Do not adjust your sets…

This is your new reality.

Self isolating…

As of thirty or so minutes ago as I’m writing this, (according to the ABC news site live blog on Coronavirus, the PM had this to say:

Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out’

The PM says people should only go out for the “basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it’s a small group, that’s fine”.  But people should not go out and “participate more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place”.  “Going to work [is permitted] … where you can, work from home. That is encouraged.” 

So that’s tonight. Beauty salons are closing from tomorrow night and I am going to make what may seem like a shallow and frivolous comment: that will have an impact on my mental health.

Before my appointment…
After my appointment.

Ok. These two images might not seem all that different to most people, but I hadn’t had my eyebrows shaped or dyed since October, nor had I had my eyelashes tinted since then. And since I can’t wear mascara because a) I can’t see to put it on, and b) I have to put in eyedrops a minimum of eight times a day and be very careful of my eye health due to Sjögrens Syndrome, having these two little luxuries taken care of for the first time in months made me feel so happy.

And now they’re gone again. Yeah, boo hoo, small problem, right? Except it’s the small problems that add up in the mental health burden.

So even though the lovely ladies at Plush Skin Body & Beauty are being forced to close from tomorrow night, (and I didn’t know that earlier today), I was still stuck at home with a sore throat and didn’t want to risk Jess or Melitta catching it. So I had a phone consultation, and… ta dah! Melitta even delivered. It was like getting a present. (Mr Beloved went to the gate, I’m staying clear until I’m sure this throat is ok.)

My skin care order, with extra care and goodies….

How do we look after not only ourselves but our small businesses in a time of plague? I’m not dismissing the seriousness of this disease. I have family members who are particularly vulnerable. When it comes to it, we all do, because this novel coronavirus is killing young people, too, just like last year’s flu did. (But make no mistake, Covid-19 is way nastier than the flu).

But with the government closing more and more businesses and facilities, mental health in the general population is going to be a concern. I’m not a mental health expert – except as someone who has experienced mental health issues for many years. From my point of view, watching as demand has always outstripped supply, despairing as promised programs were cut instead, often struggling to get (and keep) appropriate access to mental health professionals: we, as a country in social isolation, are going to need mental health assistance.

“There will be greater access to telehealth!”, the government tell us. Really? While that might work for some things, there are other health appointments that telehealth is not going to be so great at managing.

Uncertain times.

Scary times.

Time to drink my hot milk and listen to a podcast and maybe fall asleep.

Goodnight, if anyone is reading.

And remember- practice random acts of kindness, take care of yourselves and others, and wash your hands.



Just this tonight…

I spent way too long online this morning trying to buy some simple art supplies. And I couldn’t. And I missed my mental health appointment because I couldn’t go in, since I had a temperature and a sore throat, which is also why I was trying to shop online instead of just going to the store.

Tomorrow is another day.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B…

Teddy Bear Bee
Teddy Bear Bee, photo by Mr Beloved

This wonder was spotted by Mr Beloved while he was pottering amongst the plants the other day. “Nearly as loud as a hawkmoth!” he said. After some searching, he found out that’s it’s an Australian native bee, a solitary bee with a stingless barb, known as the Teddy Bear Bee .

Teddy Bear Bee in the Rosemary bush, photo by Mr Beloved

Apparently the Covid-19 panic buying (just STOP, people!) this weekend extended to stripping Bunning’s shelves bare of plant seedlings. Here’s my prediction about that: in two weeks time, most of those seedlings will be dead, because people have short attention spans and will go back to Netflix or Disney+ or whatever. And plants take too long for most kids, if they’re not already used to seeing the cycle of planting and waiting. Even a tomato plant takes time.

I did let the stress of everything get to me last night and today, just a bit. I probably didn’t eat enough (which is very easy for me to do, I ignored my phone alarms, and at the moment I don’t generate my own hunger signals. It’s easy to slip down into a vicious cycle of not eating, not noticing, not eating…) So tomorrow I’m back on the alarms, back on the supplementary meals. I had Vanilla Hospital Strength Sustagen with some frozen raspberries blended in for a meal this evening, and just had lactose free cheese and gluten free rice crackers as a snack.

And I read the news too often. I’ve been limiting myself to twice a day, but today I kept going back. Not helpful. Learning that South Australia would be closing its borders from 4pm on Tuesday made me surprisingly anxious. The rest of my family are there, and my first instinct was to try and get a plane ticket, at any price – but realistically, I’d be more of a hindrance than a help. And Mr Beloved and Emmalumpdogg need me here.

So, what to do?

Read more. Eat more. (Cook more). I’m grabbing a few new art materials to replace things that have dried up or run out, and doing things with those. Write more. Maybe if I’m strong enough if I can even help walk Emmalumpdogg more.

I think today was… Saturday?

Something that happens when you have chronic illnesses and stay home a lot, and that more people might find out soon, is that the daysalltendtoruntogetherlikethis. Yes, there are weeks when the medical appointments let you know which day it is (oh, I’m going to miss those face to face appointments, even though they are so draining!). But some weeks – some weeks, we have to look at the phone or computer to check the day and date.

One thing that doesn’t change is darling Emmalumpdogg’s need to get out.

Just out, taking the air…

Right now, though, her Daddy has been less well than usual. So we’re self isolating even more than usual, and she didn’t get a walk today. She was a bit sulky, poor girl.

As for me, I’m still tired, but I just never seem to get over that.

Today the local government closed our town library. Whether the e- systems will still operate, I don’t know; I hope they do, because I was really enjoying access to the free audiobooks and e-books.

I mentioned on Instagram the other day (yes, I’m @caitys_empire) I would explain the pin I was wearing in this picture:

Sunnies and the Alethiometer…

Now, this does tie in with audiobooks and the library, because I’m enjoying listening to Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, and I’m nearly at the end of the second book of the full cast recording of “The Subtle Knife” .

And this giant, beautiful pin happened to be on sale (mine was a second, but I cannot pick a flaw!) a week or two back, so I grabbed it – and it’s gorgeous.

This pin represents the Alethiometer, or symbol reader, a very import part of the story, and I’m so impressed with the detail Fable and Black have put in.

I wanted to write more today but it’s time to find another protein snack because… ugh. (“can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom?”)

Be kind to yourselves and to others, remember it’s not the end of the world, and wash your hands,



Self care, and exhaustion

She yawns
Soooo tiiired

It’s been a long week. I’ve had appointments every day, and as an introvert (who needs my own quiet space to recharge) and someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses (CFS/ME and Sjögrens Syndrome both are very exhausting) I’ve needed extra rest.

Still, today I went out for a luxury self care appointment, something I haven’t done in months. I had my eyebrows shaped and dyed, my eyelashes tinted, and a couple of other face tings done.

And I feel so much better about myself. I’m not saying “ everyone, go out and do this!” I’m saying for me, I feel more like myself when these things are done. For years, I didn’t have my eyebrows shaped, or do anything about my eyelashes (back then I could see well enough to apply mascara if I really wanted to, these days, I don’t poke anything near my eyes!) and I barely noticed which colour lipstick I wore – if I wore any. Now I love my bright red lippy, and people notice if I’m not wearing it.

But today’s appointment – even though it wasn’t all that long, was with someone new, and was fairly intimate – and so it was exhausting for me as an introvert, even though I loved the results. So I collapsed into bed when I got home, had some lunch, slept some more, had some dinner… now I’m about to have another protein snack (damn this anorexia!) and sleep some more.

Be kind to yourselves and to others, and wash your hands,


Another exhausting day…


I’m determined to keep posting to this blog, now I’ve started it up again. I even bought single vision computer glasses, which have made a huge difference to my comfort as I use this setup. (My iPad Air, bought in 2014, is becoming increasingly useless – a situation I am NOT happy about, but what can you do, except never buy from that multinational, greedy corporation again?)

In any case, I had some not so good Covid-19 related news today – just a very minor thing, nobody is sick, nothing scary – but two of my mental health supports will no longer be conducted face-to-face, as part of the (probably belated) decision to try and flatten the curve and keep the virus from spreading.

a bit glum…

I am incredibly privileged to have the mental health support team that I do – and to see them as often as I do. But a phone call or video call just doesn’t feel the same. HOWEVER, it’s a small thing in the face of this outbreak. A minor inconvenience to change my routine, to keep those who are vulnerable (like my brother, who unless there is some amazing scientific breakthrough, will be immunosuppressed for the rest of his life) safe.

We tend to live a fairly isolated life as it is. The panic buying has been awful to see – it’s not the end of the world if we run out of bog roll, people! And are you REALLY going to use all that flour, or are the pantry moths going to get it? I’m limiting how often I look at news sites, I’ve cut back on Instagram, but I’m staying informed by listening to Radio National’s Coronacast, which is updated every night.

And I bought this lovely book:

When Life Is Not Peachy, By Pip Lincolne

which is just *perfect* for right now. I’m been following her blog for years now, and adore her writing and photography.

Plus, I have so many other things to do – there’s always, always more housework that needs doing (hahahahah, I made a joke! That *could* happen, and I also *could* be magically cured of Chronic Fatigue/ME and Sjogrens Syndrome etc etc when I wake up tomorrow.) I could sort through all the boxes of STUFF in the shed and work out which books are going and which are staying, same with the fabric.

I might even find my camera again, since neither my phone nor my previously mentioned iPad want to play nicely with this laptop. Shrugs. Nice to have a goal in mind.

(and at this point, the author trailed off, declaring exhaustion and lack of further typing skills. Goodnight! )

Remember – practice random acts of kindness, stay safe, and wash your hands!


Blogging in a time of social isolation…

From the wonderful XKCD blog…

So. Here I am, trying to start up this blogging thing again. I’m going to try and keep it up more regularly, partly as a form of self discipline (hey, my old caityquilter blog is available to read again – although don’t believe the link sending you to, that’s long gone) and I used to write on that fairly regularly.

I’m also trying to write regularly again partly for my mental health. Although I’m a fairly solitary beastie most of the time anyway, just me, Mr Beloved, and the Most Excellent Dogg, the Covid-19 pandemic and associated social isolation will probably mean fewer playdates, more telehealth, and even less human interaction than I’m used to. Which is probably not good, so I’d better find a way to get thoughts out of my head.

I’ve discovered the joy of audiobooks and e-books (free!) from our local library. Although I do sometimes fall asleep while listening to the audiobooks at night, its easy enough to go back to the last chapter or track I remember. My first foray into this medium has been a wonderful full cast reading of Philip Pullman’s “Northern Lights” , which has enhanced my enjoyment of the original book immensely. A few weeks ago we even lashed out and bought a small bluetooth speaker, so hopefully, when I finally get back into the sewing mood, I can listen while I sew, and not be tethered to headphones.

And while we’re on the subject of lashing out and doing things a bit differently – we also bought a slow cooker (or as we old fogies, victims of an earlier marketing campaign still tend to call them, a crock pot.) How did we survive for so long without one?! What a marvellous thing it is, to have the smell of cheap cuts of meat and root vegetables slowly transforming over the late night and all day into a luscious, melting, warming mix of gravy and tender shreds, ready to be scooped up with some buttered sourdough baguette… or some brightly stuffed capsicums (bell peppers, for anyone who has stumbled across this by chance and has no idea what I mean), full of rice and chickpeas and cheese and softened to perfection in vege stock in the slow cooker, daggy and old school perhaps, but soooo delicious. And the leftovers! Having leftovers in the fridge and freezer so you can say “hmmm, I think I’ll have… stew tonight!” Oh, that’s blissful. (Doesn’t take much to make me happy, does it?)

I’ve also decided to indulge in some self care – I haven’t been getting my eyebrows waxed or my eyelashes tinted since October, so later this week I’m off to have that done. At a different salon than where I used to go – sadly, the local town council’s parking policy decisions have just made it impossible to support anyone with a business in the main streets (says nothing more about this, just raises eyebrow and notes that the local elections are imminent…) and my new choice has free parking and is closer to home. So it goes.

I desperately need a haircut, since I believe it’s important to support local businesses as much as possible in the time of virus (!) (my previous comments about parking notwithstanding;) but I can only afford one indulgence per month and I can make do with hats and scarves for a while longer.

So: what’s it like in your part of the world? What are you doing to stay sane during the pandemic? What have you started doing again that you’d stopped doing? Maybe this is the time I’ll finally learn to knit, who knows!

Stay safe, practice random acts of kindness, and… wash your hands!


The continuing adventures of Caity and chronic pain

So on Sunday,

I reached under the sink for a microfibre cloth. And my back said… “nope”.


I dropped to the floor in agony. Got myself into child’s pose (see, yoga is useful!) and tried to breathe. With help, managed to get to bed, and my psychiatrist confirmed I have a latissismus dorsi spasm. In layman’s terms -my back said “nope”. Saw my lovely General Practitioner today, and she confirmed I’m doing everything possible to help fix it… but it’s still saying nope.

So no, that’s not a boomerang, or a weird banana in the photo – that’s a weird perspective of my Monster Cane™️, made many years ago from hardwood with a smoothed ram’s horn handle, by an acquaintance who passed away only a few years back.

I can get around using it, very slowly. Doubled over. Shuffle stomp. But ohhhh, the relief when we could borrow a wheelchair at the doctors to take me to the loo, and then all the way down to the car. I nearly cried at how good it felt to not force my body, so painful all the time but worse at the moment, to just rest. To let the wheels take some of the work. Just sitting instead of actively balancing, rolling instead of painful lurching. Because on bad days? On bad days, on the days when my body feels like a prison cell because I can’t leave, I can’t do what I want to do? I don’t talk about those.

If I have to go out on ok days, I still get so tired, I often come home and just sleep.

And maybe it’s the pain. Maybe it’s depression. But I’m so, so tired of this being how it is. Of a good day costing two days in bed.

I thought I’d accepted this.

Until the wheelchair. I’d forgotten that maybe, something as simple and as out of reach as a wheelchair for bad days could make a difference.

On wings of… dragons?


A while back, I made some wings for some delightful children (more on that in another post) and I got the giggly idea that it would be fun to make dragon wings for one of my favourite doggos.

These are the Twig and Tale Dragon Wings

(You can actually buy them cheaper in the bundle with the Woodland Sprite and Angel Wings, which is what I chose to do).

Not a beginner pattern, even though there are very friendly step throughs of the entire process – I think unless you’ve had some experience in stitching around small curves, and turning through small pieces, this could be frustrating for a beginner. (I made it more difficult for myself on this set by using two layers of wool batting – much swearing involved, but the puffier look achieved was worth it.)

Gambit the Staffie in his wings But Gambit does look adorable, right? He’s a Staffie, who lives with my dear friend Mandy in Canada. 

Something to watch on these (although they do have adjustable, elastic straps with snaps) if you’re making them for someone far away, is to double check the measurement of the wearer’s shoulder around to mid back point. Gambit is rather more muscular than most doggos, so the straps are a little tight (fortunately, Mandy has a fix already worked out).

 These are these are the smallest size in the pattern. (Each pattern comes in Small =1-3- years, Medium= 4-5 to 10 years, and Large = 10+ years to

Be prepared for a lot of tracing – there’s no shortcut, you must trace each pattern piece several times in order to make these.
But it’s worth it.


And suddenly, it was February, 2019

Caity, Dad, Mum, October 2008

So in my head, I’m still the same size. Even though, when I worked out the numbers the other day, I’ve lost 62 kg since then. Let me just emphasise that. In 11 years I’ve lost…

Sixty two kilograms.

As someone commented on my Facebook “you’ve lost a whole person!”

Well, maybe a small one. And it wasn’t exactly a rapid weight loss.

Part of the reason I stopped sewing for myself for such a long time is this body dysmorphia. It’s only very recently as I take accurate measurements and get ready to sew again that I’m facing up to exactly what a difference there is between how my head still mostly thinks I look – and what the rest of the world sees.

Sure, I’d had to gradually find new jeans, and buy new bras and undies; but I’d still been wearing my very forgiving, (very faded!) knit dresses from a few years back, although I had done a significant wardrobe clean out. I will admit that I am still wearing the same pink t shirt as in the 2008 photo, but only around the house these days as it’s almost a rag (but it’s my faaaaaavourite!!)

Why all this talk about weight loss and sewing? Well, it’s been a Big Topic amongst sewists in the online community in the past week or two. Inclusivity and intersectionality in pattern design and in the language used around it are important. A lot of people are tired of feeling excluded, whether by size (designers simply cutting off their size range, designing for and showing only on one body shape) or by gender and language assumptions (and for a far more eloquent explanation of this, please read what Rare Device has written in this wonderful post.

Yep So as I sit down to grumble about the minor adjustments I need to make to the patterns I’m tracing today, I’m mindful that I actually do fit into the size range provided by this particular designer. (Later today I’m finishing pattern alterations on something where the designer has listened to sewists’ requests for better inclusivity and is reworking her size ranges this year, but I need the changes before then… those 25+ years of buying Threads magazine have been worth it) .Until I actually sew a few successful garments for myself, I’m not sure I’ll believe my body is really the size the measurements say it is. And cutting into the “good fabric” (the Lush Fabrics Australia Sunday Specials most definitely count as “good fabric”, their knits are so superior to anything else I’ve bought!) is going to be… interesting. And last time I sewed knits, my overlocker was working – it’s waiting for a service, but I can’t wait any longer. Onwards!