40 Before 40: Pandemic Edition

My 40th birthday is at the end of this year. At the end of 2019 I wrote a “40 before 40” list of goals to achieve before I reached that milestone. I blogged about that a little bit but never shared the list online

I did achieve three of the goals last year – I went to see Book of Mormon and did a photography course before the pandemic hit. I also manged to use my manual chair every day for over 40 days later in the year. Looking at the list as I write this, I could also be said to have done two more – I attempted to make button art at Christmas but it didn’t work out (I have plans for a different button art project) and whilst I didn’t make it to a writers retreat, I have done a couple of online retreats.

But there were several overnight trips in that 40, and even more one day trips. Most of those are currently out of reach. And to be completely honest I’m struggling with motivation to get things done at home at the moment. So a lot of the habit forming ones such as “write everyday for 40 days” feel unachieveable.

That said I didn’t want to give up on the idea of 40 before 40 entirely. So at the end of last year, I came up with two slightly simpler versions of the 40 before 40 goals.

I occasionally crochet squares for Woolly Hugs. This year I am aiming to crochet and send 40 of the 12 inch ones. I’ve already done two which will be in the post next week.

Also, for years I’ve been occasionally reading books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book (I have a list of all the books that have been in each edition and read from that – it’s about 1300 when you count removed books). This year I want to get back into it and read 40 books from the list. I’m in the middle of listening to the audiobook of The Circle by Dave Eggers from the list now.

If I could manage to do more of the “at home” or low key goals from my original list that would be good, but the crochet and the books are what I’m actively planning to do write now.

And perhaps at some point when life looks something a bit more like normal I might start a 101 in 1001 list with the tattered remains of my original 40 before 40 list. It’s quite a long time since I’ve done one of those…

Hints of Normality

I’ve been quiet here lately as I experienced some ableism (that was made worse by the fact it was from someone I thought was a friend) and that took up a lot of head space made me withdraw slightly for a bit. But as much as I did need to step back for a few weeks I don’t want to stop blogging here completely.

The other thing that’s taken up rather more of my headspace than it should have is a problem with a carer. Now resolved and handled very well by the agency. It was sad for two reasons – one it was completely ridiculous and a carer I had thought I’d get on well with when we met and two, this agency have handled it so well it’s just another example at how bad the previous agency were at dealing with certain things. I keep having realisation moments like that and I find them difficult because it was a struggle with the previous one for a big chunk of the time (not always) and so many of my friends were telling me I needed a new agency for ages. But I didn’t think there would be a better agency out there.

Hints of normality are continuing to sneak in.

I’ve been briefly shopping twice, about ten days apart. I managed to get pretty much everything I wanted (of the things I could get in shops here) and the things I couldn’t get were mostly things I’d wondered if it would be tricky – like a couple of books that I’d thought might be too specific for our small Waterstones. I also managed to finally find and order myself a set of weights after trying for all of lockdown. I haven’t been to the supermarket but will probably go next week, at least to pick up my prescription.

Shopping was OK. M&S simply food was the only place it felt difficult and stressful but Mum had said it had’t been easy when she went. And I bumped into one of my friends from my writing group and her daughter (who I hadn’t met before) and have a long chat the first time I went shopping.

A few days before that first shopping trip a couple of my friends came to visit in the garden for just under two hours. We had a long chat and swapped some books. And the weekend just gone the new wheelchair taxi people I mentioned last time dropped me in the village I used to live in. Some other friends who no longer live in the county met me there and we sat in the park for a few hours then went for a bit of a walk along an old railway line. I went a bit further once they needed to leave then turned back and walked home. I would really like to get back up there for a walk again.

It’s been really nice to see friends again. I’m not sure how much that’s going to be possible but I’m glad to have done it. Sadly I think my other few good friends I won’t see in person again this year (or at all in one case) due to the distance.

One of the powerchair techs came out yesterday to service my chair. I hadn’t expected when I rang on Tuesday that they’d say “he can come tomorrow” I’d been expecting next week as it was routine so that threw me a bit. The verdict was it needs a few consumable bits (some of which I’d twigged and others I hadn’t but they’re either about due or not entirely unexpected) replacing, new footplates (I knew they were bent but had hoped it was just a new bolt required) and it is still rattling and squeaky! It’s going off the workshop at some point for some TLC.

I’ve seen both my nephews this week (each of them separately spent a day with my parents). It was the first time I’d seen Rafe since June and he’d definitely grown and was much more alert. Mum thinks he’s going to be Grandad’s boy (a bit like how Henry is all about Granny) but I’m not so sure. I snuck a quick cuddle with him which was lovely, if possibly not the most sensible thing to do.

I only saw Henry much more briefly because the powerchair tech rang when I was on the way out the door to ask if he could come three hours early. He (Henry) was busy looking at the things he and Grandad had planted but it was good to have a chance to say hello.

The only other thing I’ve done (other than you know reading and crochet etc) was sit in my mum’s garden for a few hours on Monday and teach her how to do corner to corner crochet. It took a fair few attempts and she didn’t think she could do it (I thought she could because it’s easy but it IS tricky to start a piece off). However a few hours after I got home she sent me a photo of her piece and she’d cracked it.

Mentally I did get quite fed up and down last night but I’m better today and doing OK overall.

“But what do you do in a crisis?”

I am something of a fussy eater. Much better than I used to be but still not great.

Two things I don’t like are tea and coffee. It doesn’t bother me, I’m more than happy to go to a meeting and drink water or get a coke or some juice in a coffee shop or whatever. It’s probably one of the least problematic of my dislikes. Because you just order something else. But it’s also a dislike that a lot of people find hard to get their head around. Why don’t I like it? I just don’t.

Years ago, someone I volunteered with went to get herself a tea and she asked me about not drinking tea. In all seriousness she asked me, “If you don’t drink tea, what do you do in a crisis?” Because whenever anyone came to her with a problem, the first thing she did was put the kettle on. It was something concrete to fall back on.

I can’t remember what I answered and how the conversation went on. I just remember finding the whole thing a bit of a non issue. If someone came to me with a crisis, I’d just help them deal with it to the best of my ability. And if a drink were required, I find alcohol much better in those circumstances than hot drinks.

A couple of people have been in touch over the last few weeks with crises. Thankfully, not corona related but still scary and unsettling for them.

And it made me think about conversation again. She’s no longer part of that organisation and we were never friends outside of it so have lost touch. If we were in touch however I could give her a much better answer.

It turns out, the first thing I do when dealing with a crisis is reach for my crochet hooks.

Because tea lasts a few minutes. Crochet is forever.

Random Bullet Points of Life

For the little things in life worth recording but possibly not worth a full entry

  • I usually tell people that if an entry appears on my blog before about 9:30 it’s because I wrote it in advance and scheduled it.  But it’s 08:42 and I’m actually writing this live so to say.  I’m waiting for carer, it’s been put back to just after 9 today.
  • Lately I have not been reading.  I did just start an audiobook which I like (Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen which I got from the e-library). And I must finish my library ebook this morning as the time on it runs out just after lunch.  It’s good I just had no motivation to read for a few weeks so abandoned it with less than 100 pages to go (that’s Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon)
  • I’ve been working on crochet squares for Woolly Hugs and sent a pile of 10 12 inch squares off to them last week – I’d been working on them on and off since January.  At the moment I keep starting new things and abandoning them.
  • I can’t help feeling I’ve shared the above point before but that might have been on facebook
  • My next craft maybe some decopatch though – my carers keep commenting on my decopatch “Love Books” on my book cases so I’ve told several about it.  One came in a couple of days ago and said she’d had a go and is clearly now hooked. And it’s got me wanting to do some too!
  • Writing is going well.  I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo with an hours goal (and I definitely blogged about that before) but am really beginning to wish I’d stuck with my word count goal as it feels more achieveable. Next time!
  • Isn’t the weather lovely?
  • I’m going to see my favourite musical next week!
  • The Citizens Advice office I volunteer for is taking part in #CABLive over on twitter for the first time this week. I set it up (for us to take part) and I’m enjoying see it run.

You Know You’re a Knitter When…

…you spend a long time being ranty about the difference between knitting and crochet.

I was sent a review copy of The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah.  It’s being released today (12th March) and it was a good read with an interesting style that felt different and refreshing.  I don’t want to say I enjoyed it because it was a tricky subject matter and whilst not upsetting it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  It did make me think and was skillfully done which avoided it being an upsetting book.  Plus it managed to surprise me unexpectedly at the end.  I have seen other reviews saying it made people cry but frankly I’m not a big crier at books.

When I was sent the book I was told that a key part of the plot involves a blanket that’s been made for the main character.  And as a part of the publicity for this I was sent a learn to knit kit (I knew how to knit already though) to make a square and send it back.  The idea being that people would read the book, review it and knit a square then send them back to the publishers.  The squares would be made into a blanket and the blanket would go on the book tour.  Or something. I made a square and sent it off but I’m not sure what’s happening with that.

So anyway I was on the train yesterday on the way to go collect my new glasses.  And I’m reading the A to Z of You and Me.  I’m liking it but I’m very aware that having just reading the amazing Letters to the Lost as good as The A to Z of You and Me is (and it is) it’s a pale comparison.  If I’d read it first I may well have been a bit more wow about it.

Then I got to a bit where someone is crocheting and I’m thinking “hmm crochet?” and a bit confused because knitting had been mentioned to me. But I figured well, maybe she does both (I do after all).

Then a bit later the blanket is introduced.  And it sounds like an absolutely amazing blanket.  The sort of thing that (if it were real) I’d not have the patience to make, let alone the skill.  Although to be completely honest my lack of patience is a big part of why I lack skills.

But this amazing blanket is actually crocheted. And I swear at that point I had to stop reading for a few minutes and be ranty in my head about knitting versus crochet.  I thought it several other times too.  I found The A to Z of You and Me to be quite a fast read because of it’s style which broke it down into small (letter based) chunks.  It probably would have been a quicker read if I’d not for my knitting versus crochet rantiness.

That’s not to say that it ruined the book because it didn’t.  Or that it’s not worth reading because it is.

My point basically is it’s a good book but in a unrelated tangent that; seems unexpectedly to be very important to the crafter to me, crochet and knitting are different things.  And after seeing yarn bombing moments in the book I’m sort of tempted to do some of that but I don’t think I have the nerve.

You know you’re a knitter (and a crocheter) when…

…you declutter your house and gathering (almost*) all your yarn into one place looks like this

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Image description: Two clear 80 litre (aka absolutely fucking huge) storage boxes side by side on my bed which has a white frame and dark purple duvet. They are full to the brim of yarn of all different colours and textures – mostly DK but some is different weights. My collection of knitting needles of various sizes is sticking out of one of the boxes. The lids aren’t on in this picture and they are so full my mum had real difficulty getting them on when she put the boxes away.

*I thought that the only yarn I’d left out was the stuff I’m using for my current crochet project and the yarn for the knitting project I might do next. But then mum and I kept sorting my bedroom and did find several (maybe 7) more full or part balls.