Posted by: christinelaennec | April 18, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hello everyone!  I am back from a wonderful trip, and I have loads to show you!  Honestly, I think I have at least ten posts to write about my wee holiday.  So stay tuned if you’d like a Scottish travelogue.  In the meantime, I’ll just say that Michael and the Dafter survived my five-day absence very well.  It wasn’t easy for them, and I think me being away any longer would have been too hard.  But we’ve agreed that it did us all good, and that I should continue to take short breaks away.  Hooray!

Daffodil and narcissi from my pots, and a "bluebird of happiness" from a dear friend.

Daffodil and narcissi from my pots, and a “bluebird of happiness” from a dear friend.

Today the sun is shining warmly in Glasgow, and spring is very much in the air.  Tonight our big plan is for me to take the Dafter and her friend from Aberdeen to the McBusted concert!  (Any other Busted/McFly fans out there?)  We have a wheelchair place, and fingers crossed that the Dafter will manage, and will be uplifted.

This Sunday is Easter, at last.  It’s about as late as it can be in the year, I think.  Hot cross buns are in evidence already at our house, and there may well be chocolate on Sunday!  I want to wish you a very blessed season of new life and renewal.

See you soon!

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 11, 2014


A while ago I wrote an update on the Dafter; this will be a wee update on how I’m doing.  Here in Scotland they have a wonderful expression, usually used in the context of asking after someone’s health:  “How are you feeling – in yourself?”  It’s a searching question that points to an experience of reality beyond physical problems, and I like that.

How am I doing, in myself, as the full-time carer of a very unwell teenager, adjusting to life in a new city?  Recently I had the chance for some Reiki and a week later reflexology (courtesy of the marvellous Carers’ Centre here).  Both the practitioners asked me afterwards if I’d recently suffered a bereavement or if I had cardiac problems.  I replied that my ticker is just fine, but that yes, I am recovering from a broken heart.

Christmas cookie decorated by the Dafter.

Christmas cookie decorated by the Dafter.

I’m brokenhearted – at times – over what’s happened to my child, and over having to leave the one place where, since leaving Portland years ago, I really put down roots.  I still feel a bit amputated sometimes, I still miss dear friends very keenly, life can be quite lonely, and I am still very, very tired.  I probably don’t know how tired I actually am.

BUT – things are slowly getting better, and my heart is healing.

For one thing, the Dafter is making progress.  Not as much as I’d hoped by now, but the time-scale doesn’t matter.  She’s been able to leave the house three days a week for three weeks now, and her total time out of bed each day is usually more than two and a half hours.  The bad days aren’t nearly so dreadful as they once were.  She still needs a lot of help, but she isn’t collapsed on the floor crying with exhaustion on a regular basis.  She’s starting to meet other people, including kids her own age at a local youth group.  As much as her illness allows, she’s been building her expertise as a photographer and she recently received her first paid commission!  I’m so very proud of her, and she continues to be an absolute delight.

The Dafter, early April 2014

The Dafter, early April 2014

She made me laugh the other day when she quipped, “You know, you and I should really spend more quality time together.”  We truly enjoy each other’s company and have a good laugh.  As horrendous as this illness has been, our family has been brought even closer by the experience.  I was very struck by her Christmas cookie, with the single word “Unconditional”.  She sometimes says things like, “Looking after me is like looking after a baby!”  Yes, but a fascinating baby who’s able to articulate some amazing thoughts and insights about life.  The feeling of unconditional love is very strong.

I’m also very aware that there are parents out there who would give anything to trade places with me.  I recently met someone whose son committed suicide a few years ago.  I told her of my minister’s advice to enjoy the Dafter during this time, and this woman couldn’t agree more.

Although my caring duties are still pretty full-on, I’ve recently been able to do a few more things for myself.  Michael has been able to work from home more often, so I’ve been able to go for walks and meet people for a coffee.  I have started to make some friends in Glasgow, and having my former neighbour J nearby is a great blessing. Michael is far happier here, as is the Dafter.  “I just LOVE it here!” she often says.

I’ve joined a Community Choir, which has been just the best fun.  It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t require a rock-solid commitment, so that if I weren’t able at the last minute to go to a rehearsal or concert, that would be fine.  Although I miss my friends in Aberdeen, it’s also true that some of my friendships have strengthened and taken on a new form.  And we’ve continued to receive great support from friends all over, including from you my blog friends, with your wonderful comments and good thoughts.  I’m so very grateful for the many kindnesses that have come our way.

I’m happy to tell you that after quite a bit of visiting various churches here (though all Church of Scotland congregations), I think I have probably found the church that I’ll be joining.  I’ll give it a bit more time, but I leave the service feeling fortified in the same way I did after church in Aberdeen.  So I’m starting to recover that weekly time of anchoring and re-orientation, which I had lost for a while.

For those of you who like hymns, I’ve found this one to be very soothing.  It’s started me off on a bit of an a cappella music kick.  (Listening mostly, rather than singing – although the Community Choir did perform a cappella the other day.)

So the pain is subsiding, spring is coming to the garden and the city, and I’m more conscious of the tremendous opportunities there can be here.  I sometimes get frightened about the Dafter’s future, seeing as she’s now missed three years of schooling, but I hold fast to the conviction that she will regain her health, no matter how long it takes.  Our Son recently came for a visit, and he is doing very well, after an inexpressibly awful start in life before we adopted him.  So:  anything is possible!

Knitting continues to be a great solace.  Here is something I recently finished, a present for my friend Catrìona:

Love tea cosy by Martin Storey

Love tea cosy by Martin Storey

I really like the heart design, though the cosy itself isn’t particularly thick.  Perhaps it’s a summer tea cosy?

Love Tea Cosy by Martin Storey

Love Tea Cosy by Martin Storey

Which brings me to a great piece of news:  I’m taking it with me on a trip!  Yes, the woman who has only been absent from her family for three separate nights in the past ten years is going away for four nights in a row.  The Dafter and I have been training Michael in all that needs to be done, and lists have been written out.  Will I just sleep the entire time?  Will I be consumed with guilt?  I don’t think so – the novelty of being able to please myself and only think of my own needs will be quite delicious.

I plan to be as happy as possible, enjoy every minute, and take some photos to show you when I get back.  Have a great weekend, whatever you’re up to!

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 8, 2014

Early April in Glasgow

The other day the Dafter was able to get out of the house and we went for a “wheelchair walk” in Kelvingrove Park.  I’d never been there before.

The Dafter at Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow.  April 2014.

The Dafter (out of her wheelchair for a little bit) at Kelvingrove Park, with Kelvingrove Museum and the River Kelvin in the background.  Glasgow. April 2014.

“It’s freezing!” said the Dafter, and a lady walking past with her dog said, “Aye, we’re down by the river.”  We got to talking and, like a lot of people here in Glasgow, upon hearing my American accent she asked me where I was from.  I then asked her where she was from.  “A small island called Tiree.”  “Oh yes, my Gaelic teacher is from Tiree,” I said.  And then we spoke in Gaelic a bit, including the Dafter, which surprised and delighted the lady.  Introductions all round, including the dog.  This sort of thing never used to happen in Aberdeen!

In a few weeks’ time, you won’t be able to see the museum through the tree branches, as the leaves are coming in a bit every day.

Kelvingrove Museum, seen from Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow, early April 2014.

Kelvingrove Museum, seen from Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow, early April 2014.

The view up to the University on the other side of the park is very pretty.  There are a lot of flowering trees at the moment – I love that flash of pink through the grey-green.

The University of Glasgow, seen from Kelvingrove Park.  Early April 2014.

The University of Glasgow, seen from Kelvingrove Park. Early April 2014.

Closer to home, I am delighted that our transplanted (from the old garden, pre-bulldozers) is blooming despite all we put it through:

Daffodils and camellia, my back garden, Glasgow.  Early April 2014.

Daffodils and camellia, my back garden, Glasgow. Early April 2014.

It’s such a pretty shade of pink, with those lovely yellow stamens in the middle.  Does anyone know what variety it is?

Camellia blossom

Camellia blossom

Finally, I’m curious to know what you think of the size of these photos.  WordPress has changed how you determine the size of the photos inserted in the post.  The top photo is “large” and the third photo is “medium”.  What do you think?  (I know it depends on what kind of machine you’re reading this on.)

I hope you’re all doing very well.  Happy spring!

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 30, 2014

Ad airson Annag (a hat for Annie)

Wow, it’s nearly April!  Hard to believe.  Here in Glasgow we’ve had very Aberdeeny weather:  fog and cold winds.  I’m not sure why the wind doesn’t blow the fog away, but that’s another conversation.  Things at our house are pretty good.  The Dafter was invited to a friend’s house nearby and was able to manage a couple of hours with kids her own age, which was the first such event in a good few years.  She’s had to rest for the two days since then, but we’re not back in relapse territory.  Also, the clocks went forwards this morning, so the evenings are decidedly lighter.

In other news, the Community Choir I joined recently performed in church this morning.  We sang a lovely song called “Look at the World” by John Rutter.  The children had never sung with us before, and they all collapsed into fits of giggles when we came booming along in four-part harmony.  (Unlike in the video, there were about 15 children and 20 adults.  But it was still a good sound, I think.)

Anyhow, let me show you a knitting project.  (Once again, thank Goodness for knitting!)  In January I had the good fortune to meet up with my dear friends Annie and Alasdair.  They live in Benbecula, on the Outer Hebrides, but have family in Glasgow, and were here visiting.  Annie was admiring the hat I had on, which was a Christmas present a few years back from the amazing Roobeedoo.  I don’t have Roobeedoo’s hat-making talent (she made me Aeonium, if you want to see an amazing hat). But I was able to make Annie a similarly-shaped hat, which turned out pretty well:

Annie's hat:  "Bramble Beret" by Courtney Kelley, made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran wool.

Annie’s hat: “Bramble Beret” by Courtney Kelley, made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran wool.

I say “pretty well” – there are mistakes, not least of which is that despite my best efforts, I didn’t decipher the instructions correctly enough to realise that you have to start the chart part-way through so that the unusual brim design lines up with the petals of the flower.  Oh well!  I should have done my Ravelry research beforehand, I suppose.

However, I don’t think Annie will mind in the least.  She was delighted with it, and said it perfectly matches her blue coat, which was a felicitous accident.  I enjoyed making it enough that I might make another one for myself sometime – now that I understand the pattern.

Happy start of a new week to you all!

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 22, 2014

First spring in our new garden

Almost exactly a year ago today, we’d agreed the sale of our flat in Aberdeen.  Incredible to think of all that’s happened in the interval!

Some of you may remember that we needed to have a garage conversation about the asbestos-roofed garage and back garden of our new house.  Well, we have been enjoying a revamped space with good drainage, interesting paths, better security, and instead of the old garage, a shed and a summerhouse.  I am so very grateful that we were able to do this.

Summerhouse (with shed behind).  Our garden.  March 2014.

Summerhouse (with shed behind). Our garden. March 2014.

In January I planted eight climbing roses from David Austin Roses:  five in the back garden and three in the front.  Some of them are familiar friends, which I grew in my garden in Aberdeen, and some of them are new to me.  They are all very scented.  The ground has been terribly waterlogged all winter (I read that Glasgow had 12″ of rain in December alone), and I was worried for them.  But each one is putting out new shoots.  Isn’t it fantastic?

One of my new climbing roses.

One of my new climbing roses.  I think this is Constance Spry.

Or, if you aren’t a gardener, you’re thinking, “What am I looking at here exactly?” (I’m still getting to grips with my new camera – apologies for the sharpest focus being on the fence behind!)

I have enjoyed planting up perennials in the sunny border, as well as wildflowers in the lawn.  They’re specially selected for grass that is cut frequently.  The idea for this came when I was talking with the Dafter about her great love of daisies, which we enjoyed in profusion in the drying green we shared with our neighbours in Aberdeen.  I realised that our new turf – a huge improvement over the dangerously pitted old lawn – would be some people’s weedless delight, but to us would seem horribly bare without a covering of daisies and clover.  I hope to have some results to show you in the summer.

The sunny border, my garden, March 2014.

The sunny border, my garden, March 2014.

As well as hoping to grow a number of perennials, I have left spaces to grow flowers from seed, including sweet peas.  I have left two spots for the sweet peas, to use on a rotating basis.  If you grow sweet peas in the same plot every year, they won’t do well.

We are trying to make our garden bird- and insect-friendly.  The hedge is a great asset, as the littler birds take shelter there.  We’ve attracted robins – and the inevitable wood pigeons – to the ground feeder.  Here is a metal bird, adorning my rain gauge!  As you can see, we’ve had at least 3″ of rain this month so far.  My Grampa always had a rain gauge, and I love keeping an eye on it.

Mid-March and we've had 3 inches of rain since the start of the month!  March 2014.

Mid-March and we’d had 3 inches of rain since the start of the month!

Here is one of the original inhabitants of the old garden, a lovely variegated ivy.  I love seeing the fresh, new leaves on it:

New growth on the ivy.  March 2014.

New growth on the ivy. March 2014.

We’ve also kept a skimmia, a camellia (which to my relief is just starting to bloom), and several tea roses.  The people who sold us the house have been to see the transformation and to our delight they completely approve.

Happy Spring, everyone!  (And happy autumn to my antipodean friends.)

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 15, 2014

A cross-stitched rug

I started this rug for the Dafter in the autumn of 2012, and finished it before Christmas 2013.  But it’s been so dark that I haven’t had a sunny day to photograph it until now.  The pattern is from Cath Kidston’s Stitch book, but the Dafter (not being a big fan of beige) designed the colours herself.

The Dafter's rug

The Dafter’s rug

It is very “her” – so cheerful.

The Dafter's rug, closer up.

The Dafter’s rug, closer up.

It was an interesting project for me, especially as it required a frame.  But once I got into the rhythm of it, I enjoyed making it.  I stitched the last row just a few days before we left Aberdeen, on a Sunday afternoon when our dear friend T came by for a last cup of tea in the bay window.  Then it went into the moving boxes, and was in storage for a while, and I finally backed it in November.

The Dafter really likes having it by her bed.  It reminds me of the progress she’s made with her ME/CFS, because there were so many days in Aberdeen that I sat stitching or knitting on her bed, trying to keep her company and cheer her, as she was so ill she couldn’t do anything much.  I pray those really awful days are in the past now, and this rug was part of getting through them.  It also symbolises to me how illness does not define us.  Although the Dafter was so very poorly, her true, sunny self came through in her design.

I hope you’re all having a great weekend!  I see that my American cousins have “sprung forward” but we don’t take the leap here until March 30th.

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 12, 2014

A weekend adventure

I had an adventure this past weekend:  a trip back to Aberdeen!  With my new camera.  I had an action-packed weekend, including an overnight away.  This is significant – it’s only the second time I’ve been away from my family in the last 10 years.  Because the Dafter is well enough not to need my help with getting to the loo and getting dressed these days, Michael is able to be her carer overnight.  It’s hard to put into words the feeling of amazing liberation at being able to think only of my own needs for 36 hours!

My heart was singing as the train whisked me northwards through an early spring countryside.  You can be sure I was knitting and enjoying every minute of the journey.  There were snowdrops in the woods, the birch trees were looking very fuzzy, and I saw a deer having a drink.  Here’s my favourite view of Perth, as the train crosses the River Tay:

Perth, from the train as we cross the River Tay.

Perth, from the train as we cross the River Tay.

And in under three hours, there I was at Aberdeen Railway Station:

Aberdeen Railway Station.

Aberdeen Railway Station.

I do love the Victorian architecture, and these little touches:

Aberdeen Railway Station.

Aberdeen Railway Station.

What you can’t see is the (also very familiar) cold wind cutting through.  As my friend J says, Aberdeen Railway Station has a microclimate of its own!

What did I do next?  Get on another train!  I travelled up to Aberdeenshire to see my dear friend Roobeedoo.  And here’s where I have to admit that I hardly took any photos of people during my weekend.  I was so busy gabbing and enjoying the company of other people that I didn’t get any snaps of my many lovely friends to show you.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I was delighted to see Roobeedoo, because her husband is very unwell and neither of us was sure that our rendez-vous would be possible.  So it was doubly celebratory.  As she drove me through the countryside, she was very indulgent and pulled over so I could take photos to show you.  Our first stop was to walk down a muddy track in search of a castle we’d spotted.  Can you see it?

Spot the Castle!  Aberdeenshire.

Spot the Castle! Aberdeenshire.

You can just see the grey roof, pink walls, and flagpole of the castle if you know where to look!  I love the red haze of the trees, and the mist coming over the flanks of Bennachie.  Once we’d plodded back to the car, she realised that we could in fact pull into the drive of the castle for a far better photo:

Harthill Castle, near Oyne, Aberdeenshire.

Harthill Castle, near Oyne, Aberdeenshire.

This is a private castle, not owned by Historic Scotland or the National Trust.  I wonder what it’s like to live in a castle for real?  Probably not wheelchair accessible…

Just as we were going to Gadie’s for lunch, who should I see, but this lovely donkey:



Roobeedoo and I had a delicious and leisurely lunch.  I will confess I did buy some beautiful yarn at the wool shop, and it was just the best treat to have a catch-up.  She also gave me some very good knitting advice – she is a very talented knitter and sewist.

I was back in Aberdeen by 5 pm, where a church friend met me and took me to the Station Hotel for High Tea!  “Fit funcy!” (“How fancy!”) as Michael texted.  High Tea consisted of tea and toast; then a main course; then cakes on a towering cake-stand, with more tea.  That was a first for me!

After that my friend and I walked to my old neighbourhood, and I called upon darling Betty, my former neighbour.  It was odd to be on my old street, but as it was after dark it seemed dreamlike anyway.  I didn’t look too closely at my old garden and home!  Betty and I had a short but excellent catch-up before I jumped in a taxi to the friends who’d invited me for overnight.

These friends are from Glasgow and the Central Belt, and we talked about how friendly Glasgow is.  I’d brought a bottle of single malt whisky as I know one of them is a connoisseur, but I didn’t partake myself.  I had an excellent night’s sleep – having heard that all was very well at home – and a peaceful breakfast on Sunday morning.  It felt really odd, and so very simple, just to have myself to worry about.  Not that I mind caring for the Dafter one little bit – but it was nice to have a change.

My friends stay on a high hill, and in the morning when we left for church, my heart really tugged at the sight of the spires of Aberdeen nestled down by the huge blue sea.

The River Dee, Aberdeen.  Looking towards the Duthie Park.  9 March, 2014.

The River Dee, Aberdeen. Looking towards the Duthie Park. 9 March, 2014.

We arrived very early, as my friends had various responsibilities before the service.  I took the opportunity to go for a wee walk along the River Dee.  It was a beautiful morning indeed.

The River Dee, looking towards the Bridge of Dee.  Aberdeen, 9 March 2014.

The River Dee, looking towards the Bridge of Dee. Aberdeen, 9 March 2014.

In another month these green banks will be covered with daffodils.

It was just fantastic to see everyone at church.  I got lots of “bosies” (hugs) and caught up with lots of people.  I was particularly delighted to see that a friend who was unwell, is now much better.  And it was wonderful to be back in that familiar place for an hour of beautiful hymns, prayers, and quite a few laughs as well.  It was an all-age Fairtrade service with some skits by the young people.

Two other friends from church whisked me off up Deeside afterwards.  It was a treat to have just a little glimpse of one of my favourite parts of Scotland.

Near Drumoak, Deeside, Aberdeenshire.

Near Drumoak, Deeside, Aberdeenshire.

I really like how the Mains of Drum Garden Centre, which was built about ten years ago, echoes the older architecture of its neighbour Drum Castle.

Mains of Drum garden centre, near Drumoak, Aberdeenshire.

Mains of Drum garden centre, near Drumoak, Aberdeenshire.

I also like that it’s family-owned.  My friends Mike and Nomie (striding ahead energetically) treated me to lunch, which was very kind of them.

Back in Aberdeen, my friend Leila Aboulela took me to her house for a delicious cup of coffee.  I had never seen a copy of the Koran before, and was very interested to have a look.  We had a good gab, and all too soon it was time for me to catch my train back to Glasgow.

But not before I had a quick peek at the mural in the waiting room, which the Dafter had a hand in, years ago:

Gaelic mural in Aberdeen Railway Station waiting room.

Gaelic mural in Aberdeen Railway Station waiting room.

I was tired but very happy on my way home.  I sat next to two students, who talked all the way back to Glasgow (although not to me).  I found their conversation fascinating, and very wide-ranging.  They covered the upcoming independence referendum, new scientific discoveries (“a cure for male pattern baldness is about a year and a half away, but a cure for malaria is about 10 years off.  Get your priorities straight!”), their studies, how the thrill of learning turns into something more like hard work as you go further into a discipline, things they would like to know more about, and the history of several parts of the world that I myself am very ignorant about.  Oh and they also discussed the music that they play, in some sort of band.  I sat knitting and reading magazines (and eating couscous very slowly with a coffee stirrer as I didn’t have a spoon), and listening to their conversation.  I was really impressed with these thoughtful young people.

I arrived home about 9 pm with a suitcase full of presents to distribute, and the three of us had a great catch-up.  I don’t think I’ve talked so much in ages, as I did last weekend!  I packed a lot into a small amount of time, and there were some people I wasn’t able to see.  But it was really great – very restorative.  What made it so good was the fact that the Dafter and Michael had also had an excellent weekend.  They had done a silly photo shoot, each pretending to be the other, and had enjoyed their time together.  Michael had actually stopped working for a weekend, which is no mean feat, let me tell you.

So it was a good thing all round.  I hope your week is going well!

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 7, 2014

Spring at the park

March came in like a lamb here, and we had a beautiful day at the start of the week:

Crocuses in Victoria Park, GLasgow.  3 March, 2014.

Crocuses in the park, Glasgow. 3 March, 2014.

My trusty point-and-shoot has given up the ghost since this photo, and I’ve bought another camera, which I have yet to try out.  All being well, I’m hoping to have a little adventure this weekend, so I hope to have some snaps to show you next week.  Fingers crossed!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 2, 2014

Update on Tilly

Some of my readers will be wondering, “What about Tilly?  How’s she doing?”  Very well, I’m happy to report.  She has thoroughly settled in to our new house.  It’s been interesting to see her develop new habits.  For one thing, she’s very much more talkative in Glasgow – just like the people here.  Must be something in the water!

One of her favourite places is on the upstairs landing, where her favourite scratching post, brush and toys are.  She’s begun meowing at us at certain times of day for a brushing.  And we’re happy to oblige.  Who can resist?

By her scratching post, holding on to her slicker brush and with her catnip toy.

By her scratching post, with her slicker brush and one of her catnip toys.

Some things don’t change; she still waits in the hallway and puts a claw out to hook my or the Dafter’s tights as we pass!  She still loves the laundry baskets.  Here there are two:

Tilly in the washing baskets

Because we use the ceiling pulley to dry our clothes (especially at this time of year), the laundry baskets are often in the dining room.  This is also where my Granny’s rocking chair stays – and Tilly has laid claim to it.  We all like to sit in the rocking chair, but if Tilly wants to sit there she makes her feelings known!  She either goes to sit on our usual chair at the table, or stands glaring at us.  We often indulge her by moving so she can sit there:

Tilly on my Granny's rocking chair

Happy Tilly on my Granny’s rocking chair

Not coincidentally, the radiator in the dining room is one of the warmest in the house.

Very often the laundry baskets and the rocking chair are right next to one another.  What does Tilly do?  Take turns sitting in one, then the other, of course.

Rocker? or basket?  Tilly takes them in turn.

Rocker? or basket? Tilly takes them in turn.

She is still fairly shy about looking out windows – unless I’m in the garden, in which case she keeps an eye on me, or unless I am away from the house, in which case she is invariably in the front window watching for me when I return.  She will look out the Dafter’s window if I’m in the room as well.  She’s both intrigued and frightened by birds.

We’re hoping to be able to let her out into the back garden this spring, now that it’s safely enclosed.  I’ll need to discuss this with the vet.  We’ll have to think carefully about a very aggressive Bengal cat from two doors down who believes that our back garden is part of his territory.  He happily jumps down into the garden from the top of our 6 foot fence. We’ve been shooing him away, but this generally involves him sauntering nonchalantly past us on his way out.  Tilly ignores him when she’s inside (he sits on top of the fence to stare in at her), but an encounter with him outside might be a very different story.

Tilly is (we think) 9 years old, and has been a house cat since she came to us 8 years ago.  She was found lost and starving in a very snowy and cold Aberdeen winter, and we don’t know what kind of life she had before that.  She seemed to be very familiar with house rules from the minute she came home from Mrs. Murray’s Cat and Dog Home – never jumped on the table, was hesitant about jumping on beds until we coaxed her, and so forth.  I wonder if she might have been attacked by seagulls when she was wandering in the snow, hence her fear of birds?

I think she would only want to come out into the garden if we (and possibly specifically me) were there as well, and initially she would have to be well-supervised.  Possibly on a lead?  She isn’t used to a collar.  And she might choose just to stay in the back porch with the door open, which would be fine.  But it would be nice to give her the opportunity of a bit more fresh air.

Does anyone have any suggestions on taking this step?

Happy March, everyone!

Posted by: christinelaennec | February 27, 2014

Re-creational knitting

A huge thank you to everyone who left such extremely kind comments on my last post.  Our family really appreciates each one of them.

Now to a little knitting story!  Lilian is a great lady who comes to our house to give the Dafter a massage every few weeks.  She came just before Christmas, and after she’d left she texted asking if we’d found a fair isle mitt, by any chance?  We looked, but there was no mitt.  She still hadn’t located it after the holidays, so when she came in January I told her to bring the bereaved mitt along.  It was a machine-knitted mitt, with a matching scarf.  I did point out to her that it was already starting to fray, which didn’t lessen her grief.

I went up to my bag of Jamieson & Smith 2-ply leftovers, and found similar colours, except for the orange.  I later ordered some orange (always a pleasure to speak to those Shetlander ladies on the phone – “is it more of a marigold you’re after, or a pumpkin?”).  Using the machine-knitted mitt as a guide, I made something of a facsimile, albeit to larger scale.  The colours are less creamy-yellow than in the original but I think they work together pretty well.  When she came for her next visit, Lilian was extremely happy to see what I’d done, so I made another one.  The pattern is essentially a tube, with a bit of stitching to isolate the thumb.  Here is the result:

New hand-knitted fairisle mitts on left; original machine-knitted fairisle mitt on the right.  February 2014.

New hand-knitted fairisle mitts on left (with crochet edging); original machine-knitted fairisle mitt on the right. February 2014.

You can’t really tell, but I toned down the brightness of the cream in the new mitts by dipping them in tea for a bit.  I had a lot of fun doing this project, and of course it was very satisfying to “restore” her mitts to her.  She says the new mitts are warmer, and she’s happy with how well they go with the scarf.  So hooray!

If you’re in Glasgow and looking for massage at home, I can recommend Lilian MacMillan.  One of the things that the Dafter really likes about getting massage from her is that she sits you in a special chair rather than lying you down on a table.  The Dafter always found lying on a massage table a little frightening because it reminded her of times when she was almost immobilised by her ME.  Lilian charges a flat rate for her transport costs on top of the cost of the massage, so if you have other people wanting a massage, it’s very cost effective.  She also operates from various venues in the Glasgow area on a drop-in basis – see her website (link above) for more information.


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