Marmite Wars (and Other News)

Tesco bans marmite from its shelves! The attention-grabbing headlines reflect a wider truth which is, funnily enough, exactly what any sane voter could see would happen. I voted ‘remain’ because to leave the European Union is likely to benefit the few at the expense of the many. There are some very undemocratic processes within the EU that need reform, but our departure throws out an infant blue whale with the proverbial bathwater. The pound depreciates. Food prices rise. No sugarsnaps*, Sherlock. More on this from the Financial Times:

https://www.ft.com/content/2c651be2-9228-11e6-8df8-d3778b55a923

*’sugarsnaps’: my word of choice. Polite yetersnappy.

*******

In other news, I continue to use the KonMari method of decluttering, along with the Sidetracked Home Executives method of home management. The household is becoming more organised and orderly, albeit at a slower pace than I would like due to my health (and certain messy members of the family who shall remain nameless). My lovely Fluff, now aged 13, has really taken the ideas on board and has been very helpful. I’m so proud of her. Her attitude to everything has changed for the better lately. Hurrah!

I’ve begun studying Data Analysis again with the Open University. It’s going well but I need to be extremely careful to stick to a schedule of study, housework and rest because if I don’t it will all fall apart (again).

My dear mother-in-law was poorly and ended up in hospital for a week but is back at the care home now. I think the dementia has progressed, but she is very well looked after. I’m going to crochet a cuddly animal for her, because often she needs to be comforted in a very basic way and what better than something to snuggle with? I’ve been crocheting away like mad, lately, ready for Christmas as money is a bit tighter this year (and because when I finally decluttered my craft stuff I found a huge stash of yarn). I’ve even been to a sewing class where I’m learning to use a sewing machine 😀

Prince has had a resurgence of the pain that made him stay off school for six months (from December ’15 to June ’16), so we have an appointment at the pain clinic for the beginning of next month. He asked me yesterday if I was praying for him. ‘Of course!’ was my reply but I was so touched that he thought to ask. Please pray, if you’re so inclined, that we get to the bottom of it quickly? His life is hard enough with the inevitable, near-constant anxiety that autism brings. 

How’s life where you are? I’d love to know.

A Good Yarn…

“It’s a bit like that Fifty Shades of Red thing, isn’t it? I mean, Fifty Shades of Blue, er – black? Fifty Shades of um…” The young woman frowned as she gestured to her neighbour’s knitting.

“Grey.” The neighbour, a woman who looked as if she was in her mid-forties but was actually a good decade older, lifted the blanket proudly so we could all see the colours as they blended in gentle waves. Murmurs of approval wafted around the room.

The first speaker laughed, “I knew it was a colour!”

“I like using this wool because it makes patterns all on its own. I don’t have to follow any instructions! Have any of you read Fifty Shades of Grey?” The older woman looked around conspiratorially.

“Ooh, yes!” The large lady to my left said with glee.

“I found it in an airport and I thought I’d give it a go, see what the fuss was all about, but I put it down after three pages; it was so poorly written.” A lady with a mop of grey hair and a kindly face interjected.

I tried not to squirm and stayed focused on my yarn. This was, after all, an afternoon knitting group. I hoped someone would change the subject. I had not been along on a Tuesday afternoon before. The Thursday morning ladies were full of banter but not quite like this. I told myself ‘this is my reward for getting through all my tasks this morning.’ Still…

“I don’t care how it’s written!” The large lady bellowed. “A few commas and full stops aren’t going to put me off!”

“Me neither! I’m no prude! Hey, Liz, have you seen that new show on the BBC – The Guardroom?” The large lady’s other neighbour smirked. “Oh, damn, I’ve dropped a stitch.”

“Oh yes, I really like that. It’s got that Desmond feller in it.” Liz replied.

“I know. The arse on that one, eh? He turned around and I thought, ‘Ooh, just a bit higher, Des!”

“Have you seen The Guardroom, Maggie?” A*se Lady turned to the lady who runs the wool-craft sessions (I don’t know her real name – not that I ever use real names on my blog – but in my mind she is now indelibly the A*se Lady).

“I haven’t, no…” Maggie gave a short giggle, as if unsure what to say.

“You should!” A*se Lady said.

“Perhaps I’ll take a look.” Maggie agreed, pleasantly, her eyes fixed firmly on her yarn.

I offered up a silent prayer. This was not an enjoyable experience… I found myself longing for the conversation of Christian ladies and simultaneously reminding myself that one has to accept people as they are and how do you ‘do Jesus’ if you don’t interact? I briefly wondered if I should make a comment on the portrayal of women as passive victims of sexual violence but decided it probably wouldn’t go down too well. I admit these kinds of things spark off bad memories in me, so I’m never sure if my reaction is justified or not. I concentrated on my task, as if those rows of double crochet were in need of my hard-focused attention.

The conversation turned to the merits of cigarettes versus roll-ups, why rottweilers are such nice dogs and the best way to drink rum. Not having much to say on any of these subjects either, I kept mum (I don’t drink because I hate the taste, I’ve never smoked and I was too unsettled to offer my opinion on dogs). I learned that A*se Lady smokes but doesn’t drink, and that Liz had a very nice rottweiler, but he died after being bitten by a Jack Russell. There’s an irony in there somewhere.

The only thing I actually said throughout the session were words admiring one lady’s baby blanket and a ‘yes, please’ to Maggie’s offering of a cup of tea. I admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I came to the end of my cushion cover and genuinely couldn’t continue. I gathered my wool and hook into my bag and stood to leave.

As I smiled and said goodbye, Maggie got up to follow me. I opened the door and stepped out into the bitter air. Maggie closed the door behind her.

“It’s usually a bit quieter on a Tuesday.” she said, almost apologetically. “The Monday session didn’t happen so lots of them came today instead. It’s not usually as racy on a Tuesday. These lot are a bit too racy, even for me!” Maggie smiled.

“I’ll come again.” I said. “Thanks, Maggie. See you!”

********

Once, when studying the patterns of conversation in English Language A-Level (my first love was linguistics), my tutor said he’d be fascinated to know what a conversation was like when it was just women. I recalled this today because the way the women were talking actually reminded me of the way that (some) men talk. Usually there’s a very female-group-thing going on. We discuss our children and our families and the weather and, well, various things, but it’s always cosy and warm, slightly gossipy but not ill-natured. Just not today.

Generosity

[Jesus said] “Don’t begin by travelling to some far off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighbourhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”

Matthew 10:8 (The Message)

It was the generosity of others that first showed me the love of Jesus. They gave freely. It changed my life. In the words of Psalm 23 it restored my soul.

 

Change a life; be generous. It can be something as small as looking someone in the eye and smiling. It can be as big as giving up your life’s dream for a life following Him. Either way, what an adventure!

 

I am glad God reminded me of this today, when I’m tired and feel like I’m not much use to anyone. I have spent most of the afternoon lying on the bed crocheting a Christmas present for my mother. I will go and pick up young Chip from school soon, but then I will probably lie down again. I am so thankful that I can at least crochet. I pray that my mother and my father will come to know Jesus for themselves! With every stitch, this is what I pray. I don’t even have to leave my bed, let alone travel, to serve God. What a blessing 🙂

Backgarden Chickens and Other News from the Lost Corner

I have just picked up a book called ‘Backgarden Chickens and Other Poultry’ – you know, ’cause we’re livin’ the high life in this Lost Corner of Middleshire.

After studying the environment as part of my Open University degree I have become very interested in being more self-sufficient and having a less wasteful lifestyle. We’re planning to move again and will have a larger garden, so chickens might be a option. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will rightly consider the fact that we’re moving house again as slightly bonkers. Well, yes, I admit to the slightly – largely, in fact – bonkers nature of my life. But I’m doing great, thanks for asking. As part of this less wasteful lifestyle, I’ve also gone slightly nuts over crochet, though none of my projects are finished yet. But I found myself drooling over a crocheted jacket the other day.

Pssst! If I usually give you a Christmas present, you now know what to expect. Groovy 😉

Maybe I’ll post photographs when my projects are complete. Maybe I won’t. Ah, the delights of being a housewife-cum-mature <ahem> student – [aside: the other day the Eyebrow Threading Lady told me I looked great for a woman in her 40s. I am not in my 40s. Eyebrow (what’s left of it – she seemed to think I no longer wanted any) raised in irony.]

Anyway, we have been renting for the past two years and have finally made the decision to buy, although this time we shan’t be moving to a whole new area. Because, you know, when you’ve done that three times in two years the novelty wears off. This will be our fifth home since we married in 2010. But I’m so excited because at last I will be able to put pictures on the wall and redecorate when I want to and sledgehammer holes in the wall should the whim take me! Maybe not that, but hurrah! We have a second viewing of a gorgeous, slightly run-down Edwardian semi and I am beyond thrilled.

In other news – my son, who has autism and is now taller than me, still lets me know on a daily basis where my flaws lie. He’s very matter-of-fact about it. Sheldon Cooper eat your heart out. I’d just like to know when the writers of Big Bang Theory met my boy, because they do such a good job in recreating his mannerisms and concrete thinking. Still, you have to smile…

And in yet more news, my father-in-law is home from hospital for the nth time this year (which is good) and is with my mother-in-law in a nearby care home. It is a lovely care home with warm and friendly staff. We do our best to visit daily and to ensure their needs and desires are met. Yesterday I was ill and stayed in bed all day (I’m fine now, thanks). As a result, Frank took on the role of mummy and daddy and didn’t get to visit his parents. I visited earlier today and took my MIL out for two hours, looking round the shops, which she loves. On my return, I went to write in the notebook which she uses to remember things (she has dementia so this is her way of trying to keep track). My heart sank when I saw the entry for yesterday. It followed lines and lines of ‘when can we go home?’ ‘NEED to go home!’ etc.

“8.25pm Frank did not come

It said, underlined. And then, on the next page, I saw this:

‘CRUEL’

It is hard when you know that you have done all that you could, for months on end, for someone, and they still conclude that you’ve been ‘cruel’ (it’s not the first time that word has been used). Still, I guess that’s part and parcel of being elderly. They have become so focused on their own little world that the fact that other people might have other concerns, or things to deal with, gets lost. Also, I take comfort in the fact that five minutes after this was written, it will have been forgotten. Such is dementia. I tore it out because I didn’t want to leave it there, with my sweet little note about having been out shopping coming after. It just didn’t seem right, somehow.

If you know someone who is caring for a relative with dementia, please pray for them. It is not an easy road to travel, both for the sufferer (who cannot understand why people are treating them differently and conclude it must be for nefarious reasons) and for the family, who have to balance taking control, but still treating their relatives with respect and dignity. Some days, this is a very difficult task! Frank spent two hours trying to explain, gently, the reasons they can’t go home, two days ago. He has done this now more times than I can count.

I was praying about the situation earlier and ended up saying, “But God, it’s like banging my head against a brick wall!”

And God said, “So this is all about you, right?”

I laughed, forgot about myself, and prayed in earnest for the needs of my in-laws.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?