Saturday, 30 March 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - week 13

It has been yet another marathon week filled mainly with a heady mix of toothache and anxiety.  All in all this has been a horrible month and I shall be glad to see the back of it, maybe April will be better?

1. Good Friday - Jesus Christ died to set us free, the best good news ever.

2. Tulips - beautiful Easter flowers from a friend


3. The Girl in Blue - by P.G. Wodehouse, my new audiobook, a delightfully complicated confection involving  a large cast of improbable characters and read by Graham Seed, aka. ex-Nigel from The Archers.  It's so lovely hearing his voice again.  I find audiobooks a great accompaniment to knitting and a good one can draw you in completely.  It is not just the quality of the book that matters but also the reader.  As someone who has listened to a great many P. G. Wodehouse audiobooks I can recommend those read by Jonathan Cecil and Martin Jarvis (who has done the world a great service by his readings of the Just William stories).


4. Isaiah 41.10 - a verse I found in a list on the Desiring God blog, just when I needed it to help me with dentist related anxiety.

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
So rich in promises and just exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  God is good at that and I do tend to find that I need reminding of His promises, I am hopeless at remembering on my own.  The original blog post is well worth reading - Nine Reasons Why You Can Face Anything

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A bit of admin

Having seen increasing comment about the imminent demise of google reader I have signed up for bloglovin. I do not personally use google reader for my blog reading myself, but tend to read them in the dashboard part of my own blog (unless that is google reader too?), but I thought it was a good idea to get a presence on there.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

52 weeks of happy - week 12

It has been a bit of a miserable week, well, miserable few weeks, so all the more reason to look for the positives that have been there.  This project is helping me to see that there are good things in my life, so it is working in that respect, even if it does take quite an effort for me to keep it up.

1. Frogspawn - we have a small pond outside the back door that is able to support a community of somewhere around half a dozen frogs who appear as if from nowhere at this time of year to spawn in the pond and who can be seen on summer evenings out catching insects.  Watching the frogspawn grow is always fascinating and has become part of the cycle of the year.  With considerable diligence my sister has managed to get some good shots of the frogs and frogspawn and she has kindly allowed me to share her pictures.

Camouflaged frogs

2. Lunch out - at the pub with my sister, a quiet relaxed lunch and the discovery that the pub now does sweet potato chips.

3. Sock knitting - one of a pair finished, the second on the back burner while I make some swap socks.  Unfortunately I cannot share pictures of the swap socks yet, but I am pleased with them so far, it is going to be hard parting with them.  The on hold socks are Elm by Cookie.a in some sock yarn beautifully dyed by Countess Ablaze.


I also finished another pair of the baby bootees that actually stay on, though I am slightly worried that one of them looks a bit bigger than the other, hopefully they will still work to keep a baby's feet warm?  They took longer than they should have done as I cast on too few stitches on the second bootee and had to start again.


4. More bird watching - there have been a lot of them around this week because of the cold weather and they are fascinating to watch.  My sister got some photographs of them too, the robin in particular was keen to pose, they are such little attention seekers.

Side on robin

It is not always peace and harmony among the birds though.
Birds of a feather...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Facing failure

Some days, some weeks even, I feel like a failure: an utter, miserable, lowest of the low, out and out failure.  Now is one of those times.  Life seems dismal, I feel frustrated by my own ability to make the same mistakes again and again and I feel stuck.  Prayer is hard, a fight and a battle, to focus, to find the words, even sitting quietly before God is a challenge.  I find myself not wanting to pray, which is a feeling I hate.  I hate that I do not want to spend time with God and hate how that must make Him feel.  The world seems like a bleak place and change seems impossible.

I am trying to persevere, as the Bible urges us to again and again, but it feels so hard and yet in saying that I feel like such a wimp.  Surely I knew before I began that following Jesus was hard?  He warns of it, "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10) and "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16).  So why do I moan and whine and protest when things are hard?

I find it so hard to put aside my pride and admit that I cannot do this on my own, to accept my own inadequacy and that ultimately I cannot save myself.  It is at this point that I turn again to Jesus, to the cross, to give in to grace, something so simple, yet so hard.

But I still admit that I cannot yet rejoice in trials and sufferings, although I can overall see the good that has been coming out of the hard times.  Sometimes the hard times are when I am closest to God, but the hardest hard times are when I find it hard to approach God and when my sense of failure becomes overwhelming.

Father help me to persevere.
Forgive me my failings.
Thank you for the cross.
Help me.
Help me to find strength in my weakness.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12) 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - week 11 (finally)

After a week stuck at home with a boring and unpleasant cold, looking for some good points in the week seems even more important.

1. Daffodils and sunshine - always a cheerful combination, the warmth of the sun seemed to bring the scent out.

2. I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again - celebrated their 50th birthday this last week and I spent a good time listening to the three hour special.  It's always a good laugh and gloriously silly, although I would have to agree with the rest of the cast that John Cleese's silly walk does not work brilliantly on radio.

3. Persephone Books - I received a voucher for three books for my birthday and this week I decided it was a good time to spend it.  It took me quite a while to decide, one day I aim to own all their books, although this would need to involve ongoing purchases as they are continuing to publish books.  This last week they have published Elisabeth du Waal's novel The Exiles Return, about a number of Jewish refugees returning to Vienna after the war, which has never before been published.  My grandfather left Vienna as a Jewish refugee in early 1939 so this book has resonance for my family's story.  I recently finished reading her grandson Edmund du Waal's book The Hare with the Amber Eyes, part family biography, part history, both of art and of events.  It is a book written with infinite care and no sentimentality or nostalgia for a lost age, I would highly recommend the second book and am greatly looking forward to reading the first.  I am also very grateful to Persephone for publishing the book and giving a voice to what happened.

4. Relaxing simple crochet - a straightforward, slightly wobbly, crocheted dish cloth, for immediate kitchen use.  It kept me occupied and relaxed for an afternoon and is already in service.  Made from half a ball of Drops Paris I had hanging around in my stash.


Hopefully I will be prompter in posting this week, hopefully.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 10 (also belatedly)

I am still behind with blogging, this time because of a week effectively wiped out by a cold in the head, a minor affliction that is capable of making one feel disproportionately unwell.  However, this post belongs to the week before this just gone, the week of toothache.  My life has been so full of fun lately.  But it is good to look for some positives even in the middle of the nasty stuff.

1. The 109 bus - I have never been so glad to see a bus in my life.  I was on my way to the dentist and had arrived in the suburb by train, walked out of the station and become completely disorientated (note to self: next time take a map).  So I managed to go the wrong way out of the station and walk for what seemed about a mile in the wrong direction.  The penny was just dropping and I was getting dangerously close to my appointment, when I found myself beside a bus stop for buses running towards the direction I had just come.  To my intense relief there was a 109 bus crawling along the road towards me that delivered me to the dentist's just about on time.  Mercifully the toothache and general jaw pain seems to be inflamed gums, rather than the more serious problems I had been imagining - note to self: do not immediately leap to the worst possible conclusion over *everything*.

One of my dad's toy buses for illustrative purposes

2. Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard - I have been deep in the Cazalet novels lately, devouring them greedily.  I cannot remember when I was last so engrossed by a series of books or a fictional family, I found myself truly caring what happened to them and whereas in the earlier books I had been enjoying and taking note of the writing and narrative devices, all that detail began to fly out of the window as I got further into the story.  I cannot recommend these novels enough.  For so long I have been limited in my reading by brain fog and tiredness, so to be able to regain some of my previous capacity for reading is a real joy.


3. Robins - out in the garden during some rare sunshine I saw both robins, the first boldly sitting on a branch just above my head singing lustily, the second creeping about the undergrowth and holly, battling curiosity and cautiousness, unable to resist taking a look at me despite nervousness.  I have great hopes of a nest of little robins.


4. Beautiful yarn in the sunshine - this is Mind the Gap by Trailing Clouds, Blue Faced Leicester wool yarn dyed in all the colours of the London Underground lines.  As I have plans (or hopes?) of casting this on soon I had been winding the yarn and thought the opportunity for photographs was too good to miss.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - week 9 (belatedly)

Life has somehow overtaken me and I am now two weeks behind in "52 weeks of happy", it may be challenging remembering what happened in the week before last so you will have to bear with me!  I did consider doing weeks nine and ten in one post, but that seemed somehow to be cheating.

1. Camomile Tea - recommended by a friend because I was so stressed and tense I could not relax, to the point where I was rigid with tension or shaking.  It worked almost at once, unlocking the tension enough that I could then work on relaxing and could cope again.  Since then I have had some every day and while I am not completely sorted, it is helping.

2. More signs of spring - some more tree prunings, this time from the magnolia tree outside the house.


3. Marking Time - the second of the Cazalet novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard.  It is ages since I was so lost and absorbed in a book, or a series of books.  They deal with the life of an extended family in the years surrounding and during the second world war, there is so much skill in the way she tells the story from different perspectives and managing to produce an ensemble work in which there are no weak or under-developed characters.  I have ended up caring about these characters intensely, truly caring what happens to them.  The novels are being beautifully dramatised on radio 4 across this year to mark Elizabeth Jane Howard's 90th birthday.

4. Apple loaf - from the Edmonds' cook book, essentially a soda bread with grated apple added.  It was moist and tasty with a dense but not heavy crumb.  Even better it was not hard to make so hopefully I will be able to make it again soon.  I am considering whether some spices and sultanas would make good additions, sounds like experiment time!