Someone told me recently how sorry she felt for me.
It must be awful being your age.
My life is probably better than it's ever been. I can choose how to spend my time. I have good relationships with family and friends. I am content.
I just celebrated my 75th birthday with a weekend in a lovely hotel with my family: Son, both Daughters, Son -in-Law, Cannyrob and WeeBoy. We had a cake with candles, board games, singing Leonard Cohen and an African chant, then a quiz hosted by Son-in-Law after an excellent dinner. I could only answer questions on books! I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a birthday so much. After the stresses of this year, just being together was sheer joy.
Tarot – A Reading for Christmas
The Magician is my favourite card, the character with whom I most identify. Right now I’m back in my workplace, with the tools of my trade to hand again. He is a seasoned traveller, a dedicated artist. In a wider context, he symbolises our hopeful attitude to life. We trust our intuition as well as our skills and find opportunity in spite of uncertainty.
The Wash House Project
Living with old stone walls, an uneven stone floor and beams at head height was fine for years. I was very happy in our old wash house; felting, sewing, drawing and painting. But earlier this year the damp was just too much and we planned a proper renovation. Damp-proofing, insulation, new wiring and flooring. After three months it’s almost done. IKEA units are ready. Now all we need is our joiner’s help to cut the worktop to size and fix cube shelving to the wall.
I am gradually re-introducing my stuff although there is still work to be done. Getting my familiar things in place – the mannequin, my easel and drawing board, the clock with its loud tick, some paintings on display, the jumble sale mirror, puppets and masks. On Sunday I sat at my table and drew (see featured image and below).
Sitting Room Make -Over
Another major project began with the idea of a new TV, expanded into a new sofa and curtains, then became the full scale redecoration of our upstairs living room. Twenty years ago we painted over the woodchip paper and that was it. Steam stripping has revealed old plaster with a few cracks but not beyond Cannyrob’s repair skills. After extensive research and test pots we decided to use two Farrow and Ball colours Stiffkey Blue and Borrowed Light.
Making Myself Up
I haven’t posted anything about make-up for ages, although there is rarely a day when I don’t spend time painting my face. I still love my MAC eye palettes bought in lockdown, but I do like NYX, a budget range stocked by Boots. I spent some points on a new eye-palette in matte neutrals including a good brick-red.
I love today’s emphasis on brows and am so glad I didn’t pluck mine away to nothing in the 70s. I really like a semi-permanent brow gel by Boots Collection called Incredibrow which hides the white hairs and keeps my untidy brows in place. I became addicted to red lips a few years ago, but for a change have found a good coral shade, again by NYX.
I also just bought my third bottle of Stories 2 perfume. Discovered during lockdown, it never fails to lift my mood. With rose, ginger, cardamom, patchouli, amber and musk, it’s one that people often comment favourably on. Unlike a scent I bought years ago which my children agreed smelt like cat pee!
Reading, Listening, Viewing
This month’s books are another Dublin murder story The Likeness by Tana French, Natalie Haynes Trojan War book, A Thousand Ships. Also Still Life by Sarah Winman and Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory, third in the Dark Tides trilogy. All worth reading!
On Audible I’ve enjoyed How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister, read by Nicola Walker, an intriguing account of a family in witness protection. The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon, a satisfyingly thrilling historical crime novel, kept me enthralled for days. Fergal Keane, BBC war correspondent, has just published The Madness, his experience of PTSD. I have always loved listening to his voice on the radio.
With the World Cup dominating our screens and the television banished to the guest room, I haven’t seen anything much lately, although I do like SAS Rogue Heroes, The White Lotus, The English and the new, savage, Handmaid’s Tale. Still cringing at Made in Chelsea every week. Not at all engaged by the latest series of The Crown.
Dealing with Digital
A popular post earlier this year was about the importance of music in my life. Having had a Sony Walkman cassette player then a Philips Go Gear, I now have my music stored on my smartphone. I don’t like streaming services, preferring to buy my music. I purchased quite a few albums and tracks from Amazon but when they changed their policy last year, I was unable to download these to my phone, only listen via the Amazon app. I spent time trying to find a solution. I had paid for this music! This week I’ve done it. All my music is now in Black Player, an excellent app and I have finally deleted the ad-laden Amazon Music. If you want to know how I did it, send me a direct message and I will try to explain…
This drawing is my Christmas card to you, pastel and metallic ink on tinted paper. I bought this Mistletoe in bronze metal to replace our dusty plastic bunch from the 90s. Things are hard just now. There are so many uncertainties; but unexpected kindnesses, and meetings with friends have helped me feel grounded.
I was really touched by one who said: Your joie de vivre is wonderful.
Coming through difficult times and emerging more or less intact feels good. I am valuing small pleasures: a bright red cyclamen flowering among nigella seed heads, hot chocolate and a croissant in bed. Wishing you love and joy this Christmas. Keep in touch in whatever way suits you.
Happy birthday! 🎉
The Wash Room project looks brilliant. So many interesting and joyful recommendations here.
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Oops this wasn’t supposed to be anonymous – it’s Jessica!
Thanks so much xx