Skyscrapers and String


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the My History category.

I forgive myself

Hello everyone.

After watching Susan Sarandon on TV yesterday discussing candidly how her life was made beautiful by all her failures and mistakes I have been struck by the profound nature of her words.

Having the house all to myself this morning has meant I could have a long bath and read uninterrupted for an hour.

I’ve always been a quick reader, and some books are more padded out than others. I’ve been reading a book called “Forgiveness” by Iyanla Vanzant.

This lady is one of my personal heroes, alongside Oprah. Both these ladies are my moms, alongside Flylady.

Her name Iyanla means “Great Mother”, which is appropriate seeing as she grew up without a mother. She has been a dear mentor to me without her knowing, for two decades. She will never know how grateful I am.

In the bath I have read up to about 13 chapters of the book, and as I read through I was thinking yes, uh uh, I get that and so on. I decided to get up and go out and pulled the plug and as I wrapped my hair in a towel, these words popped into my head: “I forgive myself for not trying hard enough”.

The irony of those words hit me like a tidal wave and I was then heartbroken and sobbing my heart out. Readers, if I ever was to criticise myself it would not be for the want of trying hard. My life story if I was to write it out in full would be of the child who tried so hard she nearly died trying.

So that is my lesson for today. I forgive myself for not trying hard enough.

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Just desserts, but still I feel pity

Hello everyone,

I hope you’ve had a super week. Mine has been a week of extremes.

I’ve worked really hard and made great progress at work, I’ve had some really excellent moments, I’ve been picked on and bitched about, and despite having a really bad cough still, I would say, I feel pretty good actually I myself, outlook and attitude wise.

Even more productive than most weeks, I have tidied all my cupboards and wardrobe, and after a year of procrastination, I finally ordered the photos from my holiday last year, and took the opportunity to print those from Sardinia this year too, whilst the iron was hot so to speak, and they came in the post today. I just went out for a walk and bought a new photo album, and look forward to sitting and putting the pictures in the slots.

This week, we met at Knitting Club most days for a good session, and after work on Thursday we visited the Loop knitting club. It was hysterical. I would love to share some of the comic moments in detail with you but, I aim to go back, and fear causing offence. Needless to say, the ladies and gents at the club were lovely, and I was astonished to see so many people relaxed knitting beaded lace of breathtaking complexity and chatting and laughing at the same time.

As anyone who knows me will attest, knitting lace brings out a sternness in me, a fierce manic concentration brokered with a shocking bad temper. I was in awe and admiration to see such charming smiling company from those present!

One of the conversations I am compelled to relate was around the subject of this blog. I mentioned it because we were talking about blogs and. I said I feared my need to blog had waned a bit with the improvement in my overall happiness, following a year of freedom after the rotten events of previous years, with what happened with my parents and my Grandad.

This time last year, after coming back from holiday relaxed and refreshed, I got a call out of the blue from my stepdad. Regular readers will know I am estranged from my horrid parents, as they tormented me all my life and then took all my Grandad’s money and left him abandoned and homeless, and. I nearly broke trying to cope with it all.

The stress of hearing from them last summer and from visiting them and seeing the state they were both in ruined my health, and I ended up very poorly indeed with chest infections then pleurisy. It was not a good state of affairs for me to cope with, so I decided to stay away. They never rang to see if I was alright, for all they knew I could have fallen under a bus.

Today I got the call I knew was coming, my stepdad advised my Mum was now in a care home, as he could no longer look after her. I told him Amber had turned 18 last month. There was an awkward silence as they haven’t sent Amber a card for years.

Despite everything he’d done I felt pity for him because he loved my mum so much. He loved her so much he couldn’t bear her to love anyone else.

Watching him control her as I grew up was extremely sinister. He knocked her confidence every chance he got, he made jibes about her cooking (which was perfectly alright) so it became a standing joke, and she believed it. He was unbearably angry at any challenge from me in order to maintain the upper hand. He would create arguments over nothing and upset me in order to drive a wedge between mum and me.

She fell for it all. It was bewildering to watch her buy into all this crazy rubbish. They would spend all their money and all their spare time in dreadful working men’s clubs, he would get so drunk he would vomit on the way home.

He was my dad from the age of 4 and I was terrified to be around this frightening man and with very little effort I was ousted, my Mum did nothing to protect me from anything. Bad things happened to me because I was the cuckoo in the nest and no one wanted me.

She was always trying not to eat too much as he didn’t like it if she grew plump. He made her wear things that didn’t suit her, he was interested in every detail of what she did and didn’t do.

He was able to dominate her and manipulate he to the extent she lost the ability to stand up for herself or anyone else.

She lied for him, took his side without a second thought, together they did things that were cruel, negligent and wicked.

I hid from his jibes and taunts, I lived in my bedroom, did the best I could at school and by the time I was 18 I was living with my grandparents. My parents moved house, and threw away all my stuff.

He made her drunk. She loved the attention she got from him.

When Mum retired, Dad had already given up work. He took over their lives and that was the end of any relationship I had with her, as from then on, I never once was allowed to see her without him being present, or to do anything together with her.

When she drove, he would be unbearably rude and question everything she did, eventually she had no confidence left at all. I watched all of this, helpless. She never said a bad word about him, and eventually she became a shell of her former self. When I tried to speak to her about the things that were going on she would become angry. It was too late.

The irony of the call from my Dad.

Mum is now in the same care home they put grandad in one year, whilst they went on holiday using his pension money.

It was a large 1970’s building but run like a workhouse.

On arrival, they stripped Grandad against his will and examined him all over on the pretext of looking for bruises and marks, to cover themselves should he leave the home with any marks and bruises.

They took every item of his personal possessions from him, including a large sum in cash and gave him no receipt.

They had put him in a room with no bedding on his bed. When I visited him the day after he had been placed there I had to shout at the nurse in charge and get them to open the laundry cupboard and get him some blankets. He had been so cold overnight he couldn’t sleep.

Whilst I was sitting with him all you could hear was screaming from the other patients. It was like bedlam. A strange man came into the room, in pajamas, he looked at me sitting by my Grandad, and he came past and went to rummage in Grandad’s drawers and cupboards. I escorted him out and shut the door.

At the end of my visit I went to see the manager and read her the riot act. I then called the council and made an official complaint the morning after.

My complaint included other bad stuff, but I think you get the gist.

It was upheld, and the home was closed and was only reopened after processes had been put in place to safeguard the residents.

So, here I am blogging, my need to speak about what goes on is not concluded. You can only imagine how I feel about my Mum being in this dreadful place.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. But I still feel pity for them.

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She Sells Sanctuary

One of my favourite songs ever is “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult.

It was released in 1985, on the album “Love”, which is one if the best albums of my teenage years, and Jon and I have a shared love of this band. The fact we were both punks in our youth is an invisible glue, along with us both being Art College snobs.

These two offbeat, rebellious and outrageously wild facets of our personality give us a mystical connection; I know I love Jon best because he understands this side of me and reflects it back, I certainly find it irresistibly compelling how he really gets this vital part of me which is pretty much hidden to the rest of the world.

I love everything about this song. Billy Duffy plays a Gretchen White Falcon guitar, which, coincidentally is Joni Mitchell’s favourite type of guitar too. The guitar has a metallic quality and exquisite crispness as an instrument and it takes the lead, the intro and the rhythm, and the jangling outro.

The drums bang into play as the song starts, and Ian Astbury, the vocalist, puts so much yearning and passion into his words, they have stayed with me throughout my adult life.

Ian sings: “The sparkle in your eyes, keeps me alive”. It’s the refrain you hear and when I listen to it, the music in my imagination sparkles too. I have danced to this in dark sweaty nightclubs in my glorious youth, feeling like I knew and owned everything, I’ve listened to it by myself in an echoing house, yearning for a love like this, in the car or while doing chores, I’ve seen it played live so many times, and I’ve made out to it too. Lol.

In my mind the Cult and this song fuses with mythology, American Indians, shamen, howling wolves, being young and everything exciting.

The idea of “the sparkle in your eyes” is an important one for me. When Jon is happy and loved his expression sparkles at me, and I can see his eyes are alight. I sparkle back to him, and the grins we share between us are the precious points of each day.

The song also conveys how the world changes, and you get judged, and it drags you down, and the weariness of it all. Then it describes how being with the right person is like finding sanctuary. To me these are gorgeous sentiments, so that’s why I am sharing this post, it’s my Friday musing.

Here, have a listen: you tube, The Cult, Sanctuary


Game Of Thrones Book 5

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re having a jolly week so far.

I’ve been working really hard on my new project for my new bosses and have made faster progress than I expected.

Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be working from home all day, which will be nice as some of my colleagues have been on the phone speaking very loudly whilst I’ve been trying to think. Normally it doesn’t matter but I’ve been constructing a four stage approval workflow in Nintex, and it has been wearing to try to think above the racket of my tiny but noisy desk neighbour.

You’ll have seen from my last post that I have finally learned to love books again. So much so that everything else has taken second place and I’m behind with my knitting.

Why is it that our passions dominate us so powerfully? George RR Martin is such a brilliant writer, I am consumed to read just one more page, until the whole day is lost. The story of the individual characters are so well fleshed out you feel you know them, and he creates histories and huge amounts of detail from the Houses in his parallel world so they are enthralling.

The only book that to my mind has been so powerful and richly embroidered is Dune. I have read all the books and all the prequels.

I am addicted to books and knitting.

Today I was reading an article in the New York Times about someone who had for 10 years overcome a deep addiction to drink and drugs. As part of his long rehab he has someone he can call at 4 am if he feels his will is slipping. If We all had someone we knew would answer that we could call in the middle of the night when we are dark and lost wouldn’t the world be a better place?

I remember when I was going through a really bad time, as I had just separated from my ex husband. I turned toward my parents for support as they both had been through divorce and they said I wasn’t welcome to mention anything about it as it upset them.

I am trying to balance all the things in my life that I like. It is hard to make room for everything. All I want to do is make small steps of progress, and be happy.

Someone upset my daughter today and I had the opportunity to pass them in the street and tell them politely what I thought, it’s not often you get to confront your tormentors. At least my daughter knows I am solidly behind her, and I always will be.


Becoming Unravelled

Those of you that have been reading my blog awhile will remember how awful my parents were to my Grandad; he was a war hero and my best friend, he was disabled and had cancer, but he was beautiful. They had all his money from where they sold his house, and then by tricking him out of their house three years ago to go into a weeks “respite care” they then made him homeless at 94 years old, and we had to sort everything out for him, but he’d lost heart from their betrayal, and he eventually died in my arms two years ago on 26th November. It nearly broke me.

After ditching Grandad, my parents cut us off completely, they moved away without telling us, not a phone call, no birthday or Christmas cards for my daughter, we heard nothing from them, not a word, nothing for three years.

Four days after we returned from the best summer holiday of my life this year, where I finally found myself at peace after a long bout of depression triggered by the above events, with graceful timing my step Dad got back in touch, as he was in a wheelchair with bad Parkinson’s, and my Mum had bad dementia.

I have been round a few times now, and Social Services are now involved but nothing seems to be happening. Their newly built house is literally full of bin bags, the kitchen counters are full of mouldy cake. My step Dad asked me to help him look for his mobile phone as he’d lost it and I discovered the horror of the kitchen and as I opened the kitchen cabinets, and recoiled in horror as there were two broken eggs which were reeking terribly in one.

Not so funny for their next door neighbour, but it made me chuckle, Mum had opened the door to the postman yesterday and signed for a parcel for the lady next door, but of course as soon as she took it indoors she lost it, and has no idea where it could have gone. God knows where all the lost things are. Probably will all be found with their consciences.

They offered me a lift home lol, as if I’d get in a car with a pair of crazies!

I took some snaps of my family when I was there today, The picture below might be my Great Grandmother, or her mother. I have no way of knowing. We all look so alike.

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Here are my “other” Grandparents, my stepDad’s parents, they were alright to me but my Grandad Harry was a handful. He would always call my Mum “Binks”, which was the name of one of his nieces, and get my step dad totally plastered until he was sick, my Mum would boil with anger when he did this. My Nanny Frances was nice, she would have liked Amber.

Frances is in the middle, my Nanny is on the right. So much drinking occurred when the family was together all the women in any pictures always look angry. Still, until today I never had any photos of Harry or Frances.

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I reported both my parents to the dvla today as unfit to drive, they are in such a state they need to be in a home. I intend to have stern words with the social worker on Monday.


Wandering About

Hello everyone!

My mum’s social worker rang me today, apparently mum has started leaving the house and wandering about. She doesn’t know where she is and my dad is in a wheelchair, so he can’t exactly go after her.

Apparently they have told social services they have no relatives, which doesn’t square with the hall full of pictures of children and grandchildren. My name is going as a contact on the alert device they are fitting my mum with in case she gets lost.

How things go round.

So much has happened to me in my life, I have gone from one extreme to another, from wild joy to sinking despair. I have been homeless and poor, I have walked out of a shitty job into the snow in tears and two years later been made redundant from a job I loved and the entire department walked out with me in solidarity. I’ve also been headhunted where I was offered double what I asked for to change jobs.

However, everyone I’ve ever loved has loved me back, and not many people can claim that.

Tomorrow is knitting club. I love club, it is like an oasis of calm in a busy week.

I sent a note out to everyone on the mailing list today to see if they wanted to still be on the knitting club members list, and everyone did apart from one lady who has never come along after asking to join a year ago. I got so many wonderful emails back from people who love club. It is a super thing to do, to start something people love.

About our poppy fundraising efforts, applying for matched funding from work is easy to do, but to actually get them to pay out, surprisingly that part of the process is not transparent at all. I got an email today saying the matched funding had been approved, I am so relieved!

I hope your week is going well so far, I hope none of your relatives are wandering about. I hope you are being treated, and looked after. I have loads of wool, we are all well, and Jon is in my good books. It’s good here.


Bad Ishbel!

18,000 people have knit the Ishbel shawl designed by Ysolda Teague. I consider myself to be a hardy knitter, one that has no fear, I’ve knit a dozen or so shawls, and I’ve always wanted one of these, so why not cast on?

The usual stocking stitch middle rapidly completed, and I suddenly had the right number of stitches. I paused at this point to make a swatch of the lace pattern. I threw 40 or so stitches onto spare needles, knit the lace pattern for a few repeats, and thought, ok, let’s go!

But no. Something happened. Ishbel is naughty to me! The pattern has a mind of its own. What in everybody’s paws but mine turned into an elegant swirl of leaves, ended up resembling some kind of computer code. There is a kind of diagonal velocity which reminds me of “the Matrix”, a film notable for some horrid jumpers with deliberate holes ripped into them. It made me shudder each time one of these hideous garments appeared on screen.

Here you can see it. I am so ashamed. I still wore it out today, the yarn is gorgeous!

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This weekend I have been sorting my craft corner. I love my little chest of drawers, my shelves full of wool, my folders of favourite patterns.

I have so many things to make for Christmas, and so many ideas for designs. My “little Loop” in my front room, next to my knitting chair is all ordered and ready for me to start! I am really happy.

Today we went for a long walk. I slept until 8.45am and now I am going to put dinner on – chicken cooked in sweet red wine with thyme, onions, fennel and carrot, then go up for a nap. Once it is cooked the smell will waft up the stairs and wake me up lol!

Now I am knitting a scarf for my friend’s son, it’s his birthday this week.

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I feel like I am getting my act together. My parents have been in touch with social services and they’re not driving any more, which is good. They still don’t ever ring me but I do call them to check they’re ok. Next Saturday I’m going over to help my Dad get to grips with online shopping. My Mum keeps packing boxes thinking she is moving house, Dad sounds like he’s at his wit’s end.

It struck me that although I had no happy memories of them as a child or growing up or as an adult, and they certainly were evil and horrid to dump my Grandad, now they are being relatively nice to me and at least I can start to build some less bitter associations in my mind relating to them, which must be good for my own well being and mental health.

It’s two years on the 26th November – next week – since I lost my Grandad. I’ll never replace him. I know he is looking down and he must be pleased to see how much he is remembered and thought of. Dear Grandad.

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Unravelling Slowly

Hello everyone!

I hope your weekend has been productive and happy!

I have had a super time, today Jon filled all the bird feeders and looked at the bird house, he went into the loft and got all my winter clothes out, my wardrobe is re stocked with lovely wintry knitwear and new accessories at zero cost and no one will know I didn’t spend all weekend shopping!

I found my favourite cardigan, it is in sea green. I wore it straight out of the box and the sleeves are elbow length, which makes it a bit chilly. I recently bought some spindrift in a darker shade and am thinking about knitting some lace cuffs and edging to add some length….mmmm!

My crochet bag is nearly finished, it needs a lining and handles, but all the stitching is done. I also have quite a few squares over which is giving me much enjoyment to contemplate how to use these up….

Here you can see it in all it’s glory!

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That’s one side, here’s the other:

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The original bag was bright yellow, turquoise and navy, but I couldn’t make that colourscheme work at all.

You can see I had help to sew it up:

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In the loft amongst my beautiful hand knits were a couple of scarves, knit back when I was a beginner knitter. They are total fails, as both are overly long stockinette tubes, which are unpleasant to wear as they gap between their narrow coils.

I have brought them downstairs to start unravelling them. It is very therapeutic.

On the subject of unravelling, I visited my parents today. Amber came with me. When we left, it was her turn to sob at the state they are in, and at the frustration of the years they turned their back on us when we needed comfort. Now they need comfort, but not from me, and as they don’t love us, we are just occasional visitors, who relieve their boredom, and we all play at pretending our family ties are the same as in normal families.

If you think about Karma, or if you believe in “what goes around comes around”, they are prime examples of reaping what they sowed, for what they did to Grandad.

My Mum has very little grip on reality, for example she was complaining at the fallen leaves on their lawn. She was adamant that if they got a higher fence their garden would be entirely free of leaves, even though we are having howling Autumn winds every day and the vast willow at the back of their house is forty feet high.

She prattles happily all day long, there is very little truth to anything she says, it is charming to listen to her little random stories if you are a visitor, for example, she said today that she used to feed the frogs in the garden pond in the bungalow where we used to live, and the idea of her doing that had us laughing merrily! However for my Dad, it is not so funny. He is living in a madhouse.

Mum is losing the keys all the time, the back door was held shut by a length of chain and a padlock. The house is in such a cluttered mess, you can understand how easily things get lost and how frustrating that must be. And expensive, losing the car keys last week cost them £400 and today before we arrived they spent 4 hours looking for their car keys again. They were in Mum’s bag, she found them a few minutes after we arrived.

I went into the kitchen to put my tea mug back and it smelled weirdly of fish gone off.

Dad said he’s given up driving as he’s too ill, and I asked him if he needed help, he said no, and that he’s going to call Social Services tomorrow. We all know how that ends. I’ve played that hand out before.


Mint Sauce, Crochet and Loop!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve had a jolly weekend!

My weekend has been a flurry of knitting, crochet, sewing, cooking, and most happily today, a trip to Loop to visit Juju for another class.

This time, the class was on creating original knitting stitches. Juju is a brilliant teacher.

We were asked to take along our design books, and some yarn and needles, I took a very heavy backpack with me!

In my design book, I had a magazine cutting of a French scarf from circa 2004; I have been collecting stitch dictionaries in vain since then looking for the particular stitch used in this scarf.

Today I tackled this stitch pattern, using Juju’s techniques, which ensure you note all the details, and work methodically.

Here you can see my work in progress:

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My brain is still processing the class, and we have stacks of homework for next week.

I came home, and Jon had made a terrific roast lamb dinner. A couple of months ago, I planted some mint outdoors in my windowbox. Today was the day I made mint sauce with it!

Possibly a few of you might not be familiar with mint sauce. My Grandad made fresh mint sauce always, he grew mint in an old butler sink (which used to be the home to my goldfish).

Here you can see my windowbox:

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To make mint sauce for 4 people, you need sufficient mint stalks to loosely fill a small plastic 1litre jug.

You bring the mint in, wash it and gently dry the stalks and then strip the leaves off.

You need to finely chop the leaves until they look like green dust. Add half a teaspoon of sugar at mid chop, somehow it helps it to draw out the flavours.

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As regular readers and my friends know well, I love mint! Mojitos! Woo hoo!

Mint sauce is one of my earliest memories.

Once you have chopped the mint with the sugar, add it to a small jug with a pinch of salt, then add malt vinegar until yhe herbs are completely covered.

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Then you spoon this mixture onto your roast lamb dinner. Need I add how gorgeous my dinner was tonight? Mmm!

Now I ‘m watching Ironman 3, I managed to get the two balls of yarn I needed from Loop to finish my French Ladies Bag.

Also, I have only a couple of rows on my Noro Hat before its finished, and I have six walnut whips from M&S in my knitting drawer.

Life is good! I hope you’re well and happy.


Plain Jane Eyre

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re enjoying the long Bank Holiday!

Here in the UK we have the day off today, and so far the weather is lovely. Yesterday it was sunny and gorgeous in the afternoon, although the morning looked like it could have gone either way.

As you’ll know from previous posts, yesterday was a big day for me, I was feeling stressed and panicky at being summoned by my parents, after three years of estrangement.

My friends and relatives had given me so much support and sympathy, it was wonderful to know that I am encouraged to be the best person I can be, whatever the outcome of my decision to meet my parents.

As readers will know, one of my favourite books is Jane Eyre. If you haven’t read it, I urge to to do so, you can download a copy free of charge via iBooks if you have an iPhone or iPad, so you don’t even have to have the bother of going to the shops.

Jane describes my scenario thus:

“I know no medium: I never in my life have known any medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, antagonistic to my own, between absolute submission and determined revolt. I have always faithfully observed the one, up to the very moment of bursting, sometimes with volcanic vehemence, into the other.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.

In the story, Jane has escaped her early life and is happily working as a governess for Mr Rochester’s daughter Adele, when she is summoned to visit her ailing Aunt, who was previously her tormentor.

“I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to visit you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty. . . . You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

When I was pondering on what to do about the summons from my difficult parents, I turned to Jane Eyre for inspiration. In the book, when Jane hears her Aunt wants to see her, she goes.

As I got ready to leave here yesterday I felt very panicked. But I said I’d go. So I went.

My feet seemed made of lead as I left my home, journeyed on and turned into their street.

“The same hostile roof rose before me: my prospects were doubtful yet, and I had an aching heart. I still felt as a wanderer on the face of the earth; but I experienced firmer trust in myself and my own powers, and less withering dread of oppression.”― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

My Dad was waiting for me on the corner. He was bent and crooked and in a wheelchair, and he was twitching slightly from his Parkinson’s. My Mum was standing on the doorstep smiling at me. She had grown her hair longer. I saw my face in her face, and the pity I felt for them was overwhelming. My heart melted.

It is a happy thing that time quells the longings of vengeance and hushes the promptings of rage and aversion. I had left this woman in bitterness and hate, and I came back to her now with no other emotion than a sort of ruth for her great sufferings, and strong yearning to forget and forgive all injuries – to be reconciled and clasp hands in amity.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

We went for lunch and chatted. My Mum has Alzheimer’s, so you have to repeat yourself a lot. It was like her condition had washed her personality completely clean of the angry dislike of me I had always had to endure. She was childlike and laughing and quite free of care, and she was, really pleased to see me.

“…there is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre