craft camp

Craft weekend

Craft camp, back to the studio

Today (and yesterday) I wore one of the tops I made at craft camp last weekend. I love the fabric but I can't really say it was a good make. A bit short, a bit wide at the neck and the shoulders sit a bit funny. But better than the other top I made which is too long and so big it flaps in the wind. Ah body dysmorphia, the feeling I get that nothing can be ever big enough. As if I am endless. Which I am not. Perhaps this is why I don't enjoy sewing clothes as much as I used to. Even though what I make is often so much better that what I can buy. Never mind, I can run it in at the sides and take it up. Might even inspire me to get started on my mending and altering projects.

Craft camp however was, as usual,  lovely. A smaller group than usual. Which had its own charms; room to spread out, easy to keep track of conversations, a lovely intimacy. That's not to say the larger groups aren't good too. ALL craft camp in ALL its form is good. For all the usual reasons, not the least of which is having food lovingly prepared for you and presented to you with no input from you. A rare treat for me, and I think one universally treasured and appreciated by all the women who go. I also appreciated feeling better than the last time and although one night I had bizarre dreams about being in the South Pacific and missing flights, I slept unusually well. Another thing I greatly appreciated was that Grace didn't crack the shits about me leaving her or going to stay with her grandparents. I did get pranked that she was drinking shiraz and amused by film of Rupert falling in the fountain at dad's place but it was a much happier parting than usual. Also I made her a deal and she got Dominos pizza (for the first time ever) in return for not cracking the shits. It was delivered fast and hot but it was very average really.

I feel a bit that I have already blogged all the blogs and taken all the photos that are possible at craft camp. There are only so many ways to say how good it is. I am just really glad that after ten or so years and lots of stuff in my life that it and the wonderful women that are part of it are still a regular part of my life. And that turning up at Sewjourn keeps feeling familiar AND wonderful. I really am thankful for all of that.

we have been watching "the bachelor"

Decorated

I've been holding off watching The Bachelor for ages, thinking it a bridge too far, despite Grace's fascination with the show. We have other reality TV favourites; Survivor, MKR and Masterchef. I finally gave in because it meant that I could watch Offspring straight afterwards on live telly rather than waiting for catch up the next day. Which I guess is pretty shallow and follows a path of little resistance. Anyway I have to say that I find The Bachelor horrifying, absolutely squirm inducing horrifying but at the same time quite watchable and erm, kind of fascinating.

We decided the other night that it was a bit like Matty J was at a bakery tasting all the cupcakes and other bakery treats (except that they are mostly vanilla cupcakes because the women offered up for consumption are all more or less white with pretty hair, conventionally attractive thin bodies, and very white straight teeth) before he decided which one he wanted to take home and eat for ever, without ever looking at another cupcake or bakery treat. Some he takes a bite out of and goes, ugh pah, no thanks (but really politely because this is not MKR), some he bites and puts back, thinking I will come back and taste that one again later and compare it with the other ones I like. Some, sadly he never tastes at all. At this point he has narrowed it down to six lovely vanilla cupcakes.

One woman legged it and I am kind of (but not really) surprised that more of the women haven't done this. And no-one has refused a rose at any of the rose ceremonies or on any of the dates. Despite the revealing dresses and occasional pin the sticker on the penis, it is really quite decorous. The kissing is formulaic and staged, they talk earnestly about their feeling and values. It is seemingly all about the straight, white monogamous marriage afterwards. Which is why it is funny and odd and squirmy that he is choosing a partner from this group of women living like a harem. They might be in competition with each other but some women seem to get along quite well. My inner feminist is trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with it all - apart from the white, cis, hetro, monogamy fantasy - I mean none of these girlwomen have been forced into the show, they can leave, they are not without some degree of agency in all this. But still. Cupcakes.

I think some of my squirminess comes from the pursuit of a "traditional" monogamous marriage in a situation where he is simultaneously dating and kissing more than one woman. This does obviously happen in real life but the opportunity to string more than one romantic possibility along would be real for both the man and the woman. And then if they both wanted an exclusive relationship with each other, well that's when they would get "serious." At least I think that's how it works. However in The Bachelor it is obvious that many of the women are afraid to risk their hearts while he is still seeing and kissing other women. Yet the show and its drama demands it. Not to mention the ranking and humiliating voting out that is the rose ceremony. I wonder if there was real attraction and pairing whether it would happen behind the scenes and the rest is just a play out for television? It is awful this dating and relating performance, but why so watchable? Apparently we need to watch The Bachelorette when it comes on to compare. At least it leads to some interesting discussions about romance and why the real world is not like this. She might get to watch it, but not without some snarky mum commentary.

sock toe

Sock toe progress. Not much novel reading though.

This afternoon in the still time after afternoon tea, I unraveled the sock toe I had been knitting for about the seventy gazillionth time. The yarn broke as I was pulling the first stitch of the next row tight. There was not enough of an end to tie it together and besides, who wants knots in the toes of their socks?  I paused, ate a grainwave or two, listened to the old survivor video, felt frustrated about knitting and everything else, then reminded myself that many of the actions of knitting are coming back. It has been over two years and I'm surprised at how much I've forgotten but also how much my hands remember.

I've wanted to blog again several times since the last time but there is this little thing inside me that is saying that everything I want to write about is negative, about how hard everything is, about how I'm struggling still, even though the narrative is now that I am doing so much better. Well. I guess. Depends on what you define as better. I still procrastinate over stupid things. I don't do all that much in a day and my house and garden reflect that. I get puffed walking up the slightest incline. The new house (and new start) we were looking at fell through just as we were about to make an offer and I had already decorated it in my mind. It was beautiful.This dreadful virus has lingered and lingered. The honeymoon phase of the new drug is over and I can feel myself slowing a little. And I'm hungry. Always hungry. For carbs and sugar. But I will eat anything. Usually I can control myself to a degree but yesterday I did eat too much and it felt blech. My doctor said that this drug was weight neutral but people on the internet are saying otherwise. So is my hunger. We will see what it has done to my blood sugar in a month or two. Sigh. Yeah, negative is boring.

This afternoon as I was knitting I remembered the blue poncho I made while I was in hospital with post natal psychosis. We called it my Martha Stewart poncho because she made a similar one when she was in jail. Mum bought me in the wool and the crochet hook from home and probably helped me get started. I don't remember. I couldn't even remember who I was at that point and she used to write me bits and pieces in a book to help me try and remember. But, even though it was hard, I did remember how to crochet a simple poncho. It was a struggle at first and god knows how my family felt about it all, because maybe I wasn't coming back. But I did. And the crochet got easier and I could work for longer and longer at a time. I still wear the poncho sometimes but yikes.

Anyway. The power of handcrafts. I like how knitting something as slow as socks is gently iterative. I'm pleased that I have managed to get all my project supplies and the darning I need to do into one bag and I have a pleasant afternoon knitting habit again. Painfully small steps. But steps nonetheless.

Maybe I should start blogging again


Will the washing dry? #daysixnocentralheating #mouseplaguecontinues #sadforunexpectedreason #butexcitingthingmightbehappening #vaguebloggingfornow

I've been thinking about coming back to blogging. Quite a bit. I miss it. I miss talking to myself in that way and I miss talking to you, the audience, even if there are only three of you. Although I did like it back in the day when there were more of us blogging. Perhaps there is a new blogging tribe out there for me to discover. There are so many things I'd like to write about: books I've read, apocalyptic fiction and feminism, how it feels like we are at the end of days sometimes and yet I hope that we aren't, mental health and unhealth, single motherhood, grief, my plans for a new house with a dishwasher, bits and bobs that I am doing, living in a fat body and diet culture/fat acceptance and the weird spaces in between. Cooking. I'd like to write about cooking too. And living with a tween, but perhaps not too much about that, because well, not my story so much anymore. And, and, and. And I'd like to be writing fiction again after a long, long break. I write stories in my head all the time but they evaporate like weird dreams, leaving only fragments behind.

So I am sitting at my computer. Testing the keys. I've been sick with a cold for nearly two weeks and bored is starting to win over tired so hopefully the cold is nearly done.The last two years have been filled with a deep and unmoving depression that has been hard to shift. I thought it was me, I thought it was the pills, I thought it was my life then the pills. It was really, really, hard to do anything. Anything except sit at the kitchen table and read. I suspect reading has saved my life in more ways than I can count. I talked to my psychiatrist at length about this, about wanting to go off lithium, about wanting to see if it was the pills or me. Scared it was me. She was reluctant, mindful that I am a single mother and that I can't afford to crack up. I was desperate, willing to risk cracking up, being in hospital, being crazy if it meant I could get my life back.

As it turned out, things came to a head. Unsurprisingly my physical health has deteriorated as well. My fitness is at an all time low. Like really low and I know what I need to do but have been unable to take simple steps. I've put on even more weight, my blood pressure and cholesterol are now needing medication. Just until I can make the lifestyle changes necessary, my kindly doctor assures me. Then I had a hernia surgery about six months ago. It went really well but there was a cascade of other health effects and I ended up dehydrated, with my blood pressure medication not playing well with the lithium. This culminated into a descent into too high lithium levels. I was at craft camp and I couldn't craft, everything as really difficult, my whole left side was shaking. Two days later at the doctor I was saying how unwell I felt. I couldn't express how really. Just really unwell. That night my doctor rang me because the lab had rung him with my lithium levels. I stopped taking it. Just stopped which is apparently not what you are meant to do according to my psychiatrist. But it was like a line had been crossed.

The next few weeks were wobbly and I started a small dose of a new medication. It's OK. Well, better than OK. I'm not thirsty all the time so I sleep better at night because I am not getting up to wee every two hours. My feet are not (very) swollen. I feel like I have gained ten IQ points. I get bored and crave company, things to do.There's still a long way to go before I feel fully functional - my lack of physical fitness till needs much work- but I feel like I am back. And maybe like I have something to say again. Maybe.

One year


Gerard died last night. In hospital. We are sad and somehow getting through the day.

It's a beautiful day today. Rupert has been outside, sunning himself like a cat on the concrete. The sun was gently on my shoulders as I took the compost out. It has been exactly one year since Gerard died. I arrived too late to sit with him as he died. To hold his hand or say a few last words of love. I don't know how much that would have mattered to him, he's gone now, but I would have liked the chance. I remember sitting with him after he was gone and then stepping out into the most beautiful February evening imaginable. The air was soft and balmy, the light lucid, luminous. As I drove home the car lights were like a river of sparkle.

I've had a few cries today. I can't believe that this happened (still), that it's been a year. I still miss Gerard, it hasn't gone away. Although I think that I am starting to function a bit better. Not that you would be able to tell from the back yard. Every now and then I have a glimmer of feeling that feels like real, felt life is coming back. That the stones of grief that fill you up are starting to move a bit. But it also feels like memory and sadness are all I have of him and I don't want to lose that last thing. Hopefully one day I will have memory and happiness.

Tonight we are going to the park with friends. To raise a glass and hang out. It feels like a good thing to do.

Flickr and Instagram


So you know how when you share images on your blog from Flickr, it includes writing on the image. Writing that didn't used to be there before. Well you can easily get rid of it by deleting some of the code. As underlined in green below.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/muppinstuff/22096802688/in/datetaken/" title="Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today"><img src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5632/22096802688_0054aa110a_z.jpg" width="640" height="640" alt="Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Also my Instagram images stopped going from Instagram to Flickr. I tried everything I could to fix it up, uninstalling and reinstalling here there and everywhere. Then I stumbled across IFTTT and this recipe. Perfect. Works a treat, I don't even have to specify that the Instagram photo goes to Flickr when I am posting. It is very automatic. I love it. And here are some options to import the ones that were missed. I stupidly imported ALL my instagram photos to flickr and then had to delete a whole pile. It looks like there is an easier way.

That's my lawn I didn't mow today. Stomach pain again. Bleurgh. Tomorrow is another day.

Knee high grass..... Shoulder high weeds (not shown). Lawn mower day today

the last day when everything was alright

I feel better today. Happier. Lighter. A pill the doctor gave me for my stomach has pretty much stopped it hurting. And that has made a big difference. Also I went to a hen's afternoon yesterday, without a hurty stomach, and much to my surprise had a really nice time. So there. Things can be better.

The other night I was looking through my photos. I do this often. Maybe it's not a good thing but I crave reminders of the way things used to be. Of being a family of three. It sometimes feels like it is slipping away. I don't want to feel sad all the time but I want to hold the memories close. To remember what it felt like to belong with Gerard, to be loved, to be held up, to do things and plan things together. And you know, to love someone back. Even if sometimes I wish I'd been nicer to him. Kinder and more appreciative.

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Anyway, this day we went to the art gallery, to meet Gerard's aunt. It was a great day out. We saw modern art, we had afternoon tea together. There was clowning around. I sat and watched this pool of china plates in water. I loved how they collided and the sound they made. It was peaceful and mesmerising. Grace and Gerard loved the water wall. I love the water wall too. That pose of Gerard's is so him. It really was a very good day.

The next day which was Sunday, my stepfather came and found me in my study and told me that my mother was in hospital with suspected lung cancer. After that things got worse and better and then worse again. And now Mum and Gerard are both dead, gone forever. I'm glad that the last day before everything started to change was a good day. I look back to that day sometimes and there is so much to hold onto.

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So I was trying to think of something to put in the card for my friend who is getting married. And I can't quite put my finger on it yet. When you lose part of your family I think you realise how big they were in your life and I want to say something that speaks to that but isn't trite or advicey. Something suitable for a joyous occasion. 

I'm not full of regret for things undone. When I look back at the photos it's clear that we did things together, family dinner, hanging out with extended family, camping, seeing friends, outings and just hanging out at home. The stuff of a life together, it is all there. I remember when Gerard and I were first together and in love, I had that big fear of losing him too. I dismissed this fear at the time, but even though I wouldn't want to have lived with that fear, it was actually quite rational. Love is a huge investment. You wouldn't not do it because the rewards are big too but the stakes are high. I envy couples who get to be together for fifty years or so. And yet, as I saw in grief group, the loss there when the first one goes, is often immense. I don't think many of us escape from grief forever. Not if we have loved ones. I still don't know what I'm trying to say but there you have it. The last day when everything was alright. (In this round. Everything will be alright again. I'm holding onto that.)

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