Friday, February 9, 2018



Daisy is more affectionate than ever. Animals really are able to tell when somebody is in pain. She seeks my company and purrs at the loudest volume possible for her 15-year old self. I regularly fall asleep on the couch with her in my arms.

I am finishing illustrations for a sweet story about a walking stick, and Rab's new book (with my drawings) has just been published.

One thing the last two months have taught me is to slow down. I am quitting self-sabotaging, energy-robbing actions that used to be so much part of my daily life that I wasn't conscious of how corrosive they had become.  And I have only myself to blame for most of them. One example: Now my default is that I only check e-mail once a day unless I am in work and don't have it open in another tab while working on the computer. I have never been tied to my phone: I have very few apps, it is on flight mode half the day, and it doesn't ping. But on the laptop I used to have e-mail open, and since even the awareness of your phone/e-mail in your periphery affects your cognitive abilities, I make sure to clear as many of the surrounding distractions as possible.

The days I work from home I have been taking breaks to do some gardening. Earlier this week I removed all the dead dead plant debris that was in the way of the daffodils that are trying to emerge. I only spent half an hour outside and gathered three wheelbarrow-loads, but it cleared my head and it was satisfying to see the transition from brown to green. 

I re-read Oliver Burkeman's piece on underachieving, a timely reminder. The fortunate side-effect of all this slowing down and doing less is that I am doing more of the things that matter as a result.

Friday, February 2, 2018

In progress

The moss stitch blanket I had been wanting to make for years is finally taking shape and is the easiest thing to knit, which makes it ideal for knitting while talking, but not necessarily to switch off your brain. Something more challenging would be required for that, though I do try to enter a trance of knit-purl-knit-purl, akin to a breathing exercise. I am using DMC Natura XL (cotton may not be the warmest choice for a blanket), but with size 8 needles, not the suggested 12, as it was too lacy with the latter.

The sky and the horizon in the large seascape change colour every day, as I cannot decide on the combination. Originally this was upside down and the dark blue was a beginning blurry cloud, inspired by a view from the car on our way home. Then John came in and turned it on its head, and now the sea has become the sky and the cloud is turning into who knows what, but I like it.

We watched a BBC documentary about the artist James Dickson Innes last night, and it made me realise once more how vague and shy my colours can be. I am tempted to start afresh.