Cloth Mother

I'm still here...and thee is proof:

I'm writing this year's festive filibuster on the return journey from my mother's 80th birthday. I’ll try not to make it as long-lasting in its wordiness as its namesake). She's in fine fettle and we had a lovely time celebrating, just family and two old friends, because she didn't want any fuss. After some initial trepidation about entering her ninetieth decade, she's decided to own it, that passing a certain number is not going to dictate a change in her life. If I manage to grow older like my mother is doing it, I'll be proud. You’ll not get a detailed run-down of C’ and my lives, it's just not the kind of letter I write this time of year. (Please note that I delight in hearing about yours). We’re both well, remain on speaking terms, and continue our various pursuits, to which I’ve added contemporary dance/ballet this year. I’m happy report that I’m not the ugly ducking in my class. I’m leaden swan. This ends the factual part, so well done for getting this far!

In classic, rambling fashion, I thought I'd write about what I've learned from running in the past couple of years. So, in no particular order, here are my dubious insights:

1. A twelve minute mile may be just as long as a six minute mile, but feels longer.

2. The colour of running shoes does not matter, as all running shoes are brown, given a little time.

3. Fixing something firmly to the body in a way that a) keeps it accessible b) does not cut off circulation or cause chafing c) does not wriggle loose takes a surprising amount of practice. You will probably need to cease caring about what such fixings look like and what they do to body-parts already in need of flattery.

4. Running makes you launder money on a regular basis: most running tights have one of those zipped pockets just large enough for a folded note. So a week's worth of sweaty, ill-inspected running togs can cover the cost of a meal for two in clean and fresh - scented bills.

5. Running is really about eating, drinking and eliminating. Those, and the perceived gradient of any undulations in the vertical axis ahead are all runners talk about.

6. Running seems to be an excellent way of going for a beer, or round a friend's house for pizza, or both. The journey home can be slower (please also see insight number one).

7. Pubs seem to feature relatively heavily in the sport : the local club I've joined describes itself as "a drinking club with a running problem.”

7a. Please note that there are dedicated purists who consume calibrated meals and drink nothing but water and beetroot juice, warm up and stretch religiously, to be better able to run vast distances to inflict the maximum amount of pain on themselves. One such runner of my acquaintance makes a living using steely fingers and extremely pointy elbows inflicting pain on other runners on top of this. Said runner’s attentions are my current indulgence.

8. Long distance running does not facilitate weight loss: it’s possible to build perfectly acceptable stamina with all the usual suspects (hill training, long-slow runs, painfully-fast {to you}-runs etc) and still gain weight. Much as you may wish, this weight will not be “all muscle”. It’s strangely hard to stop the whole thing once you’ve started though. I’ve signed up for another marathon next year.

Lastly here’s the latest news of my imaginary, utterly wholesome children and their outstanding achievements. The way this year has been, I suspect these might be trending much more towards funny-peculiar than funny ha-ha, but that can’t be helped. (I am very keen to hear of any imaginary offspring you may wish to write about.) Anabeth-Elaine is now four and has switched her attentions from Shakespeare to medieval diarists. I’m slightly discomfited by what she is learning from Samuel Pepys, as he was rather a
bon-vivant, but it’s encouraged her to start her own blog, which is frequented by thousands of readers. She draws her own illustrations in hand-rubbed ink using a crow’s feather quill. Little Ernest has turned ten, and is no longer so little. He is learning Portuguese and Mandarin, an endeavour greatly aided by his trot-racing career, which is taking him all over the globe. He continues to bet on races using his Method, but never the trotting, so he assures me it’s legal. I’ve come to accept the silent, well-built men who now accompany him everywhere, but I worry about him getting enough sleep, as he never seems to be off one of his numerous mobiles. Geraldine has now got a boyfriend in Germany and they’ve started their own, successful post-punk, antidisestablishmentarian record label for their medieval-industrial work. She maintains a straight A average, but has stopped being a vegetarian and refuses quinoa. I suppose she has to rebel somewhere.

I wish you all a chance to rebel, to spin fancies, to relax in whatever way you need and the energy, time and patience it takes to have any of these.
Cloth Mother

I miss blogging

And yet I no longer blog, other than the occasional (and recurrent) post about the fact that I no longer blog. Any minor effort I have made to get my audience together in one place has failed and I know from experience that I don't write without one. (I continue to be grateful for those friends I still have on here-no denigration is implied for anyone who might still be reading). I'm writing this on a phone, using Swype, which is not likely to enhance my clarity, as I seem perfectly capable of writing one word, reading that word and actually having written another...
Linking this blog to CrackBook I'd something I'm not willing to do...there are still a fair few personal things on here. Giggle plus seems to not quite hit the spot for people. If I synched all I would like to read into a feed,I might never pick up a book again, and that's not an option either. Hurry I think the biggest blockage is about needing posts to be good, relevant, interesting, witty and individual, a collection of adjectives that's almost impossible to meet. So I won't try this time and see what happens.
Cloth Mother

still here, but not here

I'm keeping this account active, because I used to like thinking about thigns in writing. I still will, again, thus this post.
Sadly, facebook seems to meet most of my communication needs at the moment.
Cloth Mother

Five years later...still resting in peace

Normally I post a picture of dad on this day, but i am actually in situ for once, among my family, so the memorial pic will folow once i am back in the vicinity of my scanner.
Whoever is around on the anniversary of dad's deathe gathers around the tree und which some of his ashes lie and takes part in the ritual of drinking champagne and tipping a a bit on the stem to be soaked up by the bark before it reaches the ground.
I also spoke to his oldest friend from school, had a few with the neighbours in front of whom dad collapsed and ate more chocolate than atrictly necessary, all out of piety...

I miss him often. I loved him very much. Many of his ways live on in me and I'm glad. Off to ring another dear friend of his now, who loved him for 25 years of m life and is the loneliest of us left behind, quite probably.

Yours somewhat disjointedly ...
Cloth Mother

Tschuess Mutz

Mutz und ich0914, originally uploaded by Semioticghosts.

I only seem to be posting on here these days when I'm sad. This picture is the most recent I have to hand of my godmother Mutz and I. She died yesterday, aged 75.

She was awesome and I'll miss her.

I got to speak to her once a week since my last post. I got to say what I think of her, how I feel about her. I'm glad about that bit.

I know she felt treated exceedingly well at the hospice and was not in pain. She said she was curious about dying. She said it was one of the last few true uncertainties, something the timing or manner of which was outside her grasp, but which she was awaiting with some degree of impatience.
Now she's made it.

I'm more than a little sorry for myself because she's not part of my life any more - I still can't quite get my head around a world with her not in it. I hope she's having fun, or peace, or enlightenment, or even all of the above. I hope her curiosity has been satisfied, like she always strove to satisfy mine.

Cloth Mother

my godmother

I'm writing a letter to my godmother Mutz, who's always been an important person in my life. She used to arrive with laundry baskets full of books for me from the library, where she was the librarian. She let me read disappear into the stacks, arrange three stools in a row and laze around reading all comics available (considered inappropriate literature by my mother, due to the speech bubbles being seen as limiting proper expression - what did they know?). She used to stay that she was eating some extra bread and butter so I could be carried more comfortably on her hip. She was ample, and allowed chocolate, and smelled of patchouli and lived in a city with museums to which we went, joyfully.
When I was visiting with her, I could be whoever I wanted, however I wanted, not feeling I needed to please (story of my life otherwise) and stuff whatever I wanted into the ever-greedy maw of my mind.

Now she's in the hospice, dying of cancer, angry with the world. She has never quite felt understood and wanted, and she suffers the regrets of a life some of which she hasn't had the chance to live. She always made me feel understood and wanted, me and the generations of children and adults who came to her library and left with their lies a bit richer than when they came in.

I'm writing her letter at the moment, saying some of those things, though I hope she knows.

To imagine a world and her not in it is beyond me.
Cloth Mother

Round robin 2011

Dear all,

I hope this finds you in good spirits and in enjoyable company!

I’m trying to settle down enough to write the traditional Yule missive with the aid of a compilation of seasonal music put together by a bookcrossing friend now many years ago, when I’d expressed a desire for just such a thing which was shortly followed by a CD in the post. It’s not the night-before-the-last-posting-date, and I won’t drink on a school night, so the wit and wisdom brought on by brinkmanship and a glass of red might be strangely absent.

If this sounds like a person you haven’t previously associated with myself, I’m deeply offended by the besmirching of my virtue you thus imply. I am indulging some of my vices a bit less these days, as I decided to embark on project Body Beautiful in May. I spotted a momentary period of feeling relatively settled with the occasional fleeting glimpse of adequacy at work and joined a weight loss outfit to maintain my ritual self humiliation quota. I’ve since lost 22 kilos (48lbs or 3.5 stone in old money) and decided I might as well try to go all the way to an officially normal weight, but that’ll still be a while. (High time that –something- was officially normal about me). I’ve been going to the gym more and doing that dreaded thing of “building more exercise into my daily routine,” something that’s actually worked out nicely in that, on the way home, I get off the train a couple of stations early, hare along 5 miles of river path on my bicycle and then get on the final leg of my journey. I’m going to the gym more and I’m eating smaller portions of largely whatever I fancy, aiming for the lower-at end of things. I’m not going to turn into a diet bore – I still love food, all of shopping, cooking and eating it, I’m just making some more room.

I’m still noticing the difference after qualifying now two years and a bit ago – I have time for projects, such as going out and creeping all over falling-down former military installations (see the Orford Ness Album on the link in the header). I got my first photo published in a book on found faces and a friend’s and my first learned article in a journal that functions as a forum for clinical psychologists. I also see my friends again, sometimes, but I'm pretty insular these days, in that by evening/weekend, I'm often all talked/listened out. I don’t see many people, I don’t see any often and those friends I've managed to hold on to are those that can put up with me occasionally sticking my nose in a book in social gatherings.
I’m about to finally put in my application for British citizenship – the cost (nearly £1000 by the time fees and passport are paid for) put me off for most of the year, but as I’ve made my home here, I’ve decided to go ahead with it. (I suspect sod’s law will have me called on to interminable jury service for a drawn-out, yet not very interesting trial as soon as I am a subject of her majesty’s ;)).

When I asked for suggestions about what to put in this year’s letter, somebody said how lovely it would be to hear what it was little to feel more settled in professionally. In a way, I am, but things have changed so much in the past year that in many more ways, I’m not. I got a new job recently, much of which is with my existing teams, but also the new opportunity of working two days per week in mental health rehab. I’m looking forward to it, but also somewhat apprehensive – I have a good grounding in rehab from my training days, but I’m definitely going to stay in a state of not-knowing-enough. Having trainees also helps with that, as they keep me on my toes. I’m looking into further therapy trainings, some of them more achievable in the shorter term than others, but interesting, and helpful for my patients, and something to aim for. I suspect one of the pathologies within myself that I’m unlikely to shift any time soon is that of the compulsive acquirer of potentially helpful information […]
A number of others have suggested a pirate-related theme for this year's round robin when I asked about what people wanted to know. So here I am, musing about the importance of pirates in the lives of several dear friends, geeky and non-geeky, bookcrossers or otherwise. I remember my introduction to the concept of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, on the occasion of a magnificent treasure hunt through London, when I met some lovely new friends by joining the Dangermice team (There were T-shirts and everything!), getting spectacularly lost and having a grand time during and after, when we all went to the pub. But for me, it started much earlier - I've remembered at least one carnival where I enthusiastically dressed up as a pirate with a particularly fetching tri-corn hat and drawn-on moustache (credit is herewith given to the two friends who have just raised money by growing one them during “Movember” for testicular cancer awareness). Also, there's a picture of me in an inflatable canoe as a toddler, with the the caption "She -loves- boats. No wonder, considering what her father is like!" The only shared holidays I can remember with dad evolved around being by or on the water - the incident in Denmark, with said inflatable canoe and some shots of me enthusiastically trying to crawl right into a wave, the learning-to-sail holiday on a large lake near Munich and his visit when I was spending a year on the coast of Nova Scotia in Canada. I' never noticed this common thread, but it seems obvious now.
There, I was attempting to write about pirates and have written about dad instead, but in a way, it isn't "instead." So many things I associated with pirates also link to dad - he taught me about knots, and a little bit about boats, he could talk like a pirate (Arrrrrrrrrrrh!) and he'd trained on a tall ship as a young marine officer cadet; he spent much of his retirement translation maritime-related novels and grumbling about how the author had clearly got this or that manoeuvre wrong or had not used the right term for this or that piece of equipment and then carefully putting it right, consequently earning rather less per page and doing rather better translations than anyone relying on this kind of thing for money. That's something else I have inherited - I really enjoy doing translations, doing them as well as I am able, for the fun of it, as well as in the guise of an occasional paid piece. I watched Master and Commander a while ago, and each creak of rope and whistle of wind in a friend's surround sound system made me feel on the ship, in a visceral sense I haven't quite experienced before. I kept thinking of how much dad would have liked it, how much fun it would have been to watch it with him, but in a fond, bittersweet sort of way.

As for the other pirate-related things, the ones that I suspect the mischievous commenters were -really- going on about, I am herewith volunteering to be a beautiful, screaming damsel in a highly impractical dress with several skirts. I offer to be in need of rescue from a multiply-mouthed, tentacled denizen of the deep fathoms below while simultaneously being about to fall of a cliff AND abducted by some dastardly officers hoping to blackmail the captain into giving himself up. Any takers, please send the dress – I’ll try my best about the beautiful and the screaming bits.

I’ll be in Germany for Christmas with my mother and sister, and back in England for Hogmanay with the lovely C. and some of our friends. I’ll be raising a glass to absent or departed friends and thinking of you.

All the best to you and yours!
Cloth Mother


What I like about travel by boat and train is a sense of the distance covered that somehow eludes me when flying, despite seeing countries zipping past below. The somewhat ponderous chugging of the ferry followed by the zippy passage across a chunk of Europe with long hours of landscape dulating and undulating (why does "dulate" not exist as a word? I think it should) gives me an impression of chilled-out vastness not otherwise easily conveyed by fairly densely populated western countries. Geographical distance is accompanied by its temporal companion, in the sense of separation by time. I think one of the reasons why I am rediscovering this form of travel is due to its gift of time inherent in the distance, time where very little demand is placed on my attention beyond basic politeness when facing those whose lives are momentarily intersecting with mine on our journeys (I know even that could be omitted without lasting consequences, but that's just not me). Still, it's a buffer between the intense interpersonal attention of my working life and the (occasionally loved) necessity of paying a similar kind of attention when I'm with my family this Yule. "Paying" attention is the right word - attention is a limited capital for me, easily spent and not so easily reacquired.
I recently talked with a psychiatrist friend about this lack of attention, theirs and mine, and our coping strategies. On a normal day, I almost meet the criteria for adult ADHD, on a stressful day with too many competing demands, I meet them. I was considering medication, we looked at the evidence and potential consequences and decided against it for now. My brain almost constantly feels as if it's running well below capacity, with major effort required to ramp up to capacity for an instant or two before it shrivels back again like a previously overextended rubber band. People hear this and feel driven to point out that I have two doctorates and thus, to them, can't be all that handicapped by whatever might be going on in terms of limited focus. My feeling is entirely subjective, I can't supply them wih evidence of what it is actually like, the implication is that I am lucky to function as I do, and that's right in many ways. What I am describing is also part of the Human Condition, it's just the extent that feel different, in very specific ways. I can concentrate on a movie, or a conversation, but I have great difficulty concentrating on writing and noticeable difficulty concentrating on writing.
I hear you say that I clearly appear to be concentrating on this blog post, but I've been at this for over an hour and I've had coffee, which definitey works as a short term attentional stimulant, even if this effect were solely based on association. Also, by the time you read this, I am likely to have edited it, while still managing to over-look a lot of typos, as well as pondering whether it says what I need it to say and whether I can post it openly on my blog, which has gradually become associated with my real name thanks to the vagaries of the internet and a bookcrossing friend who gave my online name with my real name in her blog quite a few years ago.
Cloth Mother

my blogging is not dead....

...but I am feeling halfway there at the moment, just too much to do and too little time to think. I know this kind of thing ebbs and flows, but it's been mostly flowing for the past couple of months.

There is of course the dastardly temptation of facebook/google+ with their short updates, where nobody expects more than a few words. I'm a woman of many words rather than few though, so I haven't quite given up on blogging yet.

One of my dad's old friends told me recently that she spent a few hours reading back on this blog (and she would have only been able to see the unlocked posts); I was flattered by her attention and her comments, and reminded of how much I like thinking out loud on here, so Ebba, this goes out to you!

I'm running/ telling a story in a roleplaying campaign at the moment, which absorbs what little creative juices I have remaining after a week at work. I've gone with Mage the Awakening (2nd edition, for the fellow geeks among you) and I'm enjoying it, but also hating it - being the storyteller means I don't get to switch off and just lose myself in a character, but it's lovely to see what I come up and out with nonetheless. (This may also be the case for my everyday life...).
Cloth Mother

Myers-Briggs and Enneagram

I do these every couple of years or so, to see where things have shifted, and where they haven't. It's a fairly well-validated test these days, or so I hear, but I've never bothered actually chasing it up. I find it an interesting way to look in the mirror, though it is, as always filtered through language in the first place and my self-perception and its biases on top of that!

INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.
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Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||| 43%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 3 Image Awareness |||||||||||||| 60%
Type 4 Sensitivity |||||||||||||| 53%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||| 60%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||| 53%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||| 50%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||| 40%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||| 43%
Your main type is 2
Your variant is self pres
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Do you recognise yourself in the descriptions when you do these?