... because life's too short to do anything ALL the time . Creativity and positivity are my "hiraeth"

Saturday, 31 March 2012

My Story...

This is the story I wrote for the Caerphilly Carer's Support Network Newsletter. 

Thought I might share ...

Steve and I first met and got together in 2005. At the time Steve was a serving member of the RAF regularly travelling across the world with his work, and loving every minute of it. It was while he was serving in northern Afghanistan in 2006 that he had a minor accident, with massive consequences.

Nearly two years later after an MRI, it was discovered that he had a broken vertebrae in his spine. The first operation on it worked for a very short period of time, the second - even shorter. Steve started having problems with his legs and, hearing and balance shortly after that.

April last year Steve's illness was so bad that he was hospitalised for the first time. This, for me was terrifying as he was such a big, independent, feisty, and handy bloke to have around. It was just a few months earlier that he had finally conceded to having a walking stick to help him get about. For him, that was the biggest loss of dignity. The first one.

We had to move as we had inadvertently bought the least suitable house we possibly could have. Of course we couldn't have known. Prior to Steve going in the first time I'd had to have started to do everything. I knew it was bad when he didn't argue with me about stopping driving. It became very difficult for me to do all the school runs, food, paperwork, driving, every day I would discover a new job that I hadn't thought of that I needed to take on. I felt very "put upon", very scared about the future and how I would cope, not to mention how Steve would do.

By the second hospital stay, I was doing things for him that I had never done for anyone before. I often thought "how on earth did I end up here?" and as the realisation that I was going to have to change my goals and expectations about my most personal and precious relationship. I couldn't longer expect the type of things my friends could.

I had to give up work, Steve couldn't be left alone for long periods and I had so much to do that it was impractical to carry on, I quickly realised that the overwhelming vast majority of people are terrified by disability, and it became quite clear that some of our friends and family couldn't cope with it. I found (find) this incredibly frustrating and sad because family and friends are supposed to pull together, but they don't always. Caring can be very isolating.

A few months ago, I was feeling very alone, unsupported practically and out of my depth. It would have been very easy to just get deeper into that state of mind more alone and frightened. It was at the same time that my best friend saw a poster advertising a carer's event that I had missed already. She took a photo of it on her phone, and I made contact with Carer's Support Services at roughly the same time as I made contact with Social Services. When I first rang through to Hayley, I was on the verge of tears, and biting my lip - things were really difficult. I agreed to go along to the up coming Carer's Pamper Day, despite the fact that I didn't really want to. I knew I just wasn't in the right frame of mind - precisely the time you need to act.

When the pamper day came, I dragged myself up, put my make up on (soon to be regretted) and made my way up. I stood in the car park and cried. What was I doing here? I should be at home, caring for Steve, or doing something for him. I'm not a carer - I'm just a wife with a husband who is disabled, I gathered together everything I emotionally had (not a lot) and walked in. I met the organising ladies that were very welcoming, and promptly burst into embarrassing floods of tears repeatedly through the session!

I don't mind telling you that some of the tears were relief. Speaking to someone who "gets it" was the most liberating experience I have had. Despite the different situations, essentially, we were all the same. None of us "wanted" to be caring, but none of us would change it for the world. Lots of ladies had forged long standing friendships by meeting through carer's groups, and were a tremendous amount of support for each other, making the role much more achievable and much less daunting. Men were carers too - it's not just women, men care also.

Currently, I've been to two carers events and I'm really looking forward to the third. I have new friends who are in the same boat as me, and things seem good. Steve is stable, life feels possible. It's so important to feel part of society and the community. I now feel much less guilty about leaving Steve for short periods, thanks to some advice I received from a fellow carer, and I feel much more in control. We all know the theory that if the carer falls everything collapses, and our first duty is to ourselves, to reach out for support and to maintain our well being. Of course our relationship has altered, but we're still dead happy, just not in the same way.

We all have to mange the burden, why not get the support you need?

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Nothing To See Here ...

I've not been making much over the last couple of weeks. Not sure why, but most things in my life seem to be cyclical, so I'm just rolling with it. My creativity takes itself on holiday now and again. There's going to be a piece in the South Wales Argus tomorrow featuring moi. It's about making stuff, I did chuckle to myself at the irony of the timing.

I've actually failed one of my creative goals I set myself. After all this time blogging and creating, the one person I've made the least for is my husband. Making things for men is much more difficult than making things for women. Not the actual creation, of course, but WHAT to make.

It was Steve's birthday this week (happy birthday sweetheart!) and a couple of months ago I had a brilliant idea of something to make Steve. With all the demands I have to juggle I had to concede defeat. Even now (past the big day) I've only got about a tenth of it done.

Steve's disabled and needs a lot of help to get around. He's got this swanky "Dr Evil chair" I call it, which is where he spends all his time if we're not sleeping or out (or dining al fresco as of the last week - wonderful, isn't it? Shame there's snow forecast for Monday!). Regularly, we have afternoon naps and Steve's feet get really cold, so I decided to make him his own quilt (patchwork) but with a pouch on the bottom for him to put his frozen feet in.

That gave me an excuse to indulge in my favourite pass time - fabric shopping. Steve's got lots of interests so deciding what theme to go with was hard! I eventually settled on his very favourite things - cows. Photos to come in the next couple of days, it's really nice, but not progressing at all at the moment so getting it down from my den to photograph it hopefully will spur me into action a bit!

I've got some things in my home that I've been meaning to show you for a while. They are some of my very favourite things and they've all got something interesting relating to how it came to be in my possession.

The needles are for a gramophone and the cutest little tin, it's about 2/3 of the size of a small matchbox. My Nana picked it up for me a few weeks ago for 50p in a charity shop. She knows how I love tins!

She has also given me the place mats (not all that old - more shabby chic I'd say. I quite like them) the Colmans Mustard chopping board  and the vintage mince meat maker. I have the original box that the mincer came in and it even has the little leaflet with it. It's dated about 1942 I think - I can't remember exactly. The Colman's board is also donkeys years old, and no, I do NOT chop on it! It's way to pretty for that!

I hate net curtains. Who doesn't, if pushed? In our bedroom I have long pretty white muslin drapes, luxuriously lolling about over my window. I don't really use them as curtains as such (there's a blind behind it)  so there's a big aperture in the centre and that is where I keep my favourite two pictures. The flowers were Steve's late Grandmother's. The frame was broken and disposed of so it's now just a print pasted onto some chipboard. It's just so pretty - I could look at it all day, and of course it reminds me of Nana Maisey every time I look at it.

The Vogue one was given to me by my lovely friend Jade. She knows me dead well! Perfect for me - dressmaking, magazines and vintage all in one frame.

My lovely fireplace. Bought from the local reclamation yard and the cause of much swearing! In an attempt to save money I declined the offer from the boys at the rec. yard to have it dipped (it was painted all sorts of colours when I got it)  but I ended up spending much more than the cost of the dipping on Nitromors, wire brushes and steel wool. And there's the time, of course - and effort. Bloomin' beautiful now though, isn't it? 

It's in our bedroom where it beautifully compliments my cottagey theme. We don't have any chimney breasts in out house, it's about a 60's build, so the centre is painted black to give the illusion of a chimney hole, and log sections are attached to the wall. You can't have a fire without logs - even if it is pretend!

The detail is lovely on this - gotta love a dragon!

And finally a collection of my favourite soft furnishings. On the bottom, the gingham duvet cover came from my friend Marie back a couple of years ago when she gave me several sacks of linen. I'm still using it - told you it'd go to a good home! I've done all sorts with the contents including making a blind and re upholstering a dining chair with plaited cotton strips. Remember that?

The floery eiderdown is a genuine vintage feather eiderdown off of the actual 50's ish I'd say. When I bought it (ebay) the black top had been added to it to extend it's life and jazz it up. How the person who did it managed it I do not now, but it's beautifully done and I just love it.

Next up are my two 100% wool lilac and cream blankets. The warmest thing in Christendom and they are myy "lucky sleep blankets" as whenever I'm under them I have a beautiful snooze. There really is nothing like a real wool blanket to nap under.

And the best bit is that they cost me a whole £1. For both!

The cushion on the very top - the brown underneath is a section of the faux suede curtains I've done so much with and the crochet cover was 50p in a charity shop in Salisbury. It's crochet cotton and so very pretty - I've also been able to copy it and make all sorts form the circles.

Crikey - I don't half go on sometimes. If you've reached this far down, THANK YOU! You deserve a medal!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Exciting News!

For the very first time I'm letting someone else get their mitts on my blog.

And guess what? It's a BLOKE! I know!

You see, he's not one for making frocks, but costumes really are his thing, and my goodness are they costumes. The really great thing is that he and his mates use their costumes to do an amazing amount of charity work. I'm sure he'll tell us all about that.

He's also a published author, so an all 'round talented young man!

Guest article coming soon!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I'd Forgotten About This One

As you know, I'm well known for my resourcefulness but I have excelled myself this time.

I really like this day dress, clearly it has some of my tea cup favourite fabric on it so that's a big win, but the body of the dress is made from a dyed piece of curtain muslin from Ikea.

I bought a pair for my old bedroom window, since we moved I didn't have use for them for their original purpose. One of the curtains is knocking about somewhere, I used it for something but I can't think what, and the other one I have cut bits off, used it for lining and all sorts really, but it's soft, quite delicate and feels lovely.

So I made a frock. I like it. You've gotta love a free dress.

I must be honest, considering she spends so much time in front of the camera, Meg does take some crap photos herself! I look miserable as sin! ... and please don't look at the chins!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Russian Dolls and Tea Cups

Back a year ago now, my Niece and I went on a shopping trip. A bumper shopping trip. 

We both bought some fabric. I bought the china tea cup one, she had the russian dolls one. We planned on using it to make a dress for her the weekend we bought it, but we ran out of time. And time seems to have passed us by since then too.

We went up to see Steve's family this weekend, so I took my machine up with me and we toiled, and sweated and swore (especially over the bloody collar) but we finished it!

What do you think? I think she's pleased ...


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Northern Exposure

We couldn't make it up to Teesdale to see the family at Christmas so we've had a little mini Christmas.

It's killed me to not post pictures of the present I made for my Niece of  Crown Heart Star fame. I hate modelling stuff myself, but luckily she did it for me ...