Thursday, 29 January 2009

a bumper crop

It's been a blast. I've had lots of fun. The last couple of years have seen me through my big 4-O, I've done a bit of mid-life studying and pottered until my heart's content.
Time now, dear friends and readers, to go back to work. Although I love to take pictures of random objects, organic and otherwise, it's time to stash some cash, earn a living, make myself properly useful for at least three days of the week.
I've managed to find myself what is likely to be the best job I've ever had. It's part-time, it's local, it pays (almost) as much as I used to get paid, it's going to be creative and exciting and I get to work with a lot of different people who are determined to support all our local children and families. It's going to be good.
I have worries, of course. Am I going to be able to keep up the fanatical and germ-free cleaning routine I have established over the last couple of years? Where will I fit in my doggedly determined loo-bleaching sessions? What will happen if I don't remove those balls of fluff that gather under the sofa ever 8 weeks? Will they just emerge, fluff-like while I'm watching ER one night?
The beloved is panicking about the impact my working will have on family life. Admittedly, I became very grumpy last time I worked. My answer: the kids are now 4 years older than when I started. I am now experienced in the mystical ways of the local education system. It pays more.
He has sweetly suggested that he will 'cook more' and 'clean more'. I have a feeling we should resolve and confirm what 'more' means and try to establish a plan before Monday but, why break a marital habit of a lifetime? We did try to do the diary thing once a week - you know, when couples sit with their diaries and work out who is going where. Our attempt was quite nice - we had a biscuit and a cup of tea while we did it but it all felt a little bit corporate, a little bit beige so my plan is to just shout a lot and issue instructions on a daily basis as I drive off in the
Skin: better, but now with breakouts, think the balm is blocking pores. Have invested in a calming cream from Boots, part of their protect and something or other range. I got a free pack of goodies as well, which was nice.
Exercise: progress has been made. I have bought 2 sets of trackies. One long, yogic. The other short and unflattering, even on the hanger. The plan? Working out before/after work. Do not mock. It will work.
Weekend plans: football, schmootball, snow soccer hell. Brrrrrrrr.........

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Sorry. Couldn't resist. I wanted to call this o-balm-a (I've been worrying about my skin!) but I came across a photo of my sister-in-law's sheep and couldn't stop myself.

I love Obama. What's not to love? If we need the answer to that I think we should ask Michelle - she probably knows more on that subject than the rest of the free world.

I also love balm. Any face cream with the word 'balm' on its lid is likely to do the job. Since my frantic, 'I'm sick of my rosacea' post on Saturday, I have used Boots Botanics super-douper-de-booper balm on my cleansed visage first thing in the morning (when not leaving the house) and liberally in the evening before trying to work my way through 'Wuthering Heights'. This balm costs about a fiver, smells of nothing and seems to do the job.

My other recent skin discovery is to cleanse before bed, reducing morning skin interference to a splash of warm water and even more moisturiser. Again, early results are positive.

Along with the 3 gallons of water I'm consuming each day, the redness and dryness appear to be calming down - it's getting 'o-so-calm-a'!

Is this the beginnings of a poem? Maybe I should stop now. I know I should stop now.
Tomorrow - o-farm-a?!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

a bit of colour

I am, what make-up artists and dermatologists call highly-coloured. When being less kind to myself, I complain about my ruddy complexion. I look like I spend most of my time on a windswept hill in an anorak (I don't, normally).
I have always wanted to be pale. I am deeply envious of anyone who actually has to buy blusher. No matter how much moisturiser, balm, serum I layer upon my skin, I wake each morning with the look of someone who has been indulging in a little aerobic exercise.
I was diagnosed with rosacea a few years ago and prescribed cream that made my skin even pinker. I don't get spots. I don't feely itchy. My skin just feels hot, and dry and looks blotchy-red, all the time. All sorts of things make it worse - exercise, the cold, the hot, the wind, the sun, drinking hot drinks, alcohol, spicy food, stress. It's just a pain.
Now, I acknowledge that this is not a serious, life-threatening condition. Any reader may think I am being shallow, whingey and pernickety but, frankly, it gets on my nerves. I look awful in photos, if I have one glass of wine I look like I've had a bottle and it makes me look embarassed, which makes me feel embarassed! Silly, really. So silly, I can't bear to go to the doctors about it. What are they going to do?
So...over the next few weeks, part of projectforty is to finally sort my silly skin out. First stop, the internet? I've just had a quick look. Most of the sites seem to sell stuff (surprisingly). I had a look at the Sher system, that would set me back £160. Mmmmm....don't think so.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

and, relax....

We all have our neuroses. Mine? Mine's so daft, I can't even reveal what it is. It's so silly, so tedious and so nonsensical that I almost feel ashamed. As Dorcas Lane would say 'it's my one true weakness' and not in a good way. However, inspired by B.O (the president, not the odour), I have confronted myself and made some progress, I have done what I needed to do and now, I can breathe! Beware, hysteria, may ensue.
I saw 'The Reader' last night - by accident, but a welcome one. Turn away now, if you don't want to know what happens....but the plot turns on Hannah Schmidt's illiteracy, her shame and her deep desire to keep it concealed. She joins the SS because of it, she refuses promotion because of it, she leaves her home because of it and goes to prison because of it.
It made me think of fear and how it can shape a whole life. I'm perhaps too old to come to this conclusion and I probably should have thought of it before but secrets, however, small can really dominate an existence.
I suppose that's one of the things that make great cinema. We can guess Hannah's secret and we will her to save herself but her pride and her determination to hide her inability to read, makes her do (or not do) things that are truly life destroying.
We go to Swindon, mostly, for cinema from here and it's always interesting to emerge from such a film into Swindon's lovely landscape of warehouses and housing estates and then to arrive in our lovely village. We are cocooned here, amongst the trees and by the river. A lucky position to be in (touch wood).
Today, I am knitting and doing the paperwork for my new job.
With regard to dear, hope-of-the-world, Barack. I thought he was fan-blooming-tastic. I thought Michelle looked marvellous and if anyone can help us all sort through the nonsense that is 2009, he's the man.
I have a feeling that every crafty blog in the US is going to quote his 'maker of things' section ad nauseum but all that stuff about going back to basics, joining together, sharing, doing, creating - sounds great to me.

Monday, 19 January 2009

a new broom?

I gave up my day job a couple of years ago. I've studied. I've started some projects. I've had a lovely time, thank you very much.

I've now got a new day job. Part-time, local, full of exciting possibilities and something I'm really looking forward to starting. It's very much a new job, with a new group of people. It's going to be a challenge but one I think will make quite a difference.
It will mean my studies will have to go on hold (don't mind); my personal projects will need to fit in around my new responsibilities (no problem) and my mind and my time will get more focused again.
I've discovered that the less time I have, the more organised I become. The more 'free' time I have, the more likely I am to spend it unproductively. I love the idea of being a productive potterer but it's time to admit, I am ill equipped for such a lifestyle.
The more I have to do, the more I get done in all other aspects of my life and going back to paid work, albeit part-time, is going to give me the kickstart I need.

Friday, 16 January 2009

a week of possibilities

This week is one of hope. We still have the prospect of Obama's presidency to look forward to. He hasn't made any mistakes yet so has become a vessel for hope and optimism in the US and beyond. I thought my knitting attempt, above looked a little American with it's patriotic colourways. I have nothing else suitably stateside.

I am usually hopeful.

I am sometimes accused of being overly optimistic, too enthusiastic, too accepting of life's woes and tribulations. If faced with an unfair challenge, I rant and rave (sometimes resorting to swearing) and then calm down.

I have a tendency to see someone else's point of view as more valid than my own. This is not to say I am unfailingly complimentary or take a perfectly balanced approach to the people and events in my life. I often find myself becoming irrationally irritated but once my adrenalin has been dispersed and I've reacted badly, I invariably manage to rationalise the irritation into nothing with a number of tactics:

* I must be wrong/have misunderstood/missed something
* the other individual must have meant something else
* I relinquish control and take a karmic, inactive position
* I wait until the situation or opinion changes (as it often does)

I met a potential colleague yesterday and we talked about why some people find it easier to criticise and complain and others become the butt of those complaints despite their best efforts.

I have found that most people who whinge and complain are often those who are the least active in their lives. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and throw bricks at the people who are on the pitch, trying to make things better. That's quite a lot of fun without the responsibility.

I often wonder why we are so horrible to politicians. I know they're spending our money, our savings, our pensions but some people have to be in charge. I don't want to run the health service. I couldn't bring myself to decide who goes to prison and who doesn't. I would let everyone who's willing to work come to our country.

We have to trust the people who are willing and able (and voted) to make big, national and global decisions on our behalf.

I hope we remember that when the lovely Barack is trying his very best but just can't fix everything.

And what is Michelle going to wear?!!!!

Monday, 12 January 2009

a face for radio

The Good
I had my first day at home, alone, for what seems like an age today. I did the usual, the laundry, the dishwasher, the tidying and I found myself sipping my peppermint tea (note, no caffeine) accompanied by BBC Radio Wiltshire.

Our kitchen radio is usually tuned to Radio 2, occasionally Radio 4. I am not sure how we ended up with our local radio station but, despite the music and its repetitive news items, it was OK.

It was especially OK when I managed to get on the show by calling up about blogs and why we bloggers blog. It was the presenter's first day so I remembered to flatter him that he was a great improvement (having listened to the show twice) and I talked about projectforty, why I started and why, now that I know I have a minute readership I feel pleasantly compelled to write more and more.

Things took a slight turn for the worse when, having told him about turning forty, he asked me whether anything had dropped off since I'd had my birthday. I innocently replied 'not that I've noticed and, in fact, some things have improved'. I could almost hear him blushing. He started it though - the impudent scamp. I'd been listening to the transmitting converation on the phone and then the line went blank. Rather rude I thought but he did apologise for not saying bye bye nicely about 10 minutes later. I might listen again.

He was in the studio with their IT guy, waiting to start his own blog so I've been trying to track down an email for him so that he links to my blogs. A little bit of self promotion can do no harm. Sometimes I surprise myself by my get up and go. Today Radio Wiltshire, tomorrow Jenni Murray. Perhaps I should call her?

The bad

I decided to re-engage with my responsibilities this week. I went to a meeting and a half today related to various community matters (school, village, furniture). I remembered almost instantly how I found it so easy to disengage from my voluntary commitments in the first place. I have a fear that I will be engaged in these matters for a very long time. My ambition? To approach all meetings with good grace, an open mind and an acceptance of circular travel and motion.

The ugly

The weather. It couldn't be fouler today. I dream of hot blue summer skies exactly like this one.

Friday, 9 January 2009

let us begin....

Right. Deep breath. 2009 can start

We had a thanksgiving service for my Dad yesterday and it was wonderful. There were so many people there with so many memories of him and it was comforting and heartwarming to see and hear them.

Although time hasn't started to heal for me yet I do feel it's time to start getting on with the business of life again. I have voluntary and communal commitments that I've put on hold now for about three months. It may be mid-winter, but I need to get going again.

I had high hopes of next week being a week of stocktaking, sorting and organising and planning. As always, plans have changed, with opportunities presenting themselves and bits and bobs cropping up all over the place.'s now time to start my 2009 attempt at cutting down the caffeine (I am a complete teapothead) and to join the beloved in his alcohol-free January. I need to find my trackies and plan in some gentle exercise and I need to be a good credit crunch wifey and check the cupboards for use-ups and interesting combinations of lentils and pulses.

Monday, 5 January 2009

back in their box

Today, I feel,is the official start to the New Year. The holidays are over. 2009 is here and the lovely winter holiday is finished. Our xmas decs are in their box and the Christmas cards stacked ready for me to transfer addressed into my book and for G to work his magic, transorming them into parcel labels for next Christmas.

J went back to school today, G is beavering away at his laptop and E is coming out with myself and Granny for an icey trip to town. I can hear the ironing being tackled and I hope E is getting dressed. The house is tidy-ish except of course my room. One of my side ambitions this year is to make my space a beautiful one for longer than ten minutes. I'm always intensely jealous when I see blog posts of talented artists, crafters and writers where they've invited we nosey parkers to admire their talent for creating a beautiful space. Mmmm. Chance is a fine thing.
I managed one of my resolutions today - showering and dressing before breakfast. A calming way to start the day. I'm usually up before the rest of the brood but often end up in the bathroom scrum, which consquently creates a little tension in the household as I shout my instructions whilst trying to listen to John Humphrys and whoever he is taunting that particular morning.
So far, so good. I am washed, relaxed and managed to fit in a couple of lines of knitting before breakfast (I know, it's a worry).

Friday, 2 January 2009

unseasonal delight

Don't get me wrong, I love the current monochromatic landscape but I just needed to see a splash of colour and a little greenery. No airmiles were mistreated in the taking of this photograph. It's one I prepared earlier. In July, I think.
Well...I hear resolutions are bad for us. Mind, the mental health charity, ( has suggested that resolutions make us feel bad because few of us ever feel we achieve them and we make them too broad, too huge, too overwhelming. I tend to agree.
One of the reasons I started to blog and think of my own list of challenges was to make myself make small steps, try and record them and create a list of achievements along the way. As you know this process has been a little haphazard and it certainly hasn't changed me fundamentally but it has made me do some of the things I'd put off for years and some of the things I was always too scared to really have a go at.
I always find January a ridiculous time of year to make a new start anyway - it's cold, dark and most people are skint. Not the time to start new endeavours. Far better, in my opinion, to walk a little, read a lot, keep warm and make plans. I like to eat lots of soup, finish off the satsumas, read my Christmas books and try to get dates in the diary to see friends and visit new places.
Oh, yes, and give up chocolate, tea, cake, sugar, carbs, procrastinating.....