Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring has sprung, clocks go forward this weekend ...

A definite air of Spring having sprung was with ACC this morning, the sunshine was promising 17º of heat, there were smiles on faces, a few less layers on bodies and a general air of happiness.

I settled myself into a corner armchair in the window and attempted to help out the new staff members (yup, not a single member of the original team remains) with their administering of teas and coffees among the cackling, chattering women.

I was literally thrilled when Jo came in with baby J. It's been months since we caught up, she last came to ACC in November, and we last heard from Jo when J arrived in the world at the beginning of January. Needless to say, my first question was a friendly, "How are you doing?". I was anticipating birth details, new baby woes and tales of sibling rivalry but instead Jo responded, "You know those women's weekly magazines? ... My life has been a bit like one of the cover stories in those."
When baby J was just 6 days old, Jo received a diagnosis of mouth cancer having been a little suspicious of some ulcers that weren't healing, and an eventual large lump. This is a good news story in that surgery has removed all of the cancer, and Jo's desire and persistance were taken seriously by her carers enabling her to continue to breastfeed baby J. However, this has clearly been a tumultuous start to the year, Jo is having to relearn speaking and eating, though I must add that the speech is clearly coming on really well. We do hope to be able to support her now that she is back with us, providing light relief, love, and just looking our for her as the scars heal and the emotional scars start to show themselves. In my eternal optimism that something good must always come out of somthing bad, Jo was able to share that no less than five of her friends have given up smoking as a result of this. Jo is not and was not a smoker but smokers and heavy drinkers are at increased risk of such cancers and she was clearly happy to report that her situation had inspired her friends.

Loads of you asked after Emma and W. I was comfortable to report that W is well, in the sense that he is not showing signs of being unwell, though he is still seriously ill. This is good and bad, nobody would want him to suffer, but it's hard to believe he is so ill when he appears so well. Emma is coping, sometimes well, sometimes less so, but I was glad to have visited her and offer a chat, bit of fresh air, shoulder to cry on ... I have no idea if I am doing a good job but I do pass on everybody's good wishes from ACC when they ask me to. Emma; everyone sends their love.

As for crafts of the morning; knitted sheep, knitted socks, knitted baby booties, crocheted blanket, crocheted scarf, kid silk armwarmers, a lace weight matinée jacket, a knitted ruffle scarf, to name but the items I could readily see. There were the usual number (I think) of crafters and a good time was had by all.

Happy Spring.

Friday, 18 March 2011


I have no idea what to call this post, it's been a few weeks since we last wrote and it's been a trying time. I have bad news, slightly less bad news, and some crafty news which is always good.

Let's start at the start shall we?
Last time we posted we had babies to celebrate and baristas to miss but not too much to concern ourselves with other than Coffee's ongoing mental health problems. Thank you so very much to all those of you who do pray because we have seen an uplift in her mental stability enabling her to be able to enjoy her family and look after them well. This has never been more poignant than it is right now.

Sadly, last Thursday, the bone marrow results came back showing that William's marrow was really full of leukaemic blast cells. It meant that the chemo had barely touched it and that a transplant was out of the question. Being so close to Emma (Coffee), I understood that this meant they were running out of options, but nothing could have properly prepared me for how I might feel when she broke that news. We cried together. What else could we do?
The family have now moved to Bristol to take part in a medical study using a trial concoction of chemotherapy. Earlier this week, liver screening potentially ruled them out of the study but thank God, they didn't have to abandon hope so quickly and the chemo has now started. The chance of this working is very slim, but there is a chance, and therefore there is hope.

As a group, ACC have wanted to support the family as best we can at a distance. Obviously, I shall go and visit, and people within the group are meeting to pray. One of our number has made a couple of 'hope' bags for the boys which people have contributed books and toys to. It feels like there is little more we can do at such an uncertain and traumatic time but at least we are all there for each other too.

Now that I have got the bad news and the slightly more hopeful news out of the way, we can move back to the crafts of the past week or two.
We've had usual numbers of 20ish people in attendance with knitting, spinning, crochet, cross-stitch, chat, coffee, clothing alterations etcetera etcetera and we've been so privileged by people's willingness to share their craft in the form of tutorial. No longer is it down to Isobel to do all of the teaching, though I am incredibly grateful that she got me started on the crochet! But now, Eddie has been teaching me unravelling, skeining, and ply balling of yarn, Cecile will share with anyone who's interested how to spin yarn, even I found myself in the position of showing Jill how my wool-eater blanket worked! As a novice myself, it tickled me that I was showing someone how to do something, I don't even know the terms but Jill is a visual learner so it mattered not.
On the whole, the crafting is going very well, and the community, through such desperately tough times as sick children, bereavement, ill-health, difficult finances, unemployment ... well the community is fused. We are supportive, close knit (pun intended) but not closed, loving, generous, caring. I am so thrilled to be a part of A Crafty Coffee and hope all members feel the same.

C x (&C from a distance)