Yo ho yuk and buckets of blood. Part the first.

Prior to going into hospital on the 25th of January for cancer surgery, I did as much as I could to put my affairs in order.  I just knew something was going to go horribly wrong.  Some of the most miserable situations in my life have arisen as a result of ignoring my intuition.  Having spent so many tortuous weeks in my mother’s house trying to order her affairs and find out where the money was coming from, what debts there were, which service providers, where little accounts were and so on, I was determined to leave no such mess behind me, should the worst come to pass, so I wrote it all down and told the OH and the S&H where to find the information.  I had determined to do this for myself anyway; I think once you reach retirement age, or if you have dependants, this information needs to be available to anyone who will step in to run your affairs either temporarily or permanently.  It isn’t morbid or gloomy to do it; on the contrary it is practical and kindly.

I had not, however, intended to do it quite yet but once I had a date for the operation and a sense of impending doom, I procrastinated no further.  The one item I could not resolve was my business bank account.  As I have had no fairs and therefore no income into it, it is dwindling and will eventually disappear until it turns into a debt.  The bank were wonderfully unhelpful because it takes six weeks to turn a business account into a personal account.  The teller was keen to assure me that the account would be frozen when the person died.  ‘Me,’ I said, ‘not the person, me.’  But they couldn’t help.  So that end was flapping around loose and still is because I’m not well enough to go into town and sort it out.

Otherwise, sorted, I went in, and as you know, came out again a few days later prematurely cock a hoop at having survived, like a fool.  The operation had not proceeded as planned.  In the anaesthetic room, various members of staff introduced themselves.  Next to the anaesthetist stood as callow a youth as you could wish to meet.  I enquired if he was a trainee anaesthetist.  ‘Oh no,’ he averred, ‘I am a doctor student, I am probably going to be a surgeon.’  And then, as I had more pressing matters to attend to, I fell asleep.

It’s a pity you can’t do this with seriously boring people in everyday life.

The rest of the story I discovered the following day back in the ward from the nurse in attendance.  I do not know if he was allowed to intubate me, which would explain a lot of what happened subsequently.  I might find out when I meet the surgeon tomorrow.  Anyhow, the plan to make a keyhole in me for a camera failed not just once miserably because I had adhesions; it failed three times in three different places.  They made the hole, they pumped the air in, they followed it with the camera.  They screwed the camera round, they shook their heads they withdrew the bloody camera.  On the third attempt, before they even got as far as slicing along the old C section scar, the cocky young ‘I’m going to be doctor’ turned to the nurse with a face, she said, ‘Like a block of cheese.’  Which block of cheese fell forward onto her ample bosom going plink plank plunk down the buttons to the waistband and swoosh down her skirt to the floor where she remarked to his supine form, ‘Oh man up!’  before stepping over him.

In theatre the karma is really quite fast.

Despite all of that, I came to, minus various bits, got out of bed and walked the ward and drank water like a thirsty duck all night.  Over the course of the weekend I did more of that and each day they injected me with blood thinning medication.  On Sunday they showed me how to do this to myself and sent me home.

Which is where it all went horribly wrong for the second time, the saga of which I shall relate next time I feel well enough to type.

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Not over

Thank you for your emails and good wishes, all of which have been read but not responded to, because when I said I was back, whilst I was, it wasn’t for long.  Since then I have been back to hospital twice, once in an ambulance, vomited about five litres of black blood and had every type of scan available, drank heavy metal water, had an iodine bolus hanging off an arm and squirted blood out of my nostrils at midnight.

All of this has been happening while I have not had a bathroom and now the plumbers have done something to the stop tap which is leaking water under the expensive wood kitchen floor that now resembles a packet of curly fries.

If anyone accused JaneLaverick.com of being boring, I might suggest they were on the wrong website.  You, however, are here and so am I, having just got back last night and managed to get up today and wash in a bowl.  Tomorrow I will repeat the trick, wring the plumber, and then settle down and tell you alllllll about it.

Put the kettle on, I’m back ( I hope.)

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Backer than Arnie

I am still here.  Mangled.  Full of cold – unhealthy places, hospitals, lots of sick people.  I am sneezing and coughing and clutching myself each sneeze.

But still here.

I didn’t think I was going to be.  I thought something was going to go horribly wrong, and I was right, it did.

But I am still here.

Huge thanks to everyone who wrote, there will be considerably better posts than this in the future because

I am still here.

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The thick plottens.

The date of my surgery for cancer, providing there’s no delays, is Thursday.  I’m saying providing there’s no delay like someone who didn’t get the exploratory stuff deferred three times.  I originally went to my doctor with suspicions at the start of October, last year.

I’m beginning to feel unwell now.  I’m not sure if I have an infection, so I’m taking Sodium Citrate, or if it’s pain as the cancer eats into the muscle or what.  The MRI scan showed that things were not as bad as they might be so I am having the surgery at the local hospital rather than the one in the next town with the specialist equipment.  Last week I went shopping in another adjoining town for new pyjamas.  Like everyone I sleep in a rather scruffy mismatch.  It makes you wonder if nurses think everyone has new pyjamas in much the same way as the Queen thinks the world smells of new paint.  I the end I got two bottoms and two tops which are actually vests.  The matching tops had short sleeves which I couldn’t remove because of the metal arm.  I can do long sleeves because you can hold the cuff with your good hand and tug and I can do sleeveless by putting my good arm back down the arm hole but you can forget short sleeves, I just cannot escape from them.  Paradoxically this was the first shopping trip for me since the break and likely to be the last for a while.  I got a new dressing gown online cheaply.

Life has been made more complex by everything that preceded.  For five years our house quietly disintegrated while I maintained my mother’s house and garden.  One of the problems is our bathroom, well over thirty years old with a shower over a bath and black mould everywhere.  I’ve been advised that climbing into a bath will rip my stitches and leave me with a bath full of my intestines.  I have already seen my intestines.  When I was having our son by C section they took them out of me and piled them on the table, removed the baby, powdered the intestines and shoved them back in again, where they all sorted themselves out.  In terms of seeing your own intestines, like someone hanged, drawn and quartered, once is quite sufficient.  So I got in contact with the builder and plumbers, consulted them and then put plans off when I suspected I was ill.  The builder did email back even though he was lying on a beach in the sunshine.  Nice work in January if you can get it.  The plumber, who has looked after my idiosyncratic heating for 30 years, was fantastic, he said he could do a makeover for half of the bathroom so I could come out of hospital to a shower tray, which, at an inch high. is eminently step-over able.  So we took ourselves off to the bathroom showroom and chose the lot in two goes.  The showroom emailed the plumber, all was ordered, then the builder emailed to say it was going to take two weeks to get the window made and wished me good luck with the surgery.

Many phone calls later I think it is going to go ahead while I am in hospital.  The hospital will not say how long I will be there, sometime between two days and longer than a week is their best guess.  Builders and plumbers do not enjoy such fluid timescales.  At present the builder has been encouraged by me to make a hole in the wall for the window at a later date, filling the hole with something so as not to cause car crashes on the main road outside as I flit in and out of the shower encumbered with catheters, drains and drips, all of which I have been promised I will be sent home with.  Will I be dealing with these in black mould over a bath full of intestines or on a building site?

Oh it’s all going terribly well. 

Then there is the reaction of people to the news.  33 years ago when I had cancer people crossed the road to avoid speaking to me because they didn’t know what to say.  This time the OH has known what to say – in the mornings, ratty, he has been vicious.  First time he was ordering little pricking sticks for the machine to monitor his diabetes, suddenly thinking he should keep an eye on his health.  He was talking the doctor round to giving them to him for free, put the phone down and said to me, ‘At least I’m looking after my health, I don’t have cancer!’  The second time I asked him to put the dishes he had put in the sink into the dishwasher and was shouted at that having cancer didn’t give me the right to criticise him.  I was heading out for the clothes line with the washing at the time and found myself outside with watering eyes.  Must have been the wind.  On the plus side I can finally get my arm up to hang the washing on the second top line.  I may lose this ability post operatively if I cannot exercise.

Oh it’s all going terribly well.

I am so torn between losing bits of myself I was attached to and wanting someone just to cut off the grotty bits.  At school I had a friend with whom I shared a birthday.  We called ourselves twins.  She had a hysterectomy at the Christmas we were 49 but died a few weeks after our 50th, six weeks from diagnosis that it was ovarian cancer after all.  16 years on they don’t mess about, any murmur of anything untoward in the reproductive region and they will take the lot away, whoosh.  Well you know, four months of NHS trying to fit all the surgeries in  not enough time, so more of a delayed whoosh really.  Not that I’m not grateful.  I am.  100 years ago I would have been dead as a doornail.  Though to be fair 100 years ago I’d have died, aged 8, of appendicitis.  66 years ago if I hadn’t been given away with green shield stamps, I’d have been shipped off from the orphanage to be slave labour in Australia and probably been dead long since.  I am grateful for my life.

Nevertheless a thing such as this concentrates the mind wonderfully.  If I recover I will be mainly writing the book.  I have done sample bits and quite a bit of artwork and a ton of plotting.  Like life, if it is going to be interesting, the plot comes first.  What will happen next?  Will the heroine be left in a building site with a hole in the wall so that passers by can watch her grappling with her intestines?  Will she conk out under the third general anaesthetic in six months?  Will the OH ever see things the way the writer sees them?  Will the solicitors ever ever ever be finished?  (The accountants have actually submitted my mother’s return to HMRC so I might not be sued off the face of the earth by the government, which is always nice.)

If art holds the mirror up to life, you cannot possibly overdo the twists and turns in the plot.  As the great Sam Goldwyn advised: Start with an earthquake and build to a crisis.  That pretty much defines my life so far.  This time the heroine will be the heroine, unlike the last novel I wrote where the baddy dominated everything and everyone.  Now who could that possibly have been reflecting?  This time the heroine, acting under unavoidable difficulties heaped upon her as a result of an obligation that she didn’t ask for, and trying to save some slaves she has found, will suffer and struggle and fight back bravely against overwhelming odds including the imminent threat of death and………

…..I haven’t written the ending yet.  At present, in my head, most of the main characters are swirling away in a flood, clinging to floating artefacts from a museum.

I will be writing in my head as I go under and hopefully as I came out of it and recuperate.  The thing I’ve enjoyed most in my life has been writing.  I’d never have done it if you hadn’t joined in and read it.

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What happens next?

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Clearing.

When I was younger I resented time spent tidying up.  Any hobbyist, miniaturist or artist will tell you that all the creativity happens on the last six inches of the table.  By then, like an athlete, you’ve warmed up and are firing on all six creative cylinders.  It is as normal after some hours to fall into bed covered with ink, paint, glue and glory as it is to come downstairs in the morning to discover that a person very close to you had made equal amounts of marvel and mess and that yes, that whole half pint pot of glue had emptied itself into the carpet and disappeared along with the last remaining bit of varnish off the table top and for lo!  In their place a work of possible art with a bit of tweaking, or, maybe, a glued lump that some fool spent hours of their life on and which the uninitiated would rightly pour scorn upon, though, clearly, the learning that had taken place would be of inestimable value at some unspecified time in the future.

And then, when the justification is over, comes the clearing up. If you are clearing up after a triumph you don’t want to do it, you want more triumph, in a different colour, perhaps.  If it was a disaster stuck to the table you won’t want to expend any more of your precious life rubbing your own nose in your failure.  I know crafty shopping channels tell you there is no creative failure, just alternative success and will you please buy another kit because they’ve made it easier now for an extra fiver in a bigger package, look, easy to buy.

As you progress in life it become apparent that not only is the clearing up part of the creative process but that  acres of junk prevent you seeing your way to the next creation.  Every now and then you need to be honest with yourself and chuck the stuff that you bought in error and the wonderful bargains that were part of a job lot so you bought them anyway.

People have made fortunes writing books that have gone viral about tidying up.  As my hobby is different kinds of arty paper crafting, the recycling box is my friend, even though I tripped over it and broke my arm, because if you put a bit of paper in the recycling box you are not throwing away something you stupidly bought and don’t like, you are saving the planet.  Do it often enough and David Attenborough will pop up in your garden and give you a Blue Peter badge or possibly a Green David badge and a whale to hold while he ties his shoelace.  Maybe.

Either way tidying is empowering and a very good start to the year.  January can be a wasted month lamenting the loss of surprise gifts and hedonistic delights.  It is many years since I refused to see in the New Year in a chilly and fairly dirty pub by a canal, swapping germs with drunken strangers.  Instead I spend the evening ripping up old calendars, turning out old bills from drawers and making way for the year ahead.  In many ways my current clear up is an extension of that.

There is also deep in me the memory of my grandmother who did the final tidy up so well that when the family arrived to clear out the house after her death they found one set of underwear in the drawer, one dress, one cardigan neatly on a hanger and everything else in its place and nothing surplus to requirements anywhere.  She was so far ahead of her time, not damaging the planet, not leaving a mess for others to tidy up, just leaving the love and only good and inspiring words.  I cannot remember a single bad thing she said about anybody.   She was a real grown up.  We’re a bit short of them these days, even in places where you used to expect to find them, such as politics.

It’s a great thing to aspire to: be a grown up and tidy up your own mess.

Ahead of meeting my surgeon tomorrow I’m off to rationalise my sock drawer.

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Keep the faith.

As the solicitors are still dealing with my mother’s will I have been unable to sell the last effects from her rooms at the care home.  There are pictures and some furniture.  I had put them all in the little front bedroom which the OH was going to have as a media room.

When we came to this house 30 years ago the fact that it was open plan was a benefit.  In the previous house I had spent hours locked away in a kitchen through two doors, so the way you could look from the kitchen through the dining room to the living room in this house was nice.  Until I started writing for magazines.  When I first started writing a funny column for Dolls House World,  I did it on a clock work computer on a plastic patio table in the lounge and then walked up the road to the post office with the copy to post.  I think a while after that I posted a small floppy disk with hard copy and then we had dial up and I could send copy through the ether by magic, if the dial up was working and, once it had vanished into the ether, I could telephone to see if it had arrived and then go to the post box with the hard copy of it in case it hadn’t really.

Sometimes the writing was tricky if the television was on, halfway up the wall, next to my head.  I like quiet.

Some years ago when the computer shrank to a laptop it was possible to return the patio table to the garden and type on the desk I bought from the local paper when I was a child for, I think, a fiver which I still owe my Dad.  That did not solve the TV noise problem but while the OH was commuting to work and the S&H was at school that was a time limited problem.  I did housework at the speed of light first thing, started writing and was proof read and done by home time.

Then the OH retired.  His plan was to either be in the pub, in bed, on the golf course or watching TV.  He loves TV.  He likes programmes with bangs and people killing each other as loudly as possible.  So once the S&H had actually married and left for good we thought a good use of his room was a media room for the OH.  We bought a bed settee and he repainted the room, I cleaned the carpet tiles which came up a treat then it all unravelled a bit when my mother died, we realised there wasn’t a set top box up there and we can’t receive Freeview TV because of geography, somebody put a hill in the way.

Then I got this diagnosis, which I just heard today is worse than we thought, it’s in the muscle,  I will have to have the operation in another town at a hospital with the necessary machinery.

So.

I cleared the bedroom, I put the pictures behind the settee, I cleared the junk and put the inoperative TV and related equipment on the chest of drawers and I filled the remaining floor space with a chair and a table and finally I have an indoor writing room.  Yes I do have a garden shed to write in but it is January Northern hemisphere and I am not going to write outside with a little heater as suggested by the OH, I’m going to write upstairs with a radiator as suggested by me.

Meanwhile, when I get a minute, I’ll photograph all the dolls I have assembled and glued but not yet fleshed or dressed, for Miniatura at which I will be.

Andy Hopwood says there will be a table for me and if I am not there it will be a leaflet table for you.

Keep the faith.  Let’s meet at Miniatura.

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A bit of bad news.

I’ve started the year with a bit of bad news and we haven’t even got the first week over yet.

I’ve got cancer.

The results of the exploratory surgery came back, now I have to have an MRI scan on Monday to get an idea of the extent of the damage.  I will then have a hysterectomy either in the local hospital or a more specialist one.  After that it’s a step at a time.

I really must stop blogging how wonderful Miniatura will be because it looks as if I won’t be there again.

If all is going according to plan I’ll have the surgery within a fortnight.  And I can still only get my right arm halfway up.  And having just got use of my car back I won’t be able to drive again.

This is undoubtedly the result of all the stress supplied by my mother and the OH, who is still insisting there’s nothing wrong with him and anyway he’s cut back.

So I’m looking forward to six weeks of his post operative care again.

I will ask once why me?  But I know, it’s because I stick with stressful people.

Anyway, I’ll blog if and when I can.  You keep reading.  I’ll be here, you’ll be there.  Same old.

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Happy New Ear.

Last year was the year of ThingsGoingWrongWithTheBody.  It was not much fun.  There were a lot of bodies, absolute carnage dear heart, oh yes.

Well first there was my mother’s body that conked out completely on January 20th.  The surprise was not that it conked out but that it kept going for so long when she did so little to assist it. She was basically immensely strong.  Just built that way.  Over the year, whilst sticking photographs of my mother and her family into a photograph album, I had a chance to look at her inheritance, genetically speaking.  She was in every way her father, a big square bully with a fondness for as much alcohol as she could get her hands on and a loving of physical sensation.  It was legendary among the family that my grandfather really enjoyed sneezing.  That might have been why she became such a good cook, mad for the sensation of food and married in a time of food shortages.

Then there was the OH.  As soon as my mother’s affairs in another town were concluded and his need to drive there early in the morning was also concluded, the brakes on the drinking were off in a major way.  After he came out of a liver scan white as a sheet but had recovered into total denial again by the time we got to the car park, he got into the driving seat and the foot was on the accelerator again.  Drinking is go!

In the later stages of the disease alcohol destroys the body at a cellular level.  Because alcohol is such a blast of empty energy, the mitochondria, which are the body’s batteries, present in the cells, expand and contract at a much greater rate and size than they are designed to do.  Eventually they rupture the cell walls and the cells die.  This is apparent in the parts of the body which are not many cells thick, for example the fine nerves in the ends of the extremities.  Many people late in the disease have difficulty walking, such as my great grandfather whose gout and gait caused him to miss his footing and fall from the gangplank between two ships, to his death.  The OH has spent the year hobbling and complaining about his feet.  We have spent many hours in the morning scrabbling around the kitchen floor for dropped pills.  Alcohol efficiently destroys the fine alveoli at the top of the lungs too; there were more colds passed on to me last year than I care to remember.

To me.  Oh yes, what a year.  Not only did I suffer from other people’s physical frailties, I suffered from mine a lot.

I don’t think I am particularly strong.  I started as an unwanted foetus, my mother may have smoked during pregnancy, not knowing any better, and I was conceived at a time of food rationing when, to get extra rations, pregnant women had to declare themselves to be so.  My adoptive parents often told me of their search to find smaller and smaller teats for feeding bottles because I was a bad baby and drank my milk too quickly.  From early on food was limited to me.  Later I was a bad teenager, I did not stay small and biddable so I was locked up and starved.

So I am not strong.  Short, fat and weak, an ideal combination for broken bones.  To date, two toes and both arms.  I am now attending weekly, or perhaps that should be weakly, shoulder classes at the hospital.  I am working out every day as usual and incorporating my arm exercises.  It is slow work, it hurts a lot but I am keeping at it, giving up is not a option.  In the middle of the year I had a bone density scan in which I discovered that the daily exercise I have done for the last 17 years has helped to counteract my unfortunate physical inheritance.  It would have been much worse if I hadn’t worked out.  To that I owe my allergy to steroids.

I was fifty when I first got polymyalgia rheumatica in the hips.  This is an autoimmune disease usually achieved by eighty year olds, demonstrably so, as my step mother in law got it last summer.  It took some time to diagnose in me; a few years of it and a clever doctor who finally ordered the blood test.  Meanwhile, as it became apparent that I was dramatically allergic to the first line of defence, the steroids, I asked the old doctor on the verge of retirement what I could do and received the old fashioned answer that the way to keep moving was to get moving and keep it up.

Brought up to idleness and physically weak, I now look upon the development of this disease in me as one of the great benefactions of my life, though I did not at the time.  The last 17 years of exercise have stood me in good stead with my breakages.  I know that to recover and maintain strength you have to work at it.  I know not to give up.

The same is true for all difficulties and challenges brought about by others.  Sticking by difficult people may give you strength of character and an admirable bravery and determination but it doesn’t stop you worrying about people close to you. My life has been fraught by the worry ‘What Stupid Thing Are They Going To Do Next?’  It is usually impossible to say and generally much worse and considerably more original than you would imagine.

My resolutions for this year are to worry about other people less, if possible.  I’d like to cut them out of my head as easily as the mole on my ear.  I think it was March, when I was Sorting Things Out that I asked the doctor about the very large mole behind my right ear.  After a deferred appointment I finally got it cut off at the hospital in October.  My ear is still intact, the mole, about the size of a half walnut, covering most of the back of my ear, was excavated and not cancerous, thank goodness.  I am still waiting for the results of exploratory surgery elsewhere.

I think I can put nearly all my woes down to worrying about other people.  If you are one of those to whom Other People have Occurred, you will understand.  I now believe we are divided into two sorts of people.  Those who happen to people and those who are happened unto.

You can look at it in a different way.  Those who live in fiction, anaesthetising themselves against unpleasantness, while loudly deprecating its existence and those who live in reality and just get on with it.  If you avoid reality you severely limit your learning, if you embrace it you can grow your strength and ability.

If you are reading this I suspect you might be one of the Put Upon.  In which case I hope you can get rid of as much as is practical and live your own life without more encumbrance than you need for the learning.

May I be the first, and possibly only, to wish you Happy New Ear!

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Exciting news about the 70th Min upcoming, plus a load of assorted rubbish and me being silly, to look forward to.

New resolution: Fewer Capital Letters In The Middle Of Sentences.  (Sorry about that, hope it didn’t spoil your Reading Enjoyment.)

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Christmas.

It is.  It quite definitely is.

A few weeks ago I wasn’t going to bother this year.  I couldn’t think why.  At the time I still wasn’t allowed drive my car.  For four months the OH either did the shopping, or drove me to a shop and stood doing the foot tap until I had finished the supermarket dash and bought three items that I didn’t really want or three that I could manage to pick up.  I lived off ready meals for four months.  Only ten days ago, as I was full of anaesthetic, when I requested a prawn cocktail, he bought a giant (admittedly prawn) salad and plonked the box on a tray while he sat down to a steak and chips he had cooked for himself.  I still haven’t had any lab results but I am beginning to recover from the surgery.

Finally allowed to drive, when I could do the shopping myself, Christmas became a possibility.  I sat joyfully in traffic jams to and from toyshops.  I was up until one o’clock last night wrapping them.  I had to keep stopping when my arms stopped working.  I’ve only decorated the porch, I couldn’t hang ornaments on a tree.

Then of course there is recent experience.  The last five Christmases I have done for my mother, who loudly awarded points.  Then there was the one before last when all the visitors stayed  so long they made her ill and the doctor cancelled Christmas two days before the event.

Straight after we married my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so for the next five years I did Christmas for my in-laws and after, lived off fresh air, not to make ends meet, just to make them wave in a friendly fashion at each other.  Then after my father-in-law was widowed I did several as good as I could until he suddenly met someone and we were dropped like hot potatoes.

So Christmas.  It’s about (usually) women, bankrupting themselves and working themselves to a standstill, whether they are injured or not, or well or not, in order to provide for families so the families can sit in the best place on the sofa, farting, eating the best chocolates after the hugest meal and only lifting a finger to monopolise the channel changer.

When I complained the OH said ‘Right then we’ll go away to a hotel.’  I have the same objection to this as a holiday with any kind of addict, namely. what does the non addict do for several hours a day while the addict is doing their addiction?

It was a relief upon joining Al-Anon family groups to discover that I was not the only one dreading Christmas.  For many years the OH has gone to the pub by the canal on Christmas eve dressed in a dinner suit so I could ‘get on with the work.’  Adding to it a dress shirt to be washed and pressed.

Now you might say it’s my own fault.  That I should ask for help.  Have you ever tried ringing a pub to ask someone to come home to lift a heavy turkey or vacuum a carpet?  Have you ever asked a teenager to empty the waste paper baskets throughout the house into the dustbin?  Have you ever let a drunk decorate a tree?

I rest my case.

Perhaps I am being perfectionist.  I did wash the lounge carpet two days ago.  Couldn’t have done it any sooner because of my arm so I did it then.  Now my grandchildren can and will roll upon it without contacting plague.  I think that’s good.  And I dusted.  First time in four months.  And so on.  I don’t just want things doing, I want them doing right.

The problem with Christmas is what it’s about.  Not the religion, which is variable.  Not the customs, which are different round the world.  What it’s about everywhere are families.  Have you got one or are you lonely?  And if you have one just how rubbish is it?  And why do I feel the need to supplement everyone else’s life by being kind to the critical, difficult, needy or just plain insane?

Just once a year, no matter how ghastly the family member we can hand them a stocking or a sprout with an enchanting smile ‘because it is Christmas.’

Aahh.

And really, for some relatives, one day out of 365 is just about do-able.

However you are, whoever you are with, or not, wherever you may be, whatever the weather has done to your house or lack of it, if you have lost someone and are having to make new traditions, or even if you are the lucky one holding the child looking out of the window for a flying reindeer, I wish you a calm heart, a clear conscience and that you may find the peaceful moment in this festive season.

Like everything else, it is inside of yourself.

Happy Christmas to you from me.

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aaand rest.

I have changed over the last few years.

Once upon a time, prior to Miniatura I would work until the last minute and arrive at the show frazzled.  I was not alone.  Hilary Spedding, the much missed Dolls’ House Draper told me the tale of the night she worked right through, only stopping to put her nightie on and leap into bed with her husband just before the alarm sounded, so she could pretend she was just waking up.  A quick glance around the hall revealed a show staffed by the sunken eyed and knackered.  And this is even though we all knew that visitors to the show would ignore anything made in the last three months, instead fastening with glee on the last remnants of something you stopped making a year and a half ago with glad cries of: I didn’t know you made these!

Then of course, there’s Christmas, that well known Festival Of Work for Women.  When the S&H was small, there could not be anything in the washing basket waiting to be done, every window had to gleam, decorations were put up in a pristine house, magically on Christmas eve, the food was traditional, complex and many coursed.  I was so good at it that even my mother said in amazement that I did Christmas perfectly.

I do everything perfectly.  People depend on me.  Not my birthday, of course, we don’t bother with that.  Not me having the presents I want.  In the past when the idle but moneyed gave me money, I used to buy the thing I thought they would want to get me, show it to them, possibly even after wrapping it for them and then put it at the back of a cupboard.  It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want it, it was more that I didn’t want anything because I had trained myself not to want things in childhood.

A broken arm, well really two broken arms, the OH going out to you-know-where every night of his life leaving me alone, the ghastliness of the last four and a half years and nearly seven years attendance at Al-Anon where we discover that it is not only OK to have a life of your own, and to put it before looking after anyone else because it is your life, but that that is normal.  Lifetimes lived around the monumentally selfish alcoholic and people raised that way in families fraught with the disease can skew you to such a point that you lose touch with yourself, supposing you were ever in touch with yourself in the first place.

I have had enough of that.  All of that.

Last week I finally, after three postponements, got wheeled into theatre for a bit of day surgery to find out What’s Up.  Nothing I hope but some samples will discover the truth.

A few years ago I would have carried on making the Christmas cards even though I was full of anaesthetic.  Last week I did not.  I rested.  The OH couldn’t quite manage to make me a meal, though he managed to make steak and chips for himself, so I lived off tea, which he could make and biscuits and I didn’t worry about it.  And when I felt better I made some cards and stopped before I was knackered and went to bed.

So I just finished the cards last night.  Today I will write them.  Everybody says how much they love my hand made cards.  I made 70.  How many cards do I get back?  About 50.  How many are hand made?  About none.

It is the 70th Miniatura coming up.  I will help a sensible amount.  I will dress dolls a few at a time.  I will write my book.  I will rest and do my arm exercises.  I will look after me.

I have been worrying about how I can possibly look after the OH when his health crashes, as it must surely do.  I was worrying how I could explain that I cannot lift him or do everything if it comes to that, with a weak arm full of metal.

But perhaps I don’t have to.  Perhaps from now on the person to look after is me.

I’m off to write some cards.  Slowly.

Take care of yourself this Christmas season.  ’Tis the season to walk carefully on the snow, but only if you have to, and have a bit of a lie-in, but only if you want to and have special food, but only if you fancy it and can be bothered.

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HO HO HO

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