Saturday, 18 April 2020

A nice cup of tea

In non- Coronavirus times, you can often tell a lot about someone by the way they present themselves on social media, but now more than ever you can see their underlying values. Some people post motivational memes, others are political, there are people swept up in fear perpetuated by the media, the virtuous, the community builders, those embracing the chance to appreciate what they have, the commenters on behaviours, the manipulators and the exploiters. I tend to fall into many of those categories, however I view capitalisation of self-interest to be abhorrent when society is relying so heavy on lower paid workers risking their lives to support others. It’s not a time to take advantage of the misfortunes of others, to attribute financial value to your self importance and to hide your actions from people who might challenge the ethics of such behaviour. This is a time to share and care. A time for compassion and understanding. There will be plenty of opportunities after lockdown to rebuild our lives and consider how much of the old business model we want to take forward. The whole world has gone quiet and the environment is getting a chance to recover from the toxic consequences of capitalism . Use your social media well, it’s a permanent record of your attitudes and beliefs.

“I’ve nearly finished my cup of tea but it’s gone a bit cold. I might drink that and I might make another one.” Facebook update April 2020

Stay safe, stay well

Rainbow of Unity free pattern by Kerry Jayne Designs

Saturday, 5 January 2019

How do you feel about fireworks?

Happy 2019! 

Fireworks over Alexandra Palace - this is what fireworks meant to me for years

I appear to have taken a break from blogging, not because I wanted to but because I couldn’t find the words. I wonder if writers’ block is just a fancy way of saying, “I lost all of my words.” That’s what happened to me, I lost nearly every single one of them for quite a lot of the time for over a year. There were of course a million thoughts in my head, going at a million miles an hour but they were all caught in a massive tangle of scribble. There was no way of logically stringing them out into sentences. 

That’s how I feel about fireworks. However it might be more accurate to describe the millions of trapped unspoken thoughts as a blaze in a firework factory. The easiest response to explain is the sensory overload. They are pretty, there’s no doubt about that, but they are so noisy and triggering for my hypersensitive sense of smell. I can feel the crackle of fireworks radiating from the nerves of my spinal cord. 

My poor rescue collie is petrified of fireworks and hides in the darkest corner under my desk, shaking. Where once fireworks for me was the mega packed shuffle as one slow moving mass of people, crawling up to the top of the world at Alexandra Palace, I now lay under the desk with him. I feel the fireworks through his fear, each jump and start from every boom and bang. I feel frustration and annoyance on his behalf. I could seriously get quite grumpy and moany as my intolerance rises, but this isn’t what I find hardest.

The way I truly feel when I hear fireworks is something much more complex. I experience them differently from my autistic perspective, I emphasise with my dog and try to comfort him but I also have the unpredictable and devastating impact of complex PTSD to contend with.

It’s hard not to be transported back to my silent empty side room off a packed and bustling labour ward on 5th November 2009. The new mother of a baby angel  quietly weeping while the aftershocks of a traumatic labour and emergency surgery wracked my body. Never had I been so alone with my thoughts. And once the Pandora’s box of emotional and physical flashback triggers has been opened, there is no knowing or expressing how I feel.

Pandora 1896 painting by John William Waterhouse

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday Snapshots

At last, things are starting to get a little bit easier and I can start getting on with the whole living thing.

After the overly complex stitchery I started on one of the flowers for my embroidered dress at the beginning of the week, it felt like I would never get it either right or finished. My mood darkened, but I kept at it and then suddenly it was finished.

The kitchen is no longer the sensory nightmare of the last couple of months, as long as I am the only one in there. I even managed to gather a harvest from the allotment and make a potato curry with my homegrown produce.

I’ve also managed to not only go properly outside but took on my own ASD / PTSD challenge. In true over the top ADHD style, I went on a day trip to The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, the perfect overwhelmingly stimulating environment to anxiously await the boy’s Kent Test results.

If I can cope with needlefelted Sherlocks, then I can probably start to engage in some of those day to day activities that have been causing me such distress.

This charming set of characters is from the book The Natural World of Needle felting 
The Natural World of Needle felting  (more on  the show to follow in another blog post).

Inspired and motivated following my mum school trip, I finally got around to starting my next Ridgeway Cottage Treaures project with a bit of Lino cutting.

Close supervision curtesy of the real life Sherlock who as ever brought a ball to the party incase I fancied a break. 

Although I found the “suprise we are early”invasion from the plumbers completely rattled my box of neatly packed PTSD symptoms and tipped them out all over the floor, it wasn’t the end of the world. Yes they arrived 3 days early and then not only ignored the request to phone before the came but also arrived 3 hours before the allotted slot. And yes they shook the foundations of the house with their pneumatic drill when they made a massive hole into the house. And also if that drill didn’t overload my ASD ears enough, they used a circular saw to cut my original Victorian floorboards. However when you’ve got a leak under your house, this is how it’s fixed and so we went out to the beach. As is now traditional, we had chips at the beach for lunch. It is always lovely surprise to get your chips surved in the same bowl your grandmother used.

And then the mid October sun came out and life didn’t seem so bad at all.

The temperature started to sore back into the twenties but with a special golden autumn warmth.

And it most definitely was warm enough for a paddle in the sea.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sunday Snapshots

This week has been difficult because I had a migraine. There is nothing more grounding than not being able to stand up or sip water without being sick. Strangely though, this I have felt less lost in my own world and there were times, when the headache shifted slightly, that I felt moments of real clarity. 

The weather is still pleasant and the light lasts long enough for us to fit in up to three walks a day for Sherlock, although on some days I have been barely able to manage one. Being lost in my thoughts of the woods, the colours of the autumnal leaves and the crunch of acorns under foot, has been preferable to the psychological trauma associated with PTSD.

Sherlock, as always, has taken his role of family pet very seriously and even when he’s not been sure of what he’s supposed to be doing, he has shown true collie commitment.

Actually both pets have been showcasing their characters this week. Herbie is adamant that the weather is warm enough to remain outside and has moaned about a chill in the air from the garden side of the cat flap.

And finally the aspect that has been most surprising for me is that no matter how awful you feel and how heavily issues weigh on your mind, it’s worth getting out there because you never know what you might find. It was a real effort this morning because I felt so sick and my head hurt, but there on the corner of the woods, was this little fellow. Sherlock wasn’t convinced but I was pleased to see a horse waiting patiently for adventurers to happen upon him.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

End of an Era

When I lost baby Jack I ran and ran. I ran through the deserted streets early in the morning whilst the city slept. I saw shops come and go and watched with great excitement as an old style department store, Deakins Outfitters, was transformed into the delightfully art nouveau style cafe bar La Trappiste.

It closed down on 3rd October 2017 after 7 years, so Josie and I went for a farewell lunch on Sunday. 

Obviously we sat in our usual seat of the glass floor and under the skylight, rather like a maximum effect glass and light sandwich. 

For those of you who are not fans of a vintage green glass floor, this one now has several large significant cracks around the edge which only adds to the thrill. 

However in all the times we have been, we have never been able to sit on the roof terrace. It has always been closed because it’s wet.

It’s the most beautiful place. Built as a rounded corner building, the architecture is fascinating, it’s full of dark wood, turquoise and the geometric decorative loveliness of art nouveau.

Even the washrooms are pretty and not hidden down some dimly lit unattractive corridor.

Josie had pink lemonade and I had water, sticking with the classic “mum’s paying - kid splashes out” tradition.

Olives obviously.

And the unusual choice of a margherita pizza 🤣. If there was any point adding a note for future reference here, which there isn’t because the restaurant is now shut and everyone’s lost their jobs, the pizzas are really big. We ate half each and took the rest home. We had some for tea, Charlie had some and there was a piece for Josie’s packed lunch. 

However I have learnt a few points for the future.

1. Change happens - get used it. It seems bad at the time but I heard a rumour that Chapter are taking the building and they do sourdough vegan pizza and fancy IPAs.

2. Sometimes I’m fussy about chips (actually always) and I don’t really like fat ones. I probably don’t actually like chips at all but will eat them especially at the beach

3. Ordering chips and not liking them is never a problem because someone will always eat your chips and if not Sherlock is a big fan. He’s a former street dog who had to survive on rank discarded take-aways. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunday Snapshots

I’ve had quite a lot to reflect on this week. Being given a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder on Tuesday has helped me to identify why I’m currently unable to live an ordinary life.

My tiny house in which to keep unwanted thoughts that I can now label as PSTD.

Anyone who has ever spent more than 24 hours with me, will know that one of the last I’m the last to fall asleep and the first to wake up. I challenge anyone to ever say “oh yes Susie’s your typical three meals a day girl.” If you have even seen me eat, you will probably not be surprised to hear it is out of politeness and the only people, other than my husband, to ever hear me say “I’m hungry” are direct blood relatives.

This is the new dog friendly cafe at Westgate on Sea for when you’ve walked the dog in the rain. Everyone knows I have my coffee black and strong. I don’t like milk (it’s for baby cows) and it’s unlikely that I’ve had enough sleep.

I started to suspect things were not as the should be a while ago but once I stopped sleeping for more than 2 hours and had to force myself eat, I knew that blocking the thoughts from my mind was not going to be enough. However it does seem that for small pockets of time, I can put that life aside and live in a world with snapshots of hope.

Yesterday we saw a seal swimming off the cost of Margate.

It’s now October which means the summer dog ban on the beaches of Kent is over leaving Sherlock free to run wherever he wants.

I also made a new dog walking friend outside the Sea Hospital luxury flat development. I told him all about my dream to open a independent school at Dreamland to engage the disengaged and teach them that dreams are achievable. He starts his new job at Dreamland in 2 weeks.

And I went out for lunch with Josie and had pizza, although we did bring most of it home and eat it cold later. I gave some to Charlie and Josie is taking the rest for lunch.

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Friday, 22 September 2017

Magic beans

When I was little my family were close and to me it seemed like there were loads of them. There were 4 of us kiddies, my Grandparents lived round the corner, my auntie and uncle and younger cousins, a short distance up the road. It felt like we were always with family. That's not how it is now.

My glamorous assistants.

I could walk to my grandparents house by myself from a young age and I think I ran away from home and went there quite a lot. They had a big garden with everything you could ever need. There was a stray dog that my dad had brought home when he lived there, a greenhouse with tomatoes, cucumbers geraniums and resident frogs, apple trees, flowers, a row of roses, a vegetable shop, old sleepers for practicing for skills so I could run away with the circus and my grandpa's workshops.

Although autumn has arrived and my flowers are fading, not only can I collect the seeds but I can relive the memory of my grandpa collecting his bean seeds.

The seeds are always magical for me because in those tiny plant boxes are the dreams of tomorrow. They develop little shoots that blossom and grow to be vines that climb and climb. They produce flowers and beans and then finally come full circle back to seeds. They do this over and over again, as if they live forever.

With a magic bean anything could happen, they are a symbol of infinite possibilities. For example, though Jack swapped a cow for magic beans and his mum called him stupid and was cross, Jack was right. The magic beans allowed him to create his own destiny. Yes he had to deal with a giant and of course it was really scary when he was bullied and told that his bones would be ground to make bread but it didn't stop him. He went back, which took a lot of courage and he rescued the golden goose from the mean person who kept her trapped under his power of proximity. As with all magic beans, there was a happy ending and Jack was rewarded for doing the right thing. This was a double blessing for Jack because he was vegan and his favourite colour was gold unless that wasn't an option and then he liked yellow.

The end of my magic bean story this year, as with many before, is that I get seeds for the future to share with my friends and family. For Jack the prize was gold, for me it's a bonfire.

My dad and my grandad loved a fire. One of the greatest and most precious gifts I have from them is my masters in fire. What's not to like on a chilly but sunny autumn afternoon, than burning whatever you can find that you no longer need. I can't wait, it's a whole sensory delight of warm, happy memories. For me it's worth more than gold.

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