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Making time

Today is about making time to do things. Over the winter I’ve let things slip, rested back on habits and conveniences that aren’t ideal. We’ve eaten ready meals, far too much junk food, and fallen asleep on the sofa way too often.

Then on lottery, or euromillions, day, we sit and play the what if game. If we win, we’ll have this house, we’ll move and live there, if we have more time to do stuff we’d write, grow things, etc. But would we? really? If we’re not making time to do those thing now, why would a bigger house or more money make that much difference?

I fancy having a go at lino printing, so why wait? Recently I wanted to get back into writing but I find that despite having hours in which to write, I don’t.

I think it’s time for a change in attitude. So, yesterday I loaded up the slow cooker and make a batch of what I call mince mix. It’s a tomato base with onion, courgette, pepper, mushrooms, which is blitzed smooth using my hand blender when it’s cooked. Then I add in a large pack of beef mince and let is cook for a couple of hours. That gets made into pasta bolognese when it’s fresh. Once it’s cool, I make lasagne, or freeze portions.

But my freezer is over-full and needs defrosting. So, 2 of us had pasta bolognese last night, 2 of us are having cottage pie or pasta bake tonight. I like cottage pie, my daughter doesn’t, so I made individual dinners. And I made a 4 person lasagne for when my son and his girlfriend visit at the weekend, and a 2 person lasagne for my daughter and I another day.

My point is that I am making time to cook more healthy food from scratch, in advance. It makes meals easier.

It’s far too easy to fall into habits that don’t actually help us. So, I’m trying to change that, at least a little bit.

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A change is sometimes needed

You know when you’re working on something, a long term project that’s going to take months to complete? Sometimes you need a break. A change of view, something different.

If whatever you’re working on is that big, that time consuming, it can be frustrating. In the evenings, while watching TV with my daughter, I like to knit or crochet. I’ve been working on a blanket for over a year, probably more like 18 months. The blanket is now almost double bed sized, just to give you an idea of the amount of work that’s gone into it.

change

It started with a large bag of assorted yarns that my Mum left when she died. I have woven memories in with the stitches. But it’s now close to finished, and it takes forever to go around the thing, and it’s heavy, and awkward to work on. Although the rhythm of the crochet is relaxing, it can be boring too…

So, I thought I’d try something a bit different.

Always keen to reuse and recycle, I often take unwanted clothes to local charity shops, and I’ll often find stuff to buy in there too. But what do you do with the t-shirts that can’t be donated? You can make chunky yarn with them! It’s really easy, even if my first attempts are uneven, and the fabric seams have a tendency to tear.

t-shirt yarn

For a change in pace, I decided to make yarn with some of my own old t-shirts and make a mat for the bathroom. It was either that or dusters, and everyone knows I don’t dust! Being mostly cotton the mat will be absorbent, and I can chuck it in the washing machine.

I’m using a 9 mm bamboo hook, purely by trial and error. Four random t-shirts cut into roughly 1 inch strips made the yarn. It would have been more even if I’d bothered ironing the shirts and measuring properly. But this was a rough try to see if it would work.

And it did! There’s still work to do, but I’ll have a colourful bathroom mat instead of t-shirts in the bin.

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Thoughts on the Creative Mind

I found that when I was at home, setting my own sleep patterns, unencumbered by the demands of employment and responsibility, I was able to write. I could create stories, write until the small hours past midnight. This has changed, and these are my thoughts on the Creative Mind, how it works, and why it sometimes doesn’t.

Sure there were demands on my time, I have children. There was a house to keep tidy, shopping to be done, meals to prepare. But writing could be woven into every day. We got up late, ate when we were hungry, and just lived around what needed to be done. The writing could flow from the creative mind with no problem.

thoughts on the creative mind

Then we moved to Wales, and I got a job. The job requires me to think on my feet for three days each week (metaphorically, I sit at a desk all day). We also lost my Mum, and I have to support my Dad now. It’s not a burden, I enjoy our days out at the beach, and doing the shopping. I love spending time with my Dad.

So, of 7 days in any week, there are 3 where I have to be up early to get to work, 2 where I’m up reasonably early to take Dad out, and then there’s 2 to deal with my own life, kids, house, and garden. My job is online customer service, and every email I open, every phone call I take, is different. Each one requires creativity and thought to deal with the customer and their particular problem. It uses up the creative process, and I think the best way to describe it is like mental firefighting.

Realisation

Recently, on holiday visiting friends, this came up in conversation. “Are you still writing?” and I had to say, “No, not any more, life is just too mental. I can’t get my head into it.” I miss the writing a bit, that sheer joy as the story unfolds.

The reply back, “Well, if you’re mentally firefighting at work, and dealing with other demands, where are you going to find the headspace to write?”

Makes sense to me. If the creative part of the brain is a finite resource, or needs to be worked regularly, then using it all day at work will mean there is less for recreational creativity. Whereas if the creative part is focused on words and language at work, then maybe creativity outside work needs to be different. Which would be why I feel pulled to crochet, knit, work the garden, work with images, as recreation.

These are just my thoughts on the creative mind, I am not sure if there is any research to back this up. I may ramble some more at a later date…

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Hay Festival 2017 – Twice.

For years I’d been aware of the Hay Festival, and always thought I’d like to go. You know, one day, just to say I’d been. Oh, yes, I went to Hay, once… But I lived too far away, and the distance, the expense, and 2 young children… It just didn’t happen.

Then we moved to South Wales, and Hay is about an hour’s drive away – and I still had youngish children, and a very limited budget – so I still didn’t go. There was that constant nagging feeling that Hay was maybe not for me, that I’m not a Hay type of person. That, I’m somehow not good enough to be there. Hay is a festival for literature, for the academic, the intellectual. Not for me.

Two years ago Cerys Matthews was there – and I had no idea what she was doing, only that I wanted to see whatever it was. So, I got tickets, and went. Just on a whim, on impulse, just because. She was part of a panel reading Dylan Thomas poetry. She read poetry, she talked, she sang, and I surprised myself in how much I enjoyed it. While waiting for the show, I wandered the festival, soaked in the atmosphere, wandered into Hay-on-Wye town and ambled about a bit. I didn’t not fit.

This year I spotted Amy MacDonald was playing. I first came across her when she sang for the returning athletes after the Olympics in 2012, and I’ve liked her music ever since.

So, as 2017 seems to be a year of, sod it, let’s do it, and I had a teenager and friend who wanted to see her too – we went. After a long day in work, we made it to Hay in plenty of time and had a little wander. It was quiet, security was tighter than before, but we were expecting that after Manchester. But the atmosphere was alive with creativity. Amy was brilliant live – a show packed with old favourites and new material, some politics, plenty of laughter, and some joining in.

Amy MacDonald

We had a great time, and both teens wanted to go back for more of a mooch around the books, the stalls. Today we gathered a car full, and we went back.

Welcome to Hay

It was packed, crowded, buzzing with people. There were armed police among the crowds but no-one seemed bothered. We wandered for a couple of hours, and it may sound silly, but I can almost feel the creativity starting to spark again. I’m starting to wonder, what’s next?

Hay flags

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