Girlfriends

Today is National Girlfriends Day and what a fantastic thing to celebrate. I personally think that friendship among women is something very special.

There are those friends who are only in your life for a short period. Perhaps it is during the school years or perhaps during various stages of one’s working life. They keep us going. When those friendships come to a natural conclusion that is fine. Life intervenes and to be honest I think it would be impossible to keep every friendship going.

There are the friends one meets during difficult times. They support you and then as those difficult times ease you both move on with your lives and again that is ok.

There are those friends which one meets through perhaps pastimes, hobbies, shared interest. Perhaps you only meet them during those shared interests, but they are an integral part of the enjoyment of those interests.

Perhaps you have some friends who are years or decades younger and their perspective on life adds to your knowledge as we are always learning.

I was listening to someone recently who looked on her local librarian as her friend as every two week she knows that there is going to be a new book waiting for her which will stimulate her, intrigue her or even get her riled. These books have been chosen by someone who cares and that is the definition of friendship for her.

Then again there are those friends who you may be privileged enough to have had them for twenty years or more. They have become part of the fabric of your life.  That is such a special blessing.

I have been blessed with so many gifts of friendship that I am humbled. Today I am remembering with great fondness but also with a heavy heart some friends who have died. I still go to the phone to ring them or I am just about to send them a text, or message them and even had a card made for one friend when I realise “No “they are no longer here. However, their legacy of friendship remains within my heart.

I have been privileged to have received the gift of friendship from so many.

Happy Girlfriend Day.

 

 

Friendship

Friendship is everything in life, 
Life without friendship is like life without air…
Life without friendship is like eats without food
And
Life without friendship is like body without soul…

(excerpt from Friendship by Qistina Zani)

Encouragement

A few years ago, I was introduced to machine quilting.  Let me say from the outset it wasn’t something I would have chosen for myself and I will always be indebted to my husband for purchasing the machine for me.

Quilting will always go hand in hand with the concept of encouragement. In fact, it is not the concept but the reality of encouragement.  Firstly, my husband, getting the proper advice for the sewing machine; secondly the encouragement from two friends to book quilting rather than sewing classes; and finally finding the right location for those classes.

Four, two-hour classes and I had a lap quilt, having learnt how to cut with a rotary cutter, to thread, sew, change bobbins and importantly not to be afraid to make mistakes.  Since then the most important tool I have is a Jemima.  Jemima is a ripper so as this ripper has a name it just shows how often I use it!!!

I have begun to understand how friends have been so absorbed in occupations and hobbies fabric related.  It is so tactile.  From choosing the fabric, treads batting to the actual making of the quilt top each step is tactile.

However, I have digressed here from writing about quilting and encouragement.  Every step along the way I have been encouraged. Roisin telling me get a piece of old fabric and sew.  “Put the foot to the pedal and sew”.

Then there was the utter magic of those four quilting classes with three ladies whom I am telling you have the patience of Job.  Honestly it amazes me when looking back how they survived me and kept their cool.

So, who were these angels?  They inhabit Appletree Crafts in Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow.  Their names? Marie, Sinead and Trina.  Now neither their halos nor wings are visible but believe me they are quilting angels who constantly encourage.  Their shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of fabric.  So, if you are visiting the garden of Ireland drop in, even if quilting is not your thing. Or, on the web http://www.appletreecrafts.ie

I have continued to try new adventures in this my 60th year.  I am writing this overlooking the Aughrim river on a sos beag (small break) from a Quilting Retreat.  Yes, I am attending my first Quilting Retreat.  It is an absolute blast.  A retreat led by Trina, Sinead and Marie from Appletree Crafts and attended by ladies who have offered nothing but support to each other .  The tips and generosity of spirit has been so special and uplifting.

Paper Inspiration

Do you ever get that feeling?  You know the one where you have a card to design, a very specific occasion for a specific person and the mind just goes blank?  You do?

What do you do to get inspiration when nature, photos you have accumulated and books just don’t help you fill the blank?  Or when it is something very specific you require?

I have a few specific blogs which I turn to.  If it is , what I call a fussy card or which most paper crafter would call, shabby chic then it is to Yvonne I would turn to. http://cardartblogkilcoole.blogspot.ie  Yvonne has also included some wonderful recipes on her site.

Another blog which constantly inspires me is https://cardsandcompany.wordpress.com   Lorraine gives great directions and added to that she gives a glimpse into the city of Ballarat, in Victoria, Australia.

On YouTube  Geraldine on little snippets  is just full of wonderful ideas and again with straight forward directions. https://www.youtube.com/user/littlesnippets1

Now I will freely admit that I love Pinterest and it is a great resource, especially at 3.00 a.m. when sleep is elusive.  It is just amazing the wealth of ideas which abound there.   A word of warning though, you may find that you spend hours rather than 10 minutes on it.

However, I have two special crafting buddies to whom I turn to time and again. Invariably they come up with some great ideas.  Anne my paper crafting buddy who is my expert on die cutting.  What she can do with a die cutter is just amazing.  The other is Mary, who taught me how to make my first greeting card.  She has great ideas.  She is a great artist.

Image result for free clipart of friendship

These two ladies have one thing in common – they have the patience of Job.  They remain calm and will explain things over an over again.  Which is just as well for me.  Thanks to you both. You are amazing ladies.

 

 

Forward Planning

 

Do you have that friend or acquaintance who just oozes confidence.  Nothing fazes her (of course it could be him but for convenience I am going to stick with her).  She has a presence.  She is able to articulate herself and nothing seems to throw her off her stride.

I know someone who just epitomizes the word confidence and I met her for coffee recently.  After catching up on what had been happening in our own lives and our families lives we turned our attention to our working life.

She told me that my recent post “A Change of Title”, which discussed the feeling of being invisible, really resonated with her.  Since she has become a retiree she has totally lost her way.  She had started to withdraw from social activities as it was less stressful.

I realised, that yes, I hadn’t seen her as much in the last year to eighteen months but had never realised that this was due to a lack of confidence.  I was flabbergasted.  Here was a woman who a few years ago would have chaired meetings, talked in front of a hundred delegates and never once believed she couldn’t achieve things.

Since becoming a retiree she had begun to realise that without her job she felt useless and that gradually her confidence had been eroded.  She had no sense of identity.  She had gradually withdrawn from social events.  She had become an avid reader and was a weekly visitor of her local library.

It is so easy to lose one’s identity whether it is on retiring, becoming a mother or father, loosing a job, or a myriad of other reasons.  The effect is still the same.  One’s self-confidence begins to disappear.

As our conversation developed we each admitted to being very apprehensive about forthcoming events which each of us had to attend.  Suddenly I had a buddy who wanted to help me and at the same time I wanted to ease the social evening for her.

Angela never moves without her tablet so, as I had to attend a large meeting she checked Luas time-table to see how long it would take me.  Then Angela suggested googling the hotel where the event was being held.  A large percentage of hotels now have virtual tours so one can get an idea of the various function rooms.  Now that is a tip I will keep in mind for future reference.  We also discussed where I would sit.  An aisle seat would suit as I was giving myself permission to leave at any time while at the same time I wouldn’t be disturbing anyone.

Next we looked at Anne’s social night, where she would know the hosts but no one else. Again we checked out the venue then we looked at conversation topics which Anne could read up on in advance.  Then we looked at outfits.  By the time we had finished, both of us while not being excited about the forth coming events, found we were no longer totally apprehensive about them.

Definitely, a little bit of forward planning was going to make  the experience far less daunting and it is something I would totally recommend to anyone who is apprehensive about a forth coming event. It will ease the situation and more importantly ease the stress levels.

I will try this book genre just one more time.

 

I love to read. I enjoy finding a new book on perhaps a subject I haven’t really looked at before and being drawn in.

There are books however that over the years I have detested.  Yes a strong word but aptly describing my feeling towards fairy tales.  Yes, fairy tales.  I can remember fairy tales being read to me, later reading them for myself and always being frightened by either the tales themselves or the illustrations.

Thinking back to those tales still sends a shiver down my spine.  I can remember receiving a book one Christmas entitled “The Stolen Child and Other Stories” by Sinéad Bean DeValera.  Although these were Irish based I was still scared.

Recently, I was given a bag of children’s books some first published in the 1970’s.  In among them  was a book ” Great Fairy Tales of Ireland” compiled by Mary McGarry.  After numerous pots of tea I finally finished the book but I never relaxed into the book.

I think I can safely say that I will not be reading any more fairy tales however, I would recommend any of the books by Sinéad Bean DeValera if you can find them.  Also “The Lucky Bag” a book of Irish children’s stories by various authors.

Another series of children’s books, set in County Wicklow and written by Cormac Mac Raois are “The Battle of Giltspur, Dance of the Midnight Fire, and Lightening over Giltspur”.  These are adventure books with gripping tales centred around three children Niamh and Daire Durkan and their cousin Rónán.  They are books which can be enjoyed by a reader of any age, yes even a sixty year old!

For those who are nature lovers then the trilogy “Run with the Wind“, “Run to Earth” and “Run Swift Run Free” by Tom McCaughren are beautifully crafted books with descriptive passages which immediately evoke images of the Irish countryside.

I am halfway through this wonderful bag of books and thanks to Marie, Sinéad and Trina I have many more hours of enjoyment ahead of me.

 

Generations

I was sent a short video to mark International  Women’s Day and it showed three young women who basically blamed all their ills on the previous generation. It was brilliantly put together and very funny.

However it set me thinking. Was this the way, that women who gave up paid employment in order to look after their family full-time were in fact being judged?

Since becoming one of those women back in the 1990’s, I found that society but to a greater extent working women saw me as something to be derided, belittled or totally ignored. I was told that “I was a pariah on society, taking without giving” .

I have been privileged to have met so many women mainly in the 50 plus age limit who are strong women. These women cared for elderly relatives, reared children, were and some still are active in their churches, started voluntary bodies which have since been taken over by state bodies, supported schools and worked unpaid for all their adult lives.

They have enabled others to have choices and they are still supporting their families with many of them taking on the childminding roles for the next generation. Some are finding  a new source of education through the next generation.

I was talking with a seventy year old lady recently. Dympna was inspired by a young twenty year old woman who communicated, read, interacted all through her mobile phone. Dympna now uses her mobile for everything from emails, to bill paying to basic phone calls. In turn she is now teaching it.

I am firmly of the opinion that there is so much to learn from every generation. No one generation is better than another but just think what can be done when the minds of different generations come together with respect.

 

 

 

 

Education Ongoing

 

My knowledge of animals could be written on the back of a postage stamp.  I am not an animal person, never was and I don’t think I ever will be.  (Never say never though.)

I know cats are curious creatures by nature but I was always under the impression that cats hated water in all its forms.  Today I have been educated.

May I introduce to you Maggie, Ezra, Buttons and Bambi.  As you can see from these images these cats have proven me wrong. I was totally amazed while laughing at their antics.

 

My imagination went into overdrive………

 

tumblr_static_cat_silhouette_banner

“What is this white mass?” thought Maggie as she disdainfully surveyed her domain.  “She was the white goddess. Who had allowed her domain to be covered by this magical, white, soft slightly damp covering?  Where had it come from? Who dared to change her world?”, she fumed.  “Those humans were interfering again but, perhaps for once they have actually got it right.  But I will not let them know that,” as she smiled to herself.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Ezra.  “That stupid tabby” Maggie thought as she watched him trying to catch the snowflakes.  She wanted to try and catch snowflakes herself but there was no way she would allow anyone see her trying.  “A lady must have her standards” she mused.

Ezra meanwhile was having the time of his life.  He would get in some practise then invite the lads over for a game of Snowflake.  Some more time here on the steps then he would show them all tonight.  Ryecroft Rovers would trounce Hollybrook United and not before time.  Must round up the lads but first sustenance then a snooze.

Buttons stirred, whiskers twitched, something was just not right.  “Wake up Bambi something is definitely not right around here” as he prodded his sister.  Instantly alert Bambi looked around.  An eerie light was coming into the hallway.  “He’s right” she thought.  “It’s still night time” as she noticed the snores were still coming from the humans.  Stealthily the pair made their way down the stairs, through the kitchen and out into……

“What is this stuff” mewed Buttons while taking a sample.  “Not bad as he sampled a snowflake.  With just a look passing between the two cats they decided to make their way across the garden and up onto the food table where they would be able to survey their world. 

They took a step and suddenly the ground gave way. The two cats were covered by a cold wet soft ticklish something.  Bambi started to sneeze while Buttons butted at it, but to no avail.  They caught each other’s eye and started to laugh.  Trying to hit this white stuff was fun and rolling in it was making their coats turn white.  A fresh flurry of snow tired these two out. So, they crept back to the kitchen step shook their coats clear and silently made their way back into the warmth of the house: unaware that a little boy had been laughing at their antics and hoping that he could play with them tomorrow.

 

images