Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017–The Year in Review

Warning – Long post, photo rich

Another year has flown by, and my goodness, what a year it has been. Here is my annual review of what has happened in my life over the past twelve months.


The most significant event was the death of my mum on 9th December. She was 96 and was ready to go. Over the past few years her quality of life had deteriorated greatly and she spent the final couple of years in residential care, almost completely deaf and unable to do much. I often think that the progress of modern medicine may have succeeded in prolonging life, but if the quality of that life has deteriorated to the extent that it no longer holds any pleasure, what is the point? I am absolutely against euthanasia, but do not hold with “striving officiously to keep alive…”

Although during my adult life, my relationship with Mum was not what it might have been, I have many good memories, and am grateful for many things – during my childhood she was always there for us, with a hot meal on the table when we would arrive home hungry from school; she was always taking us out for walks, outings to the seaside with our little friends, and providing memorable birthday parties and so on. I learnt my home-making skills from her and am so grateful for the knowledge passed down through the generations from mother to daughter, so often lost these days when economic pressures make it necessary for mothers of small children to be so often out of the home in paid employment.

My hubby

All through this year my hubby has been far too busy, rushing around and hardly being at home. This has made him very tired when he has been home, dropping straight off to sleep in front of the TV etc.! I had been on at him for taking on too much, and the need to remember that he is no longer 30 years old! Then, at the end of November, he slipped and fell, and broke his leg, and he has been immobilised since then, walking with difficulty on crutches and not being allowed to put his foot on the ground. It has been touch and go whether he would need it pinned but they seem to think he’s doing OK for now, but he’s going back to the fracture clinic in four weeks’ time and they will make the final decision then. He is going to be in plaster for a long time, it seems. During this whole time he is unable to drive, and we have been very stuck, but our wonderful friends, neighbours, people from church and family have been very supportive and helpful, taking us out when necessary for hospital appointments and other engagements, doing odd bits of shopping and helping with things at home.

02 Lily Wrapped in Blanket 27-12-17

One friend said it was a good thing he was immobilised for a while because it would make him stop and rest a bit! Also, being unable to rush around all the time, he now has time to sort through all Mum’s papers and deal with things following her death.

I have found this whole period a great strain because I can deal with our normal life OK, managing what I have to do and factoring in the necessary rest times, but with my hubby so out of action, I have not only had him to look after, but have also had to do a lot of the things that he would normally be doing, and there have been times when having to keep constantly on the go, and simply having too much to do, it has all got too much for me and I’ve lost the plot and thrown a wobbly. I find that with my ME brainfog (and probably residual chemo brain – this has definitely affected my memory and concentration as well) that I tend to cave in under too much stress and don’t deal with it too well. I have also been carrying the anxiety about my present state of health, not to mention the stress associated with Mum’s death and all the extra things to do because of that, and then Christmas in the middle of it all.

I yearn for a period of peace and quiet and our lives returning to some sort of normality.

Health Issues

It has been another significant year for me, health-wise. In 2015 I was successfully treated for bowel cancer, and throughout 2016 I enjoyed better health than I had done for years, with the eradication of my ulcerative colitis after the removal of my entire colon. My ileostomy was very settled and easy to manage throughout the year, and I believed that this would be the story of the rest of my life, but in the autumn of that year I developed a parastomal hernia.

At the end of January this year, this caused an obstruction which necessitated emergency surgery and a two-and-a-half week stay in hospital, very poorly, and taking quite a long time to recover. A simple sutured repair of the hernia was performed by a general surgeon and as anticipated, this failed, and by the autumn the hernia had returned, and it is now in the same state that it was at the beginning of the year, causing me to be fearful of another blockage, and history repeating itself before my specialist colorectal surgeon can perform a proper repair and insert a reinforcing mesh.

I was due to see him before the year’s end, but this has not happened, and I now have to wait till mid-January to see him. I am hoping that now that the hernia has returned, and knowing my history, he will be prepared to have me in for elective surgery before it causes me another obstruction.

My system remains free of cancer, which is something on the plus side. I have seen the oncologist twice during the year and she is very pleased with me. I continue to suffer from peripheral neuropathy as an ongoing side effect of the six months of chemo I had in 2015, and this may or may not clear up; whatever happens, it is a small price to pay for survival!


I began the 5:2 diet in the summer of 2014. I had to take a break from the diet throughout 2015 while undergoing cancer treatment, but I resumed it in 2016, and this year I reached my target weight, having lost a total of 4 1/2 stone, and losing 10 inches around my waist! I have a tremendous sense of achievement over this as it proves that it can be done, and through diet alone as well, because with my ME I am unable to take sufficient exercise to make any difference to weight loss.

I am absolutely delighted to have been able to get rid of clothes that are now too big for me (trousers and leggings that wouldn’t stay up!) and to have an excuse to buy some new things, but above all, to be able to get into some old favourites again! For years my friends were telling me to get rid of these clothes because I should be realistic and accept that I’d never again be as thin as I once was, but I have proved them wrong. I had a lot of clothes that I really loved, and couldn’t bear to part with, and they are now wearable again. This makes me feel good, good, GOOD!!

Here’s me in my Afghan Nomad Dress (which I made years ago – definitely in the 1990s as this photo was taken when we lived in Plymouth:

Afghan Nomad Dress 4 - Spread Skirt

And again, on Christmas day this year:

05 My Christmas Outfit

Here are my “before and after” pics – the first was taken in 2013 (the year before I started the diet) and the second was taken this May. I  can’t believe I looked like that…….

Weight Loss Comparison, 2013-2017


Another significant, and sad event during this year was the death, only three weeks apart, of our beloved old kitties Beatrice and Phoebe.

Beatrice and Phoebe Cuddled Up on Bed 19-2-06

Phoebe, aged nearly 14, developed bowel cancer and had to be put down; she had also suffered from grand mal epilepsy for the last couple of years of her life, which was extremely distressing. After she died, Beatrice, nearly 17, seemed utterly lost without her, despite the fact that they were never that close. She lingered in all Phoebe’s favourite spots as if looking for her to return, and went completely off her food, until she became so weak and obviously heart-broken and grieving, and she was put down three weeks later. We knew that both of them, being in poor health, would die this year, but we never thought it would happen so close together.

Then followed six weeks with no kitties in the house. This is only the second time this has happened to us in over 30 years of marriage, and it was very hard!

We found our new babies online, and at the end of July we drove over to west Dorset to collect them. Amazingly, they were born on our wedding anniversary (24th May)! We won’t forget their birthday in a hurry.

Here they are at 5 weeks, when we were first introduced to them (we couldn’t have them till they were 9 weeks old).

15 Kittens

This is what they look like now – I can’t believe how much they have grown!

03 Together on Cat Tree 28-12-17

Lily and Ruby are now (unbelievably!) seven months old, and so much part of the family that we cannot imagine life without them. They are an utter delight, full of personality, and so pretty too! I’ve done lots of blog posts about them – far too many to provide links for, and I have also made numerous videos of them which are on my Youtube channel.


Back in March we discovered dry rot under the kitchen floor, which was a worrying thing because we knew it would be very expensive to deal with.

04 Rot in Bottom Cupboard 25-3-17

It turned out to be only in one small isolated area and although costly, a lot less so than we’d been led to believe, which was a huge relief. Work began in April.

01 Original Cupboards Closed 25-3-17

It meant that the old-fashioned cupboard in the kitchen had to come out (it was a pain to use anyway, so no great loss) and we then had to wait until July before the carpenter was free to come and make me a beautiful walk-in pantry.

During this time I used the kitchen in Mum’s flat (which occupies half the downstairs of the house) – very small and cramped, but perfectly adequate!

08 Decamping into Flat Kitchen 1 8-4-17

The new pantry completed:

16 Finished Pantry Door Closed 7-7-17

46 Pantry Complete - Gen View 24-7-17

The whole unpleasant matter of the dry rot turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the new pantry has made my life so much easier, and I continue to be thrilled to bits with it. I made some extra shelves to house all my supplies, and I made some decorative labels to go on my jars, and the whole thing looks fantastic!


Considering what else has gone on, I’m happy to say I have been able to do some baking and cooking this year. I find this very therapeutic.

03 Loaf Sliced, Detail

Baking for Cancer Cakeathon

I went on a bread baking day too (my hubby won the ticket for that).

01 Blue Basket of Bread

Finally, I cooked my first Christmas dinner for over ten years.

Christmas Dinner 2017

For our annual family get-together after Christmas, I made four puddings:

02 4 Puddings (Annotated)

Cancer Group

Our monthly cancer Cakeathon continues but we are now meeting here at my home instead of at the cancer support centre. Numbers have dropped off somewhat over the last few months because people have been busy with other things. I bake regularly for these meetings. One of our members had a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan’s this year and several of us attended that, and we baked for it too. I am perpetually grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made through getting cancer.

Bible Study Group

This has been ongoing too – our numbers remain small but they are so faithful and I am grateful for that! We completed our course on the Tabernacle, and have done occasional sessions on the Feasts of the Lord to coincide with the calendar dates on which these fall, and we began a major course on Prophecy, interrupted by a short course on Salvation (since the subject was raised by one of our members – we are very flexible about what we do!) – to be completed in the New Year. There is a lot of work involved in preparing the sessions, including designing the PowerPoint slides (which are creative and fun to do) but I find it very fulfilling, and just lately it has been something which has encouraged and built me up in the middle of a lot of troubling events.

03 The Messianic Line from Eve to Jesus

03 Blind Chance or Design


As a result of everything that has gone on this year, I have found it very hard to find the time, energy and concentration to do much art at all, and my studio has lain neglected, a sad, dust-gathering dumping ground, for far too long. I have got new stash which has been sitting around for months not even opened. I hate the fact that it is always my creativity which suffers the most when the pressures of life encroach. When time has become available, I have found that I am too tired to do anything, which is an ongoing frustration.

However, I have managed to achieve something!

Mamhead Album completed:

01 Front Cover

This was a project I worked on for several months in 2016.

I made another little book as well, this year, called “Second Wind”:

01 Front Cover

which was my first attempt at a Coptic binding.

I had hoped to finish the other book I have been working on by the end of this year but with the pressures on me over the past few weeks, this hasn’t been possible. This is a book giving examples of all the different techniques you can use with Infusions.

WOYWW 420 21-6-17

I also made a selection of simple stamped cards to replenish my stash:

16 Six Completed Cards

I made a couple of cards for my hubby, one for his birthday and one for our anniversary, both mixed media with Infusions.

2 Cards for N - May 2017

I have done some Zentangle in the iPad Pro this year. This was my best piece.

Gold Fold

I did some other digital art using the Procreate app as well, including this picture, following along with a Youtube tutorial, and adding the silhouettes of some trees to make it my own:

Sunset with Trees

I also continued with some digital mandalas which I save as outlines, and can then colour  as I wish.

Lotus Mandala Pink

This year I acquired an excellent video editing app for the iPad Pro called Luma Fusion, and have been able to make a lot of videos (mostly of the kittens) to upload to Youtube. Very convenient, very user-friendly. One of the best things is being able to use the iPad as a video camera so no transfer of video from one device to another is necessary. All I have to do now is rig up the iPad over my work space instead of my normal video camera.

Continuing with my ongoing embroidery project to make drapes for the bed half-tester, I’ve done a few more pieces, including these:

12 Blue Piece with Red Flower Shape Close Detail

17 Primary Colours on Striped Background Detail

I’ve also done a bit of knitting, getting involved with a project at church to provide socks for the homeless.

04 Blue Socks Completed

07 First Rainbow Sock Completed

This was supposed to be completed by the end of November, but with everything else going on, I haven’t finished the rainbow pair yet. However, I have been reassured that the project is ongoing, and someone will make sure my socks, once completed, will find a recipient!

That’s pretty much the sum total of art done this year. Not a lot to show for a whole year, is it, but other things certainly have intruded in my life big time this year!

Looking back on last year’s annual review, it’s interesting, as always, to re-read my intentions for the coming year and see how well I’ve done. As usual, the answer is, not very well!! Perhaps I should cease from this unprofitable exercise because every year, I fail!

Here’s what I intended. And whether I succeeded.

  • Not making so many cards. Yes, but I didn’t do much else either!
  • Books. Yes, to a limited degree.
  • Boxes and 3-D objects. No.
  • Textiles in my mixed media work. No.
  • Felt. No.
  • Finish all those UFOs (UnFinished Objects). No, no, no. Hopeless! They remain UnFinished.

So as usual I didn’t do too well on the resolutions scale.

Oh, I can’t help myself – I’m going to list some of my intentions for the coming year, despite what I’ve just said!!

  • Finish the Infusions Mini-Album.
  • Start using my as yet unopened Distress Oxides.
  • Make more books.
  • Make more boxes.
  • Do more mixed media stuff and incorporate different materials including textiles.
  • Make some upcycled clothing from all the bits I bought in charity shops several years ago.
  • Definitely finish some of those lingering UFOs.

We shall see how well I do in the coming months!

After such a rollercoaster of a year, I am hoping for a more peaceful year ahead so that I can draw breath a bit, and get back to normal, and have more opportunity to develop my creativity. Also, now that Mum is no longer with us, maybe my hubby and I can have a bit more time together and go on more outings as the weather improves.

Wishing all my loyal followers and friends in Blogland and beyond a very happy and fruitful year ahead.


  1. What a busy year you've had Shoshi! Well done for losing all that weight - I'm back on my diet as of today... !

  2. You must type as fast as me to get such a long and detailed post finished! So much in one year - and of course 2018 is proving to be a less than restful year for you so far. I hope that you do get more time for crafting and general relaxation. Ali x

  3. Wow, that's a very systematic summary of your year Shoshi! So much has happened - a mixture of good and bad. Nothing ever is just good - but luckily, nothing ever is just bad either. I think our challenge is to appreciate the good and try to find something positive about the bad. I can't believe your kitties were ever that small! Tiny little things - don't you just wish they were small for longer? Your weight loss journey continues to inspire me. I trust 2018 will turn out much better for you than the latter part of 2017! I can only send you my best wishes xx

  4. praying every belssing for you and your dear ones, in 2018 and may we grow closer to our dear LORD in the days ahead. Praying esp for your health, your hubby’s and all the matters needing sorting in relation to your darling mum.
    Hugs dear friend, Shaz.x


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