Sunday, 30 December 2007

Well, Yes...

it has been a while. Lots of water has passed under the proverbial bridge. But before I splash about in its depths, I thought I'd give you a laugh. This is the anatomy of a photoshoot, Barnett style.

You see, the photographer didn't really think the light was good enough, but his assistant insisted. (well done, Moira...). And then this happened....

Well, it's hard to get over being self conscious (photo 1). And then when you do, they're not happy...widen your eyes, they said. this...I said? Nooooooo, they said in unison. And don't do that, either. (photo 2)

But when all is said and done, these guys know what they're doing, and I got some great photos (photo 3)! Thanks to the wonderful Mike Arnold and his lovely assistant Moira!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Autumn's Arrival...

reminds me of the kind of cooking I like doing...soups and stews and bread. In the summer, it's too hot for such fare, but I'm sitting writing this and smelling the wonderful scent of a slowly simmering soup (leek and tattie (potato to the non Scots among us!)). Healthy, filling fat, very little salt, low in calories; those of us trying to Lose Weight Through Eating Healthily find these things Very Important! Just veg and water. Yum.

Joining the soup pot out of the cupboard is my slow cooker (crockpot). In there, there is diced pork, with peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, mixed herbs, smoked paprika, garlic...that doesn't smell bad, either, and it will taste great (she said modestly...).

Bread, though, I haven't made for a while, and it brings me back to the buy a bread machine, or not to buy a bread machine. I suspect, on the one hand, that if I did buy a machine, I'd use it. On the other hand, it feels a bit like an unnecessary expense (a bit like a yoghurt 'machine', when all you need is a bowl, some live yoghurt and a warm place...). There's nothing like a bit of hand kneading for getting rid of stress... And I do have some lovely bread recipes... And it doesn't take all that long to do by hand... Oh, decisions, decisions... I'm off to stir the soup.

Sunday, 23 September 2007


I was woken at 6am on Thursday by the words, Happy Anniversary, dear, here's your present. And as usual, I had forgotten. Sigh. I'm very good with birthdays, but somehow the anniversary just falls out of my head every time. Fortunately, I was going into Norwich anyway, to buy some bits and pieces, so got my dearly beloved a sports anorak to wear to the football (he's Chairman of a local amateur team). But I did have to admit that I'd forgotten...or rather, that I didn't realise that it was the 21st on Friday...I don't keep a diary, don't really read the papers, so how would I know...the date doesn't even come up on my computer screen. I do always know what time it is, though.

And for those of you who count, it's our 28th wedding anniversary. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? My mother stood arranging my collar on The Day and said, I give it six months. Hah. Shows what she knew... and whilst it's possible I just stuck it out to spite her, it seems unlikely, even for me...particularly as she died three years ago!

The photo was taken at an organic farm in the Borders a couple of weeks ago, just to remind me what the hills look like... the view is stunning, though.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

It's All Her Fault...

...that Alison woman, her and her partner, Michael. They came down to visit from Scotland, and after a whirlwind of cleaning and a bit of cooking, I got immersed in a whirlwind of sightseeing and Having A Good Time, which involved eating lots, drinking quite a bit and generally having FUN! No time to blog at all...

And now the party's over...awww...and I'm back to normality such as it is experienced here (ie messy, disorganised and full of art. You know you don't clean enough when the thing that you thought was a dried up leaf was actually a mummified mouse...either that, or I'm needing my eyes tested. It was definitely mummified, though; we saw a mummified cat at Lavenham, an exhibit at the Guild House there. Apparently they used to put dead cats up chimneys in ye olden days, to scare off bad spirits and the like. Not sure what a mouse would scare away...probably all visitors in future, if they're reading this blog...

I was also presented with a dead mouse this morning. Breakfast in bed, according to Advo. Time to get up, in my opinion. Yuk.
ps Alison, I told you I would put that photo on my didn't believe me, did you... hehehe...

Friday, 10 August 2007


looks remarkably comfortable up there, doesn't she? She's lying on some of the strips I've cut for Andrew and Sarah's quilt, and she's trying to snooze, despite the attentions of her beloved Advo. Twas not always so; when we got her, she was a frightened six month old kitten, mother of her own litter (Merlin was one of hers, the runt of the litter, apparently, but that's another story altogether.). The thing about Millie was that she had a very black and white approach to life. Cats, she said, were not allowed on the furniture. If she saw her sister Mollie up on the sofa, or Merlin, for that matter, she would box their ears and screech at them. Same if they sat on anything that wasn't a newspaper. Or even without any provocation at all. Attack first, ask questions afterwards, that was our Millie. (Mind you, she had the sense not to attack Advo, though she has been known to dot him over the nose if he importunes...).

The vet explained that she could cope with cats, or she could cope with humans, but not both together in the same household. So the other cats Got It, as we were a bit on the big side for attacking. Gradually, over the time we've had her, she has relaxed. She now sits on my knee, sometimes, purring. She gets on the bed for a snooze like everyone else; the table, too, any quilt that happens to be around, whatever. She purrs with enthusiasm when stroked, and she talks endlessly, particularly if there's no grub in the bowls.

She's a changed cat. Amazing what a lot of love will do for a cat. Or a human, for that matter.... it's all just a question of time and faith.

Sunday, 5 August 2007


was basking happily in the shallows on Friday. I haven't looked today, but given that it's around 80 deg, he's doubtless doing the same today. Though we've always lived in rural or semi rural communities, this is the first garden in which we've had a pond. It delights us both. This year, the frogs have been particularly enthusiastic, and lots of tiny baby frogs are leaping in and out of the pond. They get bottom marks for brains, though; I put in a 'bridge', a piece of wood that I thought would be easier for them to use to get out of the pond. Instead, they ignore it, or, in one or two instances, scramble up the side of the 'bridge' to get to the edge of the pond and then climb up the much steeper incline. This is not the brightest behaviour I've ever seen in an animal...

The newts are incredible too. Every so often, there's a flash of orange belly in the pondweed, and another newt sculls by. They are such beautiful animals, in movement and repose. And then of course, there's the dragonflies dancing around the pond. We didn't have dragonflies in Scotland, their shimmering grace is a delight.

And then, of course, there's the domestic animals, the four cats. Or is it five? We seem to have acquired a fifth, or at least a half of a fifth (the half that eats...). Black as midnight, thin as a rake, with a torn (and healed) ear and a terror of all humans (I'm sure it's not just us...). Not sure if it's a he or a she, but it gets on tolerably well with all the cats here, though we do hear it crying a lot, perhaps it's more of an armed truce. It does have a tendency to sneak in when nobody's looking, and wolf up whatever food is around at a rate of knots. We heard it coughing yesterday, and hope that it'll calm down around us sufficiently for us to be able to see if it really is ill, and if so, to allow us to help it. I'm planning to spend a bit of time in the garden next week, preparing a place for my new shudio, perhaps we can get to know each other a bit better that way... though my four tend to congregate around me in the garden, as if to say, hey, what *are* you doing here, this is our space...

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Losing It

I go through life forgetting, misplacing, and downright losing things. It used to be handbags, as a teenager. It took a while to remember that I was carrying one at all...and more than one bank account has been frozen while I look for the bag in which the cheque book was carried. And yes, I've been known to mislay a credit card, but that was later... What else? Keys were a favourite. But for some reason, the current 'lostit' is my camera. Which is a Big Problem, as I can't take pictures for my blogs...or the book...or anything else for that matter. (This is a pic of Oxburgh, taken some time ago; blogging without pictures seems somehow unnatural.)

So, I mentioned it to Robin, who wandered around the house, muttering. How could anyone *lose* a camera, particularly a camera the size of mine, with a Big Lens. How could anyone *lose* something that had cost so much money (he's an accountant, bless him, he can't help himself). He didn't say, stupid woman, but it was all in there between the lines...

This is not the first time I've lost a camera, of course. I lost the first digital I had during the move to Norfolk. I had it in the temporary house, and then suddenly didn't have it when we moved to our permanent address. I thought I'd put it in a box, but I'd unpacked all the boxes, and it didn't turn up... Lost, right? So I bought another (the one that's currently lost). And three months after that, I opened the box with the computer stuff in it and...there was my camera, nestling securely amongst the discs, grinning smugly. There had been logic in that, of course. I'd figured that I wouldn't lose the box with the discs in it, so that made it a good place to put the camera, which does, after all, have a connection with the computer, so I'd remember, right? (Wrong, as it turns out, but it was a good thought...). So that camera went to a friend, and I kept my nice shiny new one...only to...misplace it.... sob. Anyone seen a camera???

Friday, 20 July 2007


Very. I'm grateful that I didn't have to go out today, as after a grey start to the day, it started to rain around 2pm and has only just stopped. We have a puddle the size of a paddling pool outside the front door, but, fortunately, nothing worse. Sally was on the phone this morning prior to moving all sorts of things from the ground floor to the upper parts of the house, but fortunately, despite her worries, the stream in her garden stayed where it was supposed to...though some neighbours have flooded houses to contend with.

I suspect the only creatures happy about the rain in our garden are the newts and frogs. We've been watching the frogs metamorphose from wiggly, squiggly tadpoles to miniscule frogs that can leap far higher than their own height. I do wonder about their sense of direction, or just their sense, perhaps, as they spend ages scrambling out of the pond only to take a leap one way, then leap straight back in again, and begin the process All Over Again.

I, on the other hand, having intended to go out and start Cutting Things Down to allow the erection of a large shed, or should that be shudio, decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and remained undrookit. Works for me.

ps drookit in Scots means soaked or drenched. As in the expression 'ye look like a drookit rat', which I'm sure was applicable to lots of people in the UK today...

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Wipe Out...

pretty much sums up the last week. Tiredness is a theme of my blogging, and it caught up with me properly last week. You know what they said about Ginger Rogers, that she did everything that Fred Astaire did, but backwards, and in high heels... well, that was the comparison between teaching in English and teaching in French. Being my usual stubborn self, though, I refused to admit how tired I was and...cleaned house... (What? I hear you mean you got overtired over housework???). Err, yes. Silly me.

Today, though, I feel better. So I'm going to rest some more, and on Monday, go find out if I'm anaemic yet again, and discuss what to do about it... that should be entertaining for one of us, at least.

My lovely son is now recuperating from a knee operation last week, he's not known as Hopalong for nothing...get well soon, Andrew...seen here making faces at his father's 50th birthday celebration. Pretty typical, really. Sigh.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

I Read, Therefore I Am.

is the way it must seem to most people who visit us, what with books piled everywhere, and me with my nose in one whenever the opportunity presents itself. I read several at a time, usually, though not simultaneously, of course, that would be sillier than I usually allow myself... Currently, I'm reading a Christopher Brookmyre book, which is a joy. He is a Scottish satirical writer, and is one of the few people whose writing makes me laugh out loud.

Another Scottish favourite is Isla Dewar, a completely different kettle of fish, but with the same pawky humour as Brookmyre. And the rest of the Scottish population, of course! Unlike when reading Lewis Grassic Gibbon, though, or even Rabbie Burns, you don't have to take a crash course in Scots As It Is Spoke in order to enjoy these writers. They're contemporary, slick, funny and relevant to life as it is lived wherever you are. Everybody knows a Magda, the eponymous heroine of Dewar's first book. Whilst Brookmyre's politicians could be slithering around anywhere in the world, I suspect. I do read lots of other writers, from other cultures, but whenever I need cheering up, these two are always close to hand. Which is more than can be said for my reading glasses...but that's already been told on the other blog...

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

And Now...

for something completely different. Monday is washday, we all know that, right? So on Monday, I stripped the bed and washed the linens. I have to admit to detesting ironing bedcovers with a passion, so I have a tendency to hoard them. On Monday, though, in the interests of wiping the slate clean (or in this case, killing the ironing with a single stroke...or series of strokes...), I brought the ironing board downstairs, planning to watch mindless television whilst I ironed.

As you can see from the pictures, the cats had other plans. First, it was Advo, the oldest of the four, and quite a tart, as you can see from the photo. He was sound asleep, and I didn't have the heart to move him, so I went off to do something else. A bit later, I came back and found that Millie had joined the sleep in. She adores Advo with a passion which is really not returned. There she was on the floor, sound asleep, so I left them to it.

Later that afternoon, near cat dinner time, I went to see what the story was. You'll note that Millie has got herself nicely up in amidst the washing (and right on my blue silk trousers), happily esconced beside Her Hero, Advo. Both are dare you disturb us from our slumbers with that noisy camera??? I've said it before, and I'll doubtless say it again; a mother's place is in the wrong. Even if it's only the cats who think it. Or should that be, especially? Happily, the word 'dinner' makes up for a lot. With cats as with kids!
At least I no longer have kids to deal with...well, only at the end of the phone!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Down, Down, Down?

Courtesy of the new operating system, Windows Vista, I have newsfeeds on my desktop; as they are generally from US news stations, I don't tend to read them, unless something catches my eye. Today, though, there was a comment from MNSBC news, that over the last five years, there has been a 20% increase in visits to doctors and hospitals in the US, and the most commonly prescribed item is antidepressants. Apparently, in the area where I live, I have heard that this last is also true. There are a lot of us out there taking antidepressants.

Now, this isn't a rant about whether or not to take medication; I take mine religiously every day, and am profoundly grateful for the difference it makes in my life. Rather, I'd like to understand something that has puzzled me for several years now. I have two chronic illnesses, asthma and depression. My asthma is under complete control, and has been for many years, yet the surgery insists that every year, I attend a clinic, so that one of the nurses can check that that is indeed the case (as if I'd lie about it...). It takes about ten minutes maximum, usually less. My depression, though, is not under anybody's control, really, or no more than intermittently, and hasn't been for many years. Yet there is no annual clinic, no check to see that things are progressing as they should. Nobody mentions it, ever, unless I bring it up as an issue. It's as if it wasn't there.

I've been treated for depression, on and off, for most of my adult life. It seems wrong to me that the only time anyone is interested in the progression of the illness is when I'm in crisis. And as soon as the crisis is resolved, I'm deemed able to manage it on my own. Which I can, if I'm relatively well. But depression is an illness that clouds your judgement; it can be difficult for me to say if I'm ill or not. I live with a certain level of 'negative noise' in my head, for example. Most people do, I think, it's just that mine is a tad more extreme, and more persistent. I don't want to make a big deal of it, particularly, but I do find it useful when those working with me on my health actually acknowledge to me that I live with this illness, that it doesn't go away, and that it affects the whole of my life. So why isn't there an annual clinic for people like me, those whose depression is chronic, whose lives are lived around the illness, or despite it, perhaps? If it did nothing but acknowledge that the illness is there, and is real, and is nothing to be ashamed about, if it simply encouraged the person who lives with it, that it is worth persevering, then that would be a gain.

But I don't believe that that would be the only gain. Crisis management is expensive. If I have a crisis, it has the potential to involve not just my GP and the practice based local psychiatric nurse, but also a psychiatrist, plus a psychiatric consultant, plus possibly at least one member of a crisis team, usually a psychiatric nurse. That's a lot of people, and a lot of time, and a lot of cost. If a potential crisis could be recognised, and averted, by a short screening meeting, or by action taken after such a meeting, surely it would be significantly more cost-effective than waiting until the crisis breaks? Throwing money at a problem isn't usually the best way of solving it. Prevention is always better than cure, they say. I'm sure they're right. I'd just like to have the chance to prove it. Sadly, I doubt I ever will, and the illness will go on being ignored. As will I.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Going Domestic...

in more ways than one. I've been tidying paint studio is gradually shrinking (maybe I don't need that shed after all...), and you can see the floor in my conservatory. I'm intending to work on this during the weekend, so there is a distinct halo of virtue around my head. My grannie would say to take care, in case it slips and chokes me...but hey.

The other domesticity is the beginnings of a bed quilt. I don't DO bed quilts, but this is for my son's wedding next year. My soontobe daughter in law wanted something in browns, and had a list of What Not To Include. I've tried to stick to it...honest I have... but some of those colours just err...slipped in there... as contrasts, you know. The quilt itself will be a scrap quilt, will include some of my handdyes, and will have bits of novelty know the kind of thing. Music and books for my son, for example, who is obsessed with both. Just things to personalise the quilt for them. And of course, I hope they like it. If they don't, though, I rather hope they'll be brave enough to say so; I'd rather make them one they *do* like than have them have to tolerate one they don't.

The picture is of some of the selection of cloth I bought yesterday, which is now in the washing machine. Guess who'll be ironing this evening...sigh...

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


as usual, I hear you holler. Well, not quite. Travel is A Wonderful Thing, but I get really tired when I do it, or anything else that's particularly out of the usual. Tiredness is a recognised symptom of the demon depression, and I struggle with it quite a bit. So I've done the sensible thing, and taken everything out of my diary for this week, other than a meeting with my therapist, so that I can recover properly.

Recovering properly means, in my book, sitting with Mollie on my knee, or Advo, or anyone, really (not Robin, he's too heavy!). Sleeping a lot, reading a bit, catching up on the su-doku I didn't do last week (Robin kept the Times supplements for me), just generally loafing about, though I did do a bit of washing today in a fit of something or other... and, of course, talking to folks on the phone. I've come back with lots of ideas for creative work, but they'll keep until I'm sure I've got enough energy to take them forward. I used to just keep working on...and on...and on...until I dropped. I don't do that any more. It's not good for me, and it's not good for the work, either. Besides, the cats need the occasional good cuddle...that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

So I'll look at this lovely, peaceful photo (Oxburgh again), and be reminded that being still is good for both body and soul...sometimes.

Saturday, 16 June 2007


aren't they lovely... Not content with making you look at pictures of my cats, I now force you to look at my son and his fiancee... we went up to visit them last month, and this was taken in the ruined castle in which they're getting wed. I have to admit, though, that I'm also putting this up because Sally complained that she'd had to go look at someone else's blog to see what Sarah looked like (Andrew, she had seen). So, Sally, I've Done It Now...

We have only one child, not that he's a child any more, look at that stubble...sigh... I tried it, bought the tshirt, but decided against repeating the childbirth experience. No, that isn't why I have four cats... but I did convince Sarah that she absolutely had to get herself a she got two. So clearly the cat owning bit is infectious.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

What, Another One?

Okay, I know. I have other blogs...

This one is different. The other blogs talk about The Art, pretty much. I've discovered that there's much more than that to talk about, and I thought I'd like a blog where I could write about The Rest Of It. The cats. The spouse. The friends. The visits. You know the kind of stuff...the stuff that happens around the art making. During the artmaking. Sometimes despite the artmaking. Though I draw the line at detailed descriptions of housework....not that I really do any, of course, but I'm good at pretending.

Of course, it might have been better to have waited until after France (see the other blog for more details)to launch Yet Another Blog on the unsuspecting world...but time is short and I'm impatient. Didn't you know that? I'm also vague, forgetful, charming, enthusiastic and above all, modest. Or, as those who know me well are aware, I used to be modest, now I'm perfect. Or was that prefect?

I live with Robin (said spouse) and four cats in a small village in Norfolk that nobody seems able to find...or maybe it's just that my directions are poor... No, that's unfair. I did talk to a lady the other day who said that she always got lost coming to this village. Doesn't seem to stop people finding the pub though...good food there, and an entertaining owner (I use the term loosely, your mileage may vary...). Try getting to the bar on a Friday or Saturday night...those are never all locals...

The picture is taken in the garden, and features the baby of the catty bunch, Merlin, who is very beautiful and also very thick. Thick as mince, really. Nervous to a fault, scared of his own shadow, not to mention everyone else's, but, like I said, very, very beautiful. And very, very loooong. Runs fast (gets plenty of practice). Catches the uncatchable, and usually eats it, too, (but runs away from humans and other cats, see gets plenty of practice, above...). Did he come from a Broken Home, I hear you ask? Not a bit of it. Born in a cat rescue shelter, where he got a lot of attention from us and from the lady who ran it, he came to us with his mum, Millie and 'aunt' Mollie, where he was fed and watered and loved like a prince among kittens. Did it make any difference? Did it heck as like. Nature versus nurture? Gimme nature over nurture every time. Well, okay, most of the time.

I think that's enough for get the general drift... talk to you later....