I believe in magic

I’m sorry, my dears, but EBL feels whiny today so this will be a post of brevity in order to spare you my complaining. It’s enough that my family suffer without inflicting it upon other innocents too.

InsteadShawl I will show you the knitting I completed over Easter, because I think they were good and cheerful things and they make me feel better.

Firstly I finished a shawl I was trying out in super chunky wool. I scaled it up from an Aran pattern and it worked pretty well. The most fun, as so often in life, was adding the tassels.


TheFair isle jumper second was a fair isle jumper, which was an exercise in the style of knitting, as I am still building up a head of steam to produce the Sarah Lund jumper later this year. It turned out pretty OK, and I am now working on a chunky Norwegian style jumper, in part to get my tension right. I like this style of knitting but it takes more concentration.


To relax I am working on a cotton scarf, using a pattern from Stolen Hearts, Vintage Souls. It’s pretty, but I find I am not fond of knitting in cotton. It’s basically coloured string.

However, I proved today that such knitting is truly magical. This is going to refer obliquely to my complaininess, but be not afraid. I want to tell you about it because it made me laugh too.

Yesterday I had to take mother for a spirometry check-up. It’s traumatic for all concerned because she can’t follow the instructions due to her dementia, and she gets very anxious being somewhere strange and she can’t remember why she is there so gets more anxious the longer we stay. Anyway, on top of all that we had to wait for about 40 minutes because they were running late in clinic. It was the dictionary definition of stressful.

Today, as it happens, I had to go back for a blood test myself. Shoulder pain, boring. But to pre-empt the inevitable delays and waiting I took my knitting.

“We won’t have to wait if I take it,” I told Sigoth, “they don’t like it if you get settled with some knitting to keep you busy.”

And so we arrived a little early, because traffic was quiet, and sat down. Out popped the nurse straight away and within a few minutes we were heading back home with me laughing like a drain most of the way.

If the NHS introduced targets for completing rows, I reckon it would transform patient care within a week.


All change is loss

In a previous life as a Local Authority IT Manager, I had two application support teams. They provided a help line service to staff using a couple of key IT systems in the authority, and were really rather good at it most of the time. Which is more than can be said for a lot of IT support teams in my experience.

In fact they were so good at it that they wanted to become better.

One of the areas they were keen to know about was change management. Working in a Local Authority is a master class in change management. I was there for about five years and had three managers, three different departments, and at least four restructures (the latest starting before the previous one had been completed) without changing my job. One of the reasons your Local Authority can appear a bit sullen to you as a customer is that the staff are being messed about by politicians like you would not believe. This applies quite generally in public sector, but whereas teachers and nurses get a sympathetic press much of the time, council workers are generally less fortunate.

So unsurprisingly my team was keen to understand how to handle the challenge of turning up for work and remaining sane.

I had also worked in a different Local Authority back in the 1980s and things were not so different then. One day the office received word that they were being moved to another building and we had to pack up immediately. Boxes appeared, were labelled and filled, and then disappeared. We moved as directed and found desks and boxes magically awaiting us.

Unfortunately for one person they were on holiday. When he returned to the office he found an empty space with a note saying “Sorry mate, we just couldn’t stand you any more”. It took him all morning to track us down.

Meanwhile, back to my team. I managed to arrange a day’s training for them on change management. It was illuminating and possibly saved quite a few of them from requiring therapy, despite talking at times about cheese that moved and polar bears on melting icebergs. Nothing is perfect.

We also talked about being scared and confused and feeling insecure. We talked about how people react when they feel those things and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and realised why they asked stupid questions and how we should communicate changes properly and many other good things.

The one lesson that provoked a great deal of discussion as the trainer’s assertion that all change was loss.

My dears, I feel it is true. Not all of my colleagues were fully convinced but I uphold that proposition. When change happens we lose something, The something may be a thing we do not want, like an aching tooth or a few pounds of weight or loneliness. Nevertheless it is a loss and we must feel it and work through the stages of loss, however quickly and possibly gladly.

I must come to terms that I can’t use my pain as an excuse any more. I can’t hide behind my weight as a reason for not being sociable or not liking myself. I can’t demand sympathy from others because I am lonely and deserve special consideration. I have to face up to the responsibility of being happy.

It’s not that I want to be in pain or feel bad about myself or feel isolated. It’s unlikely that many people would actively seek those things for themselves.

But when we have been in those situations for a while we adapt to them, we learn how to live with them, work around them, define ourselves by them. Sometimes when they are taken away we no longer quite know who we are or how to behave. Then we feel scared and confused and insecure.

So why the sudden obsession with change management, EBL?

I’m glad you asked.

Life in EBL Towers is a little stressful. Despite completing the Great Project, which was a relief (and a change and a loss) this week is yet a Great Challenge. Sigoth will be unemployed as of the weekend, which leaves me in some anxiety about coping financially. I will be the only wage earner again, which I find quite hard, and we will have to be pretty tight-fisted. The Offspringses are all struggling too and I like to be their safety net – not that they often ask, but when they do it’s important.

In any case, it is true to say I am a little, well, scared and confused and insecure.

I am also known for catastrophising, so I wake up worrying about losing the house and moving mother to a home, which will kill her from the strain, and generally having uncheerful thoughts. I picture the Offspringses homeless or hungry or in variously desperate straits. Usually I hear wolves howling. The recent bitter wind from Mordor has not helped. At this rate I’ll be beating Orcs off with a stick and summoning Voldemort as my Life Coach.

I might even have to resort to a Knitted Army of Evil. Here’s one I made earlier.

Knitted Dalek

Or things may turn out OK. I’ll let you know.



Love in stitches

Rarasaur’s latest Prompt for the Promptless is:

Meraki [may-rah-kee]  This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

When we first moved into our current house, just over 10 years ago, we inherited an Aga with it. The poor old thing needed some love itself, but was still giving it out. Agas cook love into food, did you know? The first meal we cooked on the Aga for the Offspringses was sausages and mash. That is a meal of love right there. Interestingly, one of the Offspring opined that they liked the sausages because they “taste just like Grandma’s.” Grandma, you will have guessed, also has an Aga so whatever she cooks tastes better by default.

So we said it was because they were made with love.

TDalek_jumperhose of you who have read a few other posts from me will know I occasionally take up the needles. Knitting is a way of weaving love into the world .

The picture jumpers I made for the Offspringses when they were small, and even ones when larger, were warmer than shop jumpers because they were made with love.

It’s a well-known fact that home-made jumpers, even (or especially) of the Mrs Weasley variety, are snugglier.


The Offspringses used to ask how we could give them all our love in their Christmas cards, when we gave all our love to each of them. They were logical and mathematically sound Offspringses. I fear. We did our best, but rationality kept breaking through. I blame the schools.

“Because love is infinite,” we told them, “and the more you give the more you have to give, to everyone.”

And so it was and is. No matter how long the arms.


Equinox and Equilibrium – Bloggers for Peace

Things must be bad. In fact, the Apocalypse may be as nigh as a very nigh thing. Today is the Spring Equinox in EBL Towers, and possibly across the whole Northern Hemisphere, which takes its lead from here, and the weather is so cold that even the weather elves on the BBC were complaining about it on the Breakfast News. The BBC Weather team are resolutely of the opinion that all weather is good for something and it isn’t just about being sunny all the time. They will occasionally try to look a little sorry if it has rained for 51 weeks of the year, but only if flooding means they can’t get home for tea. Otherwise they tend to take the meteorological high ground (again, useful if there is flooding), and explain that the weather is not a convenience for humans but a Force of Nature, that farmers need some rain, and that you should just wrap up warm and stop complaining. Obviously no one takes any notice because complaining is compulsory in Britain in order to satisfy the expectations of tourists and generate national income. Once all the visitors go home we relax and party like it’s 1999.

So today when not one, but two, of the elves muttered about the fact that it was unseasonably chilly and you’d never think it was Spring, would you, I got goosebumps and a feeling of Doom. Who were those presenters and what had they done with the actual weather people?

Despite hideous prediction of flood and snow and blizzards anywhere north of France, here in the northern part of England known as God’s Own County we have some cloud and chilliness. The birds are still singing, although we may have to run a soup kitchen for the hedgehogs: apparently the cold Spring may be killing them. They don’t want to get out of bed in the cold, and they don’t have enough snacks to keep them going.

If I may side track for a moment, I have been thinking about how to respond to Kozo’s monthly Bloggers for Peace topic on Flash Forgiveness.

Then I realised that today was a good day to give it a go. Already I have forgiven the grumpy weather elves for being grumpy about weather. Whether or not they care what I think.  I have allowed my initial irritation to fade away and turn into material for a blog post. I know you’re all pleased. I can see it in your eyes.

After digesting the news – bloke with red briefcase about to commit daylight robbery on the general population – I forgave the government for being total idiots. Today I am trying to think of government as a kind of scheme for keeping troublesome toffs off the high street.

I turned instead to my knitting projects. Always a great source of calm and balm for the soul are the knitting needles; in extremis I can use them for not being forgiving. The shawl is finished bar the fringe, which I plan to do later today when I am back from the hospital, so I started work on the fair isle yoke of the jumper I am knitting.

Did I mention the hospital already? I’m going back to see the consultant today after various traumas and cancellations and reinstatements. Honestly, the admin at that place is horrendous. Today though I am forgiving flashwise, so let’s just say that the individuals I talked to, and there were very many of them, were all kind and helpful. It’s clear they need me to go in and completely redesign their admin systems from scratch and deliver a few seminars and workshops for management on how to run a piss-up in a brewery, but apart from that they are fantastic. Anyway, today I find out if I am going back for a further operation or not, and if so, whether that is tomorrow.

If I suddenly go quiet for a few days, then the answer to both questions was yes.

Back to the fair isle then. I started the first round of pattern, which is the really important one that sets it up for the whole yoke. I did my 25 stitch pattern of knit 5 in yarn one, knit one in yarn 2. I got to the end of 250 stitches and realised what a seven year old could have told me: 5+1 does not go into 25.

You nit-wit knitter, EBL! The pattern has an extra stitch on the repeat to make it work, so that you have four lots of 5+1 then a final 1.

This is why knitting and maths are the same thing, my dears. This is why you have to know how to count and do your times tables. The lad Gove may care to note: it is probably the only real use of times tables that you have as an adult, so unless he expects the employment crisis to be solved by making everyone knit their housing benefit, he should go back and try again in redesigning the curriculum.

However, today I am being flashy about forgiving, so poor old Govey gets another chance (try harder next time, boy!) and I have to do the hardest thing of all. Can you guess what it is yet? You, at the back? Speak up!

That’s right. Ten points to Hufflepuff. EBL has to forgive herself.

Well, my dears, that was a low blow. Now I also have to forgive Kozo for putting me in this distressing position. I do, my dear, with many hugs!

Forgive myself? How hard can that be? Oh, wait, pretty hard, as it turns out.

It means I have to admit I may occasionally make mistakes, and not just big mistakes that anyone can make, but little, silly, inconsequential ones that are just ridiculous. I do realise that those of you who are not wedded to the Craft may be bemused by all this talk of repeating patterns and so on. Any of you who knit will be aware it’s a relatively common issue. And if EBL, which is to say “I”, had actually just read the pattern instead of diving in with needles blazing, it would have been simplicity itself.

So I undid most of the 250 stitches (the first 24 were fine!) and I had a serious conversation with myself about forgiveness.

The good news is that it seems to have worked. I knit as a thing to do, not because I want the product by a fixed deadline, so taking a little longer to do it right is not a big deal. I know I should read the pattern properly, and as there is no rush, I will allow myself time to do so. Doing and undoing are all art of the same thing; they are about creating the final jumper. The universe does this kind of thing all the time, making rain and rivers and floods and droughts, and life and death, over and over. Today the Great Wheel turns another quarter and we have Equinox. Today, in sympathy, I can turn myself and forgive.

After all, if someone else had done it I would have said “Oops! Let’s just undo it and start again. It’s not a problem.”

So in the end that’s what I said to me.

Now I have done five rows and the pattern is set and looking good.

Of course, in the midst of all that I realised I was late for a meeting which I had agreed to dial into (I have a day off). So I had to forgive myself all over again. As things happen in threes, I am waiting for the next opportunity to practise my new-found skill.

My dears, if forgiving other people is hard, is it easier to forgive yourself? Or is it the other way around?

Other Forgivers for Peace include:








and so many more!



100th item in bagging area

My dears, please extend a warm welcome to our 100th WordPress follower who has joined out little corner of yon t’Interweb.

Yarntospin – it’s lovely to have you, and I hope you enjoy your visits. I certainly look forward to some conversations about the value of knitting as a means of creative living and creating peace and tranquility, internally and/or externally.



Knitting Zen

A friend phoned me the other day and we talked about how we were both coping with our various issues and troubles and woes. Sometimes it’s good to talk about them instead of just being brave. Sometimes you need to look those little scamps right in the eye and call them out for being what they are.

As we talked she told me about how she was starting to do more creative activities as a way of coping with the stresses and strains of living. Given that I have been adopting this strategy myself over the past few months, it was a conversation close to my heart.

Sometimes it seems those stresses and strains just need to be sung to sleep with a lullaby, or painted into a corner, or sewn into a pocket. You can’t let them run around creating havoc. You need to create a space to hold them, through music or art or cooking or whatever you feel is right.

It emerged she had taken her needles back up and was knitting and purling her way to equilibrium.

“It’s like meditation,” I said.

“Exactly!” she replied.

My dears, that is indeed what it is like, as I have said before, and probably will again. It’s my Great Discovery. You count and focus and keep present in the moment, otherwise your knit becomes purl and your increase a decreases and your cable in back a cable in front, and before you know it your lovely new cushion cover has turned into a beret.

As I pondered our conversation later, in the small hours of the night, I became a little fanciful. That’s what the small hours are for, I think, a chance to let our imagination gambol for a while before the everyday world requires a halt in chaos, and demands sensible behaviour.

It seemed to me that we are the stitches of a greater whole, fitting into the warp and weft of the Goddess’ Great Project, not a tapestry but maybe a sweater for Christmas. Perhaps I am a little stitch or even an absence of stitch, an artfully placed hole in the lacy bit, so to speak. Some of us may be a little knot in the yarn; we try to keep the knots at the back of the work, but sometimes they insist on poking through and creating a stubbly disruption in the pattern, for better or worse. If Shakespeare had known more about the mechanics of knitting I’m certain there would be a good quote from him for just such an occasion. Sadly you are left with me.

I’m glad my friend is finding solace before the needles. She is far more creative than I am, and has already made socks. I countered with a cabled jacket, and raised her a knitted Dalek, and then we moved on to designs for knitted covers: gadgets, teapots and sundry small storage containers. She will no doubt create amazing patterns while I continue my love affair with fair isle and further my plans for a Sarah Lund jumper before the next millennium. (Of which there may be more in due course, should you care.)

I think I have discovered that great as these hobbies are, and calming as they may be for the fractious brain, having someone who shares them to talk to is even greater.

Think then on this; it can be your homework for the day. Answers below in comments please.

If I drop a stitch when no one is there, does my cry make a noise as it falls?


Slow Killing, Slow Creation

The thing about knitting is that it is a form of meditation. Seriously, it is. When you are following a chart to create a swirl of colour and/or texture, you can be nothing other than present in the moment. I admit plain knitting is more of a background activity for the hands while letting the brain decay gently in front of the television, or turning attention to a conversation with friends. I am talking about something a little more engaging, required to produce more than plan stocking or garter stitch.  Something like this for example:

scandinavian yoke sweater

The other thing about knitting that people don’t always realise is that it is 3D maths in action. This is particularly obvious when trying to adapt a pattern to cater for different charts in, say, a fair isle or Scandinavian style.

Today I have been doing battle, in a peaceful way of course, with the pattern known as “The Sarah Lund’s jumper”.  The problem is that although the intention in Forbrydelsen, the original series, was to give her a home-made jumper, in the real world of corporate and commercial opportunity, the designers are quite rightly protective of the design. However, £230 for a jumper is a bit steep and as I can knit, and coincidentally have eyes for seeing and a brain for counting, I want to make my own.

The design itself is simple enough, and in fact I have an old fair isle scarf pattern which is basically the same snowflake shape. The pattern is a 15 stitch repeating pattern.

Meanwhile, my knitting patterns for similar jumpers cater for either 20 stitch repeat or 12 stitch repeat, which means I will have to try and adapt them; and the real fun starts when you hit the sections for increasing or decreasing stitches per row. The straight body tube of the main jumper is fine. Get to the yoke / shoulder, and the human body inconveniently slopes. Clearly God is not a knitter. Although She may be a mathematician.

The expert knitters on the knitting forums all dismiss this anxiety with an airy wave of the needles and comments along the lines of “Oh get on with it, EBL, how hard can it be?”

Well, probably not that hard once I have had a go, but I would like it to be right and I am not a quick knitter, so I want to be right first time (to be fair, I always want to be right first time, leading Sigoth to brainwash the Offspringses with the mantra “Mum is always right; even when she’s wrong, she’s right.” It has served us well in retaining familial harmony). For once, instead of rushing in, I have spent the afternoon looking up various patterns and doing long division and counting with all my fingers and toes, until I think I have a pattern I can work with.

In a seemingly unrelated comment, I met a friend in a coffee shop on Saturday and we talked about enhancing our creativity. He is keen to increase his right brain muscle and is working through a programme of activities to help him do so. Being a programmer he is terribly logical and structured, and a little unnerved by the idea of sketching a tree or writing a poem. However, he is making a start, and that is what counts. He is writing stream of consciousness every day, and that made me think of this blog. It’s what I do here – no structure or planning, just dive right in. It started from a challenge to write fifteen minutes a day.

However, then I thought about my other creative outlets, such as knitting, and I realised that what I enjoyed, and found nourishing to my very soulroots, was doing things where I slowed down. Yoga practice, meditation, calligraphy, photography, guitar practice, reading, cooking …all slow me down.

Now, when EBL was a smaller version of herself, back in the heady 1960s, her mother was fond of saying “Never mind dear, you’re built for comfort, not for speed” and it was true. EBL has never been a lean velociraptor of a body. So she makes up for it in her head.

My brain churns along at hyper-speed. My poor hands cannot write fast enough or fingers type quickly enough to keep up with my skittering, dashing, careering thoughtspray. And it is a screen, a barrier, a protective device, a form of extreme sport. I churn and flail and confuse and misdirect everyone around me until they are as muddled and exhausted as I am. When I want to be creative or achieve some kind of quality, either in product or experience, I have to slow down.

Yet I can imagine that some people may stroll casually through the workaday world, and then indulge their productive side by leaping and turning and throwing themselves physically or metaphorically into spinning, buzzing confusion, generating new ideas and thoughts like shining sparks arising from the furnace of creation.

So do you slow down to create or speed up?


Live Adventurously

Today has been a thoughtful, peaceful kind of day; the kind of day we all need once a week or so to recharge batteries and gird loins to face the tumult of the working week.

Today someone reminded me, standing there in her bandage from where she hurt herself through misadventure:

Live adventurously.

Today I tried something new, adventurously in my old lady, careful way. I finished knitting the baby cardigan for the imminent-new-team-member-by-proxy, and started knitting myself a cable pattern jacket. I have never knitted cable, largely because my mother taught me to knit and she didn’t know how.

“It’s really difficult,” she said to mini-EBL, and so for more than 40 years I have thought it too difficult for the likes of me.

Today I decided the likes of me would give it a whirl. So far, it’s looking pretty good. It’s fiddly and my fingers haven’t yet worked out the acrobatics of balancing three needles at once without spilling all the stitches while my brain still remembers to keep counting. Instead of my usual rushing, untidy, flailing knitting style, a kind of free-form fingered version of Norman Wisdom, I am having to learn to be thoughtful and quiet and peaceful as I work. I think it’s good for me.

Until I get lost and swear and have to unpick it and snap at poor Sigoth. So much for trying to speak more thoughtfully. It seems I can’t be thoughtful in two places at once.

That phrase, “live adventurously,” has a little more to add. It’s from the Advices & Queries of Britain Yearly Meeting (that’s how the body of Quakers in Britain are known, because they meet together once a year). It goes on like this:

Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak. When decisions have to be made, are you ready to join with others in seeking clearness, asking for God’s guidance and offering counsel to one another?

Today I thought quite hard about that. The first bit, the bit that sticks in the brain and can be easily remembered as some kind of mantra to help us try new things, that bit on its own can be a sorry excuse for recklessness and thoughtlessness. We can throw ourselves into wild new adventures without thought for how it will affect other people, or how we put ourselves or them at risk. On its own it’s not enough.

I have mentioned before I’m currently incarnate as a Project Manager. What I do is manage risk. It means I plan, plan some more and finish off by planning. It doesn’t mean not taking risks, it means talking them consciously, knowingly, considerately and in such a way that when everything goes wrong, and the Hellmouth opens, then you know what to do. It sounds dull, and often it is, although it plays to my strength of catastrophising everything around me.

Today I noticed the follow on bit for the first time, really noticed I mean. I’ve heard it many times before, but like a truculent teenager or defiant toddler, I have chosen not to hear it in my heart. I thought I could live adventurously and not worry about consequences. I thought it was a bit foolish, because EBL is by nature a cautious old bird.

The Advice, though, doesn’t suggest that at all. It says “Hey, EBL, when you have a bright idea, check it out with people whose judgement is sound, who know what’s what, who can tell you where their towels are.”

It’s taken me over 30 years to notice, but better late than never.

It’s funny how you think you know something, but then, when you finally look at it properly instead of brushing it aside with a “pfft, I know all about that!”, it turns out to be new and different and better than ever.


Away from it all

I am away from home for the rest of this week because the world will end if I don’t spend more time in Head Office. You will have heard about the Prophecy; this is what it is really about. Well, I like to think that, but in fact it’s more a confluence of meetings all in one week, which at least gets them out of the way and means I can then tidy up at home before the family arrive for the festivities.

So much for the housekeeping announcements. If the fire alarm goes off, it is not a test and you should follow me to the nearest exit.

This preamble was intended to continue and state for the record that, if I get any time in the evenings, I would quite like to use this opportunity to write. I won’t be posting here probably; limited access to yon t’Interweb may preclude it. Unless you hear from me, of course. It’s all a bit speculative.

I don’t know if you travel away for work. People who don’t, seem to think it’s a marvellous perk. Those who do, generally agree it’s like having your soul eaten by the anthropomorphic manifestation of dreariness. If it had a face it would be the girl from the BBC test card, sitting with the creepy clown doll and playing noughts and crosses. She would smile at you and devour you from the toes up as you lay helpless in the beigeness of the hotel room, deadened to life and laughter by the total neutrality of the décor and the blandness of the food, served earlier at your neat little table for one in the darkest corner of the restaurant (for the business woman of taste and discretion – the sub-text being “and no friends”).

That test card was presumably supposed to imply fun things kicking off; in practice it was stultifyingly boring. She sat there for hour after hour. She never moved or even blinked. I know because I used to watch her when I was a little kid. For ages and ages I watched, but nary a flicker. Sometimes the picture would lose its quality and there would be dots and lines crawling around the screen. If the horizontal hold went you had to fiddle with a button at the back and if that failed, thump the TV. The youth of today will be looking at these assertions blankly (a bit like test card girl in fact) because I really can’t remember the last time I had a TV that acted like that, but it was before they invented colour. Now the digital switchover means that everything pixellates when the pigeon lands on the aerial, but that’s different, plus we have BBC iPlayer to overcome such misfortunes.

Hotel TVs don’t get any kind of decent reception as far as I can tell. I don’t watch much TV but I do like to have it on when I am away to add some noise and movement to the blankness of the room. This is how I found out about CSI, and it’s a real balance to decide whether to put up with that or look at the neutral décor for the evening.

What I mean by all this moaning is that being away for work is utterly boring when falls the eventide. Hotels aren’t fun unless you are on holiday. There are only so many hours I am prepared to soak in a bath. Being alone in a hotel room is solitary confinement that has somehow crept under the radar of the Geneva Convention, and allows companies to seclude their staff in a very special kind of purdah (in the segregation sense, not the election sense). You get a Gideon’s Bible and then you are left to it, without even a Red Cross parcel or Amnesty International postcard to provide hope. It is particularly a problem for lone women working away from home; you don’t want to get me started on hotel bars. So obviously I fill my time by doing extra work.

Except this time I have a cunning plan: I am taking my knitting and my novel and looking forward to some me-time. Hurrah for me. It can work quite well, because I have tried the knitting thing in the past. I haven’t tried the writing though, so we shall see how the environment affects the Muse. At least it will be quiet. Although I could go to the bar as typing on a laptop is almost as good as wearing a sign saying “Hello, I work for the Inland Revenue and am particularly interested in cacti as my hobby.”(Although there are probably websites even for that.) I don’t have anything against cacti, of course, nor even the Inland Revenue, so long as they have nothing against me.

Enough rambling. It’s time to go and pack. I hope your week is filled with joy and friendship. I hope mine is filled.