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.


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!


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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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.’


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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Yes, I am full of cold.  Is it because of the idiot young doctor who I think gave me stress fractures in my better arm?  Is it because I had been shut away so long I succumbed to everyone else’s germs as soon as I was set free?  Is it because the OH is permanently sneezing?  Or is it just December?

I had a cold two weeks ago.  I was supposed to be going to hospital for day surgery to investigate a problem.  The previous week’s booking had been cancelled by the hospital.  Then, coughing, I cancelled one.  Then last week I sat in a freezing cubicle for four hours until the surgeon came to apologise that he had run out of time.  This week if I cannot stop sneezing I might have to cancel.  I originally went to my doctor suspecting a problem in October.  October, remember that?  Two months ago.

Am I sneezing because the problem I thought I had has taken hold and is undermining my immune system?  Is worry about the OH and his disintegrating toes compromising my immune system?

Did I get the germs out, finally, in my car, hooray, doing the Christmas shopping?  Thank goodness I did.  Haven’t any food yet but I have the presents.

The S&H and family have had theirs.  He wanted a plumbing/electrical/computery thing that switches the heating on when they are not there so the house is warm when they get back.  Instant heat.

We had that in the Fifties.  My mother laid the fire in the lounge in the morning.  When we got in she doused the sticks with paraffin, held a newspaper over the fireplace and chucked a match behind.  Surprisingly often the newspaper caught light.  And for lo!  Instant heat.  Also scorched wallpaper round the fireplace but lots of people had that.  Hence non combustible marble fire surrounds and hearths.  In the winter the cat used to sleep actually on the coals that had gone out in the grate in the morning room.  After which I used to wash her in a dolls’ bath in the garden.  I got scragged regularly.  We all got dirtier in those days but my grandmother put Omo in your bath and you were clean as a whistle.

Did we ail less because we had a protective coating of filth?  I remember my grandmother examining my fingernails and asking me who I was in mourning for?  If I had black nails now would I still be sneezing?


Maybe.  Maybe not.  Ash!  Washu!  Whoosh!


Someone will have to go out in the cold for more tissues.  I gave some fabric hankies to the charity shop in the seventies and made the rest into doll’s house bedding in the eighties.

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The weakest link.

I had a disastrous meeting on Tuesday, which has taken me some time mentally to recover from.  It was my last scheduled meeting with the surgeon who put my arm together with a lot of metal in it.  But instead, after the usual round of X-rays, the person who ducked into the cubicle was a young man I hadn’t met before, well over six feet tall and big with it.  I explained how I was beginning to be able to put my arm behind my back but he interrupted : Oh no, you must think of yourself now as permanently disabled.


He lifted my arm right up until I was on tip toe, then he let it drop.  ‘See, I can lift it up but you will never be able to – the tendons will never mend, you must think of yourself as disabled.’

I said I thought they were mending but he asked how old I was.  ‘There,’ he said, ‘you are too old to get better.  If you were thirty you might but not now you are disabled.’ He asked me to push my left wrist (the one I broke five years ago) against him, he pushed back until he hurt me.  ‘You are weak,’ he said, ‘and disabled now.’  Then he left the cubicle laughing.

In the evening I went next door to visit my neighbour, the orthopaedic surgeon.  He told me there had been complaints about the young man but asked me not to make a formal complaint because the man had a young family.  He said to wait six months and if I was still not better then, that he would himself refer me to the surgeon again to see what else could be done.

On Thursday the physio, who I don’t think is allowed to see me again, lifted my arm, gently and, mostly, it stayed there.  She pointed out that I couldn’t do that just a month ago and therefore the tendons must be healing, or it wouldn’t stay up at all.  She then booked me into a shoulder class which begins next Friday.

I am hoping that my arm will continue to heal and regain strength.  I am hoping to be well enough in another four months to do the 70th Miniatura, to which end I am currently assembling 48th scale dolls.

In life, sometimes you meet the right person in the right job, which makes the world a better place and benefits everyone.  Then, sometimes, you meet a person in the wrong job which helps no one except himself.  He was arrogant, loud and very keen to put me down and aggrandise himself.  My next door neighbour’s wife, a lady of litigious inclinations, was very keen that I hang the young doctor out to dry.  Ten years ago my frequent dealings with my mother might have made me frightened to do so, for fear of repercussions, because, with her, there were always repercussions.  Four years ago, overcoming my fears by facing them, I might have written a stiff letter to someone senior at the hospital.

Right now I am not inclined to let any ego problems the young doctor owns to become my responsibility.  I need to use my energy for my own healing.  I do not accept that I am permanently disabled.  I do not accept that anything at all is permanent.  The nature of the universe is change.  People learn and grow if they are capable of doing so; it is a natural process which will occur with or without my help.  It is only four months since my accident.  My left wrist, still aching, has done all the work for my right arm for four months now but it was only strong enough to do so about two years ago.  I think it took three years to heal to that point and it doesn’t even have any great metal screws in it.

Only someone young, strong and stupid, would regard age as a disability in itself or a disadvantage.  Many of us improve with age, I certainly have done so.  I cannot believe that they paid me to be a teacher at only twenty one, I had a fund of endless ignorance compounded by my strange upbringing.  I had a good education and I was quite bright but when I compare what I know now with what I knew then, there is no comparison.  I think of my mother, most of her head literally empty, watching Masterchef on TV and remarking on the sauce that was going to split or the meat that had seized to the pan in the wrong way a good five minutes before anyone in the studio had noticed that there was a potential problem.

Life is educational, we are all here to learn from experience.  However you are today, you will be wiser tomorrow.

Just think how fantastic you’ll be next week!  I’m proud to know you.


Not counting.  Four months or thereabouts.

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A first.

Well here’s a first.  The table is covered in china painting and I’m not doing it.  It’s just sitting there.  I love china painting, it’s the reward for all the dreadful grit scrubbing.

Why am I not doing it?  Well. you know when I said I thought I was coming down with flu and then realised it was just RSI shoulder pain?  No it wasn’t, it was flu.

Fortunately I had a letter from the hospital putting back my appointment for the exploratory surgery by a week, other wise I’d have turned up sneezing and been sent home.  Next week I’m at the hospital three days running, one is the first surgeon, the second is the second and the third is the physio and I absolutely have to be well enough for a general anaesthetic and even more importantly, look like someone who can be told they can drive their car.

So I am resting.  Well resting as much as you can coughing and sneezing.  I have found as I have aged, some would say like a fine wine, others like an old sock or yesterday’s forgotten pot of tea, that I am getting wisdom of a sort.  When I am ill, I stop and do being ill.  It’s actually more efficient.  It’s also one of the benefits of being self employed and old.  When you are working for someone else the dilemmas around being ill and turning up for work are all Catch 22.  If you go to work ill you can turn a three day cold into a three week cold in your sinuses and infect numerous people until everyone at work is ill too.  Or you can lie on the sofa worrying about someone else having to do your work, or stealing your work or, perish the thought, doing your work much better than you so that when you go back everyone says ‘Oh are you back?’ with entirely the wrong inflection.

I have had a lot of illness in my life, much of it due to the bungled operation to remove my tonsils.  I have lost count of the number of doctors who have peered into my throat and said the equivalent of ‘Good grief are those your tonsils?  No wonder you are ill.’  Yeh, I know.  But it was a very fashionable operation in the 50s.  You’d have had to go abroad to find a child with a full set of tonsils and adenoids.  Or anyone who hadn’t been to a German Measles party. 

Different times, different customs.  No doubt fifty years from now someone will be Cloud blogging by thought transference how very altered their life would have been if they hadn’t been trolled at 13 by school ‘friends.’  We had bullies at school too but at least you knew who they were.  It’s remarkably simple to spot the bully when they are literally in your face and holding you arm up your back.  These days standards are dropping in bullying; as it’s mostly done on social media sites you don’t have to be physically impressive, or have a snotty nose, a practised sneer or even a henchman.  My bully at school had a hench girl who was little lank-haired rat, attached like the tail of a comet that made them easy to spot as the bully orbited the playground looking for someone to be evil to, or me.  I was the school poet and therefore a standing target.

How glad I am that I do not have a teenage daughter and how much I wish all this would go away before the GD gets to that age.  I hope her parents hold off getting her a mobile phone for as long as they can; when the source of the misery is in your pocket, how do you escape it?

The source of my current misery is up my nose, I am off to get full use out of a box of tissues and I am old enough to be thankful for them.  I used to be allowed to have Grandpa’s big hanky when I had a cold.  You haven’t lived until you have rotated the same cloth hanky three days running to try to find a dry bit, or, equally charmingly, had to wait until Monday (wash day) to get a clean one.  Actually that’s inaccurate, Tuesday was fresh hanky day because by then it had been ironed.


The past is another country, the national costume includes a pair of grey flannel knickers with a pocket in them for a week old hanky.  Lovely.

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OH! Ooh! Ow!

I did it.  I unpacked the kiln this morning, look.


Two shelves full of 48th, which is only a particular number of dolls when you start to match them up and see how many left legs you have for a certain doll, for example.

The shelf at the top is jointed dolls, where there are two holes in the body and the arms and legs are wired on.  The shelf at the bottom is the wired dolls in which the torso has a big hole at the waist and is hollow and has holes for the arms and the half arms and legs are also hollow.  Here’s a closer look at each.



And then the idiot Jane did something really stupid that anyone with a metal arm should not do.  Yup, I did.  I grit scrubbed the lot.

Mid way through the afternoon I began to feel very odd.  I thought I must be coming down with flu.  Everything ached.  My shoulders hurt so much I could have sat and cried, I didn’t because I don’t and then half way through the evening I had the brilliant idea of taking some painkillers.  I have some morphine left if it is so bad I cannot sleep.  I am a total idiot.

But, you know what?


Die Hard in a dirty vest, banana up the nose, but I did it.

Someone at a show many years ago expressed the opinion that making dolls must be a dainty occupation suitable for a lady.

And the rest.


70th show in the spring.

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Things I love, things I hate.

The last week has been one of ups and downs, filled equally with things I love and things I hate.  Hate is a strong word, there are few things I hate, although being shouted at by someone with a damaged brain is definitely one of them and there seems to have been enough of that lately.

I have spent the last few years reading a lot about the brain, not just to understand what doctors were saying about my mother, but because it seems to have been my lot in life to have to pick up the pieces for people who have damaged brains. 

I don’t think you are your body, though the popular adulation of tall, slim, white young women with long hair seems to be causing difficulties for  many girls who do not have that physical appearance.  I do think you might be your brain because that is where your construct of the world lives and where you make the decisions about how to interact with the world of your perception.  A healthy brain, working well, is one of the wonders of the world and must be one of the greatest because it is responsible for all the other wonders that have been made by people.

A brain damaged by disease, at birth, by accident or by substance abuse is a difficult thing to deal with.  I cannot admire enough the people who choose to make the care of people with damaged brains, their work.  In my life, so far, it has been my lot to have to care for and/or interact with three of those four categories.  I have not had to deal with a person with significant head injuries, though perhaps if there is acknowledgement from the outset that damage has taken place, no one is expecting ‘normal’ behaviour.

I do know a young person born with an incomplete brain and I have taught children whose brains, either poorly nurtured or damaged before they were born by parental substance abuse, were never going to reach their potential and would struggle just to live independently.  I knew Downs Syndrome children and married into a family where there was an inherited gene responsible for the condition, there were a number of unsuccessful pregnancies and some children with the condition who survived, one to maturity.  Such children are a constant source of worry to good parents, especially ageing parents.  In the course of all Dolls’ House activities, I met quite a few families with these types of problems, both as collectors and exhibitors and interviewed a fair few.  The Dolls’ House is the family where the maker calls the shots and ensures that everyone is well and happy and beautiful and has everything they possibly need.  When I began miniaturising, I thought it was because we had failed to sell the house and move to the new town with the commuting OH.  It took some years before I twigged that it was about the people, though you’d think as I knew I was adopted and didn’t have people of my own I’d have realised earlier.  Some miniaturists have been so badly treated and have had such experiences at the hands of others that their houses are devoid of people; they just have perfect rooms and tidy, clean furniture without any pesky people to mess things up.  Queen Mary, who made the House that inspired the nation between the wars, doesn’t even have a servant in her house, though there is a snail that is reputed to move around the garden when no one is looking.

When I began I used all the evenings in the week when the OH was down the pub to miniaturise and, as that was every evening, except one, I got a lot done.  Thirty years later I am still alone every evening, making dolls and I still don’t think much of some real people, especially those who destroy good working brains by idleness, by dehydration, by alcohol abuse and then use what’s left to harangue me.  I thought that had finished with my mother but apparently not.

So to the things I love, which are, of course the dolls.  I have spent a week pouring 48th scale, three days cleaning and  the kiln has just gone off.  I did have a huge wastage rate, about half of what I poured.  My right arm is still not strong, picking dolls up to clean was a bit hit and miss and when my arm got tired I was clumsy and broke dolls at a great rate.  I had not realised just how dextrous I previously had been.  But two kiln shelves full later there will be 48th scale dolls for all the people who have been asking.  For the next few days I will be china painting and then assembling, so, if it was you asking, I’ll be dressing soon, all requests considered.

There might be a slight hiccup.  The current conditions of stress have given me some physical symptoms which need to be explored surgically.  It would have been this week, as I have been fast tracked, but it has been put back a week by the hospital.  As usual I am so grateful they are helping.  I am doing everything I can to help myself, I am working out, I am positive thinking, I am making dolls.  I should be making Christmas cards but I don’t have the heart.

Over the years I have collected some friends who have also had lives that were not easy.  I used to say to them it was proof that they were the hero in their own story because, if you’ve ever watched an adventure film, you’ll notice that a lot happens to the hero and it’s never of the ‘hero goes shopping, gets some great bargains, goes home and has toast and tea’ variety.  In reality, of course, the Die Hard hero would have done exactly that in a dirty vest, years ago; Indiana Jones would be gibbering to himself in a care facility for the completely loopy otherwise-abled with a selection of interesting tropical diseases and Lord Greystokes would be sitting quietly in the corner of his cage trying to stick a banana up his nose.

Would that real life were shoved into two and a half action packed hours with popcorn.  Reality, I have discovered. is twenty four long hours in every single day and, whilst nothing lasts forever, maybe, under the onslaught of it all, neither will you.

Will your hero survive and triumph?  Will I be last woman standing?  Will I break anything else and be left incarcerated with ranting all day because I’m still not allowed to drive my car?  How will the dolls come out of the kiln? 

For the answers, or very possibly, a load of new questions, as ever, watch this space and, I would like to add, one of the things I love is that you are reading.  (Otherwise, you know, I’m just muttering away to myself.)


Once I’ve got the dolls I might begin the countdown to the next show ( which is the 70th) or is that tempting fate?

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