Taking Smock of the Situation

17 Jan
SheWolffe trying on the smock before the embroidery started

On 1 June 2021 I joined the 2021 100 days project.

For those that don’t know the 100 days project, the idea is simple: you choose a creative project, do it every single day for 100 days, and share your process on social using the hashtag #The100DayProject.

I joined for the first time in 2020, during that first lockdown year. Mum was interested to join in too – her creative project was to make a small painting each day, mostly of something from the garden. She would take a photo of her painting each day and then email it to me and I then uploaded it on her Instagram account. For most of 2020 we were not allowed to see one another, and this creative act brought us closer together and I think gave Mum a positive focus each day during those long locked down lonely weeks.

Then in January 2021 I came to stay with Mum during that lockdown. It became clear that she wasn’t quite herself, and at the end of April she was diagnosed with mixed dementia.

As I started the #100daysproject I reflected that my life was now very different from previous years… I shared caring for Mum with my elder brother; our routine was that we stayed in Galloway with mum for 2 to 3 weeks at a time, and then swapped. Because of covid restrictions it was quite an isolated time, those first months of 2021.

Anyway back in the first weeks of January 2021 I found this fisherman’s smock which mum used to wear when she was sculpting her pottery animals. She never wears it now and gifted it to me. I knew right then I wanted to embellish it, to embroider it with life.

Each embroidered element would connect to mum in some way. I had no idea if I had the skill to pull this off and create something more beautiful and meaningful than the smock itself, but each stitch would be so full of love for the remarkable woman who made me.

I recorded the progress on Instagram, initially posting every day (the 100 days are meant to be consecutive) but for various reasons my days were not consecutive, and I have also now recognised that this is a marathon, and not a 100 day sprint. So, 32 weeks later I still pick up the smock some days and stab the fabric. I still upload to Instagram each day I add stitches and if you want to see progress follow #TakingSmockOfTheSituation and #Smocktales on insta.

I started a fundraiser as a sideline of the project. Of course I did, I’m a fundraiser at heart and couldn’t help myself. So, if you are moved to contribute so no one in Scotland has to face dementia alone, please click here and support Alzheimers Scotland. I really appreciate your support, but more importantly so will so many others who are struggling to make sense of either their or a loved one’s dementia. It is a bewildering disease, for all of us.

I’ll add the backlog of slow stitching progress, and eventually I might catch up with myself and by then will have formed a regular blogging habit so you can see it (and my other adventures) in real time.

Edited to add blog posts relating to this story:

The following are coming soon…

  • We can fly
  • I can see
  • Sisters
  • Slow and steady
  • Newlands and Norwegians

Trying to care for Mum as she developed dementia nearly broke me on a number of occasions. I would really appreciate it if you could make a donation towards Alzheimer Scotland. They’re doing stuff that makes living with this more bearable for so many people. Thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous.

I can see!

23 Mar

On 17 August 2021, I posted:

I got better lighting! I can see what I’m doing!

This is the beginning of a washing line with a bright plastic clothes peg. After the big pink cosmos flower this feels so small and delicate. And fun.

You have two other bits of embroidery in your bonus pics today… the first is some embroidery I did when I was about 12 years old (when my eyesight was considerably better) for my grandmother who I was named after. It’s the corner of a wee cotton hankie… one of around 100 hankies I found in mum’s chest of drawers. The 2nd is a monogrammed towel, which must have been a wedding present for my grandparents, making it over 100 years old.

The gift of sight is a thing you don’t appreciate until it starts diminishing.

When we were young, one of the closest of our aged relatives was our Uncle Walter. And he was blind. But I never quite understood the impact of him losing his sight because he seemed to manage to get about ok, and was a much-loved uncle who told the best stories and was the life and soul of any room he was in.

Though there was the fabled story of when he had walked through the plate glass door from the kitchen to the wash house, without opening the door. He hadn’t seen that it was shut. And glass. And he had just kept walking. If he had stopped on impact, it was believed a shard of glass might have come down on the back of his neck and killed him. Hurrah for keeping going when things go wrong!

I realise I don’t know why he was blind, what had happened to his sight? In my childlike way, I just assumed it was something that happened to some old people so I never enquired.

Mum’s eyes have been a trouble to her for years. Some 20 or 30 years ago she suffered from Bell’s Palsy, where one side of the face is weakened, apparently paralysed. Her mouth drooped on that side, and she was unable to close her eye. Mum was given some drugs, and eyedrops and lubricants, and a patch to put over her eye. I think it was taped up at night for a wee while too. Then the doctors took the decision to sew her eyelid shut until the palsy disappeared, to protect the eye.

When they cut her eyelid open again, they cut in just the wrong place – and forever more Mum’s eyelashes on her right eye grew inwards, scratching her eyeball, instead of outwards, protecting it. She would attend the eye clinic a the hospital in Dumfries every 6 weeks for what she called her ‘eye torture’.

Having escorted Mum to the eye clinic at hospital on many occasions, I appreciate having my eyesight, and also not having scratchy painful eyeballs. Poor Mum, she never ever complained about it, but it must have been horrid.


You can read more about my relationship with Mum and her dementia starting here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

We can all fly

16 Mar

On 16 August 2021, I posted:

First stabs at the new design and I have already stitched and ripped it out twice. I didn’t like how the stitches were sitting, which might be because I really need to get new glasses and better lighting so I can see more clearly what I’m doing.

I was at Mum’s at the weekend and noticed that the second brood of swallow babies had fledged.. they were sitting resting on the washing line… and are today’s bonus pic.

I’d harvested mum’s potatoes the weekend before and when I told her, she’d looked all wistful and regretted that she wouldn’t get to eat them. So I decided she could, which meant I was scrubbing new potatoes and boiling them while I had breakfast on Sunday morning. Then I stuffed them in a wide mouthed thermos flask and smothered them with butter and salt and pepper.

And after our coffee mum had a potato course, before her lunch arrived. She loved them. It was so good to see her enjoying the moment.

It’s all about the moments these days.

Did I ever mention that mum taught me how to fly? She honestly did. As a child I believed I could fly, if I really wanted to. Mum gave me that belief in myself.

I told mum about the fledgling swallows and she was wistful about them flying off to South Africa. I reminded her that we can fly and she smiled, remembering that yes we can fly. If we want to.

The swallows have fledged. Soon they will fly all the way to South Africa

Reading those words some 18 months after I first wrote them I am struck by two things:

  • It continues to be all about the moments
  • Mum, despite her own apparent incapacity, still gives us the confidence to fly in whatever way we need to

Mum spends more and more time sleeping these days. She seems so calm and serene and at peace with her world. Again, I am astonished at how she continues to demonstrate her superpower of adapting to whatever circumstances she finds herself in.

When I visited her on Friday I sat beside her as she snoozed. As she woke up, I stood up and opened my arms as if to hug her, and said “hello Mama”… I was about to follow it with “It’s me, Loïs!” when she smiled a big smile and started to say ‘hello….’ and then she paused as though thinking what came next, but instead of worrying about it or thinking any further, she just repeated what I had said, “hello …. Mama!” There was such joy in that moment.

It’s all about the moments.

In some ways we are getting ready for her to fly, to fly away forever. I’m not sure I will ever be ready for that moment… though I do feel confident that she will when it comes.


You can read more about my relationship with Mum and her dementia starting here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Living your best life

13 Mar

On 15 August 2021, this is what I posted:

Puck enjoying his best life

I hope you’re living your best life? And if not, why not? Are there things you could do to change it, to make it better?

In January 2022 I was lucky enough to join the Bold Social Leadership Programme. Bold’s vision is for a life where everyone can flourish throughout their lives, where having dementia doesn’t matter for who you are or how you live your life. The Bold Programme combines creativity with social leadership, and it unleashed a desire in me to focus on living our best lives, whoever we are.

I could learn a lot from Puck. Puck knows his boundaries, but often pushes at them, and whenever he’s naughty he comes and says sorry, generally before we’ve even noticed he did anything wrong. He is thrilled to wake up each morning, but likes to start the day with cuddles (followed by a little something to eat), and he adores going to bed at night, curling up in his wee nest once he has got it ‘just right’ again. Puck is always, always up for a new adventure, but loves coming home. Each day Puck lives his best life.

Be more Puck.


You can read more about my relationship with Mum and her dementia starting here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Swallows on a line

10 Mar

On 9 August 2021 I wrote:

New design!

Way back in January when I found the smock and decided to embroider it Mum came up with the idea of swallows swooping over the back yoke; and across the front I embroider them sitting on the washing line.

The parent swallows do this under the car port as they take a breath before feeding their babies. And when the wee ones fledge, they first sit on the washing line before taking their first flight.

Mum never drafted the design for me, she’d given up drawing. We now realise that she was already coping with dementia and I guess her brain could no longer put the images on paper in a way that would satisfy her. The design was created by my nephew, Max, when he was last visiting and the swallows were feeding their babies.

Your bonuses today are the Graham sisters. Mum is one of four sisters. We don’t have many pictures of them all together either as children or adults, so it was lovely to find these two.

I’ve struggled writing much recently, in fact I’ve struggled doing much of anything of any real value recently, which I think is ok. Though only ok for a short while – but it’s been a long winter, and perhaps Spring will do its magic and perk me up a bit?

I know that I’ve been experiencing anticipatory grief for more than two years now, and while most of the time it is now cope-able with, there are times when it is overwhelming. But that is the nature of grief. And grief is a response to love. And I will always be grateful for that fierce (though mostly unspoken) love.

When Dad died, it was relatively sudden – he had a serious stroke and a week later died in hospital. So we’d had a bit of time to prepare ourselves for his death, and when it came it really did feel like a relief, as the alternative (him making a slow and partial recovery) felt considerably worse. And although his death broke me for a while, I knew that the worst had happened, that in time I would find a way to sit more comfortably with his loss, and also with his life.

Over the last two years, as Mum’s health has deteriorated with dementia, I have come and gone in her life. We live 100 miles apart, and once she was settled in a care home I returned home, visiting her initially for a week each month and then every couple of weeks, for a couple of days at a time. And each time I saw her it felt like a bit more of her had gone while I was away.

And still I knew that there was more to lose. That’s the thing about anticipatory grief – however bereft you feel each time, however much that grief weighs you down, you know that there’s The Big One coming, that dreaded day when you won’t be able to see her smile, won’t hear her say your name (or any name) again. So you focus on the relationship you have, on who Mum is each day, and you celebrate the rare giggles, the random responses to questions, the delight she seems to have when she sees who has come to visit her.

Mum hardly engaged with me at all over the weekend, but when I left on Saturday she pursed her lips and blew me a wee kiss, a memory of bigger kisses she has blown me in the past.


I started writing this series of posts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Before that I blogged about whatever I was cooking and you can find my recipes here.

A love letter to her garden

6 Mar

Remember what it was like back in the early summer of 2020.

We were all locked down. People who lived on their own were mostly entirely on their own.

We live 100 miles away from Mum and we didn’t see her from one month to the next, except on a few occasions when she had a hospital appointment, and we drove down and picked her up, took her to hospital, and then dropped her off back home again, before driving back up the empty road to our own home. They were long and stressful days, but they included the joy of seeing Mum, even if it was for a short time.

On one of these occasions I talked to Mum about the 100 Days Project, and she was keen to take part. So she did, each day picking a thing in her world (generally her outside world, as she was uncomfortable at people seeing what she had in the house) and painting it.

In other times, there would be an exhibition of participants’ work some months after the 100 days was over, but not 2020. Or 2021, when I responded to Mum’s diagnosis of dementia by embroidering her Fisherman’s Smock.

But the exhibition of 2022 work is on at Edinburgh College of Art now, and alongside, they have created online galleries to showcase work from 2020 and 2021. I have never been more proud, than seeing Mum’s final paintings in this online gallery.

Please take a look; this series of paintings feels like the most perfect love letter to Mum’s garden, in the final year when she was able to enjoy it.

You can see Mum’s work here.

And a sneak preview, swiped from my phone, obviously, below…


I write more about the 100 Days Project and our relationship with Mum’s dementia here, starting with Taking Smock of the Situation.

Letting go

3 Mar

On 8 August 2021 I wrote:

There’s a new design a-coming.

It’s been a tough couple of days, with little stitching time. Somehow I held the tears back till I was about to drive back home again… not sure when they’ll end, so you may need to wait awhile for the new design. (You’re going to love it).

Some years before Mum’s dementia entered our lives, but after Dad had died, Mum called a Family Meeting, with her three children – myself and my two brothers. She wanted to tell us together what her wishes were for her remaining years, including details of what was in her Will, and her desire that we focus on quality of life, not length of it – she has always been very much in the DNR camp, but it was, I think, good for us all to hear this together so we all have clarity about ‘what Mum would want’ as she became unable to express it herself, or even to work out what the question was that she was being asked.

There is tradition on Mum’s side of our family to identify what things we might get on someone’s death, so I have a small side table that has a label with Mum’s name on it in the drawer, written in her GranBunnie’s handwriting.. There are other bits of furniture still at Mum’s with those same labels, others with initials written in chalk on the underside of the drawer by my Grandmother.

At the Family Meeting Mum wanted to go around the house with us, marking up who would get what. It was all written in The Book. This process of giving a future life to her treasures I think gave her pleasure, a satisfaction knowing that we would continue to love some objects that felt almost like an extension of her.

But, after Mum had moved out of the family home we just left everything as it was. The jars of various teas sat by the kettle (Assam in the morning, “David’s Special Tea” at 4 o’clock, chamomile or peppermint for visitors); the bottles of oils and vinegars and wee jars of favourite herbs and spices were by the Rayburn; the TV remote controls remained on the side table next to where she would sit; her favourite blanket draped over that same chair… in every room it still looked as though she might come back any moment.

We had been busy, of course. But also we had known that clearing such stuff would open the dam, and would unleash a torrent of tears. We felt we had time, we didn’t need to do it yet.

The only thing we did was to remove most of the things that had our names attached to them.

So, on 8 August 2021, I was driving back up to my own house, with what is now known as Gordon’s Big Cock in the back of the car. This is a Tibetan sculpture of a cockerel, encrusted in wee cabochons of coral and turquoise. It’s a mad thing, but a thing with such history, having been given to Mum by her much-loved Uncle Walter who spent time in Tibet in the 1930s and 40s. Paintings were gone from the walls – all my life The Owl had hung above the fireplace, in the childhood home I was born in, and in this house Mum and Dad moved to after I had left home. The collection of Indian paintings had grown when Uncle Walter died and Mum inherited more of them. The display cabinet had always sparkled with bits of silver, each item with a story to tell, a part of our family history. All gone from the cabinets now, all that was left were the green goblets (bought by Mum at a house sale); the blue porcelain serving dish that Gran used to pile high with wee sandwiches for tea; a set of odd porcelain ladles that none of us cared for; some pottery animal sculptures that mum had created. We had decided to remove the things that ‘would break us’ if the house was burgled or went on fire. We also knew that now was not the time to remove everything. So there were compromises.

But on that journey back, all my heart knew was that this was the beginning of saying goodbye to Mum forever. The comfortable home, filled with stories and memories and beauty was being dismantled; some of her treasures would live on and be loved in other homes, but not everything, there was an inevitability that many of these things that we held so dear would also be gone from our lives. And on the journey home, this was all too much for me to bear.

Some days I wonder if I feel so strongly about the association of the Things with their Stories and our Memories because Mum has dementia, and her stories have been washed away with her own memories? Or have I always had this strong connection, and desire to imbue everything with meaning, with connection? It makes it much harder to let things go when it feels like you are letting go of those connections too; but with practice, a lot of practice, I am getting better at it.


This series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

If you want a bit of cooking inspiration then you could check out my recipes here. Not sure there’s anything much that would make it to a Carer’s CookBook… but if you’re interested I will add some ideas for meals if you are caring for someone you love (and you both love good food!)

ALWAYS breakfast time

1 Mar

On 5 August 2021 I wrote

I’ve not been doing a lot of stitching but enough to make progress. And to keep me well. You did realise that this is about my own self care as much as anything else didn’t you?

Yesterday evening was beautifully warm and the outdoor light is the best for embroidery. It’s also good for crochet and sometimes that’s what I want/need to do. I flit from project to project. Don’t judge me.

When mum’s health deteriorated one of her few remaining pleasures was good food. Her appetite did not diminish and she repeatedly told us that if we put it in front of her she would eat it. She also took pride in the fact she had taught her 3 children to cook so well. And now she benefited from our good cooking.

But one of the earliest symptoms of her dementia was a loss of connection with time. She never could tell what time of day it was. We bought her a dementia clock which helped for a while. But it was an old school method which worked best – putting a note next to her place at the table to tell her the rough time of day. Some days we joked that the fairies put out the notes for mum; other days she no longer believed the note, preferring to believe that it was ALWAYS breakfast time. Time for toast!

I lived next door to her, worked from home as much as I could, and made sure she had a good meal at lunchtime. Casseroles went back and forth from one house to the other. I developed a repertoire of meals that could be prepped early in the day and then cooked quickly and eaten in a lunch hour. I thought of writing a cookbook for carers. I still think of it.

We realised at some point that Mum needed some tasks. She’d stopped doing things of her own volition and was struggling with mobility. She spent much of her day just sitting (or so we thought) and was bored. I recalled her telling us as children that only boring people got bored. And Mum has never been boring.

Tasks for Mum included taking the meat off a roast chicken carcass and cutting up fruit to make a fruit salad.

As it happens I have only just this week got around to getting rid of Mum’s dementia clocks – she had two, and they have both gone to new homes via EBay. We unplugged them both in July 2021, when Mum went into a home after considering taking one to her new home, but deciding against it as she seemed less interested in what hour of the day it was, and certainly had lost all of the anxiety around this issue – perhaps because she now knew that she didn’t have to take responsibility for things, and that she could trust others to keep her to her ‘regime’.

Re-reading this post reminds me of when we were home, struggling to look after Mum, to keep her safe, and to reassure her that she was ok, that she was safe and loved and we would do the worrying for her.

Throughout our lives, Mum had been someone who would get things done. Not just little things, or a few things; one of her skills was making this look easy, this talent she had for getting things done, for bringing people together to make things happen. Like campaigning for bypasses for all the towns along the A75; or for the local school to be saved from closure.

So, it goes without saying that making a fruit salad was something she just did without even noticing she had done it, so instinctive and simple was it to her.

But in Spring 2021, it was different. Mum desperately wanted to feel useful, and as though she still could do some things. Making a fruit salad seemed like a relatively benign task that might be possible. Surely her muscle memory would kick in?

There are more steps in making a fruit salad than you might think, and Mum was only capable of one simple step at a time. She sat at her usual place at the table and we placed in front of her a board, for chopping; and on her left were various fruit; on her right the bowl in which to put the chopped fruit.

Mum was unable to navigate peeling fruit, her fingers were no longer nimble and actually she couldn’t understand what she was trying to do with them, what movement was required to make the thing happen that I was talking about, but which she didn’t really understand. I showed her, but she then accepted my offer to do that bit.

So I peeled apples and peaches, and cut then into large wedges and placed them on the board so she could cut them. I feared looking away for a moment while she had that sharp knife in her hand. More and more we were swapping roles in our lives – she was my child and I was looking after her.


This series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; meanwhile her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Or if you feel like a bit of cooking inspiration then you could check out my recipes here. Not sure there’s anything much that would make it to a Carer’s CookBook… but if you’re interested I will add some ideas for meals if you are caring for someone you love (and you both love good food!)

What could he be up to…?

24 Feb

On 4 August 2021 I wrote

What could he be up to now?

#AlwaysMakingSomething #woodworking

Back around that time, a close friend of Mum’s let me know she had been to visit her; she’d had a pretty difficult time with Mum, who was completely out of sorts, being by turns aggressive, then tearful. This was the first sign of what was to become all too regular episodes of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). The UTIs generally sent Mum into an unrecognisable place, including paranoia, hallucinations and anger. Fortunately they were relatively quickly ‘fixable’ with antibiotics, but having had a UTI, I know how physically uncomfortable they can be, never mind what it does to your already demented brain. Poor Mum. I just wanted to hold her.

While it was glorious to be back home, and getting on with our own things (him in the woodshed, me generally in the kitchen), part of me was still living through Mum’s world. I phoned her every day, generally in the early evening, before she went to bed. The calls were absolutely a habit I had developed after Dad had died. In fact I remember on the day after Dad’s funeral as I said goodbye to Mum, before heading back up the road, that I would call her that evening. And we both laughed and agreed that we would NOT get into the habit of a call every evening, as that was Not A Good Thing. But we did get into that habit. And it was undoubtedly A Very Good Thing for those years. The calls to Mum after she moved into the home were, initially, some sort of a comfort to me (and I think to Mum as well), but could be very random. In time, I didn’t always look forward to them, and some months ago now I stopped phoning her altogether – the act of trying to make conversation seemed to be distressing for her, and I would often be in tears after the call ended.

Having moved home to our own lives, my brother and I agreed that really we only needed to visit at weekends, that Mum would have wanted us to live our own lives. And we recognised that while visits were good, Mum really wasn’t always that conscious of when and whether we were visiting.

Looking back, it feels now as though she was far more aware then than we gave her credit for. Or certainly far more aware than she is now. We didn’t know then how her illness would develop, at what speed, or how much things could change, how much a brain can stop functioning in the way we expect it to, and yet continue to keep the basics going – the breathing, the regular heart beat, extracting nutrients from food and then getting rid of what it doesn’t need. All those bits still work. And love. Mum is still capable of love.


This series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; meanwhile her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Or if you feel like a bit of cooking inspiration then you could check out my recipes here.


21 Feb

It’s Shrove Tuesday today.

Mum used to make us the thinnest of thin crepes, which we all (obviously) fought over. We only ever had them with a squeeze of lemon (which in the 60s and early 70s was always a squeeze from the plastic Jif Lemon, do you remember them? And what was the relationship between a Jif Lemon and Jif Cleaning products?)

Anyway, although I do love to share a recipe here, I’m not going to share the crepes recipe – there are plenty other places you can find them online, or in recipe books. But I’m going to share two other recipes for pancakes.

Mum’s sister Joyce made the best pancakes. I have such happy memories of sitting at the big farmhouse kitchen table at Marbrack, with my back to the Rayburn, where Aunt Joyce was turning out the most perfect fluffy pancakes. They were what you might call Drop Scones, or Scotch Pancakes, similar to American Pancakes. Once each pancake was cooked, she would pop it into a big bowl, lined with a clean tea towel, and then flip the tea towel over the top of them all to keep them warm. So good, warm with fresh butter.

We have Joyce’s pancake recipe in Mum’s recipe book.. the instructions aren’t today’s cookbook standard, but you can probably work it out, if you know what you’re looking for.

Aunt Joyce had compiled a collection of local recipes into a wee book to support Carsphairn Heritage Group in 1993; it was republished in 2017 after her death. It has a wonderful recipe for pancakes in it, though I doubt any of you will make it today. Do let me know if you do (click on the picture to see the whole recipe).

Whether you are sweet or savoury, crepes or fluffy, and whether or not you include very clean snow in your recipe, I hope you enjoy pancake day.


Most of my writing focuses on my relationship with Mum’s dementia since I first noticed there was something “not quite right” in January 2021. You can read about it here.

So many layers

21 Feb

On 2 August 2021 I uploaded to my Insta twice in one day, to make up for the lack of posting in previous weeks. Here is what I wrote later that day:

An evening stitching on the terrace in the sunshine is definitely what I needed today. Each day I feel as though I’m sucking more oxygen of life back into my lungs again. I look up and see the world continues to turn as it always does.

Meanwhile, on the phone this evening Mum tells me something that’s annoyed her about her brother, Simon. He’s pretending to have been an engineer evidently. And then he comes and sits there on the edge of her bed after he got all that money from the co-op.

Mum has no brothers. I suspect Simon is another resident in the home, but possibly not. Possibly someone from years ago. Possibly an amalgam of real people and things she’s heard on the radio, or overheard in a conversation. Possibly all imagined. It matters not. Mum knows she can tell him to leave if she doesn’t want him in her room.

The leaves and the bud haven’t turned out how I wanted them to, or how I imagined them. I could rip them out and keep re-doing them till I got them ‘right’. But why? This project was never going to be about getting it right was it? We’re all just learning as we go, aren’t we?

Mum says much less these days.

Last time I visited her I was wrapped up in a big hand-knitted shawl, and was knitting another scarf, so I was all wrapped up as I sat with her. I told her that James and I are going to Ireland for a weekend soon, to see her big sister, Jennifer. Mum looked up at me, and slowly, so slowly, formed a response to this news. She said, “So many layers”.

Maybe she was commenting on my various shawls, maybe she was reflecting on family life.

So many layers.


Before you go, you should know that there are a number of tasty recipes on this blog too… this evening I’m intending on making the tasty Spicy Turmeric Chicken, which is oh so easy and will be a lovely worknight supper. But have a browse at the recipes, see if there’s anything you fancy making.

This series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; meanwhile her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

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