Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Z considers an early night

Last night, the Sage was on the phone most of the evening and I'm not fond of listening to phone conversations, so I spent the whole time in here.  I sit on a stool, it's not uncomfortable, not especially relaxing, but better than listening to one side of a telephone conversation.  This evening, I asked for no phone - but then it rang, it wasn't his fault.  I lasted about two minutes and have been in here the past hour.  I'm not very relaxed, I have to admit.

Last night, it transpired that my side of the electric blanket wasn't heating up.  This is the electric blanket I bought in January.  I'm really not impressed, especially as the same thing happened last year - with the one I'd bought a few weeks earlier.  Today, I checked it out and it seems that it's the lead that has stopped working.  No reason, it hasn't been stretched, tripped over, anything like that.  Fortunately, we had a spare lead from last year's blanket that my money was refunded on.  I'll check the fuse tomorrow and if that's not it then I'll have to contact John Lewis.

It's been a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  I sat out for a while with the newspaper and enjoyed the warmth.  Actually, although it took me ages to go to sleep last night because my feet were cold (having had a bath earlier in the evening, I really needed an electric blanket to warm me up), I woke several times because I was far too hot.  It's not me, honest.  I wouldn't recognise a hot flush if it slapped me.

Tomorrow, a funeral (not Kenny's, that's next week), Year 9 music, a meeting after school and a meeting in the evening.  At least the last is in the pub.  I haven't drunk beer since - oh, hang on, I had a glass of Guinness on Sunday.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Z winds down

Jamie has been forking over the kitchen garden, getting it ready for the new season.  The ground is not as moist as you'd expect in February, if we don't get a lot of rain soon then it'll be a difficult growing season. I'll start things off early, with our light soil it'll be the only hope.

This evening, the Sage was having a meeting with someone in the drawing room, so I skulked in here, putting together notes for a letter I'm going to have to write later in the week, when I heard a squawking chicken.  Looking out of the window, I saw a young black labrador chasing her - rushed out shouting "DOG, DOG - RUSSELL, DOG CHASING CHICKEN!!(!)*"  By this time, the dog had caught her, but rightly realised that I was a greater threat than the chicken a temptation, dropped her and legged it across the field.  The Sage came out, I briefly explained and he chased the dog while I went to look for the chicken.

The Sage has had a word with the dog's owner.  I think it'll be kept on the lead when being walked on the road in future.  I couldn't find which chicken had been caught, they were all clustered together and promptly decided to go to roost, some in trees and some in the henhouse.  None was left, let's hope the poor girl was unscathed.  It can't have been more than five seconds and he didn't shake her and labs have soft mouths, he wasn't a vicious dog.  Very upsetting though.

Anyway, the Sage took some time to return so I went and chatted to the fellow he'd been talking to, and when he left I went to have a long and relaxing bath.  Face mask, intensive hair conditioner, I lay back and did nothing at all for quarter of an hour or so and then rinsed them off, got out and dried myself and slathered myself with body creams.  The Sage had better not try to hug me, I'll slip right out of his arms like a cork and hit the ceiling, I'm that slippery.

Tomorrow, I must buy more wine.  I've just opened the last bottle, a very nice Côtes du Rhône - I'm reminded again that the nicer the wine, the less I drink.  All I've got left, other than the good stuff, is a couple of glasses of sparkling something-or-other (not even champagne) in the fridge.  One was opened last night, I needed a pick-me-up.  Feeling a bit jaded?  Mm, yes.  I'm doing something about it though, I take great care of myself and have just lit a candle and am listening to the divine Elisabeth.  Actually, I'd intended to sit with the Sage, but he's on the phone and I don't intend to be wound up by listening to it.

Oh, by the way, Blogger is playing silly buggers, not only with the almost unreadable word verification but by changing the pop-up comment box, which now doesn't give an option to subscribe to comments.  Since they're the best bit, I've changed to embedded comments and the box is at the bottom of the post instead of in a separate box.  And the automatic spam detection is excellent, none of the spam that reaches my email notification ever gets published.  Honestly, if you just turn off wv you won't find a problem.

*if anyone ever wonders about this, JonnyB has rights over !!! and he's far too exalted a blogger (rarely as the dear boy blogs since his book deal, mind you) for me to stand up to.

Monday, 27 February 2012

More Musical Memories

Augustus was very happy during his weekend stay.  I cautiously venture to suggest that the little boy loves his granny.  Certainly, I was very well kissed yesterday.  We went to the church as I said, and I held him while Weeza ate her bacon sandwich.  He's not quite old enough to pucker up and go 'mwah' but he loves being kissed, and he reciprocated with enthusiastic - well, I can only call it snogging.  Open-mouthed on his part, mouth to mouth, honestly I've not been kissed with such a mixture of innocence and enthusiasm for years ... actually, taking both those words, probably ever.  It was adorable.

I had grabbed the music to take along, but hadn't actually looked at it.  As you may know, the clarinet is normally pitched in B flat and so plays a whole tone lower than music written for the piano, flute and so on.  So I have to transcribe it up.  This can be fine - let's say the piece is written in F major, with one flat.  It goes up to G major with one sharp.  E (four sharps) to F sharp (I dunno, whole lots, every bugger is sharpened it seems) is totally bewildering.  Yesterday's effort, from A to B, was possible, but maybe I should have looked at it beforehand.  I was winging it a bit in the first verse.

In other news ... I spent an hour or so in the dentist's chair this morning.  That is, the chair provided for patients, I didn't make him sit on the floor by pinching his own.  I'm very impressed.  He uses an anaesthetic gel on your gum before he injects the local anaesthetic, nowadays.  Usually, I go mentally through times tables to distract myself at the dentist (17 being my favourite) but I was feeling particularly relaxed today, so turned to music instead.  Snatches of  Coward, Wilson and J Roddy Walston (Don't Break the Needle) later (none out loud, obv, it might have sounded like wails of pain), I found myself singing a song called Sei Nicht Bös (here) which gave rise to a memory from long ago.

As I've said before, my father died suddenly in January 1970 and events continued to go downhill that year.  Once record kept my mother and me going.  She bought an LP called "Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Sings Operetta."  We listened to it over and again, I can't describe how those songs and her voice sustained us.  I'm listening to it now on Spotify and it's another of those records that I can't evaluate because it means so much to me, from that time, that I have no critical appreciation.  I simply love it.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Swear queenlet

We have got on very well, done all the written part of the catalogue and now I need to take photos.  I've said to the Sage that I've got a reasonable amount of free time in the first part of the week, so if the weather is kind (I prefer to take the pics outdoors in a lightbox) I can get it all done in the next few days.

Weeza had me in fits of laughter, quoting Zerlina, last night.  I wrote it down on my iPad (fingertip writing, no need to type, yay!).  This may say as much about Weeza as about her 3-year-old daughter...

Weeza was feeding the baby in her bedroom the other day, and heard Zerlina in her own bedroom next door.  "For God's sake!  He's vomited all over me!" heard pootling to the bathroom "oh, it's okay, it's only cream."  Ella went from astonishment to hilarity in a moment.

In B&Q, which she hates, she was misbehaving so was put into the child seat in a trolley.  "GET ME OUT OF THIS DAMMIT TROLLEY!"

When her father exclaimed, something having gone wrong, "where's the dammit, daddy?"

Well.  They didn't learn any of that from me

*lying through my teeth*

It happens to be the café + very informal service on this Sunday of the month and I was playing the clarinet, so I planned to take Zerlina along.  Friends were calling in and the Sage had promised that they'd meet the baby, so Weeza and Phil weren't going to be able to stay, but I inveigled them along for a while with the promise of bacon sandwiches.  It was very jolly and Zerlina coloured in and put together a Noah's Ark with animals.  Made of card, darlings, no carpentry was required (what is gopher wood, anyway?) and nor was actual animal husbandry.  Sadly, having eaten her sarnie and made her ark, she decided not to stay and listen to Granny play the clarinet.  Just as well, perhaps.  I hummed "A Room in Bloomsbury" to a friend the other day who assured me it was written by Noël Coward, which made me think I'd got The Boyfriend wrong all these years.  Belatedly, I've realised that my abilities as a songstress are so lacking that it had been mistaken for "A Room With A View."

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Working weekend

We got a lot done today, no thanks to the Sage who couldn't remember where he'd put some china.  We searched for a couple of hours before Weeza thought to investigate a box in the kitchen.  After that, it all went swimmingly, it was all unpacked and labelled, 'lotted up' - that is, put in order for the sale, and after dinner we did the descriptions.  The Sage left most of that to me ... I can see why, he reckoned I might as well do the interesting but challenging bit, he probably thought I'd argue less that way. Weeza did the typing.  We cracked on and got it done in about an hour and then drank wine for quite some time.  We've had a lovely evening, mostly booze-fuelled it must be said.

Tomorrow, the condition report and photos and then it can all go into storage.

I found a couple of batches of photos, including some from our 25th wedding anniversary and some from when Wink and I were last in India.  We didn't label them of course, but I recognise Udaipur, Bangalore and Mysore.  I'm so looking forward to going back.  Six years, I think, since I was last there - which would mean that I was just back from there when I whimsically decided to start a blog.  Gosh.

Clear nights this week, and there was the most beautiful slim crescent moon on Thursday.  Tonight, a little wider but just as lovely.  When I used to take the dogs for their nighttime walk at about midnight, I loved watching the moon and stars.  I've got a poor memory for constellations, but gradually learned some and very much enjoyed watching the sky change through the year.

It's interesting, observing how one learns more easily as one becomes used to seeing.  For example, until a few years ago I recognised very few of our chickens, because the Sage looked after them, they were in a (very large) run some way from the house and I only saw them once in a while.  Then they were put into the kitchen garden for a winter and I went to talk to them every day, and for the past few years they've been free-range and choose to spend a lot of their time near the house.  So, of course, I recognise them all as individuals and can see how different they are.

Something of a metaphor for life, I suppose.  I used to be so self-conscious, such a worrier that I didn't look at people properly and had a really poor memory for faces (and names, which is an awful social disadvantage).  Once I learned that I didn't matter a bit, so it wasn't important what anyone thought of me, and therefore started to think more about others, I became far better at face recognition.  I often remember names too, which is useful.  I've got quite a rep. for remembering names and faces - it was something of a revelation to find out that others are as bad as I used to be.  And, of course, calling almost everyone "darling" helps no end.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Z is visually busy but dentally unchallenged

I'd got the day all planned.  An eye test in the morning, then a meeting with the Head, then to Norwich to get my iPad repaired, then the dentist for a temporary crown.  Soon after 8 this morning, the phone rang - it was Helen, the dentist's receptionist, cancelling my appointment.  So I'll be going on Monday instead - though I seem not to have put down the time, so I'll have to ring again to check.  Late morning, I know - actually, I might receive a text notification tomorrow.

Everything else went as planned.  Lots of lights were shone in my eye, or rather a light lots of times, and I've been checked for cataracts and glaucoma and found innocent of both.  I've ordered two pairs of glasses - considering that I never wear them, this seems a lot, but actually I could do with a pair for playing music, as it's getting to be just the wrong distance to the music stand.  And I suppose a new long-distance pair for emergencies is a good idea.  Considering that you can buy reading glasses for a few pounds, the price of equally straightforward spectacles for myopia is a bit disappointing.  I need another batch of monthly contact lenses too, and I'll get some single-use ones for India so that I don't have to worry about keeping them sterile in the heat.  Expensive all round.

After the meeting with the Head, I went to the surgery to book an appointment for vaccinations before my India visit.  Then off to Norwich - since the iPad is under guarantee, I don't want to jeopardise that, and asked our insurance broker if a claim will put up our premium - last time we made quite a small claim, when a lightning strike friend our phones and my computer modem, it didn't - and he said it wouldn't this time.  In fact, I've been provided with an entirely new iPad.

It's been a rather frustrating evening however, as gmail wouldn't recognise me.  I finally managed to reclaim my account and set up a new password, but I regret the loss of the old one, which was based around Tilly-facts.   Still, I suppose an occasional change is a sensible idea.  Now all I have to do is remember the new one.

The internet connection is still erratic.  Ten days, they said.  Their time is up.  It's very annoying when it's up and down, things take so long to do, especially as it's often slow.  Honestly, it was better before the upgrade.

Weeza and family are visiting for the weekend.  Huzzah!

Thursday, 23 February 2012


I can't write of anything else tonight, because our dear friend Kenny died this evening.  I went to see him this lunchtime and I knew it couldn't be long.  I went back at 4, promised his wife and son that I wouldn't leave him alone and they went home - it was an immense strain on Muriel to see him so near the end.

Russell (blog names just aren't appropriate tonight) came along at 6 and, in his turn, persuaded me to leave.  Kenny was awake and aware all day, but couldn't speak and could only gesture occasionally.  I'm sure he could hear me, he knew when someone else came in the room, his expression changed and his eyes turned to the door.  Russell phoned at 6.30 to say that he had died in his arms.  We both went to tell Muriel and I took her and her son back to the hospital, where her daughter and son-in-law were waiting.  We all said goodbye to Kenny, and I left Muriel with her family.

I appreciate the time I spent with my dear good friend and I appreciate the Sage's (well okay, a blog name can come into its own) kindness in taking on himself the final burden.  I was reluctant to leave in one way, but all has been done with respect and love.

Death is never easy, we've all been bereaved in one way or another, most of you will understand and sympathise with Muriel and her family.  Kenny was 92 and one cannot describe a long and happy life followed by a short illness as a great tragedy, except to those who are closest to him.  All the same, it's been hard.  Not hard like those who suffer right now in Syria, for example, but one person's tragedy cannot be compared to that of another and each has to be borne as a fresh one.

Kenny retired at 65 and came immediately to help the Sage's mother as a gardener and handyman.  When she died, he stayed on to caretake, and stayed with us for the next twenty years.  In the end, he travelled the few hundred yards between his house and ours on his motorised wheelchair.  After he finally stopped working at the age of 88, he still popped back once a week or so to see Dilly and the babies.  He has been a dear and loyal friend, one of those people to whom you could turn at any time, and we will miss him terribly.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Z doesn't attempt to improve on perfection

If you take the Antique Collectors' Club magazine, then any day now you'll receive the March issue.  The Sage is on the cover.  Or rather, the star item for his next sale is.  I'll give you a link to the ACC (here) but that issue isn't up yet.

The Sage hasn't been his most tactful self tonight.  I said, after a light first course, that I was off to cook pancakes - when he didn't follow me a few minutes later, I went back and discovered him on the phone.  "Oh," I said, "I didn't know you were going to make phone calls."  I went and cooked more pancakes.  It was quite some time before I went back to tell him he had half a dozen pancakes on a plate, piled up and going soggy.

Hmm.  Yes, he was very apologetic.  Yes, I received a kiss (he isn't the kissiest of men, but puddings win through every time) but I was still tossing pancakes, so a cheek was proffered in receipt.  No, we haven't disagreed.  It's no problem to me, I cooked the pancakes, he ate them, except the final two when he said he couldn't manage more.  I ate those.

I'm a lemon juice and sugar purist for pancakes.  Shrove Tuesday (or, in this case, Ash Wednesday) pancakes, that is.  I can take or leave Crêpes Suzette and similar gussying-up of the perfect sweet recipe. I do like savoury pancakes once in a while.  And when there are a few of us here, I provide sugar, syrup, honey, oranges and lemons and so on - but it's still variations on a classic theme.  And I stick to lemon and sugar.

Wink, having emailed the Easter bride-to-be, has received an enthusiastic reply.  So we'll be booking our flights for Chennai tomorrow.  Nandini warns us it's going to be jolly hot.  Do you know, I'm right in the mood for jolly hot.  I love heat, can't take too much sun.  So it'll be the non-sunny side of the street for me.    And a knotted hankie on my head.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Z has always been held as a Bad Example

The best thing that's happened this week was that it turned out that we were right and the local authority was wrong.  But enough about that.

By the way, I don't know if I've suddenly been discovered by the locals or something, but my readership numbers have shot up, about doubling over the past few months.  Since readership numbers have been pretty consistent over five of the past six years, I'm not sure whether to be pleased or disconcerted.  You're all very welcome, anyway.  Bear in mind that I am, in most circumstances, the irresponsible adult and that nothing I do or say is to be recommended at any time.

An example - the Sage just gave me a slice of cake, cut into two.  So I ate the first piece, then the second, then the icing (which I don't much like).  Then he came back into the room.  Apparently, the slice was meant for both of us.  Oh whoops.  He didn't say. I've promised that tomorrow will be Baking Day.

It'll also be pancake day.  Because we were out all afternoon, it wasn't until after 5 o'clock when I went to the hospital, half past six when I got home whereupon the Sage went to visit, and I remembered pancakes when dinner was more than half cooked, and I was tired by then and had cooked something substantial.  So pancakes will be cooked tomorrow instead.  We don't exactly take Lent to heart anyway, never giving anything up.  Occasionally, I use it as a method of giving myself impetus to do something extra, but it's all a bit artificial, it seems to me.

Where I'm a very poor example is in music lessons.  This term, it's all being done on the computer as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago - remixing and mashups and so on - I know reasonably well what it's all about now, but I have made notes on my phone notepad so that I don't get the details wrong of just how to get the tempo, key, echo and so on.  Of course, phones are not allowed during the school day and so, although I keep mine on silent, I do haul it out regularly, especially as I don't wear a watch nowadays.  When the pupils mention that phones are not permitted, I explain that I make the rules, not follow them and I'm allowed to do things that even the Head may not (true*).  And, although my iPhone is much admired, it reinforces the notion that it is for old and staid people, not bright young things, so sales should plummet as soon as the current crop of pupils are old enough to buy their own smartphones.

*Ish.  Very ish.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Z and her backbone come together

It's been very up and down over the past few days.  Mostly because of Kenny, diminishing before us but still himself.  We both visit daily, it's the least we can do, and the difficulty we find is nothing compared to his own or that of his family.  He's not in pain and is wonderfully looked after, I hope his mind is preparing him to leave us.

Having had a lot of fun with the lamppost and the Landrover (darlings, I've been asked so many times, I've finally checked and it's a Freelander ES TD4, 2001, automatic, diesel, 84,750 miles, leather upholstery, FSH [I know what that means], PAS, RCL [huh? - no, genuinely, I've no idea] and so on and so on...) - anyway, I've got an insurance quote that I'm going to accept because I've done a whole lot of boring checking online and sometimes the thing to do is actually to ring up the people you already insure with.  I'll take a picture, but I haven't got the car yet so it won't be for a few days.

I broke a chunk of tooth off last night and, rather marvellously, was able to see the dentist today.  Less marvellously, he says it had better be crowned.  Oh bum.  Yes indeed, it will be expensive (please hope that I don't need a root canal filling which will cost an extra £280.  My roots are splendid, so surely not).  However, I've got the money in the bank, even though I hadn't planned on spending it on a tooth.  Other porcelain, possibly.  Sensible things, certainly.  Although I have already committed to two holidays and a couple of nights away already this year - thank goodness I'd already committed, because otherwise good sensible common sense might have crept in, and where's the fun in that?

Never mind, I'll drive less.  You can save so much by getting on your bike.  Except energy, of course.  There's not too much of that going spare in February.  Although it's warming up and there are lots of flowers in the garden.  Chin up, darlings.  Never say diet.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Not the Lion, the Witch nor the Wardrobe. Better!

But rather, the trip to Chennai, the lamppost and the Landrover.

So yesterday, first there was that phone call from Wink.  And if you look at yesterday's post and comments, you'll see that we're planning to go to the wedding, assuming the invitation is extended to me too (which it will be).

Then we went to visit Kenny.  His son was visiting a friend at the hospital in Gallstone, so we sat with Muriel for a couple of hours.  She was pleased to reach her 90th birthday, looking forward to the cake her daughter had baked, but thanked us for staying, admitting that it's quite a strain sitting with Kenny on her own.

He was awake some of the time, but couldn't really speak or open his eyes.  He'd been quite animated the day before, talked to the Sage in the evening,  kissed me several times very lovingly when I left and waved to me ... I think he had used so much strength there was none left.  He was also determined, I'm sure, to be alive for Muriel's birthday.

While we were sitting there, the Sage told me about a lamppost that someone had for sale.  You (if you've been here) may have noticed one at the fork in the drive.  It's similar, I was immediately excited.  "We could put it outside the house, it'll look like Narnia!  The children will love it."

Then he mentioned a car.  He got vague at this point, sometimes referring to a Rover and sometimes a Landrover.  "I'm not having a Rover, after the last disaster," I said.  "I've never thought of a Landrover, why would I want that?"  Still, I was quite happy to have a look, you know me.

So we went to look at the lamppost and a couple of notes changed hands and it will be delivered in due course - that'll be lovely, we'll get it fixed in the ground and dig a trench for the cable and have it wired up - and then looked at the car.  It is a Landrover, 2001, lovely condition.  Five minutes later, we'd decided to buy it.  Jolly good.  I love being impulsive, don't you?

Wink just rang, we're planning to get our visas and all, and the lamp post has just arrived in Robert's van.  Jolly good.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Z hums and hahs

The morning has been largely taken up with telephone calls.  Few of them were remotely interesting to me, being social, business or car-related ones for the Sage, but the one I received on my mobile was considerably more engaging.  Wink rang me, in part to tell me that Auntie Dodo, our mother's oldest friend (they met over 70 years ago) who is aged 99 has just gone into a residential home for some respite care.  She lives alone but her only bathroom is upstairs so it's not that easy for her to manage - the staircase is quite unsuitable for a stairlift.  We're not sure if she'll be able to go back home, or not for long - Wink will keep me posted.  She's Wink's godmother, we've known her all our lives and she's very dear to us.

The second matter is that the younger sister of the girl whose wedding we went to in Madras ten years ago is getting married in April.  Wink is invited of course, but she said she can't go and wondered if I might.  I said I'd be too busy - but I did tell the Sage about it when he arrived home.  His immediate reaction was to encourage me to go, even if it is on my own.  I've phoned Wink back, she's thinking about it too now.  It's Easter Sunday, and she's been invited to London for the Hockney exhibition and other things, tickets already bought, and she'll probably have some work offered too ... all the same, we're both very tempted and we're thinking about it.  We'd both love to go.  We'll speak again on Monday and then, if she's considering it, she'll speak to her friend.  I've said that I'll sleep on it and make up my own mind - that is, my decision won't hinge on hers and I won't put her under the pressure of saying I'll only go if she will.

I love India and haven't been for several years.  We'd have to be based in Madras - which I should really call Chennai nowadays - and not fit in an extra trip this time which is a pity as I'd dearly love to visit my friend How Do We Know in Delhi - but this would count as an impulsive extra and there's no reason why I shouldn't go oop north another time.  I'm still undecided.  However, a single encouraging comment might tip the balance.  Or I might not be that easily led.  Hmm.

I'm going to go and make a cake while I think about it.  Hah.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Z fails her eye test

It's quite sad that it's worthy of remark, but I've managed to be reasonably sociable this week.  Lunch out twice, a girly evening at a friend's house tonight, supper with friends the other evening.  This counts as a social whirl for me.  Unfortunately, none of it included the Sage, but one can't have everything.

I went to have my eyes tested this morning.  It didn't go well.  The optician did the thing of trying one lens after another, asking me which of each pair was clearer.  I find it really difficult to be sure, quite often, and after a while he told me that my answers were all over the place and giving contradictory results.  Their retinascope (not sure if that's entirely the right word, something like that) was on the blink so he couldn't check using that.  I looked shamefaced I daresay - anyway, I've had to make another appointment to go back next week.  I spoke to Dilly afterwards and then my friend Mary and they both told me that they find this test impossible to evaluate too.  Glad to know it isn't only me.

I did explain to him that my contact lens isn't chosen on the basis of my prescription anyway, but by what works for me because I'm better just using one, looking at a distance through my right eye and close to with my left.  All I really need is to check I can see well enough to drive and to check the health of my eyes - not that I told him that, mind you, he might think I was undermining his professional expertise.  I'll see what he says, I don't want much change in my prescription.

Tomorrow is a remarkably popular date for birthdays.  My dear friend Kenny's wife will be 90 - Kenny is very poorly and both the Sage and I are visiting every day and will do until the end.  I have the feeling that he'll see her through her birthday and then let go.  Dilly's mum's birthday is tomorrow too.  She's just retired from her job and she and Dilly's dad are looking at each other, wondering how all this new-found togetherness will work out.  And it's also Chris's - our blogger friend Chris, that is - birthday.  So, love and best wishes to them all.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Z is not horrified

I can't remember all the details regarding figures, but the fact remains that I have passed muster.  My score of 7% seems to be okay (regarding the likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack in the next ten years, that is), since it would have required a score of over 20% for me to be referred to the doctor.  I think it might have been as high as it is because my father died of a heart attack at the age of 59 and my mother had a stroke when in her late 30s.  My own health is practically perfect and always has been.

I'll probably be knocked over by a speeding bicycle instead,

I haven't been on my own bike for a few weeks.  It is a point for me to ponder that, when my hip hurt and I was trying to stave off an operation, I stoically pedalled into town daily, almost whatever the weather.  Although the exercise would be a good thing now, my hip doesn't hurt much and I haven't started to limp yet, so I don't have the motivation, not in this cold weather.  Knowing that it would be a good thing isn't enough.  If a doctor told me to do it, I would.  Probably.  Mind you, if I'd been told that I was overweight today, I'd have been sufficiently unhappy to do it.  Certainly.  But I was told my BMI put me in the green category, i.e. normal (while mildly chubby, of course) so I merely feel guilty while not actually doing anything about it.

I've a feeling that this isn't unusual.  We all know what we should do (or stop doing) but we need a jolt, an impetus, to get us going.  I remember when my stepfather had a heart attack and was told to stop smoking.  "No one told me it was bad for my heart," he said plaintively.  My mother, who had told him exactly that and had begged him to stop, had to bite her tongue quite hard.  He'd not heard what he didn't want to hear.  One understands, however.  I know perfectly well how to lose weight - move more, eat less.  There's nothing wrong with what I eat, it'd be far easier if it were a case of cutting out the daily crisps and chocolate biscuits, but I don't eat them - well, once in a blue moon.  But I need to be horrified into doing it.  Dammit.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Cleanliness is next to Sagacity

I'd appreciate some insights into blokes' minds, if you'd be so kind.  It's a trivial thing, but ... well, it's the thought processes that I don't quite understand.

When I came downstairs this morning, I went to the dishwasher to finish unpacking it, having removed a good deal of its clean contents last night to use straight away in the cooking and serving of dinner.  I hadn't done the whole job because preparing the meal was quite complex, I was doing something all the time and there were no odd minutes to fill with another job.  And after dinner I watched some television, read the paper, wrote some emails and a blog post.  I didn't do housework.

The dishwasher contained, among other things, two dirty dinner plates, so I thought maybe the Sage had done the unpacking.  Then I realised that the cutlery container was full.  I took it out to look and everything there was clean.  On checking, it was evident that he'd simply put in two dirty plates.  So I asked him.  He said he thought everything was dirty, so kept filling it up.

Now, it was less than half full, so it was quite understandable that he might have assumed that, except for that full cutlery rack.  It's right at the front, how could he not notice and not deduce that two plates, a dish or two and a few mugs and glasses do not equate with all that cutlery?  So that's the first puzzle.

The second puzzle is that both sinks were full of dirty crockery, cutlery and pans.  Putting in two plates was really no help at all.  So it was a completely empty gesture, if the machine had indeed contained dirty dishes I'd not even have noticed (so no brownie points there) and if he'd really wanted to help, why not do the whole lot?  Was it just to make himself feel good for the least possible effort?  I wouldn't have thought so, he's a kind man and not lazy.

As it was, of course, I was just a bit irritated at a half-arsed gesture that went awry anyway.  I emptied the dishwasher - he did come and help - and then restacked it and switched it on.  He'll probably not touch the thing for weeks now, on the grounds that he's bound to get it wrong.  Not that it matters a lot, this is really not intended as a complaint.  Just a search for an insight - I'd ask him, but he'd just worry, introspection isn't his thing.

In fact though, the Sage and I rarely irritate each other in daily life.  I was thinking about that as I squeezed the toothpaste to the top of the tube last night.  I squeeze it from the middle, you see, until it has to be put right.  The Sage is rather more likely to go from the bottom, but he isn't in the least bothered what I do.  The point is, I've as much right to squeeze from the middle or top as he has from the bottom.

Similarly, he leaves the toilet seat up.  Well, that seems fine with me.  Mostly, he uses the loo with the seat up.  If I complained about having to put it down (which I never have), he'd be just as justified in asking me to raise it again after use so that he doesn't have to.

But the number of times I've heard and read complaints about members of a family who get one or both of these things *wrong*.  There is no wrong.  Just because it's not what you do doesn't make it wrong.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Z seems to have digressed from the point, but ends up praising puddings

They are upgrading the BT Broadband service.  The main effect of this at present is that the internet connection has become erratic.  There have been a lot of men (I’m not using stereotypes, I haven’t seen a woman) looking into holes and, presumably, getting in them and doing things.  Our exchange is due to be upgraded tomorrow and we will lose both internet and phone for ten minutes.  After then, it’ll take ten days or so to settle down.  They do not necessarily promise a faster service, although speed ‘might’ improve. 

Yes, of course we’re pleased.  We get excited about the smallest crumb of comfort in Norfolk.  Even though, as I write, the broadband is blinking on and off and is fairly useless.  

I’m being terribly good and responsible about myself.  I received a letter inviting me to book a health check at the surgery – it arrived just before Christmas and I was far too busy to do anything about it then, as I was afterwards, but now I’ve made an appointment.  And now, I’ve booked myself an eye test too.  I can hardly believe how sensible I’ve become.  I went to the dentist too last month.  

Don't worry, I'll go right off the rails and do something thoroughly irresponsible before long.  I'm finding it unnerving too.

I waited for Ro's 18th birthday keenly, you know.  I reckoned that I'd been a caring and dutiful mother for 29 years (including my first pregnancy) and I was about due a vice or two.  I just wasn't sure what to do.  I was depressingly good.  Horribly good.  I could have worn medals for goodness.  And so nothing really happened.  

Except, you know, I got rid of guilt.  People feel guilty for all sorts of things that aren't their fault.  Or that are, but don't really matter.  Or even, that do matter but you have to make your mind up - take responsibility, forgive yourself or change what you're doing.

Mind you, I have always had that tendency.  I remember way back in the '80s, when it was fashionable never to have a moment to yourself, to push yourself to the limit and boast about how appallingly busy you were and you felt awfully guilty if you ever sat down or did anything you actually wanted to do.  Now darlings, can you imagine me giving that the time of day?  Not bloody likely.  I went the other way and looked shocked and sympathetic, saying that I needed hours of me-time to be able to function at all.

So my vice?  Not feeling guilty about food.  Not thinking that I have to pretend not to like something delicious because it's considered bad.  I'm not talking about junk food, I'm talking about extravagant food.  Not necessarily expensive, not necessarily fattening, but totally delicious.  

When I was a child but old enough to start drinking tea, I decided that I'd learn to like it without milk and sugar, because that was how my parents drank it, so I thought that would make me more grown-up.   I still mostly drink tea black without sugar, as I do coffee, but I no longer think that's more adult, because that was a child's simplicity.  I admired my parents, who were grown up.  I wanted to be like them.  They didn't take milk.  Therefore, if I didn't take milk ... no, of course you're right.  Cutting out milk didn't cut the mustard.  I was still immature - mind you, it's been jolly convenient, because I don't need anything but hot water and a teabag to have a good time.  

When I was a child, every family but mine had a pudding after each main meal - my mother was rather modern, watched her weight and didn't have a sweet tooth, my father didn't care for puddings (though he liked sweeties) - and hardly anyone was overweight.  How many families eat pudding regularly now?  Most people would say they're too fattening.  I refuse to call obesity an epidemic because it bloody well isn't infectious or contagious, there's just a lot of it about.  But it's not about what we eat at mealtimes, it's how we live and how much we eat, and what we eat between meals.

I don't have a particular craving for sweet things myself - though actually today I had a sudden temptation to buy halva and did.  I won't open the pack for a while though, because once I do I'll eat a bit every day because I love it.  I'll open it when people are here to eat most of it for me.  But I am completely sympathetic to those who do because, apart from anything else, we're programmed to.  Have you ever tried human milk?  Past the age of one or so, that is.  I have (ahem, mine, I hasten to add, I never fed a child anything I wouldn't be prepared to try myself) and it is extremely sweet.  We're born with the taste.  We add further tastes later, but it's only natural to keep that first one.

So those of you on strict diets and those of you who only really like savoury foods, I'll provide fruit and cheese at the party.  But there will also be a good array of puddings, because I am thoroughly in favour of them.  They finish a meal very nicely.  When you go out for a meal with a group of people, listen.  The chatter goes on regardless for the first and main courses.  And then, when pudding is served, there is a respectful silence as people start to eat.  It always happens.  And if you don't want to put on weight, just have two mouthfuls and then exert willpower.  It's quite simple.

*This post was inspired by Emma, the glorious Belgian Waffle, who writes beautifully and knows more than most of us about the ups and downs of life*

Oh, and by the way, the Sage and I are still eating CAKE!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Z browses

I had to get up betimes for the early service, at which I was sidesman.  I greeted the couple who came in at two minutes to eight cheerily.  "Good morning, how lovely to see you.  And you're doubling our congregation!"

Well, it was frosty and cold and we weren't all that surprised, but at least it was worth turning on the heaters.

This afternoon, the Sage (who had to go out) lit the fire for me and I started to sort out all those photographs that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  It was a bit dispiriting.  There are so many of them.  The early ones are fine, there aren't that many - I'm putting some in an album and those that are too big are going in folders marked with people's names - but there are loads of more recent ones.  I've written on the back of some pictures, where I think that in future my children won't be able to identify someone or will wonder when they were taken.

I did find some interesting papers, and will write about that later.  What I do need to deal with are letters written to my great-great-great grandfather when he was MP for Southwark.  I also found some more info about him and his parents and grandparents, which I'd never known before.  I'm not actually very into genealogy - am I the only person in the world who doesn't much care where I came from? - but it'll be a starting point for any of my children or grandchildren who might want to take it further at some time.

Anyway, a pleasant afternoon sitting on the hearthrug browsing, with Doctor No on the television.  I should do this sort of thing more often.  Very restful and pleasant.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Our tiny upper lips are frozen

In the last few days, we've been visiting Kenny daily in hospital.  Yesterday, Dilly and Gus came with me, and it really cheered Kenny up.  He absolutely loves babies and children, they mean all the world to him.  His latest great-great-grandson was taken to visit him last week.

He was low because he'd just heard that his wife Muriel (they have been married nearly 9 years) had fallen in the night and been taken to hospital.  He didn't know what was wrong, so was very anxious.  A doctor came to visit while I was there - he was lovely, said we weren't to leave, we'd do more good than he would - and K took the opportunity to ask, if M was in hospital for long, could it be arranged for him to visit?  The doctor said it could, made sure it was written on the notes - it's a lovely hospital, truly personal, loving care, great kindness at all levels.

However, today, when I went with Squiffany, I walked in behind Kenny's family, including Muriel, on their way home from the Gallstone (you probably have to be a local to get this, if not look up Gt Yarmouth and look for the small town just to its south) hospital, so we hung back, not to gatecrash the reunion.  Only for a few minutes; we joined them afterwards and spent half an hour chatting to them.  K can't really eat, he's nauseous after a mouthful, so is losing weight quickly, but is in reasonable spirits considering.

Squiffany came in to spend the rest of the afternoon with me here, the Sage being out, and Gus came along too.  He was very pleased to discover I'd made CAKE! and happily ate morsels for quite some time.  I discovered that there were a couple of dozen eggs that had been laid in the last few days, so our meals are egg-based at present.

(A short pause there, because I realised that I hadn't given the Sage any CAKE, so went to fetch him a slice.  I may well receive a kiss later.  I don't get kissed every day, but CAKE or PUDDING!! get results)

Al called in when he arrived home from work, to say that at 5 am the temperature had been -10º C.  This is quite low for around here, although I understand that it was several degrees colder, just a few miles away.  When we went to visit Kenny, it was 4º, but half an hour later the temperature had dropped and it was not much above freezing.  All terribly good for our stiff upper lips, I suppose.

This weather is not good for arthritic hips.  Still, a year ago, I reckoned three to five years before an operation.  I think I'm on track.  I am so grateful to have a merely anatomical ailment that can be completely corrected by an hour-long operation.  I've always been incredibly lucky, absolutely blessed.

Which reminds me, last week when I went to the blood donor clinic, it turned out that it was my tenth donation.  I was slightly disconcerted to be given an envelope that contained a certificate and a badge (surely no one would actually wear the badge?).  In the post today arrived a new card (like a credit card) with more thanks.  Now, I'm not underestimating the value of donated blood - my sister and many friends have been grateful for it, it's been live-saving.  But I haven't really done anything.  I've only been donating for a short time (prompted by 'Twirling in the Light' Greg) and I don't feel that I need or deserve such fulsome thanks every time.  "cheers love, that's great" would be more than enough.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Blog Party

Z and the Sage invite you to a Blog Party on Saturday, 26th May from 12.30 pm. You don't have to be a blogger to come, you don't have to have met us or been here before and, if you came last year to the Wall Party, you're welcome to come again. And you're welcome to bring your other half too, of course. It really is open house, it worked fine last year and it was great fun to meet so many of you.

Some of you, who have already responded to my previous suggestions of possible dates, are coming quite some way, and you are welcome to stay overnight. It may be that we will run out of bedrooms and in that case, an air bed or a mattress on the floor can be arranged if you don't mind. Alternatively, friends of mine have a lovely farm guest house nearby and I can put you in touch (I haven't yet checked that they have rooms that night, that's on my to-do list soon). If you're really coming a long way, you're also welcome to stay on the Friday night, in which case you will be put to work counting out plates and things.

This time round, all food will be prepared in advance (I may not be the brightest, but I do learn and won't rely on a barbecue and risk windy weather) so I hope to have time to chat to more than a few of you, although I don't think I was missed much as you were all chatting among yourselves very animatedly. I'm happy to take food preferences, allergies and so on into account, just let me know. I like nothing better than feeding lots of people, so those of you who stay over will get fed on Saturday night (it'll probably be soup and cheese, something like that, don't get over-excited) and I will cook you breakfast on Sunday morning.

This is a very early notice, don't think you have to commit yourself, but when it's convenient, email me to let you know if you can come and if you want to stay - that does need to be as soon as possible, because I've already got a couple of guests booked in plus my sister and after the beds are taken it'll certainly be a mattress in a sitting room rather than a bedroom and then we may run out of space (on the other hand, I may be exaggerating here and it'll be fine, I'm a bit inclined to over-plan).

And indeed, Wink is a real person, not a facial tic and you have a golden opportunity to meet her and find out what I'm really like. Oh yes, she is impervious to bribes and I have no hope of stopping her.

More details to follow, very likely when we're within three months of the event. I'll do an invitation as a header. My email is on my profile, we live on the Norfolk/Suffolk border (practically straddling it, darlings) and of course I'll send directions and so on.



Sent from my iPad

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Z pokes her head over the parapet

I hardly like to report that the day has gone quite well, but then I've always been a woman to tempt providence and not touch wood.  I mean, pfft.  If it's going to happen, not mentioning something won't prevent it and vice versa (or possibly not, I've been getting so bound up in multiple negatives recently that I sometimes am not quite sure what I've actually said).  So - today has gone quite well.  Barry took us in to fetch a vehicle, which turned out to be the Sage's, because we couldn't get my car going again (it turned out that something had got dislodged when an attempt had been made to jumpstart the car, Mike sorted it out later), several items turned up in the post that I'd been waiting for and I didn't forget Meals on Wheels.  Well, that's not true.  I would have forgotten if not for the reminder that comes up on phone and computer. But I delivered, that's the point.

I visited Kenny again and hope to take Gus in to see him tomorrow, all being well.  I spent the afternoon in Year 9 Music, doing, um, remashing.  I'm able to help reasonably well when there is any problem, can advise on keys, tempo, synchronising the beat, fading in and out and cross-fading, adding echo and so on, but on a purely technical level.  I don't feel any confidence in myself.  I get on well with the pupils though, they're great.  They've settled into a (slightly teasingly) respectful friendly manner with me, not quite the same as with a teacher because I'm not, but we're all comfortable together.  I love it that my job enables me to feel at ease with teenagers, in a way that many people of my age with grown-up children wouldn't be.  They need to know that people are on their side, life is quite tricky enough for them.  Far more so than when I was their age.  Blimey, it was the '60s then, when we were all hopeful and didn't know anything.  But nostalgia tells lies, there's no such thing as a golden age (that's a stiff upper lip thing, we all know that there will never be anything like the '60s, in truth.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Many a true word...

Normal for Norfolk.  Why did I say that?  The day has been a disaster, particularly for the Sage.

He went off to Lowestoft this morning, and phoned me about 1 pm to say he was at Mike's.  Apparently, the bonnet catch on his car had suddenly failed, the bonnet flew up - fortunately, he was in town so was driving slowly - and cracked the windscreen.  He was able to stop, tie down the bonnet, make a hole in the windscreen (that must have been fun, the temperature hasn't risen to freezing all day) and get back.

I was sympathetic, but luckily Mike was willing to drive him home as I had a governors' meeting to get to (and chair) for 2 o'clock - though I planned to arrive at 1.30.

The meeting went well, thanks, and we managed to get through Safeguarding training, two staff presentations and a full agenda by 4.30.  Hah!  Nailed it.  I'm getting to grips with this job, I'll be right up to speed by the time I retire.  Unfortunately, I failed the *time off for good behaviour* test.

There was another meeting afterwards so I didn't get home until after half past five.  But that was fine.  The Sage then said he was off to fill his van with diesel.  That was fine.  A while later, the phone rang.  The Sage's van wouldn't start.  He'd stopped to pop into a shop and the battery seemed to be flat.  I was immediately helpful - who wouldn't be? - and got straight in the car and went to help.  I stopped, bonnet to bonnet, we looked for my car's battery ... it was in the boot.  Who knew?  There was a turning space just behind, that's all right, I said helpfully.

My car wouldn't start.  Flooded the engine, I expect.  I waited a few minutes, tried again.  The car started! and stopped.  Engine still flooded, I expected.  I waited etc.

Half an hour later, my battery was flat too.  We rang Al.

We didn't know that Al had had a wisdom tooth extracted today, so was feeling a bit sorry for himself.  However, he kindly came straight in and we put the jump leads on his van.  My car started.  I kept my foot on the accelerator to be sure, but a minute later it stopped and wouldn't start again.

Okay.  We were all on double yellow lines.  We decided to push the van and car into a shop's parking spaces.  We got the Sage's in, then started to push mine.  Someone drove up, someone we knew.  He helped.  I made a total pig's ear of steering - fighting the wheel because without the engine the power steering was off, being pushed so hard that I couldn't judge my turning space - eventually it was done without mishap and no harm except to my girlie pride.  Al, who hadn't dared turn his engine off, took us to get diesel because he was no longer confident of having enough fuel to get to work, and drove us home.  He wasn't very happy about taking us in again with a replacement battery, as he has to leave for work at 5 in the morning and it had already been drained by his attempts at starting my car.  Oh, by the way, a passer-by had tried to start the Sage's van without success from her battery.

I suggested that I drive Dilly's car in next morning to take the replacement battery, early because she was going out.  However, Al came in a few minutes later to say that Dilly was worried that we might have an accident on slippery roads, so wasn't willing to lend her car.  Okay.  We'll have to take the battery in on foot, in a wheelbarrow, I said.

But I rethought that, after a while.  I mean, really.  A mile and a half on a slippery pavement or road, with a bloody battery in a sodding wheelbarrow?  So I rang my friend Brenda.  Who was out.  So I rang my friend Barry.  Who was in.  Thank goodness.

At 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, Barry will be here to drive us and the battery to rescue at least one vehicle.  And yes, we've spoken to the owner of the private car park.  And yes, I do have breakdown cover, but that'll be the next and last resort, because they take quite some time to come.  I certainly wasn't hanging about for them this evening.  As it was, thank goodness I made plenty of jolly nice soup on Monday, because we were glad of it tonight.  Plus a big glass of red wine.

Normal for Norfolk, my left foot.  I'm jolly well going to bed.  Goodnight, darlings and, if you have been, thanks for listening.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Love to the end

We went to visit, for a short time, our friend whom I mentioned the other day (in the post I accidentally deleted) who has terminal cancer.  We have promised that one or other of us will call in to see him every day.

I mentioned that the hospital, which has received a fair bit of bad publicity for its care of the elderly following inspections recently, had upset him very much - or rather, an insensitive doctor had.  Apparently, the doctor asked if he'd been told what was wrong with him.  He replied that he'd been told there was a blockage.  "It's no blockage, you've got cancer."

This bald statement came as a considerable shock.  He was alone, his family had not been invited to be with him and he had no idea in advance of the diagnosis, never mind the grim prognosis.

Nine years ago last September, my mother was in receipt of similar news.  There was no comparison between the way the two of them were told.  My mother had Wink and me with her and we were told with great compassion by a young and anxious doctor who was trying very hard to be as kind as possible.  All the same, it was a huge shock.

You would not think it would have been.  My mother was desperately ill and, only a few days before, I'd said to her GP - and shocked him by saying it - "is it worth her going to hospital?  She would prefer to die in her own bed, I wouldn't want her to go there and not come out again alive."  He reckoned it was worth it, and the palliative care she received unexpectedly enabled her to have a wonderful quality of life for her final six months.  However, and I cannot understand it but assure you it's the case, whilst we expected her to die within days (and had been told that on her admission to hospital), to be told that she had terminal cancer was still terrible news and oddly surprising.  We all clung together and cried.

Our friend is still able to sit in a chair and was reading the newspaper when we arrived.  We kissed each other, I held him, we talked.  I asked if there was anything he wanted me to do, now or later for his wife.  He suggested that I might help most by shooting him, and we all cried.

What do you say?  I said that I loved him and couldn't bear to think of losing him.  I reminded him of the last time he came round when Chester was still alive, the day before the vet visited.  Chester brightened to see his old friend, staggered over and butted him lovingly in the knees, as he always had.  He smiled, remembering.

Sorry loves, don't mean to upset you, but I know this will.  I'll be back to Normal for Norfolk by tomorrow.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Sage puts the fun into funeral

The Sage was out most of the day at a funeral.  Please don't take it amiss if I say that he thoroughly enjoyed it.  He saw a number of people he hadn't talked to for decades.

That's how it is though, isn't it?  Weddings and funerals are where you mostly meet up with old acquaintances, and you reach the age when the latter are the better bet.  For one thing, it's not nearly so noisy and the service will probably be way shorter.  No speeches and no necessity to dance.  The dress code is usually straightforward, certainly for the men, as women might just be asked to make a point of wearing colour.  There is no requirement to buy a new outfit, however.

Best of al, you meet lots of old friends and, since you've all grown old together, you recognise each other, have the pleasure of murmuring "bless my soul, Algie's aged a bit," whilst being blissfully unaware that you have too.

It gave me the opportunity for a quiet day.  Housework in the morning, a nap in the afternoon and then I cooked.  A model of domesticity, darlings.  Left me with nothing to talk about tonight, mind you.  Could have been a non-blogging day really, but I thought I'd treat myself.

I went to feed the chickens at lunch time.  Poor things, about half of them were standing about disconsolately in the snow, looking bewildered.  They didn't come to eat their corn.  Two had ventured further and did, and the rest stayed in the hut.

I don't think I ever finished the story of the Christmas Eve chicken.  I probably mentioned that we'd been given three young bantam cocks and that she has been mothering them.  In view of that, we were quite upset to be told that her owner had been found, because we didn't want to have to give her back.  However, it was a very sad story so there was, we thought, no alternative.

The father of a young family died suddenly of a heart attack just before Christmas, and it was one of his half-dozen chickens that had got out.  When told about it, we thought that we'd leave talking to the widow until after the funeral, a couple of days later.  However, by the time the Sage went to see her, she had decided that she couldn't cope with chickens on top of everything else, and had given them to her neighbour.  She was quite happy that we should keep the extra one.  So all is well here, the hen is laying lots of eggs - one almost every day - and has settled in splendidly.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

4 Inches. But size doesn't matter, innit?

Snow fell yesterday evening, but most of it arrived overnight, to give us all a lovely awakening.  Fortunately, it was overcast and cold all morning, so when I arrived home from church it hadn't started to melt at all.  On my way home, I met the family coming down the drive, off for a walk, so I hurried back home to start building my own snowman.

It wasn't perfect construction snow, because it clumped together but wasn't easily shaped, suddenly breaking apart unexpectedly.  So my snowman is rather tall and thin.
And then I cleared the snow in front of the door and from the paving, and then I decided to construct a little dog outside the door.

I rather love it, wonky nose and all.

Then I went to join Al and Squiffany, who'd been sledging.  Pugsley had got cold and gone indoors by this time.

They had made snowmen while I was out.  Here they are.  As you'll see from the light, I photographed them rather later in the day.

It's been brilliant.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Sorry about yesterday's post getting deleted. Comes of faffing about on a small screen while watching television and talking at the same time.

I curled up and went to sleep this afternoon, which was a good use of time in the circumstances. What's annoying about the hours I spend awake most nights is the complete waste it is. I really can't get up and do anything useful between 1 and 4 in the morning, which is when I'm usually awake, especially at this time of year when it's too cold to get up unless I'm giving up entirely and getting dressed and on with the day.

Anyway, that's more than enough of a dull subject. There was a sprinkling of snow last night, barely enough to look pretty, though it did make the day bright, especially when the sun came out. More is forecast, but who knows if it'll reach here? The Met Office app on my phone, which has recently updated to give all sorts of gizmos, says that the temperature is -3°C ... feels like -9°, it adds ominously. It also gives an amber warning of snow, whatever that means. Ah, read the full forecast. Significant accumulations of snow are likely, it says. Oh I say, jolly good. Sunday is the best day for that because most people can either go and frolic or hole up in the warm. The new forecast is impressively wordy actually, which suits me nicely. A picture doesn't paint a thousand words for me, I'm not a very visual person. A thousand words paint a far more descriptive picture. Or music. Reading music is more than looking at the notes on a page.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ups and downs

Oops.  Sorry, I accidentally deleted that post.  Meant to reply to comments, clicked in wrong place, pressed wrong button.  Um.

Maybe it's time to hit the bottle.  Pah, really darlings.

If anyone still has it in their feedreader (the non-post has updated to Google Reader), then if you send it to me i'll repost.  Otherwise, I think that comes down as the first post I've ever deleted.  And there wasn't even any hot gossip which would have been better unsaid.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

In praise of dusting

Several hours awake each night took its toll yesterday.  I cooked dinner, we ate it, I sat on the sofa and was suddenly exhausted.  I slept briefly, then lumbered upstairs, bathed and was in bed before 9 - and didn't get up until 9 this morning.  Still several wakeful hours, but lots of sleep around them.

I've been very impressed by online service this week.  I ordered a new electric blanket from John Lewis on Monday afternoon and, rather than the promised 5 working days, I had a despatch email at 4.30 the next morning (yes, I was awake to receive it) and it arrived yesterday morning.  The Sage's laptop's lead stopped working and he couldn't charge his computer, which was a disaster, darlings, a disaster - off eBay for a whole two days! - so Ronan found me a replacement, I ordered it on Tuesday afternoon (that was from eBay) and it arrived in yesterday morning's post soon after 9 am.  Terribly impressive, it beats the old 'allow 28 days for delivery' from pre-internet mail order into a cocked hat.

I lay in bed this morning listening to the Sage clearing out the fireplace.  It's one of the pleasant sounds in life isn't it, listening to someone else working for your benefit?  His too, of course - we both love a proper fire and wouldn't be without it for anything.  There is a fair bit of work, in the carrying in of the coal and wood and clearing out the grate, but what isn't any bother is the extra housework.

I did a spot of dusting this morning, and was struck anew by how easy it is!  Dusting is marvellous really, have you ever noticed?  Just a wipe and the dust is simply gone!  A daysworth or a yearsworth, it makes no difference, it's as good natured as can be and just wipes off in a moment.

I'm a casual housekeeper, I have no hesitation or shame in admitting it.  I don't like the house to be too tidy.  If there aren't books and newspapers about, a house doesn't look lived in and if all the cushions are perfectly plumped up, no one dares sit down comfortably.  The house used to need more cleaning when Chester, my late setter, was alive, because he lounged on the furniture and shed hairs all over the place, which tended to gather in drifts.  So I had to sweep and hoover frequently - and how I wish I still had to.  I'd do any amount of extra work if it would bring lovely Chester back.  Now, I tend only to clear cobwebs away when the dust on them starts to turn brown - and am careful, of course, to leave the spiders, which are my friends.

But dusting is easy as pie, and you don't even need a duster.  Who hasn't, when expecting guests to arrive at any moment, noticed a shaft of sunlight on a table showing up the one item you omitted to dust, and swept a tissue or even the side of a hand over it?

Oh.  Okay, well, I have, lots of times.  Anyway, the point is that it does the bizz.

Although mind you, it's only dust.  Who cares anyway?