Crafty Musings

2020 was meant to be put aside for that mystery project I mentioned at the end of last year or beginning of this year. Can’t remember which. And I did dedicate a lot of time to editing/rewriting that project in the first half of the year, which I’m extremely happy with.

However, with the return of ET (it’s a medical issue I have), I’ve had to dump all previous plans and find new hobbies. It’s only short term, I hope.

Once I started back on the injections I found I was unable to read for long period of times. Fifteen or twenty minutes is it for me. But even that isn’t whenever I want to read. I have to pick and chose depending on how I’m feeling on the day. Some days, reading is out of the question. And to be honest, I don’t want to fluff my way through several chapters only to discover later that I wrecked the whole thing and have to redo those chapters. I prefer to wait until I’m feeling better and then pick up where I left off.

So no writing, very little reading, what else can I feel my time with. I feel weak and get light headed quickly, so walking is out too. All my favourite things. I needed to find new favourite things. Even if it is temporarily.

I still manage a little bit of gardening, as long as I’m not on my feet for too long. Again, depending on the day it can vary between five minutes and about thirty minutes (mostly the former). I enjoy gardening because of the vibrant colours, the fresh air, and it’s satisfying. But it’s quite tiring.

My days have become filled with knitting, watching Netflix (I just finished Season 4 of The Last Kingdom), and playing easy games on my iPad. After five weeks of this, I have to admit that I’m starting to get a bit … stir crazy. Or maybe I could say I have Cabin Fever. Of course, COVID-19 hasn’t helped.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. But, be warned, I might post some photos of my crafty musings for you to roll your eyes at.

ET is back

Taking a look in the archives I found two posts that relate to ET — Essential Thrombocytosis. The first was entitled The Disorder Has a Name, written in 2010 when I discovered the name of my health issue. The second was entitled A Stroke in Life, written in 2012 after I had a minor stroke.

Reading them now I can see the errors in my words, but eight to ten years has passes, and I’ve learned more over the years.

My body makes platelets, too many platelets, and this causes a problem. It means that I am susceptible to having a stroke. We know that it’s true and I’ve already had a minor stroke. What I didn’t realise way back then, was that the six weeks of feeling incredible sick turned out to be eight months. I lost half my hair during that time. I lost a lot of weight. And I lost eight months of social interaction with family and friends, because I was too sick to go anywhere or do anything.

But that terrible time came to an end. I remained on the injections for a further two years, but life kick started again and things returned to a new normal that included injections twice a week.

Other stuff happened, the passing of my dad, mum being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, loss of a house to flooding, to name a few. It was a trumatic time.

Then, my specialist announced that I had to stop the injections or I might end up with a different medical problem. I remember feeling nervous about stopping the injections. Fancy that. But I gathered that should I stop the injection and the disorder return, then I would have to start at square one all over again. That thought terrified me.

Guess what? I’m standing on square one and I had my first injection on Friday (after almost five years without them).

But it has been almost five years, so improvements have been made to the medication. I haven’t been as bad this first time, but I’m only on a third of the normal injection at present. But I feel hopeful that my immediate future will not be a replay of 2012.

I Survived COVID-19 (so far)

For me, COVID-19 started when I noticed mayhem in the toilet paper aisle of the supermarket, and I wondered what was happening. I didn’t need toilet rolls, so didn’t buy any. More fool me because I didn’t see any more for six weeks. And then, I had to leave home at 6.45 am to ensure I got some (happily, I did), but it was another four weeks or so before I managed to get any more. During that time, my husband struck gold when he managed to get his hands on an industrial roll, but that got us through those tough weeks.

By the time we got used to seeing no toilet paper anywhere, other items had started to become rare commodities. Things like soap, sanitizer, flour, pasta, rice, long-life milk, cereal, oats, canned goods, and then fresh meat disappeared from the shelves as people started to stockpile. The hoarders left nothing for anyone else. Mass panic seemed to take hold. Suddenly store owners imposed limits to these sort after products. Some people turned nasty and actually threw punches over toilet rolls. Can you believe it? It was a scary time, yet my husband and I managed to eat proper meals every day. We improvised. We tried new products. But above all else, we continued to only buy what we needed.

For the world, we are told that COVID-19 started at a wet market in China. Something about cross-contamination of animals that should never be near each other and are not in the real world.

And the conspiracists believe something about worldwide population control. But I won’t go into that.

COVID-19 has changed the world. In general terms, the whole world went into lockdown. And within countries, some of its people were forced to stay within their district. While in other countries, people were confined to their own homes.

Suddenly we could not travel overseas. We were not allowed to congregate in large numbers. Family members could not visit each other, let alone their elderly relatives in nursing homes or care facilities, or hospitals. Weddings had to be postponed, while only ten people could attend funerals. Businesses closed their doors, leaving thousands of people jobless or stood down until further notice (actually, I think I could say millions here). If we went for a walk and found ourselves standing admiring the view, we were at risk of receiving a fine for loitering.

Due to an emergency eye test, I visited a shopping centre in the middle of a weekday. A majority of the shops were closed, and it felt dark and eerie walking through the deserted complex alone.

Everywhere we went (and still go) we were expected to stay one and a half metres from the people around us. And sanitizer was (and still is) thrust at us before we could step into a shop, a business, or anywhere else we want to go.

Governments asked us to do these things to stop the spread of the virus and to stop the death toll from rising.

To date, there have been over 7M confirmed cases worldwide, with over 400,000 deaths.

In Australia, where I live, we’ve been lucky. We acted quickly. One day everything was normal, the next we were working from home. We were asked only to leave our homes for essential purposes only, such as buying food and for medical reasons, and to go to work if we couldn’t work from home. Believe me, most people quickly found a way to convert an area in their home to a workspace. Children sat on one side of the room, doing their school work digitally. Meanwhile, their parents sat on the other side of the room, conducting Skype meetings and performing work duties electronically. We adapted. Fast.

To date, there have been just over 7,000 confirmed cases in Australia and 102 deaths.

For some, working from home has been a challenge, especially for those living alone. They report feeling isolated and lonely. For me, I loved working from home and would be happy to continue doing it indefinitely. I work harder, and I’m more focused. There’s less stress. But we’re all different.

In Australia, the restrictions are slowly lifting. On Saturday, I went to a shopping centre again and, this time, I found the number of people to be confronting. I felt the social distancing requirement was not adhered to and, to be honest, I couldn’t wait to leave the complex and get away from the mass of people. I worry that we’ll become complacent and end up with a second way of the virus that is more devastating than the first.

I believe we have had other harmful viruses. I also think there has been a toilet roll shortage once before in our history. But regardless of that, 2020 has been a year like no other. Part of me feels as if we are transitioning between what we know (the old) and something totally new. Part of me worries that life will never entirely be like it was. That may not be a bad thing, but it will depend on how the future shapes up. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

For now, I find myself hoping that the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 soon disappears from the world, never to return. Only then will we be able to start living our new normal. Fingers crossed that the new normal isn’t a bad one.

A Bit of Fitness

I describe myself as a nerd. And, in my opinion, nerds don’t do sport. In fact, I can safely say that I hate sport. I hate doing it. I hate watching it. I hate talking about it. I hate everything about it. Always have.

Yet, strangely, I bought a Fitbit with my Christmas money. Crazy, I know. I cannot get my head around that, but I’ve wanted one for over 18 months. Maybe it’s just a fad. We’ll see.

Anyway, after taking some time to set it up, I placed it on my wrist and did my normal thing. I’m always pottering about, so I guessed my numbers would be high. Not 10,000 steps high, but close to it.

I got a shock.

My numbers were very, VERY low.

Nerd or not, I was not impressed with myself and immediately set a goal to improve my activity level. I started out slow and steady (because that’s how I do things) and gradually turned the dial up. Now, six weeks later, I am proud to say that I am hitting 10,000 steps every day. That may sound silly or trivial to you, but for me, it’s a big step up (excuse the pun).

Yesterday, I did another crazy thing. I dragged out a piece of gym equipment that hasn’t seen the light of day for five years. After getting the dirt and cobwebs off it, I set another goal. This one is to strengthen my arms and legs because I’m weak as a newborn kitten.

I still hate sport, but I do realise that I need to take care of myself and be fit if I want to stay strong and healthy in my senior years, which are steadily approaching.

Seedlings of Life

The seedlings are sprouting.

Seven days ago I sowed some seeds. In case you haven’t read my previous post, I am attempting to grow herbs and vegetables from seed. They include onion, cress, dill, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, radish, chamomile, oregano and chives.

Day 8 shows new life is sprouting. The cress came out fighting on day three. The onion and radishes are also doing well. I’m pleased to say the dill, chamomile and thyme are showing signs of life too. However, nothing is happening with the parsley, oregano or chives, but it is early days.

The tomatoes I grew from seeds haven’t done anything in the last week and, unfortunately, two died. That was a little worrying because I believed they are meant to grow fast but not mine. I do understand that I can’t expect all of them to make it to full-grown, tomato bearing plants though. Perhaps it’s still a little chilly for them. I remain hopeful.

But there’s more, the regular tomato plant that my son gave me has doubled in size. Thrilled about that.

And, to top everything off, there are two cucumbers on my little cucumber plant. Can’t stop smiling as I didn’t expect it so soon. The plant is small, so fingers crossed they make it to harvest time.

More updates to follow over coming weeks, months.

Seeds of Life

The seeds have been planted

Reading and writing form a massive part of my life. In fact, just about everything I do is centred around one of these two things. Of course, I do enjoy other hobbies such as walking, family time, nature, and catching up with friends. However, in recent months, I was given some plants that a friend had grown from cuttings, and that sparked a new interest for me.

Those cuttings are doing well. I love colour, and those plants have produced an array of colour. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of seeing them grow this spring.

Then I found myself wanting to take things a step further, and I planted seeds from a cherry tomato. Believing they wouldn’t actually take, I planted around 40 seeds and ended up with about 30 seedlings. They are currently two to three inches in height.

On 11 November, I decided to also plant onion, radish, cress, dill, parsley, chamomile, oregano, thyme and chives.

And finally, on 9 November, my son gave me a regular tomato plant, which was roughly a foot high. The next day, I was at a nursery and saw a baby cucumber plant for a few dollars. If I’m going to have a heap of tomatoes, I figured I would also need cucumbers, so I splurged and treated myself.

The photo at the top is all the plants together. The photo was taken on 11 November, and I’m calling it Day 1. Stay tuned, I’ll give updates and share my successes and failures on this little side adventure.

FREE book reviews for authors

If you have visited this site before, or if you check the archives, you will notice that I write a lot of book reviews. Normally, I write a review for every book I read.

I have decided to offer my services to indie authors and publishers. If you want a book reviewed, then I may be able to help. Naturally, I will not accept everything and anything. I have a life and I also love to write. But I will consider your book if it is something that interests me.

This service is free of charge. The only expectation I have is that you provide me with a review copy of your book. The free copy can be a paperback, epub or mobi version.

Please read my Book Review Policy for more details on what I will consider, what I will reject and what information I would like from you in order to decide if I’m interested in your book or not.

Why I Write

Everyone is different. Everyone finds peace and tranquility in different ways. Some like to go fishing, bush walking or jogging. Others like to surround themselves with friends and go to parties, picnics, or out clubbing. And then there are those who prefer to meditate, read, or sew. Me? I like to write.

I started writing to escape the real world. That’s why I started out writing fantasy stories. I could go somewhere nobody would ever find me. I could experience anything my imagination was brave enough to conjure. As a result, I wrote for me alone. No one, ever, was ever meant to discover my worlds and find me.

But then I no longer had to escape. The real world became a good place to be, so I no longer had the desire to “disappear”. As a result, I stopped writing.

Yet, once I had started, I found it difficult to give up. The necessity was gone, but the desire remained. And I also discovered that I wanted to share my worlds. The written word called to me. It was easy to respond and return to writing.

It wasn’t an easy journey. Writer’s block caught hold of me, or so I thought. In fact, difficult and sometimes horrible events in my life disguised themselves as writer’s block. The pain and grief I felt took me over, leaving me feeling exhausted and worthless. It took me a while to recognise the true “block” was of my own doing. And when I acknowledged that, and accepted it, I began writing once again.

Someone once asked me if I wrote to become rich and famous? Even now I laugh at that. Very few writers become rich and famous authors. Very few indeed.

I want neither fame nor fortune. You scoff at that, I know, but it is true. However, I do want people to read my books and enjoy them. It would be nice to earn enough money from my writing to live comfortably. But I am a reserved person, who enjoys not being “seen” and I honestly do not feel I would cope well with fame. The fortune would never go astray, of course. But you cannot have one without the other. And I enjoy being alone too much, so I do not want fame.

Why do I write? I write to share words, worlds, ideas and characters. I invite the reader into my worlds, hoping they find something they like. And although I no longer feel the need to escape this world, sometimes it is still fun to wander into other worlds and live a life that would never be possible here. Besides, as a reserved person, writing allows me to be braver, louder, and more outgoing than I would ever be in real life.

Why do you write?