Wednesday 31 March 2010

Day job hat on, slightly askew

The catalogue for out next sale in a month's time is up now - linked on the sidebar under 'The Day Job' if you're interested.  The Sage is happily phoning people to tell them all about it.  Listening to him, I found myself muttering "I do love you" - good job he didn't hear, not the sort of thing you want to say to a chap too often.  Have to keep them on their toes.  Remember that there's the one who kisses and the one who proffers the cheek.

Or the two who snog.  Heh.

Anyway, the app I'm working on at present is road signs - actually, I probably should have gone for the whole highway code, but that will come, I think.  I like the learning and testing sorts of apps.  I'm fine with roadsigns, until it comes to unexpected stuff on trams.  Not too many trams in East Angular and how should I know?  Reminds me of driving in Belgium, when all the road signs were in Flemish and I couldn't understand a word of them.

It looks as if there might be a whole family get-together for Sunday lunch, will be highly jolly - a whole tableful of us.  We're having pork, which is splendidly un-Easterish.  In view of the weather, which is bloody awful (though nowhere near as bad here as in many other parts of the country), I hardly think that Spring-like food is quite the thing.  The greenhouse is doing all right, though I haven't opened the propagator, except a corner to check things, for three days.  It all wants watering soon, but a drenching in icy water isn't going to cheer up the seedlings much, so I'll wait until the sun shines for a bit, at any rate.

Most of the veg garden beds are weeded and manured - yes, cutting it fine before planting time.  *Shrugs* - you got an issue with that?  No, of course not.  After all, you're kind.  Aren't you?

Tuesday 30 March 2010

If required, Z could Kick Ass, or possibly even Shoulder

I was quite unnerved a few minutes ago when I checked my "to do" list and found that I'd done everything but one item on it.  I've remembered that I haven't written up the notes from two more meetings, however, so that's quite reassuring.  It is, however, quite possible that I will do all those three items this evening, and that will only leave me the things that have cropped up today - one of them I must do today or tomorrow as it's writing a letter of condolence - and that I will be up to date with all office and non-domestic (which includes gardening) stuff before Easter.

No, that is unnerving.  I'm not quite comfortable with not having a deadline on my mind.  Not that I *need* the deadline, but that I'm a bit concerned that I've forgotten something, and that if I've forgotten it this comprehensively that must mean I've shut it out of my mind because I don't want to do it, and it's suddenly going to loom up horrifyingly.

Oh wait, I have got to write up the PCC annual report, which is not due for three weeks but which I do tend to leave until the week of the meeting - that's all right, I've got that reassuring low-level anxiety to tide me over for a while longer.  Unless I just Get On And Do It, of course.


No, I don't know, I might or might not.  I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, I got on and did everything last night, or I thought I did - I remembered one more email after I was in bed, so asked the Sage to remind me for the morning, which he did three times before breakfast - I nearly got a bit snarky about it.  Then this afternoon I wrote up the lengthy minutes of last week's meeting and have emailed it off to the chairman, so it's now her problem to find time to check.

Ooh, there's something splendid in the hip way.  I found the courage for a highish kick and can get my foot up to the kitchen counter again.  That's excellent, but I could do that right up until Christmas, when I wasn't quite able to any more, but what I haven't been able to do for at least three years is get the other leg that high.  The other hip is okay, but it's the flexion that wasn't - well, now I can.  I'm so pleased.  Now I'll work on turning on the light with either foot.  I've actually now got a better recovery even than I hoped for.  I'm not quite there yet - after cycling, my left leg tends to give way at the top, but that's just a matter of building up strength and will happen in the next couple of weeks and really isn't important.  Doing something I didn't think I ever would be able to again is wonderfully happy-making (I'm sure there's a word for it, probably on the lines of felicitous [felicitacious?], but happy is too good a word not to use whenever it's applicable).

I worried Wink into phoning to check I'm all right.  Sorry, Wink.  No one else took me seriously - bear in mind that, if I were really in a state, I'd have rung you to lay the burden on your shoulders already.  Not that the rest of the shit has gone away, but it's not as if I could have done anything about it anyway - and, as predicted, it didn't keep me awake last night.  Actually, I think I had the best night's sleep since early November.

Monday 29 March 2010

Z's having a bad day, which continues to get worse.

Things aren't going too well.  In several directions, they are all ganging up.  Nothing I can mention here, so discretion must reign, with the acknowledgement that I've had a couple of glasses of wine already and I will certainly, certainly have another before the evening is done.  I won't finish the bottle though, as I'm just so damn sensible.

Sorry if I haven't answered your email yet, I really am, but I'm already badly slipping behind with other things.  I'm fairly free tomorrow (that is, no meetings or appointments) but I've got an awful lot to do tonight, so I just can't write to people I actually want to.  I'll just say that Tilly is fine, she and I have just had a lovely cuddle and she shows no sign of ill health - and yes, pee is a good indicator and I have (for I am more than half dog) sniffed hers to check.

If I didn't know me so well, I'd hardly believe that I've done that.  As it is, I just can hardly believe that I've admitted it in public.

Funny - I feel very stressed, but at the same time I'm not taking it personally.  It won't keep me awake because it doesn't touch me or the family.  But all the same, I'm feeling several separate big weights on my teeny little shoulders.

Wah.  A lot of emails to write.  Asking or telling or acknowledging appreciatively or reassuring.  One may have bad news - though not personal.  I have to apologise, because I'm double-booked in three weeks time and I have to extricate myself from something I've offered to do. I'm very sorry about that, though I didn't know they clashed at the time.

There was a sort of vague insinuation, in Another Place, that I don't file things logically.  That's not so, not at all, and I have no idea how the idea has got about.  None at all.  I file things logically when it matters and when I get around to it, and in the meantime, I have piles of things, stacked according to whether they are waiting to be put away or waiting to be dealt with.  Whenever possible, I get documents emailed to me so that I don't have to keep paper copies at all.

I had a filing cabinet and hated it.  I like box files and document wallets and stackable plastic boxes to contain them.  When I get some papers, I either put them on my desk or on the printer to be dealt with that day or very soon, or I put them in the plastic box ready for filing when I get round to it.  In each place, file, wallet or box, papers might or might not be in order, but it doesn't really matter because they are in discretely contained places.  There's no great problem, if you've fished a piece of paper out of the middle of a box file and shoved it back on top, of finding its order again.  If, for a few weeks, the papers stack up a bit, it's still no real problem, because in that case they're in chronological order and I have a good idea of when something arrived, so whereabouts it should be.

Perfectly sensible, logical and efficient, if not terribly organised.  Works for me, anyway.

Yeah.  Had the email with the expected bad news, though not for the person concerned.  I've written to acknowledge, and now have to write to said person in sincerely warm and friendly manner.

I'd stop the clocks and wind them back about 25 hours, but that would only mean I'd have to go through it all over again.

No point hanging about any longer, time to get back to work.  In my favourite quote from lovely John Ebdon - if you have been, thanks for listening.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Jack Hughes

- but he's innocent.

They've mended Bloglines on Firefox, though not on Safari, so at least (once I'd remembered my password) I can read blogs again.  I've deleted all the funny website posts that I waste my time on when I've got some spare, so I've now got fewer than 600 posts to read.  And some of those are duplicated in Reader.  I'll be up to date in no time.

Anyway, I suggested to the Sage that he had purloined the tray that I usually use to carry the dinner dishes through, and mentioned it again a few days later.  Last night, he found it where I'd put it.  I'm a bit abashed.

Tilly added to her disgrace yesterday evening.  I was in the laundry room, taking stuff out of the washing machine and putting more stuff in, and she came to see me.  I turned to say hello just in time to see her squat and start to widdle all over the floor.  I squealed helplessly because she has reached the stage in life where, once she starts, she can't stop.  The Sage came hurrying through and then went to find kitchen paper - I hastily threw a newly-washed (dog-drying) towel down to mop it up before it soaked into the floorboards.

After we'd cleared up, I said to the Sage "There's no point in being cross with her, she can't help it."  He agreed.  "Who knows?" I added, "One day, one of us might have to clean up after the other."  "Hm," he agreed again, with an obvious subtext of "not bloody likely."  Anyway, now, every time Tilly wakes up and gets off the sofa, she gets put outside before leaving our sight in the house.

I do say "anyway" a lot.  Heh.

I cycled into town for the first time (even driving has been a bit hard on the joints so I have been cautious).  It was boring.  Less boring than walking, largely because it took much less time, but there was no feeling of hearty good-humour at getting some healthy exercise.  But the abductor muscle didn't hurt going up the hill the way it did do, which is something.  I'll soon get used to it again.

Some time later -  oh, I know there was something I meant to tell you.  Yesterday, I found a death watch beetle sitting on the newspaper.  Today, I heard another clicking away hopefully somewhere in the wall. Spring really has arrived.  Damn.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Z is Better

If I haven't visited, I apologise, but Bloglines isn't working and most of you are only listed there.  I'll be up to thousands of unread posts again by the time I can find everyone again.  Mind you, I've still got 33 more posts to work through even in Google reader, so the odds are I'll never catch up.

And I just remembered I haven't started on the PCC minutes I meant to write up this evening.  Oh well.  Too late now.  I should see if I've got the music I'm supposed to play tomorrow but have no intention of practising.  Hah.

Anyhoo.  No, not a lot has been achieved.  I succeeded in some delegating, which was good.  I've sowed some more seeds and spoken encouragingly to seedlings.  It may be a bit early for sowing runner beans, because they get to a certain size and start to entwine among themselves, which is a bit awkward when you come to plant them out, but I can't fuss.  I won't have any spare time next weekend, because there are two family birthdays and Easter and Wink is coming to stay, less than a fortnight before her birthday, which makes a third, so I will be highly busy being jolly.

For a change.

I was busying myself in the greenhouse this afternoon, and the door was open and Tilly came in.  I made her very welcome, but after a few minutes I thought the atmosphere was a bit pongy.  She left and I followed her towards the end door (this greenhouse is actually three, end to end, so there are three doors) and it got pongier.  I observed with dismay that she had stopped for lavatorial purposes just inside the door on the way in.  "Tilly did a poo in the greenhouse" I wailed in the general direction of the Sage, to the amusement of Friend Jamie who had called in - but I knew that the Sage quite enjoys clearing up ordure, so it was worth becoming a figure of fun.

Tonight, as I was cooking dinner, the Sage came into the kitchen.  "Can I help?" he enquired, having calculated asking time carefully.  I said things were under control, thanks.  "Then can I use your phone?"

I think I'm officially better.  The Sage hasn't joined in the cooking all week - although I've been out every night, I've still cooked dinner, even when I haven't eaten it.

Friday 26 March 2010


I have been postponing my first proper bike ride, just going round the village so far.  I considered cycling in to the school this morning, but Dilly phoned me before I was ready to leave and by the time we'd finished our talk, it was too late to put on my face in time to bike.  I wasn't sorry to have an excuse - I'm still feeling a bit wary of going uphill - though at least walking it wouldn't be an painful effort as it had been of late.

Only a dozen or so children turned up for music because of House matches, and it wasn't worth starting the next composing project with half the class, so the teacher decided to do something else, and I was not needed.  So I ambled off to find the Head's PA, she being the one dealing with my CRB check.  She was with the Head, so I waited, and some of my friends from Learning Support were in the library, so I said hello and it turned out that children were due to come over from 9 of our local primary schools for a science project that the high school had taken out to them.  I asked if I could come and have a look, so that took care of my morning.

I popped back to deal with the form, and it transpired, after all my looking up, that I'd forgotten to actually fill in my NI number, which proves what an idiot I am.  However, I'm a lazy idiot, which was useful, as I hadn't bothered to put all the papers away, so I was able to phone the Sage, tell him exactly where to look and get him to read it out to me.

The primary school children had been given the task of experimenting with the growing of mung beans and recording the process and their findings.  It was interesting to see how each school had approached it.  The former head of chemistry, who retired early some years ago to do good works, does a bit of filling in some times and, as he has a great rapport with people of all ages, does some link work between the primaries and secondary school, and he had introduced the task and then left the schools to get on with it.  The present head of science was judging the entries (there was a cash prize to the winning school) and I didn't envy him the job at all.  Anyway, there were some lovely children, many of whom were keen to explain their experiments and findings to each of us who went to look.  Some schools had taken it beyond science - one group had written a humorous song, another had written limericks, another had gone into Chinese culture and food and another had gone into growing conditions in countries where the beans are cultivated.  Another had made food pictures as part of an art lesson on Arcimboldo.  And the treatment of the beans varied too - some had tried growing them in different liquids or temperatures or light versus dark, and the recording varied from pages of writing to drawings to graphs and even beads threaded with white wool to show how much the roots grew in different conditions.  Most schools had just used liquids but a couple used earth too, and one group had grown plants a couple of inches tall which they intended to grow on - they said they had previously grown chickpeas and got a small crop off them.  All very hard to choose a winner from, and in the end he gave two second prizes too.

Dilly's phone call had been because she'd been asked to go into school this afternoon to discuss some one-to-one tutoring.  You may have caught, in the Budget, that the Chancellor talked about an initiative of intensive teaching of Maths and English to individual pupils who are falling behind, with the idea that this will help them catch up and then maintain their progress.  I am not knocking this idea at all (the village school has been doing it for several years with judicious use of excellent teaching assistants) but, as so often, it's been hurried out without being thought through and the schools aren't finding it easy to implement.  The main problem is, who is to do it?  The rules say it has to be a qualified teacher.  Again, I'm not knocking that, but who are they?  Most teachers are teaching.  There aren't that many of them who want very part-time temporary jobs.  The next problem is when?  Either you take the pupils out of a lesson or you do it after school.  If a student is struggling to keep up, taking him (or her, can we take that as read?) out of, for example, a History lesson to do extra Maths is going to make him start to fall behind in History too.  And many of our pupils go home by bus, and there are only late buses twice a week and that only allows an hour's after-school tuition per teacher.  Not many full-time teachers want to moonlight - all the good ones are willing to give extra help to any students who ask for it and there are sessions after school for many of them, especially at this time of year with exams looming.

Anyway, Dilly had a chat with the Assistant Head and, subsequently, with the Head of Maths at her previous school, and has since had a few ideas of her own to email to the Assistant Head which might help.  She would quite like to do the job, but one hour at a time at 3.30 is barely worth her time - she's got more work on than she needs already, including the voluntary classroom work she's doing at the village school.  She's finding working with young children very interesting, seeing how the foundations of maths work are laid and absorbed.  She has yet to decide what area she wants to work in when she returns from the time off she isn't really taking.  At present, she's doing private tutoring for various key stages, doing maths workshops in the holidays at the library and doing some voluntary work at the village school, with an after-school (paid) maths club in preparation, as well as the prospect of the school one-to-one work.  She enjoys all of it, but each needs its own preparation and planning and it's all too much overall for the long term.  She's going to have to choose, I think.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Z goes to the Village Pub

I've been doing odd, annoying jobs today, such as filling in the CRB form - Criminal Records Bureau, that is.  I've been checked before, but that was in Norfolk, so now I'm having it done in Suffolk too as it doesn't transfer (though that is changing now, and in future it will do, apparently, as long as the whole system doesn't get overloaded and collapse).  It asks a whole lot of details, not just the obvious ones such as address, but things one has to look up like one's National Insurance number and you have to take in various documents - the information is so boring to look up that I've been putting it off for a couple of weeks.  Then there was a potentially awkward phone call, some papers to photocopy and do a covering letter for and post - you know the sort of thing, nothing actually difficult but all too easy to say that you haven't got time to do Right Now.  Anyway, now they're done - getting started is all it takes and then it spurs you on to complete the rest.

This evening, I went to a small get-together at the village pub, which was most jolly.  I headed off at 6.30, assuring the Sage that the very latest I'd be home would be 9 o'clock ... well, I got chatting to various people, and then we had something to eat and I sat with some others, and then I went to chat with some more, and I was just thinking it was time to go home when the remaining people all came over and chatted with me.  So we weaved our way out around 10.  As always on these occasions, we all agreed that we must do it more often.

Before that, I'd been to spend the afternoon with Weeza.  On the way home, driving from her house to the main road, I came upon a queue of cars just going out of a village.  I couldn't see the reason for the hold-up because of the bend, but cars started to turn round and it was apparent that there was a long delay, so I turned round too and headed off the other way, meaning to get onto the A47 further along.  Sadly, I don't know the area on that side of Norwich very well and when I got to a T-junction, neither option on the road sign helped much.  I turned on the sat-nav and that wasn't any use either, as it just wanted me to turn round and go by the route that was blocked.  I spent some time messing about going in roughly the right direction, but the going-home traffic was bad by then.  It took me an hour to do the normally 40 minute journey, which was a bit annoying.  However, if the original delay was caused by an accident, at least that didn't involve me.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Spring forward

A funeral this morning – not someone I knew well, I knew his late wife better.  She worked in the newsagents, in fact, she was there all her working life.  His grandson gave a eulogy – so often a family member wants to do this, not realising how very difficult it is to speak without considerable emotion at such a time.  It always reduces me to tears too, even if I didn’t know the person who has died.  I have to turn my face away from the congregation so that I can control myself by the time I play the next hymn.

I remembered sometime after midnight that I hadn’t put the heating timer on in the church – fortunately, the funeral wasn’t until 11 o’clock, so I had time to put it on this morning.  Afterwards, I not only remembered to set it for the monthly 9.30 service on Sunday but – and this is where it gets impressive – remembered that the clocks go forward this weekend, so changed that too.  It won’t come on between now and Sunday, so it doesn’t matter that it’s done early.  I also remembered to take the forms for nomination of next year’s PCC and churchwardens to the meeting last night and get all the proposers and seconders down.  My name not being there is particularly satisfying.  One more meeting, the AGM, and then I’m done.  Well, stuff to do the meantime, both regular things and making lists for the newcomer – which was more than I had, I kept on finding out more things I was supposed to do all the first year.

I walked with Dilly and Pugsley over the field to fetch Squiffany from school.  I looked back and Tilly was discreetly following, evidently meaning to be unobtrusive in case she wasn’t allowed.  She caught up with us at the gate.  Dilly wouldn’t let me climb over it, so I meekly waited for them with Tilly.  She was panting and a bit wobbly on the way home again and I started to wonder if she’d have to be carried.  She doesn’t seem to be any the worse for it though, and ate her dinner cheerfully enough.  It’s 12 years this month that she came to live with us, and she was then 15 months old.   

We've been without a cockerel for nearly two years - the last one died defending his wives from a fox and we didn't replace him at once because we had more than enough chickens at the time.  Now, the Sage would like a few more young ones coming along, so he's keeping his ear to the ground to hear about someone with a young male bantam in need of a good home.  We never raise one of our own young males for the purpose, but bring in a new bloodline.  Last year's phantam (bantam/pheasant cross) is around, by the way - she looks very like a female pheasant but not quite, and she is less timid.  The male pheasant is very pleased to have a harem of adoring bantams - we're going to have to consider the matter of keeping a new young male safe from him or they'll fight.  The girls are entirely free range now, although they have their house at night, they roam everywhere during the day and eat most plants.  I think my globe artichoke plants have pretty well had it, unfortunately.  We've got daffodils, aconites and snowdrops, but I can't see any sign of other spring flowers and I wouldn't be surprised if they've pecked them out too.  Never mind.  They're so sweet, and they are laying lots of eggs.  More than we can eat, and Al is selling them too.  But we may have to build them a new run - the present one has no grass in it at all, which is the reason we let them free - before we find a little rooster.

By the way, like everyone else in Norfolk recently, we looked up this house on google street view, not that you can see the house because it's well off the road, and there in the field is Big Pinkie.  Isn't that splendid?

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Z loves her body

I was interested to read Pamela's article the other day about being mentally prepared for an operation - what had surprised me was how protective I felt about my hip.  I actually stroked it a few times - yes, I know - in the couple of weeks leading up to the operation.  I felt sorry that a part of me that I cherished was going to be sawn off, and I'd made the decision to have it done.

I didn't feel resentful or  angry at any time, by the way, though a bit unlucky.  Although, when I saw that there was no arthritis in the other hip and asked why I'd got it at all then, the consultant pointed out that the bad hip had a slightly shallower cup than the good one - a reasonable explanation, and one that showed nothing could have been done to prevent it happening (I'd never had any sign of a problem in my life before) completely satisfied me and I was able to shrug it off.

No, it's the caring and protective feeling I have towards myself that I hadn't expected, and I'm interested to find out that this isn't unusual.  Not everyone has it, I'm sure - the other thing that gelled with me was Mago commenting the other day that he'd never have laser treatment on his eye.  Nor would I, just to correct my eyesight, although I would for a cataract or anything like that.  I mean, not for cosmetic or convenient purposes.  I'd feel irresponsible.  I'm afraid I'm stuck with my body as it is or as I can make it with general overeating and slobbing around.

Obviously, lots of people don't feel the same way, or the cosmetic surgery business would never had got going.  Of course, it's well known that one can go through a period of mourning after an operation such as a mastectomy, but I've always read rather glib things that breasts are such a part of womanhood that she feels she has lost her femininity - now I'm wondering if it's any body part, even an internal one, that makes you feel that way?  And is there a difference if the part is diseased, or worn out?  

I think that the sudden need for an operation after an accident is a slightly different matter - there's the shock, for one thing.  I'm thinking more of a necessary or elective operation that one has time to prepare for.  I'd love to know if any of you has any views on this?

Monday 22 March 2010

New shoes

Understandably, Zerlina is very proud of them, especially as she loves butterflies.

Me?  No, I bought some boots back before Christmas, but otherwise I haven't had any new shoes for months.  About 8 or 9 months, now I think about it.  I'm waiting to see if I'm going to be able to wear heels higher than an inch and a half before I do any shopping.

Anyway, with all the family birthdays that are coming up, it'll be time to put shopping for other people first for a few weeks.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Z tackles an Organ

Considering I haven't been near one since Christmas Eve, it went pretty well.  It was a help that I was able to choose the hymns, so at least I chose ones that I liked and could play.  In fact, fortuitously, one of them suited the sermon as if it had been chosen for it.

According to News for the Pews, there's a churchwardens' meeting tomorrow.  Oh.  This isn't ideal, as I'm looking after Pugsley in the morning and have a governors' meeting in the afternoon, but there we go.  It'll be my last, anyway, and I missed the previous meeting because I was in hospital.  In fact, the minutes weren't sent out, or if they were, they didn't reach me or the other churchwarden in the village.  I've been promised them tomorrow morning.  I have sent out an email promising jellybabies and asking if Maltesers or Minstrels would be preferred - one vote for Maltesers, so far.  I just want to make quite sure I'll be missed by being quite adorable...


One friend, who is due to have a new knee in a month's time, was asking me about my experience of being awake during an operation.  I told him what fun it all was, but in case he thought it was my natural exuberance (I seem to be coughing a lot this evening, I wonder what that's all about?), I've copied'n'pasted my description of the operation and sent it to him.  I really was quite sensible about it, and I trust he won't be too bemused.  He did ask...  And I didn't even mention the blog.  Some of my friends do know it exists, and two of them asked for its name so I told them (and how damn silly it sounds, said out loud) but most people tactfully don't ask.

The Sage has just brought me a potful of coffee.  I have thanked him, of course, although I did mention that we seemed to have returned to unaccustomed normality with startling speed, since he showed no interest in cooking dinner this evening as he was far too involved with eBay, so I did it.  I cooked sausages with great care (fried slowly in a small quantity of bacon fat, Simon), with spinach, courgettes and yellow pepper and baked potatoes.  I gave Tilly her own portion of half a sausage and some potato, but I think she persuaded the Sage to give her something off his plate too.  Dear little dog.  She's old and happy and she deserves to be pampered.

Saturday 20 March 2010


I've realised what caused the slight eye problem.  The other day, I put in my contact lens and it was uncomfortable, so I blinked a few times and forgot about it, until I realised that I couldn't see any better with than without it.  I poked around for a minute, but it was no good, it had disappeared to the back of my eye.

It stayed there all day, until after 10pm.  It wasn't at all comfortable.  Fortunately, I didn't need to do anything in particular that needed sharp sight - I could have put in another lens at the front in an emergency, but I imagine it's not recommended. Anyway, I eventually felt it move around and took it out and thought no more about it.  But it's very likely that it set up some irritation and bits and pieces moved around a bit, to be seen by me a few days later.  It's lots better now - and thanks, Dave, for your warning.  The possibility of a detached retina did occur to me and I was prepared to go to the doctor at once if it continued.

I didn't have a particularly comfortable night, so have decided, if that's what driving does to me, that I won't start cycling much for a few days yet.  Maybe down to the church tomorrow.  I'm due to play the organ, which is something I haven't done since December.  Not touched the keys.  I haven't received hymns yet, so I suppose I'll have to choose them.  The other organist is down as sidesman tomorrow - I'm awfully tempted to get him to play instead, but I suppose I should get back in harness.  As it were.

Anyway, today is Squiffany's birthday, and she is five.  I talked to Dilly about a present and she reminded me that I'd already got one, that I had meant to give her for Christmas and forgot.  Yes, I know - thing is, she bought it and Ro brought it in and squirrelled it away to his old room, where I rarely go, and I'd hardly seen it.  Anyway, it's a doll's cot - the bedding is pale blue and yellow so it's not irredeemably girly and it's nice enough, being wooden and well made, for me to quite approve of* - so that's all right.  It's quite large and, as it swings, is in two pieces, so it was impossible to wrap and I went and bought ribbons and have put it in a duvet cover and have tied the ribbons on decoratively.  She can use them in her hair.  Or her dolls' hair.

*Good job Dave doesn't mind bad grammar, isn't it?

Friday 19 March 2010

Z tries to stay awake

I'm a bit tired.  Please excuse me if I make less sense than usual.  Possibly, even less sense than usual.

This driving lark takes it out of you, dun't it?  I've driven about 125 miles in the last day and a half, not having driven at all for two months, and I was quite whacked by the time I arrived home this afternoon.  I drank Lady Grey (tea, darlings, tea) and ate carrot cake, but was still glad to move on to wine an hour or so later.  It didn't help that I forgot to put in my contact lens this morning, which didn't matter for driving as I had prescription sunglasses in the car, but the meeting was a bit hazy.  In some ways, being without a lens might have been a Good Thing, as I had really nasty floaters in my eyes yesterday, don't know what that was about, but it seems to have improved a lot now.  I know one gets used to them and stops seeing them, but they were intrusive enough that, if they didn't clear up, would prompt a visit to the doctor next week to find if there might be a cause I'd rather not know about.  I hope the matter will just go away though, and become an unexplained shrugful.

I really am tired.  It's hardly 8 o'clock and I really rather want to go to bed.  I won't, because I'd be wide awake  by midnight and get no more sleep overall.  My left knee twinged by the time I got home - I suppose driving with a clutch puts more strain on the left leg than using the brake and accelerator does on the right, which feels fine.

I've duly been elected secretary of the east angularian Nadfas committee, though won't take it up until May, and was quite startled to have my ear bent by a number of people who want changes in the way things are administered.  I did a lot of nodding and frowning and smiling.

I am going to read today's papers. And yesterday's, as I don't remember finishing them either.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Final hiplog

I'm driving again at any rate, which is about time.  The Sage isn't always the most reliable chauffeur as he forgets when I need to be places and doesn't get home in time unless I ring him - on the other hand, at least he carries his mobile around with him nowadays, and charges it regularly too.  That reminds me, I must make sure he's got credit on it.

Things have been completed today, I went to the consultant and that's fine.  He showed me the x-ray taken of my new hip the day before I left the hospital - it's all very big.  Hard to tell from the screen just how big the spike is going down into my femur, but it's amazing to think I've got all that in me and I can't feel it at all.  I asked what movements I still shouldn't do now, and what I should Never Do Again - sorry to say this, darlings, but he really doesn't recommend much running.  A few yards is fine, but it's just too jarring.  As far as dislocation is concerned, I should be careful about a few things for the next few months, such as sitting in very low chairs - the main thing I shouldn't do at all is sideways twisting, especially to the outside.    I mean, imagine you've got something on the sole of your foot and you bring the foot up backwards and then twist round to see the problem.  Or, your foot doesn't quite want to go in your shoe and you stand the back of the heel down and bring it up back and around to put it right.  Well, I mustn't.  I said, I thought it was the inwards movements that were more of a problem, but he explained how much more movement would have to go wrong to put it out of joint that way - "so, can I cross my legs?"  Well, I may.  Gosh, isn't that good? He wants to see me again in a year's time and I should have x-rays every 5 years to keep an eye on it, but he suggested that I return to the NHS for that - he doesn't see why I should have to pay extra for what I'm entitled to anyway.  It's basically their records, an x-ray and a questionnaire, anyway.

My attention span while driving has gone down a bit, I must admit.  I had to think about concentrating.  Still, that'll put itself right almost immediately, won't it? *cough*

On the way home, I stopped to get a bank statement and the Paypal amounts had come through, so that's now done.  And this evening, I've been to a Festival committee meeting, so now I've got to write up the notes - how I've set it up is with an ongoing document (as much of what happens is yearly) and just append extra bits in italics or a different colour, so I don't have to start from scratch every time.

The visit to the brewery was jolly good, and we went home with goody bags!  One each!!  And I don't even have any shares!!(!)  The Sage has four shares, which entitles him to all this largesse (four exclamation marks are OTT, so I leave you to gasp in astonishment).  Anyway, I highly recommend that you buy a few or even one (they cost over £100 each), and then when you go to the visits to the brewery, they can count as blogmeets too (you can meet the Sage, which you will love) The lunch is excellent and the visit is really interesting.

Tomorrow, Bury St Edmunds.  I don't mean that's what I'm doing, of course, but it's where I'm going.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Z learns Anatomy

The receptionist who dealt with me yesterday sorted the matter out and was on the phone at 9am to confirm that an appointment has been made for 4 o'clock tomorrow.  It's interesting to observe oneself - I felt quite matter-of-fact about my visit to the consultant - I know everything is fine, I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask and one or two things to clarify, but nothing that indicates any anxiety on my part.  I was relaxed and good-humoured at the hospital, which I needn't have been as a cock-up was certainly made - but by the time I got home I did feel very jagged and out of sorts.  I didn't *need* a drink, but alcohol certainly played its part in restoring my good-humour.

Tomorrow, we really are going for a piss-up in a brewery, which I'm quite sure will be entirely well organised.  We're going as shareholders - one of the Sage's many good decisions.  I've no idea what dividends are paid, but I'm quite happy to accept fringe benefits.  We have to leave Southwold in time to get to Norwich by 4 o'clock, but that's all right.

The ATM I usually use doesn't give mini-statements, but my own bank's machine does.  The PayPal pennies have not yet been paid in.  Or, they hadn't by 2 o'clock this afternoon.  I have at least had my hair cut.

The other thing that really unnerved me yesterday was calling the headmaster by the completely wrong name.  I've known him for 5 years.  His name is Sean.  Why on earth did I suddenly call him Roger?  Completely embarrassing.  He isn't letting me live it down, either.  I told him, for decades I never called anyone by name in case I got the name wrong.  I wish I'd not overcome that particular phobia, because it evidently was soundly based.  Still, I'm looking on the bright side - he was probably quite as unnerved as I was.

I'm still having fun with apps.  I do have a childish nature and like playing games.  Current favourite is Anatomy - I've always been worryingly vague about this sort of thing, and I soon found out that I'd got the sites of the spleen and the pancreas confused with each other.  And I had no idea where the deltoid muscles were. I'm getting on quite well now, and (one has to get over 50% of the answers right in any one level to progress to the next) now breeze through individual vertebrae, on to various limb bones and only come unstuck when on the specifics of the shoulder.  Next comes the skull and then the lungs.  Gosh.

Weeza and I were, coincidentally, talking about body parts we had eaten, this evening.  I mentioned that I had once served sweetbreads to the family, which Al had particularly enjoyed.  She said she had tried, but not eaten tripe - it went into her mouth but no further.  She had also eaten brains.  I hadn't and asked what they were like.  "Well, all right, I suppose.  It put me off avocado for a while though."

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Dis appointments

Which has nothing to do with Diss (no, Rog, I'm not putting in a bloody link.  Or even one to Diss).

This has not been one of our better days.

I had a patient email from Dilly early this morning, saying that Pugsley is waking earlier and earlier with the light and sunny early mornings.  "He was watching baby bunnies out of our window in the early hours today - that may be why I am feeling so tired."

I went off for my Finance committee meeting.  If you hear the government saying how much extra money they're putting into things such as learning support/SEN, take it with the usual pinch of salt, will you?  They have, rather, altered categories so that many schools are having money withdrawn  to be given to others, particularly to those that have many pupils for whom English is not their first language.  Anyway, the school financial manager and her assistant have done their usual fine job and the school is still solvent.

After the meeting, I was to go through various papers with the former chairman of governors - we still haven't done a full hand-over -this doesn't matter as we work closely together, but it does need to be done.  However, she had been called for an extra meeting at her other school, not an easy one, so she didn't have time.  So never mind, we had a quick cup of coffee together and she dropped me off in town for my hairdresser appointment.

While waiting, because I was early, I checked emails and read one from Weeza, who said that Zerlina's viral infection had gone to her chest and the doctor said she has mild bronchitis.  She's on medication and is getting over it, but has been poorly with an awful cough, and spots.

I went to the hairdresser and it turned out I'd written the wrong date in my diary and I'm due in tomorrow.  Great.

I went home and went to commiserate with Dilly, and Pugsley took me to his parents' bedroom where, from the window, you could still see bunnies frolicking.  Sweet.

The Sage and I set out for my appointment with my consultant in Norwich.  Oh no, back a bit.

At the weekend, I had an email from Paypal saying I was near the limit that money could be paid out without my account being verified.  Okay, fair enough, I logged on straight away and did what was necessary.  They said that they would put a few pence into my bank account, twice, and I then need to tell them what sums have been put in and that'll be that.  Damn silly, but fine.

Then the Sage bought another vesta, so I paid with Paypal.  Since, the nice lady selling the piece and I have been in friendly email contact.  It was a bit disconcerting to have an email from Paypal today saying that my payment took me over the limit and has been stopped.  So, with only five minutes in hand before leaving for Norwich, we nipped into the bank for a statement.  The payments have not gone in yet.  Oh, and the bank is not open tomorrow and I'm pretty fully committed to various things on Thursday and Friday and not sure if I can get to a branch in opening hours.  I'm not sure if an ATM gives an actual statement of ins and outs, or just a total.  So I may not be able to get my account verified this week.

Anyway, off we went and got to the hospital and I went to check in at the reception desk.  I had an appointment (the correct name was on the letter), but not with the surgeon I expected - it was another one whose name starts with the same letter.  My chap isn't in the hospital today and there was no point in seeing the other one as he wouldn't have my notes and I'd need to come in again anyway.  The startlingly pretty receptionist was extremely apologetic and thanked me several times for being so good-humoured about it.  The secretary who had sent the appointment had simply screwed it up.  My consultant will be in on Thursday and then off on holiday for a couple of weeks.  I said, I'm out most of Thursday but if I can be fitted in about 4pm I can get there.  Otherwise, it'll have to wait - which doesn't matter vastly except I want to be okayed to drive.  Eight weeks is a long time to stare at your own four walls.

I've come home and written an apologetic email to the vendor of the vesta.  And eaten cake.  At six o'clock, I will drink gin.

If you have been, thanks for listening.

By the way, my engagement for Thursday actually is for a piss-up in a brewery.

PS.  I've just noticed that I've lost a follower from my sidebar.  That hardly surprises me at all.  Still, I suppose a square number is just as good as a round one.

Monday 15 March 2010

Long ago when Z was young

Here is the photo I mentioned the other day - from left at the back (humans first) are Wink, George and John, two brothers who were staying with us for the summer, one of the sisters who were Wink's French pen friends, I think this one was Pascal.  Front row are me, Pearson, who was my mother's godson and also spent summer holidays with us, and my mother.

Dogs - Simon, the patriarch of the family, Huckleberry his son, Bess (with her mouth open), the mother, Kipper, Huck's brother, who lived next door, and Jess, Huck's sister, who belonged to our gardener and lived in the house opposite.

                                                                              And here is a close-up of Huckleberry.  Lovely dog.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Shooting spring

I should have written a couple of hours ago, before I had an email from a friend.  It was upsetting, her son-in-law had a serious accident and was badly burned and is critically injured in hospital.  The specialist burns unit is about 3 hours drive from their home and they have young children - the last week has been awful.  Someone close to me had such an accident many years ago, remembering it was so awful that I could hardly tell the Sage.  Time mercifully blanks a lot but it comes back when you talk about it.  I do hope he makes a good recovery, but survival is the issue right now, and in any case it'll be a long and painful haul.

Until then, the day had been excellent.  Cakes were well received but enough has been brought home to make the Sage happy.  Al cooked a lovely lunch and the children were happy, having bought various goodies at a car boot sale that morning.  They had bought several DVDs as well as toys and stuff, and we watched Men In Black.  I told the children about the dog that said "kiss my hairy ass", which quite shocked them - I was a bit wrong in fact, as it was "furry" but they still giggled mightily.  I think that Squiffany is too good a little girl, but I can still take Pugsley well astray, as any Granny should.

I let Dilly play with my iPhone.  She's hooked, she wants one too.  So does Pugsley.  Smartphones (I'm not plugging macs, honest, have whichever you like) are the biz.  I don't bother much with the phone, admittedly, though the Sage seems to have racked up 2 hours worth of calls in a couple of days.

This meeting in Bury on Friday - apparently there's a military funeral on at much the same time (the meeting is at the Cathedral, in its meeting room appropriately enough) so we'll have to go early as roads will be closed off, if we don't want to have to leg it through the Abbey Gardens, which Yvonne won't be able to.  I don't mind leaving early, so sad I am that an hour or two killing time over coffee feels like a holiday to me as it means there is no question of me looking in at one of the two meetings that clashes with the day.

I slept better last night, and then woke for the last time ("better" is comparative, after all) five minutes before the alarm was due to go off, so the morning was nice and relaxed, with plenty of time for everything.

I will try to put up that photo tomorrow.  It's upstairs.  I'm used to thinking of an unscheduled trip upstairs as a Big Deal.

Oh, I meant to mention- the sun shone warmly this morning.  I went off down the drive, noticing that the daffodils were still short and showed no colour.  When I came home a couple of hours later, I saw flashes of yellow - but they were not from the flowers.  The leaves had shot from the ground so fast that they had not had time to turn green.  I should have taken a photo but didn't think of it - they had grown a full inch in that short time.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Z Goes a bit Overboard

In this country, it's Mothering Sunday tomorrow, which is treated as Mother's Day is everywhere else, even, erroneously, in most churches (okay, Dave?).  So we're starting our service with coffee and cakes and a craft for children - they will make and decorate little boxes, which they can then fill with chocolates, which will be provided.  Then we'll move into the church for a short service, then the chocolates and posies of flowers will be handed out at the end.

I'm on the rota to do coffee tomorrow.   However, I asked a friend if she'd make a cake too, and when we arrived to set up everything ready for tomorrow, another friend had brought along small cakes for the children.  This afternoon, I have made a fruit cake and a carrot cake and I'm just going back to the kitchen in a few minutes to make a chocolate sponge cake.  I rang my friend to ask what cake she had made.  "I've made a jam sandwich (that's a Victoria sponge, darlings, not bread and jam) and a fruit cake.  Oh, and I made some date slices".

We're going to have enough cake to feed at least 100 hungry people (we'll have fewer than half that at the service I expect, although we're preparing in other respects for 60).  I normally make cake, reluctantly, about twice a year.  It's all this cooking that the Sage is doing - I can't move into his territory of cooking delicious (if rather meat-based) dinners, so I'm having to do a whole lot of baking instead.

I've never tried this carrot cake recipe before, but I have eaten it.  About 15 years ago, at the Middle School fete, I bought a cake from a stall that a friend had made.  It was delicious and I told her so, and she said she had made it from the Food Aid recipe book which had been published not long before.  "I have that book, I'll have to give the recipe a go," I said.

Now I have.

Friday 12 March 2010

Hiplog, nearing the last time, DV.

I feel such a mess.  I missed having a haircut last month - I'd had my hair cut shorter than usual at the end of December because I knew I'd have to miss a cut, but then I forgot all about it and it only just occurred to me what a scruff I am.  Well, I always know it, but worse than usual.  Anyway, I went in to book an appointment and - oh joy - there had been a cancellation so I can go next Wednesday.  Thank goodness I don't have roots to have grown out.  One good thing about being shortsighted and unobservant is that I don't notice grey hairs so don't think I have to do anything about them.

Anyway, I'd meant to make cakes for Sunday this afternoon, but Weeza and Zerlina came over, and so did Pugsley, so that was far better.  There is always time for catching up with things, but not always with people.  Although, frankly it will just mean that the cakes I do make will be more thrown together than lovingly hand-crafted.  They will be delicious, though, right?



Anyway, a seven-week update, and there's not much more to say.  I ventured to lie on my left side for a while in the night, with a cushion between my legs so that my right hip couldn't drop.  I can put tights on and sometimes socks - that is, I can put on my left sock but I managed a looseish right sock a couple of days ago, by getting it close to my foot and poking - without using my sock-aid.  And I cut my toenails last night in the bath (very careful not to lose bits because that would be horrid*) and sat on the floor, as is my usual habit, to dry off afterwards.  So all is going very well.  I'm still cautious and only do what I'm very comfortable with.  I've got an appointment with my consultant on Tuesday, after which I'm rather relying on being able to drive, by the Friday at any rate, as I have a meeting in Bury St Edmunds to which I've promised a lift to a friend, who had her new hip less than a fortnight ago.  She has been able to nobble a disabled space at the Cathedral, which is jolly good, as otherwise I'd have to drop her off, go and park and come back - it'd add another 15 minutes but at least would be physically unremarkable.  At the last meeting, in December, we limped back to the car park together.  So things are much better.

I found myself a bit late again this morning.  The Sage was prancing around early, as he heard talking outside but it was the milkman who'd brought a friend (we had the window open so could hear their voices) and then he came back to bed and we entwined our legs somewhat and went back to sleep, so when I woke around 7 o'clock, I couldn't move without disturbing him.  So I stayed put.  I finally had to get up, waking him, when there was only half an hour to go before I was due to leave the house.

* I trust you all notice that I use horrid and horrible with correct differentiation between them.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Drawing on memories

I watched some of a wildlife programme about Yellowstone Park last night, and it's all wrong, you know.  It is, and will ever be, Jellystone Park to me.  Much of my childhood was shaped by Hanna Barbera cartoons.  You could keep worthy numbers like Blue Peter.  I liked the cartoons, and the odder, the better.  So, Yogi Bear (hey, hey, hey, how's it with you, Boo Boo?  I'm ... smarter than the average bear.  Is that a picanic basket?), The Flintstones (Yabba Dabba Doo, but it was really rather ruined once the babies Pebbles and Bam Bam joined them, though Betty Rubble was ever a complete babe) and, most of all, Huckleberry Hound, who had a Southern drawl and sang snatches of My Darling Clementine, were always my chosen viewing.  Of course, I watched British cartoons too.  Noggin the Nog (and Nogbad the Bad), Captain Pugwash et al, some of which I can't think of right now.

Then there was one about a lion king, whose name I seem to remember was King Leo, originally enough, and the hero was an advisor or courtier called Odeo Colonie (accent on the second O in the second word, as in cologne-ee), both loyal and true blue - he was a skunk, but I remember nothing else about it and there was a bird called Yackey Doodle Duck, and we named a budgie after him, but I don't remember much about him either.  I remember him as yellow, but I must either have had a book or imagined it, or it was his description, because there was only black and white television in those days.

The other favourite was Top Cat, which was marvellous.  Then there was Tom and Jerry of course.  I also appreciate that some of the cartoons weren't Hanna Barbera.  I'm not sufficiently bothered to check which were and which weren't.

I read a lot and was quite pretentious there - I read Pilgrim's Progress when I was about 8, which was the hardest going I could have imagined - I slogged through it determinedly at the rate of a page a day - and  then started on Shakespeare with The Tempest.  I'm not sure why, I read them in bed on my own, but I was certainly an odd child.  But in television watching, I was as lightweight as they come.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Z stays in her burrow

I remained awake from earlier than usual - it's often between 3 and 4 am that leaves me with two or three hours to lie there before dropping off again, but last night it was 2 o'clock when I woke and stayed awake.  On waking, first I turn on to my back because my scar hurts, which is what wakes me (not the hip itself, that's fine).  It is soon better, but  now I've started lying on my side I can't sleep on my back any more, so I turn again.  I really want to lie on my left side, but I don't know if that's okay yet.

After a while, when it was apparent I was going to be awake for a while, I fished my phone out from under my pillow and turn it on to check for emails.  I read them - sometimes answer a few, but only if the Sage is soundly asleep as the keys tap slightly when typed.  I hide under the duvet so that the light doesn't wake him either.  This morning, I didn't write, but played a few games (the keys don't tap when I'm playing) of patience and one of draughts and downloaded Angry Birds and played that, and then I read.  At present, I'm re-reading Vanity Fair.  Reading on the phone is by no means the same as a proper book, but it is all right, and certainly warmer, and has the advantage of not needing a torch.

After half an hour or so, I lay back and let my mind drift.  I remembered several emails I needed to send and made mental notes, including what's to go in the next governors' agenda.  I wondered what I could blog about next.  There are various things going on at school, but even when they're not actually confidential, I can't really talk about them except in the most general terms.  I would like to vent a degree of ire about another matter, but it is about someone and it would be too easy for that person to be identified, so better not mentioned.  I'd meant to be gardening again, if only in the greenhouse, but the weather is horrible and I'm staying put indoors as much as possible.  I can't keep talking about dogs.  Nor my hip.

There's nothing to talk about, I concluded.  Maybe I could just amuse?  I thought about entertaining topics and came up with a couple of thoughts.  "I'll have forgotten those by the time I wake up again," I reckoned, and indeed I have.

I thought about Mother's Day, which is this Sunday.  In church, they're very hot on you calling it by its proper name, Mothering Sunday, as Mother's Day is a commercially-inclined import, but in fact even the churches treat it as a day for making a thing about mothers, so it's not got its original meaning there either.  We're planning to serve coffee and cakes before the service starts, and I seem to have assured everyone that I'll make most of the cakes, which was more enthusiastic than wise of me.  I keep thinking I could do some baking early, things that improve with keeping, but I don't seem to have made a start yet.

I'm not sure that winter is really over yet, whatever the calendar shows.  I'm still in a comfy state of near-hibernation.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Oh, so merry

I've written about Huckleberry before, the dog that was born when I was about seven and whose nature was so lovely that I want to replicate that by naming another dog after him.  Yes, I know that doesn't work.  Doesn't really matter, after all, I don't really expect Ro to strangle a leopard to save someone's life, although he's named after my great-uncle who did just that.

Huck was the only dog I've known who led you where he wanted you to go.  He would take your wrist in his mouth (it never hurt, he never hurt anyone) and take you there.

He was left-pawed and his father, Simon de Montfort, was right-pawed.  So, Simon opened the drawing room door and Huckleberry the dining room door.

Neither of them was in the least needy or dependent.  We were certainly the staff and did what was expected of us.  Simon had an exaggerated sense of dignity - in his life, I never saw him empty his bowels, nor Huck, and they wouldn't "go" when taken for a walk on a lead.  Simon had a huge vocabulary - some words, if we didn't want him to know what we were talking about, we had to say in French, then after he learned that, Spanish and finally spell them out.  The biggest insult was to say "you smell", when he would stalk out of the room in high dudgeon (what does high dudgeon mean, exactly, I wonder?  Is there any other sort of dudgeon?)  Once, he got shut in the downstairs loo and, when we realised and opened the door to let him out, he wouldn't talk to any of us for the rest of the day.

The dogs would all work as a team - if one was shut in a room and couldn't open the door, one outside would push the door open.  Or, if it was latched, Huck would come and bring someone to open it.

The dogs had chair rights.  My father usually managed to hang on to a place on a sofa, but the rest of us usually had to sit on the floor.

I've got a picture upstairs - I'll look it out tomorrow and add it.  It has a young Z in it, from when I was about 10 years old.  It was taken outside, it doesn't include any chairs.

Monday 8 March 2010

Proof of the reading

We proof-read the catalogue very carefully, all three of us, before sending it off to the printers on Friday.  Today, we went through it again, against the original Excel draft, because we knew alterations had been made from that, and it's that spreadsheet that Ro will use to upload the catalogue onto the website.  We found another two mistakes - one didn't matter at all, it was just a decimal that should have been altered to a fraction on a measurement, but the other was a description of the provenance of a piece of china that had, somehow, been put against two different pieces.  Very relieved to have picked that one up.  It would have been quite a blunder to have that printed.  So Weeza has notified the printers and it'll be corrected.

Otherwise, the main event of the morning was the Sage, unasked, doing the hoovering.  Honestly, he really is a treasure.  And he bought kippers for dinner, yum.  Real Lowestoft kippers.

He had, and deserved, a lovely time this evening while I was out at a meeting, buying stuff on eBay.  One item, he got for less than half what he'd bid - it was slightly mis-described and went for a lot more than the vendor probably expected, but a lot less than it should have.  He suspects that the underbidder is kicking himself.

There's not a lot going on here at present to tell you about, I'm afraid.  It's Squiffany's birthday later this month and I haven't been shopping at all yet.  I did ask her what she was hoping for (in a general sort of way, not asking what she wanted from us) and was discomfited when she replied "Barbie".  That is where I draw the line, I'm afraid.   I may buy her a swing for the garden instead.

Sunday 7 March 2010


I'm afraid that I have done nothing this weekend.  I could and should have - the sun has shone and I could have done some gardening, or at least got on in the greenhouse, but I pottered about relaxedly instead.  I say this with no excuses and no shame or guilt - I see nothing at all wrong in taking time off or not doing much if I don't want to.

I suspect it's something about being brought up with dogs.  Certainly, I've always described myself as more than half dog.  But if you look at a dog, it will concentrate hard on what it wants or needs to do and then it sees no reason at all not to lie in front of the fire for several hours, sleeping.  And then it eats dinner and lies down again, probably being cuddled by its human companion.  Dogs have got things sussed.  Cats have too, but they're not as bright as dogs, because they know everything that they want to know already while the average dog admires its human and wants to learn.  I read recently that a dog is the only animal, other than a human, that can follow the direction of a pointing finger and understand what is meant by it.  If that's so (that is, that other primates can't do it too) then it's really remarkable.

I like cats, very much, and I'd be quite happy to have a cat live with us (though the Sage wouldn't), but it's the open mind of a dog that I really appreciate and understand.

I've a feeling that cat people won't agree with me here.  But does your cat follow the line of your pointing finger?

If the answer is "yes", I withdraw my case.  But I'm still more than half dog.

Saturday 6 March 2010

What? The annunciation hasn't even happened yet

I am not happy to announce that, in today's Times, there is an advertisement for a construction toy "The most amazing Xmas gift for your child."  No, really.  It's not right or proper.

Since hardly anyone reads blogs on a Saturday (Dave reckons it's Sunday, but I find that I get more readers on Sun than on Sat) I will update my hiplog - I realise I'm doing this to death and I apologise but it's an easy way to make notes for myself.

In the last week, I've graduated to using a step to get into the bath and standing, to getting in without the step and sitting on the edge (with a towel underneath, it's chilly else), to kneeling in the bath to, last night, with great happiness, sitting properly in the bath like a Christian, splashing happily.  I quite naturally seemed to know when I wasn't ready to progress to each stage and then when I was.  To get out, I drew up my unoperated leg underneath me, put one hand on the rim of the bath and the other on its bottom, went up to a kneeling and then a standing position before stepping out.

As I said, that was last night, but yesterday morning, I got up a bit late.  I was awake, but the Sage wasn't, so I was happily playing games on my phone until I realised I only had 20 minutes  before I needed to be out of the house.  Time was, 10 minutes was ample but now I need to put a face on and a breakfast in, and then I couldn't find my handbag, so I was 4 minutes late leaving.  So I ran down the drive.  Yes, darlings, I ran.  And it didn't hurt.  I haven't run without pain and lurching to a stop after a few steps for at least 3 years.

I was extremely puffed out by the time I'd run 100 yards, I admit.  Still.

The other thing I've graduated to in the past week is sleeping on my side.  The operated side only, I'm not risking the other until I get the all clear from the consultant, and it wakes me up every half-hour or so, but I'd got to the stage where my back was aching beyond sleeping through, and it is improving.  Usually, I can just lie on my back for a few minutes, then return to my side and go back to sleep.  I'm not getting a lot of sleep, but I am resting and not getting up early unless I have to, and I'll catch up sooner or later.

Colour is returning to the membrane of my eye (I have been taking an iron supplement too) and I don't take an afternoon nap.  I can dress without using a grabber, but I still need a sock aid for my right sock or for tights.

Yesterday afternoon, I picked up Squiffany from school and we played board and card games, which had me sitting in a lower chair than usual - this was fine for a while and then suddenly it hurt.  The Sage went and got me my high cushion and it was all right then.

The operation was 6 weeks ago yesterday.  A friend of mine had her second hip operated on on Monday and we've been exchanging emails today, she having returned home on Thursday.  She had her first hip done when she was 58, 6 years ago, and she says that she feels noticeably more tired this time round.  She doesn't consciously feel 6 years older, but her body says she is!  She says she can get around very well, but feels breathless after a while and has to stop and sit down.  I'll be seeing her in a couple of weeks, when I'll take her to a meeting in Bury St Edmunds, so we'll compare notes then.

How to tease Dave

Well, red

Friday 5 March 2010

Terribly good or awfully lucky

"I must have been terribly good in a past life to deserve all this," I said to the Sage as he brought in a pot of coffee and a mug, after having cooked and served my dinner to me an hour and a half ago.

"Past life, heh heh," he chuckled.

"Or a present life, maybe?" I added hopefully.

"Present life, that's it.  I'll go and get another log to put on the fire," he said.

No fashionable angst here.  And it's not all one-sided, I am very good to the Sage too.  Why, only today, I ...  um ... I  - oh yes, I congratulated him on cleverly helping a friend to open a cabinet with the key missing, and I found out why the side door was sticking (no, that was genuinely deductive, he couldn't do it) and I gave Tilly her breakfast.

That's about it.  I think he's about due for more cake.

Childhood is made up of sights and sounds

And smells, before the dark of reason grows.

Or something like that.  It's from John Betjeman's Summoned by Bells - I've relied on a memory from 4 decades ago, so if I've misquoted, my apologies.

The reason for it is that I've just been listening to music that took me right back to childhood.  The other day, you see, there was a programme about Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and it made me want to listen to it again, but I haven't a CD of it, so I got it from Spotify.  And, as is not uncommon, it got me downloading various other things of his, including the Lieder Ohne Worte.  And, unexpectedly, it took me to my mother playing the piano in the evening while my sister and I sneaked out of our bedroom and sat on the stairs to listen to her.  She wouldn't play in front of anyone, nor sing if anyone but us could hear her.  Not surprising, perhaps, that I was acutely self-conscious about both things myself, but extremely odd that now I voluntarily, though with no enjoyment, play the organ at church services.

I've also been listening to the Italian Symphony which, as I remember, was about the first classical LP that I ever bought for myself.

Nostalgia tends to make me melancholy, with or without reason.  I'm going to go and pick up Squiffany from school and put it all out of my mind.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Somes it up... Alphonse put it -

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Timeo Googleos, whether or not dona ferentes

As you know, I don't have word verification or comment moderation here - occasionally one or the other might be put up, if there's a sudden spate of spam or if I know I'm going to be away from the internet for a week or two, but otherwise I just delete the ones with dodgy links.  I do, however, have Blogger set to send comments for moderation on posts over 20 days old.  There are a surprising number of dodgy comments left on them, and I've just deleted 17, from about the last fortnight.  I didn't read any of them, but looked at the headings in case any of them wasn't actually spam.  For the first time ever, I found one quite offensive.  It said (and I have to disguise it, because I don't want to attract more of the same) "Attens10n, ch1ld d@t1ng m@n".

What does it say about This Modern Age, however, that I take the offers of enhancement or paid-for romance in my stride?  All aimed at men, I might add.  Women are either deemed to be less easily duped or more content.  Or possibly poorer.

Talking of poorer, I think that I've mentioned that the Sage has taken to using my phone for calls, as I can't possibly use 10 hours-worth in a month and he certainly can.  Since the phone is a bit away from his mouth, he tends to shout a bit so, considerately, he uses my phone in a room I am not.

I had been preparing a rhubarb crumble, and returned to the drawing room (also, the Write Stuff, which I'd been listening to, was over) as he was saying "goodbye" to someone.

"I've been telling G about *article about G's former employers*"

G is in New Zealand.

I have rather forcefully explained that I would far rather have the cost of a call to New Zealand on the landline than on the mobile.  He has apologised as if it was a personal insult.  I had to explain that it wasn't. Just an expensive mistake.

Oh well.  We're nowhere near as expensive to each other as our children were.  Well, some of our children.  Ro was surprisingly good value*.

Of course, they're all Worth It.  Which reminds me, I looked after Pugsley this afternoon while his mother was at her tap dancing class (no, she doesn't fall off into the sink).  When she came back, he was reluctant to clear up the pack of cards scattered on the floor.  When her command didn't work (unusually), I said that I'd give him a count of five, and after that I'd pick him up by his feet and bounce his head on the floor.  He picked up the cards.  How odd.  I'd have gone for the bounce, in his situation.  Anyway, not long afterwards, he went to sleep.  I said it was unusual for him to be naughty.

Weeza and Zerlina are visiting tomorrow.  Huzzah!  I am very happy.  And, obv, I have forgiven the Sage.  His rhubarb crumble will go into the oven in two minutes, and soon he will be as happy as I am.

*joke, Weeza and Al.  Joke.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Z shakes a leg

I didn't mean to make all the marmalade in one go, but that was how it has happened.  Not in one batch, of course, that would have been silly (yes, I am silly, but not that silly.  There are limits).  I used a method I never have before, which was to cook the oranges whole and then cut them up.  It was in the Times, Lindsay Bareham's recipe.  I have a book of hers, which I like very much, so I'm inclined to trust (I know, darlings, it doesn't take much) - anyway, I thought I'd try it, if only to disregard in future.

You'd like a link, I daresay.  I'm not sure if it's okay to quote someone else's recipe, because I've read that there isn't a copyright on them - not on a traditional sort of thing, anyway.  If you can't access it, let me know - I"m afraid I've changed it, anyway. This is it.  I'd advise not adding the sugar when Lindsay does, as if any of the orange skin isn't completely soft and you need to simmer it further, it won't work once sugar has been added.  Also, it seems to me a really messy thing to have the seeds in a bag in with the sugary mixture.  What I did was to cut up the oranges, put the seedy pulp in a stocking and dangle it in the water with the cut-up peel, and then simmer it until I was sure it was all done, then take out the stocking, let it cool a bit, squeeze it, add the sugar, let that dissolve completely and then boil the marmalade until done.

The proportions of fruit and sugar are the same as my usual (Delia) recipe, except for an extra lemon.  She says 10 oranges, but the sizes vary vastly, so I went for a kilo, which happened to be 12 of mine.  There is much less water, but the pan is covered, so it's fine.  It's a good recipe and I'll use it again.  Some comments on the website said that the marmalade was reluctant to set - she said it can take 24 hours, but mine set all right.

While I was doing this, I also thought I'd pinch some of the peel for my gin and vodka.  Unfortunately, once I'd peeled off the, er, peel (with a potato, er, peeler), I couldn't find the bottle of gin that I'm sure I bought before Christmas, though I did find the vodka.  I do think I bought it, but I know we didn't drink it.  Anyway, in the end I looked in the freezer and found the remains of a bottle of gin and a bottle of vodka, not much of either, so I decided to make lemon vodka and Seville orange vodka. It was an ordinary bottle, not a litre, so I had to work out the proportions which, fortunately, turned out to be 140g of sugar, which is just 5 oz.  I can do decimal, but I'll never think decimal and my scales are imperial. I only had the one bottle and a bitsworth of vodka, though two actual bottles, so I'll top up tomorrow.  Then I'll make lemon gin too and compare in due course.

I got a production line going - simmered one lot of oranges in a big saucepan while I was finishing off the marmalade in the preserving pan, fitting in the washing of jars and the potting in between - oh, and looking after Pugsley - and it seemed a good idea to carry on.  I did 4 batches, which is a yearsworth, including some to give away, surely.  It was so successful that, if Al has a few oranges left, I don't mind putting them in the freezer in kilo bagsful, ready to cook if we run short.

All this took several hours, and I'd also volunteered to cook dinner - a deceptively simple number involving leeks, hot-smoked salmon, tomatoes, pasta, crème frâiche and courgettes.  It was all done by 20 to 8 and I was glad to sit down.  My back hurts a bit, I'll stack up the pillows tonight.

After dinner, I checked emails and was shattered to find that a friend is in hospital being treated for cancer.  He and his wife are dear friends, and their son died suddenly, in his mid forties, from an unsuspected aneurism, just before Christmas.  A mutual friend told me.  I phoned Joanne, got the answerphone and had to leave a message.  I'm ashamed to say that I was audibly in tears, which is hardly supportive.  I couldn't help it.  Fine friend I am, though.  Honestly, darlings, useless.

Monday 1 March 2010


I finally bothered to look for a car insurance quote this morning.  Not entirely to my surprise, I found one that had the same level of excess (couldn't think what it was called for a minute, nearly called it a surplus) that I'd had before, of £250 and the same other terms, for £210, rather than the £244 I'd been quoted from the company I'd paid £203 to last year, and this time they wanted £300 excess.

I'd rather stay with the same company, but it is made hard for me.  I recognise that I've been charged a low price to get my custom and that I'll need to shop around again next year.  I did ring the company, in fact, and was offered a price around £230 with a £250 excess - if they'd sent that to me, I'd have just paid it.  So why on earth not?  I'm not that bad a risk - I mean, anyone can have an accident, but I've never had a car insurance claim and I've been driving for 39 years.


Gosh.  39 years.

Sunk in contemplation.

It's an indication of my level of ... shall we call it relaxation, rather than laziness?  Oh, go on, let us ... that this was almost all I did today.  I wrote 15 letters, which was three letters and 13 copies of one of them and walked round the village to post them.  I strode out, noting that this was the first time that I sometimes forgot to notice every step that I took.  This is, I can't remember if I've mentioned, one of my simple and humble ambitions.  Just to walk without noticing the action of walking.  I'm nearly there.

I also made a couple of necessary phone calls, one of which was to cancel an engagement that I quite wanted to do, but which I can't get to next week as I may not drive yet.  I could get a lift one way, but not both.  Still, even for little prinZess, that isn't so dreadful, I suppose.

Last night, my back ached so much that I lay on my side for a while to sleep - on the operated side, so that there wasn't a danger of the joint slipping out.  It hurt, but I was so tired by then that I slept anyway for a while.  The Sage and I still aren't sleeping all that well.

Marmalade tomorrow.  I have the oranges, the lemons, the sugar and the jars.  I think that's all I need, isn't it?  Preserving pan, of course.