Friday, December 29, 2006

Winter Wonderland 3

The Christmas Lites Lights of Sarf East London.
Regent Street can't hold up a candle to them.
And who would notice if it did?

Natural light just can't compete.
I figure this kind of festivity really HAS to be completely over the top to work. One plastic illuminated Santa just looks sad, lets be honest. Half-a-dozen - even 10, why not be metric - is way better.

I long ago got over my middle-class, snooty, tasteful disdain for such tackiness - I think its GREAT.

We have some fairly good examples "round our way". One has a sort of light/slide show projected (how?) on the walls of the house. I couldn't get a very good picture. Maybe I should go back and video it for you.

Here are two of the best in our immediate vicinity.

This one (below) is very restrained in comparison.
But is redeemed, for me, by the fact that its such a brilliant Father Christmas. It looks home-made, I'm not sure if its paper or fabric - I didn't get too close to inspect it for fear of getting beaten up as weird or intrusive. Maybe if I go back in daylight.....

Anyway, I love it, and just hope he survives the winter weather.

All these pictures will enlarge if you click on them.
Go on - they look SO MUCH BETTER at twice the size.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Past

I've been reflecting a lot in recent days on Christmases Past and Present.

I've always loved Christmas, its important family time both for my family and for my in-laws (though the in-law-Christmases have been rather disrupted over the years by changes in marital status). Over there its all feasting and excess, tearing open presents, dozing in front of the telly, parties and late nights. With my lot its more sedate - church, lunch, intermittent present-opening, game-playing and walks on Boxing Day. All good in their very different ways. Strictly NOT just for the children.

Its important for most in my family as celebration of faith too. And though I'm not quite sure, at the moment, if and what I believe I do still treasure this time of year as a celebration of life and sharing, giving, light, hope, the presence of divinity at the very least in us and our relationships. Which, I think, is a good deal of what the original story/message are about.

Last year I limped carefully through Christmas, nursing and trying to hide a close-to-broken heart. I can't yet think about it too much, but it was a nightmare - a waking nightmare, as I was sleeping very little.

That was before the mid-night lettuce and banana -eating. Before sleeping pills and prozac.

Before blogging.

The warmth and laughter and caring and encouragement I have derived from and shared with many of you has transformed moments of the past year for me in a way I could never have predicted, thankyou.

It was also before the discovery of the beast lurking in my mother's stomach and liver.

I am at a loss for words to describe how this Christmas feels. They would need to be words encompassing the wonderful and awful, joy and grief. Thats the best I can do.

Whatever else this time is, it will be precious, though precious is too cheap a word.

After a prognosis - in May - of 2/3 months, my mother is still with us and, for much of the time, comfortable and able to enjoy life and the wrapping of Christmas gifts. But what do you buy for the woman who has everything but not the future she should still have had?
My most recent e-Bay purchases reflect something of our life: DVDs (Yes Minister, the Darling Buds of May, Jeeves and Wooster - good viewing helps transport her from the present when she needs that); maternity clothes (everything about her has shrunk, except her stomach); vintage Christmas baubles (I'm hankering, I think, for my childhood Christmases). And hankering is such a perfect word for that almost-physical longing. Maybe because it is close to "hungering".

With no growth in the tumours between May and October, its hard to know what to expect now. We wait for another scan in early January. And life seems to be on hold.

My heart is also holding itself carefully. I think there has been real healing as well as real hurt and anger over the past year, and I am mostly hopeful for all the hearts in our home.

More hopeful than not.
What is life without hope?

I can't think at all about Christmas Future, but it will be here in its own time.

I left the sleeping pills behind long ago.
Also the lettuce and bananas.
But I have come to really think of myself, sometimes, as "Lettuce" (even Lettie) and though I don't blog very regularly at the moment, your friendship and comments mean a great deal to me.

The less I blog, the less I feel I have to say. The more I blog, the more the words come sputtering out. I never knew I had such a propensity for rambling. I will stop now!

I hope that you and the people who you love and who love you will know peace and joy this Christmas Present and - whatever else is going on (or not) in your life - that you will have much to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Winter Wonderland 2

Ice rinks are appearing almost magically (well, no, I know - just indulge me) all over London.

And lucky us - one of the best is just down the road in Greenwich, between the historic colonnades of Wren's Naval College with Inigo Jones' "Queens House" on one side, and the good old Thames on the other.
Not my picture - the others are.

So a family party went last week, for my neice's 22nd birthday (1st picture below, in the brown) and managed to avoid falling over for an hour.

After a brief 5 mins. or so of hotly whispered "this is supposed to be FUN, if you can't stop being CROSS I wont go round with you. Oh thats GREAT. Go off and leave me by myself then" LG regained her sense of balance and stopped blaming me for the risk of slippage. Much quicker recovery time than in previous years!!! She was skating pretty well by the end of the hour.

And thanks to my great family who spent a lot of time skating round with her, so that I could enjoy some solo skating too - as opposed to balancing and steering with angry appendage.
In fact, by the end she was even willing to skate with me holding my hand (how embarrassing when you are 12) rather than hanging weightily onto my elbow.

We used to have skating lessons for PE at one stage, when I was at school.
Yes I know! in London!
and 3 years ago, when I first tried it again after more than 25 years (blimey, its always a shock, remembering just how old I really am) I was pleasantly surprised to find it coming back fairly quickly and easily. And apparently its very good for bone density (assuming, presumably, that you manage NOT to fall and break something) - so maybe it should be prescribed for women of my age? ice skating on the NHS?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Winter wonderland


I don't think so!!!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Thanks to wonderful Wendy for my twinkly Christmas header.

And lets try to get festive -



Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Yes I know its already virtually a week into December.

Blimey O'Reilly.

And I think I have finally faced up to the fact that it is nearly Christmas and I need to get a little bit organised, do shopping and stuff.

I've been doing a lot of shopping on behalf of my parents, so thats always fun - spending someone else's money.

Mostly in TK Maxx.

I was just about organised enough in time for LG's advent calendar to be ready on the first.

Lovingly made for her by her aunt, my lovely sister, this is it:

Definately a labour of love, my sister isn't a naturally crafty woman. She can sew very well if she needs to but wouldn't particularly choose to do it.

But this was a special gift for a long-awaited niece.

She asked my permission first (!) - knowing from her own experience that November 29/30th "Oh crap" feeling - and how difficult it is to find things to fit in all those little pockets.

Here are some of LG's gifts so far:

Her Wade animal collection began when I found some in a charity shop a few years ago and realised they would fit perfectly in the pockets.

There are a few more to come this year, and a few more of the little mini stone eggs. (dragon eggs to those of us in the know)

Many of the other pockets contain chocolate/sweets (hmmm, maybe it shouldn't be hanging above the radiator?) coins - a few have bits of paper starting treasure hunts. Not because we're such brilliantly creative interesting parents, but because we're simply not dedicated enough to find sufficient little teensy weensy things - some of them simply wont fit and are stached around the house somewhere.

Some of the pockets are still empty.


Don't tell.

More of those "Oh crap" moments to come, unless I think of something else soon.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Lacking in energy or inspiration for entertaining blogging, sorry.
But my comments have been invaded by spammers, so something new is needed.

Here's a fact:

Between 10pm last Friday evening and 10pm on Tuesday evening - a period of 96 hours - LG slept for at least 44 hours.

It could be that she is turning into a cat.

Or a teenager.

Here's another fact.

It is possible to BUY pictures of ringworm on eBay.


I have no further comment to make.

oh - except :

a pinch and a punch, first of the month.

and no returns.

Sunday, November 26, 2006



I heard a winter tree in song

Its leaves were birds, a hundred strong;

When all at once it ceased to sing,

For every leaf had taken wing.

by Mervyn Peake



poetically .......

..... my newest bird feeder.

Who'd have thought fat balls could look so sinister?

I wasn't at all prepared for the disturbingly gruesome wicker-man/totem appearance of this.

Lets hope it doesn't spoil the birds' appetites.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Ugly Sweater Day

About time for something new!

and the perfect occasion -


Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics

If only I could be at your party, I could perhaps have worn one of these:



But the truth of the matter is - I have to confess - I have been unable to get organised to buy a plane ticket and be there because I have been so completely mesmerised by the choice of gorgeousness over here, that I can't drag myself away from the screen.


I really do wish I could be there.

Friday, November 17, 2006


LG DemonChild had PMT last weekend.

Not that her behaviour is necessarily sweeter when she doesn't have PMT.
Or maybe she is permanently pre-menstrual.
Like me.

After an altercation with M, she retreated to her room and left a letter outside The Door.

Click on this for a readable enlargement of said missive:

Thats my girl.

May she always love me.

May she never change. Except in certain ways.

May she NEVER find out that you have seen this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


See my other blog - can you link and advertise it on your blog?

And another thing.....

fab Christmas cards arrived last week from the middle of nowhere (Gretel).

3 French Hens

Three Kings.

You'll find better pictures, other designs - and details if you want to buy some (go on, go on, they are lovely) - on her blog and/or at:

Monday, November 13, 2006

my father's shoes

which I did actually slip on once or twice to pop out into the garden when I was last there

which was looking radiant in the sharp clean November sunshine.

The spindleberry berries are mostly ripened, opened and gone.

They look - as my mother (rather surprisingly) remarked, very sexy.

The latest florist's delivery for my mother:

The current drugs regime.....

the night time routine...

Night-time snacks. Tea and toast once, usually twice, sometimes three or four times between 11.00/12.00pm and the morning hours.

The morning after the night before

An education in loving.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blog dates

Dons, Tat, Moi (normally too shy for pics but what the hell), RW.

'Nuff said.

And Tat, with SOME of her shopping.

Monday, November 06, 2006


There used to be regular armadillos on this blog.

Some of you might remember the armadillo of the week, of the day even.
Some of you will remember King dillo and Betty dillo. [How could I have forgotten about Hippyrockdilloflower?]

There were cute dillos, funky dillos, scarey dillos, pie-plate dillos, birthday dillos, anaemic dillos.....

Dillos becomes a very strange word if you type/say it too often.

No, thats dillos not dildos.

I was just reminded of all the dillos, staring vacantly at my flickr-badge. (me staring vacantly, not the dillos)
(though some of them do)

For those of you who don't remember that far back - and I certainly wish I didn't - this blog began with lettuce-eating. Yes - as a cure for insomnia. I blogged whilst eating lettuce and bananas in the middle of the night.

Once I was through the insomnia, posting pictures of our numerous armadillos seemed somehow like a good idea.
Remember, I had been sleep-deprived.

I think most of our considerable collection appeared on this blog at some stage or another.

But not the Ur-Dillo.
The father of them all.

Our collection began with this armadillo, who was - is - named eccremocarpus and who lived with us in Durham (in the far, chilly North-East of England) in our post-graduate-student days.

He was a wedding present.
Believe it if you can.

A strange friend of M's, who had significantly more money than us (not hard at that time) had been tantalizing M with rumours of a wedding-gift-computer. Yes, its true - at one time we lived without a computer. In the week before our wedding we were on a train with him, and he suddenly said "Here - your wedding present" and threw the Ur-dillo onto M's lap.

Despite M's bitter disappointment at the non-appearance of the computer - which was never mentioned again - Eccremocarpus became a member of the family in a nerdy studenty sort of way - and that is it.

The origin of the armadillos.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Night nurse

Quick quick quick, must get this posted before Catherine Tate.

I'm off tomorrow - straight from a day's teaching to the station - to visit Mum and Dad, and to take over from Dad for a while so that he can have a night and day off at a conference in London.

He's looking so tired, it will be extraordinary for him to have this time away, for himself - with hopefully a full night's uninterrupted sleep - after 6 months of constant care and nursing of my mother.

And I will be on duty, night shift Friday through to Saturday evening. Back home on Sunday evening.

see you all when I get back.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Halloween lantern.

Stage 1. Bought pumpkin.

Thats All.


Not quite all gone.

Resident Demon Child.

Monday, October 30, 2006

moan moan moan itch itch itch moan moan moan

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thank God for an hour or two to collect my thoughts, drink more tea, think about what the hell I'm teaching at 1.00, do a bit of de-littering around the house, drink more tea. Thank God the clocks went back not forwards on Sat. night.

More tea.

LG was still awake at 12.30 Sat. night (after being "quite demanding" earlier in the day) with EXTREMELY itchy scratchy legs: dry skin, mosquito bites, an allergic reaction to something I think...(possibly Veet, she is getting very self-conscious about hairy legs)... hysteria set in ... red welts and puffiness... she put rather wet flannels on them to cool them down. Bed change and mattress turning at 11.30 because of wet patch (after about 10 minutes persuading her to move to let me change the bed).
Bugger, no piriton in the house. She'd been slathering herself with a cunning mixture of aqueous cream, antisan, aloe vera, E45, conotrane... i'm sure there were a few more... calamine and witch-hazel, diprobase ... anything she could get her hands on really... and having no nails (due to the gnawing which is one of her major hobbies) she scratches her legs with any handy edged object. She'll kill me if she ever knows I have written this on the WORLD WIDE web. I may have to delete it later.

She thought her quilt was making her itch and so wouldn't have any covers and was shivering with cold.

M. was out for the evening.

Where the hell do the resources come from to stay calm and loving (on the outside) and not slam the front door and run away?

I think she was asleep by about 12.30. I sat on her bed (clean sheets, alternative quilt, inappropriate drugs hoping for placebo effect) stroking her hair and listening to Artemis Fowl. And then managed to drag myself to bed.

I think I might have been dozing off some time later when M. texted to say he was staying overnight with his mates.

I think I might have been dozing off some time later when M. texted to make sure I didn't forget about the clock-change.

Stupid, stupid, stupid not to have turned my phone off.

Then not so much of the dozing.

I know I looked at the clock at about 3.00. Can't remember whether that was 3.00 BST or GMT. And 5.00 ish. And 6.00 ish. Managed to avoid immediate panic about recurrence of bad insomniac problems earlier this year. I did sleep, a bit.

So thank God the clocks were going back not forward. Because despite it being Sunday morning, I had to get up and out for 9.15, being booked into a weekend workshop on paper-spinning. Which I could have just missed of course, but that would have been SO miserable.

It was a great workshop, a lovely tutor, a fascinating and ancient (but also contemporary) Japanese textile technique, therapeutic and relaxing to do something different with new people. Interrupted only by a phone call from LG, itchy legs, Dad doesn't care (yes, he came home again), he's just going on about homework etc. ..... My bloody day off and I'm phoning in mediation between the two of them. You can maybe guess how that enhanced my day.

I'd texted him to buy E45 anti-itch cream and piroton on his way home.
He'd bought the cream. Forgot the piriton. (????****????!!!!)

Returned home to find her having got not very far with cutting out and painting wings (ready for Halloween costume) which she'd had all afternoon to do [on the lounge carpet with paint!!! "dad said it was ok"] so I made tea and then sat and painted with her. Red and black, LARGE demon wings.

Itchy scalps all round. An ealier nit infestation obviously wasn't quite cleared - she wouldn't let me comb any more once it stopped itching - and now we've all got them back again. In flocks. Hordes. Deluges. So multiple combings before bed.

Brief row over whether or not wet hair should be dried before bed.

And up at 6.30 this morning, she's back to school after a week's holiday and already very tired. Fuckity fuckity fuck.

And now my back really hurts after sneaking another heavy bowl of rubble into the wheelie bin.

What a moany old rant.

I'm so sorry to subject you to all that, in fact I hope you stopped reading long ago near the top.

I must go and remind myself what I am teaching today.

After some more tea.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I don't go looking for this stuff, honestly.

It just finds me.

Or maybe what we notice and take in depends on where we are, our state of mind.

Anyway - another mother/daughter poem from the Saturday Guardian, only a couple of months since the previous one I posted.

This is by Anne Carson


While talking to my mother I neaten things. Spines of books by the phone.
In a paper dish. Fragments of eraser that dot the desk. She speaks
of death. I begin tilting all the paperclips in the other direction.
the window snow is falling straight down in lines. To my mother,
of my life, I describe what I had for brunch. The lines are falling
now. Fate has put little weights on the ends (to speed us up) I
to tell her - sign of God's pity. She won't keep me
she says, she
won't run up my bill. Miracles slip past us. The
are immortally aligned. God's pity! How long
it feel like burning, said the child trying to be

No need to comment.

Especially as I didn't write it anyway, hahaha!

But one thing you can comment on if you know anything about it: should I switch to Beta blogger or not?

Trac said YES! she has and its easier and quicker and fun fun fun. And she's now purple after all.

Wendz said NO! she has and its a pain in the arse.

.... so now, how can I decide?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bitch'n stitch'n

I had a crafty day off Friday 10 days ago.

I made my way to the Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) for a day's browsing, buying, getting inspiration and generally indulging myself textiles-wise.

As the tube train neared Wood Green (NE London) gradually the commuter-types got off.
Then the tourist-types. And the student-types.
Then the shift worker types got off to go home for a sleep.

Leaving me.

And "women of a certain age".

I was surrounded by grey hair.

All on its way to the Knit and Bitch Bitching and Stitching Twitching and Snitching Knitting and Stitching show.

Fortunately the recently-trendy reputation of knitting and hand-made-felt and stuff ("stuff" is, of course, a technical textile term) has had an impact on such events. When I got in to the exhibition, I discovered that the demographic has really shifted since last time I attended the show. There were plenty of younger people there, school and college groups, and young trendy people. Almost all female, obviously - but as many under 30 as over 40.

Phew, relief.

(By the way, why couldn't we do such interesting things as part of our creative school curriculum? Our school sewing class involved making bookmarks and gingham skirts. It put me right off for years. My finger got caught once in/by the sewing machine needle - I'm sure it was a freudian slip of reaction against the tedium and lack of creativity.)

The Stitchy Witchy Knitting and Stitching Show is partly exhibition space - including textiles graduate shows and work from a range of textile artists and groups - and partly market place.

There is, admittedly, a bit of this:

in the market place.

Click to enlarge if you have the courage.

And even worse - look at this below -

No, better still, don't look.

Hah! you couldn't stop yourself, could you?

But mostly it was interesting, creative, inspirational and/or lovely work and/or supplies.

This was from the Debbie Bliss (knitwear designer) exhibition stand. All knitted. Fab.

Below is work from one of the textile graduates shows:

work by Laura Baggley

and I'm so sorry I didn't get the name of the next designer - she had some great conceptual pieces to do with motherhood. Those are feeding-bottle teats embedded in the knitting.

There is always a quilt exhibition, and here are some of the ones I particularly liked:

"Darkness at Bay" by Christine Restall

Winter Wheat by Elizabeth Brimelow

"Tutti Fruiti"



both by Janet McCallum.

One of the best things about the whole day was Rachel John's Extreme Knitting - see my other blog for more detail about that.

The market place had lots of scrumptious buttons and beads for sale.
I thought of Dons more than once during the day - in fact, Donna, why don't we make it a date for next October? (then we'll meet in October and November) (and theres always Spring CL) (hee hee)

And here are my purchases, some gorgeous (and cheap!) hemp, and in the bag silk noils (raw silk to most of us - the type of silk with bits in it) - for spinning. Actually, the hemp and silk would be gorgeous used together. When/if I get around to it....

and in the meantime, they are lovely to gloat over.

And a selection of bits and pieces - mostly buttons and beads...

I was very restrained.

I also bought a couple of presents for other people.
I am not willing to admit that these gifts are in any way connected with the approaching festive season, which I will not WILL NOT think about until we have got through at least the rest of October and November.