March and Mothers

This year I decided to visit my mum on Mother’s Day. At 89 it’s important she’s not alone on that day. We went to her church and watched the local primary children sing, read poems and give every woman a bunch of daffodils. It was surprisingly lovely. I always visit my dad’s grave when I visit the church in Bilsborrow, Lancashire and, though I don’t believe in an after life, find myself talking to him in my head.  She’s a little frailer this year but still lives independently and is a visitor for Help the Aged – she visits a lady called Monica who is over 90 for them. We had a gorgeous walk on the prom at Lytham St Annes, remembering when I brought my children there and we marvelled at the old white windmill. When we got to St Annes we walked a little way on the beach and had our coffee from Gran’s blue flask. The weather was kind to us, with bright blue skies although it was cold. The rest of the week I tried to sort out her phone – a trial with Talk Talk – a boring but predictable and infuriating saga. we worked on a corner of her garden which she is finding more difficult now.

This month has been frantic planning and organising a trip with Year 10 pupils to visit Helsinki – a mini International Youth Meeting with our group and a small group of students from Pielavesi in Finland at Easter. More hours than you can imagine has been put into the planning of this trip as it is a new city for me to visit. Normally I just change planes there and see the airport shops flash by as I dash for my next plane to Kuopio. I have been meeting the students every Tuesday and Saturdays bag packing and for a sponsored walk along the canal.

I managed to get to see the David Hockney exhibition in Tate Britain as well as see my University friend Lindsay. I spent a day drawing in the V&A which was a delight for me. It’s such a special experience – I treasure it. My drawings are better than last year.

I finished my “White landscape” painting at last and put it in the Women’s Art Exhibition in the Theatre Frycheiniog. Where they hung it was beautiful. I was proud of this painting even though it is so simple, so I was worried about the reaction from people, but I needn’t have worried. I think most people liked it. I’ve painted three small white paintings on tissue paper which I will frame or hang on a narrow pole later this year. It has given me a real boost of creativity.

January 2017 New Year New Adventure

After my first New Year in Edinburgh I’ve got a lot to think about. Started by booking a holiday next October for all the family. Felt very reflective after my illness. I want to work out what I want to do. I get this kind of longing to change things for the better. To expand. To discover something new. I also feel I need to get away from everyone and be anonymous. Yet I love being with my family, sons and grandchildren. Sometimes I feel a sense of disquiet too. Not sure where this thinking is going.

There’s been a lot of emotion and challenges for me this month. Things I can’t say publicly in case I ever meet you. Old traumas have returned. I’ve been trying  struggle through this thinking and almost ran away from the hurt and pain – which is easier, which can I cope with – stay and put up with it, working my way through it and submerging the worst feelings and sadness or run and don’t look back just forward. For a strong woman I feel weak.

Well I’m still here.

November – a reflective month and birthdays galore

November continued to let me have a straggle of blackberries and apples for jam making and I added some quinces to my activities from my son’s garden, ripening them on the kitchen windowsill then making jelly jam. Quite a success. they are a strange looking fruit – wrinkly, but interesting inside with a clean scent.

I have been inspired to continue drawing everyday – objects around me, objects in my cabinet of curiosities from my travels, trees and seedpods, whatever takes my fancy. I’m trying to get inspiration for a pendant design that an old friend is designing and making. I met Lyndsay Cameron on 22nd November in the Tate Modern – last meeting June 1976 at our final art shows at Aberystwyth University. (I was in London on our annual trip to see the tennis at the O2 near the end of November) I was excited but also a bit nervous and I think I gabbled on a bit, but it was lovely. We had a lot of life to catch up on. We discussed our ideas looking at each others sketches and materials she’d brought. It was so creative. I can’t wait to see the finished designs. This is a gift to me for my 61st year.

Walking across the Millenium Bridge my son called me and I spoke to him and my granddaughter in the darkness watching the light reflect on the Thames water, magical. Both me and my granddaughter have birthdays in November 7 days apart so on consecutive Thursdays we were a year older – she being 3 and I was slightly numerically older at 61. Nice to be able to spend them together. Naturally I think about the past as we are reminded about age and time passing. Dum spectas fugio. I enjoyed being 60 – something I haven’t been able to say since before my early 40s.

Visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford helping on a school trip was amazing as usual – EVERYONE should go and enjoy a sense of awe and wonder – it blows my mind every time and I can draw some truly weird and wonderful objects.

I am so loving my daily drawing using very soft 8B and 6B pencils – now beginning its second month – I feel grounded and more content. Not sure why? I thought it might be a chore to do and to choose what to draw, but it’s not, it’s making me feel creative. I’m quite surprised at myself. It makes me really happy. Not sure if it will last as Christmas chaos and pressure is on the horizon.

Going to Germany at the beginning of December – that makes me happy too – meeting some people I have known for 10 years seeing them once a year, some I met about 19 years ago – Benito from Galicia hasn’t seen me for 16 years and some will be new to me. They are all part of the International Youth Meeting group from Poland, Germany, Finland and the Basque Country. Watch this space – it should be fun…..

 

 

October Apples and Blackberries, calming thoughts, Tenby

Picking blackberries in the October sun is priceless, time slowing down, sun on my back seeping through my body, feeling as if I am somewhere else. It’s quite lovely. It’s calming and uplifting doing this in nooks and crannies, on the canal towpath, the old railway, behind the police station, along the roadside. People often stop and chat to me, recalling memories of when they used to pick them or how they aren’t so big this year, or the different types of blackberries and their differing sweetness. I am amazed at how many I pick when there are only a few scraggy ones at the beginning – one sunny afternoon I picked 4 pounds from a stretch of road I pass everyday. Never noticed them before. My fingers are dark purple from the juice and pitted with thorn pricks and nettle stings, but it doesn’t matter. I remember picking blackberries in the Lake District with my parents and brothers, my mum making gorgeous pies and jams. Now I love making jam with apples and blackberries, sometimes adding cloves or ginger to make jam jelly, using my apples that have been prolific this year. Used to do this when my kids were younger, but somehow got out of the habit.

I feel I am able to think calmly and clearly when reaching for the blackberries, searching out the juicy ones, untangling my clothes from the thorns, reaching too far sometimes and over balancing. It feels like I’m stealthily stalking where the berries are hiding, under leaves, behind nettles, the best just out of reach. Can’t wait to do this with my grandchildren when they are a bit older.

Death and dying have continued appearing in my thoughts, still feel I’m grieving for so many. Thinking of my forties and the bombshell that shattered my life. Missing happiness. Working with others helps and gives me a feeling of worth, quite a buzz.

Still drawing trees sometimes and looking at their changing shapes. Colours are developing too into the autumn glow, slowly, surprising me.

Just returned from a fantastic week in Tenby – our family get together went well – a bit chaotic and manic at times, whilst also having times of tranquility walking on the beach, playing with my grandchildren and spending time with my mum – 4 generations. A huge house with a baby grand piano and loads of space. I saw Diana Brook’s exhibition in Tenby Museum and it was gorgeous, she is so talented. Her sketchbooks were amazing. The painting of a red marble was superb and her spoon paintings delighted me yet again. Seeing her work has inspired me to get on with my drawing even more – trying for one a day for a week then maybe for a month if I can – a year might be too much! Glasbury Arts Festival exhibition was on last weekend of October – some work out of this world – some predictably boring, best work was Melanie Brown’s porcelain ceramics (I would like one of her teapot sculptures) and of course the GHS artwork of the sixth form. Feeling very chilled at the end of the month.

August adventures

Experienced 34th Wedding Anniversary on the 1st. No fireworks, no surprises.
Thought about that day when everyone was waiting at St. Hilda’s church in Bilsborrow. Dad and I on our own in a tiny time capsule when the world stopped for a moment for us two together. I remember the silence and stillness. It was the best moment of my life. Three days before Diana had married Charles – we’ve lasted longer somehow. Even survived a car crash each.

Anyway a few days later we had a lovely meal in the Walnut Tree near Abergavenny – a birthday present from my son and his wife. Tasteful but costly.

Celebrated my eldest son’s last day working for someone else and now he’s running his own business and very happy. My youngest son is settling in to his first house, dealing with the developers to put right all the shoddy bits of the new house. He’s so happy with his partner and new job is improving – been there a year since graduating. I’m a very proud mum.

Mum is now 88 and she had a fall this week in her bathroom – given us all a shock – she was SO lucky only to be bruised. Had a look at a bungalow for sale nearby but I’m not sure she’s really ready to move down to us from Lancashire jus yet.

Finished the crazy job of renewing everything in the bedroom ( painting, wallpapering, carpets, wardrobes, giving half my clothes to charity ) – challenging, frustrating yet satisfying now it’s finished. I will NEVER paint another ceiling ever again…… It looks so good and calm. I love it.

The wall looks fabulous – dry stone wall down the path to the front door – I’m going to plant some dwarf lavenders behind the wall then surround them with small stones to match the rest of the garden. Wish I’d done this years ago.

Samaritan duties continue to make a difference to others and to me. Just puts my worries in perspective, makes me feel needed. Although sometimes the problems seem trivial on the surface they all need support and help, a lot of lonely people and a lot who argue with family members.

Had another amazing day on Barry Island Beach with Helen, Meg and George. Scorching. This time Meg conquered her fears about sand and the sea and went for it full blast – digging, splashing, sand castles, carrying water in the buckets, copying the other children, chattering, walking with me to the water’s edge that was retreating quite a way. Jumping over the tiny waves with her, hand in hand, was such a special moment. Ice cream and fish and chips was a must. I slept like a log that night!

Brecon Jazz weekend was fun – listened to some wonderful classical guitar in the church – quite special – Gerard Cousins – as well as some fringe bands.

My skin problems continue – new regime and trialling a new treatment – I live in hope it will leave me someday.

Tai Chi retreat this weekend last weekend before bank holiday. My heaven. I learnt about the “broken Buddha” and Ying and Yang imbalances and how to rebalance myself – well the theory anyway – let’s see if I can put it into practise! Experienced an amazing emotional response on the last morning during an early meditation which surprised me. We finished with our hand on our heart thinking about giving ourselves permission to be ourselves. I could not remove my hand for a long time and had no control over it. Eventually it just slid down my body and rested on my lap and I opened my eyes. WOW – quite surreal experience and I still have to make sense of it. It was very comforting not frightening but I had to leave the room and find somewhere quiet to collect my emotions before breakfast. I was very quiet in myself and didn’t feel like talking. Eventually I will be able to make sense of it all.

Spent a couple of days making videos with K of us making food art – with Marmite, food colouring, coffee, spices and salt – I so enjoyed this and recommend it to all. Just laughed continually. Then had a day in school in the studio doing drawing with the body videos – large scale tree drawing in charcoal, drawing to different types of music in large scale on the floor and drawing with footprints of feet immersed in clay. The videos are to be shown to sixth formers before their workshops. Again so much laughter as well as concentration.

Bank Holiday weekend was one to remember. After a family meal with my youngest son and partner we started to chop down a tree in the garden, everyone helped – mum sat reading the paper on the patio. As we finished loading the car with all the debris I turned to go and see mum to see her midway through falling off the patio on to the lower patio. It was horrific yet in slow motion. She had fallen on her face and nose and hurt her arm. We kept her still and checked her for broken bones, her nose was cut and bleeding, and her arm was hurting. We took her to the local hospital minor injuries. She was shocked as we all were but everyone was calm including mum who was incredibly brave. We had to return on Sunday for X-rays when they put her cracked wrist in a plaster cast and sling, her finger in a splint, her knee dressed, nose cleaned – not broken. The bruising is beginning to come out on her face. By morning she had 2 black eyes. It could have been much worse. She’s staying with me for a couple of weeks now. Another emotional time for me as it reminds me of when dad fell and broke his arm in October and eventually died by January.

What is going to happen in September!