A-hunting-we-will-go

Moles.

Those cutey little gentlemen in black velvet.

We have one in residence.

He has obliterated my lawn.

We aren’t avid gardeners, and I suppose my ambivalence to actually dealing with him left our garden wide open to tunnel heaven – and as more and more hills of soil appeared all over the lawn, and spilled on to the path ways; I realised he wasn’t going to play fair and stick to the bottom of the garden.

Push something stinky down the tunnels I was told – so we tried parmesan cheese, they hate that apparently. Not this one!

So my sister said she had read that dog poo forced down in to the tunnels would work – but honestly I couldn’t face the idea that I had turds submerged all over the garden.

It is starting to become quite anti social – it’s the middle of winter, the ground is soggy and my dogs go padding around the lawn and are endlessly trailing mud back in to the house because the lawn is all but decimated.

My husband isn’t feeling the love

We have a mole hunter coming with traps this week.

I have read that Moles don’t hibernate, so since Xmas the mole hills have flattened and I was hopeful he had gone – I actually asked him to leave and so for the last month or so – he appeared to have done just that.

But the mole trapper said that we likely have a new mole – that the mole we had before Xmas has died, because he would expect new mole hills each day, so the lull in mole hill production only to have suddenly re started again, suggests to him a new resident has moved in.

He also suggests moles once established can be difficult to get rid of – if we trap this one, new ones could come along.

I have a feeling I am going to be burying those turds before long – to discourage another one!!!! Gross stuff.

and they are so very very cute

Feeling bad ūüė¶

 

 

 

Upcycling – a feel good activity :)

So despite the flu virus and a cough that won’t quit – I am back in the land of the living and have started to make good on my decision earlier this year to up cycle my house, room by room.

The starting point for this marathon upgrage, Room 1 is actually my daughter’s bedroom and was perhaps the easiest to accomplish – it is the only room that doesn’t require any painting. So it was simple ¬†case of making the small changes that would make the room look like it belonged to her finally, instead of it looking like she was squatting in her elder ¬†brother’s bedroom.

She inhabits her elder brother’s room who has now made the permanent move out of the nest. Her room was full of stuff he just couldn’t be bothered with – and there was nothing in there that stamped her personality anywhere.

So we sat and chatted – picked out new bedding and curtains, and we looked at colours she liked and checked out a few things she found interesting

and we changed stuff.

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Lampshade kits – what a great idea? And so easy

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Well this old drawer set was hidden away, and pretty much we thought we might just get rid of it – but it is a useful piece for odds and sods and there wasn’t anything physically wrong with it – and so I made up these ¬†revamped panels to match up with the lampshades – and suddenly a dull and lifeless piece became a little feature, and suddenly felt integral to the room- really easy upcycle.

So the cushions here were the original driver to the choice of fabric for the lampshades – these took some effort to make – they are much larger than they look in this photo and make what was a pretty dull and limp corner of the room, something just a bit different. Big and soft – these are actually lovely cushions.073

The Flu Jab

Last Monday I woke up with a hot heaviness across my chest, by lunchtime I was back in bed and I haven’t moved since.

Last Wednesday night, I thought I might gasp my last but somehow managed to hang in there and saw another sunrise.

A bit dramatic? Actually no. Nothing about last week happened for dramatic effect,  I just had to lay and endure what appeared to be unending pain and misery.

Today, over a week later, I weakly managed to get to the shower, wash my hair, put on clean clothes and sit upright on the sofa -it felt alien to be back in the lounge amongst people – the land of the living.

Me in particular, but my husband as well really has taken a hit this winter with various viruses. But this was a bad one.

My youngest son took a photo of me midway through my marathon of misery last week – I was horrified when I saw it – I look to have aged 20 years and again I’m not saying this for effect – I look awful. And today feeling so much better having had a shower , the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror might have felt better but she looked hollow eyed, sallow – like a dried out husk.

I was just pleased to feel normalish – what I looked like could be worried about later I decided.

BUT – I was brought up short by my sister. She has for the last 8 years, gone along for the autumn flu jab – and apart from minor sniffles – never had anything more serious since.

I on the other hand can guarantee myself a couple of doses of something miserable every year. But this one, this was a league above and beyond what is ‘normal’ and I feel scared that I could have to endure another such bout this century.

I felt my age.

I felt that getting better was going to be difficult this time

I didn’t feel resilient

I don’t know why I have always shied away from the flu vaccine. Stupidly I thought it was something only really old people needed, and we all know the gazillion strains for flu virus there is – why would this thing work?

But my sisters stats sat there as some sort of testimony and as I thought about it, I really am always texting her saying we are ill with some bug or other wheras she’s been bomb proof.

Whatever deep secret distrust I have harboured about the flu jab – no more.

I have reached my personal crisis point – I can’t face this again. Its too late for this season, all I can do is hope I have had my quota and wait for the sunshine

But come Sept this year – I am going to be first in the queue.

 

Giving….and meaning it.

Today I gave away £50.

Ok that’s not a huge sum, I realise that. But it is truly ¬£50 I don’t actually have spare. All January I have been hemming and hawing over spending ¬£60 on a much needed pair of curtains for my daughter’s bedroom and I have held off, trying to find the right time to part with the cash. So those curtains are now going to have to wait another month. That’s another month of indecision as to whether I have chosen the right pair!

I generally don’t give money to charity. I have in the past, I’m not mean and sometimes I am moved (usually children and animal charities who make me cry!) enough to give one off sums. But charities usually leave me feeling ‘off’. They are all so worthy, there are so many, and they would all bankrupt me to each get a pledge.

And I am angered at how much I see hived off by big charity administration – and I end up thinking – yes laudable, but I need my money. I don’t wallow in spare sadly!

I mentioned a few posts back that I was reading a book which I had asked for as a Christmas present – Matlock the Hare & The Riddle of Treffapuggle Path by Phil and Jacqui Lovesey – and I loved it.

I loved it so much, ¬†I gladly used a christmas Amazon voucher to purchase the next volume – Matlock the Hare and The Puzzle of the Tillian Wand – which I am reading now. These are good sized books it has to be said, and it is lovely to have proper illustrations – I haven’t read a grown up book with illustrations for as long as I can remember – and I love these illustrations, I really do.

I found the book series and the talented pair who write/draw them quite by chance on instagram – I am now an avid follower, Jacqui Lovesey’s illustrations are great and I have promised myself one of my own to hang in the house when I can afford it!

Jacqui works quite hard on social media – working to bring their combined talents to people’s attention and I can see that it is a hard road to hoe.

I see vacuous and frankly stupid instagrammers with thousands of followers – and then there are whole swathes ¬†of the truly talented, who work so hard to get their work seen. And it isn’t just traditional artists, but crafts people, small scale wonder workers – and I find myself really really irritated at how the world seems celebrity obsessed, and these people with vast sums of money at their disposal actually have limited talents at best who just seem to attract more and more for being ever more crass.

Matlock might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But there will be others, completely over shadowed and hidden from us, all desperately trying to get out there.

All January, the Lovesey’s have been campaigning on social media about a crowd funding project they are launching (have launched) today – to bring a new book of art work out in to the light. Funding is to publish the book.

Part of my new years resolution to myself has been to concentrate on the small, to do small things that bring me pleasure – I don’t want to have my life cluttered with junk – both physical (like my house I talk of) and mental ( stresses that make me feel ill). I am doing brilliantly at the minute surrounding myself with activities that feel good – and in turn I am feeling pretty good too.

One thing I have instigated in to my new ‘small pleasure mean a lot’ routine for myself, is to try and go to bed a bit earlier each night and read a small while ¬†– and the Lovesey’s books have been my companion each night since Christmas. I’m sleeping better, and each night ends nicely, calmly and with some ¬†happiness. It is amazing how much better I am since doing this.

When the crowd funding project was announced, I was curious – I checked out the Kickstarter site to see what it was all about. And I was impressed with how modest the amounts being asked for were. Amounts that in themselves I could see would be beyond most people just being able to produce without help, but small enough not to discourage people from offering a helping hand.

This morning the first thing I found myself doing was checking out their kickstarter page to see how they were doing, and in the back of my mind I think I already knew that I was intent in giving them something – I wanted to give. Not for the rewards – actually the Loveseys are incredibly generous, giving out little things to backers. But honestly, I wanted to give them something to help them achieve something lovely- bring a beautiful book to light, but also because in reading their books and enjoying them – I wanted to give something back.

Giving £50 is practically unheard of for me Рpart with £50 and have nothing tangible to show for it??? Really?

I feel really happy.

 

Planning Room Changes

I want to give my house an injection of personality I said last year and this has become one of my goals for 2017. And I want to do it without spending a lot of money- for me this means some up-cycling, hand making, and somehow taking account of the function of each room and maintaining some simplicity at the same time – I don’t want to clutter back up, having worked so hard to de-clutter over the last few years.

Personality without clutter.

Apart from a small post Christmas purge of things on shelves and ¬†hidey holes that we no longer need, pretty much I have pared the house down to it’s heart, it’s core.

I looked around with a critical eye this weekend and overall I like where I’ve got to – I realise that not everything that is lying around my house is clutter to be dumped – some of it is genuine stuff that doesn’t have a proper home ¬†– and that means storage.

I don’t just want a corner full of plastic tubs ¬†where I can bung stuff – I want things to reside stylishly. When I looked at the house, I saw it was ‘lived in’ and ‘messy’ in places and I can live with that – but I realised it would be a whole lot less messy if everyday items had an accessible home – storage that allows us to retrieve items easily.

I also can’t allow myself to run away with jobs ad hoc – I have to have a focused approach to what is going to be done, that means running contrary to my usual approach of just jumping in feet first – no, this time I need a plan.

So my plan entails doing one room at a time – starting with my daughters bedroom first, we started this weekend re arranging her furniture in a way that suited her best, rather than just living with it as it all went in to the room when we first arrived – she likes these new changes.

And we have started listing up what we intend to do in the room – hers is the only room in the house practically that doesn’t need decorating; she’s inherited it from her brother who has now left home and he had decorated it just before he left – so we have a blank canvas to work on.

But before we start her bedroom in earnest, the issue of storage for all the homeless items around the house has to be addressed.

  1. My craft projects. Honestly, every single room, bar the bathroom had a basket or bag of something that I was half way through. Promise number 1 then, I will not start any new projects until all the ones presently on the go are completed.  And the crafting materials need to be housed РI have already decided that I will organise my materials Рballs of wool (dozens of them); raw fleeces (at least 3); paints, dyes, felting tools, sewing tools Рand I have already made space in my utility room. This has made a huge difference to the house generally and I am very pleased with this
  2. Post/leaflets/paperwork – this is always dumped on the island worktop in the kitchen – it’s a large area that gets littered with everything that has no home and I want this addressed. The worse culprit for this is my hubby – ¬†despite claiming to be tidy, he will be reluctant to use any storage if it isn’t an easy to use solution so this is going to have my attention first because I think this may require some capital expenditure.
  3. Electrical leads, charges, cables, defunct gadgets – I could do with this being looked at properly, to decide what can legitimately go and what can stay, this isn’t my area of expertise and largely not my stuff, so for now just to move it all away, I have made a draw available to for it all, so it isn’t left loitering around various rooms ¬†– this is a akin to hiding the problem I know, but for now at least it is tidy. I will have to get the men in the family to find time to deal with it properly. It has amazed me how much of this kind of stuff we have, and the difference having a place to store it all makes.
  4. Not a storage issue, but a money issue – ¬†I only have a set amount of disposable income available per month, and this month a good proportion of it is going to be eaten up paying a pest controller. I have tried to deter Mr Mole moving in to our garden myself – using an array of efforts gleaned from friends, neighbours and google – but to no avail, he has ¬†run completely amok all over the lawn, which has practically been destroyed, it looks such a mess and worse the dogs keep trailing mud in to the kitchen, since the grass has been replaced with mounds of soil there is ¬†precious little I can do to stop this happening and it’s started to get us all down. ~Sadly, because I don’t like the alternative really, the mole has got to go. I’m miffed too because I would prefer not to be spending money on this kind of thing, but we have really drawn a blank with him and the damage is now pretty substantial.

On the whole I feel I am bucking my usual trend of being a disorganised thinker when it comes to the house, and I am very pleased with where we are going.

Magical Reads…

I’m a bit of a mystical – magical book lover when it comes down to it. I know this can take a variety of different ‘angles’, there’s lots of slightly different genres – I tend to prefer the ‘fey’. Wizards and spell crafting, evil doers and a whole posse of Elven, Fairy and Brownie folk to light the way.

Does that sound a whole lot Tolkien-esque? I imagine it does, but it is interesting that I was introduced much later to JRR than you might assume and that my imagination had been fired a long long while before I knew the joys of the Shire.

I broke my fantasy reading teeth at about 10 yrs old, on the work of Alan Garner – truly a master of the craft and I stubbornly hold he was a far better, more gripping story teller than JRR even though it became obvious as I grew up, that Mr Garner had undoubtedly been strongly influenced himself by Tolkein.

I remember being annoyed that Gandalf appeared to me to be a work around of Cadellin Silverbrow, and the horror at realising that Gandalf had arrived first!!!! In fact there are many who felt that Garner more than doffed his cap toward the old master, some went so far as to say he downright cloned aspects. However true that may or may not be, I don’t care to have the argument – I loved ‘the Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and the rest of the series, whereas I had only a milky sorta liking for the¬†Fellowship journey – it was for me, as a youngster, overly long and dark and I have never revisited it in later adulthood. I did however love the films.

I read the Garner stories over and over again- Elidor, the Weirdstone with it’s wands and high magic (and it’s sequel the Moon of Gomrath – a tale of old dark magic), the Owl Service ( you make her flowers but she want’s to be owls) and even Redshift and then preceded to read them to my younger sister and we both gobbled them up. But despite trying, neither of us have ever been able to impart the joy of Garner to our own children – and it is worth saying also, that ¬†none of our kids would touch Tolkein with a barge pole -????

I figured that the love of all things magic had just passed them by – but they were saved from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and it’s ilk by something quite extraordinary. Harry Potter.

My eldest son, who is now 26, was at that age when Harry was hardly known at all, and was reading them before the books became a leviathan franchise – and he waited impatiently for each new book to be released. By the time he had read them all, my sister’s eldest, now 18, followed in his footsteps and quickly became a Potter buff too and latterly my sister also defected from Garner to Rowling – having read all the Potter books to two offspring and read them herself, twice over- she firmly established them as the magical book series par excellence. I was having none of it. I was a purist and a stubborn one at that – I wasn’t interested in this boy upstart.

It wasn’t at all difficult to encourage my eldest son to read. JK Rowling was pretty much ¬†pushing on an open door where he was concerned. But my youngest son, now 13, he was a much tougher nut to crack because he hated reading and was particularly bored by fiction.

Only this last academic year was he brought, by his English teacher, kicking and screaming to the Potter book club – only, miraculously he read the first 3 in quick succession and has had the 4th bought as a Christmas present. ¬†Holy Impossibility Batman surely? But no. He’s really liked them. Not loved them he says, but very definitely liked them.

So, given the fact that the plaster cast on my hand this Christmas pretty much put paid to anything more interesting, I took it upon myself to read Harry Potter. Not all of it – just the first book. And it was ok. I was pleased there was more detail and roundness to it than was in the film even though I was impressed to see that the film was pretty true to it overall. I didn’t love it. I don’t think I can be bothered to read any more of it and it felt to me like toy town magic – I wasn’t scared of ‘you know who’ and I didn’t believe in Harry and co, nor felt their angst and danger but more importantly, Albus Dumbledore did not carry the wand with gravitas like Gandalf or Cadellin – in fact he seemed a bit puny.

Another aspect that I wasn’t expecting was that I assumed as the children ran through the none existent platform at King Cross, they were transported to a parallel universe, only I now realise that Wizardy pure bloods live hand to jowl next to muggles and I was slightly put out by the notion that there was no special magical world. Now the exact same thing is true in the Weirdstone – but unlike Muggle-land, Alderley Edge imparted magic, legend and folklore in a way that Stoke Poges just can’t match.

I may have forced myself to read a bit more of the series, just to say I’d done it – if I hadn’t been side tracked by the prospect of another journey with the most majilicus of wizards, Matlock the Hare.

I may have let this trilogy pass me by completely had it not been for the most wonderful artwork that accompanies the series by Jacqui Lovesey. Having seen her work and the website of Matlock – I realise that illustrations do not have to be banished to the children’s section alone; her work is so evocative, I wonder why more authors don’t consider it.

I’ve only just started part 1 of the trilogy and I do hope it holds up to my expectation. I follow Jacqui on instagram and I was so taken with the way the story and pictures call to you – I was even prepared to excuse the fact that the wizard is a hare.

It is different, even the liberal smattering of new vocabulary makes it at once curiously addictive and off putting all at the same time. I’m prepared to be won over, transported and enchanted – every evening before bed!

Let the wand waving commence……

 

 

12th Night

Well here’s a thing.

6th January is a little considered date in our calendar really. As far as the Christian West is concerned, it marks Epiphany – the day the 3 wise men visited the Christ child and it also marks his baptism. I was baptised on Epiphany.

Epiphany begins the festival season in Catholicism ending with Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras and in Eastern Europe and Russia, it’s actually Christmas Eve.

January 6th in early medieval times signified the end of the yuletide celebrations and was often when everyone got back to the serious business of work and surviving the harsh winter months to come.

Which brings me to 12th night.

There has always been for me a vagueness about this night – and for someone who is everso slightly superstitious, vagueness isn’t helpful.

Firstly, as a child I believed the 12 days of Christmas was part of the run up up to Christmas day, like an advent calendar – instead of the feast days between Christmas day and January 6th that it truly is. The interesting point here is the emphasis on ‘days’.

The significance of 12th night to the majority of us is taking the Christmas tree’s down and packing away the baubles – ¬†because for the superstitious amongst us, to not do so brings in a year of bad luck – and who needs that?

Up to this year, I always took the tree down on January 6th. To fail to take it down meant the only solution for those wary of their luck running out so early in the year -was to keep the tree and decorations up until – now some sources say Imbolc (Feb 2nd) and others say Shrove Tuesday. How should you navigate your way though that ambiguity – bad luck would haunt you for sure!!!

So there was no missing that January 6th deadline.

January 6th is derived from Christmas Day starting as day 0.

However, I read something very plausible over Christmastime. The point was how very many great historical festivals stressed the importance of the evening before the festival – Hallow’een (the eve before All Hallows Day) and of course Christmas Eve itself. Indeed I mentioned above Imbolc on Feb 2nd – but the celebration actually begins at sundown Feb 1st and ends sundown Feb 2nd.

Our ancestors seemed keen to note separately the day of an event and the evenings- you have to count days and nights as separate entities; that means although Christmas Day is itself day 0, the night of Christmas Day is night number 1. So if you count the nights only – 12th Night is January 5th.

I was flabbergasted – I had been vehemently opposed to the idea that 12th night was anything other than Jan 6th.

This year the tree was down and packed after sundown Jan 5th.

I’m now sitting back to watch the bad luck to zip on by.

Glad that’s sorted.