December 1: One of those days when it never really gets light. Welcome to December in the north of England. This one’s looking along Eller Beck on the way into the woods in my village – my dog isn’t the sort to be put off by a spot of weather.
December 2: Another one from my Introduction to Printmaking course – this time a Japanese ball bearing baren, used instead of a printing press in relief printing. Today was the first of two sessions of lino printing, which took me right back to A-level Art. The glass bead ‘ball bearings’ have been in the stitch journal supplies cupboard for ages, and this seemed like the perfect use for them.
December 3: Sometimes I think Leonard Cohen got it wrong, and that the crack that exists in everything isn’t to let the light in but, instead, allows the darkness out. After a very head-boggled day (this seems to be a trend on Mondays) I decided that as an Advent gift to myself I’d park Facebook for a while. I don’t have a problem with Facebook, per se, but it sometimes addles my head and I’d benefit from whittling it back to being a space to connect with far-flung friends, rather than being for PhD or anything else. As an aside, this one ended up looking a little more like a bloody cut than I’d intended.
December 4: Reminding myself of how much I don’t know – time to wade into terms like ‘praxis’.
December 5: Apparently delta is the mathematical symbol for ‘change’. Life can very easily become unbalanced – this was about not doing a very good job of looking after myself, in the form of taking too little exercise.
December 6: A helpful supervision section – things are finally looking up for my methodology section.
December 7: Cutting out a jacket from some very fetching checked wool, and giving myself headaches over lining up the pattern across the various pieces. Another example of being more conscious with my making, in part because of the obligation to reflect on it for my research.
December 8: I’d been having a conversation with some fellow ethnographers the day before, about how writing up field notes seems to take forever. I then spent most of this day writing up field notes…
December 9: Problems with sore hands – hoping it’s due to the cold and the wet weather, and nothing more sinister. The thought of losing dexterity is pretty frightening.
December 10: The landing, hall and stairs needed a lick of paint, but even low-odour paint fumes start to become overwhelming very fast.
December 11: Intimations from some quarters that doing a PhD – and, in particular, an arts-based one – is a soft option.
December 12: Fizzy, tingling brain.
December 13: The word ‘amateur’ is a funny one – it comes from ‘lover of’ but is often used pejoratively. This one was about feeling woefully naive and ignorant after a conversation with a more assured researcher. Lots of work ahead…
December 14: A frosty morning with the sun still low across the fields.
December 15: Stitching things together.
December 16: The omnipresent Eric, who seems to love craft activities as much as I do. If she can sit on it, chase it, or fall off it, she’s there. She’s asleep on my lap, snoring away, as I type this.
December 17: Hand-blown glass baubles from Bethlehem – how very festive.
December 18: A reminder that communication isn’t always my strong point – a distinct disadvantage in a world where connections are everything.
December 19: Stepparenting isn’t without its frustrations, but this evening my stepdaughter, who tends to lack confidence, sang solo in front of 400 people and smashed it out of the park. I felt very proud, and thought it deserved an entry.
December 20: The trials and tribulations of christmas shopping.
December 21: Solstice day – though, as a friend pointed out, surely the half and half is more reminiscent of an equinox…
December 22: Finally powering down for a bit of time off over the Christmas period. Much needed, after an autumn best described as an onslaught.
December 23: My twin brother likes to say, ‘did you have a nice Christmas or did you spend it with your family?’ Whilst I think that’s perhaps a bit harsh, this is definitely a time of year to bring less straightforward aspects of family into sharp focus.
December 24: Making a conscious decision to press pause on some of life’s challenges and enjoy a lovely day with my little bit of family.
December 25: Christmas day. Not much to say except that it passed without incident. Long may that continue.
December 26: A head-clearing walk on the beach at Runswick Bay with my parents and their dog, and my husband and our dog. Brilliant blue sky.
December 27: A family tree, for a dinner with my brothers, their partners, and the niblings.
December 28: Another day, another bit of family – this time a walk round High Dam at Finsthwaite in the south Lakes with some of my husband’s family and a selection of crazy dogs.
December 29: Achy hands still aching. Perhaps I’ll have a chat with someone about them.
December 30: We went to see ‘Free Solo‘, the film about Alex Honnold’s ascent of Freerider on El Capitan. A fantastic film, not least for all the thoughts it inspired about focus, presence, and flow.
December 31: Closing the door on a tricksy year.