Monday, 23 September 2013

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Song for Sunday: Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Since today is Mabon, there was just one song that could have made it to the Song for Sunday spot: "John Barleycorn (Must Die)" by Traffic. I ♥ this song.

If you're not familiar with the poem, by the way, you should check it out here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Crafts and Crafting: Fuck Cancer

Just when you think it's all over...

You get that message: Call home. It's important.

Nothing good ever comes from that message. In my case, in normally means someone is dying.

Two years after my mother-in-law died from lung cancer, three years after my oldest brother died of lung cancer, here we are again.

Mom has lung cancer.

Pretty much the moment I stopped crying I picked up a needle. It's kind of janky (and I didn't even bother ironing it first) but it sums up how I was feeling at the time.

How can we put a man in space and not have a fucking cure for cancer yet? Fuck that.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Best Films for the Autumn

The creation of this list started over a month ago when I started asking people what they thought the best movies for Autumn were. It was A LOT bigger then. I jotted down every idea - no matter how random they seemed - and, over the past few weeks, watched them each, one by one. Here are my favourites:

Wondra's Top 13 Films
For Autumn

1. Dead Poets Society
This is one of my favourite films, period. It also appeared on almost everyone's list of favourite movies for the fall. Why? Because it's about learning, because it's about friendship, because it's about finding yourself, because the actors are amazing and the story is heartbreaking, that's why.

2. Varsity Blues
I watch this film several times, every Autumn, without fail. Watching this movie takes me to another place, another time. I can smell hot chocolate and hear the voices of the crowd. I can see the glare of the floodlights and feel the bite of cold on my nose. It's Friday night in the stadium and I'm ten years younger. This isn't just an awesome movie with some of my favourite actors, it's 100 minutes of pure nostalgia.
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, if you want to get all American on me. It's back-to-school but chock full of magic. Really, this spot should encompass ALL of the HP films but it's pretty much a given that once you've seen this one again, you'll want to watch them all.
4. Good Will Hunting
This came pretty high on just about everyone's list - and for very good reason. (I don't have an obsession with Robin Williams, by the way, he just happens to be in some epic films.) Sometimes when people are making a list of movies to watch in the Autumn, they just include all the movies about school that they can think of. I didn't want that to happen with my list but I still ended up with a lot of them. Why? Because Autumn makes me (and everyone else, apparently) think of school.
5. Scent of a Woman
Okay, so there are a LOT of films about school of my list. Deal with it. Scent of a Woman isn't just your typical school days, young-person-finding-themselves kind of movie, though. It's about a man in the autumn of his life (see what I did there?) finding himself again. Also... Al Pacino is amazing, right?
6. My Best Friend is a Vampire
I'm pretty sure this didn't make it to anyone's list but mine. It made it so high on my list because yeah, it's about school again but it's also about vampires and the heroine plays a saxophone in the marching band. So there.
7. October Sky
I honestly didn't expect to like this film but I totally fell in love with it. I thought it would be really wishy washy but it wasn't at all. It really appealed to the geek in me.
8. The Blind Side
I enjoyed this movie a whole  heck of a lot more than I thought I would. The story is heartwarming without being so sentimental you want to puke. But... that wasn't REALLY Tim McGraw... right?
9. You've Got Mail
Most people go for When  Harry Met Sally but I thought that movie was more suited to Christmas or New Year since most of the main events took place around then. Also, I didn't really like it all that much. I thought You've Got Mail was a much, much better love story for Autumn than When Harry Met Sally was. The Autumn imagery was fantastic and, hey, how autumnal are books? Autumn is definitely a time for reading!
10. Scream
Those long Autumn nights are perfect for curling up on the sofa and watching horror movies. This is one of my picks because, with a ghost-faced killer, it hints at Halloween (but wouldn't make it to my Halloween Movie List) and is full of good little scares. 
11. The Breakfast Club
This is one of those movies that people of a certain age (ahem, we won't mention WHAT age) were brought up on. I watched it again recently and it STILL makes me laugh out loud. Sure, it's another school flick, but it has a rebellious atmosphere that makes it worth including.
12. Friday Night Lights
I tried to avoid putting too many football movies on the list but I can't not include this one. There are so many football movies to choose from but this has always been one of my favourites. Why? Because that coach fucking pisses me off, that's why. You know you've got a good actor if the audience wants to punch him in the face.
13. The Others
This is a great horror movie for Autumn. It has that misty morning, chilly, dark atmosphere of the season. The whole movie, like Autumn, holds its breath for the big reveal at the end - and you will too.
Honorable Mention: The Private Eyes
This one didn't make it to the list because it's been so long since I've seen it. Sadly, it was the one film I couldn't find to watch while compiling this list. It has some really great comic moments and is what I can only call a humorous ghost story.
Honorable Mention: The Cider House Rules
This film could have been a lot more than it was. It felt rushed and kind of empty. I liked the story behind it, though, so much so that I borrowed the book from my local library. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday's Meme of the Week

True. So true.

This meme came a close second. There aren't enough memes with Shakespeare references, if you ask me.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Song for Sunday: Puddle of Mudd - She Hates Me

I had some vouchers for Amazon laying around (amazingly) not being used. Then Jay told me he saw an advert for this CD and I just HAD to buy it. It came with a free MP3 version uploaded right to my Amazon cloud player so I got to listen to it right away, even though the CD won't arrive until next week.

It was really nice to re-visit these songs - it's like an audio trip through my high school days! Even Jay liked it, which surprised me.

This week's Song for Sunday had to come from Teenage Dirtbags - but which song to pick? One that I cannot sing without getting a little TOO into it. "She Hates Me" by Puddle of Mudd.

Puddle Of Mudd-She Hates Me by Hardy101

I love this song and I love it even more now because it reminds me of being a very angry teenager, singing along to it at the top of my lungs. (Not much has changed, really.)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

As promised, here is my lovely blackberry and apple crumble, that I made on Saturday for the hubby:

Crumble is one of Jay's favourite desserts and is really easy to make. I only had about two cups of blackberries so I used some left over apples to give it a bit more substance.

The blackberries got soaked in salty water for a few hours before I got started - that gets rid of any bugs that might be hiding in there. The apples were peeled, cut, and soft boiled. A sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar went over the apples after they were drained. Then the whole lot went into a casserole dish.

The topping is fairly simple too. Just start with flour and a bit of sugar (I normally use around two cups of flour and a couple of tablespoons of sugar - but I like sweet things. Jay prefers his sugar sprinkled over the crumble when it's finished.) in a bowl and add soft butter (I use something like 5 tablespoons). You'll know if you have the right combination of butter and flour because it will start to look crumbly. Too much butter and it will start to look like batter - just add more flour. Not enough butter and it will just look like clumpy powder - just add more flour.

Pop it into the oven and you're done. I like to start it before I do dinner so it's done just as we finish which means the temperature can vary, depending on what I'm cooking for dinner: 200 degrees (Celsius) if dinner is quick, 150 if it'll take awhile, or anywhere in between. The top browns and the juices start to bubble a bit when it's done so you can't really go wrong with this one.

I've tried crumble with apples, apple and banana, and blackberry and apple. They've all turned out awesome. I think it's just about the easiest mid-week treat you can make.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A walk, on Saturday.

Last weekend Jay and his friends were busy doing DIY stuff so I took myself off for a little walk in the woods nearby. I took a little bag with me, thinking I might be lucky enough to find a handful of blackberries.

I wandered around, picking a few blackberries here and there and singing along to my iPod because I was enjoying myself and fuck anyone who doesn't like my off-tune voice. I was just about to head back when I noticed....

Could it be?

Yes, it was! A BUTTLOAD of blackberry bushes! Whoot!

There were a LOT of blackberries that hadn't quite ripened yet but more than enough ripe blackberries for me to pick!

I helped myself to a bagful of blackberries and made a mental note of where to find some more. I might just head back next week and help myself to a few more.

I love that we live in a place where we can just walk along and pick blackberries. (As opposed to having to visit a pick-your-own farm.) It's definitely something I'll miss about Wales, if we ever leave.

During my walk I made a few new friends... including a Red Admiral Butterfly...

...and a family of moorhens!


Aside from a  nasty little encounter with a stinging nettle plant, I had a great time. When I got home, I whipped up a lovely treat with my blackberries - but that's another post!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Monday's Meme of the Week

This one is just too good not to be this week's Meme of the Week:

It's only funny because it's true.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Song for Sunday: Pink - Raise Your Glass

This week's Song for Sunday is "Raise your Glass" by Pink:

Why? Because fuck yeah, that's why. (Also, I love the ironic use of stereotypes. Win.)

This is one of my favorite drinking songs, by the way. For obvious reasons.

23 Ways to Deal with Depression
(If You Don't Have It)

It's not easy to live with/work with/be friends with/love/raise/whatever someone who has Depression. I would go so far as to say it's a bitch. That's right... Depression is a bitch! It's tough on you - but it's even harder for those of us who suffer from it. Trust me.

Many a time Drew (from Twisted Stitches blog) and I have raged against the people in our lives who "Just. Don't. Get. It." Yes, it would be nice if our parents, lovers, friends, bosses, coworkers, teachers, whatever understood Depression and why it makes us moody, unpredictable bitches sometimes. It would save us a whole lot of apologies, for sure. But, thinking on it, I don't know that I would wish that upon the "normal" people in my life. You don't understand Depression? Good. I hope you never have to.

Unfortunately, we do.

So to make everyone's lives a little easier, Twisted Stitches and Wondra's World have collaborated to create this handy list of 23 Ways to Deal with Depression (If You Don't Have It):

1. Know the difference between "I am depressed because something bad happened" and "I have Depression."
It seems obvious but it's really not. I can't count the number of times that someone has tried to relate to me by saying "Oh, I had Depression once when my mom died" or some other inane thing. You did not have Depression. You were depressed. There is a difference. You were depressed because something bad happened but, when good things started happening again, you were happy. People with Depression always have Depression, even when things go right. It may seem like all our wildest dreams are coming true - and we still feel like we're dying inside.

2. Don't ask them why they feel the way they feel. 
On the list of Things You Should Never Say to a Depression Sufferer, "What's wrong with you?" is pretty damned high. Hint: if we knew what was wrong with us, we'd be a lot closer to tackling our Depression once and for all. And, as one disgruntled Depression sufferer once said, "We don't fucking ask you why you're so fucking happy, do we?!"

3. You don't have to say "I don't understand."
Really, that should read: NEVER say "I don't understand." What a frustrating thing to say! If you missed it before, we know that you don't understand us or the way we feel. We kind of wish you did but are also glad you don't. For you to understand how we feel, you would have to suffer from Depression. We don't want that. We don't want anyone (ourselves included) to suffer from Depression. Unfortunately, we can't help that. But you... you can stop saying insensitive things. Please do.

4. Don't assume that they are "healed" because they seem happy.
One, we can seem happy and still be thinking about killing ourselves. Often the happier we seem, the harder we're trying not to let you see how much pain we're in. But, hey, sometimes we are genuinely happy. It happens. But it doesn't mean that our mental illness has gone away. It is still there, lurking, waiting for its chance to come back - and you know what? Even at our happiest, we're absolutely terrified of that happening.

5. Know that they might be thinking about hurting themselves. They may even do it.
Self-harm is a reality for people who suffer from Depression. Not everyone does it and not everyone does it the same way - you might not even notice it if he or she does. Maybe your daughter wears long sleeves a lot because she doesn't want you to know she cuts herself. It happens. Maybe your best friend stays in an abusive relationship because she thinks she deserves it. Maybe your sister drinks herself to sleep every night because night's are the hardest part of the day to make it through. Maybe the girl who sits next to you at work never wears skirts because she's pressed a burning cigarette to the flesh of her legs one too many times. It happens.

Self-harm takes many forms and happens for many different reasons. Sometimes we do it to punish ourselves because we hate ourselves that much. Sometimes we do it because we feel like we just can't keep the rage bottled up inside any longer and we have to let it out. Sometimes we do it just because it hurts less than the pain burning away in our chest.The only advice I can give you is this: don't judge him/her because, trust me, they're doing enough of that themselves.

6. Know that they think about killing themselves. A lot. 
It's impossible for anyone who has never suffered from Depression to understand how fucking hard it is for us to get out of bed (Why should I get out of bed? What's the point? Today is going to be just like yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. Nothing ever changes. I've been in this rut my whole life. What is the point of my life? Tomorrow I'll be old. The day after I'll be dead. My whole was a waste.), brush our teeth and shower (Why bother? No one is attracted to me. No one even notices me. No one will ever love me. Who could? I don't.), get dressed and walk out the front door (I hate these clothes. I hate myself. I'm too fat/skinny/ugly/whatever. People are going to look at me. People are going to judge me. I'm going to do something wrong, I just know it.), etc. And that's on a good day. All the worst thoughts you've ever had, every day. That's a lot of shit to deal with on a daily basis. But what's the alternative? Oh, yeah... Death. And sometimes that seems a helluva lot easier.

7. Do not hide sharp objects and/or pills from someone you love if they have Depression.
If someone that you love has Depression and are thinking about killing themselves, don't alienate them by removing the laces from their shoes in case they try to hang themselves. Trust me, if they have reached that point, if they have thought of nothing else for however many days on end, if death seems the only option they have left, they will do it. There's nothing you can do but give them a reason to want to live.

8. Don't assume that a suicide attempt is a "cry for help."
I won't deny that some people use a suicide attempt as a cry for help. There are a lot of people out there and it takes all kinds to keep this ole earth spinning. But, if someone you love is showing signs of Depression - especially if they've been seeing a therapist or have been taking an anti-depressant, or their behavior has become erratic - think twice before accusing them of downing a bottle of painkillers for the attention.   For starters, attention might be the last thing they wanted. They might be lying in a hospital bed, wishing the floor would split open and the world would eat them alive. They might just be wondering how long it will be before they can get home and try it again. A suicide attempt isn't a cry for attention on their part, its a second chance on yours.

9. Understand that not all pain is physical. 
And sometimes the wounds you can't see hurt the most. 

You can't imagine how much it hurts sometimes, just being. Just breathing. Have you ever thought about how much it takes just to draw a single breath into your body and release it? Gods but it's hard. And holding a smile on your face while other people are around? Exhausting. But none of that compares to the black hole of despair swirling in your chest, stabbing at you with doubts, insecurities, fears, hatred, anger, disappointment, disillusionment, self-loathing, etc. etc. etc. Stabbing you over and over and over again until you feel like you're a piece of Swiss cheese, with so many holes that your soul is seeping right out of your body. That kind of pain. Pain we bear too often in silence because we don't want to hurt the people around us by sharing it.

10. Learn that "I'm tired" doesn't mean "I need sleep."
Remember that black hole I told you about? People with Depression spend all day clinging to the edge of that black hole, desperately trying to claw their way back out - and that's on top of shopping, working, walking the dog, cooking dinner, balancing the checkbook, helping the kids with their homework, etc. "I'm tired" often means "I am so weary of this battle that I just want to let go and let the damned black hole take whatever is left of my life."

11. Do not - (repeat after me) - DO NOT tell someone with Depression that it's "all in their head."
We know that. We're not stupid, we're sick. Mental illness. That means that our minds are sick. Yes, we know that it's all in our heads. We know that somehow, we have done something terribly wrong and fucked ourselves up. (That's not necessarily true, of course, but that's how it feels to us.) Do not insult us by suggesting that if we could just recognize that's it's all in our heads, we would be okay because that is simply not true.

12. Never assume that "I can't" means "I won't." 
This is one I get a lot at work. Apparently my bosses are so ignorant of mental illness (or, more likely, have never had to suffer one themselves) that when I say "I just can't do that" they assume I mean "I'm too lazy to do that and don't want to." Dammit, people, open your fucking eyes! Better yet, look into mine. Do you see the fear behind them? The fear that I might come across a situation I simply cannot deal with and, when confronted with it, will break and lose myself completely and irrevocably? The fear that someone might say the wrong thing, because they just don't know better, and I'll start crying and won't be able to stop? Again. Something that might seem easy to you could be like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for us. Let me put it this way: if my disability was physical, and I was in a wheelchair, would you laugh off my "I can't"? No. Think about that.

13. Never tell them that their response isn't logical. 
We're not stupid. We know that curling into a ball on the floor and crying for hours on end is not a normal reaction to accidentally dumping half a bag of dog food. You don't have to tell us. At least not until we're out of that black place and we've picked ourselves (and the dog food) off the floor. And, for the love of the gods and all that is sacred, try to be tactful about it if you must say it.

14. Learn their triggers.
Maybe your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/daughter/son doesn't know what his/her triggers are yet. I've been "recovering" from Depression for going on two years (my whole life, it seems) and I couldn't tell you what my triggers are. But my husband could probably tell you a few - because he sees things that I can't. If you have someone in your life who suffers from Depressioin, try to learn what their triggers are and, if they can't avoid them entirely, try to help them find ways of coping with them.

15. Don't assume, because you know what their triggers are, that you know what's best for them, even if they don't.
You could be the best meaning mother/father/husband/wife/whatever in the whole world but, when it comes to what would make us "better," you might not know shit. Accept it. Let me guess... You just know that if your daughter drops her job at the coffee shop and gets a desk job, if she swaps her bohemian lifestyle for that of Betty Homemaker, if she would just find the right man, everything would be okay and her Depression would go away. False. Her Depression may never go away, no matter how hard you, she, or anyone else tries. Constantly pushing her into something that is not right for her will make her worse, not better.

16. Just in case you didn't get that: DO. NOT. TRY. TO. "FIX THEM."
 Don't get me wrong, it's amazing that you care enough about the Depression sufferer in your life to want to make them happy - but you can't force it. You can't make them get help. You can't make them take anti-depressants. You can't make them "all better." Do what you can do: support them. Love them. Keep on caring. Don't push them away, or further into their black space, by trying to fix them.

17. If something makes them smile, do it again. If doing something makes them geniuniely happy, even for a moment, keep encouraging them to do it. 
My (second) therapist gave me the best advice anyone could: figure out what makes you happy and do more of it. Great advice - but hard as hell to accomplish when you feel like nothing will ever make you happy again. Help the Depression sufferer in your life with this one, remind them of the things that used to make them happy; maybe they'll make them happy again.

18. Don't assume that they're "all better now" because they're happy today.
We have good days and we have bad days. We have up days and we have down days. Some days we are actually happy! Sadly that doesn't mean that it's all over now, we're healed, we beat Depression, hooray! If only. It means that for one day (or ten or twenty) we managed to claw back enough of our lives to hold the Depression at bay. Best case scenario. You know what else it could be? It could be that we've gotten damned good at pretending. That's what learning to manage Depression is, you know, learning to smile when you're not happy because one day, some day, it might feel real.

19. Don't ask "How are you?" if you don't care.
People who suffer from Depression have spent a lot of time evaluating their mental well being. If you ask us how we are today, we'll actually think about how we are feeling today. (Don't take it personally, we get that a lot from our shrinks.) If you ask me how I am today, I'm likely to respond with a number: 5 means I'm doing pretty good, 4 means I'm functional, 3 means I'm teetering on the edge, 2 means I'm just waiting for that straw that will finally break me and send me back to that bad place and 1... Well, chances are you won't see me on a 1 day and, if you do, you won't need to ask how I am. Notice how 6-10 didn't make it on that list? That's because I don't see them often enough to make it worth mentioning. Depression suffers pretty much kiss our 10 days goodbye. I don't know if your son/daughter/husband/wife uses a scale or if they just say "fine." Beware of "fine."

20. Don't assume that "I'm fine" means "I'm fine." 
Because it probably doesn't. It's more likely to mean "I'm doing a very good job of pretending to be a functioning adult. Please don't look too closely or you'll see what a lie I am." Don't be afraid of asking someone with Depression if they're really fine - as long as you can cope with the answer.

21. Never say, "It'll be okay." 
Firstly, they're not going to believe you. Secondly, it's condescending. Thirdly, we've all seen enough medical dramas to know that line is almost never true. The only advice I could give to a friend recently, when she asked me if it was "going to be okay," was this: "No, honey, it's not. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. But, if you're strong enough to make it to that later, it gets easier." That's the best I can offer. If you have to say something, stick with that. Maybe it's not going to be okay. But it's going to get easier, a little bit every day.

22. Ask if there is anything you can do.
This is not trying to "fix them." (Again... never, ever try to "fix them!") This is being as supportive as you can possibly be. Ask what you can do to make them smile. Ask if there's anything you can do to make it easier. Ask if they need a shoulder to cry on. Maybe they give you a straight answer, maybe they shake their head and do their best not to cry. But they are never going to forget that you offered.

23. Be there.
Just that. Just be there. Sit next to him/her, hold his/her hand. Give him/her a hug. Write him/her a note to say you're thinking about them. Just let them know that, no matter how it feels now, someone is there who genuinely gives a damn about them. Just be there.