Deep, deep sadness

Eileen Maude Nicholson 1923-2010

Where do I even begin?  I’m still reeling from the shock.

This is my Nanna.  My beloved, dear, sweet Nanna who has been there for me all my life. More than a grandmother, she played a big part in helping to raise me when my parents divorced and was always the foundation stone of my life.  Sometimes I feel like my mum and I are more like sisters and we both share the loss of this amazing mother.  She was gentle, wise and compassionate and I will miss her more than words can possibly express.

She went to bed last Thursday and died peacefully in her sleep.   It came as a shock to all the family – she was 86 and wasn’t in the best of health, but it wasn’t expected.

But I’m afraid there’s more.

This one will probably be harder for a lot of my loyal readers.  I’m sorry to have to tell you that Basil is no longer with us.

He picked up a little after Christmas, but I’ve known for a while now that he had a probable tumour and we have monitored him carefully over the last few weeks.  We decided last week that we needed to talk to the vet and today we all agreed that he was only going to suffer more and more as time went on and it was time to let him go.

What else can I say.  There’s no point trying to describe how I’m feeling, I could go on for pages and pages, but I don’t really have the energy.  Life goes on, we still have Adrian’s parents to care for and even though Derrick is home, he’s not really ready for it.  He’s managed to have a pretty serious fall and hit his head and hurt his arm quite badly.  To add insult to injury, his doctors surgery just burnt down at the weekend.  You couldn’t make it up really, could you!

Nanna’s funeral is next week and I will be coming back and getting straight into preparations for the Harrogate show.  I know there’s a lot of people thrilled to bits that we are going back to some shows this year, but I need to ask you all to do something for me – don’t mention this stuff.  I know the natural reaction is to offer sympathy, to pass on condolences, to offer a quick touch on the hand or a sympathetic smile – it’s exactly what I would want to do and in any other environment, I would appreciate it.  However, it is all going to be so raw, that the kindest thing you can do for me at the shows is to let me put my “professional head” on, focus on the crafting and not think about this.  The majority of people who will see us at the shows probably don’t read the blog and wouldn’t understand if I dissolve into tears because someone gives me a hug.

There’s one more thing you can do for me if your situation permits: make a special fuss of your Mum this Sunday and tell her you love her.

I’ve just stuck my thumb in a pot of paint

My sleep pattern hasn’t quite got back to normal, though why I’m awake so early doesn’t make any sense.  I’ve been downstairs for a couple of hours journaling and creating.  I spent most of Saturday wandering round like a zombie and occasionally falling asleep on the sofa, then late at night my creative muse seemed to wake up and I spent some time painting a base coat of crackle paint onto a mirror, buttering some molding paste onto a couple of journal pages and I dug out a little chipboard album and cut some Dove of the East Paris papers to fit it.

I slept til lunchtime on Sunday, did some (shhh) housework, went to see Derrick in the afternoon (update below) and carried on playing when I got home.  There has been a lot of discussion amongst my creative friends recently about journaling and I’ve been chatting away about it like I’m some kind of expert, but in fact, it’s been quite some time since I journaled regularly.  I have a tiny (4 inch square) journal that used to be my bedside journal where I would often create a page of doodling and writing before I went to sleep.  I was talking to Lynn and Lesley about journaling while we were away and realised that I have only journalled sporadically in the last few years and it’s something that I would like to fit into my routine as a regular thing – without turning it into a chore of course.

I always tried to keep my journals focused on the positive and when something unpleasant happens, it’s easy to let the journal become a whingefest.  I always used to counter that with a “What’s Better?” list each day.  No matter how awful the day had been, I would pose the question ‘what’s better today’ and look for at least one positive answer and write about that.

So while I was away, I bought a copy of a journaling magazine and when I got home, I dug out an old journal that I started in 2000.  That year was a huge year of fresh starts – I wound up our consultancy and training business and started Graphicus then moved house to the one we are currently in to give the business space to grow.  Reading back through that old journal was so interesting – in some ways not much has changed, in other ways ten years has brought huge changes.  I also found some other notebooks from the same era – one was full of images of beautiful country kitchens and other gorgeous interiors cut from magazines – something I used to do to help me refine the look I wanted in my own home.  Interesting that the painted country kitchens I selected ten years ago still appeal to me now.

I have lots of journals on the go and wouldn’t you know, the one I really wanted to work in yesterday is nowhere to be found.  I think I’ve left it at work.  So what did I do?  Started a new one of course.  It has a plain brown kraft cover and nice sturdy white pages.  I decided to decorate the cover with a brocade stamp and used Titan Buff acrylic paint to stamp a brocade design all over.  When it was dry I rubbed distress inks over the top and edged it with Versamagic chalk ink (jumbo java).

It was this morning as I was tidying up that I discovered I hadn’t screwed the lid down on the Titan Buff paint and as I picked it up by the lid, the paint fell away and I had visions of this viscous opaque paint going everywhere.  Somehow, as I made a grab for it, I ended up with my thumb right inside the pot, not great for my thumb, but lucky for everything else on the table that I had spent the last couple of days working on.  Phew!

I have some more California photos to share with you, but before I do that, the invalid update for those of you following their progress.

Derrick, well he’s really going through the mill.  Finally he can swallow, though he has to be careful he doesn’t choke and has had to learn to swallow twice or it goes down the wrong way.  He’s had thrush in his mouth and now he’s got shingles.  He really didn’t look too good when I saw him yesterday and I confess to getting rather upset as we left.  It’s been a tough week for Adrian having to deal with it on his own, and almost broke my heart when he said he didn’t know which was worse, seeing his Dad in hospital, or his mum on her own at home.  I am so proud of him for the way he is coping with such an awful situation and I know that when the time comes that they are no longer with us, he can be at peace with the fact that he took such good care of them.

Basil is pretty much the same. I had forgotten how skinny he was and was shocked at how light he is when I first picked him up.  He is still being a picky eater, and seems to prefer eating when we are with him – must be anxiety I’m guessing.  Other than being too skinny, he seems fine and he now has a new friend – a mini Mr Fuzzybottoms, who I found wandering round the Rainforest Cafe in search of a loving home.

Here we are in the Rainforest Cafe at Disney – looking a bit tired at the end of a long day, drinking cocktails (non-alchoholic, I certainly couldn’t process alchohol as well as jet lag) and eating fajitas.

The cocktails were like drinking pudding through a straw – yumm!

If you have never heard of the Rainforest Cafe, it really is a full on Disney experience as the whole building has been designed to make you feel like you are in the jungle.  There are vines and flowers everywhere above you with parrots and giant butterflies gently flapping their wings.  You are surrounded by huge tanks full of tropical fish who swim by and there is real water dripping down from the canopy above.  Every so often, the whole place goes dark and the water drips turn into a heavy shower while cracks of thunder roll around above you and flashes of lightning are puntuated by screeches from invisible monkeys and parrots.  The rain is carefully channelled so it doesn’t actually fall on the diners of course.  The whole thing is a masterpiece of theatrics and the food is good too.  What’s not to like?

These aren’t the real fish in the tanks, this is just the decoration along the bar.  The bubbles are real and quite hypnotic to watch.

The show finished on Wednesday at 2pm and by 2.40pm, we had the whole stand down and we were out of the door.  We headed to the mall we found on the first day to eat at JD Schmid again and have a browse around Borders. The rain had gone and we had sunny blue skies, almost warm enough to leave the cardigan behind.

You know you’re in California when this is the view from the shopping mall car park.

Whoop Whoop!

Thank you for all your good wishes, positive thoughts, prayer, whatever you want to call it.  I think it’s working.

  • Derrick was moved from Durham to Bishop Auckland hospital today.  They think the C-diff is under control.
  • Basil chomped his way through not one, but two foil trays of proper cat food tonight.
  • This afternoon it rained.  Not snow, rain.

Things are looking up!

Getting Sidetracked

Derrick seems to be a lot better than he was on Saturday.  Adrian came back on Saturday from visiting in a state as close to despair as I think I’ve ever seen him.  Derrick had been fed through his nose tube, but had reacted and been sick which had thrown the tube out.  Worse than that, he had severe pain in his abdomen, to the point where he could hardly speak and Adrian spent much of the simply time holding his hand. We both went on Sunday and he was a different man.  Still not right, but feeling much better, and (keeping everything crossable crossed here) continuing to improve.  The hospital have told us that if they can get him stable and get the C-Diff under control,  they will move him to our local hospital which will be a lot easier for visiting.

Basil still doesn’t like going to the toilet in the snow – here he is dashing back in again.  Even though it’s blurry, I really love this photo as it’s caught his movement and it captures a certain something about him.

He’s still eating, albeit tiny portions compared to what he used to eat.

I never did get the melt pot switched on the other night.  Isn’t it strange how you set off with one intention in mind and something completely different happens.  I have been wanting to play with the German scrap birds we got in before Christmas and for a while I have thought they would look good painted with Golden’s fluid acrylics.  The paint is very transparent, so a little paint would let the gold shine through.

I painted the bird with Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade).  Yeah, I know, the colour names are just mad.  I don’t know why they didn’t just call them bluey-green and greeny-blue, but I guess that wouldn’t have been as clever as coming up with a chemical name that starts with four consonants.  Anyway, regardless of the names, these are two very intense, er, well bluey-green and greeny-blue colours and together they give you  gorgeous deep toned turquoises, but at the same time, they are quite transparent.

Anyway, over the gold German Scrap they went and did indeed give me the rich glowing colour I was after.  I hunted around for something to put my bird on and came across a pair of chipboard jotter covers that I’d painted with the same colours and covered with a sheet of paper from the Graphicus Guild paper pack.

We had generated some strips of scrap paper at work from a printing project and Adrian came up with the idea of making a shopping list style book with these skinny left over pieces.  The colour of my covers was perfect – too close a match for the bird to show up, so I needed a contrast.  I found it in the form of a tag which had previously been coloured with some combination of Glimmer Mists (I’m guessing from the moulin rouge set).  I stamped some flowers from the Grungy Brocade stamp set using Ranger Clover pigment ink and embossed with holographic embossing powder.  I looked at the bird and decided he needed a little rub down to let some of the gold show through.  Then I wanted him sparkly, so he got a coating of the holographic embossing powder as well and I love how it turned out.

This is the sheet that the bird came from

I can see some interesting possibilities for those butterflies with this technique.

Now, maybe I’ll get that melt pot switched on …