the blogs I love to visit.  As I have already noted, reading is a challenge, though spewing out my own thoughts is not.  My thoughts come as readily as breathing, in fully formed sentences and sometimes paragraphs.  I kid you not.  My own thoughts that is.  Comprehending others is a different matter.

There is an aspect of mental impairment to this illness.  To some degree it is the impairment that comes with fatigue, but this is a neurological illness, one which according to my research involves vastly reduced blood flow to all areas of the body.  I suspect that if I did not have this illness I would be a genius and a super athlete and it would be unkind of you to disillusion me.

I am offering up some more of my writing.  It is not recently done, but a another chapter from what is currently around fourteen of them.  I write feverishly or not at all when I write fiction.  Although it has little to do with my original topic, and thus not a writing example to impress any English teacher, I will conclude with a thank you.  Thank you to all the amazing people I have met who create interesting, creative and unique blogs which I enjoy reading, thank you to those who read mine and take the time to comment.  Thank you to those who show up and read but stay silent and anonymous.  It is amazing to me to know you are there, amazing how this blogging thing reaches around the world.

If I have done it correctly, this link here should take you to the writing page.  Otherwise the link is on the top right corner of the blog under Pages and titled Scribblings and Other Words.

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There are many sources of information online, some more credible or up to date than others.  Today I am linking to this one in case it is of any use to anybody, though it is not generally difficult to do a google search for ME.

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/about/what-is-mecfs/

And I found this video series enormously affirming and thus helpful.  The link should take you to the first in the series called Get Well From ME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7avG_U4axUk&list=PLFA8AEA2E6E413377

Saturday, 8 November 2014

It Could Happen to You

We've all heard the stories but we think it isn't going to happen to us.  Or at least we hope it isn't.  It took forty seven years but finally it did happen to me and of course I am going to tell you about it.

I had a lovely time at my monthly session of coffee, catch up and inflicting my writing on my dear friend Sheila.  Before I say any more I am going to publicly thank her for all of her reading (eleven chapters so far) enthusiasm and support.  I saw the fantastic photos of Sheila's recent special birthday celebration and we had our usual combination chat in which we did not manage to solve any of the world's greatest problems but we asserted out own philosophies on life and Sheila was the kinder and gentler version of the two of us.

While Sheila read chapters eight through eleven I slipped off to the Ladies' Room and that was when the first disaster occurred.  Not that I knew it right away.  About an hour later, as we left the cafe and progressed up the street a very kind woman hurried up behind me and informed me quickly that my skirt was caught up in my leggings at the back.  Oh horrors!  All I can say at this point is feck it, if leggings are passé.  I wear them like tights and thank the gods and goddesses that I do.  Of course, because I do I likely didn't feel the breeze on my backside.  This is what Sheila kindly pointed out to me while I was expressing my horror and then my gratitude for leggings.  Nonetheless, I praise the deities for leggings and heap blessings upon the kind woman who rescued me.  In defense of Sheila, she had not at any stage been behind me in order to notice this horror.  She hastened to point this out to me, but I must have intuited that for it did not once cross my mind to wonder why she hadn't said anything.  OF COURSE she would have if she had noticed.

The indignity of this survived, I completed my few errands and drove home.  Upon arrival at home and safely parked in my assigned spot, I realised that I had closed the door on my skirt.  Significantly.  So that anybody driving past me would have seen some skirt hanging out.  Good grief it is a relief to know I am home now and off the roads.  A woman who cannot manage  her own dress should not be out menacing society with a car.  In addition to these assorted mishaps, it was a really bad hair day and no headband could save me.  Although I bundled up for a chilly morning it got progressively warmer and was not a hat day.




                          Good hair days are a bit hit and miss these days.

After pairing red with turquoise, one of my favourite combinations, I paired it with aubergine for Dad's birthday dinner.  This dress is the only item left from my teacher wardrobe.  I think I've had it for around 15 years and I love it.  It's very well made, and very comfortable.  I bought it new but on sale for 70% off because maxi dresses were not in at the time and it seemed to beg for a tall person to wear it.  The shop owner just had not been able to sell it.


The details don't show up well in the photo but the dress is corduroy, has a fringe on the bottom and is a very deep aubergine or plum.  We could say this outfit is cranberry and plum if we wish to be fruity.

I have difficulty dealing with the flapping ends of belts.  Sometimes, with a narrower belt I can tuck the loose piece under the belt and let it dangle down, as I did with the red belt in the first outfit.  With this belt being stiffer and shorter in length I had some troubles .  Eventually I resorted to a less than chic solution which is hidden by my cardigan.

It's a black twist tie from a vacuum pack of coffee beans.  Usually it is amongst Sophie's toys but I stole it from her.

And here is a sweet little turtle pin I found at the thrift shop recently. This close up also shows the colours I am wearing, including the shadow stripes of the tee shirt.  The dress is a jumper style and must have a layer underneath.


And....I have my doubts about the wisdom of putting this photo on the internet, but for the sake of showing my thrift shop earrings-I don't usually wear costume jewelry but these don't seem to irritate my ears- I am breaking the no profile photo rule.  I suppose it is not a full profile, and I am somewhat fascinated by it since I never see myself from this angle.  I don't recognise myself. I always thought my nose was too small and here it looks positively huge.



Note:  I have added a couple more chapters to the Scribblings page.   Some days I like where it is going and other days I am certain it is total crap.  Ah well, it keeps me occupied.


I am linking up to Sheila's Shoe Shine to share my favourite red shoes.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Humblebrag and some Navel Gazing.

I am attempting some time in The Land of the Living.  Thank you for the kind comments left on my previous post, the shortest post I will likely ever write.  Unlike this one.
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Some new terms irritate me but I rather like this one.  It is, at least, rather fun to say.  Try it: humblebrag.  It is both a noun and a verb and was apparently coined by a writer of an American sitcom called Parks and Recreation, which I do not watch.  I do not watch it because I do not watch television, which is not a humblebrag because I must add that I spend what could be my television watching time on the internet.  Perhaps commenting on blogs is more satisfying than talking to the television.  Anyhow, my time on the internet has meant I eventually stumbled across this new term.  It's probably old now, but it's new to me.

We all know at least one person who humblebrags and perhaps do it ourselves sometimes. If we spend any time on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook we have experienced the humblebrag.   Essentially, for those of you even less in the know than I am, to humblebrag is to brag but add something self deprecating or negative in order to attempt to hide or downplay the bragging.  There are worse things to do in this world than toot your own horn but anyone who does it constantly is a boring companion and interestingly I think, it may be more tolerable to be around someone whose bragging is a bit more overt.  It's natural to want to share your exciting news, your happy moments or the things you are proud of with your friends and family.  With the rise of social media, sharing it with the world is the new normal and celebrities seem to be quite prone to it as well as the rest of earth's mere mortals.  

I have spent a good deal of my life learning to graciously accept a compliment, to find the right combination of modesty and confidence and along the way learned that much of my instinctive self deprecation, my tendency to say 'oh no, I'm really not that good,' can look like fishing for compliments and attention.  I am sufficiently self aware (bragging here) to know that it may indeed hold some of that to some degree.  I am less than proud to say I was always someone who needed a great deal of validation though I didn't seek it or ask for it.  If it came, I probably wanted just a little bit more, please.  At the same time, I had been raised to value modesty.  Bragging was a sin greater than sex before marriage and akin to vanity.  To be thought immodest would be devastating.  I am pleased to say (another small brag) that I have grown somewhat though I still struggle with these tendencies to self deprecate.   At what line does modesty become lack of self confidence? Where does seeking encouragement become an over reliance on compliments?  And conversely, Where does self confidence become vanity or bragging?  The line is a bit wavy.

For most of my life I have dabbled in art and writing but never until very recently dared to actually call myself a writer or an artist.  Hooray for some personal growth there too and thanks to a reworking of the definitions I now do, though still a bit hesitantly, call myself both.  What I desire is to be good, really good, to please people with what I create and what I create is by nature meant to be shared.  But I do not actually expect greatness (whether or not I should is a whole other psychology text book)  and everything I create is ultimately done for myself first.  That sort of selfishness was another thing I would once have shunned.  But back to this sharing idea.  I am taking steps to put myself and my work out there, as they say.  Even when it is raw, unfinished or experimental.  I am indeed scared at times.  To be told my work pleases someone is the greatest thrill but it will not please everyone.  Learning to be comfortable with that is a lifelong lesson for me, I think, though I like to think I am now more in the practice stage.  In the end what pleases me is the doing of the work, the creating.  Some final results I like better than others.  Although I am a very solitary person for an artist or writer, I am taking my first steps towards being less so.  I loathe the idea of groups but the internet is less scary.  How is that?  Likely through total deception.

If you have actually read all of this I love you!  If not here is what all that babbling and blethering is getting at:  I am working on a novel and am going to start publishing a chapter at a time on this blog.  Even if it is crap I will persevere but I am certainly hoping it is not or has the potential not to be.  I hope some people will read it and give me honest but gentle feedback. You will find it under Scribblings and Other Words on the top right margin of my blog.


 The Ultimate Guide to Relaxation, a new books soon to be released by Sophie.


* That's my leg on the left.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Exhausted

After coming down with a cold a week ago, which just wont go away, I am exhausted and taking a break.  I miss reading your blogs and your comments on mine but at the moment I just can't do any of it.  I'm hoping all my readers and friends are well and wishing the best for all of you.
xo

Friday, 24 October 2014

Video Killed The Radio Star

I've never been a radio star but I decided that this weekend I would be a video star. 
 In the video below, please pretend that my bangs are actually this long and that I did not hack them off in a fit of pique.


 This video may not work if you are using Chrome as a browser.  If you do not wish to watch it, that can always be your excuse. I do know that it works with Firefox and Internet Explorer.

My Video is here

Have a Lovely Weekend Everyone.
xo