Monday, 1 April 2013

On Legacies

About two years before Grandad died, he sent me a small packet of tomato seeds to plant. I decided I didn't have space to grow tomatoes, so I left them in my bag of seed packets and forgot about them. The seeds came as part of one of the relatively few times he and I connected with each other in his final years. Ironically, another thing I inherited from Grandad was a propensity for procrastination and hoarding, so it's little wonder the seeds lay forgotten for a while. So, when I decided to grow some veggies in the back yard space at my new home, I came across this packet of seeds and thought it would be fitting to try to grow the tomatoes this year.

Watching the seeds finally begin to grow, despite the tentative start to spring that we've had here, it got me thinking on the subject of legacies.

Grandad left behind a lot of things, including this photo of himself from when he was working in Switzerland:

And a photo of his mum and uncle as children, with his grandparents (my great great grandparents) from around 1900:

And of course this memory from shortly after my 30th birthday when we went to visit him last Spring:

What we leave behind in this world can take so many forms. I've often thought about this when I've been creating things - artwork, photos, writing, craft - and if anything I've made will leave an impact.

Earlier this year a dear friend of mine, who has supported me in some difficult times, experienced the terribly sad loss of her partner. Friends of hers who had connected with her due to her blog and artwork almost immediately reached out across the world, via this internet magic that we have, to pass a virtual hat around to collect what they could to help her with the financial burden that was adding to her grief. The response was terrific and touching and restored my faith in the generosity of people. It also struck me that the most important legacies we leave aren't in the things we make, but the things we do for others. I find a lot of beauty in the reciprocal nature of this - it's probably the closest I get to believing in karma - to think that the help given to my friend was a reflection on the positive impact herself and her partner had made on others, sometimes even in the smallest of ways.

I was watching this TED talk by Amanda Palmer today which inspired me in a similar way:

Perhaps partly because of all this introspection on the subject of the impact a life can have, I decided to stop selling on Etsy. The decision was a long time coming (in true family tradition, I put it off for some time) but I have to admit, when I finally set up the closing down sales in my shops I felt a sense of relief and release. I can go work on something else now, and it's not too late to do the things I want with my life (and, quite importantly, to figure out what they ARE!). I do feel sad to be leaving behind something I put several years into, but I'm trying not to see it as a failed venture but more as a portion of my life that can inform the next.

I once wrote to my grandad and asked him about my grandma (who passed away before I was born) and he wrote me this lovely story of how they had met.

I hope I leave something behind that will be treasured too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Amazing Disappearing, Reappearing Cat

Hello... (sheepish look),
I've been gone for a bit again, and it's been long enough that I feel I ought to comment on the 'not posting on the blog, not selling stuff online for ages' rather than cunningly distracting you from this fact by pointing into the distance and shouting 'LOOK! What in the world can that be?!'*

So...stuff happened, as it is wont to do. I got a new job, which was temporary (has now ended) but full time and in Truro, so I was basically out of the house a good 11 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus extra for a couple of shifts in the Late Night Shopping season. It just wasn't possible for me to keep up the Etsying/Folksying - there was no time and I was too mentally and physically tired. Now that I'm unemployed, I could go back to the crafting and online shops, but I'm still reviewing the situation and feel the need to focus on finding work that will provide a proper income.

I also moved house in the autumn. Definitely a good move, I feel much better here than I did in my old place, but it's taken time for me to feel settled and I'm still feeling my way through the whole house-sharing malarky. Most people do this at a much younger age I think, and I wonder if it's easier or harder the older you are, to live with people you're not related to.

Grandad passed away in October. I'm still not really able to put into words my thoughts and feelings on this, and I debated with myself whether I even SHOULD put up a blog post about it, but let's just say it effected me in the way I imagine it would have most people, not least because of the impact it had on my immediate family. There's a couple of nice pictures and things I want to share with you guys, so once I get my new scanner, I'll try to do that (and if I don't, give me a poke because sometimes I need reminding!)

So now I'm unemployed and adrift. Life seems to have come to an interval...and I'm feeling a little frustrated by not having the cash for the figurative small pot of icecream...

I'd kinda like to do the cliched thing of going off traveling in an attempt at 'finding myself', but of course this isn't an option (if my job had been made permanent, I was going to travel somewhere new, but alas...), so I am contenting myself to exploring my own back yard (in some ways literally, since I now live in a place with a garden - first time since the 1980s! We have a giant bay tree of which I am childishly proud) I'm trying to get outside more in general. It's ridiculous how often I let myself forget how gorgeous Cornwall is and why exactly I fight so hard to be able to stay here. I went for an amble along the coast with my housemate the other day, and he kindly took a rather nice picture of me. The colours, the contrast and the light...all so...Cornwall.

I will end this post as I began it, sheepishly: I have no new years resolutions to share with you as such this time (I want to lose weight, that's about it), no allusions to grand plans. This is a break with blog tradition, I know. But I'm not feeling so morose about the future as that might make it seem. I'm just trying to take 2013 as it comes. I hope it's a good one for all of you.


* That would be a mis-quote of Vizzini, from The Princess Bride. Got to credit your sources, very important don'tyerknow

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Half the year away...

Here's a little heads-up, in case you hadn't noticed yet...both my Etsy shops are back up! Ok it wasn't quite 6 months absence but getting on for it. I've decided that now is the time for The Return of Cat. The future of JumpUp and Scatterbox Originals remains unclear, but I definitely intend to keep them up and running until at least Christmastime.

You can reach either shop via the 'Etsy mini' links over on the sidebar, right there.

I'm not doing any making for a little bit still, because I am wearing so many different hats these days, I need to try and keep things simple. There is the job-hunting hat (I got a job as a cleaner, but it's part time and semi-seasonal, so I need something else), the flat-hunting hat, the good-friend-who-replies-to-emails hat, and the doing-the-housework hat. That's a fair few hats, I think you'll agree. And I only have a dinky little head (stops my brains from rattlin' around)

I also thought you might be interested to know that I added an About page to JumpUp. Etsy introduced this feature at some point while I was away, and I think it's a great idea. I can't remember who it was that first suggested it, but I think it was back in 2005/2006 in the very early days of Etsy that sellers started asking for a place to share some more information and photos of themselves and their workplace. I don't have a very photogenic workplace (the mugs of half drunk tea make it look a bit unsightly) so no photos of that just yet, but I thought I may as well share a picture of MY mug (ie my face, in good ol' British English) So I set about taking self portrait photographs.

Now, I am one of the people in the world who suffers from Camera Gurn, a little-known affliction which forces a person's visage to become horrifically uncomely the moment a photograph is taken. So, getting a decent photo of me looking as attractive as I'd like to, without resorting to Photoshop and some photos of Scarlett Johansen, wasn't entirely possible. After deleting more pictures of me with Camera Gurn than I care to admit, I finally hit upon a few pictures I liked.

Etsy's About page, which I hadn't originally realised, has a nifty bit of programming that changes your profile photo into a circle, cropping out the edges of your picture. So I couldn't really use the picture I wanted to use...

So I thought I'd share them with your here. Getting the backdrop to sit right in the photo was surprisingly tricky.

 This one was meant to be a quirky sideways smile at my 'cloud' but for some reason in this one, I remind myself of a coy pony. I don't know why, or even how!

I tried to look less like I was about to whinny and blow my hair out of my face through my nostrils...

And then I just looked plain worried.

Finally settled on this one, but like I said, didn't work with Etsy's cropping. Pah. Pretty cropping though.

And me with my glasses, giggling at myself, trying to be less blummin vain!

So I ended up going with this one, which has the unfortunate effect I get from trying to frame my photo by using a mirror to look at the reflection of the viewfinder screen...always gazing off to the side, looking slightly distracted...but hopefully I can pass it off as a look of artistic daydream-y inspiration...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bad at Doing Stuff

So, I might have dyspraxia...

It comes from the Greek words for 'difficulty with' and 'doing'. Yep, that's right, a proper posh word for what might be the reason why I tend to be clumsy, forgetful, sensitive to noise and yet struggle to make out different sounds, why I can take ages to do things, why I tend to ramble on rather than just get to the point... and all sorts of other strange little quirks I've had as long as I can remember. I've been considering it as a possibility on and off since I first heard about it when I was studying A Level Psychology, and it turns out my mum had wondered about it when I was a teenager but wasn't able to get a diagnosis for me.

Having to quit the New Job prompted me to try and find out if I really do have this condition. So, armed with a list of symptoms printed out from the internet which I had underlined anything that sounded like me, and feeling like a bit of a hypochondriac as I always do, I set out for an appointment with my GP to discuss it.

On the way there, I fell over. Of course.

It happened pretty quickly. It might have been because the pavement was wet...or it might have been that I got my foot caught in my trouser hem (I was wearing my super-wide legged trousers which I love - they are very comfy but sadly not so good for hurrying about in) or it might have been because I was hurrying. Or maybe because I had my mind on other things. Anyway, before I knew it I was on the ground, stunned and feeling sore.

I broke my glasses (they somehow came right off my face and fell in front of me, after the right side of the frame half-snapped apart near the hinge. The right arm has since broken off completely, after I fiddled to try and mend the glasses.) and the impact of doing this gave me a little graze on my temple and a little bump, which was sore for a few days but thankfully hasn't bruised.

I got a few little cuts on my right hand, and I grazed my right knee, ripping a hole in the knee of my lovely wide leg trousers. So I arrived at the GP surgery quite dazed and shaken, holding my broken glasses and cradling my hand to avoid getting blood on anything. I meekly asked the receptionists if there was anything they could give me for my hand - they gave me a tissue and told me to go sit and wait to be I went and waited in the waiting room, until the doctor called me and noticed that I was a little hurt.

Don't look if you're squeamish...

There were two advantages to my mishap on the way to see the doctor - obviously, for one thing, there was a nurse on hand to help me get the grit out of my injured hand and provide rescue remedy, dressings and TLC. The other advantage was that when I told the doctor my ironic reason for making the appointment in the first place, he agreed pretty quickly that yes, I probably am dyspraxic...

The doctor referred me to the neurology department of the hospital (yikes!), and my appointment has come through in the post already, though it won't be until early August. I'm not sure how I feel about it all - if I am dyspraxic, it's going to explain a lot...but I'm not sure what help might be available for overcoming it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


It's been a while, and quite a bit has happened, so I'll try and give you the abridged version in rough chronological order...
New job - Yaaay! 
New job might not be enough money - argh. Maths. Stress.
Leaving old job - eek, sniffle.
Old boss got me bouquet of flowers - aaaaaaaaaaaaw!
Holiday in London - eeeee!
Turning 30 - waaaaaaaah!
Visiting poorly grandad - sniffle.
Training for new job - huuuh?
Struggling in new job - wibble.
Last day in old job - erk.
Visitors for birthday celebrations part 2 - sniffle-ish smile.
New job people being lovely - aaaah.
Struggling in new job, bosses suggest taking on a lower level role - wobble.
New job people being lovely but unable to help much more - eeep.
Struggling in new job - waaaah!
Ask bosses to change to a lower level job - erk.
Bosses say sorry, we can't do that after all - aargh!
Quit job -sob, sniffle, sigh...sleep.

Nobody has ever bought me flowers before, so even now they are dead and dried up, I am keeping some of them.

So now it's back to the job hunting...and figuring out what to do with the Etsy shops etc.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Reviewing The Situation...

You might have noticed, my shops are all set to 'vacation mode'. I've decided to take a break from the making and selling because I need to get my stocktake done for the end of tax year, and also because I am needing to re-evaluate some things (namely, whether to keep going...and if so, how...) and because I'm preoccupied with job hunting (FUN!)

Anyway, I thought I would post to let you kind folks know that I am indeed alive, and as I hurtle towards my 30th birthday, I thought now might be a good time to review the New Year's Resolution (be braver/tackle phobias) before my time is overly consumed with the aforementioned things and also plucking out all my grey hairs. So...

Scary Things Wot I Have Done In 2012 So Far

  • Stood and watched a bonfire from a safe distance
  • Lit matches
  • Gave blood (first time since my original blood giving session in 2005, this time I didn't go faint or pale, yay!)
  • Done more job applications (x17) and interviews (x4)
  • Went to an event on my own (James Henry talk at the deli in Falmouth) - and spoke to people there, and came away with some new acquaintances
  • Went to a music gig (I find evening socializing oddly intimidating) - The Ambassadors of Sorrow - they are very good
  • Made phone calls to helplines (I'm not great with phones) when a parcel didn't arrive and to get help getting my computer online. (note to all, PC World's helpline people are very nice, but the customer service from Yodel delivery people is non-existent)
All of these things were more scary for me than going to see The Hunger Games, so I am giving my life in 2012 so far a 15 rating...or at least a 12...

Scary Things Wot Are Still To Come in 2012!!!

  • Fear of insects (mainly spiders)
  • Fear of heights (London Eye)
  • Fear of busy bustling places with lots of crowds (London)
  • Starting a new job (hopefully)
  • Going on a proper date (...maybe...)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

You Never Can Tell, With Bees

When I was still at secondary school (which would be about half my lifetime ago now) I remember one warm summer's day when a wasp landed on my ear. I stood stock-still and let it crawl about on my ear and head for a couple of minutes - to the amazement of the others in my class - not out of bravery, but out of sheer terror and a determination not to 'spook' it and get stung. Another time, a massive hornet (at least two inches long) appeared inside the little changing room in the school Drama classroom - I think I screamed a bit. I've never been stung by anything (touch wood) but my intuition tells me I wouldn't like the experience very much (my intuition is very well informed on this subject, I think). To this day, I have a strong dislike of wasps - you could call it a phobia, I suppose.

And so I'm a big fat hypocrite really, because I quite like bees. Is it because they make honey? Is it because the bumble-variety are furry and sort of cute? Is it because of the charming 'Beehave and Beequiet' characters from Stoppit and Tidyup (one of my childhood era's finest cartoons)? Maybe it's how they bob in and out of flowers, looking half industrious and half like they're just pottering around waiting for the kettle to boil. Maybe it's because I learnt in Psychology how clever they are, with their special wiggling figure-of-8 dance they do, angled towards the sun to talk to each other about where they can find a really good score of pollen? (No, really!) Most likely, it's a combination of all these things. (WARNING: there are images of bees coming up. If they bother you, cover your eyes as you scroll

A few years ago, I attempted to make an illustration for my portfolio inspired by The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It's an interesting book set in the '60s in America, with themes of family secrets, race and religion, all pulled together with surprising analogies to the behaviour of bees. I've never been entirely happy with the image I made for the pretend book cover illustration, so lately I've been trying to persuade myself to have another go at it. I particularly struggled to get a good reference image for bees, so the idea kept going on the back-burner. This is the image I made originally (the idea was for the house to be on the back cover and the honeycomb on the front - but I want to change the layout and tweak the honeycomb and the bees)

This week, I was having a lousy week. Feeling drained by job hunting woes and having been quite under the weather in general, I was padding around in my pyjamas on Friday, trying to shake a severe case of the 'Blehs' when I looked up in my bedroom and saw a visitor resting on my skylight window.

She kindly stayed there long enough for me to get quite a few photos, and even tolerated me talking to her a bit (oh, the Mad Lady in Attic cliché...) I said to her "Are you a bee? I think you are a bee. You look like a bee to me. Hello Bee. I will take a photo of thee. In case I ever feel"

So...I'm hoping she was a bee (and I'm assuming it was a 'she' because apparently male bees don't get out much). She seemed like a friendly little creature anyway, so if she was actually a type of wasp, I think I might have to decide I like wasps too. But I don't think she you?