Another Sad Farewell

I can’t believe how much time has passed since I wrote my last blog post.  That post was a review of 2017 which started with the loss of our dad.  Very sadly on 10 February this year our lovely mum, Betty, died very suddenly.  I knew I wanted to write about her here, although I really haven’t reached a point where I can believe she’s gone.  However, we’ve just had a very happy weekend with the wedding of one of my step-daughters and I realised that I just can’t write any new posts until I’ve published this one – which I originally wrote about two months ago.

When my sister and I started to think about the eulogy for Betty’s funeral – which was read so well for us by Mr Jane Makes – we realised there was an awful lot to say about her.

Our mum was so talented and, like our dad, there was very little she couldn’t turn her hand to.  She was very musical and for many years she taught the piano at home.  She also played the accordion and when we were children she played in Max Castelli’s very glamorous accordion band in Twickenham.  We were sadly rather a disappointment to her as our musical careers never really took off!  We made music the theme of her funeral service and one of the highlights was my other step-daughter playing Debussy’s Clair de Lune on the flute, one of Betty’s favourites.  Hardly a dry eye in the house.  My sister and I managed to read this poem entitled Music by Walter de la Mere.

When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees
Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.

When music sounds, out of the water rise
Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes,
Rapt in strange dreams burns each enchanted face,
With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place.

When music sounds, all that I was I am
Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came;
And from Time’s woods break into distant song
The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.

Betty was a stalwart of the WI for many years including stints as Madam President and Secretary so we sang Jerusalem and also played Frank Sinatra.  She was a great fan and on cloud nine for days after she went to see him at the Royal Albert Hall back in the 70s.

Betty’s other talents included knitting, sewing, embroidery, crochet, cake decorating, painting and she was an excellent cook.   If there was a school or village fete she would be sewing and knitting toys (most of which we wanted to keep) and she made clothes for herself and us when we were children.  We have some beautiful examples of her embroidery and more recently she had been crocheting blankets and cushion covers.  Baby J now has the set of knitted Noah’s Ark animals so they’ve gone to a good home.

Another particular talent was writing firm letters of displeasure or complaint.  These were always referred to as ‘Dear Bastard’ letters within the family and generally had the desired effect!  Betty was a very demanding lady in many ways and her expectations of others could be rather high.  That might be an understatement!!

Betty was very bright.  She could speak French well, which came in useful when she coached me through my French O Level, and she could do the Telegraph cryptic crossword and Sudoku.  Both activities are beyond me.

From an early age she was interested in tennis, which she also enjoyed playing in her youth.  She and her friends would queue up outside Wimbledon after school waiting for people to leave and hand over their tickets so they could go in to watch the late matches.  She was able to name every Wimbledon winner from the early 20th century to the present day in the correct order!   A major bone of contention as children was that we didn’t have a television.  Apparently it was a distraction from our education?!  However, Betty’s love of tennis meant that a set was hired for the duration of Wimbledon and, disappointingly, returned immediately afterwards.

The recent years hadn’t been easy for her, especially after breaking her hip and then her ankle.  The greatest sadness was our dad developing Alzheimer’s which meant that they could no longer do many of the things they used to.   Despite this she did an amazing job supporting him and enabling him to continue to be active.  She missed him dreadfully so let’s hope they are now reunited.

We’ve recently finished sorting out everything in their house – an emotional experience – but we are finding some real treasures, not least my vintage Sindy doll who is awaiting a visit to the dolls’ hospital to deal with her alarmingly wobbly neck.  She used to have an extensive wardrobe, much of it made by our mum, but that seems to have gone astray so she only has the clothes she was wearing when discovered.  I shall be remedying that when her head isn’t in danger of falling off.

We’re keeping the house so haven’t had to part with everything.  We’ve found good homes for things that had to be moved on and I think our parents would have approved.  We’ll be turning our dad’s workshop into a garden dining room and using his workbench and tool chest as part of the furniture. Betty’s artwork will be on display in the house.

We are missing them both so much.  People who know us will be aware of the amount of time we spent with our parents and there is now an enormous gap in our lives which is difficult to fill.

Her funeral ended with the words of Frank Sinatra …. The song is over but the melody lingers on …. and AA Milne

But, of course, it isn’t really Goodbye, because the Forest will always be there ….. and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Year in Review and Future Plans

Happy New Year!

I hadn’t planned to write a review of 2017 but decided it was a good way to motivate me to move forward and get on with 2018.

Last year had a major high and a major low.  The year started with an all time low when I lost my lovely dad.  I can’t believe nearly a year has passed since that awful day and I still think think about him and miss him every day.

Moving on to what would have been his 87th birthday which saw the arrival of Baby J – the year’s absolute highlight.  She is clearly the most beautiful baby ever as you can see!  I wish I could say I’d knitted that Christmas hat but it was made by her mum’s mum who is a brilliant knitter.  I bought her a book of knitted hat patterns for Christmas so Baby J is now sorted for hats until she’s a teenager!  The pink rabbit hat is the first one off the needles.  A strong look which I think she carries off very well!

I’ve loved sewing for her and will be writing a separate blog post about these patterns.

Mr Jane Makes continues to run at every opportunity last year and apart from the weekly park run (plus two extra ones on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – in the mud) he completed two half marathons and a 10 mile run.  Last Saturday would have been his 50th park run but the course was waterlogged so the event was cancelled.

I did do some sewing for me, aided by ChiStitch, the sewing group I set up with Karen from The Draper’s Daughter.  This was definitely a 2017 highlight and we’ve been so pleased with the response we’ve had.  The first meeting of 2018 is on Wednesday 10 January and everyone is welcome.  We meet in St George’s Church Hall, Cleveland Road, Chichester from 7.00 – 9.00 pm.  We have cake at our meetings and I’m hoping to make some scissor shaped cookies for this week.  The cutter is from REfound and strangely was one of my most popular posts on Instagram last year!  I only discovered that when I re-ran my #bestnine at the end of the year.

I seem to have kept things very simple last year with several Cleo and Esme dresses along with a Strand Coat, the excellent Gable top, a couple of Merchant and Mills patterns and a very flowery dress.

So what’s on the table for 2018?  More of the same because I make what I know I will enjoy wearing.  There will also be more small clothes for Baby J.  I’m planning to work through some of the fabric I already have in stock because why did I buy it if I wasn’t going to use it?!  I have however just bought two new patterns – both by Nina Lee.  I’ve seen lots of lovely versions of the Carnaby and Southbank Dresses and I think they will both fit into my wardrobe very well.

I also want to try and recreate this dress which I saw in Cos recently.  I’ve never sewn with corduroy and it would mean buying new fabric but worth it for those huge pockets!

I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s round up posts and plans for this year.  So many of you are signed up to challenges but I’ve decided not to commit to anything at the moment as work is very busy and I don’t want to put myself under pressure and spoil my sewing enjoyment.  Happy sewing!

Reflections on a Year

I know, an unusual time to be reviewing a year, but today is the first anniversary of Mr Jane Makes’ heart attack so I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days thinking “this time last year”.  None of this particular reflection has anything to do with sewing but I just felt I needed to recognise the occasion.

Things could have been so different and I’m just thankful that he received such amazing treatment in hospital and, just as important, that he made the decision to turn things around and transform himself.  I’m so proud of him.

It was a scary time and I have to admit that for the first few weeks I felt very anxious every time I left him on his own and it was even worse once he started going out for walks and bike rides.  He has a somewhat cavalier attitude to danger at the best of times so I’ve always been relieved to see him re-appear on his bike (or roller blades) or to get a call at the end of a day’s skiing.   The added jeopardy was hard to handle.  I have a vivid imagination so living with action man is always going to be difficult!  At least now he’s doing all this with a set of arteries that are hopefully no longer in danger of blocking up.  One thing I’m particularly pleased about is that he’s now off the blood thinning medication as the above attitude to danger often results in injuries which for the last year have bled profusely over furniture, sheets, towels etc.

The final statistics from his new regime were – four stone lost, nine inches off his waist and cholesterol reduced from 6.8 to 2.7.  Quite a few people have said to me that they never really thought of him as overweight but these photographs definitely highlight the change in his appearance!

BEFORE

AFTER

The Park Run has been a great addition to his list of activities and although meant to be just for fun – his competitive nature means he’s always chasing a new PB and several of the other runners!  I’m there every week to cheer him on – and carry various people’s jackets/phones/wallets but I’m definitely NOT taking up running again!

Two other major things have happened during the last twelve months.  One horribly sad and one incredibly lovely.  I lost my dad in January and I’m not sure I’ve even started to come to terms with that.

However, on what would have been his 87th birthday, Mr J-M’s daughter gave birth to the adorable Baby J which means that this can still be a happy day.    Here’s some photographs from our visit yesterday.  She is just perfect. There was some amusement at my expense because she looks a lot bigger when I’m holding her!  It won’t be long before she’s as tall as me!

All the more reason to stay fit and healthy!  I’m just so glad he’s still here.