Goodbye, 2020.

I shall be very pleased when this year is over, although things clearly won’t magically improve overnight. Our area in the West Midlands, UK, is now in Tier 4, which is currently the highest state of lockdown. We can buy food, or get medication, but that’s about it. Any doctor’s appointments are by phone, unless the doctor asks to see you. We’re just awaiting our vaccination letters. Hubby will get his first, as he’s 75. I’m 65, almost 66, so will have to wait for mine. Even then I don’t expect things to suddenly improve.

Decided I’d read fiction at bedtime, non-fiction in the day. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Currently reading “Rage” by Bob Woodward, which is interesting to say the least. The Trumpster didn’t co-operate with Woodward over the last book, apparently regretted it, and has co-operated with this book. Just the conversations/interviews between the two men are interesting. I can only cope with a couple of chapters at a time, because it’s all quite intense. I am highly relieved I am retired and never had to work in such a high pressure environment.

Then we watched an episode of West Wing last night, which restored my faith in humankind. Without that, I would have no idea about how the US political system works. Mm.

It took me weeks and weeks to finish this jumper. I knitted up the whole back before I realised that I’d knitted it a size too big, and wouldn’t have enough yarn (discontinued, of course) left to finish it. Sigh. So I undid it all and started again. It has been well received, and this particular grandson is, shall we say, quite particular about what he will and won’t wear. Phew. He loves green, so I was hopeful. Love this little guy. The yarn is Bergere de France Magic+ (Aran weight), and the colour is Lichen. The pattern is called Jake. (US$5) When I was (much) younger, knitting patterns were numbered, not named. Mm.

I did have a small crochet moment or two (I was referring to it as a “frenzy” but my sister called me out on it!) and made four of these. It’s simple craft cotton, DK, and I used a 4mm hook. The pattern is Crochet Coasters (free) by Coats.

And here is some snow falling. It didn’t stick, but it is very cold and frosty here.

I wish you all a much, much better 2021.

To mask or not?

Had to go into Solihull today to the bank. Some things just can’t be done online, on the phone, or by post. Sigh.

But what struck me most is how many people are not wearing masks! I went to a knit and natter group on Saturday. Five of us all sat outside, but I was the only one wearing a mask. Am I paranoid?

In New Zealand, the advice was, when you’ve been out and about, change all your clothes and have a shower when you get home. So I did. It might be over the top, but New Zealand is in a much, much better state than the UK.

Hmph.

In the end my sister and I decided that digitising all the cine films was just too difficult and too expensive. Some had already been done, so we are assuming they were the only ones worth doing, and dumped the rest. Freecycled the Eumig projector,  the slide projector, and the screen. A lovely, lovely Polish lorry driver collected them on his way back to Poland, where he lives opposite a children’s home. He volunteers there and collects stuff just like this to help entertain them. He will fix the stuff and then donate it. The Paul Klee prints went to a lovely guy who was influenced by Klee at uni and everybody is delighted, including me.

Dressed in my “working clothes”, had a nice cup of tea after the shower, then used the “jet” setting on the hose to clean up the green wheelie bin (for garden refuse). And now it’s lunchtime.

Have been reading a lot. Had already read Fire & Fury, Siege, and Surviving Autocracy, just read Too Much and Never Enough. Now I’m back into the Boudica: Dreaming series of 4 books. It all seemed much cleaner, somehow, back then (I know it’s fictionalised), but really, honestly, I don’t think I can cope with  knowing too much more about Trump. We do have two programmes recorded which we will no doubt harrumph our way through. Also the Rupert Murdoch 3 part documentary. Oh. My. God. If you’ve watched Succession, know that it is scarily accurate.

Next up will be another book on the Trojan War from a woman’s point of view – Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon. Then hubby has a book called “Pew” which sounds great.

Have been able to knit a very small amount – half an hour about three times a week, if I’m not doing anything else. And only in the morning. Not today, too busy. And thank goodness for the gardeners. Although they haven’t turned up today . . .

Feelings

Really not sure where to start here.

Horrified, angry and sad about the poisonous racist culture which has finally, with the murder of George Floyd, burst, across the world, into huge protests. The protests are vital.

Reading Akala’s book Natives. He’s so articulate and incisive, I really rate this guy. Even Piers Morgan is careful when talking to him. Good.

Recently read Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), which describes the casual racism nobody white seems to notice or acknowledge and The Night Women (Marlon James) which is written in the voice of a slave.

All excellent, if difficult. But it needs to be difficult. We need things to change. Radically.

Very up and down mood-wise, not so good pain-wise, no knitting possible.

Baking’s possible though, thanks to the Thermomix. (Dairy free berry muffins – yummy)

However, did manage to do some gardening yesterday. I guess because I don’t use my hands in the same way as I do when knitting. It leaves my hand painful and swollen for a few days, but it’s such a good feeling to be outside and doing stuff.

Moved one rosemary plant, dumped the old woody one, planted a new one in a better place. Split the thyme, dumped the woody bits, replanted. Cut back the hellebores, replanted all the daffodil bulbs I’d accidentally dug up, ripped out the dead forget-me-nots and dead-headed the poppies. Very satisfying. (None of the above pictures are from what I did yesterday!)

Disappointed that the wildlife camera missed two woodpeckers (TWO!) because the disc was full, and one jay because the angle was wrong. Grr. But there are plenty of clips of the robin, who was extremely interested in what I was doing yesterday, and came so close!

Even when I wake up feeling dreadful, I improve after breakfast and chatting to hubby. And a square of chocolate. Hubby is currently making me a cup of tea. Excellent.

 

Happier Things

I’ve just been in the garden, tidying up most of the daffodil, tulip and bluebell detritus. Looks much better, but when sitting having my post-gardening cup of tea I noticed more I’d missed. Another little job for another day.

Meanwhile here are a couple of photos – two of indoor plants, the white schlumbergera (?) was a present from my small friend Henry, the pink one I have no idea what it is, but took a cutting from Mother’s house while she was still with us. The red ones are perennial poppies I grew from seed several years ago, so I’m quite (insufferably) smug about those.

Currently reading The Man In The Red Coat by Julian Barnes. Love his stuff anyway, but this one is very interesting. Non-fiction, it’s a sort of meander through La Belle Epoque, but occasionally the author “talks to camera” which is very endearing. Previous book was Bill Bryson’s Thunderbolt Kid. Laugh out loud funny.

Half way through Pimpelliese shawlette, but I’m guessing there will be no knitting tonight after gardening this morning.

Halfway through the HBO season 1 of Succession. Wowsers! I don’t like any of the characters. Perhaps a sneaking admiration for Marcia. It is so clearly intended to be a story of, let’s say for example, Murdoch empire (Fox/Sky).  I don’t know why anybody would want to work for them. Edge of the seat watching though.

Work is still ongoing on the “improve the wi-fi” project. More to come when I’ve actually made some progress. Sigh.

Managing.

Writing is supposed to be cathartic so I thought I’d jot down a few notes about how I manage the depression and M.E.

Went to the osteopath today because I was in some pain. It’s part of the maintenance and upkeep. As usual after the osteopath I’m pretty low tonight and on the verge of tears. Taking regular painkillers. Can’t take Brufen because of my asthma. Big old bummer, because they are such effective painkillers. I can take Cocodamol though, and am at the doctor’s next week so might mention it then.

However I re-arranged the pedicure, which was going to be tomorrow, and have cried off the knitting get together tonight. Will see if I am able to get to the sewing course on Saturday – I’d really like to go, because it’s making a Japanese Knot Bag and matching purse, but if I’m not up to it, then I’m just not.

Such decisions sound a bit sad, but in fact once I’ve decided that I need to cancel stuff, I actually feel a bit better about things. Not exactly in control of my health, just managing it better. I don’t like to feel that it’s managing me. Even though it probably is. Mm.

I’ve been sleeping a lot. Most of Tuesday. Managed to have a shower and wash my hair on Wednesday. Then had a half hour sit down, and did my ironing. I do it every week, and hubby does his own, so it only takes about 25 minutes maximum. Then lunch, and then did the online shop. So quite a lot achieved yesterday. But the afternoon sleeps are long. At least three hours, sometimes four. Then I sleep all night too.

Might consider a bath and face pack tomorrow. Will see how I wake up. I very, very rarely have a bath. We have some nice bubble bath though and it does help relax my back.

I have two go-to authors whose books I read when I feel like this. Bill Bryson, who is just one of my favourite writers, and Tom Cox. Ditto. Can’t help smiling as I read their stuff.

Retail therapy always helps too, so have ordered a couple of tops (reduced) from Warehouse. Two different colours, and two different sizes, so we shall see if I like the colours and if they fit.

Hubby is off to a meeting tonight so I shall watch some crappy tv. No knitting mojo at all at the moment, and booked in for steroid injections into the knuckles of my right hand on Monday. Will see how things go after that.

Christmas almost organised. Thank goodness for the internet. A bit of baking to do, but nothing major. Last year I did a Yule Log which is fat free, therefore dairy free. It was delicious and both hubby and I liked it, which is a bonus. He doesn’t like fruit cake so if I made a proper Christmas cake I’d just eat it all and put on loads of weight. And am going to do some mince pies only in filo pastry as I have some in the freezer. Everybody else can eat normal ones from the shop, but the dairy free ones from the shop tend to be cheap and nasty.

November

And no, it’s not Christmas yet! I know there are those among you who would love Christmas all year long, but when my offspring were much younger, nobody was even allowed to mention the word until December. Harsh? possibly, but saved my sanity.

What’s been occurring? well, the new fascia for my car stereo is excellent. I’ve kept the old one as a spare because it’s only the display that’s gone. The new one looks brand new (even though it’s not), works a treat, and the display is perfect. So that’s a plus.

Health not so good, however. Throat virus for the last two and a half weeks now, which has involved an extremely sore throat, several days in bed not eating (but drinking lots of fluids), a trip to the doctor to be reassured it’s not bacterial, so no antibiotics, and a nasty cough. Oh, and no voice at all. I’ve been having to cancel everything as it comes along (social outings, even the osteopath today). Well, in reality, hubby has been having to cancel everything because – I have no voice!

I’ve been reading a lot, which is always a bonus, when I’ve been up to it. And serendipitously, one of my favourite authors, Tom Cox, has had a new book published. It’s called A 21st Century Yokel, and is quite lovely. It’s as if he’s speaking to you, telling you about his life. The countryside where he lives now, and where he has lived. His family, including his delightful eccentric Dad and his lovely Mum – who does all sorts of craft things. His friends and his hobbies (bat watching, beaver watching – the dam-building kind – swimming in rivers, very outdoorsy).

It’s been a pleasure to read. I’ve savoured every word. I get a similar feeling of one-ness with the world when I read Bill Bryson’s books. Both authors demonstrate an understanding of life and nature that chimes very much with my own. Or rather, informs how I feel about these things.

Knitting has had to take a back seat. I have completely lost my knitting mojo. But, you’ll be relieved to hear, I re-knitted the cardigan I’d wrecked, in different yarn, and I much prefer it anyway (no photo, it’s a gift). So all the Christmas knitting is done, and four child/baby hats (they only take an evening or two). All in West Yorkshire Spinners Aran in various “cocktail” colours. I have started on a lovely jumper for hubby, but only managed one evening’s worth. It’ll still be there when my knitting mojo returns, however. I do occasionally pick it up and feel it and look at it, just to make sure I still like it. (I do).

It looks grey, but it’s actually denim blue. West Yorkshire Spinners Aran, 75% wool, 25% acrylic. Not terribly difficult to do, but stitch markers have changed my life, so I use them if I think there might be the slightest possibility I could go wrong. Circular needles, too. At this stage, after only a few inches, it makes very little difference what sort of needles I use (except that I’m much less likely to drop a needle than when I’m using straights!), but when the work is bigger, the weight falls on my lap, not my shoulders.