cushion and cat

I finally finished the patchwork cushion I wanted to give to Michelle for her birthday (two months ago already). Sorry, Michelle. But glad you like it :)

michelle-cushion

It’s a nice big fat one (46 x 62 cms) so could easily double as a pillow. And here it is on her couch. (Is it just me or is her couch pretty massive???)

michelle-cushion-couch

Alex came round the other day to renew her bond with Jessie, whose current favourite sleeping place is in a box of fabric under the table in my sewing room.

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Seems a certain human also finds this a good place to snooze. Choco (bottom left) very affronted at being left out.

And I’ve just received this email, which makes me very happy. You will forgive me if it seems boastful to share it with you? Thanks, I knew you would.

email

Simply South

I set up at the Simply South Gift and Craft Fair on Sunday evening, with help from Rob (Manager: Car Packing) and Karen (Manager: General Organisation and Product Placement).

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A full table space is 180 x 75cm, which doesn’t always feel like much when you’re spreading out your samples and wares. You have to get clever about that. A white tablecloth is obligatory – I was delighted to find an old sheet with no holes in it and which came up just fine after a good soak in some Vanish.

The market is open until 22 December. Let me be optimistic and plan to take some more stock through tomorrow evening….

self-image

I was surprised by how many people read and responded to my recent post on depression, so I thought I’d follow it up with a subject that’s closely related ** (for those of you not into patchwork and craft markets!)

When I turned 30, I had a birthday party at a friend’s house. Photos were taken and, when I got them back from being developed (remember those days?), was horrified by how fat and awful I looked. Two months previously, I’d been dumped by my then-boyfriend: he’d decided to go back to his ex-wife, which wouldn’t have been too terrible if he’d only had the decency to inform me instead of just changing his phone number and leaving me up in the air. I was distressed and miserable, and felt vulnerable and unwanted. The photos of myself revolted me.

Well, I came across those photos the other day – and thought, Oh boy, I wish I still looked like that! I wasn’t fat at all (in fact I was a perfectly normal weight), my dress looked lovely, it was a good hair day, and there were no crow’s feet or double chins! Why had I been so very critical of myself?

Looking back, the break-up with David must have played a part – but to be more honest, it was how I generally saw myself. My self-image was very negative, and I couldn’t remember a time since puberty that it hadn’t been that way. I always felt fat, bulky, with legs like coke bottles, chubby arms, moon face, frizzy hair… I could go on but I’ll try and stop. Oh wait, I also hated my breasts. [At 21, I visited a plastic surgeon about having a breast reduction but she advised against it because of my age; I ended up having the op in my early 40s, and was/am greatly happy with my reduced size].

I’m not going to yack on about cultural norms or parental judgements, let’s just say I’ve come to terms with the reasons why my body always felt ugly to me. It doesn’t any more (despite being 55 with all accompanying signs of aging!), so I thought I’d pass on something that helped me with this – in case anyone out there also has crappy feelings about themselves that hold them back and pull them down.

My then-psychologist suggested I find three things that I liked about myself. Three? That was a big ask, especially since internal organs like kidneys didn’t count (I’m sure I have extremely beautiful kidneys). I had a good think and came up with: nose – fine; skin – clear; hands – fine, elegant even! That was a good start and, together with a bit of maturity on these matters, my self-image has improved since then. It’s not a magic formula, and I still have fat and/or ugly days, but on the whole I am a lot less critical of myself. None of us is perfect.

Last week my daughter and I were listing things that we were happy about in life. One of her happy things is how she is physically – hair, body, face, everything.  This struck me as being absolutely wonderful – my own daughter has a positive self-image! Imagine if we could bottle it and share it with the world….

Happy Sunday, everyone xx

** NB. entirely my own point of view, of course, and also please note I am not a therapist or trained in any way to advise anyone (on anything!!)

scrappy sew-up

To differentiate between my usual squares-only patchwork, I have come to think of this as the Random Threesomes. See how nicely those first six grew into a respectably-sized couch throw?

tues

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I might end up keeping this one. On the other hand, if anyone is keen, I’ll sell it!  I once heard a customer at a craft market tell her friend that Jews will even sell you something from their own home if “the money’s right”. “Yes,” said the friend, “Indians do that, too.”  Classic!

working and gardening

Taking five days off to spend in Sedgefield may seem like a really stupid thing for both Rob and me to do at this time of year when there’s so much work to get through, but that’s what we did last week! We packed the boot full of blank pillow cases, fabrics, screens, inks and my iron, so that I could get stock ready for the Christmas markets running up to the 25th, and if Rob’s got his lappie he can work anywhere in the world.

sedgefield

It was very productive to work with none of the usual distractions, and we both got lots done. He was under strict instructions to exclude my ‘holiday’ face from all pics.

Back in Cape Town, we battle on with very high temperatures, too much sun and not enough water. Some of the new plants have managed to survive, however, and I am so grateful to have inherited a grey water system with the new house. I just need to remember to clean the filter more often, to avoid the mild reek of recycled water, but that is a very small price to pay for some colourful blooms.

I know, I know, a sad show by many people’s standards, but this evidence of survival is deeply satisfying to me. [Two asides: yes, there was once a swimming pool in the back garden, you can see a bit of the remains near the daisies that Eleanor gave me; the blue morning glories are ‘not my own work’, but they delight me nevertheless. My ex-husband was filled with contempt for them and said they were the worst kind of weed, but (a) I don’t care, and (b) he’s not here to see them anyway!]

Wishing you all a good week, however hot or cold it is where you are :-)

Depression

I finished reading Shoot the damn dog by Sally Brampton yesterday, and it just blew me away. It’s the story of her depression, its symptoms, its effects, and how she learns to manage it all. Some pages are like reading excerpts from my own diary in my head, which is wonderful in a strange way – it’s always reassuring to know you aren’t alone with something, but your heart aches with empathy.

brampton

(There’s a good review in The Guardian: here).

Sally’s family background and childhood were very different to mine, plus she developed an alcohol dependence (so far I’ve managed to avoid any substance abuse!), but so much of what she experienced resonated in deeply personal ways. I was also lucky that almost the first type of anti-depressant medication I was put on (over 20 years ago, and after two years of therapy) worked for me – I hadn’t realised that over 60% of depressives do not respond well to drugs, until I read this book. So, I’ve come to see “lucky” as an understatement: fluoxetine still works relatively well for me, my ‘low moods’ are generally short-lived, and most people probably have no idea that my mental state is sometimes shaky. I battle with fatigue, but I manage to work around it (it could be a symptom of something else entirely, anyway).

It’s a fascinating blend of scientific research (albeit a bit sketchy in places) and individual experience that I am going to pass round to everyone I know – if you aren’t a depressive yourself, chances are you know at least one person who is. This will help you understand that it is in fact a genuine illness, how they/we see the world when they/we are really ill, and how you can support them/me best.

I was moved to write to the author to let her know what her book has meant to me. But googling her name took me straight to a report of her death, by suicide, in May this year. As if she had been a close friend, I felt absolutely gutted. I also know I’ll always be grateful for the courage and energy she found to write her story, and I so wish she’d found her own happy ending.

shopstar

A really nice woman stopped at my stall at the KKnK Festival in March and suggested I get my products online. Properly. Not just facebook and some pretty pictures on a website. She called her daughter over to chat to me because it turns out she works for Shopstar, a South African online retail platform that is doing great things.

I set up my shop a few months ago but I wasn’t happy with the layout and the navigation, and realised that was why I wasn’t promoting it. I was stuck. Then it struck me – I don’t always have to do everything myself, so I called for professional help and got the amazing Dieke Hessels at KNNKT to rework it all for me.

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She’s pruned and tidied and rearranged, and I’m very happy. The next step will be some more professional photographs, and I’ve asked Megan Andrews (freelance designer but also excellent camera woman) to help with that.

In the meantime, find me here: Jam Tarts, and feel free to place your orders!