It was my birthday this week, definitely different to last year’s. The world news about the Coronavirus Pandemic remains grim. In the UK the plan is to vaccinate the elderly and clinically vulnerable before the rest of the population but the latest hoo-ha is that in order to reach as many people as possible, the boosters will not be administered within the recommended time so the fear is that people will still get infected and that the virus could mutate. Honestly, this is like a real-life Apocalypse TV drama! I should stop reading the news except that it was refreshing to see a new leadership sworn into the USA.
Fergus used a recipe that I found for a Passion Carrot cake which I thought looked close to the John Lewis cafe cake that I would always order years ago on shopping trips for school uniform in Norwich. The recipe includes crushed pineapple for extra moisture. It came up very close to the cake that I remembered but the cream cheese icing is not quite right – I like it quite tart. With a little tweaking it might be written (in my best handwriting) into my spotty-notebook of classic recipes!
I only managed to get 2 customer quilts done this week. I seem to be working very slowly and it is rather cold in my workshop. I had hoped to work on my FOQ class project but have still not got much beyond the planning stage. The trouble with a saturation of social media in the quilting/textiles world is that I just can’t see classes offered by me being any more attractive than all of the many others on offer. I need to get over this and remember how excited I used to get when I had the opportunity to take classes with my quilting heroes in person.
Nella had a challenging week – having tried very hard to manage her reduced meal plan in order to earn a pass home for a night, the medics increased it without warning so that she immediately started refusing food again. I phoned to rail against this short sighted decision and was relieved when it was cut back slightly. They do not understand why she will continue to refuse hot puddings and custard after lunch and thought it was weird that as a family we eat very few desserts. The next day, her weight was typed onto a report that she saw even though I had specified that it was critical that she should not be told. Obviously, this freaked her out and I felt obliged to point out the incompetency of sending out an unchecked report. Although, some of the nursing staff work incredibly hard, I find that further up the chain of command, any criticisms or suggestions are met defensively and that drives me mad. Despite these setbacks, she did get a pass over the weekend to remind herself how peaceful and comfortable home-life can be. She did not manage to eat everything and every bite was a struggle but she proved to herself that she can eat here and must continue trying so she can earn longer passes home in the future.
It was a freezing cold week here and our central heating was on the blink. This meant that my workshop heaters got commandeered for the house so the workshop was probably colder than the temperature outside!
I quilted Nella’s floral quilt with a traditional orange peel design and the computer was doing such a great job that I went off to get a hot Ribena. When I returned the foot had shattered, the belts of the automated system released themselves and stitched a solid, dense horizontal line of stitches. These were impossible to pick out and I considered hiding them with rickrack or lace but Nella declared it was not a problem so I just left it. I sewed the binding on by machine and tarted it up a bit by using the blanket stitch in a variegated thread. Nella and Freya have both decided that this very old-fashioned, simple quilt is one of their favourites out of all of my many creations.
My other job for the week was to complete 3 more memory cushions using pieces of a man’s T-shirt’s and fleece jackets as requested by his widow. The T-shirt material was very stretchy and there were only a few fabrics to choose from in a similar colour range so it was quite a challenge. Fortunately, quilting stabilised everything and the customer was delighted.
One particularly cold afternoon, despite having various tasks to do, I found myself rather bored and started looking at second-hand pianos online for Freya in Glasgow. It is easy to acquire an old piano – free to a good home, but then you have to figure out how to transport it and heft it up 4 storeys, after which it will need to be tuned in a student flat, not known for ambient temperatures. A couple of hours later, I had read many reviews for digital pianos, similar to the one we have at home so I decided to buy one and get it delivered to Glasgow as an early birthday present for Freya. I figured that she might as well make use of one in the depths of winter during lockdown while she has very little else to do rather than wait until Spring.
Nella has realised that she hates being in hospital – she can’t bear the screaming and emergency alarms. Although she still does not want to let go of Anorexia, she has been prepared to eat and try to earn an overnight pass home. She has admitted that once home she might not be able to eat and could be readmitted but for now it is at least a shift in her thoughts so we will just have to see what happens.
The other day I left Nessie alone while I went into the shower and when I came downstairs I found her innocently sitting on the back of the sofa not bothering the cats. It was incredible that both cats let her sit there with them as she relishes in tormenting them. After breakfast she was back to normal, chasing them until they took refuge on the window sill, upon which she does not dare cross.
It has been very cold here this week with ice, snow showers, melting ice re-freezing! It has made walking or driving down our track treacherous. Freya has returned to Glasgow as she does not want to be paying rent on a flat that she is not living in. We both enjoyed each other’s company for 3 weeks over Christmas but she has her Masters degree and life as a grown-up to get on with. Nessie will just have get used to a more boring life with me again. At least she is getting used to going in the car and can come with me when I visit Nella.
The News during the second week of the year has been gloomy. The Capitol building in he USA was stormed by protesters who did not accept the results of the presidential election. The rest of the world observed what appeared to be a breakdown of democracy. Depolarising the nation will be a huge challenge for the new regime.
Covid deaths in the UK have now reached 80 000 with infections still rising. Schools have closed at least until mid February and we are back into lockdown. Nella has been in hospital with anorexia for 4 months and shows no signs of improvement. I had to write another letter of suggestions to try and move her treatment plan forward.
All in all, so far 2021 is not going terribly well…
I immersed myself in piecing Nella’s new quilt, trying not to muddle up the patches in the long, diagonal rows. I ordered a floral duvet cover from La Redoute to use as the backing and decided to keep things traditional with an orange peel-ish quilting design.
In the week ahead I will ease myself back into customer quilting and deal with some admin that I have been postponing. I need to get back to my self-taught German lessons. I should also come up with a new quilting project to turn to when real life gets too much!
We are now 3 days into 2021 and still at the height of a global pandemic, Nella is still not making any progress and I have not been struck by any exciting, creative ideas. The World has high hopes for this new year but I could have said the same in January 2020 before Covid took over all of our lives. When the big picture is too gloomy and overwhelming it is a good idea to be glad about the more everyday stuff.
Freya revealed her clever, secret surprise Christmas present to me which was a brazier made from a defunct washing machine drum. At night the fire shines through the holes and the BBQ grill / lid can sit on top if I want to cook baked potatoes. I have always wanted a street brazier, like protestors or strikers. I can now make placards and stage my own sit-in protests any time I like.
We have had some wintry showers and bright sun so Freya and I have taken advantage of this to take Nessie on walks in our beautiful, local area. We went to Clune Wood in Durris where my kids all did Forest School years ago and visited the standing stones, not meeting anyone along the way.
I am not ready to start customer quilts yet but I wanted to work on a mindless sewing project so I started a new quilt for Nella’s hospital room using the Rose & Hubble prints that I ordered from Doughtys. She wanted something traditional that the girls in “Little Women” might have had so I opted for 4-patches and squares on point. It is actually really nice to work on something easy and it is turning out even prettier than I had thought. The most complicated step will be not muddling up the pieces as they get joined together in diagonal rows!