Saturday, 26 June 2010

My Garden

Growing things is so satisfying. I love getting my hands dirty and planting up pots and things. Unfortunately, pots are the limit of my garden because our landlord has the whole back yard decked.

That's not a problem though (although I often wish I didn't have to *buy* my soil), I enjoy the whole process of potting up something new and I often find an excuse to re-pot other plants, just to extend the experience.

Currently my potted garden looks brilliant! I have Sunflowers blooming (they need re-potting though) and Strawberries trying to take over the garden with their runners. My Lavender plant is going potty (I need to re-pot it again I think!)in front of Daniel's red Acer.

In the only proper planting bed I have, I've rescued a Pansy, a Primrose and a Jasmine from death on the compost heap and although they are attacked by slugs and snails, they are still trying to bloom!
I have a Mint plant and another herb attempting to shove each other out of the bed, a Potato Plant (Maybe I'll get potatoes this year) and my Sweet Pea plant is going crazy and trying to overtake the Ivy that was in there originally.

I'm already reaping the rewards for growing things - my strawberries have given me three days worth of breakfast already and they are still going. I'm hoping that the Sunflowers will produce lots of seeds because I want to dry roast them and use them as a snack over the winter.

I'm not the only one growing things though. P.T brought a plant home from school in the spring, so I re-potted it and now we have pods being produced from black and white flowers that the bumble bees adore. Both children have also grown Runner Bean Plants for the Barnados school competition - they didn't win; the school winner from year Four was 1 m 59 cm - but they had fun and assuming I can get a big pot, enough compost and some bamboo canes soon, we'll have runner beans to eat as well!

I want to get a pair of Patio Fruit Trees for next year. I have an apple tree that I grew from seed, but it's struggling to get any bigger and I'm not sure what's wrong. It's never produced any flowers either. I'm going to get another Apple tree and a Pear tree. I'd like a Patio Rose bush as well, sadly though, I have a dangerous habit of killing roses off - I can't even keep an indoor rose alive!

I can call myself an amateur gardener I think. There's lots of things that I want to do, but they'll have to wait until I have a garden of my own to love.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Mother Nature - She is wonderful!

Every once in a while, I get re-awoken to the wonder of the world around me. We went shopping today and on the way back, we took the scenic route through the back roads around Dinas Powys.

The sun shone down on rolling green fields, the birds were singing in the trees that we passed through and the sky was bright blue with high brushstrokes of cirrus cloud. It really was the most beautiful summer's day.

Then as we went around a roundabout, I looked up at a cloud and spotted a rainbow cloud. All of the others were white. This one was rainbow striped. I did a double take. I wound down the window and stuck my head out, almost losing it to a passing van.

It was still a Rainbow Striped Cloud.

"Daniel, am I seeing things or is that cloud coloured?" I asked.

He glanced up as we came to a junction. "Yup. It's a rainbow cloud."

We discussed what had caused it to be rainbow coloured. Refracting light through ice crystals, the angle we were at to be able to see it, the size and shape of the ice crystals... It doesn't matter how much I understand about the process of creating a rainbow, seeing one always fills me with wonder.

And this Rainbow Striped Cloud caused more wonder than normal. Each colour faded delicately through the different hues, the brushstroke structure of the cirrus cloud making it look like Mother Nature had been experimenting with the sky colour and couldn't decide which colour to choose.

I began looking at things in detail again.

Have you ever studied a leaf from underneath when the sun is shining through it? The fine veins that run out from the main structure join together in a web that a spider would be proud of.

The seeds on a ripening strawberry turn red first then fade as the fruit itself reddens. At one point the strawberry is green with red spots!

Have you smelt a Sweet Pea flower recently? Its scent is so strong it feels like the smell is coating your throat with honey, you can taste the nectar - no wonder the bees like them!

I even looked at my sunflower blooms closely. The head of a sunflower is actually made up of a hundred or so tiny flowers surrounded by the bigger petals. Each tiny flower makes a single seed and that in itself is a wonder of nature.

Colours are everywhere; green predominantly, but yellow; white; pink and red... blue; purple; orange; all the hues and shades between. Mother Nature loves her colours.

And I love Mother Nature.

That Rainbow Cloud will stick in my mind for a long time. I wish I'd had a camera with me so I could show it to you, but you'll have to make do with my memory in words.

I just hope it's enough.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Concentration - what concentration?

When my head feels like this, it's hard to concentrate on anything. It isn't a headache as such, just a vague overall throb that seems to worsen my mood and make me incredibly irritable.

It might be because I'm running out of medication. I had four tablets left yesterday and had to make the decision to cut my dose in half, taking one tablet instead of the two I am supposed to have.

It might be because I was woken up by the kids twice last night. It might be because a thunderstorm is on its way or because I haven't exercised yet today.

It might even be because of the computer - although normally I only get a headache from being in a roomful of the plaguey things.

Whatever the reason, it's annoying.

I'm really in the mood to write. I've managed 200 words in just under three hours - although a lot of that time was spent on research and bumming around on the net. The Bog Boy story has really opened up and is moving along. I want to write more on the game of Writer's Tag I am playing in Slushpile Reader. I have a job application form to finish and get out before monday.

But the headache is sitting there and laughing at me. Every so often, I think it has gone away. I take a deep breath and try and concentrate. As soon as I do that, it peeks out from behind my brain, taps the back of my eyes and the front of my skull simultaneously and shouts "I'm still here!"

I've taken some Co-Codamol, with a third mug of coffee in an attempt to persuade the headache that a) my skull is not where it really wants to be, and b) to go and bother someone else.
I normally only drink two cups of coffee a day - three is a bad day, if I get to four or more, it's time for me to go into hibernation, because it'll be less messy and easier for everyone else.

I am contemplating another cup of coffee...

The headache is contemplating moving down to my shoulders. Maybe I ought to go out for a walk, get some fresh air. Maybe that would... too late.

That's it, I can't stand it any more - where's the tramadol!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

I wonder what I'll do this week.

I wonder what to do this week,
I really wonder what,
I look at the white space in my diary,
And I really don't care a jot,
That I don't have any coffee mornings,
Parties or Bar-be-ques,
To fill my hours with meaningless babble,
About what wine to choose.

I wonder what to do this week,
Should I go here or there?
Should I go down to the beach,
Would the beach really care?
If I didn't visit for a while,
And sit upon the rocks,
Watching the sea flow up the shore,
And the shore just shrug it off.

I wonder what to do this week?
Does my Keyboard call?
Is my Bead Loom all that lonely?
Should I let the washing up stall?
What could I do with the time I have?
Where could I go?
Who could I meet on the way?
Will I ever know?

I wonder what to do this week?
I guess I'll just let time flow,
Past me from the future,
And watch it slip and slow,
Over the Rocks of Unplanned Events,
Dammed behind the Logs of What I need to do,
Into a Pool of No.

(c) Mandy Ward, 13th June 2010

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hmmm - I look like a Jelly! DO - OVER!

I weighed myself the other day. I had to do a double take at the read out - 13st 11lbs! EEk!

First came Denial - "I couldn't possibly weigh that much"

Then Anger - "I can't weigh that much! It's not fair!"

Then Shifting Blame - "It's all TOH's fault, him and his insistence on driving everywhere."

Then I thought about it a bit more and got Depressed - "It's my fault for not being in control of what I put in my mouth. I'm sooo stupid!"

After a day of ignoring it and stuffing myself with comfort food, I went to bed and slept on it.

When I woke up this morning, Acceptance had set in. I looked at myself in the mirror. I look like a badly set jelly. I don't mind the stretchmarks, but I wish they weren't so noticeable. It's my arms and thighs that I hate the most - they look like a 50 year old's and I'm only 35 this year!

So I gave the kids their breakfast, made TOH a cup of tea in bed and got out the exercise kit.

I decided to try something new.

Belly Dancing.

I have a Belly Dancing DVD - I've had it for ages and this morning, I thought it was about right. Gentle enough to not hurt and energetic enough to burn some calories.

I was sweating like a pig by the time I got half way through and that was mostly from trying to hold the basic posture - I wasn't even aware that I had abs until I had to suck the flab in!

I did an hour of the basic moves and then ten minutes of a Cindy Crawford DVD as a cool down. I will probably ache all over tomorrow...

But I feel good about myself for the first time since I was rejected at the job interview. I didn't realise quite how badly that rejection had knocked me down. That's the thing with Depression, you see, you become very good at putting on a good face for other people.

Sometimes that helps, because if you are smiling on the outside, it works its way inside. But it also hinders. I find that I sometimes find that I hide how I am feeling from myself as well and it's only when I pull up out of the trough, that I realise how bad I was feeling.

For the past 2 weeks, I have been at the bottom of a trough. I haven't looked after myself at all. My hair was grungy, I was wearing horrible clothes and even when I went out, I looked bad. My mood has been horrendous and I've actually felt ill.

After exercising this morning, I had a shower. I scrubbed and rubbed and cleansed myself from top to toe.

It felt good.

I slathered on body lotion and did my face properly. I dried and styled my hair. And suddenly I knew I'd been slumped at the bottom of a depressive trough.

Between them, the scales and the exercise had been instrumental in picking me up again. I can smile again without it being forced or feel uncomfortable on my face, like an ill fitting Swimming Costume.

So right here and now, I'm calling a Do - Over.

I'm not aiming for a Bikini Body. I don't want to run a marathon or take part in a Triathlon (Way too much work involved to get that fit) but I do want to tone up and get rid of the one thing which has been the bane of my life for the past ten years.


I am fed up with the mood slumps, the negativity and the self destruction. I am fed up with being someone who isn't fit for any kind of job at all. I want to be me again.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

And so the chaos begins...

It's the 7th June. That means that we have six months and seventeen days until "C" Day.

Don't worry I won't actually mention the "C" word until after my birthday - official family custom, don'tcha know...

But because of my current financial... situation... I am finding that I have to think about "C" Gifts extra early.

Now a lot of my family, when you mention "C", say that we shouldn't bother with it this year, it's better not to think about "C" gifts for anyone except the Kids this year. I hate it when they say that, especially because I know that a lot of them don't really mean it.

I'm getting in on the act early and I'm giving it the really personal touch - I'm making as many of my "C" Gifts as I possibly can. This way they'll be unique and relatively inexpensive...

It does mean that I have to spend out to buy the materials, but on the flipside, I enjoy doing this kind of crafting and I like to think that the gifts that I will be giving out, will be enjoyed all the more for the effort that I put into them.

Or at least I hope so.

I'm also going to be making Christmas cards for those close to me and using up the ones I had left over from last year in the process. So if you regularly get a card from me - expect the unexpected...I can't guarantee that they'll stay together you see!

"C" day should be a time for Family and Friends. I'm hoping that this year it will be. I'm not sure how yet, but I'm a'workin' on it... *grins*

Thursday, 3 June 2010

My Hobbies...

I'm a Design and Technology Teacher by training. What this means in reality is that I'm never far from a pencil and paper (handy for my other career that) and I am always in the midst of a project.

I've made quite a few things: Cushion covers, Nightlight holders, picture frames, knitted hats, earrings, bracelets, brooches and badges, are just some of them. I can make things out of wood, metal and plastic, but that requires a few more tools than I have at home currently, so I tend to stick to jewellery and textiles at home.

Oh for a proper workshop / studio...

Anyway. I thought that I would tell you about my current obsession. It's linked to my passion for making jewellery and came from my studying of Jewellery magazines.

One of the magazines I get is "Make Jewellery". Issue 6 had a feature on Bead Weaving - I went to Hobbycraft, picked up the bits and pieces and was hooked.

The first thing I tried was a daisy chain bracelet - didn't come out very well though. Then I browsed my local Library (not just for fiction - although I did that as well) and found "The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques" by S. Withers and S. Burnham - I found out about all the different stitches you can do (brilliant book that - well worth buying) so I attempted a Square Stitched Cuff. That turned out better; but not brilliant.

I browsed the internet and found - - I tried the Warrior Pattern, a Sioux Feather pattern combined with a design of my own, added a fringe and made a choker. It's much better than either of my first two efforts - looks almost professional!

It's gone a bit further than just hand stitching now though...

The Encyclopedia and the websites mentioned Looms. So the next time I went to Hobbycraft (I can't stay away from the place) I bought a simple wire one. Just setting it up was a challenge - thankfully the Encyclopedia had nice clear instructions (much better than the ones in the box with the loom) and it only took me three hours!

*rolls eyes*

The first pattern I attempted was another combination of the Warrior pattern and a design based on an alphabet I found on the beading patterns website - I love that website as much as I do my own - and decided to make a wristband for Number One Son.

So far, it hasn't turned out too bad.

I wonder what I'll try out next? Maybe something from the Knitting Magazine I picked up the other day? Or maybe the sundress in the Sewing Magazine from last week? Maybe I'll go back to Glass Painting, although that would mean another trip to Hobbycraft - I haven't got any materials for that...