Sunday, 26 December 2010

post Xmas blues....

I seem have no words left to speak today. I have spent them in an agony of remembrance. They have resonated around people who may not have understood them, and now I have returned home, tired, disillusioned, and disappointed.

As I grow older this appears to be my default experience. Where I think I might find people with whom to connect, I frequently wish I had remained silent so that I am now in the position of renegotiating my relationship not only with the people I speak to, but also with the words I use between us. If I make a gesture or move my face in a certain way, more often than not, I can make myself understood. If I talk to total strangers – for instance others in supermarket queues, I can communicate on a superficial level. After all, it isn’t difficult to laugh about what it’s like to stand waiting, discuss what we have bought or what the children at the front of the queue are doing.

When, however, I try to describe my pain, my fear, my lonliness to those I know and trust, when I try to express disillusionment to those who should know why I am so burdened, then the task become almost impossible. A chasm opens. They cannot hear me, I cannot hear them. They do not understand and I appear to have lost the ability to make myself either heard or understood. I do not know when or how that happened, whether it is a consequence of growing older in a young world, whether it is a personal loss of confidence, or whether it is a growing sense of fear on my part of being totally misunderstood, which, in fact, makes it easier for others to misunderstand me.

So, too, when I sit down to write.

I am overwhelmed by the stories I have to tell, the memories that will not be silenced but need me to give them language to bring them to life. I take out the photographs of my family and know that they are waiting for me to begin. So I sit and wait with them in hope of a better tomorrow.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Philosophy Pathways

I took my courage in both hands and enrolled on a Philosophy Pathways course last week and have had fun reading around the subject since. The first problem, or dialogue, is about the possibility of there being other worlds and how we can definitely know that there are or are not other worlds, and how we can be certain of what we actually know about this world. Also, how can we be sure that we don't exist in someone else's dream? Or lab? I think the answer to that might be that we can't know for sure, and strangely enough that doesn't bother me. On balance I think that the answer is probably not as it is only a "maybe" and if "maybe"s ruled the world then rules might not? There are lots of new ideas, new definitions, a lot of new vocabulary and late nights to come!!

I have had to learn quickly and order a few books. I like the way that the course is structured around science fiction and wonder why we love that genre when we are young and stop loving it quite so much when we are old. I always thought it was something to do with the longing for exploration of other realities and possibilities, and daydreams, which seem to go as we get older and wiser and have more responsibilities which anchor us, as it were, to earth.

I might start a seperate blog to follow some of the reading I am doing for this course and keep this for photos and crafts.

Speaking of which - my crocheted scarf is coming along but I have (alas) spotted a HOLE!!  no problem - I will stitch it together. Photo tomorrow.

winter wonderland ...........

We have had the most amazing quantity of snow here and this is a photo of Martha up to her haunches in it!
I quite like taking photos out of the car window as we are travelling along - a sort of photo diary of a day out and here is a picture coming down the Harrogate by pass and looking up at Almscliffe Cragg. This vtiew was only opened up when the by-pass itself was opened and is always breathtaking in clear light. I liked this snowy picture.
 We went for a drink at the pub in Rigton called the Square Compass - it looked nice outside but inside totally lacked intimacy or charm and it did have a fire - but a small mean one, not a nice big fire that warms you!
Before we got home we stopped at Golden Acre Park and I took this photo of the setting sun as seen through the trees. Quite beautiful but very very cold.....
And here are Joseph and Martha making their way back to the car, with the last of the light playing on the trees in the distance.
Posted by PicasaIts been so cold in the UK this week and although it was fun at first, now it is a nightmare, as the wet surfaces have turned to ice and it is so dangerous underfoot. I am waiting for a medicalert necklace to arrive which will give details of my medical conditions and ask that if anything happens to my arm it is left alone, because my worst fear is that I have an accident, lose consciousness, and find myself with my arm in plaster and with metal rods in it or something similar which would be absolutely awful. So pretty as these are  - I hate walking in snow.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snowed in.....

It has snowed all this week and we have been caught in the flat, without having been able to venture out. Joseph has contracted some sort of stomach pain and I am just hoping it isn;t anything too serious. He looks gray and tired but the doctor put him on some "prazole" tablets and perhaps they will do the trick.

I signed on this week for a Philosophy Pathways course - the material is intriguing and allows me to go and read around the subject and find the questions and answers that I want to find. Very clever. Geoffrey Klempner who wrote the course is my mentor and is a nice Jewish boy - his sister is Rabbi although he is an atheist. Fun. If only I could talk to MY birth family about religion without animosity but thats a total pipe dream.

In the news there has been a leaking of cables via a website called Wikileaks. All sorts of gossipy bits of tittle tattle between diplomats in the US etc. I don't think they will leave Assange free for much longer - he must have a huge price on his head. And in this country the government had nothing better to spend its money on than a bid for the world cup. It makes me so angry that this is seen as important when hospitals and homeless and old and unemployed etc are being undercut.

Thinking about a kindle..I might buy one tomorrow. Oooooo!!!

Monday, 29 November 2010

An expensive trip to Harrogate!!

It was the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show this weekend. This is the highlight of the year for all stitchers in the North - and elsewhere apparently as I saw a coach that had come up from Shropshire! - so although there was snow on the ground J and I decided to have an afternoon out  - after all, it is only 15 miles or so between Leeds and Harrogate. What could possibly go wrong? The forecast was quite clear - there would be snow but only late in the day and we would easily be home by then.

The photo above is the Exhibition Hall in glorious sunshine as I arrived. J and I agreed to meet outside the hall at around 4 for tea at Bettys  (here)  and I went off to have a wander around the exhibition and sales stands while he went for a wander round Harrogate itself.

 There was a wonderful display of the late Julia Caprara's work which I had only seen in books before and the real work was moving especially her hangings embroidered on scrim - so I had to go and buy some. Then I talked to Jean Greenhow and admired her lovely sampler, and decided to buy a metre of linen so that I could try to do something similar.  And finally I found a kit I had been wanting for a few years at a reasonable price.  At that point I found myself near an external door and could hear other women talking about the SNOW (what snow??) and when I looked out, sure enough - it was snowing. I called J in a panic and he came to pick me up and we set off home.....

At this point it doesn't look bad - but within about five minutes the snow started falling heavily, the light started failing, and the traffic built up very suddenly - people panicking and leaving Harrogate in a hurry as we were doing.

This is a photo of one of the trees on the Stray wearing its blue lights, with the snow blurring the trees behind . It took us two hours to travel two miles - we crawled onto Leeds Road, struggled to find the road leading to the by-pass and then I said "Let's go back to Harrogate..." and we did. That took another half hour or so. We pulled in to park, and found ourselves outside a hotel (the Cedar Court) and decided there and then to book in for the night. After a consultation with the desk clerks (and the offer of a bed for the night for MarthaDog at the home of the chef, which was not needed as we were allowed to keep her in our room!) we settled in for the night, had a bar meal, took Martha for a walk, talked to others who were stranded there and finally went to bed.
Strangely enough one of the people I spoke to was a woman who had been at school with my brother Yossi and who knew his wife Sarah before she became an Orthodox Jewess as Yossi's wife.

I had no medication with me so I didn't sleep at all, but the alternative would have been a three or four hour wait in a freezing car....we were very relieved to be off the road last night.

So here is the result of my shopping trip - a metre of scrim, a metre of linen, and a kit......What an expensive day out!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Early Winter

Well, I am sitting here warm and contented, and outside the world is covered in a layer of ice. And the date is 27th November! Apparently the jet stream has gone north and is now feeding us snow and cold weather.  It promises to be a long winter this year. On the upside, the sun shone today and there was a glorious sunset, so perhaps its not all bad news.

I am wondering about taking a Philisophy Pathways course. I am intrigued by the idea of studying philosophy in a more formal way - rather than my reading around the subject and enjoying what I understand without necessarily having to try and argue my way out of tight corners. On the other hand, I would like to excercise my mind and can think of no better way. Also, doing the course, having to set my thoughts down and send them off, might serve as a catalyst for other writing. I do suffer from commitment phobia - the fear of having do have something to do for a specific time and date, and this might be a way of dealing with this, or realising that it is permanent and uncurable! Oh dear.....shall I shan;t I? And this isn;t even a philosophical arguement.

I had a phone call today from Cris who was in Istanbul, in short sleeved shirt and shorts. Hmm. He was phoning from a tram! What can I say? His calls are from the ship as it sails from England, from cafes, from bus stops, and are all time constrained! He will be in the UK from Dec 14th for a short while.

Nothing more to write today. It has been cold and I am tired and in pain.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Admiral J at the tiller!! Just an extra photo that didn;t get picked up by Blogger.
Posted by Picasa


I have been wondering why it has been so difficult to write as of late. Partly it has been a reluctance to write about things in a superficial way, when profound changes have actually been going on. Abigail's marriage, J's voluntary redundancy, having two places to live in (that sounds so awful when there is so much terrible poverty, but as I sold my marital home in another city and had a life there, it seems sensible to acquire a small flat there), and the inability just to settle to the task. I am a homebody although we are out a great deal - I have no complaints about being out mind, as I love being out when the sun is out and taking photos of wherever we are - but it is hard to settle down when we have been out or away or we are moving between locations. I just get comfortable and warm and it seems we are off again.

There has been the small matter of the wedding itself, and trying not to let it upset me too much.

There is always wondering where my son is in the world, and hoping he is solvent and safe. I know he is 26 but going on 18! Oh yes - and he had appendicitis this summer when he was staying with me and that took away my summer in worry, and then trying to contain a situation where he became passive aggressive for some unknown (unknown to me anyway) reason,

Also, the summer blood tests worried me and I began to think that there was not much point in carrying on with anything at all, but then the last results were, miraculously, much better. Living with kidney disease hovering on the borders of kidney failure is not conducive to creative thinking.

Fingers crossed that 2011 will be better on a personal level, in spite of what is happening politically. That also took some adjusting to - having a Tory government again! And feeling helpless in the face of the huge changes they are making, but also the changes that are happening around the world. And this week, there is a threat of war in Korea, there have been police charges at student (shades of the miner's strike) and I have a horrible feeling of dread.

Learning to steer a boat and making a film - at the same time!

J had an invitation to help make a waterways programme - and why not when he is the leading expert on the history of Britain's waterways? - and so we turned up at Nantwich basin one cold morning to meet the film makers - Ian and his trusty team of two, a cameraman and a sound recordist. This is Ian and J standing by the basin on that Thursday morning.
Here is J looking relaxed and "to the manor born." He enjoyed taking the boat out, said it gave him a feeling of being part of the landscape rather something imposed on it as it sometimes can feel when one is motoring.
Poor MarthaDog. She hated the day - it was full of strange and scarey noises and she spent the whole time in fear and trepidation. I had no idea that that was how she would react. Probably the proximity of bonfire night didn't help her.
Posted by PicasaI had a long and cold day, and decided to teach myself how to crochet.....this must have been my tenth attempt to "cast on." Maybe I should stick to two needles? But, I have learnt and am now part way through a scarf.

I wonder how the film will turn out, what will have edited out, what retained? It will be interesting to see...

October in the Lake District

These are just a handful of photos taken during our holiday in the Lake District. We had a wonderful fortnight - the weather wasn't always kind, but we did have a lot of sunshine towards the end. The theme that emerged was Wordsworth and we visited all the places associated with him, including Rydal Mount (shown here), Dove Cottage, his birthplace in Cockermouth and their gardens.
A friendly passer by took this photo of both of us sitting in the sun, getting our Vitamin D fix!
This was an example of the colours that this autumn brought us. It is good to be able to look at beauty in nature and remember that amidst all the doom and gloom of the recent news with its endless predictions of the end of society as we know it, that the world is still beautiful. We do have to look carefully but looking will reward us.
Posted by PicasaThis was the view from the front of the cottage we were staying in. I photographed it every morning, regardless of the weather as I walked MarthaDog down the lane and allowed its beauty and changing nature to inspire me.

Abigail and Eric's wedding in Mauritius.....

The setting is so beautiful, Abigail looks beautiful and Eric very smart and they both look so happy.
I wonder, I really wonder, just who is supposed to be looking at these photos apart from Abigail and Eric themselves? I look at these photos and grieve, silently and endlessly deeply. I cannot believe I was not asked to my own, my only daughter's wedding and I will mourn that in the way that I mourn the loss of her dad - lost chances, missed opportunities, just something else to suffer wordlessly.
They do look happy though and very much in love for which I am really happy, and I am glad that she has found the man who I think is her soulmate - love of music, travel, language, food, and a life together. She's done well and I really hope they are very very happy. He has, of course, done brilliantly!
A nice moment at the wedding ceremony.....
And finally a photo of the bride herself, looking radiant. I do wish I had been there to see them off. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Poetic writing

I always read Nina Bagley's blog and love her beautiful poetic words and also her use of photos. When someone one day comes to look at my computer they will find - flower photos...lots and lots of them and I want to put them in!

I want to write beautiful luminous prose about the views I see, the places I visit, I want to know how to write from the heart as she does so often. But maybe I have to write the way I do, and perhaps the poetry will come in due course. For now its enough to be writing here again, to feel the words beginning to flow, to hope that soon, very soon, I can start doing the work I want to do.

This summer..........

I had all manner of plans for this summer which disappeard the moment that Cris was hospitalised with appendicitis. I am glad he recovered quickly and am sorry for him that he had to go through the pain.

The weather throughout August was fairly desultory, warm and wet for the most part, so the countryside and gardens have been full of colour and foliage. Then, just as Cris left the UK the weather changed and since then we have had many magical days  out in various parts of Yorkshire visiting relatives, historic houses, national trust houses, some gardens, and always enveloped by the huge scenery of this county.

My favourite day out was to a reunion with Glyn's relatives high up on the moors above Kirbymoorside. This came about purely by chance. I have not met this part of the family since I remarried and always intended to go back but never did so. I don;t think there was any reason for this - just one of those things as they also said when we all met up. J and I had been out to visit Nunnington Hall which was delightful and holds a special place in my heart because it contains an attic FULL of dollshouses and little rooms furnished as shops or greenhouses or with period furniture. I really really want to do up a dollshouse before I get much older!

Anyway - we came out and I decided on a whim that we ought to go and see either Vickie or Karen (my nieces by marriage, almost as old as I am) as neither of them lived particularly far away. Vicke's home near  Kirbymoorside was the nearest so we decided to drive there and then up to Gillamoor which is a tiny village further up the hill.

Vickie herself was out but Pete was home and showed us all round the farm and took us to his claypigeon shooting range so high up on the North Yorkshire Moors that we could see most of the county of Yorkshire from there. The sun was shining, the corn was ripe in the fields and purple heather was out on the moors so the world glowed golden and purple. Pete told us who owned the land and farms around - it was amazing that so much was owned by so few people - this country is still so dominated by class! We had waited so long that it was getting dark and still Vickie hadn't arrived home, so we decided to leave without seeing her. As we drove away a car went past us  and I knew instinctively that it had to be Vickie and her daughter Helen returning home so we turned back and sure enough - there she was and we just hugged each other tightly . So many emotions, so few words to describe them!

Later, Vickie told us that there was actually a family party up at Gillamoor the following week and we said we would try to be there. We finally left at around nine thirty and were lucky enough to be served at an Indian resteraunt in Kirbymoorside (we were their last customer and ate as they were actually shutting up shop) before the drive back to Leeds in the dark.

Although we had booked to go to Cambridge before Cris was taken ill, we decided to go to see all the family up at Kirbymoorside instead.

So  J, Cris Me and Martha Dog set off for Kirbymoorside at around eleven in the morning. The sun was shining and it was actually hot. We drove up the A1 turning to climb up Sutton Bank with its huge view over the Vale of York. We stopped at Riveaux Abbey (photos to come later) which is one of my favourite places, the Abbey itself set in a deep wooded valley, its white stone gleaming against the green of the background. I still remember the first time I visited the place and how moved I was and how thrilled by its beauty.

We arrived up at Gillamoor at around three - just as everyone else was arriving too. It took a while to sort everyone out. My late sister in law had 6 children Ruth had her 3, Glyn and Sandy had their 5 (?!) Linda was there with her new husband and then my erstwhile brother in law arrived with his new wife, their children including new ones of his wifes but also of his wife's all became incredibly confusing, trying to match people with parents and so on. There was a mountain of food, there was a river of conversation, people grouping, regrouping. At one point I wandered into the kitchen and found Vickie Karen and Ruth in a huddle - I wondered if there was something wrong but they just said, tears in their eyes, that Cris reminded them very much of his father (their uncle). They also commented on the fact that J and I openly talk about our late partners and both of us wear two wedding rings - well neither of us got divorced so why should we?

The afternoon just glimmered in the sunshine. The fields and the moors were so beautiful, the air so clear, the views so enormous and I just loved it up there, it felt as though we were in heaven almost literally.

Just before we left I thought we had lost Martha - but no - she was just locked in someones bedroom silly dog. She had been playing with the other dogs (Vickie and Pete have 4 lovely labradors) and we thought that she had followed them down to the field where they had gone with Pete to do some work. But no...she was in a bedroom. Typical. Mind - it took half an hour to actually find her.

I had a wonderful day there - it was the highlight of my summer really. We drove back via Pickering and visited my first mother in law's grave there. The sunset that night was spectacular and I took lots of photos which I will post later - in fact it was so beautiful that we stopped in a layby so that I could get some pictures and someone else was there doing the same thing.

I have spent all this summer in Yorkshire although we had intended to make Wallasey our summer base. I thought I would miss the sea more, but maybe because I know we can get back the urge to go the seaside has largely died down. Strange because I used to just want to be at the coast. Now I know it is the open countryside, the high wild places, the big views that give me my sense of wellbeing.

Unfortunately, having Cris here somehow stopped me from all my creative endeavours! I don't know why that happened, something to do with having ones adult children around and also the shock of getting his phone call saying he was going into hospital. I need to get back to work now as the evenings begin to draw in, and maybe that has also been a part of not somehow getting going. I have felt the need to be outside as often as possible, to enjoy the warmth and worship the sun whenever it popped its head out. Maybe autumn and winter are the better times to huddle indoors, keep warm and create - for me anyway.

I have made some new friends as well over the past few weeks and hopefully they will also prove inspirational. H used to teach City and Guilds embroidery and machine knitting, her work (mixed media but with a lot of stitch) is just amazing and I am going to spend a day with her in a weeks time where she has promised - quite literally - to kick ass and make me produce something. I also met M a lovely woman around my age, also with health issues, who knits, reads, gardens, and there's something! A thinker! We should have lots to talk about hopefully.

This week we also went up to Haworth with J's nephew and his new, dramatic and very sudden love of 3 weeks! It was all very intense, and funny as they seemed so vulnerable.  Haworth was too busy for me - there were so many tourists it was hard to get a feel for the place and the weather was too nice - it has to be cold and "wuthering" to have any true meaning to me.

We have been to lots of houses, driven down many country lanes behind tractors, we have walked up Almscliffe Crag, explored the few miles around where we live and found places that I never knew existed. But summer is turning slowly to autumn, the trees are putting on their autumn finery, golds, ruby reds, purples, pale yellows and deep browns...all my favourite colours, deep rich and mysterious. I would love a wardrobe of clothes to match! I hope I don't get depressed this winter as it gets colder and darker. I need to remember that summer does come bringing warmth and light and long days. I want to have a holiday in the longest days next year to celebrate them. And I will try my best not to give in this winter, I promise I will try.....

Friday, 3 September 2010

Reading Beethoven's biography.....

I have just spent an enjoyable reading week - I have read all three volumes of John Suchet's "fictionalised biography" of the Beethoven, and although I knew most of the story really well, I had never before put it into chronological order, and I had not realised that he moved in such high society. The sheer tenacity of the man is remarkable. Everything that could have happened to make life harder - did. A brutal father and uncaring mother, the few chances Beethoven had to better himself quickly were lost through unfortunate circumstances; his health once it deteriorated became unremittingly bad once he passed his youth, and of course his hearing loss was not only awful and painful in itself, but greatly affected the way he was able to communicate and interact with others and needless to say it destroyed  also ability to perform in public although by all accounts he was a remarkable pianist.
Nevertheless, Beethoven persisted and was somehow able to "hear" enough of what he was writing either at the piano or in his head and poured out an astonishing amount of very intense work, all highly individualistic. Beethoven would not and could not be a conformist and he strove to break the rules of the musical forms he had inherited from Haydn and Mozart. Throughout his life he believed that it was his job to be an "artist" - that he was a creator who would communicate his ideas not just for his immediate audience but for posterity. He endured a string of disastrous permiere performances and the stories surrounding them are painful reading
Equally painful reading is Suchet's account of Beethoven's attempt to adopt and educate his nephew, and also the account of his attempts to find a woman to love, ending finally with his letter to the Immortal Beloved which Suchet weaves a story around.

I am not ultimately sure that it is possible to write a totally convincing fictional biography sticking as closely as possible to the facts simply because one is always painfully aware of the authors voice - in this case Suchet who obviously admires, pities, is critical of or supportive of his subject. I enjoyed the books very much, and hope that they will lead me on to do more research into the life of Beethoven myself, and also into the study of the structure of his music.

Sometimes I find that fiction can awaken an interest much more quickly than academic study - well thats how I find I work anyway!

Friday, 13 August 2010

the date

Just noticed the date.....Friday 13th......

desert island discs.......

A few weeks ago I was listening to Dame Fanny Waterman who teaches piano here in Leeds talking about her desert island discs.

I have listened to these programmes for years, and it is interesting that people choose items to reflect the people they have known or to remind them of events in their lives. Sometimes the programmes are just a vehicle for people's egos - a who's who of people they have known and who are also famous. Whatever the criteria, I don;t know where or how I could begin to choose eight discs to come on a desert island with me.

Would I choose music that reminded me of people or places or times in my life?
Would I choose my favourite classical composers, or my favourite pop pieces that I grew up with?
What criteria would I choose? And would they make a convincing programme? I would love them to do this with people who are not in the public eye so that we could see what ordinary people who don;t know the composer or his wife etc etc might choose. Somedays I would choose Beethoven and Mahler, somedays I might choose Micheal Jackson, somedays I might say that the music I am listening to this minute on Chillfm is the best - I choose it to write to, as it blocks out my critical voice and enables me to type away with no inhibitions. Something about right and left side of the brain apparently.

My son sorted my Ipod out today - I have had it for years and never knew how to make it work, and he has finally given me a tutorial, so I have a great source of music now for travelling with and will surely use it. Why should the kids have all the fun!! So it is nice to reacquaint myself with some of the music I thought I had lost on my old laptop. Most of that is rubbish but it has resonances and the tracks come with their attendant we are back to desert island discs.

I think that because it would be so hard I would take nothing with me and live in silence and listen to the music of the waves. How could I value one thing over another? Some days I want Bach, other days pop music.

I used to think we could use music to bring peace into the world. How naive I was when I was young. How very naive but what a lovely idealistic thought. Now I just want it to bring peace into my world.

By the way - I can strongly recommend Chillfm to anyone who reads this blog for a very different kind of musical experience. I think its available on DAB as well.

today's the day

I have had so many thoughts about possible blog postings over the last few weeks - months - and I am not sure why I have not posted them. A feeling of hopelessness seems to have overcome me. There are many many reasons for this.
1. Politics.....the state of the nation and all of that. I can't believe we are in such a financial mess and from what I read the world is going to look very very different soon as we in the west watch our sphere of influence decline and we see another set of peoples with their very different cultures, ideas, values take over. I don;t mind that. Its just the uncertainty - the not knowing. I read tonight about how the US is $4trillion dollars in debt - that is its financial black hole, so when it loses its power, then what will happen in the Middle East and everywhere else for that matter. The rise of fantaticism means that all rational thinking people might not have a voice in the future and those of us who have wanted nothing more than a place to live out our lives in relative peace will be squeezed out - or forced into making decisions against our wills.

2. Global warming issues. This summer has proved beyond doubt that whatever this is, we are in a period of climate change and we are doing nothing to stop it. Consumption is now the name of the game, more, sooner, better, more and more......the floods in Pakistan, the fires raging around Moscow, the floods and landslides in China....even the weather here has been warm and wet and muggy. I love this kind of weather as it leaves me relatively pain free, any slight breeze being warm and the temperature generally above 19 degrees so I am comfortable. But that proves what a selfish person I am - I am thinking about myself when so many people are starving in Pakistan. I think there is compassion fatigue - when will all of this end, and when will governments and companies start a fund for dealing properly for global emergencies. I noted with interest that Tesco had donated £20,000 to the Flood Appeal. Thats like me giving 1p. Shame on them.

3. Family issues. Trying to get my head round my kids and allowing them to cause trouble between myself and J which has almost - at times - felt as though our relationship will not survive. But I love him and he loves me and we have worked it through so hopefully we have sorted things out between us, so that we can get on with our marriage at last! And of course losing my mum earlier this year was awful and brought up a lot of bad memories, and I have had to put all the skeletons behind their door again. If I write a memoir as I want to do, it means taking them out, but at least I can do a little at a time and walk away if its too much.

4. Medical stuff. YUCK! I had a nice time not going to the doctors, but they finally caught up with me a couple of months ago and called me in to get my BP checked. It had bounced very high and the kidney function tests had gone down rather too fast so I am now back in harness - more bloods, more doctors appointments, more worry. Its not fun when the GP does his little trick online to find out how likely you are to have a stroke or heart attack within 10 years and it flashes up blood ran cold. I don;t mind dying if its quick, but I dread - I so dread - a stroke, and will do what it takes to avoid one. I am hoping that this kidney function test will be better or I will ask to see a nephrologist. Its hard to deal with all the neuropathic pain and have this as well. Just keeping moving takes a lot of energy some days. It is so hard to try and do anything when you feel as though you are running on an empty battery.

5. I want to do some good writing and feel as though it is beyond my capacity to do so. I don;t know why I lost so much confidence. I would love to belong to a supportive small female writing group but whether I will find one is questionable. I might look for an Adult Ed course here in Leeds for September. I just need a kick start.

6. I have read a lot lately - I need to update my reading blog. It is so depressing as a wannabe writer to go to shops selling remaindered books, see second hand copies of books everywhere - even this is now a throwaway commodity and I find it depressing and downright daunting to think that even if I managed to get a book out of myself it would never be read - and I could not bear to do so much work for nothing. I have little to show for all the hours I put into practicing the piano and to do something again that requires so much input and be left with so very little at the end would be heartbreaking.

So thats why the long gap. Lots of reasons and they don;t feel like excuses.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

todays the day..............

for what is today the day though?

Life seems to be going round and round in endless circles, I do not seem to be able to push myself into doing anything creative, intellectual, useful, domestic...anything. I don't understand this inertia. It isn;t that I feel that it is useless to do anything of these things - on the contrary. I want so much to achieve a lot of things. Maybe I want to achieve too many things and that is actually putting me off? Perhaps I should start a little more slowly this time and just aim to do a posting every other day, an hours writing ditto, and something artistic in between? Or perhaps its time to sit and stare at the summer sky, watch the clouds, and wait for what life will throw up next?

I feel that every time I have tried to get moving over the six years since Glyn died, I have ended up with egg on my face, further back than where I started. It is really dispiriting.

I will try and post something properly plus photos tomorrow.

Friday, 14 May 2010

PainOnline Home Page

I haven't posted here for a while because although I have had a good few weeks, and have done some lovely things including seeing my daughter Abigail play in a concert, and also seeing King Lear at Stratford which was a really special occasion for me, I have been in a great deal of pain and somehow this has just meant that I have been incapable of just sitting and writing. Living in this level of pain is exhausting and just robs me of my joy in life sometimes. Mostly I do deal with it well - I think I do anyway - but lately I have been running out of steam and so I am including a link to a site which explains all the symptoms and what they mean etc. The pain and the cramps and the electrical shortcuts that fizz through my system are so hard to deal with, and I have managed to live creatively but now, as I get older and more worn out, the constant battle is slowly grinding me down.

Nevertheless I will get on top again. But for now - here is the link PainOnline Home Page.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Thursday night/Firday morning.

Oh dear. More dramas for my daughter.

Now I am reconciled with the idea of the wedding in Mauritius, it may be that Abigail and Eric won't get there as the whole of Europe has an airtravel restriction because of volcanic ash in the atmosphere causing danger to the aircraft. The airports are shut for now and they are due to travel on Saturday morning. I have suggested they contact their travel agents and try to get away from Germany tomorrow but I haven;t been able to get in touch with them tonight.

In the same vein, I bought Cris a rail ticket to get him back to Southampton tomorrow. He had a flight booked from Manchester but there is no way he would have got on that, so I am glad I insisted on buying a ticket this afternoon so he had a guaranteed seat to Birmingham at least. So that was money I wasn;t expecting to pay....!

I am at the flat in Leeds at the moment, where the electrician has just put some new plugs in, so no more trailing wires -at last. And I can have light where I need it rather than where its possible.

I need to upload my photos. I have over a thousand waiting to be processed! Silly me.

Then I can show my new beading skills. I have learnt how to do Ndebele or Herringbone stitch and am trying to do an Ndebele rope now - its a hollow tube. Once I can do that, I can go on to making a solid one. So now I can do - ladder stitch, brick stitch, square stitch, ndebele, I know how to make simple ropes, and I need to remind myself of how to do right angle weave. I can follow netting patterns. What I need to learn now is peyote stitch and I will do that when I have finished this rope. I will put a photo up of that asap.

I have been sorting a huge number of beads that a friend gave me. She bought necklaces years ago in charity shops and chopped them up and I have been given a big box of them, and she told me that this was a small sample of what she had in her loft! She does tend to get obsessed with things - but its my gain. I have a lot of wooden beads and I want to learn to make beaded beads with them. I also have a lot of pearls in various colours and spacers and beadcaps, as well as.......I will photograph some of this collection. Its a shame some of them were cut up - they might have been nice pieces.

I bought a tourmaline chip necklace in a charity shop last week for next to nothing. I am going to cut that up and make something special with it - I have a plan....I have also spotted some beautiful necklaces in the window of a local charity shop and might go and buy one of them tomorrow as it has gorgeous beads on it - and I will wear it as it is!

I have loved the look of steampunk for ages without knowing its name, and lo and behold, now I know about it - there is so much online information and lots of photographs.  I thought I could do something unusual...but as ever am too late.

What I would like to do is to set myself a challenge. I want to make a body of work that is nice enough to put in the display cabinet of our local library. I don;t want to sell it, just to make it and show people that I can do this. Then - I don't know what I would do with it. But thats then. First thing is to get good enough and get the stuff made.

I am starting to feel like writing again. I was writing a memoir and then life caught up with me in a strange way and I wondered whether I had a right to write about my childhood, or even to write fiction based around it. I have decided to go for it after all. Now I am beading and stitching, my creativity in other fields is beginning to shift and I realise that I really need space and time and quiet to let it develop. Its hard to find that sometimes, and when I do have the time, sometimes I have no quiet in my head!!

And to finish this post, a little tale to remind myself to put the lid securely on a tube of seed beads or it takes a long long time to pick them up again......and I managed to drop the tube twice, the second time just as I had finished picking the silly little things up from the first time. I put it into my left hand which is unreliable anway - it twitched, and seed beads in the carpet and rug for weeks I think......

Monday, 12 April 2010

Moving On

Last night I was listening to Radio 4 and a lovely thoughtful programme came on, presented by Mark Tully entitled Moving On. He was talking about leaving a flat he had lived in for 30 years in India, and he presented poetry and music on the theme of moving home and what that might mean to each of us. I found it so moving. Memories of moving from Norton Road came flooding back, and what it had meant to me to leave what had been a home, a business premises, a place where dreams and hopes came to fruition or faded, and the space in which I brought up my two children and a generation of music students.

I remember going to see the property for the first time and being totally unimpressed with it - it was almost too much to take on, but fortunately Glyn saw the potential in the house from the first and with a little gentle persuasion I came on board and we bought the house. We moved in during September. The house had been empty all summer - and probably longer - and the lawns were thigh high, the hedge obscured the drive, and everywhere weeds were flourishing in the gardens. We hired a box van, moved our furniture in - now looking rather puny in the large rooms - and the first thing that Glyn and his Dad did was to cut the hedge. The clippings filled the box van and when we drove to the tip later that day the man on the gate thought we were professional gardeners and wanted to charge us a professional rate.

Abigail was only nine months old when we moved. She crawled on dirty carpets, on floors covered in plaster dust, on floors that I had only just swept free of the debris from a demolished fireplace. She lived in the mess of no kitchen, no hot water for a week as the central heating was put in, as we turned the house into a habitable home. The kitchen was horrendous and needed doing as soon as we moved in, cheaply but cheerfully.

Cris was born four years later. By that time the house had been decorated throughout, we had new carpets, and I was working as a piano teacher in one of the rooms downstairs. It was incredibly difficult trying to look after a baby,  take care of Abigail who had just started school, all my students, as well as the housework and trying to improve my own playing.  We eventually extended the house to build on a music studio, and up into the loft to put in a proper bedroom for Cris. Home felt like a palace - lots of space, two huge lawns which gave us a degree of privacy especially in the back where we spent long afternoons in the sun which shone there through long afternoons and evenings.

Leaving home after Glyn died was one of the most difficult things I have had to do. It took two tries - the first was impossible, and the second I managed, but it hurt me deeply for a long time. I don't know what I missed most. I can still walk around the house in my mind look out of its windows, see my children in their rooms, see Glyn sitting in his favourite place in the front room, smoking, reading, and watching tv. I do know that after he died in the house - I could not live there on my own. I felt as if I was treading on a grave when I walked through the hall and I could not manage those huge lawns on my own.

But so much has been lost. So much.

I threw away ("decluttered."....sigh) things I should have kept, and I know that even had I held onto them - they would have lost meaning by now, or would have had to be disposed of or put into long term storeage, but the memory of clearing the house, trying not to grieve over the loss of things when the loss of Glyn was so much more than that, the memory is not easy to live with.

Moving on is - as the song says - hard to do. Maybe when one has spent a quarter of a century in one place it is not really possible to get that place out of oneself, of ones truest being.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Abigail's visit to Leeds

Abigail came to stay for 3 short days - all I will have before she is married.

She arrived on Monday, and we went to Harrogate where we had coffee and cake in a most excellent shop. Then we went to Knaresborough and finally drove back to the flat. On Monday afternoon we walked up to Moortown, went into the charity shops where Abigail bought a coat and in the evening I treated her, Orysia and Ron and Sue along with Joseph and me to a meal at the Flying Pizza. It was a good evening and I enjoyed the company and occassion.
On Tuesday we went shopping for a wedding outfit. I wish I had had my camera - Abigail bought a truly 50s outfit, a deep pink dress (pleated) with a black shrug, fascinator and gorgeous high heels and bag plus necklace all from Monsoon. She also bought another outfit in green which was also beautiful. We bought beads at Yum Yum beads and then fabric and patterns from Samuel Taylor so that Abigail can start learning to use her sewing machine. I gave her a charm bracelet that I had made and I am really pleased that she loved it and that I could make it. In the evening, after we had eaten, we went to Orysia to get Cris' ipod back from Izzy's handbag - he would leave his head behind ....
On Wednesday we went to visit Jackie and her two boys in Otley before dropping Abigail off at Leeds Bradford Airport so that she could go back to Amsterdam. We cleared up the flat and came back across to Wallasey.

I could have gone to a crop to go scrapbooking this morning, but I didn't want the company. I need some time to myself at the moment. Time to think, to read, to just be and rest.

I think that there is still so much going on. Cris is coming back in April, we are going to Shropshire for the period of Abigail's wedding, and then we are going to hear her play in the UK - another few days away. Then there is a lot going on in May - Joseph is away a couple of times, it is our wedding anniversary and I might be seeing cousins, and in July we have the trip to France.

The year is clogged up with commitments and I hate being committed to things these days, even pleasurable things. I like clear space on the calendar. Clear space on the calendar means clear space in my head. I know people must think I am antisocial but I am not. I just need time to myself after a lifetime of teaching and being at other people's beck and call, always on the end of the phone at all hours of the day and night.

Joseph has hurt HIS back. He was doing some gardening in Leeds and over-reached and has hurt himself. I hope he heals quickly. We don;t have a good back between us at the moment!!

"Howards End is on the Landing"

I love the title of this book - although the actual book, by Susan Hill, is a bit of a let down. The idea behind the book was that the author, looking for a particular book, went searching through her bookshelves for it and discovered multitudes of books that she had not read, and decided not to go and buy a book for a year, but rather, read what she already had in her possession. A noble notion! The book is a memoir built around Hill's reading and writing life, and peppered with names casually dropped into the text - she met E M Forster in a library, TS Elliot on a doorstep and so on and so forth. She lives in a farmhouse in Gloucester. I don;t know whether the writing irritates me - or whether I am just plain old jealous of her literary life!!

I wish I could write as easily and fluently as Hill. She has given back as well, and publishes books as well. I have just been listening to a book of hers on the radio called Beacon Farm which was well nigh perfectly adapted. So why don;t I write? I am held in the grip of a huge procastrination, making me depressed, or is it the other way round? That I am depressed and therefore am procrastinating. I do not know. I can't always understand myself.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Wed 17th March 2004

Six years since Glyn died of a heart attack so suddenly. The memories of that raw time, that almost unbearable grief, when to remember to breathe for another minute, was almost impossible.

We spent the day in Llandudno - a favourite place for both Joseph and me, and Glyn as well, which makes it appropriate to visit on this day. We walked Martha on the Great Orme and from the top could see the remains of the last of the snow (I hope!) on the top of Snowdonia. Joseph and Martha went to investigate some sheep....I had to remind Joseph that sheep don;t have curly horns and beards. They were scaring the herd of goats that live on the Orme, which is a magical place to me, a place of mystery and magic, and where the light is incredible every time we go. As happened last year - almost to the moment of Glyn's death, the sun suddenly came out and bathed the coutryside in light. I hope it IS his way of saying that everything is ok.

I have had a strong feeling of his presence since Mum passed away. After Jonathon had created the unpleasant scene just after the funeral, I went to bed very upset. I suddenly saw him in the corner of the bedroom - I might of course just have been falling asleep. He was wearing a suit and looked very tall all of a sudden and much slimmer and younger. He said, and this was the first time I can remember recalling his voice - "Don;t bother with them - tell them to F*** off!!" - which is just what he would have said, and then - he disappeared.  I have had the strongest sense of him that I have had for a long time, have actually called Cris and Joseph by his name on occassion, and maybe he is here, also affronted at the insult of being shouted at by my brother in law just after Mum died.

Later in the evening we went to Chester and to a talk given by Matthew Hyde, an architectural history lecturer about the new edition of Pevsner that he is involved in working on. I didn;t expect to enjoy the evening as much as I did - but I do love old buildings, and even the new ones that he showed us were interesting in that he explained something of their construction and how planning permission could sometimes be obtained. I love brick buildings - yes, timber frame are lovely and I love to see black and white houses in this country, but I love brick as a material - it is honest and can be used so creatively. It also makes a change from the stone of Yorkshire as we drive through Cheshire.

I haven;t done anything creative this week. But - I have bought some picture frames for some little pictures for the flat in Leeds, and I have found a stash of beads to play with - including lots of findings - so I am going to have fun.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

WIP - love doing this piece...

I have been playing with some fabrics and pieces of doily and a few old beads to make a little hanging. I have an idea all of a sudden for a series of little hangings - with a theme. Inspiration - at last..........!!Posted by Picasa

In Leeds with Cris

Here is Cris wearing a poncho he bought in Mexico. Looks ok.....

And here is this evening's sunset - beautiful.

Martha with a duck I "won" as a raffle prize in a charity shop on Saturday.....its as big as she is, and she love it!!

And here are Cris and Martha together as we go out for a walk. Happy picture....
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