That bastard we know as “depression” has been creeping back into my life this last week. He has been following me around and reminding me how terrible I am in every facet of my life. My response? To avoid people and responsibilities, and spend my days on Reddit and Twitch.
Healthy coping mechanisms.
I did push myself to go out on Thursday evening to my crochet class, which was a lovely thing to do, but it was on my way home that I did something to help myself feel better: I spent £1 on a bunch of daffodils.
A cheap bunch of flowers is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but these bright daffodils have made a world of difference to me this week. Each morning, and throughout the day, I have delighted in seeing just how much they have opened up and raised their heads.
These daffodils are just a wee bit of magic in an otherwise bleak life. I know I’m being melodramatic; that’s how I roll.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Imbolc is the one festival that I do not connect with. I guess it is because here in Scotland, Spring comes later. Heck, we haven’t even had Winter yet! I worry about that. There are early signs, such as budding leaves and crocuses, and I am just waiting for them to be crushed by severe weather. It’s the same every year, but this year the feeling is even more palpable. I hope I am wrong.
I’m not thriving at the moment. Surviving, yes. Thriving, no. While my GP knows that I am still not fit to work, what with my fibromyalgia getting progressively worse and my difficulties in handling my mother’s death, the Department of Work & Pensions has decided that I am, and they know best. *stifles laughter* The immediate issue is that they have taken my benefit from me. Thankfully I am in a place of privilege; I have a loving partner who is willing to support me while I fight this. Not a lot of people have that. It sucks to be in this position, especially because it is due to a government who has waged war on the poor and vulnerable, but I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I’ve just lost some of my independence and autonomy, but I can survive that. Survive, yes. Thrive, no.
Prior to losing my income, I had saved up enough money to do an introduction to crocheting class. I have gotten the hang of scarves, with a single crochet, but I was stumped as to where to go to next! Then my local wool shop announced the class on their Facebook page, and there was much rejoicing. We’re making granny squares! It’s a bit like magic to me. I’ve managed to make one decent looking square, but the rest are misshapen monstrosities.
I’m not the best person at getting things done. I also love journalling. And so, I have begun experimenting with goal setting, habit tracking and general attempts at being more disciplined. For my goals, I have chosen to work with Leonie Dawson’s My Shining Year workbook. So far I have been inspired by it and its Facebook community, so I have plenty of ideas for what I want to do in 2017. Getting them done is an entirely different beast! I’ve been experimenting with Bullet Journalling to combine my to-do lists, habits, goals, ideas and inspirations. On my good health days it is brilliant, but my good health days are few and far between. Of course I know that a part of me is being lazy too, and using my poor health as an excuse for not doing anything at all. I’m trying to beat that habit.
There has been a major upheaval this week; James, my mum’s cat, has moved in with us. Mum passed away in June, but this week my dad decided that he was not able to look after James anymore. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone, but when is life ideal? So on Tuesday James came to our home, much to the confusion and anger of our cat, Lucy. It has been okay so far. Both cats are avoiding each other, and Lucy has the option of going outside if she needs space. When they do come into contact, they have a spat rather than a fight.
I have always wanted to be able to talk with animals, but I have wished so hard for this gift right now just so I can explain to Lucy and James what is going on and why. Childish, right?
Finally, it is a week and a half till the Burpeethon. Our third and final event takes place on Saturday, 18th February. We were featured in the Evening Times this week, too, which should give us a boost. You can learn how to support the event by checking out www.burpeethon.co.uk. I have set myself a modest target to 200, which is 50 an hour. That’s 10 every ten minutes with a ten minute break before the next hour. It should be fine, just don’t tell my doctor! Shhh!
Snaring is an inhumane way of trapping animals. A frightened animal will struggle to free itself from a snare causing itself injury or to strangle itself, both can potentially lead to a slow and painful death. By law snares have to be checked every 24 hours, but imagine 24 hours of being held in place, unable to fully understand what is happening and why your attempts to free yourself are making things worse.
Snares lack the ability to discriminate between species, or between individuals of a species. Typically, snares are used to trap animals labelled as “vermin”, such as rabbits, foxes and brown hares. However, research from the Scottish SPCA, DEFRA, and OneKind show that the majority of animals who become ensnared are other species – including protected species, like badgers and Scottish wildcats, and companion animals. When a snare does catch its target species, they regularly trap youngsters, pregnant animals, and mothers who still have young to tend to. One death can then lead to many others.
Snares are often counterproductive. Legal snares are mainly used on shooting estates to stop foxes from preying on game birds. But like many species, when foxes are culled the remaining foxes move into the territory and make use of the extra resources to do what animals do – breed! There is also a myth that animals considered pests are increasing in number, but research says otherwise, with rabbits declining by 59% and foxes by 34% (from 1996-2014). These animals that are considered “vermin” are vital parts of the local ecosystem, and need to be treated as such.
Finally, if evidence suggests that the population has to be controlled then there are plenty of alternatives to snares that are less indiscriminate and less inhumane. For foxes, these include cage trapping, adding llamas to sheep flocks, and lamping. For rabbits, there is live trapping and shooting. These require more effort, but laziness is not an adequate excuse for cruelty.
Those who defend the use of snares claim that they are necessary, and an important part of conservation work. However if this were true, then Scottish conservation charities and the Scottish government would rely on snares too. They don’t. All are very much against snares, and never use snaring on their land.
Yes, my friends! It is that time of year again! Time for me to babble about the Burpeethon!
In its third and final year, the Burpeethon is a fitness challenge where we ask volunteers to come along and do as many burpees as possible to raise funds for charity. Once again, all the money raised will be going to Scottish Women’s Aid to help them bring about an end to domestic violence against women. With austerity being forced upon us, domestic violence becomes a bigger threat and is something we need to work together to combat.
As horrible burpees are, the Burpeethon is a fun day and it is suitable for most fitness levels. You go at your own pace. I have fibromyalgia and hypermobility, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I can.
The Burpeethon is taking place on Saturday, 18th February, 2017 at the Arc, Glasgow Caledonian University. You can register at www.burpeethon.co.uk. Looking forward to seeing you there!
For those of you following me on Instagram, you will have seen the ups and downs of my crochet adventure. Mostly the downs. It all began earlier this year, when I decided I should learn a craft skill. Ignoring the sewing machine that has been lying alone and abandoned in my cupboard just crying out for attention, I went to the craft section of Waterstones to choose a project.
A funky little box called “Granny Squares” caught my eye. It contained everything I needed to crochet some granny squares of my own. “Perfect,” I thought, “that is a great place to start learning to crochet.”
All of the instructions were in Double Dutch! This was not the Crochet 101 project I was looking for, so I was left upset and disappointed. I was also left with a crochet hook and a stash of yarn that I could not return to the store. Not to be defeated, I turned to YouTube for some advice and tutorials. Goddammit, I *was* going to learn how to crochet!
As you can see, over the course of two months I gradually figured out how to do a single crochet. I had to experiment with different yarns and hooks, and watch videos over and over again before it finally clicked. And when it clicked, a scarf happened. They just happen spontaneously when you crochet!
I have mastered the single crochet, and I feel marvellous about it. It is amazing how relaxed I feel when I’m moving the yarn and hook in my hands. I have started taking them everywhere with me; the train, the pub, hospital waiting rooms, the Robot Wars studio … crochet is just so addictive.
I am not so sure what to do next though. Just now I am making another scarf with some cotton yarn. I am wondering if there are any projects I can do with just a single crochet, or if I should move on and learn another type. I’m keen to make something other than scarves, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself! For the time being, you can find me chilling with my yarn and hook.
On the 3rd and 4th December Vegfest Scotland took place at the SECC. From what I’ve been told, it was the biggest gathering of vegan-friendly folk in Scotland. With a mix of good food, education, campaigning, art and retail therapy, there was something for everyone. I was volunteering for much of the event so I didn’t get to see everyone, but I want to share with you all the amazing stuff I did see!
Give a Dog a Bone – A new charity that I had not heard of before. Give a Dog a Bone helps the over 60s adopt a companion animal by helping to meet adoption fees, and some ongoing costs. I think this is a brilliant idea! For humans, animals can provide much needed friendship and purpose, and for animals, humans can provide a loving home away from a rescue centre.
Wear Your Voice– An awesome clothing retailer who specialises in social justice and animal rights designs. I bought two of their t-shirts over the weekend and the quality is fantastic. The icing on the cake is that around 15% of their profits go to support good causes AND they run The Hoodie Project – to give out hoodies to the homeless during winter. Good vibes all round.
Blitz Patisserie – Vegan fares are the best place for cake, and the best place for cake at a vegan fare is Blitz Patisserie! I was very late in the day when I found their stall, and the Vegfest patrons had virtually wiped them out! Luckily I was able to nab a slice of apple crumble cake and a raw mince pie. Oh. My. God. Both were delicious! Keep an eye out for them at vegan events, or follow them on Facebook to see when they are doing home deliveries in Falkirk, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Being at Vegfest Scotland gave me a lot to think about. I know that vegetarianism and veganism are not right for me (been there, done that!), but I do want to reaffirm my commitment to a dairy-free lifestyle. I’ll maybe write about that in a separate post. I do wish more non-veg*ns had come along, just to see how great the lifestyle can be for mind, body and spirit. It also made me think about how important activism is. Many of the events I go to are focused on the lifestyle, but without the activism behind it veg*nism could just be another consumer fad. The activists bear witness, and remind us why we do what we do. But it’s also important to cut loose and have fun too!
129 hand-knitted hares were delivered to the Scottish Parliament, thrown into the back of a pick-up truck to highlight the callous disregard shown for the lives of real mountain hares.
On Thursday, 17th November 2016, protesters gathered at a mountain hare rally organised by OneKind. The knitted hares were gifted to MSPs with a request to halt the culling of mountain hares taking place in Scotland. Like badgers in England & Wales, the hares are being killed in vast numbers in an unscientific and unethical attempt to stop the spread of disease to red grouse. The louping ill virus is spread to the birds via a tick found on mountain hares, but there is no evidence to show that slaughtering mountain hares will halt the spread of the virus.
The mountain hare is an iconic Scottish species, so why are they valued less than red grouse?
The red grouse are preserved at all cost so that they can be shot for fun by hunting enthusiasts. The enjoyment of killing, and the profits that go along with it, are prized over the hare (and of course other species, such as raptors). In addition, blood sport enthusiasts will hunt the mountain hare themselves; eight to ten hares can be killed by a single shooter in one hunt, with up to 200 being slaughtered during a single driven hunt. With mountain hare populations falling by around 34% between 1996 and 2014, mountain hare numbers are in decline and in need of protection.
OneKind, a charity focused on protecting Scotland’s animals, have been running a campaign to raise awareness of the tragedy facing mountain hares. Their long-term goal is to see complete protection of the mountain hare, while supporting steps on the way to that goal.
All responsible cat owners will have their pets microchipped. This technology allows owners to be reunited to their pets should the worst happen, including a fatal accident. However, many local authorities in the UK do not bother to make use of microchips when they come across lost, or dead, cats.
There are risks to having outdoor cats, and road traffic accidents are one of them. As a cat owner, I feel that when such an accident happens, an owner who cares enough to microchip their pet has the right to know what has happened to their cat. In this spirit, I think that all local authorities should scan any dead cat they come across in their work.
There was a national petition about this issue, which West Dunbartonshire Council did not respond to. This gives me hope; hope that they are willing to do this one simple thing to end the awfulness of cat owners not knowing what happened to their companions.
My cat Dougal disappeared years ago. He was microchipped. He was previously in an RTA, and his microchip reunited us with him and allowed us to have him treated. But when he vanished, presumed dead, we had no information. If he was found by the local authority, we were not told. This is wrong.
Scanning a microchip takes no time at all, so I ask West Dunbartonshire Council to start scanning the deceased cats they find.