hmmm. its the end of the year again. When did THAT happen? it sneaked up on me, that’s what it did.. very naughty!!! 2008 – go to your room! you’re not the year-end, you’re a very naughty boy!!! (bonus points for the movie reference on that one…).

Seriously though. It feels like only yesterday i was writing one of these for 2007. I’m not even sure i want to write one for 2008. It feels like i’ve not done very much, and at the same time, i mean… really. i’ve documented all i wanted to of this year on the blog. What’s the point in repeating it? Now a review of where i want to go in 2009.. yeah, i can see the point in that.. hm. i wrote one of those last year didn’t i? Maybe the best way to do this, instead of rehashing old blog posts, is to look at the 2008 plans and see how much, if any, i actually achieved of it… (cut for length)

“The Blog

For the next year, i want very much to continue taking photos and putting them on here. I’m looking into taking out flickr pro membership, its not expensive, and does make blogging photos a lot easier. I want to walk further (especially in good weather) and find more opportunities for good photos. I think when it comes to writing things for the blog i tend to think “oh but i’ll remember this anyway, i don’t need to blog it” but the thing is.. i don’t remember it. And its the stuff you write down that has more permanence. For example. when walking Jess the other day, she was taking ages sniffing round one area, and when she finally peed and came out, i muttered “hallejuah” and she turned around and gave me the most incredible dirty doggy look, as if to say “well snooks to you too!”. that kind of thing, if not recorded, just gets forgotten, and yet they’re part of what makes up the joy and happiness of life, the little moments.”

Well i did take out Flickr Pro membership. I certainly don’t regret that and will be doing so again, it runs out on 9th January, and since whoever buys it for me gets Pro membership for a month (and Mom is looking at getting flickr for herself) i might ask Mum to get it, so she can try it out for nothing for a month.  Walking.. hm. didn’t do so well with this, and blogging was certainly intermittent – looking at the stats for the year: Jan 15, Feb 29, Mar 19, Apr 14, May 8, June 9, July 13, Aug 22, Sept 19, Oct 14, Nov 10, Dec 12.  Need to do better with the blogging, certainly, although some of it is related to depression – when i’m down, i don’t blog. Must do better with this, and i do want to get out and about and take more photographs. I have a free bus pass, so i should really use it to get out to free events and make best use of the new camera. Do me good too.

“Events

In terms of scheduled events for next year, there isn’t a great deal yet, i think. Michiel and i are marking our 5th anniversary on 16th February (day we met) and 16th August (day we made a firm commitment to each other) and i think that will be important to us both. Dad’s 60th birthday is coming up in September so that’s another one to mark. I do have vague plans to go spend a week or so with my maternal grandmother when the weather is considerably better, which i think both of us are looking forward to. Other than that, that’s it.”

Dad’s 60th was actually spent up in Scotland, so there was no big family party or anything.  We did all get together to celebrate my gran’s 90th, though, and i know she loved the pampering she got for that 🙂 (she deserves it!)

Its our 6th Anniversaries this year, hard to believe we’ve been together so long. I don’t think there are any other big anniversaries, although there are quite a few the year after. Michiel’s Mum and Dad are moving house this year, so we’re looking forward to visiting them once the move is over and everything has been unpacked and stuff. Its a big year for Mum and Dad too, although I’m not sure i can say what it is here, not just yet.

“The Garden

the garden is one area i am determined to make more of in 2008. in 2007 i was very much hampered by multiple things: weather (which i couldn’t do anything about, but everyone agrees stunk), slugs (which i can do something about – i tried slug hunting and various forms of dealing with them last year – i’ve ordered, via my christmas present from gran, some nematode stuff which you put in the water you pour over your plants, and its bacteria that invade and kill slugs and snails – and doesn’t affect any other creatures), finances (i couldn’t buy some of the things i wanted to buy), and inexperience (for example, growing too many of one thing, not enough of the other, not planting others close enough together, planting too many of other things).

I was also hampered by availability of some seeds. things like aubergines weren’t available in the shops and i wasn’t able to get any until someone else ordered some for me, relatively late in the season. In addition, because it was my first year, i was struggling to get things built in time – and some things never got finished (like bed 3). I hope this year that certain things will be easier, purely because i won’t have to repeat them, plus i can get other things done earlier in the season – for example, getting large supplies of compost in, getting a rotavator in to dig up the side garden, finishing bed 3, and so on.

a more concrete garden plan will be coming in the next few weeks, but for now I’ll just say this: i want to make more of the garden, maximise the opportunities inherent within it. I’ve got lots of seeds, a garden diary from sez (both for christmas) which i am going to use as much as i can, otherwise, its just a case of putting the work in and hoping the weather co-operates. Oh, and watering with the nematodes!! (bloomin slugs..)”

The Garden was both a big success and a big failure this year. The slug killing nematodes worked very well, and what i grew, did well too. Depression hit, unfortunately, at the worst time, and this severely hampered harvest. And while a lot of the work i did this year would make things easier for next year, the troubles with the local youths and our decision to try to move means that ultimately, there’s no point in doing the garden this year. I still have all the seeds, though, and when we get our new place, I’ll start afresh, even if its from an allotment or a balcony.

“Environmentalism and Sustainability

This is something else i want to make more of next year. With having the compost bin now, i hope to compost a lot more stuff, i want to start recycling (*hangs her head in shame as she admits she’s a non-recycler*), i want to reuse stuff as much as possible, for example, the tetrapacks i get milk in can be used for growing seeds, loo rolls, the tubs mushrooms come in, and so on. Since we’re in a rented flat i can’t do much about things like getting our own sources of green energy and we are limited space wise (so no chickens) but i want to do what we can, where we can. Obviously the garden will go a long way towards that aim, especially if i manage to grow a lot more food than last year. I want to stop using disposables completely, with the exception of loo roll – make my own sanitary towels and make hankies to wash and reuse, and do things like making jess a new bed from scraps of material. In the kitchen i want to preserve and bottle more (esp if we get good levels of produce from the garden), try to buy in bulk and use more staple foods (and set up stores, so that we’ve some back up in case of a disaster). I’ve all the tools (well mostly) and knowledge at hand – its just a case of putting it together and doing it.”

Again, this is hit and miss. Composting – we’re great at composting! Michiel takes the compost out every night as an excuse to look around, so there’s probably loads of great compost out there ready to use in the garden. On the other hand, i didn’t manage with the stopping of using disposables. Michiel put his foot down and said he hated the idea of me using washable sanitary towels, so that threw that one out the window. stores? well, this was the year i was going to do it if i ever was, especially with the economy being as it is, but it just got too hard – the credit crunch n all – and having mice meant everything would have had to have gone into boxes and… ppffffft.

“Craft Work

I’ve written already about the craft work that fits in with the sustainable ethos: reusing, for example, with making jess’s bed up, and making sanitary towels for myself. I want to continue my cardmaking, that’s something that gives me a great deal of pleasure, and i may look into scrapbooking. I wouldn’t mind taking up another craft as well, in time – maybe knitting or crocheting, if only to make things like food covers, dish cloths and so on. I’d like to make more of my own clothes. i need to practise!  In terms of food craft, i’ve already written about the preserving end of things, but i would also love to get back to basics: making butter, cheese, yoghurt, ginger beer and so on. I want to try to eat more simply as well, to be content with, say, some salad, cheese with bread – home made or grown, where possible.”

Okay, I did much better with this in 2008. Sewing, embroidery, knitting, making my own clothes. This is something i want to continue this year, its given me such a huge source of pleasure and pride – the food craft as well.

“Other Hobbies

I want to continue with the family history work i’m doing. I’m very excited about part of my maternal grandfather’s family, as they came from Bolton (on the other side of Manchester), and i am looking forward to investigating them in person, maybe i can find graves and so on.  I’m also hoping to consolidate the work i’ve done already, finding out more about individuals (such as the matron i wrote about), or going back further/finding modern day relatives.

Mum pointed out in a conversation earlier today that i’m very good at writing, and that i really should make more of that. So that’s something else to think about.

Photography is something else i need to consider. I’ve taken so much pleasure in taking photographs just out walking, creating a beautiful picture, that this is really something i need to explore. I’d like to walk further afield with Jess (which is difficult because i get nervous on unfamiliar ground without support) but also to visit places locally (similar problem!) and explore.

I’d also like to decorate our home a bit more this year. the bathroom and hall have never been decorated since we moved in, and the painting that was done in the living room, bedroom and kitchen is looking a bit sad now. a few cans of paint wouldn’t cost much and could be done quite easily over the summer. As part of that i’d also like to get material to make new curtains for the living room. we could do with replacing some of our bedroom furniture (which doesn’t make the best use of space) so i am keeping my eyes out for some second hand pieces of furniture. I might get lucky soon.”

I never did investigate the Bolton side of things, but i did look into another part of my family as part of my grandmother’s christmas present and its rewhetted my appetite for family history research. I’ve made contact with some more distant relatives – one in canada! – which is lovely, and i do enjoy having all those connections at hand.

I haven’t really investigated the writing thing. I should, i know. I will.

Photography, i have explored this year, especially in the last six months. I’m so excited about having the new camera – hopefully this will really rejuvenate this hobby.

In terms of decorating – well, we’re hopefully moving soon, so there’s very little point to doing that. But when we get our new place.. yeah, then i want to decorate and make our home the best possible home.

“Health and Diet

This is something we’re both pretty determined to work on this year. a lot of the other aims feed into it: eating more simply, from the garden, will do so much to help our health, and the exercise gained from working in the garden will help as well. I want to walk further afield with Jess and the camera, that will feed into the exercise thing. I think the way to success is a) doing it (which i am so very very bad at doing!) and b) understanding where i go wrong: i hate exercise for exercise’s sake, so i need to do things that make me exercise, like walking jess, gardening, taking photographs.

In tandem with all this its important that i work on my self-confidence and dress. dressing well is so crucial to feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about yourself crucial to your self confidence that this is something i can’t really afford to neglect. All too often i neglect me in favour of things that need doing, or just pull on any old thing since only Michiel is going to see me that day.”

Again, this has been hit and miss. I’ve lost weight this year – or i had, up till christmas.. lol… i lost about a stone between August and Christmas, which is great news. I’ve worked on my self-confidence, talking with both our families about my self-confidence has helped a lot, about my depression and i’m at a point now where i can recognise its about to hit and take action accordingly. My health – both physical and mental – are nowhere near perfect and there’s still a lot of work to do on them, but i’ve taken some big steps forward and i’m pleased with that. 🙂

“Overview

What makes me really excited, writing all this, is the way that all these things feed in with each other. It feels very organic, like it fits, and it feels like it has a big chance of working. it feels like i’m on the right path for me – building on what i’ve done in the last year, building on the stability i’ve gained in the last few years in a very positive way. Its exciting, positive, and i can’t wait for the new year to start so i can get on with it!

the real test of course, is whether, in a year’s time, i can look back at this and feel a sense of accomplishment, that i achieved all i want to achieve.”

Well…. have i achieved it all? Nope. But that’s not to say that that’s necessarily a bad thing – i think if i had, it would’ve set up standards for 2009 that i would’ve found hard to overcome. I’ve achieved some, not others – but i’ve always gained understanding, and although I might’ve veered off the path, i’ve found my way back eventually – a better person for the sidetrip, i think, although i might not have thought so at the time. I want to continue to build on all this in 2009, and more – the trouble with the local kids (and other issues) has caused a lot of trouble for Michiel, mentally, to the point where we really have to get out of here, so that’s the big thing for 2009 – moving. Possibly down south to the West Midlands, where my family live, which would be great as we’d be closer to support, and be able to give support where its needed – and i have a feeling that 2009 is the year where it will be needed. i hope its the year where he’s able to get his head together, get his heart sorted out, and be in a much happier place at the end of it – and that would have knock on repercussions for me, very positive ones, so its something i hope for for both those reasons.

well.. thats it. My – sort of – review of 2008, my hopes and dreams for 2009. Either way, I hope 2009 will be the making of us, the kind of year where we look back and think.. “it was the year where everything changed” (double bonus points if you get THAT obscure TV reference!). Somehow, one way or another, i think it will be.

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