Sodden Saturday

Sally stood for ten minutes in the rain, searching out someone who could swap her loose pennies for a ten pence piece. She did not like the new slot trollies but she had no option but to use them if she wanted to buy her groceries from the glossy newly built supermarket. The trollies were heavy and difficult to control. The bruises on her ankles, caused by shoppers trying to keep control of their trollies, were evidence of previous sojourns into this consumer madness they called progress.

The smaller independent shops near her home had closed down so she no longer had any choice but to shop in this giant store. It wasn’t ideal but it was necessary if Sally was to feed her family. It was a situation Sally told herself she would get used to, she had to move with the times. She had to remind herself, yes, this was progress.

But try as she night, Sally hated the new shops, they were too big, too impersonal. There were too many people and the quality of some goods, especially fresh produce was a far cry from that offered by the greengrocer where she’d previously shopped. Gone was the individual attention from the shopkeepers, the friendly chatter whilst waiting for purchases to be handed over in little brown paper bags. Gone was the familiarity, the banter experienced by the children who loved chatting with the shopkeeper.

Eventually, the silver coin slipped into the slot releasing the iron monster: Sally was once again ready to do battle. Ready to make her way up and down the narrow alleyways looking for the items she had carefully written on her shopping list. Being such a big shop, being unfamiliar with the layout which changed regularly anyway it was so easy for Sally, and others like her, to end up buying things she didn’t really want in her search for the things she really needed. So the list, written with great intentions, soon became a forgotten spark of sanity.

Gaining access to the supermarket on a Saturday was a nightmare. Sally had to fight her way through hordes of noisy school aged children pestering the departing customers, asking if they could return their trolleys for them. Often people with cars would abandon their trolleys near where they had parked, left to be grabbed by keen-eyed youngsters who were eager to retrieve the abandoned deposit. For many this was a profitable pastime and worth suffering the wind and rain for a rewarding pocket full of ten pence pieces.

Struggling through the hordes could be quite threatening, as the youngsters jostled with each other almost crashing into the customers trying to get past them. It was difficult not to run into them as the automatic doors opened and closed willy nilly causing trolleys to be hastily withdrawn and rapidly thrust forward. There was no easy way of getting in and out of the shop and it appeared to be worsening by the week.

The two back wheels of the trolley had barely passed through the narrow turnstile when the customary wobble started up. Sally couldn’t fathom how all the trolleys in the bays could be so defective after such a short time in situ. It was only a month or so since they were introduced, four weeks or so since she was lugging two great heavy baskets around the shop. The new trolleys were meant to alleviate all the stress and strain of doing a big weekly shop, making it easier to carry more goods, spend more money, probably buy more than was needed. But they were heavy to push, impossible to manoeuvre and barely fitted down the narrow alleyways.

Passing by the towering racks of sad-looking vegetables the dull thud of her headache beat in time to the never-ending background music. The pounding caused Sally’s brow to crinkle up in a frown of pain and tiredness, furrows embedding themselves permanently beneath her frizzled hairline.

The supermarket was crowded with people of all size and ages, all attempting to manoeuvring cumbersome vehicles piled high with tins and boxes. Battling to reach the cheaper tins of beans which Sally hoped her children would grow to like, Sally’s sleeve caught and toppled several tins of ravioli which cluttered to the ground adding to the tumultuous noise surrounding her. Frustration swept over her as she knelt on one knee to retrieve the spilled cans, disinterested shoppers impatiently stepping over her leg. Their rude tutting, clearly echoing around her head as she attempted to replace the cans on the shelf served to only heighten Sally’s dark mood.

How she hated shopping.

Turning the corner after leaving the bacon counter, Sally narrowly missed running down a young child who jumped out in front of her, growling at her like an aggressive brown bear on the rampage. Her nerve ends already frayed to breaking point, Sally mumbled to herself, “little monster, he should be packed away in a deep freezer’, the passion in her voice revealing her level of anxiety and frustration.

Seemly on his own, the child went off to terrorise other unwary shoppers. Neither supervised nor chastised Sally became angry as she watching other children running amok amongst the shelves. A teenaged roller skater chose that exact moment to crashing into her trolley knocking it off course. Sally struggled to gain control and straighten it as it flew past the tall mountain of coloured toilet rolls that loomed in front of her. Just where were their mothers? Her nerves were frayed and her temper at breaking point. Would she survive much longer?

The final leg of her journey was made harder by the now laden trolley deciding to assert its stubbornness to the full as it suddenly started veering sharply to the left. Despite all the force Sally could muster, the metal contraption refused to obey her as she pulled and pushed it into a position where she could complete her expedition in this nightmarish world.

The queues at the tills were long, and extremely noisy as usual. Saturday was not a good day to replenish the kitchen cupboards, but sally had no other choice. Her husband didn’t come home with his pay until late on Friday evening, too late to shop as the supermarket closed at five o’clock.

Children pushed and shoved each other, banging into near-by trollies. Cries of wanting this or that, followed by the screams of mothers saying no, grated on Sally’s fragile ears. The noise reached a crescendo when one child was grabbed by the arm after ignoring her irate mother’s pleas for her to be settled down and be quiet. The girl suddenly threw herself to the ground kicking and screaming for attention, much to the embarrassment of her mother who appeared unsure what she could do to stop this display of childish temper. Other people turned away embarrassed for the plight of this mother.

Sally was finally out on the street, free from the confines of the building. The gentle swishing of the cars as they drove past through the puddles began to soothe Sally’s nerves as she stood enjoying the relative quiet after the last hour of torture. She joined similar laden ladies waiting to cross the road, lugging behind them wheeled shopping trolleys or bulging bags.

Although the bus stop was only a short distance away, the weight of the tins and bottles nestled in her bags placed tremendous strain on her arms and shoulders as she staggered forward. The few yards seemed like miles as acute tiredness enveloped Sally’s short frame.

Relieved, she watched the yellow bus come trundling up the hill to where she stood. But relief soon turned to frustration Sally as the bus kept on going without stopping. The tired faces of people silhouetted in the lighted bus windows, showed no sympathy for the plight of those still standing on the pavement as they passed by.

The next bus wasn’t due for another half an hour. Sally considered her options. Stay there braving the cold and wet for thirty minutes or start walking. She would get very wet but At least if she was on the move, she would be warmer. And so it was that dark wet day that Sally set off along the road to home.

Sally was just approaching the turn off to her house when the next bus finally came along pausing at the bus stop just long enough to disgorge its weary passengers onto flooded pavements.

By the time Sally turned the key in her front door and deposited her bags on the kitchen table her arms were numb, her shoulders were on fire and the headache that she had woken with this morning now resembled a mechanical pile-driver threatening to split her skull wide open. Too tired to remove her sodden coat. Too tired to do anything, Sally flopped her bottom onto the kitchen chair. Her head atop one of the bags, grateful for the softness of the pack of toilet rolls that cushioned her thumping head, Sally’s eyes slowly closed and she breathed a huge sigh of relief. Oblivious of the voices calling to ask what was for lunch, Sally slipped away on a sea of dreams, thankful that Saturday was over for another week.

A Major New Parliment Forms in North East.

After a very busy and tiring week I finally found a little time to sit down at my sewing machine. I have been sewing for many months now but not selling anything so the crafts are piling up in the corner of the dining room. I have given away quite a few things but have made little impact on the pile. I’ve been persuaded to have a table at a craft fair next month to see if I can sell some of the things I make so I keep on making in the hope something will eventually sell.

It can be very difficult to decide what to sew. It is something I need to do, it’s helping me to focus so much, it gives me a form of escape from the negative thoughts and nasty memories that I sometimes experience. Sewing also helps me to focus on now and helps to keep my stress levels down. Too much stress for me equals anxiety, anxiety equals panic, panic equals an inability to function with something close to normality. Sewing has always been a therapeutic pastime for me, a good stress reliever and anger outlet. Perhaps instead of dispensing pills and tonics, fabric and thread should be made available on the national health to everybody.

And so yesterday I needed to get down to some sewing again. After discussing it with my sister I decided to try making a an owl doorstop. As with most things I make I draw up my own patterns. A pen a piece of paper and hey presto a pattern for something or other, a few adjustments and Bob’s your Uncle. Only this time the door stop changed into a stuffed owl pretty enough to sit in any teenager’s bedroom.

Then one owl turned into two, then three. My sister happily sat opposite me at what was once regarded as our dining room table, cutting up sheet after sheet of felt, little eyes, little wings, pretty bows whilst I whizzed away on my trusty machine.

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And so was born a ‘Parliament of Owls’. It really tickled me when I realised I’d learned at school many, many years ago that a group of owls was known as a ‘parliament’, and never once in my life had I had a reason to use the word till now. Who says you don’t learn anything useful at school!!

I put some photos of the owls on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WishLadsQuiltsandCrafts and suddenly everyone wants an owl. Well, not everyone, that’s an exaggeration, but two people contacted me with orders. It might not seem a lot but it’s the start I need; it tells me that what I produce is alright, and my designing and sewing skills are fine, it’s just that I have not found the right things to interest people yet. But it’s so easy to allow self-doubt creep in, to allow negativity to overcome positivity.

Not being a seller, it’s difficult to price things too. I don’t want to rob anyone, but it would be nice to make enough money to replace the fabrics I have use.  Then I can carry on making  and others will gain pleasure from what I do.

I suppose just like children we all need the affirmation that what we do is good enough, that it is liked and appreciated, that we’ve done a good job.   I suspect that is also part of why I do what I do. And as long as it doesn’t harm anyone and sewing continues to have a positive effect on me and how I cope with life  then  it’s a very good thing.   Maybe we could all benefit from our own Parliament  of Owls to provide us with the affirmation  people need to live a productive and satisfying life.

I WILL…….

Whilst I was in town the other day, I realised how much I had missed certain elements of shopping. As leaving my house to go out has been an issue for quite a few years now, most of the shopping I do is online.  Most times I am happy with my purchases but there is always the return service if I an not entirely satisfied: although I do tend to pass goods onto members of my family rather than sending them back. So it’s a win, win situation.

There is not much, if anything, that you cannot get online these days and over the past few years I have purchased a huge variety of goods, including fabrics, threads, clothes, shoes,  food, gardening supplies, a couple of tv’s, wallpaper, furniture and even a pond. During some of my dark days I have even researched the purchase of coffins, much to the amusement of my family, but that’s another story.
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It was only when I found this little fabric shop in our Grainger Market the other day, that I realised just how much I have been missing. The feel and smell of the fabrics was exquisite; a fantastic sensation you can not get through a laptop or iPad screen.  The myriad of colours was so overwhelming and appealing, making my choice of fabrics very difficult.  There was so much in front of me that I just wanted to buy and buy and buy; I really had to keep a tight hold on the reigns or I would have ended up bankrupt. This is a new experience for me, buying fabric for no other reason than I like it, with little or no initial idea what it will eventually turn into.  The memory still makes me tingle with excitement.

I had a lovely chat with the owner of the fabric shop, something you can not do when online shopping: it made me realise just how much I have lost out on while I have been ill. The lady and I discovered we both shared a passion for fabrics as we immersed ourselves in roll after roll of beautiful stock; my head was buzzing with ideas. I shared my thoughts and dreams for what I planned to make and became quite excited at the thought of making something I had not done for a very long time. I must have seemed like a young kid let loose in a sweet shop, with my hubby on the outside looking on, patiently waiting till I had had my fill.

I departed with a bag of beautiful fabrics, a hole in my bank balance but with a huge smile on my face. I  left a promise with the owner that I would be back soon to make further purchases. The rest of my outing passed in a bit of a haze as the anxiety washed over me but I held tightly onto my hubby’s arm and followed were he led. Eventually we descended on a large department store and in the haberdashery department I found a pattern for a baby and toddler dress.

I woke up quite early the next morning, filled with excitement and a craving to get started on my little project. The night before I had been unable to resist getting started even though I was extremely tired after my trip out. After my hubby had gone up to bed I cut out and prepared some of the material ready to sew together when I next woke up next day.

Out of all the effects of my anxiety disorder and the symptoms of PTSD that I have, the hardest for me to deal with  has been the loss of my ability to be create things from nothing: to start off with a length of fabric, a few pins, a pair of scissors, a pattern or an idea of some sort and a desire to produce something I can share with others.

I started out full of confidence that I could do this, I could make these oddly shaped pieces of fabric into something resembling a dress. I cannot remember how many years it has been since I made clothes for anyone, yet there had been a time when that was all I made, clothing for every occasion, for all ages: wedding dresses, outfits for an entire jazz band, including the purple frilly knickers, and clothing for my own children were just some of the things I had made. And NO they were not made from the old curtains like Maria produced for the children in the Von Trapp family, as one of my daughters laughingly tells people now.

This new venture of mine was a huge struggle to start.   I could not remember how to assemble the pieces, nor could I remember the order in which to sew the fabric pieces together. I was constantly referring to the instruction sheet that came with the pattern, but I found that even more confusing. So, after a few tears of frustration I sat for a while to calm myself, had a cup of coffee, took a few deep breaths and slowly started to assemble the dress. I pictured my new great-granddaughter Alice wearing the finished article, I wanted to do this for her and me, and eventually it started started coming together.

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Oh dear, what had I done. No sooner had I finished a pretty pink dress than I grabbed my scissors and the beautiful blue fabric that I had purchased and before long there was another partially finished dress laying on my table. I was enthused, I could do this. It was all slowly coming back. Yes, I made mistakes, but hey that’s what stitch rippers are for. An understanding, supportive and patient husband with a stitch  ripper is a wonderful gift.
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Using parts of the pattern and a sheet of paper I then created a pattern for a tunic dress. Great I thought, I would line the dress so it would be reversible. But my enthusiasm outshone my ability, I could not figure out how to put it together. I had experienced the same problem when I went to line some bags I had made a little while aG, but I had managed it then and I was determined I would  do the same this time. Somehow I slowly Thought it through, and after several false starts was able  to get it sort of right. I had to pull it apart several times but I was not going to let the fact it was wrong dampen my enthusiasm. I could do this, I could. I told myself over and over till I calmed down again and then eventually it all came right.

 

 

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And I did! Not once, but twice. I had created four toddler dresses in a day, 100% more than I had done for a long time. I was so proud of myself; what a lovely positive feeling to look at them and realise, I had done this. I still need to go shopping for buttons but I will have to wait a few days before I can get myself out shopping again. I will probably swap the buttons for press studs unless I can remember how to make the buttonholes. But I will work it out and do it because I WILL completely finish them all.

And hopefully I will eventually remember how to put photos into my posts. I’ve forgotten for now and make no apologise for the fact they are scattered all over the place in a higgledy piggledy fashion.

 

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Home sweet home

My fortnight in the sunshine and heat has perked me up no end.  Travelling amongst so many people is quite stressful for me, so the first couple of days into my holiday are usually spent with me sleeping, partly from struggling to cope with the anxiety of being in the crowds and having to cope with the resultant exhaustion, and partly because of the medication I take that enables me to cope enough to be able to have a break from home.  This time was no different, and although it meant missing a few meals it wasn’t enough to have any long-term effect on my weight.  The grounds of the hotel were large enough for me to find isolated corners where I could enjoy time on my own and when I felt able to,  I enjoyed chatting to some of the individuals I met during my time in the hotel.

I used to enjoy swimming and messing about in the water, however, it has been many years, probably about ten to fifteen, since I was last able to go in a pool. So whilst I was on holiday I did try going in the heated indoor pool: the outdoor one was so cold it was enough to freeze my follicle. Unfortunately, the anxiety of being in the water was so bad I stayed in the pool for only a short time. But I was pleased with the fact I actually got into the water. It’s a dreadful thing to be so frightened with no tangible or sensible reason.

One day back home and I was coughing and running a temperature. I’m slowly getting over a throat infection but it has slowed me down a bit for the last week. I have a couple of patchwork quilts I need to finish but my confidence has deserted me whilst I’ve been poorly, so today I stared a new project to help me get back on track.

Yesterday I had braved a trip into our town centre where hubby and I had our lunch. We had a lovely wander round the market and found a little shop where I purchased some fabric for baby dresses from a very friendly lady. Considering this is the first trip into our town centre for about ten years it turned out to be quite a successful day. Though there were times when I thought anyone observing me would think I was behaving strangely, hanging onto my hubby’s hand like the end of the world was imminent. But I survived and returned home exhausted, but with a bag of beautiful fabrics.

Voices

This past week has not been one of my best and I’m glad it’s now settling again. Usually, I know why I have off days but not this time. But it doesn’t really matter if I know or not because somehow I always manage to get through the not so good days. Despite a few tears and disrupted sleep, a few anxiety attacks and eating too many sweets I’m almost back to where I was before.

I used to be a prolific writer, poetry, stories etc; I have filled book after book that have been gathering dust in my spare room for years. I thought by digging some of them out to read, it would help me see how far I have come, highlight the positive changes I have made in my life and allow me to see there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, trite but true.

After reading one of the books tonight I realised how dark and desolate my life once was, how low I had been at times in the past, but also how much more positive and fulfilling my life now is. I was so fearful of everything and everybody around me, to the extent that I cut myself off from all my family and friends for many years.

I would like to share one or two pieces of my work.

Voices

Voices calling from the dark
Of the stairway. In the park
Trees and bushes hide the pain
Of a world that’s gone insane.

Voices rising from my bed,
In the darkness fill my head
With sorrow for a world long lost
It’s innocence. Who counts the cost?

Voices drifting through the night
Tell with sadness of the plight
Of a child hurt beyond belief.
A childhood stolen by a thief.

Voices speaking to me in dreams
Of evil plans and wicked schemes.
Once those things were locked up tight,
Hidden away. Hidden from sight.

Voices grieving for the past
Call to me. Recall at last
Things were done and said with love.
A love from hell, not from above.

Voices crying in my head
Remembering what had been said
To a child with hair of gold.
A child so young. A child so old.

Voices reaching up from hell
With tales of woe I know so well
From days long gone. Days of shame
And confusion. Who’s to blame?

Voices screaming every day
Won’t be stilled, want their say.
Voices call to be set free.
Who’s voice is that? That voice is me!

Appeal Denied

All my childhood was the same
People calling out my name.
Do this! Do that!
Don’t think! Don’t feel!
Life itself appeared unreal.

Join the adults in the game
Lose myself amongst the pain.
No tears. No frowns.
Smile with zeal
At grown ups with hearts of steel.

A woman now, but still the same.
They are calling out my name.
Do this! Do that,
Don’t think! Don’t feel!
It’s certain now, this life is real.

An adult, yet I play the game.
I only have myself to blame.
Tears fall fast
Frowns are real.
This is life. There’s no appeal!

Long day

Time for a sit down I think.   I’ve been sewing for most of the last two days and now it’s time to stop and take stock of where I’m at.

Luckily, I’ve had help with the cutting out so I managed to finish off  a cot quilt and several busy books yesterday and another couple of books and several aprons today.  I’ve also received an order for three of my busy books so they’ll  be going off in the post soon.    I’m glad they are popular, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction when I receive feedback from customers telling me how much the children enjoy the activities.

It’s been quite a rewarding day, my sister and I have been talking through how to adapt some of the books I’ve made. We’ve discussed how to include other areas of learning, and I’ve explained how some development in children is promoted through play and why certain things work better than others.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy sharing my knowledge and teaching others, but not enough to return to the world of education.  I’ve been retired for a year now, and I’m learning to adopt a completely different way of life.

I no longer have all the hustle and bustle, planning and marking, stress and targets that were a big part of my life for very many years.  I no longer live my life by timetables, ruled by clocks and alarms: I get out of bed when I wake up, eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired; I go out when I can and stay in when I can’t and I’m answerable to nobody but myself.

I’ve had a couple of visitors over the past few days: our house is always busy.  Just after I returned from the doctor’s my  lovely neighbour called in for coffee and a chat,  and as usual we put the world to rights before lunch.  Then we had an unexpected visit from our second son, I’ve never been sure if he adopted us or we adopted him,  but he has been around for so many years he’s loved like, and regarded as , one of  the family.   He’s always a welcome visitor, he always makes me smile,  just seeing him and hearing his news boosted my mood, this weekend.  Which was just what the doctor ordered to help dispel the  anxiety and panic I’m struggling with at the moment.  I’m looking forward to his visit next weekend, I’ll have to bake a cake or some cheese scones to have with our coffee.

I’m very pleased with all the new books I’ve made over the past few days. But I must remember to pace myself better.  I lost track of time today and had been sitting at the sewing machine for hours.  It wasn’t till I moved to answer the phone did I realise how stiff I was from sitting so long.  I haven’t quite got the hang of being my own boss and working from home.  

Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll adapt eventually and I’ll learn to factor in break times and  some days off.  I’m sure my husband will keep me on the straight and narrow and carry on feeding me periodically. And nag me when he deems it necessary.

My little stock of crafts for the fair is steadily increasing, so it should be a successful  day.  As  well as the busy books I now have a small pile of aprons, for children and adults.  The Dr Who fabric I had left from a previous project was ideal for the aprons.  In the back of my cupboard I found some beautiful material I’d purchased from IKEA a while ago.  Just the right colours and design for aprons for  girls and their mums.  I have a selection of crafts in my  boxes, so hopefully there will be something to appeal to  everyone.

Tomorrow, I’m having a day off.  I have to go for a chest X-ray, just a routine check for this silly cough I have developed.   Then hubby and I are having lunch somewhere quiet  before returning home.  I hope you all have an enjoyable week and visit again soon.

Craft Fair

Well I’ve finally done it. I’ve been toying with the idea of having a stall at a craft fair, but have held back because I didn’t know if I could manage it.

Firstly, I suffer from an anxiety disorder that makes it very difficult for me to cope in crowds of people. Secondly, I don’t always have a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities, which is why for years I have made things and given them away. It is only in the last few months that I have been persuaded by my family and friends to sell my crafts, something I still feel uncomfortable doing. Like numerous people who lack confidence in themselves, I tell myself if I give things away they’re gifts and people would be too polite tell me if they think they are rubbish.  Human beings can be complex and strange creatures.

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So, I am stepping onto a completely new road, without a map or clear vision as to where I am going. I have no idea where it will lead to but I am taking those first tiny steps with a sense of adventure and I must admit, trepidation as I start off  in a completely new direction.

I have been telling myself for weeks, it doesn’t matter if all this comes to nothing; I am thoroughly enjoying making and creating and if nobody wants what I make, there are plenty of charities that would be able to use them.  So, whatever happens  there will be no losers but plenty of winners.

I  am cheating a little though.  I don’t feel confident enough to take part in the actual fair so I have delegated the selling role to members of my family who are quite enthusiastic about my new venture.

For  this to be a positive experience, I have been thinking seriously about what the outcome of having a stall might be.

  • All of my things will sell like hotcakes, but then I’d have nothing left and I will have to start building up my little stock again
  • some of my things sell, so I’d have enough to do another fair  in a month or so
  • selling something would give me some idea of what people want to buy
  • Or
  • I don’t sell anything, because it’s not good and nobody wants it

It can be very difficult to switch off the negativity  and see the good in what I am doing  but I am trying and whatever happens at the fair, I’m sure it will be a good experience for us all.